If We Only Had a Brain

By Marilyn Landreth, M.A.

Human beings are different from other species in many ways.  One way we are different is that we are always attempting to understand how people think and how that thinking influences the behaviors that follow. The brain is the master organ of the body that influences all actions. We all have a brain. The scarecrow needed one, and Einstein had an exceptional one. Ned Herrmann got interested in how the brain works when he trained employees for General Electric. Over years of working with groups, he was fascinated by the various ways that people processed information and how the makeup of a group influenced the outcome of how well and how fast people were trained.

Herrmann looked at the brain model by Dr. Paul McLean, head of the Laboratory for Brain Evolution and Behavior at the National Institute for Mental Health along with Roger Sperry’s theory of Left/Right Brain hemispheres. Herrmann formed a model for the brain that included two paired structures, the two halves of the cerebral system and the two halves of the limbic system.

A = Logical           D = Imaginative

B = Organized     C = Interpersonal

According to this model, we have two hemispheres of the brain. The left hemisphere uses the logical analytical way to process thoughts and feelings. The right hemisphere uses feelings and intuition to process information. The left hemisphere processes information primarily by using language, although it does use the other senses in a logical and organized way. The right hemisphere processes information much differently. It uses all the senses, sometimes all at the same time. It does not have the same organization or the same way of communicating as the left hemisphere. You could say the right sees the forest and the left sees each individual tree. They are both important, and we use both hemispheres all of the time.

Group A views the world as having certain rules, laws, or formulas that provide structure and form (lawyers, CPAs, and computer programmers). They think with logic and are very analytical. When they are sick they tend to look at their illness as a problem to be solved. First they find out as much information as possible by studying the problem. They read, do computer searches, see experts, and have tests run. Many times they bring valuable information to the physician.

Group B feels like they are necessary to keep the order in the world (office manager, accountants, or other detail jobs). They like to make lists and check off when they have done each item. They are very good at making sure each job is done as efficiently as possible and are very necessary to the smooth operation of the organization. When they get sick they keep track of their symptoms and want a structured approach to finding better health.

Group C is more sensitive to their own feelings, the feelings of those around them, and the spiritual aspects of life (minister, counselor, and social worker). They are nurturers but sometimes need to be on the receiving end. They are aware that there is more to this life than what we can see, touch, or hear. They are more sensitive to their environment than the other groups. Group C individuals may know that they don’t feel good but are not as apt to keep looking for relief once someone in the medical profession says that there is nothing wrong with them.

The final group, Group D, is imaginative, sees possibilities, and likes to be in the know (entrepreneurs, detectives, and visionaries). Sometimes they are so focused on all that is happening around them that it may take a while for them to realize that they are ill. Their intuition and ability to recognize connections can play a role in the healing process.

Now, we all have some of each group within the way we organize our world. It is just that some people are stronger in one or two of those areas, and that is where the fun comes in. You can get the idea that by putting Group A and Group B together that this person is going to be logical, analytical, organized, and may have a difficult time relaxing and trying new ways of doing things.

People with a strong focus in both Group B and Group C are the people who take care of the details and provide nurturing. They can control their own feelings while providing a nurturing environment for others. We find social workers, teachers, nurses, and homemakers with this configuration.

Strong focus in both Group C and Group D gives us those who are able to understand and express others’ emotions. We find psychologists, actors, and musicians with this configuration. They see possibilities both in this life and beyond. Generally, they tend to express that knowledge in an artistic, imaginative way. They do not tend to organize their knowledge in a logical or analytical way.

Scientists and inventors tend to be strong in both Group A and Group D. They come up with ideas (Group D) and test and prove those ideas (Group A). This configuration prefers the thinking over feelings. They use both the logical, analytical ways, along with the creative and intuitive ways.

There is no average score and no configuration that is “ideal.” Everyone is different and unique. We need people who have a strong emphasis in specific areas and other people who tend to be more “Jack of all trades.” By knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we can appreciate who we are and appreciate others as they are. Also, we can use the knowledge we have acquired to learn how to make changes that can improve our lives and health.