Left Brain, Right Brian, Right Shame

‘The Master and his emissary’ by Iain McGilchrist was the reading for this lecture. McGilchrist argues that left and right hemispheres of the brain are different, and that the right hemisphere is the most important. However he states that in the west, the right side is more dominated by the logical left. He lists criteria that both hemispheres show. The left side of the brain tends to be more logical and analytical where as the right brain is seen to be more creative and emotional. The left brain is seen as sercondary compared to the right; this ties in with the title of this book, the ‘master’ being the right whilst the ‘emissary’ is the left.

As a task we were asked to ‘draw our brains’. The outcomes were all different, from people drawing things that they liked, to others drawing the conventional associations of each hemisphere. For example, mine was very similar to the typical description of the left and right side; logic meets creative. This was an interesting exercise; it allowed us to make physical and visual interpretations of our brains.

An alternative theory to McGilchrist comes from David Crow. In ‘Left to Right: the Cultural Shift From Words to Pictures’ Crow argues that we are becoming more visual and that in fact the west is becoming more visual and right brain based. “Visual media established itself as the primary means in the media of consumption” This suggests that visual means have started to become more consistent in our society; in particular advertising. Originally adverts were more text heavy, however with time they have become more visual and symbolic.

Looking at these two perspectives on society and the idea of having a more dominant hemisphere I agree with Crows take on the issue. We as a society are becoming more visual, apps are becoming more simple with flat design, information seems to be taken in more effectively when it is simplified and quick. However I do agree with some of McGilchrist’s ideas; The left does effect us also. I feel that if both sides work in harmony and are balanced we might have even better outcomes.

Iain McGilchrist (2009) The Master and hIs Emissary. Yale University Press

David, C. (2006) Left to right: the cultural shift from words to pictures. 1st edn. Lausanne, Switzerland: Distributed in the USA & Canada by Watson-Guptil Pub.


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