WHY “THINK LIKE A MAN” IS HYSTERICAL by L. Edward Davis MD
Needless to say, women have been the support for men throughout history. Insecurity needs a scapegoat to carry the blame for human frailties. The most powerful physically, it turns out, are the weakest or most insecure emotionally of all. It’s brain versus brawn. All cultures would have some evidence of patriarchy since our evolution from animal ancestry would dictate that physical attributes of power and masculinity are more necessary in more lawless times. Some cultures are more patriarchal than others however. Native Americans for example gave voting rights to women as a first priority in choosing the chief. Your clan name is maternal in origin. The dominance of the English language also limits our ability to analyze which cultures are more patriarchal since many languages outside of the European ones are not spoken anymore. Evolution leads eventually to a less masculine or violent world to one more civilized. Hence, it is a natural progression for this article to now make the claim that those things once considered en vogue or even considered as true now must give way to a more feminine perspective of the definition of strength. Hence, those definitions we once took for granted to be apropos are now ready to be placed in the annals or archives of human concepts no longer fitted for human non animal society.
One of the first words that come to mind in this regard is “hysterical”, coined by Hippocrates to define a state of mental illness. Hysteria is the root word and is derived from the idea that it was a woman‘s uterus (hysterikos, of the womb in Greek) that was the cause of emotional illness in women. However, we all now know that this is terribly false since men can be hysterical by current definitions and the uterus is not involved in mental disorders. Duh!!!! However, it is one of the prime examples of how men have displaced human frailties onto women and women have been strong enough to carry these burdens over the centuries. In many ways women have carried the weight of the world on their backs providing support and nurturing to the weaker sex. Women are shaped like pyramids and is indicative of the strength at the bottom necessary to carry those who are top heavy and prone to fall over as a consequence. Men are inverted pyramids and therefore are highly unstable and prone to fall if not for the counter balance of women who support them from below. To continue to promote these erroneous assertions about women’s mental inferiority is, to say the least, “hysterical” in light of the new knowledge we have about the actual workings of the human brain. The term hysterical and the philosophy behind it are perhaps the progenitors of the introduction of the word “rational”, which is in the same category of being a word that sees women’s emotionality as something that is inferior or undesirable.
Examining the current definitions in the English language for example one finds that “rational” refers to “derived from reason” as opposed to “derived from emotion”. However, new knowledge of how the brain works helps to clarify this discrepancy that is apparent in this word “rational”. It turns out that rationality is in fact itself derived from emotion. Reasoning involves thought processes and thought itself is derived from emotion. Here is why. Without emotion there is no receptivity for an outside stimulus. Emotions are the element water. Water is receptivity and absorbs all stimuli then mixes it in solution to try to understand the stimulus better. Without emotion or water the stimulus is reacted to with a force directed outward from the projected receiver. Hardness is opposite to softness or water. Without emotions, like with animals, all outside input is met with reaction and possible violence. The autonomic nervous system is the basis of operation of the non thinking individual. It is the opposite of water or emotion. It is pure reflex. It does not want to understand the stimulus but wants to repel it. The hard unfeeling side of the brain has to break down the stimulus into component parts. It is analysis only with the urge to tear down and destroy if it were not for the balance of the feeling side. The left side of the brain is the analytical side and must connect to the feeling side or storage side to further process what has been broken down. Experience is stored in the right brain as a consequence of emotions or water storage of the prior experiences much like the water in a battery stores charge. Memory is therefore critical to the reasoning process for without memory there is no data to compare to the new input to make a proper decision about the new data. The emotional or storage side is therefore a guide that helps to give the new input some form or identity that the individual can use to properly process the input. Knowledge processing is identical to the process of food processing. The analytical side chooses the food, chews it to break it down to components, which is then mixed in solution with the stomach contents to prepare the nutrients for assimilation. Experience is the food to the brain.
The word “rational” is also defined to mean sensible. The senses of smell, hearing and vision are however not a part of the emotional apparatus of the individual. Emotions and instinct are not related at all. Instinct refers to the senses. Sense and sentiment while similar in spelling are not related but are opposite in reality. Emotions develop as we mature and experience things. Emotions and experience become our software in the analogy with computers. It is the software that directs the functions of the hardware. Stored experience exists due to our response or sensitivity to the stimulus of the event. It seems that the problem with the word “irrational” however comes in when we incorrectly label anger as an emotion. Most agree that anger is not a good thing and is not a good basis for thoughtful activity. Anger is not an emotion as we have alluded to already because of the function and activity of the autonomic nervous system. Anger is indeed irrational. Emotions or our capacity to feel are not irrational however, but are integral to the reasoning process. Basically, the left side brain is the hardware side and the right brain is the software side.
The autonomic nervous system of which the adrenal gland is a major component is a system that is defined to be involved in primitive reflexes. It is called the fight or flight response system. When triggered it heightens the objective analytical tools of vision, hearing and also increases the ability for muscles to contract with greater force. It is a survival tool to help the individual deal with dangerous circumstances. It therefore increases left brain functions at the expense of the right brain functions. The left brain therefore is the objective brain but is the one that is really instinctual. Vision, hearing and smell are all instinctual functions and explain why animals can use these to their advantage over humans. In fact we must remove all of the senses from being associated with emotions to ones associated with left brain non emotion. Danger is when thoughtfulness or reflectivity tends to be overridden to give way to analysis of the environment to assess danger and to execute a response to the danger. Experience and greater emotion makes for greater memory and helps persons to deal with danger from this standpoint. Experience helps to modulate or temper the anger or flight response to make for a more thoughtful response to the dangerous situation. Experience derived from emotion can be even quicker than the autonomic response since processing and analysis must take place with the latter while the former has already analyzed a similar situation prior the current one. Hence adult experience trumps childhood greater analytical skills.
In fact animals operate almost solely from the autonomic system. Anger and subsequent violence are frequently seen with dogs for example. It also explains their lack of ability to store experience. This lack of emotional or software storage causes them to get run over by cars even though they have experienced the cars previously. Lack of emotion caused the experience to not be stored adequately. Animals are therefore relatively thoughtless and live in the here and now. They are extremely vigilant and can use their senses or instincts of hearing, smell and vision to assess situations but their decisions with this information are lacking due to a lack of emotion to operate the process of reason or thought. Animal inabiity to reason or think is compensated by greater objective or analytical instincts. Their vision, hearing, smell and even radar far surpass human objective skills. Hence it is more emotion and not the lack of emotion that is the basis of reasoning and rationality. It explains why men are more autonomic (like dogs) – reactionary with poor self control or discipline, since it is emotion that creates for a more cautious response to all stimuli. This ability is greater with the emotional types – women. Men were created therefore to deal with danger. But in dealing with more civilized activities, the female is better. Hence, “think like a man” for a woman is not a good thing in the long run. The more civilized and less dangerous society becomes the less the autonomic system is needed. It is also interesting that the adrenal hormones cause virilization and excess body hair growth. Men have more body hair just like all animal species have hair covering their bodies.
Men being less emotional yet considered more rational, is consequently a false assumption. Violence indicates lack of emotion. Anger is not an emotion after all. Anger and thoughtfulness cannot coexist by law. Emotions and experience storage are the basis of ‘solutional” thinking. It makes for wisdom. Childhood analysis is greater but is poorer in decision making. Decision and reason come from adequate emotion. The psychopath is irrational because of a lack of emotion or a flat affect. Flat affect defines an unemotional state of being. So men, psychopaths and animals are all less rational not more rational. The definition in the dictionaries should therefore exclude comparing an “emotional” decision with a “reasonable” decision. So what is referred to as a hasty emotional decision is actually an autonomic or anger response – not emotional at all. Emotion causes reflection or thought. Yet the brain is reasonable only when analysis and emotion, left and right brain work together. Learning also must include emotions since that which is stored in memory helps the individual to deal with the same dangerous situation when it recurs. Genius therefore will have three different types – a purely left brain analytical one, the one that is purely experience or intuitive, and the third one that is a combination of both sides. The saying, “Genius is on the verge of insanity” then refers to the left brain type only. Most genius therefore involves emotion or experience attributes. Nevertheless, the more evolved the specie the more likely experience will help in decision making. Emotions and women are therefore better decision makers generally but not in all cases.
In other words, the more patriarchal societies tend to have the most problematic words and definitions of these words in relation to descriptions of male or female characteristics. Sure, one can be overly sentimental but it is sentiment and emotion that for example causes for the ability to walk upright. The moon is associated with emotions and is involved with the cerebellum that is the structure that deals with balance or gait. Emotions are involved with language development and the speech area in the left hemisphere benefits from these emotions in the expression of words. Words are left brain but speech itself is right brain. Walking upright and sophisticated vocalization are uniquely human and result from greater emotional development and capacity. From a developmental standpoint, childhood is pure left brain analysis, adulthood or maturity is left brain and right brain dominance, old age is right brain dominance.
Now, it is clear. A rational decision involves the best of both left and right brains. Analysis of the stimulus is provided by the left side and comparing it to stored experience comes from the right side. The human brain by default must operate both sides in the decision making or reasoning process. Both sides are equal. In danger the left side will be better as men are physically and mentally able to respond in such situations. However, when time is not crucial or no danger is present the processing provided by the right brain is better equipped, since the experience stored there is the source of wisdom.