Nothing in the following material advances the -particular- nature of the neurobiological views expressed in this forum, but may trigger something in your combined consciousness:
Julian Jaynes and the Raging Borderlines
"Although reasoning has improved, the overall way in which the mind functions hasn't," one of my correspondants wrote.
Reasoning -has- improved, but the long song-and-dance between [name] and myself about Jaynes is really a discourse on a respected theory in which "culturally normal" mind function -has- changed since the bicameral era.
What Jaynes was saying was 1) that "reasoning" is a product of consciousness (or more accurately what we began calling "meta-cognition" or "thinking about thinking" about 30 years ago), and 2) that the folks of 3,000 and more years ago did -not- think about their thinking, they just, well, -thought-.
Further, he asserts that they believed (possibly because it was the cultural norm to do so) that people's thoughts about what to -do- in a given sitiation were "put into their heads" by the "gods."
What makes this interesting to some of us in the field -nowadays- is the similarity of this notion to what we actually see in practice with people who are psychotic or semi-psychotic (sort of but not quite a.k.a.: "borderline"). (There are also, er, "cultural" implications here, if you catch my drift.) Beyond that, and very much what we see in the classic borderline -is- a lack of thinking about thinking that we call "concretism" after the work of an early 20th century observer named Jean Piaget (Google him up; he'll be there).
It's clear (to some of us, at least) that people who have grave difficulties with reality do so in no small part because they have little or no sense of abstract conceptualization, let alone the ability to consciously form a hypothesis and test it in the real world. We used to think these borderline people flipped back and forth between more developed parts of their minds that -did- conceptualize and reason well (say, on the job) and "regression" to less developed, infant of "toddler" minds that -didn't- conceptualize (say, in intimate relationships that resemble those with their parents). Now we're beginning to wonder, however, if they have completely discrete, "dual systems" of processing running in parallel that process -everything- they experience one way -and- another, but that's a -huge- subject in itself.
The long and short of it all is simply that most -healthy- people only resort to conceptualization, abstraction and meta-cognition when they are really challenged to do so. That said, if the documented history of human literature is a reliable indicator, it looks like almost -no- one was doing this until 3,000 years ago, and very few were doing it until about 500 years ago. To get a sense of the former, compare the bibilical books of the law to the gospels, and especially to the epistles. To get a sense of the latter, compare Chaucer (a mere reporter) to Shakespeare (a sophisticated analyst).
"...anger occurs when a perception one has in the mind is not repeated when expected..."
Major GBU hit right through the air conditioning shaft. I used to lecture the half-awake recovering alkies at a famed treament facility in California years ago. I was looking for something about Wilson's notion of anger that would stick (or at least, break through the clutter). Wilson was very big on "resentment" as an underlying driver of substance abuse. Thus, I stumbled onto "Expectations are resentments in training." (I have written a lot since then, but that's probably the single sentence anyone will ever remember me for.)
"...just knowing why one behaves in a certain way does not mean that a cure is possible."
Another bingo. And this one illustrates the Great Failing of Freudian psychoanalysis. Insight is great, but it only gets you... insight. Or, as another guy named Rosenberg put it in the '70s, "Understanding is the booby prize."
This is why we emphasize identification of the (let's say "resentful") appraisal, evaluation, interpretation or attribution in the "moment of reaction." And why we want to trace it back to the -conceptual- core belief, idea, value, assumption or attitude buried in the unconscious that reliably -programs- the person to appraise, evaluate, interpret or attribute as he or she does.
What I just explained above -is- the difference between "primary and secondary perceptual reality," btw.
...and in response to an admonition to read a book on cognitive theory in depth:
After reading a lengthier review of Lakoff and Johnson at http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/lakoff.htm
, I can see why you would feel so strongly about it from a philosophical standpoint. I have to admit, however, that I am more of a "mechanic" or an "engineer" than a "theorist." (Perhaps I should -be- more of theorist; in whatever event, however...) My concerns are with the circular feedback looping of lingual processing of incoming stimuli, affective responses thereto which are based upon value-assignments, resultant (especially interpersonal) behavior, and the specific rewards that either reinforce or extinguish that behavior.
I may well be compelled to dig into the theories of metaphorical representation, but for the moment. the task at hand is to develop a means of intervention into the thought-emotion-behavior-reward-reinforcement loop that reliably produces a very rapid change in behavior, because -behavior- is all anyone "out there" cares about.
That said, my applications of Jaynes' notions are really about manipulating the hemispheric physiology to accomplish a reworking of fundamental evaluations of phenomena all the way down to (if we can get there) how "the voices of the 'gods' in our heads" are interpreted. For me, those evaluative "god voices" are the unexamined "directors" of both affects (emotions and sensations) and actions.
I (currently) see the "god voices" as having been "formed" during such experiences as the oral-trust phase of life in infancy and the --autonomy phase of toddlerhood in response to interactions with parents (mostly the mother, of course) who were either effective or ineffective at providing an interactive experience that supported -accurate- evaluation of phenomena in the environment.
Thus, while I may be limited by my learning acquisitions at this point, I am forced by the politics of psychology to build my case upon data others in the field readily understand (and agree with).
In answer to the post: "So my question for this thread as the forum has taken a welcome psychological turn lately is what exactly is the reason that the left and right brain are differentiated?"
Squished to it's essence, my take on the Darwinian-cum-cybernetic-cum-Jaynesian view is that survival depended upon a combination of symbolic logic and the capacity to react to threats sufficiently well to -drive- the development of symbolic logic. "Consciousness," by the way, is what Jaynes felt was the -result- of looping sensory awareness with symbolic logic.
In most right-handed people, the right hemisphere of the brain is the reactor to threats, while the left hemisphere is the repository of symbol processing. There are exceptions, of course, but modern computer-imaged, radiation tomography appears to verify these notions. We can actually see "hot" and "cold" spots of chemical activity relative to stimulations of threat and other emotional "triggers." We can also see "hot" and "cold" spots where the logic centers are, as well as the memory centers that feed data on "earlier / similar" circumstances. (I am -grossly- oversimplifying these processes, but the essence is accurate.)
From the Darwinian perspective, as well, survival depended upon having "two brains" so that if one hemisphere or the other was traumatized enough to prevent effective function, the other could pick up the slack. When this occurs in the real world, however, it is evident that either logical or affective (roughly = emotional + sensory) expressions of brain function are "lost" and require "re-learning" over time, depending upon the location of the trauma. But what we very often see in such people, is that function changes so much that "personality" is often affected in pretty evident ways.