brain insights

Mike Perry posted about the brain and I remembered the transparent head kit I got as a gift when I was ten or eleven. While I watched the 20/20 special on Gabby Gifford/Mike Kelly I was pleased at the miraculous leaps and bounds of Gabby’s recovery from having a bullet tear through her brain, and I got emotional at the positive energy of the love story. But I was also impressed that Gabby’s essence/personality/humor/spirit was undamaged, while it is the linear and tactile skills she needs to relearn.

I’ve watched the TED.com video of Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight a few times and two days after the 20/20 show on Gabby, I was in the library and saw Dr. Jill’s book with the same title. The book is lots better than the TED.com talk and I have high expectations now Ron Howard is planning a movie based on the book.  I believe the Gabby Gifford story has exceptional potential and is wonderfully emotional, but Dr. Jill’s story is basic science and explores her revelations in LaLaland during her near death episode.

People often compare computers to the brain and now that computers have wireless connections to The Cloud, where all data is floating in the ether, I like the comparison even more. The left side of the brain is the ego side which develops our individuality and linear skills. The ego protects us with knowledge and fears to stay physical on earth. The right side of our dual core processor brain is our essence side which develops our personality and joys.  This is where we build our self esteem, appreciate our memories, celebrate our accomplishments, feel gratitude, understand humor, and wonder.

Both Jill and Gabby’s examples are about repairing/retraining the left side of our brain function. What makes it a powerful story is that when a skill or goal is achieved there is a celebration. Celebrating is a right brain function as it serves no purpose in the linear achievement of goals. But if either of these women were only able to work on regaining their left brain function without that celebration energy, the stories would be tragic instead of uplifting.

This is why great novels have characters on an emotional journey while also achieving linear goals and facing tragedies. A character arc is defined as the emotional journey from ego to essence which means developing right brain function, while the left brain keeps the character alive, growing and adapting through the action of the plot.

An emotional journey of learning to celebrate fits well with the hero journey plot structure. This can be enhanced to the tone of the story as: learning to celebrate the self, nature, security, children, or learning to celebrate technology, science, or history. Whatever fits with the story, no matter how dark or wacky, that ability to celebrate more freely at the end of the conflict and drama is uplifting for the reader.

This is also the message of both the above stories, both women are inspiring because they truly and freely celebrate their right brain and the essence of who they are, even when the ego/left side is a challenge.

About Terri Patrick
Writer of Romance and Memoir. Life is an adventure, take that journey.

2 Responses to brain insights

  1. Thanks for those links. I hadn’t heard of how Gabby Gifford was progressing. The shooting was on our UK news but there has been no real follow up – unless I missed it.

    My wife and I were emotional last night watching a documentary of a child with brain damage and the love their parents gave him – to which he is responding slowly.

    Interesting post.

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  2. Last night in yoga, Rob had us doing poses that illustrated the strengths on the each side of our bodies. I found my left side to the the strongest – controlled by the right brain. This felt correct. I use my right brain when I write. My poor left brain has to grocery shop and do laundry and try to connect dots that elude me. Good post, Terri. I am struggling now with my characters!

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