The Right Brain and the Unconscious: Discovering the Stranger Within

By R. Joseph | Go to book overview

14
Reaction Formation and
the Defense Mechanisms

We knowers are unknown to ourselves, and for good reason: How can we ever hope to find what we never look for? There is a sound adage which runs: "Where a man's treasure lies, there lies his heart." Our treasure lies in the beehives of our knowledge. We are perpetually on our way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind. The only thing that lies close to our heart is the desire to bring something home to the hive. The sad truth is that we remain necessarily strangers to ourselves; we don't understand our own substance. We must mistake ourselves; the axiom, "Each man is farthest from himself," will hold for us to all eternity. Of ourselves we are not knowers.

—NIETZSCHE

Since the invention of complex spoken language and the advent and eventual dominance of linguistic consciousness, many functions mediated by the right half of the cerebrum and the limbic system have often been viewed as dangerous, sinful, or irrelevant. Indeed, so autocratic and presumptuous is the left half of the brain that not only does it try not to be conscious of many of these natural abilities, impulses, and inclinations, but it often attempts to suppress or discard them as useless and unimportant. 1

This attitude is very unfortunate, for the right brain has tremendous talent and innumerable capabilities, many of which were millions of years in the making and which enabled our very ancient ancestors to live in harmony with themselves, with others, and with the natural world surrounding them.

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