One of the most interesting recent neuropsychological discoveries about the brain and how it works,
is that they have demonstrated, experimentally, that "we" don't percieve the world first hand.
Everything that we experience in our life comes through any of a variety of 'sensors' in our body.
These are the receptors that detect information from the 'outside' and transmit it to our brain
where it is processed, decifered and converted into a form that the 'I' can understand.
So "I" become aware of the outside world only from the data that has been processed
and converted into an understandable form by some mental "machinery",
a sort of software program that exists in our brain designed for this specific purpose.
It has been located, through exhaustive clinical studies, in the left hemisphere of the brain
(in most people) and it has been named the "Interpreter", since that is exactly what it does.
It's function is to process a myriad of internal and external events, check with memories of the past,
and synthesize the present situation into a coherent view to be presented to our awarenss so that we
can believe that we are in control of whatever is happening. (p. 24)
However, as Gazzaniga reports in his book "The Mind's Past",
"The visual system is not built to represent an exact copy of the actual world;
it is built to work with cues that maximaze its function. (...)
the brain doesn't want a replica of the exteranl world projected onto it;
it simply wants to be cued enough to work right." (p. 87) and to paraphrase Shakespeare
"Therein lies the rub!"
You see, the interpreter does not concern itself with TRUTH, or facts.
IT will always assemble the available information, or lack thereof, into a coherent view that makes sense to us.
"The interpreter tells us the lies we need to believe in order to remain in control (...)
We all want to shift our beliefs so we can hang on to the proposition 'I am nice and in control'." (p. 138)
And so, IF we are not aware, if we don't make regular "reality checks",
we can be the unwitting believer of the most outlandish concepts of what has happened,
who we are, and what we are actually doing. Things that are easilly seen
by those around us are completely out of our awareness.
Like subjects of a hypnotists cabaret show, we can make the audience have a good laugh
by our unaware actions in reponse to the hypnotists post-hypnotic commands.
It is easy for others to see that our actions are based on the post-hypnotic command
as we fearlesslly make 'logical' rationalizations for our illogical actions
The interpreter creates an internal narrative that makes sense to us.
We are, literaly, a lengend in our own mind.
Therefore, it could be said that our sanity, our mental health, could be measured
by the degree to which our internal narrative matches the external reality.
The interpreter 'mechanism' is the product of evolutionary process.
At one point it was very important that we quickly determine if that thing in the bushes
was a predator or a source of food, and act accordingly.
In our present lives, however, it may be introducing too much interpretation not based on fact
and thus the solutions we apply to the problem do not work for the real situation.
It does not have to be this way.
We are not condemmed to live in a world of self fabricated illusions.
The same researchers who discovered the interpreter have also found
on the right hemisphere of the brain a perception mechanism that does not distort.
This is the subject of the next page:
THE RIGHT HEMISPHERE
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