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The Divided Brain

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Enter text here…The Divided Brain,¬†from Iain McGilchrist

The Divisions of the brain has a rocky history, particularly in our understanding of how we think creativity works in the brain. McGilchrist thinks this needs to be re-addressed, particularly from its simplistic explanation. The common split, suggesting that the brain is equally divided on the left by rational and the right for emotion and creativity is now thought to be wholly wrong. Both side have important roles to play in every mode of thinking.

There is something very important to understand, particularly in humans, about this division, particularly in relation to the function of the corpus callosum, whose role it turns out is to “inhibit” the function of one hemisphere from the other.

The brain’s asymmetry is there for a reason, mostly to do with the types of focus we have to have. the left is for narrow focus, the right is for a broader outlook. This is borne out by people who have damaged one or other of their hemispheres.

When we know something is important and we wish to be precise about it, we use our left hemisphere. When we need a more general awareness we use our right.

Our ability to empathise with others is what allows us to read other people’s minds and intentions, and this is what allows us to make bonds with other people.

Our minds use a simplified version of reality and we use mental maps to know where things are and what is important to us. The right hemisphere is used to understand things in context and to understand their implicit meaning. It deals with the embodied world.

For imagination you need both hemispheres, for reason you need both hemispheres.

There is an interesting metaphor used by McGilchrist of understanding the world in the left hemisphere as essentially lifeless and deals with things that are static and essentially lifeless. The right hemisphere as understanding the world as embodied, individual and living.

This offers us two versions of the world, which has favoured the left “rational” side which is not right and has led to many deficiencies in our current view of our place in society.

We have developed something that looks distinctly like the left hemisphere view of the world. Control lead to paranoia. The left hemisphere view seems to be more consistent, largely because it has made it so. A self-fulfilling prophesy.

We must return to what the right hemisphere knows.

As Einstein said, “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant…we have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift”.

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