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Understanding Mutual Duality and where we've lost it: Iain McGilchrist

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and former fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, known for his work on the differences between the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. In his book "The Master and His Emissary," he argues that the left hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for reason and logic, has come to dominate Western culture to the detriment of the more intuitive and holistic abilities of the right hemisphere. Mr. McGilchrist's work has been pivotal in guiding my experiences with what I would similarly call, mutual and complimentary duality. Examples such as masculine and feminine energy, yin yang, and shiva shakti energy are a few of these pairs of opposites.

McGilchrist's work draws on the latest research in neuroscience, which has revealed that the two hemispheres of the brain have distinct and complementary functions. The left hemisphere is associated with language, linear thinking, and the ability to analyze and categorize information. In contrast, the right hemisphere is associated with spatial awareness, visual imagery, and the ability to understand the context and relationships of information.

One of the key points McGilchrist makes in his work is that the left hemisphere tends to see the world in terms of abstract symbols and concepts, while the right hemisphere is more attuned to the sensory and experiential aspects of reality. This can lead to a reduction of complexity, where the left hemisphere is unable to understand the richness of the intuitive and holistic insights of the right hemisphere.

McGilchrist also points out the paradox of the left brain which it is good at providing information but have a propensity to miss the larger picture, and the right brain, which can pick up on subtle and nuanced information that eludes the left brain but can also lead to confusion and uncertainty.

McGilchrist argues that a healthy balance between the hemispheres is essential for a well-functioning society. He suggests that the over-reliance on the left hemisphere has led to a reduction in the ability to understand the complexity of the world, and a corresponding increase in the tendency to simplify and reduce everything to a single perspective.

McGilchrist's work highlights the importance of understanding the different functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and the need to balance these different perspectives in order to gain a more complete understanding of the world. He draws on research in neuroscience to support his arguments, and argues that the left hemisphere's over-reliance on reason has led to a neglect of the intuitive and holistic insights provided by the right hemisphere.

The importance of this work and my growing personal affinity has greatly impressed upon me. Mr. McGilchrist is sharing what I and many others believe to be a part of the great work. Socially, culturally, institutionally, relationally, and personally, we have been in a great battle. I see this battle as vertically and horizontally based. We have our own personal rebalancing that needs to develop, redirect to Carl Jung's great work for guidance with the integration of the shadow and anima/animus possession, but also we have to delicately yet steadfastly learn to handle this archetypes playing out on the world stage.

To learn more:

Head on over to youtube and check out plenty of videos featuring Iain McGilchrist

Books: Against Criticis, 1982. The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning, 2012. Ways of Attending, 2018. The Matter with Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain And The Making of The Western World


  1. McGilchrist, I. (2009). The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. Yale University Press.

  2. Gazzaniga, M. S. (2015). Principles of Human Brain Organization Derived from Split-Brain Studies. Neuron, 88(3), 688-700.

  3. Kosslyn, S. M., & Koenig, O. (1992). Wet Mind: The New Cognitive Neuroscience. The Free Press.

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