7 August, 2015

Sherlock’s Mind Palace

‘The Brain is the New Sexy.’  (Irene Adler said this in the Season 2 episode, The Scandal in Belgravia.)

I’ve been watching the Cumberbach Sherlock for the first time.  In one episode I saw Holmes slump into silence, fingers pinching his brow, to reflect on his case at hand (no pun intended).  I thought, ‘Nah, I don’t believe it –  he’s forcing it.

But he’s Sherlock and that’s the way he works.  Yes?  Yes but fiction can stretch too far.  I had mentioned to a group in a workshop that reflection is NOT what Sherlock is doing because he’s trying too hard.  I said (ref. image),


the writers took this into consideration (you do realise Holmes is fictional?), for in the following episode when he was about to reflect, they padded the scene with explanation about his process.  He goes to his MIND PALACE, he needs SILENCE and QUALITY TIME.

When in the Mind Palace, his mind whirls in a strobe of images, or rather like a very fast surfer who uses a Google Maps-like technique for looking into memories files.

This got me thinking (again, no pun intended)

It is true that we hold much deep in our mind that is accessed through a gentle process of mining.  Not fracking our brains (pun intended):  that’s too synthetic, too chemical, too harsh. Gentle, relaxing, breathing time.  Scholars of the creative process talk about the moment when our brain opens up.  That happens best when we let our mind alone, as James Thurber put it.

I wanted to put into words or graphics something to help examine what I think about reflecting.  In a workshop on the reflective process someone asked:  ‘Are there people who are just bad reflectors?’  There are different styles of reflection, but if you work at digging more deeply into your experiences and situations, you are doing something that most people don’t.  If you reflect, that’s worthwhile.

How the brain works to reflect

I’m reading Stephanie Dowrick’s  Creative journal writing : the art and heart of reflection  (2007) and on pages 130-132 there’s a story that illustrates factual journal keeping. It refers to the concept of how factual journals can jar your memory. Have you ever looked at an old picture that makes you remember and feel something as if you were there? Like a smell. You can go right back to a place in another time and recall all sorts of things. The memory link to fact is like going to your Mind Palace to find things stored out of the light of everyday thought.

Branching ideas

Here’s the graphic I came up with about how a fact can lead to the deeper thought we call reflection, based on the DIEP model of reflection (RMIT).


Reflection helps you to evaluate experiences you have with a balance of subjectivity and objectivity.  It prompts you to look for the intrinsics:  What did YOU think of this?  Why?  What are YOU getting out of it?  What do YOU hope to offer to others?  What have YOU gained from others?

As for the Brain being the New Sexy: well, wouldn’t that be nice?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Miscellaneous, Reflection