The Master and His Emissary, my Take

The Left Cerebral Hemisphere (LH, the language dominant hemisphere), can be viewed as a child that mimics the roles it is assigned, or through its sharply focused observations, is drawn into itself, but on its own, continually lacks the required affective attentional access to the Right Hemisphere’s (RH) primary processes of experience (way of ‘Being’); which are essentially concerned with ‘Care’, is nonverbal, instinctual, socially reinforcing, relationally aware, empathic, sensually rich and highly integrated spatial-temporal imagistic and intuitive perceptions; producing highly contextualized knowledge, memories, evaluation and insights.  

Thus ‘presenting’ to the mind an immediate and holistic understanding of wherever it places its attention, nonverbally, and without the requirement of decontextualizing analytical thought, providing the individual human being with ‘values’ grounded in reality and a practical and meaningful apprehension of the whole.

The LH processes the information gleaned from its highly focused window of attention (like a microscope or telescope) recursively, and is essentially concerned with the usefulness of things, ‘Utility’, habituates the thoughts and behaviors required to implement the global demands of one’s ‘total being’, as apprehended and processed by the RH, in its primary processes of discerning the salient and cohesively interrelational aspects of ‘being’.

The RH subsequently depending upon the LH to implement the behaviors required (forming neurologically hard-wired circuits) for the automated volitional acts it deems consistent with its ‘being’ and its relationships as a whole to everything it is aware of, allows the RH to extend its attentional processes onto an ever-expanding and interrelated world of ‘care’; relationships, value and meaning, as they relate to ones ‘being’.

The Attentional Awareness required to ‘see’ objects and reality as they actually are, a fundamentally interconnected interplay of an untold number of dynamically emergent processes, all necessarily related to and dependent upon each other for existence and expression, continually changing and transforming into and out of multitudinous re-configurations, requires the capacity to intuitively recognize patterns of experience from a whole interconnected view first and foremost, in the processing of experience in the RH.

One’s orientation with reality must be natural and actually ‘present’, not only ‘re-presented’ to the RH by the LH, the actual image of the whole must be considered first, before any experience can be ‘re-presented’ by the narrowly focused attentional processes of the LH.

The information that the LH ‘unfolds’, and subsequently presents to the RH, in this way, can be accurately placed in the context of the whole, allowing for the largely automatic and effective perspectival evaluation of experience, extensionally broadening the minds global view and improving the individual’s ability to recognize, and extend, similar and new experiences going forward. This then is the natural process of psycho-logical human growth, as predetermined by the processes and functioning of our currently evolved human neurological processes.

According to the eminent neuropsychiatrist and Oxford Fellow, Iain Mcgilchrist, the primacy of the right hemisphere, a requirement of the processes of our nervous systems structural functional configuration, has recently been, from a cultural perspective, effectively sacrificed, in deference to the narrow wants and fascinations that the child, now believing it is the master and ‘seer’ of the whole, clings to for its own power and a contrived appearance of certainty, control and survival, as the LH’s primary function in isolation from the RH, is to procure its own power and to utilize the objects of its environment to maintain such power.

Divided Brain, Divided World

Where one directs their attention (where one intends their consciousness), where one focuses and receives their perceptual experiences of reality, is largely a function of which brain hemisphere one habitually employs in orientating themselves to their environments, to others and to their world. Absent either the adequate neurological apparatus or the stimulating impulses emanating from the direction of ones environment, no relations, no context, no meaning and no understanding can be constructed by those functional regions of the brain that require both processes and their interrelations for an accurate synthesis of reality.

As so astutely described by Iain McGilchrist in his work, “The Master and his Emissary”, the brain hemispheres function largely autonomously and are connected by an ever evolutionarily shrinking band of intrahemispheric nerve fibers (corpus callosum, directly connecting about 2% of the two hemispheres connections to one another) allowing for either the inhibition or excitation of one side of the brain by the other; although inhibition of one hemisphere or the other seems to play a larger net effect in the process. Additionally, the brain is asymmetrical in all three of its physical dimensions, right-left, front-back, and top-bottom, suggesting evolutionary advantages for its current polarized structure.

Like a movable lens, the left hemispheres focus of attention is directed by the right hemispheres ever vigilant global “all seeing eye” (or the z-axis), allowing one to focus on varying depths of those things it focuses its two dimensional attentional awareness of its left hemisphere (x and y axis) upon. The attraction of what the left hemispheres lens peers on and into, can abstract it from the less focused but more global and highly relational and contextual view of the right hemispheres modes of attention.

Naturally the broad and embodied orientation of the whole of perception, as perceived and manifested through the working processes of the right hemisphere of the brain, intentionally directs ones narrowly focused left hemisphere towards the direction of the surfaces of those processes that it recognizes as parts of the whole that would relationally benefit ones being from being further investigated, and thus, seeks to extensionally expand ones understanding and experience of the whole, thereby providing the essential relations between the objects of its focus in the three dimensions of space, relative to time.

If ones environmental experiences are such that they internally feel it is unfavorable for them to approach life with a broader and contextual, yet less certain view of things, as the many experience through the ever-present conventions of their cultural and social powers and influences, then through the conditioning effects (of a sufficient measure and magnitude) of such conforming forces, the many discover it more profitable to sacrifice their broader integrating contextual perspective for the relative certainty and comfort of their more narrow and superficial orientating hemispheric processes, automatically provided by the functioning of their left hemispheres.

This focus on the known, certainty and survival over the whole (and our beings relations and deeper connections to that which resides outside the confines of ones skin), affords such individuals with a relatively static slice of reality, largely divorced from its relational context and meaning. This provides an experience of reality that appears very real, predictable and safe, however in doing so, the individual unwittingly sacrifices the depth and breadth of their contextual relationships with the whole, for the utility and pleasure of the predictable, the pleasant, the entertaining and the safe.

Both Autism and Schizophrenia, as well as related psychiatric conditions, are believed to be the consequences of an over-reliance on the narrow processes of the left brain hemisphere, its representations and overall experience of reality. (Louis Sass, “Madness and Modernism”)

Perhaps the current view of the Autism Spectrum, is but a limited view of a larger Spectrum that includes the extremes of expression and behavior for all humans, from the debilitating consequences of schizophrenia and the more severe forms of autism on the far left side of the spectrum, to someone like Nietzsche of the far right, (as Jung described a man of pure intuition).

Perhaps the narrow intensionally abstracted view that the processes of the left hemisphere provide, as evidenced by the conditions of our current global crises, are the consequence of narrow focus and our collective myopia.