Book Review: Visual Intelligence by Amy Herman

Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life By Amy E. Herman

Visual Intelligence sheds a new light on the way we look at the world around us and gives practical application for employing the author’s methods to improve the way we interpret and communicate.  Amy Herman has a background that is uniquely suited to educate in this interesting skill set. Herman trained as a lawyer, using her analytical mind to assess what people said as well as what they didn’t say through their body language and their verbal language.  She learned to read between the lines of what was articulated to uncover deeper meaning or purposeful voids in stories told by witnesses, victims, and suspects.

In addition, Herman is an art historian, who spent years learning what she calls the Art of Perception.  In emergency medicine, we learn algorithms that include physical and mental tests as well as questions designed to establish not just the primary complaint of the patient, but hopefully some cause for the illness or injury.  Good E.R. doctors learn to study their patients more than their charts. Herman has helped doctors improve this skill in the same way that she has helped police forces and FBI agents with their investigative talents.

Visual Intelligence is full of great photos, drawings, and other artwork designed to take the reader through a process of looking for key influences in what they are seeing: the direction of the light, the type of jewelry being worn, the posture or hand placement, all as a first step in answering the question: what is it that the artist intended me to see?  This is followed by more detailed inspection that teaches the reader to ask: what clues has the artist left to give me special insight into his work.

Those who have trained with special operations teams in the military or in the intelligence arena know how important details can be.  A person’s clothing can tell a good deal about their story. In medicine, we can diagnose a multitude of diseases from looking at a patient’s eyes.  Amy Herman presses us, as readers, not to look beyond what we see, but more deeply into what we see to extrapolate new meaning from what might otherwise be old context.  This thinking outside the box, and being open to new input and viewpoints translates well into day-to-day communications, and we can always be a little bit better at that.  – Richard Lackey, CEO of the World Food Bank