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