jnd, or just noticeable difference, is as the term suggests, the difference between the starting and next level of a stimulus, or in simpler terms, the first point at which a stimulus hits you, which could be a little, or a lot after it has actually been in action!
I have learnt this concept of jnd across 2 of my three undergraduate majors, psychology (duh!) and media. It comes into play in marketing and advertising, and thus but naturally, consumer psychology. However, the third major is what I chose to enroll my masters in, Literature.
So where does jnd fit into literature? Or more importantly, why am I talking of this seemingly out of nowhere concept right now?
This takes me back a bit to sometime last August, it was back in the psychology lab at my university, I was watching one of my classmates perform the jnd test upon another. I won’t get much into the details of the test but it was something involving a gentle prick and the subject needed to tell whether it was by 2 pins or one(the subject doesn’t know that it is always two!). This had to be done quite a lot of times and the general threshold results of our class were ranging from 15 to 25. It was funny because of the repeatedly failed attempts the experimenter was so frustrated she was no more gently poking but brutally stabbing at his arm with the instrument and yet, even at the threshold of 45, he was still getting it wrong!
Now I wonder, why was that?
Some may say that thick skinned hard headed (not literally) people take more time to be astutely affected by a stimulus. Some may say that, viewing the other side, people who are more sensitive to their environment and surroundings pick up a stimulus much quicker, I don’t know for sure, but I know that it matters.
At 45, a ridiculously insane threshold, WHY was he still getting it wrong? Surely that couldn’t be his ACTUAL sensation. I guess what I realized is that threshold, be it a physical or other measure, always lies within one’s mind.
That makes me think, there are invariably 2 ways to look at this, the point where something hits you, for the first time, the point at which you really really feel it and realize what you are in, and the so so many points where she may have been stabbing you, but it would take more to turn your mind around.
It took me a long time to reach my threshold.
It took me months of saying goodbye, it took me 3 trips to a totally random city, joining a school I knew nothing of, attending some curious and some pathetic lectures, smiling a LOT while disintegrating bit by bit within my own mind listening to a language I think I spoke but not being able to make sense of any of the sentiments conveying it equating it to a completely foreign language, feeling like a tadpole who would never quite make it into a frog, feeling like a bird who would lose its wings before it could ever take off, feeling like a complete nonsensical joke in a place that would never ever accommodate me, before I realized the inevitable, I may learn to survive here, I may even get a way of life I knew nothing of so far in order to adapt, but I would never ever belong here.
They tell me, ‘You knew it wasn’t your magic land’, and it’s true, I knew that. What I didn’t see right then was that it was a land that would suck the magic from my soul, suck the brightness of my heart, the sunlight from my day, what I didn’t know was that it would make every good in me diminish into oblivion as I stand there, as I even close my eyes and picture it.
Not many people, if at all a handful, may be able to perceive the streak of sheer sobriety in this intoxicated ride, but that remains the whole point, jnd.
It took me what most would consider way too much to realize that I needed to leave, that I needed to head home, but that was the point where it struck me, that was the point where I JUST NOTICED.
Some may, on the contrary believe that it was too soon, between the first and second stimulus to derive the right perception, that the difference was too small, but that is the thing about jnd, when you know it, you know it. Hail and storm till then, it would totally pass you by a breeze, but there comes a point, each person’s own threshold, that the stimulus derives the result that was meant to be.
Earlier during this year, I felt very very strongly that I had to leave the city I was in, I KNEW, so I was frightened if perchance, I was mistaken again, turmoil filled every corner of my being for days, dreams corroded with demons of indecision, thoughts burdened by the fear of false judgement, self doubt, I had so much trouble even being able to sit down and think.
I tired and I tried to think, but all I could do was hit dead ends and go more ballistic. I would have moments of piercing enlightened clarity followed by hours of tormented disarray. All I wanted to do was listen to my heart, but I no longer knew what my heart wanted, for it wanted and didn’t want SO many things!
So I went for the voice of truth. Some may call it a God, some may call it conscience, some may call it some inner voice or voice of the universe, I don’t know what it is, but I know that it is the only voice that can hear my heart better than me. So I went to a place where I can generally hear it clearly and I asked it, what am I to do, and I knew. I don’t know how, but it was like a random knowledge app had just been installed into my mind and like it was always so simple and I should have known. I just knew.
So I decided to leave a little of my future to the universe to show me and narrow it down to two very specific options, return to the school by next week, or in two days I would get accepted into another school I had the fortune of applying at just days before its commencement.
My phone rang today, I was accepted. I knew my destiny and I am glad.
It wasn’t an easy choice and I needed to talk about it to always remind myself about certain things, all of which the next post or two may be dedicated to.
Thank you for being a part of my endless saga, the support I receive from this blog is one of the only things that always keep me going, thank you.
To hope for a better beginning and treasured couple of days with a very queer yet special bunch of people.