The Reptilian Brain

June 1st, 2009
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v7-6-Our Islands-Reptilian BrainOld Joe was peering at his neighbor’s young daughter from behind the curtain of his living room window. He could not help thinking that she had become a very beautiful young woman. Other thoughts may have crossed his mind but he would not admit those to anyone. Old Joe’s wife entered the room and caught him spying on the girl; she became furious and called him a dirty old man. Most people do not have any idea why older people, men and women alike, admire younger members of the opposite sex. Hardly anyone has taken the time to figure out why they find themselves attracted to beautiful people. To think about it is not the function of the sentient mind.

The main reason for our attraction to good-looking people is that the parameter for beauty has been set in our minds from the beginning and beauty implies health. Healthy partners bear healthy and strong offspring; these offspring have a better chance at surviving.

These logical conclusions are performed by our reptilian brain without the conscious participation of the host. The reptilian brain is the reason men are not too attracted to older women. It has nothing to do with being a dirty old man, but that the primitive part of our brain has passed judgment and older women beyond the child bearing age are not considered good candidates for partners.

Old men have a definite advantage in this argument and that’s because no matter what age a man is, he is still likely to be able to produce offspring. An older woman will eventually ask, ‘What does she have that I don’t?’ A truthful answer here would be that the younger woman has nothing more or better that the other woman, but the reptilian brain has made known its findings and the older woman lost.

The cerebrum saves the day because it is here that we find love, fidelity, kindness, compassion and all other human traits. Our love for, and our sense of, responsibility towards our aging partner keeps most of us on the straight and narrow but it is a hard battle as we are fighting against our evolutionary inheritance.

Sometime in the distant past we diverged from the normal path of mammalian development that uses the sense of smell to become attracted to the opposite sex. We are now more akin to the birds in that we are guided more by our eyesight than by anything else when searching for a mate. Maybe we should not touch but everybody knows that just looking can’t hurt anybody.

In these times of hardship most people are making conscious decisions not to have many children but this reasoning does not change the programming created by evolution in the most primitive part of our brain. This part of the brain is what keeps us breathing, keeps our heart beating, maintains our body temperature and like functions of our autonomic nervous system. This system is what enables us to dodge an oncoming arrow, blinks our eyes when something touches our eyelids, makes us pull our hand away from a hot surface and a myriad of other self protection reflexes and all this without us ever having to think about it.

Imagine if we had to think about everything we did, when it came to split second decisions of self preservation our serially processing thinking brain would fall short and our survival would not have been possible in a world of eat or be eaten. Man and most mammals with their convoluted brain would not have risen to domination on this planet if not for the reptilian brain that lies beneath it. The cerebrum likens us unto God and the brain stem likens us unto animals, hence the words of Plotinus: Man is midway between God and beast. [/private]

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