The triune brain model of the nervous system (to simplify it) says we have a reptilian complex as the most “primitive” part of our brain, plus the limbic system and the neocortex.
In his article The Evolution of Anxiety, Rich Presta explains that the amygdala is part of the “reptilian brain” – “because it’s been around since we were virtually reptiles ourselves, and one of the main jobs of the amygdala is assessing danger and keeping us safe.”
In her article Does the Internet Make You Happy? Thoughts from SxSW, psychologist and teacher Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D. says, “At the lizard level, we don’t distinguish readily between real and virtual in our visceral response.” She notes that even ‘virtual’ experiences are interpreted as meaningful by the lizard brain.
So what does this have to do with creative expression?
In his Success Magazine post Ways to Reinvent Yourself, Seth Godin notes that making a creative project risks other people not liking it, ignoring it, even laughing at it – and the cringe we may feel about getting those reactions (or even anticipating them) is a sign of the reptilian part of our system.
“The lizard brain, that prehistoric brain stem that all of us must contend with, doesn’t like being laughed at,” he writes. “It’s the part of our brain that worries about safety and dishes out anger. Being laughed at is the lizard brain’s worst nightmare. And so it shuts down our art.”
Continued in my Creative Mind post The Lizard Brain and the Resistance.