The Three Brains
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
Life is not simple. It is dynamic. So often in this dynamism, we have to categorize what we are contemplating simply to make sense of it...
Divide to conquer!
For a long while now, I have been humbled by the concept of "The Law of Three." It's not about you, it's not about me, but the space in-between. The Law of Three also suggests that life's magic is often in rhythms of three... mom-dad-child, mind-body-emotions...
And now we are seeing the same pattern in the human brain!
As explained in A General Theory of Love, written by three medical doctors in California, scientists have discovered how our brain has evolved from the "reptilian brain," to the "limbic brain," and now to the "neocortex." All three sections are found in the human brain, each with their own functions, and are the "product of a separate age in evolutionary history."
As referenced in the book, the reptilian brain lives as a "bulbous elaboration" of the spinal chord. It houses vital control centers prompting breathing, swallowing, heartbeat, and "the visual tracking system a frog relies on to snap a dancing dragonfly out of the air." While the "startle system" lives in the reptilian brain, "reptiles don't have emotional life."
In this part of the human brain, we cannot feel.
Focusing on the space in-between, however, the brain's middle "limbic" section allows mammals to "take care of their own." The limbic brain brings a shift - instead of laying eggs and detaching from a reptile's young, we begin to see the more animalistic mothering style of birthing, playing, and even singing to each other!
"Remove a mother from her litter of kittens or puppies and they begin an incessant yowling - the separation cry - whose shrill distress drills into the ear of any normal human being," the authors explain, "But take a baby Komodo dragon away from its scaly progenitor, and it stays quiet."
Then, crawling upwards, we land in the neocortex. The largest of the three brains.
"In human beings, the neocortex has ballooned to massive proportions."
Speaking, writing, planning, and reasoning all originate in the neocortex. The skill of abstraction also lives here, which is "every task that calls for symbolic representation, strategy, planning, or problem-solving."
"Language is the grandest and perhaps the most useful abstraction we have."
That all said, as much as we want to talk about matters, we simply still have to feel!
Now more than ever, science is able to validate how blocked or unexpressed emotions can lead to illness. According to the Sue Gerdhart in Why Love Matters, “Trying not to feel can take many forms.”
“When emotional responses are suppressed, you are interfering with the flow of information," Gerhardt explains. She adds how if anger is not expressed as it happens, "It makes it difficult to regain equilibrium and to calm arousal back to a normal level.”
In cancer patients, for example, Lydia Temoshok found that "the more a cancer patient was able to express her anger and negative responses, the more lymphocytes she had at tumor sites to deal with the tumor."
A child who is raised in a negative environment - including violence in the home, abuse, or high stress of some kind - falls victim to a "range of future health problems," adds Gerhardt. "They are likely to release twice as many pro-inflammatory interleukin-6 (IL-6) cytokines in response."
In contrast, a child who experiences loving and supportive parenting - also known as limbic resonance!!! - is not only "buffered against stress but also has a more robust immune system."
“Secure relationships help us to regulate feelings.”
(And thus keep us healthy!!!)
As the Law of Three suggests, it's about the space in-between. In between "you and I" is a relationship. One full of happiness, joy, sadness, tension, angst, worry, and concern. ENERGY! Between the reptilian and neocortex lies the limbic regulator of such waviness! It's when we tune in to each other and express what we are tracking within our emotional realm, we actively heal and even avoid future forms of physical illness.
My neocortex is yearning to say simply...
In today's world. With all the hate. And the crime. Poverty. Sorrow! It is no longer the time to keep ourselves distracted to avoid what we are feeling. Now is the time to Listen...
Because feelings are your ally.