I’ve recently come across the work of Dr Iain McGilchrist and I’m so glad I have (thanks once again Sam Harris, Making Sense podcast). Not only is his work on the two hemispheres of the brain fascinating, it is super important for our future; as leaders creating better organisations, cultures and societies. Iain debunks the out-dated and incorrect myths of the left and right hemispheres and shares a much better and more accurate understanding of how we operate. Here is a snippet of an article on Iain’s work … (his latest book and documentary are worth checking out too https://lnkd.in/gEVe8aF )
“The right hemisphere is interested in the unique, whereas the left wants to put things into categories and treat them as generally the same. The left hemisphere is full of abstract general things from which one is detached – one doesn’t understand exactly what they mean overall, but has an idea of how to use them. In the right hemisphere, we have constantly changing but unique things that are interconnected with one another. We used to think a right hemisphere stroke was not such a bad thing, because most people can’t speak or use their right hand if they have a left hemisphere stroke. But my colleague, [British psychiatrist] John Cutting, spent years with people who had had right hemisphere strokes and discovered they couldn’t understand implicit meaning: irony, humour and metaphor. They couldn’t understand poetry and tone of voice, and they couldn’t read faces and body language.
What are the implications of this for society? If we are tending to neglect the way the right hemisphere looks at the world, as I think we are, we lose the broader picture. Knowledge is replaced by information and there is a tendency to lose the concepts of skills and judgement, and for them to be replaced by algorithmic procedures. The left hemisphere requires things to be familiar, predictable and certain; it can’t cope with data when it’s not clear how to interpret it. The trouble is, most of the really valuable things that we desire in life – to be creative, loving, imaginative or even clever – are not things that can be operationalised. I think reasonableness is a concept we have lost. We are becoming more and more like the logical processing that the left hemisphere carries out. Social cohesion begins to suffer, because that is right hemisphere based.”