Saturday, 31 March 2012

Video: Personal Reflections on Manic-Depressive Illness

This footage is of well known American clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, author of Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression and a memoir An Unquiet Mind, the reason behind this fascinating talk about manic-depressive illness. More about depression.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ten Brilliant Social Psychology Studies

The excellent PsyBlog lists 10 Social Psychology studies that go at least some way to explain why we humans do such irrational things at times. These studies are also amongst some of the most famous experiments ever conducted so it is well worth following the links and finding out more.
The 'halo effect' is a classic finding in social psychology. It is the idea that global evaluations about a person (e.g. she is likeable) bleed over into judgements about their specific traits (e.g. she is intelligent). Hollywood stars demonstrate the halo effect perfectly. Because they are often attractive and likeable we naturally assume they are also intelligent, friendly, display good judgement and so on.
» Read the study about the halo effect -» (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977)
The ground-breaking social psychological experiment of Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) provides a central insight into the stories we tell ourselves about why we think and behave the way we do. The experiment is filled with ingenious deception so the best way to understand it is to imagine you are taking part. So sit back, relax and travel back. The time is 1959 and you are an undergraduate student at Stanford University...
» Read on about cognitive dissonance -»
The Robbers Cave experiment, a classic study of prejudice and conflict, has at least one hidden story. The well-known story emerged in the decades following the experiment as textbook writers adopted a particular retelling. With repetition people soon accepted this story as reality, forgetting it is just one version of events, one interpretation of a complex series of studies.
The famous 'Stanford Prison Experiment' argues a strong case for the power of the situation in determining human behaviour. Not only that but this experiment has also inspired a novel, two films, countless TV programs, re-enactments and even a band.
What psychological experiment could be so powerful that simply taking part might change your view of yourself and human nature? What experimental procedure could provoke some people to profuse sweating and trembling, leaving 10% extremely upset, while others broke into unexplained hysterical laughter?
Many people quite naturally believe they are good 'intuitive psychologists', thinking it is relatively easy to predict other people's attitudes and behaviours. We each have information built up from countless previous experiences involving both ourselves and others so surely we should have solid insights? No such luck.
People's behaviour in groups is fascinating and frequently disturbing. As soon as humans are bunched together in groups we start to do odd things: copy other members of our group, favour members of own group over others, look for a leader to worship and fight other groups.
Bargaining is one of those activities we often engage in without quite realising it. It doesn't just happen in the boardroom, or when we ask our boss for a raise or down at the market, it happens every time we want to reach an agreement with someone. This agreement could be as simple as choosing a restaurant with a friend, or deciding which TV channel to watch. At the other end of the scale, bargaining can affect the fate of nations.
In social psychology the 'bystander effect' is the surprising finding that the mere presence of other people inhibits our own helping behaviours in an emergency. John Darley and Bibb Latane were inspired to investigate emergency helping behaviours after the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964.
» Read on about bystander apathy -»
We all know that humans are natural born conformers - we copy each other's dress sense, ways of talking and attitudes, often without a second thought. But exactly how far does this conformity go? Do you think it is possible you would deny unambiguous information from your own senses just to conform with other people?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Seven Tips For Improved Public Speaking

A fear of public speaking is something that has affected many of us at one time or another, while glossophobia is one of the most common phobias in existence. We've all heard the cliché about imagining our audience naked...but if that does not not work for you here are seven tips from Psychology Today  (Harry Beckwith) in how to make your public speaking a  resounding success.   

1. People love stories. Children plea for them at night, and adults crave them, too. Stories make us wonder; we want to know what happens next, which keeps us engaged, even enthralled. 
Tell stories.

2. People don't want to be impressed.  They want to be respected.  Rookie speakers feel tempted to impress an audience, assuming that this will make their ideas sound impressive, too. But if your words or actions suggest "I am better than you," people won't care what you say. 
This principle also underlies another rule of effective speaking: Dress like your audience, but just a little bit better."
Don't try to impress them. Try to touch them.

People care if. If you truly want to help your listeners--by informing or motivating them, or improving their lives--they will care and listen. But they will care only if you do.
This recalls a favorite tip: "If you really care, notify your face."

3. Your eyes mean everything. We mistrust people who won't look us in the eyes--even if our eyes are among over 200 sets in a room. We regard peoples' eyes as windows to their souls, and it's from our eyes that people assess us.

If you look each person in the eye for a few seconds, you make each person feel important--a feeling that every person craves.  It also makes each audience member feel involved; it makes your presentation feel like a conversation rather than a recitation.
For this reason, minimize visual aids.  They break eye contact and make it appear that you are talking to the screen and not to your listeners.
Look them in the eyes.

4. Preparation matters.  But not for the reason you suspect. Preparation does more than make a presentation appear polished--and a too-polished presentation actually can feel inauthentic, even souless. If you've spent hours learning about the people to whom you are speaking, you will communicate the most compelling message you can deliver to a person: You are important to me.

5. If it's worth saying, it bears repeating. The old rule--"Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them"--reflects the limitations of our memories. Plus researchers have shown repeatedly that people are more apt to believe something they hear more than once--even if they hear it from the same person, and even if they question that person's credibility.
Repetition works.

6. People love music. An outstanding speech is musical; it ebbs and flows, hits a variety of notes, and makes beautiful use of pauses and silence. Just as in humor, speaking's key ingredient is timing.
Allow some gaps between your notes.

7. Obey The Rule of Seven. There's a reason why only seven principles appear above: Our brains and memories have limits. We can recall seven-digit phone numbers.  Throw in an area code, however, and we become helpless. So make no more than seven points. (Recent research suggests that making just three or four points works much better.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Video: Conception to Birth - Visualized

A wonderful computer model of the human form, from conception to birth in fast forward:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Methods To Naturally Improve Your Concentration

(Some things everyone should know about concentration) We've all been through periods of time where we just can't seem to focus on any one thing. We may be scattered, easily distracted and unable to formulate consistent or productive thoughts. There are many reasons for this. Fortunately there are also many ways you can naturally improve your ability to focus so you can reach your goals and fulfill your ambitions.


There are a variety of MP3 and CD format self-hypnosis sessions which help to synchronize thought patterns in the brain and subliminally "reprogram" the brain. There is compelling evidence that self-hypnosis works for a variety of purposes, including significant improvement in focus and concentration.

Focusing is a learned discipline. Hypnosis helps accelerate this learning process by making subliminal suggestions that you carry throughout your day. It is almost like exercising the brain and reconditioning the mind to be able to ignore distractions and achieve clarity.

Hypnosis works by inducing a relaxed state of mind. In this state, your brain is more receptive to subliminal suggestions. It is also more receptive to the various "training" exercises that different self-hypnosis programs utilize. It is in this relaxed state that you will get your biggest returns in learning how to focus and concentrate more efficiently.

Start Practising Meditation

Today it seems just about everyone is living a hectic lifestyle. Meditation offers a break from the frantic mentality that often clouds many workplaces and various types of careers. It allows our brain to regroup. It sharpens focus and increases mental clarity.

Many people find it frustratingly difficult to meditate. This is because they have been so conditioned to think that sitting still is "doing nothing" or a waste of time. However, meditation is actually one of the best ways to regroup and find the quiet space in the mind where energy can be gathered and laser-focused.

Studies have shown that meditation results in identifiable improvement in cognitive abilities. Participants in one recent study who meditated regularly were given concentration tests. The tests were mundane in nature and required almost no room for drifting or distractions.

Regular meditation practice proved to pay off in spades. Study participants blew away those that had not meditated regularly in these types of concentration tests. Simply practicing mindfulness and putting all distractions out of one's mind for as little as five minutes per day has shown great benefit.

Herbs That May Enhance Focus

Perhaps the most well known herb that may be able to enhance your mental sharpness is ginkgo biloba. The herb is derived from the leaf of a tree by the same name. It is heavily prescribed for dementia and Alzheimer's patients in Europe today.

There is conflicting data on whether the herb works to help restore memory loss. However, millions use this herb and swear by it effectiveness in making them think more clearly. Studies have shown that regular supplementation with this herb does appear to increase the circulation of blood to the brain. The most effective dosage of this herb is roughly 240 milligrams per day.

Ginseng root is another herb that may support improved focus. While it is primarily known for boosting energy levels, it also may be used to enhance mental and physical performance and easy anxiety. All of these benefits combined usually also result in an enhanced ability to focus and concentrate.

By Danna Norek

Learn more:

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Hypnosis Helps Reduce Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is characterized by motor and verbal tics. The symptoms first become apparent in early childhood. The first symptom is usually a facial tic such as eye blinking, grimacing, or nose twitching and these are soon replaced with other motor tics involving the neck, limbs, and trunk. These tics are involuntary and people with the disorder experience involuntary urges to perform motor or verbal activity. Hypnosis has been shown to improve the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome.

Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms include verbal tics such as shouting, barking, grunting, and throat clearing. Verbal tics known as coprolalia consist of the involuntary use of obscene words. Copropraxia is the involuntary action of obscene gestures. Although Tourette's is known for these symptoms, they are severe symptoms and not common of the disorder.

The majority of people with Tourette Syndrome have mild symptoms. Also, people with Tourette Syndrome are more likely to also have Attentional Deficit Disorder, Attentional Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and learning disabilities.

Stressful situations can make symptoms of Tourette Syndrome worsen. Tension and anxiety can also be attributed to worsening the symptoms. Hypnotherapy has been found to improve the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. Hypnosis is a relaxed state of consciousness. This state allows people to be more open to suggestions. When these suggestions deal directly with their symptoms and anxiety, they are able to relax and make these suggestions a part of their life, thus reducing their symptoms. After a few sessions, people with Tourette Syndrome can dramatically improve their overall lifestyle.

A case study was conducted involving an adolescent male with Tourette Syndrome. He was referred to a hypnotherapist from his physician. The male had a total of 9 hypnosis sessions over a 6-month time period. The model used involved a 4-step treatment process including progressive relaxation, finger-tip temperature feedback using a biotic finger band, Spiegel's eye-roll procedure, and imagery.

Immediately following treatment and at the 6-month follow-up, he reported minimal to non-existent symptoms. The hypnosis sessions had helped him reduce stress that triggered the symptoms and it helped him regain control of Tourette Syndrome. It was also reported that soon after treatment, the participant in the study applied for the Air Force and passed his entrance examination.

Research and studies have shown that hypnosis is helpful in reducing the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. This will enable Tourette Syndrome sufferers to lead a more normal lifestyle with fewer tics and interruptions. Hypnosis also gives them more control.

By Steve G Jones

Learn more:

Monday, 19 March 2012

Video: The Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwarz talks about the sociological impact of increased choice...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Teaching a Chimp to Talk...Sign Language That Is

It has been long said that apes are humans closest living relatives sharing an almost identical genetic make up. One of the key aspects that separates apes from humans is the human ability to speak language. Older tests concluded that apes could not speak due to the biology of their throat, but researchers were keen to understand if chimpanzees could learn to communicate through sign language. Gardner, R. A. & Gardner, B. T. (1969) helped pioneer such experiments and their study with the chimp known as 'Washoe' is still perhaps the most famous of all. A summary of their work below is taken from the website:

There have been many attempts at teaching chimps to use language.  However, some of the earlier attempts were destined to failure as these studies (e.g. Kellogg and Kellogg 1933) were attempting to teach chimps to speak and their vocal apparatus is unsuitable for making speech sounds.
Gardner and Gardner attempted to teach a chimp to use a non-spoken form of language using American Sign Language as used by many deaf people in the USA.
It is important firstly to make the distinction between language and communication as much of the debate about whether non-humans can use language or not centres on these definitions of communication and language.
Communication is the process of transmitting information from one individual or group to another individual or group. Animals can certainly communicate with each other. The debate is about whether they can use something similar to human language to do this.
Language is a small number of signals (sounds, letters, gestures) that by themselves are meaningless, but which can be organised into meaningful combinations and using certain rules to make an infinite number of messages.

The aim of the study was to demonstrate that a chimpanzee does have the capability to use human language.

The study is a report of the first phase of a training project (Project Washoe) involving an infant female chimp called Washoe.  It is a kind of case study whereby detailed records were kept of Washoe's progress over an extended period of time (32 months).  Unlike most case studies there was no problem the subject had for which she was receiving help; instead this was a deliberate attempt to change the subject's behaviour in a particular way in order to test a hypothesis.  The independent variable can be thought of as the training programme and the dependent variable Washoe's actual use of signs.
The Gardners decided to use a chimp as a subject for a number of reasons.
The chimpanzee is intelligent, sociable and capable of strong attachments to human beings. Although they did recognise that the great strength of the chimpanzee could cause serious difficulties.
Although earlier studies had failed at attempting to teach chimps to vocalise like humans, the Gardners recognised that chimps easily develop hand gestures.
The Gardners decided to use American Sign Language (ASL) for a number of reasons.  They, of course, recognised the manual dexterity of the chimpanzee but also chose ASL because of its structural equivalence to spoken language.  They thought it was also useful because ASL is widely used among deaf people in North America.  This would allow the Gardners to make comparisons with deaf children.
The Gardners decided they wanted as young a chimp as was possible in case there was a critical early stage at which such behaviour had to be acquired.  Because newborn laboratory chimps are very scarce it was decided to obtain a wild caught infant.
When Washoe (who was named after Washoe county, the home of the University of Nevada) arrived at the laboratory in June 1966 she was estimated to be between 8 and 14 months. Because Washoe was very young when she arrived, she had only a rudimentary hand-eye control, was only beginning to crawl and slept a great deal.   Therefore little progress could be made for the first few months.
The Gardners ensured that Washoe had lots of human companions who all had to master ASL. The environment was designed to provide maximum stimulation with as few restrictions as possible.
Washoe was taught mainly using imitation and operant conditioning.  Operant conditioning is simply reinforcing behaviour which is desired.  The Gardners found that Washoe would learn some signs by observing and imitating, but often had to "mould" her hands into the right shapes when they were teaching her new signs.  Behaviour was rewarded by praising her and tickling.
However, if she was pressurised too much to give a correct sign she would run away, have a tantrum or even bite the tutor.
An interesting feature of human language is the babbling stage when babies make many meaningless sounds of the language.  Although, not surprising, during the early stage of the project Washoe did not babble she did make many sign like gestures without any meaning. The Gardners called this ‘manual babbling’.
Records were kept about the amount of signing behaviour and number of signs used.
A sign was recorded if it was reported by three different observers, as having occurred in an appropriate context and spontaneously (i.e. with no prompting other than a question such as "what is it?" or "what do you want?").  A reported frequency of at least one appropriate and spontaneous occurrence each day over a period of 15 consecutive days was taken as the criterion of acquisition. 
By the end of 22 months of the programme at least 30 signs met this strict criterion. Washoe was also demonstrating displacement - that is referring to things that were not present.  She could also spontaneously combine two signs e.g. "gimme tickle".

The Gardners believed that they were able to verify their hypothesis that sign language is an appropriate medium of two-way communication for the chimp.  The Gardners at this point of the study (32 months of the programme) believed that Washoe would develop even further in her attempts at sign language and that her achievements would probably be exceeded by another chimp.

                                                                  Evaluation of Procedure 
The main strength of the case study method was the large amount of in-depth data the Gardners were able to collect about Washoe’s use of sign language.
However it is worth bearing in mind that, however impressive the results seem, it took a very artificial and production based training programme to get Washoe to this level.  This, clearly, is not how human children usually acquire language, so perhaps any comparisons between chimps like Washoe are simply invalid and tell us little about the fundamental question: is language unique to human beings?  Perhaps what is required is an example of a chimp learning language in a less structured, more natural context.  There are other criticisms of the study, for example it was only a case study of one individual and therefore this makes it difficult to generalise. 
However a main criticism has to be the ethical nature of the study.  I am sure you can make your own mind up about how ethical the study was.  Was the study necessary?  Should chimps be reared as children? Should chimps be taken from their natural environment? Should chimps be taught something which is obviously 'unnatural' and so on?
A famous made up talking Gorilla called Gerald was told that when he was caught he was completely wild.  He replied  “Wild.  I was absolutely livid!”

Evaluation of Explanation
Not all psychologists agree that Washoe did acquire language.  This debate centres on the difficulty of defining exactly what is language.  For example she had semanticity (understanding), was able to generalise from one subject to another, was able to demonstrate displacement, and was creative with language as when she combined words.  One criterion which is often used as a demonstration of language is structure-dependence (the patterned nature of language and use of "structured chunks" e.g. word order).  Although Washoe combined some signs in a consistent order (e.g. "baby mine" rather than "mine baby"/ "tickle me" rather than "me tickle"), she did not always seem to care about sign order, e.g. she was as likely to sign "go sweet" as "sweet go".  This lack of structure dependence supports the argument that only humans have an innate propensity to acquire language.
The Gardners use of ASL has also been criticised as it is argued that by just concentrating on hand language ASL is not as related to spoken language as it could be.
However it should also be noted that although the study which we are reviewing was written when the teaching programme was 32 months old, the programme was still carried out by the Gardners until Washoe was five.  By the time she was 4 she was able to sign 132 different words.  She could also make over 30 two and three word combinations.  This isn't very impressive by comparison with a human 4-year-olds 3000 or so words, but it's still far more than many people had previously considered possible.  The Gardners also devised a double-blind test, to rule out the possibility that Washoe's performance was simply a matter of her trainers seeing what they wanted to see in her behaviour.  In this test, one observer was positioned in such a way as to be able to see the picture that Washoe was being shown. The other observer was placed in such a way as to be able to see Washoe, and the sign she was making, but not the stimulus picture.  Washoe was asked to make the sign for each picture, and the observer had to write down what she had signed.  The procedure was also videotaped.  Gardner and Gardner found that, under these circumstances, Washoe achieved accurate signing on 72% of the trials.  In addition, when she did make mistakes, she would often give the sign for something related to the picture, like giving the sign for a cat when she was shown a picture of a dog.  
Washoe was now also able to coin new words: the first time she saw a swan her trainer asked her 'What's that?' and she responded with 'water bird'.  Washoe would often sign spontaneously, initiating sign language 'conversations' with her trainers.  She also, quite spontaneously, developed 'swear words' - words which she added on to her other utterances to indicate displeasure.  For example she would sign 'dirty' before someone's name if they had displeased her.  The implications, then, is that she was using the words she had learned to fulfil communicative intentions: she was actually using language, rather than producing stimulus-response behaviour. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Reptilian Brain...And It's Evolution in the Human Brain

The reptilian brain is the most ancient of the brains. It has two hemispheres, just like the neocortex, and it may be that they relate functionally to the left and right hemispheres of the neocortex. The reptilian brain consists of the upper part of the spinal cord and the basal ganglia, the diencephalon, and parts of the midbrain - all of which sits atop the spinal column like a knob in the middle of our heads. 

It is thought to represent a fundamental core of the nervous system and derives from a form of mammal-like reptile that once ranged widely over the world but disappeared during the Triassic period having provided the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and mammals. All modern mammals have this reptilian complex, including humans.

First and foremost among the traits generated through the reptilian brain is the drive to establish and defend territory. This is fueled by an extremely potent "will-to-power", exemplified among lizards by the ritual behavior of two rainbow lizards competing for dominance. These animals have beautiful colors and like many lizards, use head bobbing and pushups in assertive, aggressive, courtship and greeting displays.

In a contest, once the gauntlet is thrown down, the aggressive displays give way to violent combat, and the struggle is unrelenting. In victory, they are tyrannical dictators in the extreme. In defeat, they lose their majestic colours, lapse into a kind of depression, and die two weeks later.

At least five human behaviours originate in the reptilian brain. These have been denoted as isopraxic, preservative, re-enactment, tropistic, and deceptive.

Without defining them, I shall simply say that in human activities they find expression in:
  • obsessive-compulsive behaviour
  • personal day-to-day rituals and superstitious acts
  • slavish conformance to old ways of doing things
  • ceremonial re-enactments
  • obeisance to precedent, as in legal, religious, cultural, and other matters
  • responding to partial representations (coloration, "strangeness," etc.), whether alive or inanimate
  • and all manner of deception
All movies and television are likely a projection of the reptilian brain. How so? Movies and television (video games, etc.) are all undeniably dreamlike, not only in their presentation of symbolic-reality, but also in that humans experiencing movies, etc. have the same brain wave patterns as when they are dreaming. And guess where dreaming originates in your head? In the reptilian brain (although other parts of our brains are involved). 

The "language" of the reptilian brain is visual imagery. All communications transferred by reptiles are done so by visual symbolic representations, each having specific meaning. Reptiles do not dream, but animals which have evolved from the reptiles (mammals & birds) do dream. Why? Because the reptilian mind is still operating in them and we humans call that mental state "dreaming." There is no "dreamstate" in reptiles because this mentality is their waking state.

It is repressed during our waking hours (but still functioning --- it never sleeps) by chemicals released neocortically--- then the reptilian is allowed to function during sleep and dream, when the left hemisphere is in turn repressed. But obviously, the reptilian brain is not satisfied being relegated to the "nightwatch" of an inert body. It wants far more than that.

Humans invented rituals and ceremonies, and then, theater. Now where do you suppose those revelations came from? Theater, with its famous theorem of the "suspension of disbelief"(which is simply another way of saying, "Put your left brain to sleep.") is a re-invention of the reptilian mental-state "out-there". And of course, now we have excellent duplication of the reptilian mindset with movies and television, etc.--- which by some estimates, occupies up to 16-18 hours of our time per day, when you add in sleep-dream time.

Ritual, ceremony, theater, movies, television, video games, etc.; all of which was created out of the territoriality need-compulsion and the will-to-power of the reptilian brain. This "territoriality" and "will-to-power" is manifested in a variety of ways in human behaviour, as are other reptilian traits. Let me give some examples, though you will soon realise that an abundance of examples is present in our civilization. "He" wants to marry her, and "She" might very well be interested, but they agree that before marriage can be considered, he must have a "good job" with a steady income and a "good future" - "They" are rainbow lizards (or any number of other reptiles, birds & mammals) whose "courtship" consists of the male showing his ability to establish and protect a certain "space" before he will be considered a suitable mate--- in short, this kind of compulsion/obsession is reptilian, no matter how much rationale the left brain of the neocortex applies to justify it.
As you will see, "territoriality" extends far beyond a patch of earth in humans--- and "will-to-power" has many masks. "Us" attack "Them" because of their skin colour. It is the colour display that "Us" attack. "Us" are cock lizards (& countless other reptiles). All racism is reptilian.

"B. All" is attracted to "N. Doll" because "N. Doll" wears red lipstick. When "N. Doll" wears blue lipstick, "B. All" is uninterested. "B. All" is attracted to coloration - but color is not the only physical display involved in this compulsion. It could be any physical characteristic. "B. All" could be addicted to warts. "N. Doll" could be mesmerized by a certain walk.

And what about Mr. "B. All" who digs big breasts and tight buns? Or Miss "N. Doll" who likes big dicks and biceps? They are green anolis lizards who can only respond to some physical display - like a flared collar or a slim chassis. B. All and N. Doll are impotent without a hot mirage in front of their eyes. They can’t get off without Hollywood or Madison Avenue controlling their hormonal traffic; they don’t go cruising, they go vogue-ing. They are into drive-by orgasms. They are turned on and off by traffic lights.

So who’s doing the driving here?

All compulsive reactions of either attraction or aggression based on any physical display or representation is originated in the reptilian brain.

"Goo Rue" lives in a shallow cave on the top of an isolated mountain. "Goo Rue" follows a very simple daily routine from which he never strays. Most of his day is spent in prayer, basking in the radiation of his god (which, being "beyond words," is imaged at his altar as a serpent spiraling up a rod).

The rest of "Goo Rue’s" day is spent patiently foraging for food and "living on the moment." Frequently, "Goo" is visited by followers from near-by villages who prostrate themselves before him. "Goo Rue" speaks of "timelessness & body-lessness & regeneration." After eating, or after giving a particularly inspiring speech, "Goo Rue" has uncontrollable sexual urges, of which only young girls of the villages are aware. "Goo Rue" is a Komodo Dragon.

"Double-O-Dahlmer" is cool and emotionless. "Double-O-Dahlmer" is "Goo Rue’s" brother and lives on the flipside of his mountain. "Double-O-Dahlmer" lives in isolation also, and follows a rigid daily routine, which includes stalking and lying in wait for boys who stray from the village. Once his prey is lured to his cave, "Double-O-Dahlmer" feeds his needs by sexually dominating the boys and then mechanically dismembering them. He keeps their body parts in his refrigerator. "Double-O-Dahlmer" is a "cold-blooded, emotionless killer." "Double-O-Dahlmer" is also a Komodo Dragon.

Komodo Dragons are suspected to be the closest of living reptiles that may resemble one of the carnivorous mammal-like reptiles that gave us our proto-reptilian brain. Komodo Dragon hatchlings take to the trees as soon as possible to avoid being cannibalized by adult Dragons. Remember this, for it will take on symbolic meaning later.

All of these behaviors originate in impulses at the reptilian brain or lower in the body, and are modified by the "higher" brains. The reptilian brain is a powerful source of human behavior - primarily because it is hidden. It is deceptive. It is a secret from our conscious. But we do "know" it emotionally, intuitively. It is the slithering serpent in darkness! It is The Unconscious. Zairian saying: "If you kill a snake, you’re still afraid of it."

Isopraxic refers to behavior in which two or more individuals engage in the same kind of activity. It cannot be overemphasized that isopraxis is basic to maintaining the identity of a species or a social group. The human fetus is in a perpetual dream-state (reptilian mentality). Newborn babies spend more than half their sleep time in REM dreamstate.

In earliest childhood, our mental state is controlled almost completely by the reptilian brain (along with the later evolved paleomammalian brain and the right hemisphere of the neocortex - the left hemisphere is underdeveloped in earliest childhood). 

(The following is an explanation of the reptilian, mammalian and human brain by Manfred Davidman)

Reptilian Brain
Innermost in our brain is what is called the reptilian brain, its oldest and most primitive part. The reptilian brain appears to be largely unchanged by evolution and we share it with all other animals which have a backbone. 

This reptilian brain controls body functions required for sustaining life such as breathing and body temperature. Reptiles are cold-blooded animals which are warmed by the daylight sun and conserve energy by restricting activities when it is dark. The biological clock (controller) for their activity-rest cycle is located in the eye itself.

At this level of evolution, behaviour relating to survival of the species, such as sexual behavior, is instinctive and responses are automatic. Territory is acquired by force and defended. Might is right.

Mammalian Brain
Next to evolve from the reptilian brain was the mammalian brain. An enormous change took place as mammals evolved from reptiles, the mammalian brain containing organs
  • For the automatic control of body functions such as digestion, the fluid balance, body temperature and blood pressure (autonomic nervous system, hypothalamus)
  • For filing new experiences as they happen and so creating a store of experience-based memories (hippocampus)
  • For experience-based recognition of danger and for responding to this according to past experience. And for some conscious feelings about events (amygdala)
To this extent the mammal is more consciously aware of itself in relation to the environment. Millions of neural pathways connect the hippocampal and amygdala structures to the reptilian brain and behavior is less rigidly controlled by instincts. It seems that feelings such as attachment, anger and fear have emerged with associated behavioral response patterns of care, fight or flight. {4}

Human Brain
And the mammalian brain became the human brain by adding the massive grey matter (neocortex) which envelopes most of the earlier brain and amounts to about 85 per cent of the human brain mass.

This massive addition consists mostly of two hemispheres which are covered by an outer layer and interconnected by a string of nerve fibres.

The brain is actually divided into its ’hemispheres’ by a prominent groove. At the base of this groove lies the thick bundle of nerve fibers which enable these two halves of the brain to communicate with each other. But the left hemisphere usually controls movement and sensation in the right side of the body, while the right hemisphere similarly controls the left side of the body. We saw that with the mammalian brain emerged feelings such as attachment, fear and anger and associated behavioral response patterns. And human emotional responses depend on neuronal pathways which link the right hemisphere to the mammalian brain which in turn is linked to the even older reptilian brain. Fascinating is the way in which work is divided between the two halves of the brain, their different functions and the way in which they supplement and co-operate with each other.