Are you fit as a pilot? Some points of view concerning the psychological aspects.

It is up to the Air Medical Examiner to investigate and assess if a pilot or a pilot candidate is really fit for flying. Many AME:s co-operate with experienced aviation psychologists in this matter in Sweden.
The text below is from an informative site from the UK CAA Medical Department about the requirements for the medical certification of aircrew.
Applicants shall have no established psychological deficiencies, which are likely to interfere with the safe exercise of the privileges of the applicable licence(s).
Class 1
(a) Where there is suspicion or established evidence that an applicant has a psychological disorder, the applicant should be referred for psychological opinion and advice.
(b) Established evidence should be verifiable information from an identifiable source which evokes doubts concerning the mental fitness or personality of a particular individual.  Sources for this information can be accidents or incidents, problems in training or proficiency checks, delinquency or knowledge relevant to the safe exercise of the privileges of the applicable licence.
(c) The psychological evaluation may include a collection of biographical data, the administration of aptitude as well as personality tests and psychological interview.
(d) The psychologist should submit a written report to the AME, AeMC or licensing authority as appropriate, detailing his/her opinion and recommendation

Class 2
Applicants with a psychological disorder may need to be referred for psychological or neuropsychiatric opinion and advice.

Examples of special psycho-neurological problems:

Dyslexia is a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010 because it is a long term impairment which can have an adverse effect on an individual’s ability to perform normal day to day activities.  Someone with dyslexia should, therefore, be entitled to reasonable adjustments to enable them to obtain and remain in employment.  However, it can never be considered reasonable to make adjustments that will compromise safety.
Although it is considered reasonable for students of most disciplines to have help from a scribe when writing essays, sitting exams etc. it cannot be considered reasonable for a pilot to have to rely on someone else when reading checklists, weather reports, instrument displays, charts etc. in flight.  Scribes or other aids to word recognition should not be permitted in pilot training for this reason.
Provided a pilot has been able to successfully complete the written work involved in training, he or she will have demonstrated a level of reading and writing ability sufficient to safely pilot an aircraft.  If an applicant for pilot licensing is unable to complete training without assistance with reading and writing there are no reasonable adjustments, with current technology, that can be made to enable him or her to safely fly solo or pursue a career in aviation.

Asperger syndrome
Asperger syndrome is an autistic spectrum disorder characterised by impaired social interaction and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.  The DSM IV diagnostic criteria also include significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.  Nevertheless, language skills and cognitive development are not impaired and someone diagnosed with Asperger syndrome may be able to acquire the skills necessary to function safely as a pilot or air traffic controller.  Interpersonal difficulties may arise or emerge in the Crew Resource Management environment of the modern professional airline cockpit.  It is, of course, essential that an applicant with Asperger syndrome undergoes assessment by a psychologist with expertise in the condition before embarking on a career in aviation.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) Disorder
This condition is diagnosed (according to DSM-IV) when an individual demonstrates inattention, hyperactivity or impulsiveness sufficient to cause significant impairment in social, school or work functioning.  The impairment should have appeared before the age of seven years for the diagnosis to be made and may improve with age.
Therefore, anyone applying for pilot licensing who has been diagnosed with this condition must undergo neuropsychological assessment to assess the likelihood of them being able to perform safely as a pilot.  An individual with ongoing ADHD will not (by definition) be able to complete pilot training.  Medication used for this disorder is normally disqualifying.

The psychologist meets her/his client and “music” occurs – or not.

In my last post I wrote some lines about the sensitivity talents that now and then take place when man meets, or even rides, a horse. Most horses, at least those who are trained as riding horses, seem to have developed several sensitivity organs; they “read” the rider’s intention directly and fast, and there is almost impossible for a by-stander to see what is happening when the horse makes a pirouette or whatever the rider wants to become performed. A horse and a rider may form an absolute unity provided that the rider is equipped with a corresponding sensitivity as the horse is. But a rider lacking that kind of sensitivity will certainly have quite great difficulties becoming a good enough rider.

The same goes for the psychologist (or psychotherapist) meeting a client. But are not all psychologists sensitive people? Of course not. Sensitivity is not included in the requirement profile of a psychologist, even if this could be asked for in certain cases. What is primarily looked for is a general good cognitive-intellectual skill, good grades from college and university, such things. But you can hardly find any employer hiring any psychologist on musical or horse riding talents – or any other sensitivity measures.

Which means that a client meeting a psychologist cannot take for granted to become completely understood or genuinely “read” by just showing up, telling a complicated life story, those sort of things. Many psychologists insist of making use of so called “evidence based” psychological test instruments. Without such tests there are psychologists that have certain difficulties in their endeavors to reach a good comprehension of their client; they will soon come to a dead-end without a good enough ability to assist or to fulfill the investigation.

The main problem with the psychological tests is that all of them are quite rough tools, particularly tests used as measures of the personality. Such tests could be very interesting, providing useful results, in the hands of the sensitive psychologist, combining the outcome of the tests with her or his other findings based upon observation and deep interview questions. But in the hands of what I will call “the psycho-engineers” (emphasizing “engineer”) the tests could lead to false or inaccurate conclusions.

By the way – I have no horse and it was a very long time ago when I practiced as a rider. But I like music, particularly the kind of music that I would say is based on a broad intelligence in combination with phantasy and creativity.
End of the lesson for today.

Humans and horses and musicality

Some people seem to have it, others do not.
I am thinking of general musicality, the ability not only to listen, but to, in a deeper sense, read and understand music. And among those who could be named musical there are wide differences between those who are very musical indeed, and those who belong to a normal sector: they could sing a song, but they do not play any music instrument, they like to dance and to listen to the ordinary sortiment of daily pop tunes, but they are not that very interested in going to the opera house and listen to Wagner or Verdi or other classical hit makers.

And then we have the bunch of people having almost no ability at all concerning music. They could not fall into a proper rhythm and they are not able forming their vocal cords into any precise musical threads.

There are several interesting questions about musicality: what forms it, which parts of the brain are occupied transforming motor physiological activities into tunes and complete music pieces, and why have some people an ease for this complex matter while others have absolutely nothing of it; some are in fact completely tone deaf.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) belongs to the giant European composers, so very loved by so many all over the world. He started to learn how to play the violin and the piano already when he was three years of age, composing his first small pieces of music when he was four.At the end of his life he had composed around 600 pieces including 22 operas.

What qualifications are needed for such great success?
It is hard to tell.
Researchers within this area are pointing at general perceptual ability as one major factor, and a deeper comprehension of musical patterns and structures in combination with how certain humans experience specific movements in different tunes. Some neurologists have also found that the right part of the brain have centra for pure music, tunes, while the left part of the brain has centra for experiencing rhythm. Most musical people seem also to have a greater ability to rather quickly learn different languages than those who are not that musical.

And now to horses and the interaction between horse and man. As within the fields of music there are wide differences between those people that have a natural talent in communicating with horses (and probably also other animals) and those who have absolutely no talents at all for that kind of interaction. By communicating with horses I am not thinking of primarily verbal try-outs, but more of how you as a rider on the horseback almost make the man and the horse to one, a unity, where the horse is responding by “reading” the rider’s intentions, not so easily visible for the spectator. The communication “flows” through the rider’s body, focusing her or his buttocks, legs and feet. The horse transforms this body talk directly to the small but important horse brain. But it looks like some people have no or rather small abilities to smoothly communicate in this sense with horses, nor with dogs or cats or birds or any other animal. It seems as if horses can not “read” some people the ride becomes just a mess.

Summing up: I think that sensitivity is the correct word if you want to discriminate in between those who have it and those who lack this kind of human ability. We humans are not equal in our internal mechanisms.
I will be back with some more reflections regarding this matter.