Your inner beast

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Chapter 8 endnote 19, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

...the classical view considers you special because your animalistic essences come gift-wrapped in rational thought. A uniquely human essence of reason supposedly lets you regulate your emotions by rational means, placing you at the pinnacle of the animal kingdom.

The ancient greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle believed that humans differ from animals in their ability to suppress their "inner beast" by rational means. So did Darwin[1] and the neurologist Paul Broca. So did many scientists throughout history, including those who did not buy into the localization of faculties, like the neurologist John Hughlings-Jackson who believed that insanity was caused by a release of more ancient (lower) parts of the brain from evolutionarily newer (higher) regions.[2] This idea is not so different from some modern theories of mental illness, for examine, that very frequently treat mental illness as a failure of prefrontal cortex to properly regulate the amygdala and other subcortical structures.


Notes on the Notes

  1. Darwin, Charles. (1871) 2004. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. London: Penguin Classics.
  2. Finger, Stanley. 1994. Origins of Neuroscience: A History of Explorations into Brain Function. New York: Oxford University Press., p. 271.