Two different kinds of imagination.


March 26, 2010 | 2 Comments

Category: Art, Autism, Autism Features

A question from a visitor…

“If it’s the split brain, smaller corpus callosum and left hemisphere dominance that make us self-conscious and able to exercise imagination (pretending to be someone else, somewhere else, some other time), then how come imagination is associated with those leaning towards ancestral brain wiring, that is, less split brain and a better integrated right hemisphere?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve wondered about this in connection with two very different kinds of male left-handers that I come in contact with. Then there is the third group of left-handed males, who are autistic. One group is filled with social, talkative, articulate, focused, smart, imaginative males. The second group tends to be easily annoyed, gruff, focused, somewhat obsessed, smart and imaginative. Imagination seems to be closely associated with left-handedness in males. I don’t know why there are two kinds of nonautistic males (if my observations are at all useful). Perhaps one is high in estrogen and the other low, with both low in testosterone.

With females, it’s a bit different. Offering attention to left-handed females over the last ten years, I have noticed a very strong clustering of the classic matrifocal archetype, with many brilliant, commanding, discerning, focused females being left-handed. Creativity seems not necessarily related.

So where am I going with this? Marian Annett discussed the balanced polymorphism that makes up a society in the context of the UK, where she is a practicing neuropsychologist. Those in the center are the right-handed, but not the extremely right-handed. These people, Annett believes, retain a language facility advantage yet avoid physical and mental maladies by not being at the right extreme. The extremely right-handed, she believes, retain several disadvantages with few natural talents. Those at the left end–the left-handed and extremely left-handed–experience a different variety of disadvantages. Yet, Annett noted an astonishing number of extremely talented people appearing at the extreme left end, out there where a number of unique physical and mental conditions plague those people. Those conditions include autism, dyslexia, stuttering, allergies, Asperger’s and perhaps obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and bi-polar personality disorder.

Side note. Annett discovered that dyslexia actually comes in two forms, a phonetic version mostly retained by lefties and a visual dyslexia that mostly affects extreme right-handers. It is possible that several conditions that are assigned one name actually have two separate etiologies composed of these two very different neurologies. For example, schizophrenia may come in both nonlateralized and highly cerebral-lateralized versions with additional narrow and wide corpus callosum variations. OCD may also come in these two very different variations.

With the current neurodiversity movement and the writing of Dr. Michael Fitzgerald, there is now a focus on a number of historical figures who offered world-changing paradigms and who seemed to feature traits of those with autism. Astonishingly creative imaginations with an ability to tease out interconnected wholes and brains with difficulty integrating the thoughts of other humans seem paradoxically closely related.

I think the answer to the question “How come imagination is associated with those leaning towards ancestral brain wiring, that is, less split brain and a better integrated right hemisphere?” has to do with two very different types of imagination engaged in by the two kinds of brains. The old, less split, more integrated, left-handed, autistic-leaning brain has a more direct access to holistic, interconnected, simultaneous, multilayered understanding, except with less grasp of the relationship between those connections and a self. On the other hand, the right-handed, split-brained person with a smaller corpus callosum, who is a narrative thinker, can far easier imagine what is not, and estimate, step by step, how exactly to manipulate time and space to arrive there.

Whereas the lefty with relative ease grasps what is, the righty can fairly effortlessly make up what is not.

Both exercise imagination. One has less self awareness in the context of a self’s relationship with others, but nevertheless he or she has a relative easier access to the existing, supporting, interconnected infrastructure, in no small part because of there being less distraction from a self. The other, with heightened sensitivity to self and self’s relationship with others, is acutely aware of differing perspectives, able to estimate much that does not exist, often failing to understand what is real.

Some male left-handers seem to travel in both worlds. This results in an almost separate class of individuals with abilities both to integrate and separate. Four of the last five presidents were perhaps these kinds of lefties. I believe part of what society is wrestling with today is some kind of synthesis or integration of the two paradigms leading to these kinds of individuals. We need both an ability to imagine what does not exist and the power to perceive and adjust to what does exist. These two usually separate forms of imagination merge, at the societal level, in the societal balanced polymorphism hypothesized by Annett.

I hypothesize these two imaginations are starting to merge in the neurologies of certain individuals, particularly in the matrifocal/patrifocal hybrid society that is developing. Another way of saying this is that the balanced polymorphism intuited by Annett is shifting leftward, exhibiting a different kind of center. A net result may be a wiser, more grounded, less ambitious, less competitive culture with an ability to integrate into its multiplace, multitime, creation-of-opposites imagination an understanding of how exactly we are interconnected with the world as it really is.


This entry was posted on Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 7:20 am and is filed under Art, Autism, Autism Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
2 Comments so far

  1. John Hayes on March 26, 2010 1:53 pm

    “Annett discovered that dyslexia actually comes in two forms, a phonetic version mostly retained by lefties and a visual dyslexia that mostly affects extreme right-handers.”

    Those are not discoveries but assumptions. The only published studies on dyslexia and handedness didn’t support those assumptions and only found a relationship of being ambidextrous and dyslexia greater than the general population.

  2. Deana Parmann on March 27, 2011 2:31 pm

    Hello. splendid job. I did not anticipate this. This is a splendid story. Thanks!

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