The Divided Mind

Four Walls: A Psychiatrist's View of Poetry & Poets. by Iain McGilchrist -

"When I left the world of academic English literature it was not because I was any less passionate about poetry, but because I did not want to spend my life operating on my friends. I thought I might kill them. Later I learned of Ted Hughes’s dream about the fox that came to him, singed and smelling of burnt hair, put its paw on the essay he was writing, leaving a bloody mark, and said, “You are destroying us.”

Poetry engraves itself in the brain: it doesn’t just slip smoothly over the cortex as language normally does. It has all the graininess of life, as it rips into being from deep within the limbic system, the ancient seat of awareness and affective meaning..."  Read the essay.

Iain McGilchrist is a former fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where he taught English literature, and is now a consultant psychiatrist. His most recent book, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, was published by Yale University Press in November 2009.

Read Mary Midgley's Review: "This is a very remarkable book. It is not (as some reviewers seem to think) just one more glorification of feeling at the expense of thought. Rather, it points out the complexity, the divided nature of thought itself and asks about its connection with the structure of the brain..."


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