Despite centuries of scientific exploration and philosophical contemplation, the unconscious mind continues to be one of the greatest mysteries of the human condition. One particularly intriguing aspect of the human mind is intuition, which describes our ability to understand a concept or an event without conscious reasoning.
It is an instinctual form of decision-making where we don’t actively think, but it just appears in our consciousness with any obvious deliberation on our part. It has long been the subject of intense fascination and research, and various writers have written books which explore the mechanisms behind intuition, its purpose and importance, as well as how we may begin to connect with and strengthen our intuitive abilities.
If you are intrigued by the unconscious mind, and especially intuition, then the following books provide an exceptional introduction to the subject.
Best Books on Intuition
1. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Written by Malcolm Gladwell, this book is a fascinating introduction to intuition. The author asserts that we are constantly processing thoughts and making decisions without necessarily realising it. With insights from the fields of neuroscience and psychology, he investigates why some people are so in tune with their instincts when it comes to decision-making, whereas other will fumble and falter.
Ultimately, the prevailing sentiment is that careful deliberation can be a hindrance to effective intuition. The writing is compelling, and it certainly encourages the reader to reflect on their own interactions with the world around them. It provides an intriguing glimpse into the mysteries of the unconscious, and it certainly makes sense when the author states that the decisions we make in the first few seconds of any encounter have far-reaching implications and consequences.
Considering the complexity of the subject matter, it is worth keeping in mind that this book does provide a somewhat simplified approach which doesn’t really acknowledge that there are times when careful deliberation is preferable to an immediate decision.
- An interesting introduction to intuition.
- Offers an intriguing and unique perspective on the subject.
- Conversational tone and relatively easy to read.
- An extremely simplified approach which sometimes sacrifices scientific accuracy.
- Doesn’t consider all of the factors surrounding intuitive decision-making.
2. The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
With its thoughtful and contemplative approach, this book challenges traditional notions of reality and perception. Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons offer an incredibly refreshing perspective, and the purpose of this book is to demonstrate the mysterious and bewildering way in which our mind works. In many ways, the reader will be left with more questions than answers, but that seems to be the purpose of this exploratory book.
Essentially, the authors assert that what we perceive doesn’t have a basis in reality as much as it is influenced by reality, and our mind will create a series of illusions in order to fill in the gaps or generate a more palatable version of the truth. The writing is interspersed with empirical evidence and scientific statistics, but it is also easy to understand and read through. Any points which the authors make are subsequently supported by examples of the types of illusions our mind creates as well as experiments showing how easily our mind can blend fiction with fact and believe in alternative versions of reality.
The unconscious mind is an extremely complex phenomena, however, and this book does slip into a black-and-white understanding at times, for example people can differentiate between reality and illusion more than this book would suggest.
- Arguments are thoroughly supported and written persuasively.
- Plenty of scientific experiments and real-life anecdotes are included.
- Thoughtful and reflective points which leave the reader with even more questions.
- Somewhat repetitive and long.
- Underestimates the mind’s ability to differentiate between reality and illusion.
3. Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer
What truly distinguishes this book is that it delves into the biological and psychological mechanisms which drive intuitive thinking and behaviours. Gerd Gigerenzer is a researcher of intuition, and his academic and scientific background certainly come through in his detailed and comprehensive writing. Drawing from pioneering research and intriguing anecdotes, this book explores the various influences and factors which are believed to affect our instinctual decision-making abilities.
One particularly interesting assertion he makes is that decision making is not as complicated as we believe it to be, and in the majority of cases only a couple of factors are sufficient to prompt an intuitive response. The author also looks at the way in which unconscious thinking is shaped not only by individualistic needs but community and interpersonal motives as well, because at the end of the day humans are social animals who want to protect and belong within a social group. This will invariably affect the decisions we make.
If there is one critique of this book, it would be that it places an immense emphasis on evolutionary factors at the expense of other influential factors, such as environment, circumstance and individual differences.
- Supported by evidence from psychological and biological research.
- Examines social as well as individualistic motives.
- Looks at how intuition may have evolved to benefit us.
- Prioritises an evolutionary explanation at the expense of other important variables.
- The writing can come across as dense and academic.
4. Second Sight: An Intuitive Psychiatrist Tells Her Extraordinary Story and Shows You How to Tap Your Own Inner Wisdom by Judith Orloff
The author, Judith Orloff, is a psychiatrist who provides an almost autobiographical rendition of her experiences and thoughts in this book. Eloquent and poetic, she describes her personal journey for her pursuit of inner wisdom, an essential part of which was integrating her unconscious intuition with her work as a psychiatrist. Compared to other books in this field, this one approaches the subject of intuition from a more spiritual and personal perspective.
What’s more, she describes ways in which the reader might also embark on their own journey, through employing various exercises which empower the mind such as dream interpretation, meditation and prayer. It is a book which will undoubtedly leave readers feeling inspired, especially because the author’s intensely personal reflections are supported by scientific rationale and real-life anecdotes.
Her writing also navigates the complexities of bringing together the unseen subtleties of the unconscious mind with the observable truths of science. For someone who is more interested in a scientific breakdown of intuition, however, then this book is probably not the best choice for you.
- A poignant and reflective perspective on intuition.
- Balances spiritual experiences with scientific rationale.
- Written by a psychiatrist who has successfully applied the methods she describes.
- Focuses on the metaphysical aspects of intuition rather than the psychological and biological.
- The storytelling does significantly lengthen the book.
5. Intuition on Demand: A step-by-step guide to powerful intuition you can trust by Lisa K
The purpose of this book, written by Lisa K, is more or less summarised in the title; it is a step-by-step guide for the reader who wants to develop their intuition. Throughout the book, the author addresses some of the fundamental concepts of intuition, before then proceeding to describe the procedures and practices which the reader can implement in order to explore the unconscious processes of their mind.
One of the core strengths of this book is the simplicity of its advice and the clarity of its writing, and the methods which the reader is encouraged to follow are straightforward and easy. For someone who is hoping to connect with and then strengthen their intuition, this practical book is the perfect introductory guide. Lisa K is known for her extensive knowledge of intuition and she has attended countless seminars and workshops, this experience certainly comes through in her effortlessly poised writing.
This is a book on personal development rather than scientific exploration, and it is worth remembering that this guide might not work for everyone, considering it’s based on subjective and metaphysical experiences.
- The writing has exceptional clarity and simplicity.
- A step-by-step guide which can be easily followed and implemented.
- The author is an expert on intuition and personal development.
- It is not a universal solution which guarantees results.
- It is based on metaphysical experiences rather than scientific rationale.
Intuitive thinking, essentially, is the process of recognising and then following one’s instinct in order to come to a decision. The opposite of intuitive thinking is reflective thinking, where we question this instinct and consider other possibilities. Intuitive thinking is the way in which the unconscious mind perceives and interprets reality, and obtains knowledge without reason or inference.
By understanding our intuition, we can learn to channel it in a way which encourages personal development and growth. The titles we have described offer compelling and engaging insights into intuition, and how we may use it to bring further meaning and purpose to our experiences.