Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Left Hand of Darkness

A recent Wall Street Journal article (Shirley Wang, 6 Dec 11) reviewed the current conventional view that left-handedness puts you at higher risk for disorders such as ADHD and schizophrenia. 

The reason for this supposedly has to do with brain lateralization.  In right-handers, language processing takes place mainly in the left hemisphere, and since language is such an important function, this gives the left hemisphere a certain overall “dominance.”  This is also true for 70% of left-handers.

However, 30% of lefties “appear to exhibit either a right-dominant or distributed pattern.”  This is supposedly what puts them at risk, because “[h]emisphere dominance is typical and more efficient.  Symmetry, in which neither side is dominant, is believed linked to disorders….People with schizophrenia, for instance, exhibit more symmetrical activation of their brain hemispheres…”

On the other hand, the article also mentions that “[t]here is some evidence that lefties are better at divergent thinking, or starting from existing knowledge to develop new concepts, which is considered an element of creativity.”  And six of the last 12 US presidents have been lefties!

There’s so much we still don’t understand about brain lateralization.  Is it evolutionarily protective to have two potentially separate and interchangeable hemispheres?  Like having a back up hard drive, that can be re-programmed if the other one fails?  And what is the evolutionary advantage of crossover – the right hemisphere controlling the left side of the body?

But I really question whether brain symmetry is a problem.  The consciousness training Monroe Institute, the energy healer Bill Bengston, and many, many others suggest that greater synchronization within the brain, including hemispheric synchronization, yields expanded human capacities such as anomalous healing, OBEs, remote viewing, etc.

It may be true that there is a higher incidence of left-handedness in the schizophrenic population, but what does this correlation really mean? 

In my experience, children raised fully bilingually are sometimes slower to begin mastering language, but later catch up and are enviably bilingual.  And from reading many autobiographies, I’ve learned that highly psychic children are at risk for mental distress *if their psychic abilities were maligned.*

Likewise, left-handedness and hemispheric symmetry may be more complex to master (like bilingualism) or produce unconventional perception and behavior (like being highly psychic).  You can see how this differentness is a risk factor for mental distress if it’s not responded to well by the environment. But you can also see how this differentness holds great potential for being unconventionally creative, perceptive, and contributory.

And don’t even get me started on the idea that schizophrenia may be a psychic opening gone wrong.  That’ll be for another post!  ;)

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