Left Brain Struggles To Put Right Brain Emotion Into Words

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Thanks for your answer. Actually I am still able to draw as well as before, just the images I draw are all really violent now. I used to draw nice things. I realize that's to do with my trauma, but I was wondering if the fact that I have reduced right hippocampal volume is contributing to the violent images I draw over and over again. That's my question actually.

Maybe there is no answer... if there isn't then just ignore me.
You raise an excellent question of which I have not found an answer to, but the following article intrigues me, as brain damage actually improved artistic ability. I do not know if hippocampal volume affects artistic themes or amount of traumatic images drawn. Emotion is hard wired in the right brain and develops first, the right brain processing at double the left brain's speed. This occurs before the left brain is even aware of the cognitive meaning of the object or situation presented for logical analysis.

Why brain damage may spark artistic ability

Last Updated: 2006-10-19 13:00:47 -0400 (Reuters Health)

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with a certain type of brain damage are known to develop new artistic skills during their illness. A "before and after" look at one such patient's artwork offers some clues as to what is going on when this occurs.

The condition known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) occurs when sections of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain deteriorate, leading to dementia. There have been reports of previously inartistic people becoming talented visual artists after developing FTLD. But it is not clear whether the brain atrophy is releasing dormant talent, or the disease itself has somehow triggered the artistic expression.

To investigate, Dr. Valeria Drago of the University of Florida at Gainesville and others studied the art of a woman who had been an artist before developing FTLD. As the woman's condition worsened, they found, her artistic technique improved, but the emotional power of her work decreased. "We can really follow how the paintings have been changed following the disease," Drago told Reuters Health in an interview.

Drago and her team gathered 40 paintings by the woman, including several from the period before she developed symptoms, some from when her symptoms were beginning, and some from when the woman was "fully symptomatic."

The researchers then gave 18 men and women training on how to evaluate six different artistic qualities, and asked them to rate all the paintings based on these qualities.

Ratings for the paintings' artistic skill rose as the woman's disease progressed, but ratings on the paintings' "evocative impact" and "closure" fell. Evocative impact is the ability of a work of art to elicit an emotional reaction, while closure is the sense that a painting is finished and complete.

Drago and her team note that FTLD leaves the parts of the brain at work in drawing, painting and other skills relatively intact. The part of the brain the disease does affect may typically inhibit this region of the brain, so when it is damaged artistic talents have freer rein, they suggest.

The researchers also point out that FTLD patients may have damage to the limbic system, a network within the brain essential for mediating emotions. This damage could in turn impair an artist's ability to paint emotionally affecting paintings, or to portray emotion visually.

Drago said she and her team are continuing to study creativity and the brain, and are currently looking at how normal aging may change creativity.

SOURCE: Neurology, October 2006.
Oh that's a really interesting article, thanks so much for sharing it, I think I'm going to print it out and read it again tomorrow when I'm feeling more awake.
so it seems we have no control over what happens in our brain ,,,,
I supose if I were in a perfect wildlife inviorment with food and shelter I may be one happy SOB exspeically if I had a woman that liked the same kind of thing ,,,,,
I just heard the song ,, on a comidy show no less and it had the same effect on me as it always dose ,, nomatter were or when I hear it ,,, it tears me up or it makes me cry ,, or it make me wish i had what it talks about ,,, the song amazing grace ,, my head has bin all over the place lately ,, I am so lucky I have developed some coping skills over the last 3o+ years and even more glad booze is no longer one of them ,, reachiing out to others is a mayjor part ,, trying to let others know exactly what is going thru my head is another ,,altho you do tend to lose some friends in the prosess ,, the way I look at that is , thay weren't really friends to begin with ,,, to open up in a room full of people and showing them just how fu--ed up you really are takes a lot as courge or dessperation to find help
what you say about the brain is interesting but I still have no control I had to alow the change to happen in its own time and with many peoples help ,,, some times all they could do was sit and let me blow or brake then be there and say are you OK now or hold me , or just cotinue to sit with till I said somthin ,,

to tell the truth ,, I am a very simple man must of my dreams have bin smashed but a few have happened ,, the most gratifying is my Daughter and the way she has turned out
some people I respect have told me I am wise beyond my years , I say thank you ,,,, but I think I see things way to clearly for what they are ,,
I have bin called alltrueistic ,, that I have tanasitty ,, that I'm a good man I say thank you ,, but in my head I look at what goes thru my brain and I don't alway agree ,,
were dose that leave me ,,, very cofussed , and crying for help
please do not take this a critisisum ,, and please excuze my spelling ,,,
we all need love and understanding , compashtuon and friendship ,,,
I pray we all find our way Bealte bailey
So the right brain processes 2 times faster than the left brain. I never heard that before. I wonder if that somehow ties in to an "exagerated startle reflex".
Interesting stuff here.
The following is from a Powerpoint presentation:

The Startle Reflex:
A Measure of Emotion and “Attention”

John J. Curtin, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Response matching hypothesis

Startle reflex is a defensive response

The magnitude of the reflex is INCREASED when the organism is fearful (fear potentiated startle; FPS)

The magnitude of the reflex is DECREASED when the organism is “feeling good”***

Measurement of the startle reflex:

Elicited with brief burst of white noise (“startle probe”) presented over headphones

Eyeblink response is indexed by recording electrical activity in the orbicularis oculi muscle.

In one experiment participants were presented with words projected on a screen.

The following words did not produce a startle response:



but these words did:



Lateral preference in post-traumatic stress disorder

B. SPIVAK a1 , M. SEGAL a1 , R. MESTER a1 and A. WEIZMAN a1 c1
a1 From the Research Unit, Ness Ziona Mental Health Center, Ness Ziona; Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv; Flugelman (Mazra) Psychiatric Hospital, Ashrat; Research Unit, Gehah Psychiatric Hospital and Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Beilinson Campus, Petah Tiqva, Israel


Background. We assessed lateral preference in 80 male patients with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and in 100 healthy age-matched male controls.

Methods. Hand, foot, eye and ear preferences were examined, using the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory-Modified and the Coren Inventory of Lateral Preference.

Results. Mixed lateral preference was noted in significantly more PTSD patients than controls (65 v. 43%, P<0·005).

Conclusions. These results indicate a possible hemispheric imbalance (less lateralization) in PTSD patients, with the right hemisphere playing a more active role in perceptual and cognitive processing and in the regulation of biological responses in these patients. This imbalance may be relevant to the pathophysiology of PTSD.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Abraham Weizman, Gehah Psychiatric Hospital, Beilinson Campus, Petah Tiqva 49100, Israel.

Can the Different Cerebral Hemispheres
Have Distinct Personalities?
Evidence and Its Implications
for Theory and Treatment
of PTSD and Other Disorders

Fredric Schiffer, MD

ABSTRACT. The author presents an evidence-based psychological
theory which is derived from clinical observations, a review of the
literature, especially the split-brain literature, and experimentation with
lateral visual field stimulation which has been found to induce changes
in patients’ cognitive and emotional status thought to be associated with
the relative activation of one cerebral hemisphere or the other. The
evidence from lateral visual field stimulation suggests that often each
hemisphere can have distinct psychological perspectives differing especially
in their level of neuroticism with one visual field evoking a more
immature perspective than the other. One of the central tenets of the
hypothesis is that psychological traumas are associated more with one
cerebral hemisphere and than the other, and that the ultimate aim of
psychiatric care then becomes the teaching of the mental entity associated
with this troubled hemisphere that it is now safer and more valued
than it had been at the time of the trauma.

Interpretations of the patient’s difficulties usually evolved from an attempt to empathetically appreciate
how the patient may have felt during a past traumatic period, and that perspective often led to a clearer dynamic
understanding of the patient’s symptoms. Serious psychological theoreticians
did not support the idea that the unconscious resembled an
intact, though troubled, inner child (Munroe, 1955). The popular concept
of the “inner child” did not emerge until the mid-198Os, and was
never fully developed into a sophisticated, complex hypothesis.

During a brief psychiatric interview, one of the two split-brain
patients told me that he had been bullied as a child. He told me further
that he was not at all bothered by those incidents because they had
occurred about 30 years earlier. When he was tested, I asked 3.5 questions
of a general psychological nature such as “How anxious do you feel?”
or “How confident do you feel?” I also asked 14 questions
about the bullies such as “How angry do you feel about the bullies?”
or “How much does the bullying still bother you?” On the general
questions, both hands generally responded similarly, but on the questions
about the bullying there was a large discrepancy between the
responses given by his two hands. His right hand, answering for his
left hemisphere, as he had already told me, indicated that he was not
bothered by the bullies. But his left hand consistently indicated that he
was still very disturbed by the bullying. We interpreted this to mean
that his right brain was still quite upset by the bullying even though his
left was not.


There are two aspects to the ideas I am presenting and both have
clinical relevance. The first is the general psychological theory that
most people have a mature and an immature part to their personalities.
This hypothesis has usefulness in our attempts to understand human
behavior and to assist people with their psychological problems. This
conceptualization of the mind allows the theoretical insights described
in the previous section. It formulates psychopathology as usually coming
from an immature aspect which still believes it is in the midst of a
traumatic experience. Psychotherapy is then conceptualized as the
teaching of this troubled, immature aspect, that it is in fact safer and
more valued than it has realized. Usually the troubled part of the
personality does not realized that a new, more mature, more realistic
part of the mind has come into existence since childhood. The therapist
can help the patient find and use this more mature part of the
patient’s personality to help the troubled part.

Some of clinicians have reported to me that they feel uncomfortable
trying new techniques and have requested that I present a hands-on
workshop to assist them. I am of the opinion that these techniques are
not so complex and are simply an extension of traditional dynamic
I will need some time to process this, but I intend to do so.
Beetle Bailey, I can relate with your writing. But I disagree with your statement that we can't control our brains.
I know we who have been diagnosed with ptsd are not capable of changing our thoughts in a given moment.
Think of this as a process, not an event.
Our brains are not static. If they were we would be incapable of learning anything. However we are capable of learning, precisely because our brains are not static.
In this thread we have focused on different brain hemispheres and how they function.
If our left brain is capable of learning, then is not our right brain also capable of change.
It is my belief that right brain traumatic memories, to some extent, can be disrupted. Not through force of will, but by actually putting the right brain to work.
"In lateral research on cognitive processing, it has been shown that stress can alter or even reverse functional hemisphere asymmetries, for instance, the typical advantages of the left hemisphere for verbal material and the right hemisphere for visuo-spatial material in visual half field or dichotic listening tests."

Reference: Brain Asymmetry and Stress: New Perspectives in psychophysiologically oriented psychosomatic research.

I totally believe that. It just falls into place.
I can remember my thoughts and actions before 2004. Usually my thoughts were stuck in the past. My actions and behaviours were what could be termed as situational inappropriate.
I am guessing this was a result of a traumatized, predominant right brain.
Whatever it was I was a mess.
"We know that the brain is divided into two large hemispheres,
connected across the centre by relatively few interconnective neurons.
Contrary to our intuitive subjective sense and even desires, these two
lobes are responsible for us living simultaneously in two separate complex
mental worlds. These worlds live, literally, side by side, but perceive,
process, and express information in very different ways. Further, these
separate mental worlds may know little about each other.

To me, this raises a question. What is modern conventional thinking on this? Have any studies been done on ways that could produce a more symbiotic existence between the 2 hemispheres. If it can be done, should it be done?
Or do we yet know?
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

—Albert Einstein

"An interviewer once asked Albert Einstein how he developed his complex scientific theories. In reply, Einstein reportedly pointed to his head and said that he used a pencil and a piece of paper to develop his ideas. This clearly demonstrates the perfect union of analytics and creativity in problem-solving. Out of Einstein's working process came many famous scientific theories, including the theory of relativity. Nothing could better illustrate the integration of left brain and right brain: logic and reasoning coupled with imagination and creativity."
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