No, you might not remember your “Reptile Brain,” but it does the remembering for us, and in matters that generate fear, it’s got us covered.
It’s been said that FEAR IS THE MEMORY OF DANGER. At the level of our reptile brain the danger is real. Our reptile brain is the basic survival overseer of our nervous system, based in the brain stem and cerebellum in all vertebrates from the dinosaurs onward…reptiles, birds & mammals. This scans our environment and warns our bodies of any threat to our survival. It guides basic instincts toward gathering food & shelter and spurs our defense mechanism. FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT is reptilian in origin.
250 million years ago all we had was reptile brains, until the development of the phylum of mammals, which added the limbic brain that covers the reptile brain. As mammals differentiated and developed, so did feelings, emotions, as the brain sophistication arose. Then, the higher primates, ultimately homo sapiens, evolved the new brain, the neo-cortex, which enabled our thought process. But we humans still have all three levels of evolved nervous system.
ONTOGENY RECAPITULATES PHYLOGENY. I’ll simplify this-
As the embryo of an advanced organism (e.g., humans) grows, it will pass through stages that resemble the adult stages of less-advanced organisms. For instance, in utero, the human embryo develops gill slits and a tail, like earlier animal life, but as embryo matures as a fetus these vestiges are replaced by more sophisticated organs.
Fast-forward…even though we, as humans, are at the top of the animal kingdom, our brains are operating on all three levels, reptile, limbic and neo. Authentic FEAR at the reptile level migrates up through our emotions and thoughts. But, our perception of “fear,” the F.E.A.R. of False Evidence Appearing Real, migrates downward into our emotions and to our cerebellum, our reptile brain, activating FIGHT-OR-FLIGHT mode when there might not be a true danger present. Rather, it’s the FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL than projects fear and starts the reptilian process unnecessarily.
We can fix this at our neo-cortex level, culling out the true from the false.
I’ll offer more about how we fix this misperception at PUCHA KUCHA NIGHT #26, on Thursday, August 8. Details to come.