Friday, September 07, 2007

The Limbic Brain

One of the things we as mammals have in common is that we have a limbic brain. The limbic brain is the part of the brain that allows us to respond to touch, proximity, and other people’s emotions. In short, the limbic brain is the emotional part of the brain. Development of this part of the brain, which happens mostly after birth, is essential in our ability to function in this world, because it allows us to connect with others.

As children, when our limbic brain is still developing, the need to connect is great. When that connection is not made children have changes in their ability to consume oxygen, their immune system is impaired, they have changes in sleep rhythms, and they produce less growth hormone. Emotional growth is also stunted, most notably in their ability to respond to other people’s emotions and in their ability to care for others; essentially they become unable to show empathy.

As adults, our need to connect is still great, and essential in our ability to show self-control, self-command, reciprocity, trust, and love. Our ability to continually connect with other people is the foundation our conscience needs to continually expand. The need to connect is what allows us to procreate and keep our species alive, it helps us fill our most basic and essential needs. Without a properly developed limbic brain we lose the ability to read people as well as situations, therefore exposing ourselves to potential dangers.

Despite the importance of the continued development of the limbic brain, we still look for ways to disconnect from people, when what we need more of is connection. Why? Because we no longer appreciate human contact in this world. We are constantly given new ways to communicate so that we don’t have to actually interact with the person we are communicating with. We settle for email, text messages, phone calls, and web cams instead of having the power lunch or friendly meeting. By doing this, ignoring our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being, we are stunting our ability to feel emotion. Humans are designed to connect, in fact they need to connect, and when they don’t have the proper connections there are potentially serious mental health issues that can arise.

By choosing to stunt the growth of our limbic brains we stunt our ability to really live. Our limbic brain allows us to feel, which is what part of life is all about, feeling emotion. Highs actually are euphoric and lows are actually tragically painful, but we get to feel them and learn how to deal with them. Disconnecting our children and ourselves from the rest of society, depriving our need to connect with others, is essentially sucking the feeling out of life. Our quest for perceived convenience through electronical advancement is destroying our need for personal growth and human development through personal connections. These personal connections are what we need not only to survive in life, but to thrive in life; you can’t say the same about your Blackberry.

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