Alfred de Grazia: Brain specialization

from: Homo Schizo One

Nor can humanization wait upon a slowly evolving culture, no more than the bee was anatomically created and then evolved the basic elements of its social system over millions of years. Even though he does not draw the consequences - hologenesis - we can agree with Robin Fox when he writes: "The nature of order is part of the order of nature. It is not that man is as culture does but that culture does as man is."[1]

Recent researches into the differing behaviors prompted by the separate hemispheres of the brain can also be considered. Hominid 'X' may or may not have had a large brain before he was humanized, that is, before he became schizotypical. The fibrous conjunction (corpus callosum) bridging the left and right hemispheres of the brain may be playing an effective role in conditioning humans for schizotypical behavior, even if it is not indeed the physical location of the genetic factor that so many are searching for.

In his treatise on The Ghost in the Machine, [2] Arthur Koestler has placed the origins of human 'mis-behavior' in a malfunctioning relation of the limbic system to the cerebral region. The basic reptilian and mammalian control and response systems are located below and behind the cerebrum, which is grossly 'over-developed' in man. The rational and constructive inclinations of the uniquely human cerebrum, he thinks, may be frustrated all too often by the more instinctive, unconscious, and irrational animal systems. Human behavior, as a result, is prone to contradictions, rage and aggressiveness, destructiveness, and madness.

Even while admitting that a specialization is occurring here in the human central nervous system that can bring about schizoid behavior from a lack of perfect coordination, we must say that the problem is incorrectly stated and may explain why Koestler did not arrive at the focal center of human nature. The problem is not one of 'mis-behavior' but simply of behavior, both 'bad' and 'good, ' 'normal' and 'abnormal. 'Pari passu, there is no 'malfunctioning, ' but only 'functioning. 'We do not turn off a spigot marked 'rational' and turn on the spigot labeled 'irrational.'

Once we brush aside this specious and decrepit Aristotelianism and scholasticism, Koestler's work becomes valuable. For now it becomes possible to seek a mechanism of delayed instinct between the automatic and cognitive specialization of the brain, which, in conjunction with other sources of delayed, diffused, and over-loaded responses, may explain the self-awareness, existential fear, and profuse displacements of the human being.

The bilateral structure of the brain, providing two hemispheres, had been fashioned long before the advent of humans, probably one some quantavolutionary occasion between two ages. A division of functions between the hemispheres may have come only with the origination of mankind. The skullcase tends to warp to conform to the concentration of functions in the brain; and external asymmetry conforms to the internal asymmetry. Such asymmetry, implying human specialization, may characterize most or all hominids. Ornstein asserts that hemispheric specialization (asymmetry, that is) appears to be unique to humans.[3] Handedness in favor of the right hand, and language, are dominated by the left hemisphere. Asymmetry in the language region is, for instance, discoverable on the skull of "Arago XXII" coming from Tautavel, France. This specimen is classified as homo erectus and assigned an age of 450,000 years by uranium-thorium and electron-spin-resonance tests. (Source: Musée de l'Homme, Paris.)

Besides governing right hand and body movements and language, the left hemisphere is specialized in analysis and mathematical functions. It is also assertive and, in observed behavior and experiments, tends to dominate decision-making. The right hemisphere of the cerebrum initiates and supports activities of the left side of the body, and pursues non-verbal and holistic forms of thought and appraisals of experience. It is described as artistic and analogical in its ways of processing the external world for internal consumption and action. Thomas Parry has surmised that a relation exists between ancient catastrophism and a take-over of internal and external behavioral leadership by the right hemisphere of the brain on the occasion of traumatic experiences.[4]

Each hemisphere alone can convey to the whole person the possibility of physical and mental survival. Each is in constant touch with the other through the medium of the corpus callosum which carries millions of connecting links between them. The severance of this membrane has permitted direct observation of the individuality of the two hemispheres. It leaves a still "normal" person "with two separate minds, that is, with two separate spheres of consciousness."

If the key to humanization is a general delay of instinctive response with a consequent choice-factor introduced into a wide range of behavioral decisions, then a possible source of the delay lies in the corpus callosum and/ or any drug that can inhibit the full and complete communication or near-identity of action of the two hemispheres. If, for example, fatigue and exhilaration both produce schizoid symptoms, some quantitative measure of interaction between the cerebral hemispheres may define the normal schizotypical state of the hemispheric relationship; the norm itself would be genetically and/ or socially induced on a continuing basis, providing typical human behavior. The recent association of high or uncompensated adrenalin secretion with schizophrenic symptoms suggests offering this drug as a candidate for a humanizing auxiliary.

One is inclined to distrust so simple a solution to so fundamental a problem, even after posting the usual warning signs: that the process is more complicated than it appears; that we know next to nothing about the circulation of adrenalin and other drugs with which it interacts in process; and that historical proofs of such an evolution are probably impossible.

One might as well suppose, while offering the same type of warnings, that an electrical change has brought about human behavior. If the Earth has gained charge in recent millennia, the human body may be operating in a hyper-electrical mode relative to the environment in which it evolved. This would be the case with the biosphere generally; insects, birds, and mammals are all sensitive to electromagnetic fields and changes in them. The hominid might then become the 'nervous human' who turns upon the not-quite-quantavoluted hominids and trains them to be human, meanwhile through adaptations and interbreeding creating a new race, whose, members are quantitatively distributed about the genetic norm of the 'nervous human. '

As with every significant element in the quantavolutionary theory of homo sapiens schizotypus, the hypothesis of the physiological source of humanization is put forward to orient thought and method. The theory as a whole serves to show where we can go when deprived of the assumptions of a uniformitarian external force-field of evolution and of the free, long expanses of evolutionary time.

[1] Biosocial Anthropology, London: Malaby, 1975, 7.
[2] New York: Macmillan, 1968.
[3] Robert E. Ornstein, The Psychology of Consciousness, San Francisco: Freeman 1972, 63.
[4] "The New Science of Immanuel Velikovsky," I Kronos 1, 1975, 6-7.