Our mental health is influenced by deep, evolutionary partly outdated, emotion-regulating areas of the brain. Over the last millions of years, a rational cortex has grown in and over these areas, with which we try to curb emotions, such as fear and aggression. This works only partly because the evolution of our cerebral cortex falls far behind the developments around us. We are therefore not only a slave of our subconscious, as Freud called it, but also a slave with outdated instruments. By understanding the ensuing relativity of negative emotions, from which we so tremendously suffer, we can try to free ourselves from this mental slavery. This lecture hopes to lend a helping hand to the cerebral cortex. Call it Evolution therapy.
Ganglia and nerves arose five hundred million years ago, such as in flatworms. This is how the brain, that coordinates various reflexes, arose. At that time, evolution had gained momentum. Organisms can now also select one another on outer characteristics of strength and efficiency in order to carry on their DNA. In reptiles the hormonal brain systems also have a role in the tuning of behavior, although this is essentially no more than a reflex or instinct for primary needs: food to survive and sex to procreate. Later species, the ancestors of the human and the anthropoid ape, started walking upright and therefore got their hands free to make tools and fire. Thus, for the first time in evolution, we were able to largely adapt the environment to ourselves, instead of vice versa.
From that moment onwards the development went so fast that the favorable evolutionary influence is negligible. At present, about 20% of mankind, with his outdated, emotion-regulating areas of the brain, can no longer stand up to the challenges of modern times and will develop a psychiatric disorder.
“To sum up, in a way we are our brains, as Dick Swaab assumes, but with a little Evolution therapy we can also become the brains we want to be.“