Two Minds, One Brain

A writer’s life and pondering…

The brain has two hemispheres: a left and right brain. The connection between the two is the corpus callosum. It allows information to be shared from one side to the other. When this connection is lost, either through trauma or surgical intervention [it can be severed purposefully in the treatment of some types of epilepsy], the two hemispheres act independently of one another. This can produce some rather bizarre phenomena and raises some metaphysical questions.

The separated hemispheres will have separate perceptions, concepts and impulses to act. One side of the brain can countermand the actions of the other. For example, while trying to dress himself, one split brain patient buttoned his shirt with one hand while the other hand [controlled by the other hemisphere] immediately undid all the buttons. The same happened when trying to put on trousers.

Not only does this make getting out the door to your job extremely difficult, it raises this question: if the two hemispheres are expressing different wants and needs, are they then two separate minds? And in fact, are all of us two separate individuals dwelling in the same body? I don’t know the answer to that question and I’ll leave it up to the neuroscientists and philosophers to figure it out. Nonetheless, this phenomenon made me think of the terms we [as writers and artists] use to describe the creative inspiration: the muse, the voice, etc. Is it possible we are simply talking to the other ‘mind’?

Some writers go so far as to attribute their inspiration to the supernatural. The poet WB Yeats was convinced that there was a collective consciousness that could be accessed and the revelations could be passed on through the written word. His wife, George Hyde-Lee, claimed to have access to the spirit realm via a messenger from whom the secrets of the other side would be revealed. The method of delivery, termed ‘automatic writing’ produced some 4000 pages of text which the poet poured over in search of answers. Of course, much of this writing is open to interpretation and would probably make little or no sense to most of us. Yeats however, formulated theories about life, history, love… and it greatly influenced his own writing forever after.

Ok, so then my question is this: is it possible that this ‘automatic writing’ was Georgie girl simply accessing the other ‘mind’ in her brain? I guess that takes the magic out of the story if that is what happened. Still, it’s a really amazing concept to visualize another person existing within you, prompting your actions, influencing your decisions, inspiring your art. Is that what happens? I don’t have the answers and so far neither do the metaphysicians, but it sure is an interesting question to ponder.

14 thoughts on “Two Minds, One Brain

  1. A mind bender! I think my connection between sides is very strong and thus I do not really experience this phenomenon they way some people do. I would be horrified to end up like the man buttoning/unbuttoning his shirt.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! Piece of cake! You’re right though. The article I was reading said that most people with weak/missing connections do manage to suppress the ‘interfering’ side. So strange though!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Not sure if I’ve said but I partially started drawing in 2012 due to an interest in neuroscience.

    The drawing thing came about from taking a book from the library, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain by Betty Edwards.

    I remember one of the exercises has you doing a line drawing upside down (to break down the brain’s natural preconceptions) and there’s a funny quote that stuck with me. One of her students said something like “Never in my left mind would I have drawn that!”

    If someone said back then that I’d go further than the planned 21 day drawing experiment, and indeed on to create an art website one day then I’d definitely have thought that person had a screw loose – in either side of the brain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So interesting! I imagine that would be a really useful exercise. Really ‘seeing’ what you’re drawing as opposed to drawing what you think is there based on our preconceptions. Have you kept up your interest in neuroscience? I admit my interest is mostly in the ‘doors of perception’ sort of way. How do we know who/what/where we are and can we ever really be sure?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Meg,

    I don’t know about such stuff and I certainly don’t have a supernatural connection to my limited writing but that being said our youngest daughter always told me when she was teen that the main character in her stories always plagued her dreams until she wrote (typed) it down an then he (Gilles) would leave her alone for a time. I never knew if she was serious or it was just her overactive imagination. Honestly, it was a bit creepy if the truth is told. But, perhaps that’s the creative madness that lives in some. Have a blessed day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cathy. It’s certainly an interesting idea to ponder. The imaginary friend we all invent as kids, the muse that motivates or inspires our writing or art… that perhaps it could just be the other side of ourselves managing to push through via our subconscious. Wishing you a wonderful day, too!

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