Share this article:


  • Join our comunity:

Understanding intuition

By: , Posted on: April 25, 2019

Understanding Intuition

By Lois Isenman

I recently published a book titled Understanding Intuition: A Journey In and Out of Science. It explores some foundational intuitions about intuition I experienced and brings them together with a deep dive into the science of intuition. It took me years to write and find a publisher. All told, it was a 2-decade long endeavor. Early in 2018, Academic Press, an imprint of Elsevier, a scientific publisher, issued the work.

From the experience of my colleagues at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, I learned that once you publish a book, your job is to publicize it. Before publication, I had assumed I would avail myself of all opportunities to promote the book, and, truth be told, a part of me looked forward to the attention. But I am also distrustful of the part of me that needs attention and recognition.

I did try this or that, but almost nothing happened on the publicity front. Fortunately, I did get two letters from stunningly intelligent readers telling that they were deeply inspired by the book. This has helped keep me from feeling very discouraged. More recently the book has received some endorsements from people whose work I greatly respect.

I am also helped by an experience that occurred during the years I was having trouble finding a publisher. I came to recognize over time that the publishing setback was likely only temporary. Because of the unusualness and importance of the material, I began to feel that it would eventually find its audience—however that might happen, and however long it might take.

But the feeling that the book would eventually be published did not eliminate the discomfort I felt. Then one evening while sweeping up the kitchen floor after dinner, I confronted myself with great sincerity about why I still felt so badly about the situation, even as I felt increasingly confident that in time the book would find its audience. Then something extraordinary happened.

As I continued to sweep, I felt the deepest and purist sense of spaciousness and Presence I ever have. My consciousness was completely altered, at least for a while. I realized that this transformed mind, which brought with it a sense of being completely safe and secure in the cosmos, was more important than publishing the book. The jewel was instead more easy access to this wonderful feeling of authenticity and quietude.

Although I am a biologist, I am also a longtime spiritual seeker. I no doubt sublimated early needs that did not get fulfilled into a search for a higher order in which these needs become transformed. I have always been drawn to people to who have a deep sense of Presence. They evoke in me a feeling of safety—a world where one does not have to fight for attention or for anything else, a world in which we are all interconnected below awareness and conflicting needs and claims are adjudicated in an enlightened and welcoming way.

Alas, more permanent access to this quality of experience may prove even more elusive than publishing Understanding Intuition. But at least I got a clear message about what really matters to me. As I emphasize in the last chapter of the book, we each have two sides. One is focused on meeting survival needs, as well as survival-associated needs, like success. The other is focused on authenticity and Presence—on our deepest humanity. The two are not necessarily in conflict, but because of early childhood circumstances and unmet needs, they are often at odds with each other.

This split is also important to understanding intuition.  Both sides have access to intuition, but to different kinds. One kind of intuition may lead to success.  The other, a much more profound kind, leads to the knowledge of deeper truth and often to inner peace.

Destiny, whatever that might mean, has taught me a valuable, albeit, at time challenging, lesson. But now that the book has been out a year, there just might be room for something new.  Perhaps there is a way for me—and for others in certain pivotal moments in their life—to bring the two dissonant parts of ourselves closer together?

Does it have to be either/or? In my case, does it have to be seeking attention to quell what are now likely unfillable childhood needs, or continuing to feel unseen and unacknowledged as an aid to finding a more authentic way of being and the higher side of human nature?  This is an open question.

This blog piece might just be the beginning of an answer!  Moreover, maybe the need to get this timely message out to more people can help forge a bond between these two conflicting attitudes or aspects of self.  In our troubled times, which are so in need of healing, we each must do whatever we can.

Want your own print copy? The book is available now on the Elsevier Store.  Enter code STC319at the checkout to save up to 30%.

Connect with us on social media and stay up to date on new articles


Researchers and clinicians in psychology work across a vast array of sub-disciplines, including applied psychology, addictions, cognitive psychology, developmental and educational psychology, experimental physiological psychology, forensic psychology, neuropsychology, and behavioral and cognitive therapy. For these professionals, and students as well, cross-disciplinary study is a given. For more than 75 years, Elsevier has cultivated portfolios of psychology books, eBooks, and journals covering current and critical issues in all of these areas. This vital content provides a sound basis of understanding for all those involved in this multi-faceted field.