Millions of people hear voices – about 1,200,000,000 of us do so on a regular basis.
And there at least as many explanations we can choose from as the explanation that best fits our experience, or that best enables us to live our lives.
The book tackles the nonsensical notion that we use only 10% of our brains, turns that on its head and sets out how we’re mostly not aware of just how much is going on in there – or as he calls it “under the hood”.
We are only aware of a small part of what does go on and this is perhaps part of a smart energy conservation strategy – we just couldn’t eat enough to fuel our brains to be aware of every thing, all the time.
One term he uses is “zombie routines” – you’ll be familiar with this by the example he uses is travelling to work, first time we’re very aware of what we’re doing, in time it becomes automatic and we have all kinds of thing occupying our mind other than what we do to get to work without being aware or really noticing- he calls these “zombie routines”.
William James talked of much the same kind of thing with more familiar term – zombie routine is a kind of habit – what we do unthinkingly, or without needing to pay full, conscious attention.
David Eagleman suggest that this is mostly how we operate- by zombie routines. Occasionally, two or more zombie routines conflict – and pop up into our consciousness so that part of us that we call “me” becomes aware, and can make a conscious choice, an executive decision.
Team of Rivals
In another chapter he borrows a term from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s famous biography of Lincoln – Team of Rivals in which she portrays how as President, Lincoln assembled his cabinet deliberately bringing together people with strongly held and very different perspectives, his job being to hear them all and to make final decisions.
This article at big think suggests “you can be your own team of rivals” and consult with your own inner rivals.
“Abraham Lincoln was one of the presidents who best understood the fact that you need to surround yourself with advisors who aren’t just Yes Men, who aren’t just going to agree with everything you say. “
Eaglemann takes this idea and adds it to the Zombie Routines idea. Our job – meaning the conscious ‘I’ part of our experience – is to be Lincoln-like: aware of the conflicts that arise, learn when we need to get involved and learn to embrace the conflicts, the polyphony and many different perspectives – and to decide, to make a conscious choice from the zombie offerings.
Choose your zombie…
There are other undertandings and descriptions that describe something similar though with very different language and rarely involving zombies.
Team of Rival Zombies
Or, “Team of Rambunctious Rival Zombies”
Fits my lot perfectly.
The more so because, since we read Eaglemann’s book together, that’s exactly how they refer to their collective selves.
“oi ! Zombie fucker”
What do yours call themselves ?
or if you prefer…
how do the voices that only you hear “self – identify?”