September 10, 2016

I've been fascinated by the left brain / right brain split lately - the weird tales of how a split-brain patient seems to have two utterly independent selves living in their skull - and in those cases how cheerily the verbal left brain will make up the oddest stories to justify what the half of the body controlled by the "other brain" is doing, in order to maintain an illusion of unity of purpose, and self. (I'm convinced everyone get tons of practice making up those stories every night as we dream, that dreaming is an exercise in the left brain making up rationalizations and interpretations of much less ordered sense impressions/illusions.)

I'm trying to read up on the topic (haven't found a really focused book yet, though I'm optimistic about one of them) because I know I'm currently tempted to make up unverified "Just So" explanations, and attribute to my right brain every impulse my rational analytic self doesn't approve of - such as my desire to snack and eat unhealthily (and the absolutely scary "junkie reasoning" my subconscious came up with once after my analytical brain said "look, I'm not really hungry, and I'm not even craving anything in this fully laden vending machine of free snacks, I should walk away" -- "well, that's just why it's OK to indulge in it - because you *don't* have that pressing desire for it!" was the conterthought, rising up unbidden from the mental depths.)

But why the desire to attribute unwanted feelings to a physically distinct part of my brain? I mean does it matter that it's physically separate? (As opposed to the model of the mind as a cacophony of "virtual" subconsciousness, subconsciousness where it doesn't matter precisely *where* each is firing neurons in the brain... this is the view I tend to hold to, and it's more nuanced than the mere 2 part split this split brain "Just So" story implies.)

I understand the temptation for my analytic brain to declare itself the "real me", even as a higher part of me (or, lower?) understands that that's not correct. "The impulse came from my right brain", then, is kind of akin to "The devil made me do it!", a kind of rhetorical distancing from things I don't like about myself, and undeniably originate from "me"

I wonder if "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" gets into this?