1. Bad Connections
(1) For many years, I had thought I was suffering from a defective corpus callosum, so that communication between the 2 hemispheres was less than perfect, making me behave as if I had received a dissection for treating epilepsy.
This is because I had discovered late in life that, when using chopsticks with my right hand, I could speak Japanese and British English, but not American English; when using chopsticks with the left hand, I could handle American English but not the other 2 languages.
This deficiency gave me insight into the differences between the left and right brain hemispheres, prodding me on to study psychoanalysis, as founded by Sigmund Freud and developed by Carl Jung, and the latest discoveries in brain science, including the findings of Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga on split brain patients. Iain McGilchrist was another researcher who gave me insight into the divided brain and its consequences.
(2) I eventually made the following inferences on division of labor between the 2 hemispheres in my own case:
(a) When using chopsticks with the right hand, the Ego must be lodged in the opposite, left hemisphere, where it was able to access the language areas for handling Japanese and British English, but not American English, probably due to bad connections.
(b) When using chopsticks with the left hand, the Ego must be seated in the right hemisphere, where it could access the language areas for American English, but then there was access to neither the Japanese nor the British English areas.
I concluded that my left hemisphere is used for handling Japanese and British English, and the right hemisphere, American English, because,
(c) When I use Japanese or British English I seem to be a man very much oriented toward the use of reason, cold logic and computation, and not gregarious, emotional or moody; this hints at use of the left hemisphere;
(d) When I use American English, I am more gregarious and expressive in terms of emotion; this is suggestive of the right hemisphere.
Thus, my problems were rooted in the combination of left-handedness and the fact that my native language is handled in the left hemisphere; had I been right-handed, or if the right hemisphere was responsible for handling Japanese, I should not have been faced with such problems.
(3) Consequently, I came to choose whichever brain hemisphere was best suited for smooth language use.
(a) For Japanese and British English, I would exercise the fingers on my right hand, or focus my eyes on the extreme right-hand side of my field of vision, so that the Ego was transferred to the left side, wherein lie the language areas for those tongues.
(b) For American English, I would either exercise the fingers on my left hand, or focus my eyes on the extreme left-hand side, to transfer the Ego to the right brain hemisphere.
(4) As a hobby, I had been taking flute lessons in a group situation, and had experienced difficulty when listening to, understanding and following instructions from the teacher, especially after playing a passage with the instrument. It was very strange, because I could hear the words spoken by the teacher, yet could not grasp the ideas being conveyed, while the rest of the class seemed to have little difficulty in understanding.
Eventually, I assumed that, while played the flute, the Ego must be transferred into and kept inside the right brain hemisphere, known to specialize in music. The reason why I could not comprehend subsequent instructions was because the Ego, ensconced in the right hemisphere, could not reach into the left hemisphere where the Japanese language areas are located, due to faulty connections between the 2 brain hemispheres.
In order to overcome the situation, I tried to exercise the fingers on my right hand every time I had finished playing a passage, so as to transfer the Ego into the left hemisphere, to be ready to listen to the teacher’s instructions. This proved very effective in refocusing my attention on verbal instructions after playing music, and I was no longer aloof after playing a passage, and had no more difficulty in following instructions in step with the rest of the class.
2. Brain Chatter
I had also been suffering from “brain chatter” for some time, to borrow the words of Jill Bolte Taylor, and had long been wondering what could be the cause, as the books and documents I came across failed to give me a satisfactory explanation.
Eventually, I noticed that, if I used a metal ear cleaner inside the right ear during brain chatter, this would cause the cleaning metal to reverberate in reaction to the silent voices like an electronic amplifier, because the annoying voices were causing the right ear to resound and shiver inside.
So I decided it must be a very physical phenomenon taking place inside the brain, and most probably caused by the subconscious mind, or Id, as expounded by researchers in psychoanalysis including Sigmund Freud. I told my doctor about this and he told me, in a subtle manner, that it was a real problem if it had gained linguistic abilities.
I tried to do more reading into psychoanalysis, but found out it was out of fashion, and there seemed to be no documentation that mechanically linked brain chatter with the subconscious entity, the Id. It was almost as if such an approach were considered taboo and avoided for some reason or other.
One of the main reasons must have been that psychoanalysis, with all its strengths and weaknesses, had been replaced by a chemical-oriented approach focused on the development of anti-psychotic drugs, and this was yielding increasingly effective medication.
In any case, I noticed brain chatter came in roughly 2 different types, i.e. seemingly logical messages passing on misleading ideas vs incantation, consisting of simple words and phrases continuously repeated as in a musical refrain.
I then decided that these 2 categories must originate in either of the 2 different brain hemispheres, known to carry different functions; the Id may use either brain hemisphere to engage in brain chatter, and this must be why there seemed to be 2 different broadcasting stations.
3. Brain MRI and Interim Period
I went through a standard brain examination including brain waves and MRI, and this served remarkably well to alleviate brain chatter and stressfulness, as well as making it easier to speak in Japanese while using the left hand.
My first impression was that MRI, through the effects of strong electro-magnetism, had successfully removed the obstruction that had prevented normal left-right connections through the corpus callosum; nowadays I believe that MRI had enabled me to start using “brain Wi-Fi” to connect the 2 brain hemispheres.
As a side-effect, however, I was later to find out MRI had also opened channels for the Id to start using the “silent megaphone” and, eventually, brain Wi-Fi for itself.
4. Further Discoveries
As I was still suffering from loss of ability to throw my voice and speak out with clarity, I sought further help from psychoanalysis and neuroscience, and came to read the work of such researchers as V. S. Ramachandran and Mark Solms, who were influenced by scientists such as Eric Kandel. I eventually reached the conclusion that the Id was responsible for the loss of speech.
This line of thinking has led to new discoveries, with rather impressive results in overcoming my problems.
(1) Unnatural Right-ism in Writing
Notwithstanding left-handedness, I was completely habituated to using the right hand for writing (probably self-imposed, with encouragement from my parents since early years in primary school, to make it easier for me to write in Japanese), and this may have been a source of an inordinate amount of stress over much of my adult life.
Therefore, the desktop computer with keyboard for writing purposes, was a true blessing and great relief for me, as it solved my problems of an awkward and skewered calligraphy, due to clumsiness in the right hand. In fact, when writing with the left hand at my leisure, in consistency with my natural tendencies, I can relax and feel more self-confident.
(2) Cooperative System for Reading
After a while, the benefits of brain MRI seemed to disappear, and I was again haunted with the old problem of left-handedness and use of the Japanese language; it had become difficult once again to use brain Wi-Fi.
It was during this period that I noticed my problems rooted in left-right coordination were more relaxed when reading out loud. While exercising my left hand, I could still read out loud from a Japanese book.
Furthermore, I noticed this was true only if the book was placed in the binocular field of vision, so that both brain hemispheres have a glimpse of the material to be read aloud; if the book is placed to the far left (far right) of the field of vision, so that it is seen by only the opposite, right (left) hemisphere, I was not able to read out aloud.
(a) I concluded that the entity reading out of the Japanese book (within the binocular field of vision) while I used chopsticks with the left hand must be the Id, making use of the language areas in the left hemisphere not occupied by the Ego. This was unless I had suddenly begun to use brain Wi-Fi once again, which I felt was unlikely.
(b) Whenever the Ego is away from the left hemisphere, the Id, by way of extending its network into this “vacant” hemisphere, may intervene and cooperate with the Ego to form, pronounce and vocalize words and sentences in Japanese, provided there is specific guidance, as in reading.
(c) However, if the reading material was placed to the far left or far right side of the field of vision, I was unable to read out loud, as if I were a split-brain patient whose left hemisphere was not shown the image of the object to be described in words.
Perhaps, unless both hemispheres have an image of the written material, either spiritual entity (probably the Id, because the Ego will tend to seize the hemisphere needed for capturing the visual image on the periphery) will be left out without a clue to its content, and the physical mechanism for reading out loud becomes somehow deficient.
(d) This may point to a cooperative system, whereby both the Ego and Id must be able to play their respective roles for reading out loud, and so the book must be placed within the binocular field of vision; it may be the Ego that initiates the act of speaking, but the Id plays an important role in pronouncing the words clearly.
(e) If a cooperative system is in place for reading out loud, it should also be true for speaking. In the act of speaking, while there may not be any text in front to be read out loud, the Id must somehow detect beforehand what the Ego is about to say, and provide assistance in pronunciation and diction.
For these reasons, I came to the following conclusions:
(f) “Freudian slips” of the tongue indeed reflect the workings of the subconscious as Freud predicted, because the Id actually interferes with and affects pronunciation by manipulating the nervous system inside the mouth and throat, so that the Id’s preferences are often reflected in the final choice of words;
(g) The garbled speech said to be characteristic of schizophrenia must be caused by the Id, that maliciously interferes with and sabotages pronunciation;
(h) When people suffer from loss of voice, it may be caused by their Id, that is not only uncooperative when the Ego tries to pronounce words, but which actively sabotages the Ego’s attempts to speak out clearly.
5. Confessions of the Id
(1) Consequently, I asked myself, if the 2 hemispheres were generally compartmentalized as in my own case, how could people then vocally discuss topics handled in the right hemisphere? To my great shock and surprise, the Id gave me the message that it had created a barrier between the left and right hemispheres, had long since forgotten about it, and was going to remove it.
This was followed by a somewhat nauseating session lasting perhaps 10 minutes, during which I was in a stupor, on my hands and knees. I then recovered, feeling better and able to try myself out.
I then discovered that most of my troubles pertaining to left-right disconnections had disappeared, so that I could speak out in Japanese even while using my left hand, and my voice was noticeably deeper and louder. Brain chatter also seemed to become a rare phenomenon.
The Id had apparently blocked brain Wi-Fi that was the unexpected, beneficial result of brain MRI, to again create a state of insulation and compartmentalization of the 2 hemispheres; following its confession, the Id had decided to unblock this communication system.
(2) I had intermittently been experiencing a certain shimmering inside the brain since about a decade ago, as if accumulated static electricity were being discharged between the 2 brain hemispheres, and which prevented verbal thinking until it had subsided.
This strange phenomenon may be related to the process of removal of an unwanted barrier between the 2 brain hemispheres caused by static electricity and which had prevented the use of brain Wi-Fi by the Ego, among others.
(With brain activity, the left and right hemispheres may eventually take on opposite charges in terms of static electricity; the custom of hair partition, bathing in hot spas and saunas, the habit of wearing hats and head bands, the use of male and female Boji stones on either side of the body, may all be related this problem.)
(3) After perusing through books explaining the functions and mechanism of the eyeball, I discovered that the simple act of following instructions “to find the blind-spot in the eye” would trigger a process comparable to (1) above, i.e. a bad spell of nausea followed by a clearing of the consciousness and more flexibility in thinking and behavior patterns.
This would involve focusing on a point situated in a diagram with 1 eye closed, and then moving the diagram back and forth, but this exercise had to be finished in an instant due to the unpleasant impact, as if it were a minor surgical operation.
(4) More recently, I would sometimes experience a slightly painful and unpleasant sensation like a minute operation to remove and clear out a cyst somewhere in the middle of the brain, and this would result in a relaxion of tension as if an obstacle had been removed, and bringing what seemed to be smoother interflow between the left and right hemispheres. At the same time, brain chatter would subside, so that the Id’s presence was less noticeable.
6. The Id’s Basic Strategy
(1)Finally, I came to realize that the manifold and seemingly diverse suggestions from the Id were all aimed at preventing me from adapting to and being assimilated into Japanese society, as a basic strategy to leave me helpless and without confidence in myself, so that the Id could exercise its will upon me to the point of dominance and hegemony.
This went to such lengths as the use of the left hand for chopsticks, avoiding Japanese restaurants, preferring wine over sake, abhorrence of Japanese writing in the older style (full of difficult Chinese characters and old expressions) leading to a psychological barrier against books on Japanese history as well as a failure to delve into Japanese traditions and culture, which included shunning Japanese shrines and temples.
Once I came to this intuition, I decided to call upon the collective Id in the vicinity, in silent mode, and asked for the Id within myself to be punished in the most severe terms for its unacceptable behavior, tantamount to treachery against the family and the neighborhood, and a disgrace to Japanese society. This met with an unseen but immediate reaction; I began to breathe heavily without apparent cause and then the Id, all upset, stopped its nonsense and confessed that it had been subjected to a strong retribution.
(2) Nowadays, I believe one of the reasons why the Id was trying to block assimilation into Japanese society, while trying to establish dominance and hegemony, keeping me away from the local community, especially the collective consciousness, may have been a difference in fundamental values between the Ego, including religious traditions and political ideas, rooted in a cross-cultural childhood and education that kept me passing back and forth between Japanese and British-American schooling.
Neuroscientists have mentioned that, in split-brain patients, the left and right hemispheres of the brain may manifest the existence of separate consciousness in each, and that these 2 spiritual entities may even be attached to different religions.
This may have been true in my case as well, without going through a split-brain operation. The Id, immersed in Western values associated with the Christian tradition, was clearly not satisfied with Japanese values and ideas, and was not going to allow myself to blend in and be assimilated easily.
Spending the formative years of my early teens in the US or in American schooling systems may have deprived the Id of some crucial education on the collective unconscious that seems very much relegated in the US, where they try to instill a strong sense of individualism at school, denigrating collective values that hint at backward, medieval societies and exploitation by the upper classes.
I was to find out later, with much difficulty, that the collective unconscious plays a very important role in Japanese society, with its penchant for conservatism, cherishing history and traditions dating from the 7th century or even earlier.
With hindsight, I now recognize that this may have all been related to the fact that the Id must spend most of its time in the right hemisphere of the brain, wherein the language areas for American English were established in my case.
(3) One of the sticking points for the Id seemed to be Western ideas preaching respect for and equal rights for men and women, which the Id found much more appealing compared to traditional ideas in Japan on gender relations, that seemed to leave much room for male chauvinism, being rooted in centuries of military governments led by particular clans of warriors.
In general, the Id associated itself and sympathized with the womenfolk, which it claimed were the incarnation of the Id in spiritual terms, i.e. women were under the heavy influence of the Id, and were linked and associated with one other through verbal and non-verbal communication among their Ids.
7. Fundamental Change in Approach
(1) After several of these strange, confrontational sessions involving the collective Id, I remembered someone’s remark to the effect that an advisable way to talk to women was to start by giving them praise and, given the obviously female overtones in the way messages from the Id were designed, I decided I might try to communicate with the Id as if it were a woman in the neighborhood instead of as a sub-human, evil entity; I laid emphasis on praising the Id on its patience, self-control and resourcefulness in handling strange social situations.
(2) Another breakthrough was the use of techniques known in Japan as the art of massage or Shiatsu. This came as an extension of the physical contact approach I had been exploring, and instead of hitting at parts of the skull to chastise the Id, I chose to caress pressure points where the left and right hemispheres of the brain should come together at the front and back.
(3) These new methods proved very effective, producing good results, so that there has been a noticeable reduction in brain chatter and a much more relaxed, peaceful relationship with the Id, coupled with lowered tension. In fact, the results have been so dramatic that I have all but lost interest in pursuing this research on ways to control and rein in the Id.
8. Final Analysis (Formation of a Bicameral Mind)
I have recently come to the conclusion that the source of my troubles must have been the artificial barrier that the Id had created to block communication between the left and right brain hemispheres, in other words, to create a bicameral mind.
The incentive for the Id to engage in this harmful task must have been provided by my lifestyle during younger days, when I had to sit and study for long hours, cramming knowledge, new concepts and ideas from books in order to pass tests and examinations.
For long hours during the day, I would be deeply immersed in the left hemisphere to use the native language for reading, writing, memorizing and for logical computations and exercises. This must have provided the perfect opportunity for the Id to try to construct a sanctuary in the right hemisphere, by artificially plugging the corpus callosum, so that the Ego could not easily reach into the right hemisphere from the left, or vice versa.
This barrier blocking communication between the 2 hemispheres was to become the source of my troubles, e.g. that prevented me from speaking Japanese while handling chopsticks with the left hand during mealtime.
Once this was achieved, the Id apparently found its way into the language areas of the brain in the right hemisphere, often left vacant as I was apt to be using the left hemisphere during working hours and also because access into the right hemisphere was all the more difficult because of the obstacle created by the Id.
The stage was thus set for the Id to start brain chattering by seeking access to and employing the language areas in the right hemisphere; when it began, it was in an English-speaking environment, and consisted of a repetition of simple words and phrases in English as in verse or incantation, true to the functions of the right hemisphere and to the language biases in my right hemisphere.
The next step for the Id was to explore ways to access the language areas of the left hemisphere while the Ego was away, immersed in the right hemisphere. This would probably happen at such times when I was concentrating on finding my way in an unfamiliar environment, during traveling and sightseeing, for example. This time, in a Japanese-speaking environment, brain chatter took a more sophisticated turn, consisting of a seemingly logical string of words and ideas in Japanese, much to my bewilderment.
I am afraid it took long years for me to uncover this nefarious mechanism, but I may have to be reconciled with the idea that mental health problems including brain chatter must have beguiled and confounded the human race from prehistoric times, or at least since the advent of writing, which must have been instrumental in starting systematic education for children and youngsters, leading to long, tiring hours of reading, writing, and cramming.
Anyway, the lesson learned is, never study too much, because it may cause harm to your brain, by way of starting problems in left-right communication through disuse of the corpus callosum, eventually leading to a bicameral mind.
9. State of Recovery
Nowadays, comparatively speaking, my symptoms have become ever so slight. For example, I can speak out in Japanese (or British English) even while using my left hand, and in American English even while using the right hand; I can also read out loud from books in Japanese or in English, no matter where the book is placed, as long as it is within the field of vision.
Brain chatter has become a rare phenomenon, so that I no longer feel the need to turn on the TV, without sound, while listening to the radio when I am by myself, to keep it under control. Furthermore, I am increasingly unable to be all by myself, for want of someone to talk to in open conversation. As for the silent megaphone, that used to cause so much trouble by provoking the people around me, has all but subsided, judging from the indifference in the way people approach me.
However, upon entering a room or secluded area where there are many people around, I still find it a good idea to address the collective unconscious, to keep it satisfied.
For example, before (or after) saying hello upon entering a coffee shop, I might say hello in silent mode. In the same inaudible manner, I might also ask the collective unconscious to scold the Id within me, as it has been the source of so much trouble. This latter gesture seems to give people much satisfaction.
Despite general improvement in my state of mental health, connections between the left and right hemispheres remain imperfect and, resigned to this “handicap” that may recall the problems when driving a car with manually shifted gears, I try to move my fingers on either the left or right hand side according to the task to be performed, so that my awareness, or Ego, should be transferred to the brain hemisphere on the opposite side.
Perhaps the biggest remaining problem is the way the Id behaves like an excited child in kindergarten and creates havoc just before the break of dawn, so that I am often woken up at odd hours before daybreak. The Id informs me it is the result of many hours of loneliness through the night, but I do look forward to overcoming this annoyance as well, perhaps on the basis of shiatsu techniques and deep breathing.
『In Search of the Id (Reflections by Patient A) 』 フランシス・ローレライ 作