The Cerebral And The Emotional: Conflicts And Harmony

The Cerebral And The Emotional: Conflicts And Harmony: Should one be Cerebral or Emotional?

After writing an article on "The Neuroscience of Romantic Love," a question came up asking me whether an individual should follow his emotional responses when in love or should allow his thinking brain to dominate the whole process! The question further asked whether one allowing his thinking brain to dominate during a relationship or marriage could have a negative impact on the relationship or marriage; because, observationally, most women are emotional and prefer to have someone who would be in tune with their emotions. Furthermore, the question asked whether an individual who dwells on his emotional responses could make regrettable decisions or actions later on in a relationship and life in general! Well, these are a few tactical questions. However, here is my response:

Firstly, a cerebral individual is someone who largely dwells on logical thinking to make decisions rather than on feelings. At the same time, the emotional individual is someone who largely dwells on emotional feelings to make decisions than on logical thinking. Both cerebral and emotional individuals have their strengths and weaknesses, as well as challenges in relationships and in life generally. However, depending on the society and culture in which they live, some societies are more cerebral- which means that individuals who are too emotional than logical are often considered abnormal in such settings. Whereas some societies consider emotional individuals as the ideal normal individuals and thus consider cerebral individuals as awkward. Moreover, some societies associate cerebral prowess with masculinity and emotions with femininity. 

Oftentimes, cerebral individuals consider their emotional counterparts as being weak and too sensitive. However, this is not necessarily the case, as being emotional doesn't signifies weakness. Similarly, Emotional individuals oftentimes consider their cerebral counterparts as insensitive, without empathy. However, being cerebral doesn't necessarily mean that one is insensitive or lacks empathy. In some recent trends in relationships, individuals, particularly men, who are cerebral, are often referred to as incels due to their inability to keep romantic relationships with women. At the same time, cerebral women/ females are sometimes referred to as single for the same reason.

However, the nature that made the Human Brain makes it have both the emotional brain (the limbic system) and the thinking brain (the frontal cortex). This makeup of the brain actually shows that both brain areas are essential for survival, normal bodily functions, and behavior. Both have specific roles to play to ensure optimal function and normal behavior. The two brains (thinking and emotional brains) are meant to complement each other. They are to function together to ensure normal responses and behavior. However, there are certain conditions in which one or both brains might function abnormally, leading to some clinical conditions, as can be seen in some individuals with personality disorders.

One of my favorite quotes from the former South African leader Nelson Mandela is: " We should always allow the Brain to dominate the blood (heart)...". The brain here refers to the thinking Brain (frontal lobe), and the blood or the heart here refers to the emotional brain (limbic system). However, a personality study of Nelson Mandela shows that he is highly cerebral and highly emotional too. It was his high sense of emotional intelligence that enabled him to empathize and sympathize with the South African citizens who were terribly maltreated by the apartheid regime- a government of white supremacists. Despite the juicy offers from the apartheid government, he chose to take a risk that could end his life in order to see that his people obtain their freedom. He spent over 27 years in prison without compromising his initial standing for freedom and equality for all the citizens of South Africa. Similarly, many of his interviews with journalists depicted him as someone with high logical prowess. 

Further studies of the personalities of successful leaders in politics and business, such as Mohatma Ghandi of India, Martin Luther King Jr, Bill Gates, etc., have equally demonstrated a balance between their thinking Brain and emotional brain. This balance is what set them apart till today. The world is celebrating them for their outstanding leadership and achievements. Meanwhile, both the emotional brain and the thinking brain need to be used equally and complement each other. At certain times the thinking brain should be allowed to dominate, while at other times, the emotional brain should dominate. The ability to keep a balance between the two brains is actually the goal of true intelligence and good leadership skills. 

Allowing one part of the brain to extremely dominate at the expense of the other, whether due to illness or poor development, is ultimately the cause of some personality disorders and/or regrettable decisions. For instance, a psychopath or sociopath is an individual that is completely emotionally numb, which makes him/her take on many anti-social acts at the detriment of others. A psychopath can kill or put an individual into an extremely pathetic condition without any feeling of remorse. Many notorious armed robbers and terrorists are psychopaths.

Similarly, in many instances, individuals who rely solely on their emotions when making decisions oftentimes regret their actions or decisions later on. This category is applicable to many individuals in relationships who rely solely on euphoric feelings to make marital decisions or have premarital sex. Individuals who solely rely on euphoria to make marital decisions oftentimes regret it because they usually fail to think about the responsibilities that come along with it so as to adequately plan for it. Likewise, individuals who allowed the euphoria and sex drive to lead them in their relationships oftentimes ended up engaging in regrettable premarital sex or unwanted pregnancy.

The emotional brain is often associated with the spiritual aspect of man. Often times emotionalized decisions are more potent and capable of bringing results than decisions that are made entirely based on logic. In the scriptures and traditional behavior studies, the heart is referred to as the emotional part of the mind that tells the genuineness of one's actions and decisions. It is found that emotionalized actions and decisions tend to easily induce the emotions of other people around and make them follow in the direction of the emotion. Some of the world's great speakers and/or leaders that exerted great influence on people are people who mastered the skill of genuinely emotionalizing their ideas and actions, which makes them contagious. Similarly, while the thinking brain is often associated with creativity, it is however induced by the emotional brain.

Therefore, both the thinking brain and the emotional brain are important for a healthy and balanced life. Hence, they need to be kept in check, complimenting each other for optimal and normal function in life, leadership, relationships, or career advancement. The inability to maintain a balance between these two brains will result in abnormalities or personality disorders. Take, for instance, a situation where someone has lost a loved one; it is expected that he/she sympathizes with the family and usually displays sad emotions. But when he/she tends to be laughing and mock the mourners or logically analyze the situation without any sympathy towards the family, such a person will definitely be considered abnormal. 

What is your thought on this? Please put it down in the comment section!

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