Years ago, the scientific community discovered that our left and right brains function differently. This idea quickly became a favorite of pop psychology – so much so that for many years, scientists wanted little to do with any research involving it. However, some scientists still loved it. One such scientist is Ian McGilchrist, author of The Master and His Emissary, where he discusses the differences between the two, and the fact that we need both.
What he discovered in his own studies and research is that the 2 sides do not do different things, but do the same things differently. Our left brain focuses on what’s immediately in front of it. It’s the calculator and detail-oriented part. The right, on the other hand, sees the big picture, and understands connections.
With our right brain, we can appreciate different points of view, be moved by a beautiful sunset, or a beautiful piece of music. With the left brain, we can solve detailed problems.
McGilchrist is also a psychiatrist, and believes that our world prizes primarily left brain functions. For instance, left brain views are always slightly paranoid because it can never see the big picture. It needs security and predictability. It sees only in black and white. It’s the right brain that can discern nuances, and be open to exploring something that is as yet unpredictable.
Our world could do with more right brain appreciation, and a real appreciation that both our left desire for details and action, and our right need for art and love, are essential for a full and balanced world.
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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .