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The Reptile Mind | Cypress Semiconductor

The Reptile Mind

Consider these quotes I gleaned from the internet concerning the most primitive core of our brain/thinking:

1) "First and foremost among the traits generated through the reptilian brain is the drive to establish and defend territory." (www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sumer_anunnaki/reptiles/reptiles14.htm)

2) "It carries out a set program of behavioral responses, when presented with certain external triggers. It does not learn from its mistakes, and understands only images, not language." (www.eruptingmind.com/reptilian-brain-triune-model/)

3) "The reptilian part of the brain developed very early in the evolution of our species and gave us an enormous evolutionary advantage. It enabled the earliest reptiles to make primitive but vital choices- the reptile asks only three basic questions of any thing or situation it encounters:
1. Can it eat me/hurt me/kill me?
2. Can I eat it?
3. Can I have sex with it?
If the answer to all these questions is 'no,' then the object is deemed to be a 'rock,' and no further notice need be taken of it." (
www.sedonavortexconnection.com/SVCMonthly/Articles/Current/Reptile.html)

One day last summer as I was walking and thinking, I came across a tiny garter snake - only 6 inches long with a head the size of my smallest finger. Intrigued, I engaged it, blocking its way with my shoe, and watching the snake's reaction. The first couple of times it changed direction. About the third or fourth time, the snake instead decided to hold its ground and attack - my shoe. Needless to say the snake's attack did nothing to me (or my shoe), and when further engaged the snake continued to attack my shoe.

This illustrates the "reptile mind" and is line with the quotes above. My shoe couldn't be eaten, nor could it serve as a mate, and therefore the snake determined "it (shoe/human) could kill me (snake)". But its response was to first try and divert slightly, briefly, but still headed toward the original objective, to get to where it originally wanted to go. When that didn't work, it settled into defense/attack mode.

We share this "brain" with the snake (according to neuroscientists) and it probably is the same size in us as in the snake - only 4 grams. This is the basic and instinctive part of the brain, and we use it all the time. When you step out in the crosswalk and then see a truck coming, do you stop to consider the best approach to this stimulus, weighing the pros and cons? No, without a thought you jump back to the curb or sprint across the street. And this part of our brain is getting first crack at stimulus all the time. Even in design reviews.

So the next time you are in a review and feel yourself or your "victim" drop into defense mode, stop, think and try to re-engage the thinking brains (theirs and yours). That might mean trying to understand why the other person has stopped thinking and try to bring them out of reptile mode (or start the conversation so together you can get out of this mode). It is harder to get yourself out of this mode, on your own, so help others so they can later help you. 

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