Friday, March 17, 2006

Neo-Cortex vs Limbic

Hey all ya'll! It's been awhile. I'm still looking for a place to live so that I can get to my new job easily. When I've had spare time I've been looking up rooms and apartments, calling places, and visiting them. It feels like a microcosm of looking for a husband. I see a lot of places that don't quite fit and hold out for something better and then miss places that would have been better than having nothing, and I have to find somewhere to live. I comfort myself with the thought that when it comes to husbands I don't have to settle because I don't have to have a husband. I have high hopes for a place I'm looking at tonight.

I've been staying with my friend Red since the 7th. It's actually been kind of fun. It's not much different than our usual friendship because we do our own thing and we talk at the same times during the day when we used to talk on the telephone. We have fought less than usual. We usually only fight about ideas- we get along well in the course of living. Of course, when we talk about ideas, I find myself appealingly sagacious and him irritatingly obtuse.

He read a book called A General Theory of Love and was telling me about the ideas. I disagree with part of it and he was furious because I hadn't even read it. So, I read it. I still disagreed with the same part of it, but really enjoyed most of it. (The part I disagreed with might be fodder for FMH because one of the author's ideas is that it is harmful for babies to get their emotional needs met from a variety of caretakers and that the mother should be the primary emotional rock. I think that is an incredibly modern idea and that the truth is that people are fairly tribal and that a child with many caring adults in their life is going to be happier and the mom is going to be a lot happier too.)

So, today we were listening to NPR which doesn't bode well for our happy household. They were talking about torture. I think that people can torture other people because they think of them as less than human, or as "other" and they are very loyally tied to their own "tribe" and part of that is doing the "tribe's" will. That is how people can do horrible things and still think of themselves as a good person. We can all witness this in action in our selves. To take it to an extreme, most of us can brush our teeth or take antibiotics and destroy little life forms without guilt. Then comes the more familiar life forms like chicken and fish and cows, that many of us eat and still consider ourselves to be good people. It's the same process. We are emotionally tied to beings we consider in our group. I think following orders that are cruel, and prejudice are some of the dark sides of a limbic brain that allows us the beautiful ability to bond to our babies and love other people, and creatures. Red, full of feeling, I think erroneously bows before this limbic system seeing it as all good and our neo-cortex as the cause of all our evils. He thinks that people can torture other people because they are not connected enough to their hearts/limbic brains.

What do you all think?


Anonymous said...


Dearie, I don't know this Red fellow (he sounds distastefully monochromatic), but I am curious as to what his views are. Perhaps, if I might indulge myself by looking into the mind of the blandly-colored one (very dark!), he sees the neocortex as the source of "cognitive distortions" that can take root in the limbic system. In other words, Red may be saying that torture begins in the neocortex (i.e. thinking mind) with a misperception of our needs (i.e. That there is a "need" to follow the tribe's wishes and torture the poor sap). Following this misperceived need, one may lose connection with the "real" desire for physical safety for all humans and engage in this torture to maintain limbic connection with the tribe.

Frankly, I believe that the torturer is residing in a place of fear maintained by authoritarian rule which fill his mind with "have-to's" thus denying the greatest power we have a humans: free choice.

Of course, to place fault on one part of the brain or the other seems to be tantamount to blaming the length (or the width) for the area of a rectangle.

I hope you and Red are able to work out your differences without torturing each other :)

Good day,

Happily multi-hued

Braidwood said...

Interesting! Thanks for sharing multi-hued!