The Brain’s Role in Polarization

The solution to the divisive polarizations that we are experiencing in so many of our cultures has it root in the mind/brain complex. It’s a rather obvious statement, but one that needs to be remembered as we search for solutions to our many social problems. Through the power of mind we have more control over ourselves than we generally acknowledge, and if we are to be successful at managing the mind, it helps to understand the mental choices at our disposal.

The split in our brain splits consciousness into two broad types, each with its own characteristics that often seem in opposition, such as we often see in the expression of conservative and liberal, or masculine and feminine viewpoints.  The two sides are complements. That means they are totally different, yet inherently compatible. Each has its own unique way of seeing and responding to life. But being so different in character, and given our lack of knowledge of them, the two sides don’t always work together to nearly the degree they are capable of. Nevertheless, given a better understanding of the forces that we are dealing with, we can assist the process of integration and become better decision-makers—which is why I became interested in how the brain affects consciousness.

As a result of the genetic forces of dominance, one side of your brain is likely to rule the other, meaning it acts as your default management system and limits the information that comes to mind, as well as your response options, thereby making you a specialist in some aspect of consciousness and somewhat clueless in others. Each specialized system is capable of managing the overall operation of both sides of the brain. Nevertheless, we are not destined to be limited to the insights and actions of one side. The contribution of our non-dominant side might be hidden from plain view, but it can be accessed. Learning how to access the non-dominant side of the brain is a key element of my work.

The biological reason for having one side of the brain dominate, and thus mange both sides, is to insure that the brain’s pair of management systems come to a harmonious decision. Otherwise, given their differences, we would be internally conflicted much of the time. The Corpus Callosum, the organ that is often considered a connecting organ, is also known to work to separate the two sides, and some scientists think that separation is its primary purpose.

Although the prevailing wisdom is that we have only two operating systems—that of the left and right hemispheres—the two sides can also combine to create two more unique systems, each giving us unique insights and unique ways of responding.  More about that in future posts.

Fortunately, in addition to what our brain tells us, we have a second fundamental source of thought: our culture. What our internal voice might lack in terms of guiding us, we can always learn from external sources—those around us. And while we are not limited to what our inherited operating system is trying to tell us; nevertheless, if we fail to listen to others, or they don’t have the answers, or can’t explain their insights in language we can understand, we can still be dependent on the bias of our internal voice for guidance.

In my next two blogs we look at how the brain polarizes us.

James Olson