The LRC Presents…

Our Mind at War

Dr. Iain McGilchrist, renowned British psychiatrist and author, on why the battle between our right and left hemispheres has shaped everything from our notions of happiness to the development of civilizations.

Based on his extensive psychiatric practice, medical neurological research, and literary studies, Dr. McGilchrist has concluded that the brain’s right and left hemispheres have waged battle for the past 2,500 years.

But the battle is not – as it is often thought – about reason versus emotion, or language versus images, since both hemispheres are crucially involved with both. It is about the left hemisphere’s tendency to break things into bits and, which has importantly gained cultural supremacy over the right hemisphere’s ability to appreciate the whole. The impact has been significant: “What makes us happy is not wealth, but the reciprocal relations between ourselves and on another, ourselves and the world,” he notes. “This is something the right hemisphere alone understands, since it is the ground of empathy and interconnectedness, where the left hemisphere is concerned with manipulation and sees the world atomistically.”

Dr. McGilchrist’s lates book, published by Yale University Press, is called The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. In this talk, he offers his views on how an overreliance on ways of looking at the world characteristic of the left hemisphere may partially be responsible for the increase in mental illness globally, including depression, which the World Health Organization forecasts will become the second most widespread illness in the world.


Dr. Ian McGilchrist, renowned British psychiatrist and author.


An event co-produced with TVO's Big Ideas