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Unread December 3rd, 2005, 11:10 PM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Philadelphia area
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Default The Left Hand

Several years ago, a man attempted suicide when "something took over" and later, when he gained his senses, he nearly bled to death after almost amputating one of his hands.

Sperry cut apart left and right brains to control seizures. He also freed each half from the other. Give opposite directions to the two ears and the corresponding hands perform appropriately and with no clue about either the activity or motives of the opposite hand. Split the visual fields and give opposite directions again to each half of the brain and once more, the corresponding hand carries out its specific directions.

There were incidental observations as well: one side of a fellow wanted to be an architect, his other half a race car driver. In another instance, one hand restrained the other that carried an axe and pursued the owner's mother. Could it be that Sperry's extraordinary findings are the peculiar result of surgery but, instead, reveal the foundations for ordinary conflicts?

I usually don't think about Sperry at wedding receptions but a blonde at the bar brought them to mind when she scratched her ass. It was an older wedding, the couple met after second marriages and 8 years of shacking up, and the blonde was about the only thing in the crowd who rated more than casual attention. She had lots of curls that looked natural and hung down in a power big wave followed by lots of smaller ones. Her lavender and silver gown showed her to be slender front to back but the left-right view showed love handles more consistent with 35 years than 18. Otherwise, she was the sort of girl who let us think that she was very very good.

She chatted with a group of physicians, stomach in, tits out, and her right elbow on the bar supported a martini at the perfect height for sipping. She was class and money but her left hand reached down and backward every few minutes and scratched just below her left buttock. The wandering left hand cycled for about 15 minutes before I gave up thoughts of helping it and got a little bored.

I doubt that her left cortex, the one with the verbal stuff, knew what fun the right had and probably would not have allowed it at a formal reception in a gentrified restaurant. I also visualized her right hand amputing the left when the left cortex tried to kill off its irresponsible opposite. Did Sperry's architect live on the left side, the one with linear rules and simple math or on the right side, the one with 3-D, complex relationships? And was the racer on the right? A volatile, willful, labile pilot for high powered machines? **

Gazzaniga, M. (1992) Nature's Mind. NY: Basic Books, summarizes part of Sperry's work.

*Paranoid schizophrenia: The diagnostics people apply "schizophrenia" to anyone who hallucinates but also to folks who are disorganized in their thoughts, quirky in the conclusions they reach. They also apply the word to the combination of peculiar affect, ambivalence, loosened associations between thoughts, and autistism.

Exception: "paranoid schizophrenia" denotes not the usual clouds and confusions and puzzlements but is, instead, applied to individuals with clear thought, clear expression, and a glib manner but who are convinced that the rest of us scheme against them. As one charming fellow put it, "Specter's single bullet theory was about me, not Jack Kennedy."


Could it be that such people also have a left-right problem?

** My recall is suspect but injury to one cortex, the left?, often leads to suicide because the client "is aware" of the injury and does not want to continue living. The opposite injury sometimes predicts a labile emotional life but not a lethal one.

Copyright, James Brody, 2005, all rights reserved.
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