The Brain in Bits

Do you believe there’s more to you than your brain?

For example, take talking to yourself.

GOD YOU’RE STUPID! Didn’t you see that coming!

Shut the frig up, you!  Like YOU knew any better.

Do you do that?  I do.  But who are we really talking to?  Who ‘hears’ us?  Well, according to Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul, when we talk to ‘ourselves’ it’s really our brain talking, if you like, to our soul, our awareness, the true core of our being.  It’s this awareness that constitutes the Real Me.  Because, the argument goes, if ‘I’ can perceive my thoughts, then those thoughts cannot be ‘me’.  ‘I’ am the one who perceives, the rest is simply ‘that which is perceived’.

It kinda makes sense. Like, if you’re looking at a dog, you know you’re not the dog. If you’re looking at your toes, you know you’re not your toes…um…ok it’s getting a little more complicated here.  But stay with me.  If you’re looking at your thoughts (gee I’m hungry, that woman’s got huuge boobs, I wish my boss would drop dead right now before she reaches this desk..) then you know you’re NOT your thoughts.

And then again, it kinda doesn’t.  According to an article I read in the Scientific American, if a doctor chops the physical bridge between your left and right brains, you get TWO selves.  As in,

Pass me that drink will you Ernest? (says one you to your right hand)

Drinking before 9am! You’ll do no such thing! (says the other guy in your head to your left hand)

In which case, what becomes of the True Self theory?

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About turnipsforbreakfast

Rose has two blogs, www.butimbeautiful.wordpress.com, and www.turnipsforbreakfast.wordpress.com. Enjoy!
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28 Responses to The Brain in Bits

  1. OK, this is all way to complicated for me. I shall refrain from chopping my brain in half. Good golly, I’d hate to find out which one became the real me. I am, however, someone who talks to themselves, so I shall read this article as meaning that I have reached a higher level of understanding and, therefore, realise that I need to be spoken to, by myself. It’s also a good reason to have pets. People will think you’re talking to them, rather than your alternative self

  2. iamnotshe says:

    Does thinking about how to fix a painting or write a poem while swimming count as some sort of “self” or some sort of “perception of the world”.

    Actually, being the I/O Pyschologist that I am, I’d recommend the 16 PF personality test to figure out your strongest personality traits. LOL. Not really.

    I wonder what (or who) DOGS think I am. THAT’s what counts. xx

    • Master! Provider of Food! In-house Entertainment??? (albeit really weird entertainment – if dogs think about us, I bet they think ‘god humans are peculiar!’

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      • iamnotshe says:

        I think they like when we head for “feeding areas”. They like it when we lay down. But if they want to walk, they like it when we stand up. Dogs. What a fabulous life.

        I wonder why I think they are much deeper than they are? They’re just so damn loving! That makes them KARMA QUEENS! Should do, anyway.

      • It’s impossible for us to know what they think, except that they’re kind of like us, so I guess they think the same sorts of things we think – only with a doggy flavour. It doesn’t matter, anyway, we love them to bits. Mine is curled up on the floor next to my desk right now, waiting patiently for a walk. He doesn’t always wait patiently – sometimes he sits like a little devil dog with his glowing eyes fixed on me and doing a sort of whiny-panty thing – it means, let’s go for a walk NOW!!! Or I’ll….YAP!

  3. We are told that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, and the only thing that happens is that they die, but there is a lot of evidence that they can relearn, and recover from damage – vide Edwyn Collings after 2 major strokes. There are also musicians whose speech part of the brain becomes active when they play, so they literally speak through their music. I wonder if things like bipolar are actually two parts of the brain slogging it out.

    • I heard some well known neurologist (or something like that) say a couple of days ago that we really don’t know anything much about the brain. But yeah, there’s bipolar, and then there’s ‘split personalities’…we have all sorts of interesting mental quirks!

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      • babedarla says:

        You know, neurologists no longer believe that we don’t make new brain cells…we do indeed, I believe it’s part of what they refer to as brain plasticity, which is also what you’re talking about when you refernce the brain making new neural pathways due to damage or relearning.

      • Yes, so I believe. There’s some bits of the brain that don’t get replaced, but most of it does – good news!

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      • babedarla says:

        Yeah, especially considering all the brain cells I destroyed in my twenties!

      • babedarla says:

        Don’t you just love Ted Talks?

      • I would if I could ever sit right through one! I think I’ve caught my kids’ attention span problem!

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      • babedarla says:

        I always LISTEN to them while doing other things…that’s how I deal with MY attention span problems! 😉

      • that actually is a good idea. The thing is to have one of those newfangled thingummies…ipods? Then you can walk around listening to educational stuff while you do housework, which would be good.

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    My brain is spinning trying to wrap itself around this. I suppose our mind collects so much ‘debris’ over the years that thoughts naturally come from it. But our true selves can choose to heed those thoughts or not.

  5. I’m too old to sort this one out. I don’t care which part is what anymore so long as I can keep talking to myself. I think we do that because we just like to hear our own voice.

    When I was about 30, my workmate pointed out that I talk to myself as I’m working. I was aghast. Then I realized, by talking out loud, I was making a hard task easier by breaking it down into segments by talking it out.

  6. Clowie says:

    My head hurts – I think it’s the idea of chopping my brain in half!

  7. Ha ha! But if you had two selves, Clowie, I’m sure they’d both be lovely!

  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Rose, this is utterly utterly fascinating. Thank you for bringing this out. AMAZING.

    I took myself off the 700mg (maximum dose) of Effexor which I was put on after my suicide attempts, and I am not suffering depression presently. I’m suffering self discovery.

    Yet all this – into the brain like this. WOW.

    • I’m so glad you’re not depressed at the moment. It’s a horrible illness. Yes, the brain is amazing and complicated, and we really don’t understand it!

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  9. Peter T says:

    I talk to myself, but I also listen to podcasts from brainsciencepodcast.com/‎ on long drives. There’s lots of fascinating stuff we do know about brains.

  10. Har+new says:

    Soooo I got confused somewhere between the two big paragraphs. What do you mean if you’re looking at your thoughts you know you’re not your thoughts?

    • It’s a good point. The guy writing the book about the Self was arguing that if you can talk TO it, look AT it,etc..ergo, it’s not you. Because of the subject-object distinction. Crap really, though.

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