Psychology and Neurology: The Surprisingly Simple Science of Using Your Brain
For some reason, we spend our lives in s state of perpetually renewed surprise, startled by the world around us and by how our bodies have responded to it.
It’s the reflex arc, working on different levels, firing off responses long before the mind has a moment to think. This is fine for jumping out of the path of a moving car, but sometimes the confusion of stimuli cause us to jump in the wrong direction.
Besides that, these arcs – or cycles of sensing, processing, and reacting – they don’t only work at the level of reflexes. They are also going on in the mind. This is how we learn everything we know, from walking to writing and from reaching to religion. Trial, detection of the results, consideration of the results, and retrial: it’s just a slightly deeper version of the same reflex arc.
But what if I were to tell you that our mental reflex arc had a short cut; a way to let us save our lives first, and then think about it afterwards? “Better to apologize than wait for permission”, right? And what if I were to tell you that this short cut, and the process of thinking about it afterwards, is at the heart of some of the worst things we do to ourselves and to others?
Would you like to know how to fix it?
Before we can discuss it, let’s take a quick look at a working model of the nervous system and of the brain. Like all models, they are functional simplifications, tools we can use even though they fail to perfectly reflect the depth and range of how the systems really work. I encourage you to learn more in the future, but I hope that this chapter will give you a new perspective or even a starting point.
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