Each datum permits multiple possible explanations: this is true of visual and auditory perception, but also of the social world.
Just as there’s a spectrum from smart to dumb, or from introverted to extraverted, so there’s a spectrum in people’s tendencies to interpret ambiguous situations in a positive or negative way.Isabelle is not supposed to tell other schoolchildren that she loves them. “She’s not allowed to go to the bathroom alone at her school, because there have been numerous instances of girls with Williams syndrome being molested at school when they were alone in the hallway,” Jessica says. Williams Syndrome usually involves mental retardation, but not always. Psychiatric disorders are often at the extremes of natural variation in human traits.For every intellectually disabled person, there are a dozen who are just kind of dumb.A boss calls her subordinate’s work “okay” – did she mean to compliment him, or imply it was mediocre?A friend breaks off two appointments in a row, each time saying that something has come up – did something come up, or is he getting tired of the friendship?This is worrying not just as a psychiatrist, but as someone who wants to know anything about other people at all. You can also get it from abusing certain drugs – marijuana, LSD, cocaine, and even prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. Sure, if you abuse every single drug at once you’ll think the CIA is after you with their mind-lasers.