The brain’s left and right hemispheres have come under extensive study, most recently
beginning in the 1990s. The little film from Generation Connect reflects the Butterfly model of
care developed by Dr. David Sheard in 1995. Around the same time others were also looking at
uses and effects of music and the environment on care in residences.
In 1997, Thomas Kitwood’s, Dementia Reconsidered focussed on this new type of care and the
qualifications of those giving care. More recently, Atal Gawande’s Being Mortal, again expressed
the need for a new model of care.
By far the most recent massive study in this area was Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s 2010, The Master
and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.
In his book, McGilchrist, psychiatrist, doctor and former Oxford literary scholar, takes a wideranging
and deep look at how our brain develops and how it has become unbalanced, with the
secondary function (left brain, the emissary) usurping the primary function (right brain, The
Master). In effect, how the ‘task’ has become separated from the reason/need for the task. Form
It is the right side of the brain which conceptualizes and comprehends context, the bigger
picture, the expansive field in which actions and their consequences can be imagined. It is the
space where music, imagination, poetry, beauty, transcendental experience and the mystic soul
live and breathe. It is non-quantifiable. It can’t be measured. It can only be experienced. Actions
and ideas may arise from it, but action is not it’s main concern.
And it is not, as the little film shows, effected by dementia.
Mark, rather than listing a string of articles, research, etc which Mr. Google can easily provide, I would like to invite all advocates, experts and caregivers to take a look at the research which they are familiar with but see if viewing it through the right side lens produces insights or explanations of things not accounted for. A great deal of my background is in the area of religious mysticism which I fear many would find obscure at best. For a more purely visual representation which does a better job than my amateur take, the perfectly balanced Zen symbol for Yin and Yang speaks more eloquently. And for the cosmological view, Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas covers the same subject.