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Surprise #4: Reptilian hindbrain (a) Rage

There are no words for how behind I am with so many things, as anyone might guess from the fact that I've only posted three times this month. Gaaah. Editing a 300+ page scholarly monograph on Freemasonry in your spare time can do that to you.

But at last, at last, here I am with my next installment in the 100 Things Challenge. Yay!

The reptilian hindbrain, also sometimes called the "lizard brain," is pop culture slang for the most primitive part of the brain, the part just slightly more evolved than the autonomous functions like breathing. Its proper name is Rhombencephalon, and according to Wikipedia "it has been suggested that the hindbrain first evolved...between 570 and 555 million years ago."

But this surprise, which I experienced when I was about ten years old but still remember like it was yesterday, has nothing to do with where the hindbrain came from and everything to do with the fact that it's still in there, sulking at its superfluity, waiting to pounce and take over in certain circumstances.

My brother is five years younger than me, and when we were kids we had developed mad skillz at pushing each others' buttons. One evening when I was about ten, he did something -- I don't recall what -- that sent me into quite literally a blind rage. I was so furious I was incoherent; I distinctly recall that I felt like I had lost the power of speech, as well as all control over my actions. We were downstairs at the time, and I remember hurtling up the stairs, slamming into his room (a MAJOR breach of protocol: personal space was a very big priority in my family and you DID NOT enter someone else's room without permission)...I ran to his dresser, ripped the drawers open, grabbed handfuls of stuff, anything, whatever I could get my hands on, threw it left, right, up, down, hurling it about the room until it was festooned with socks and underwear. I felt like a passenger in my own head, like my rage had become a physical thing that had taken possession of me. And side by side with the red berserker frenzy was this astonishment: What the heck is going on? What is this??

I remember that my brother and my mom had followed me upstairs and stood in the doorway staring, open-mouthed in awe at my tiny whirling vortex of fury. (I was a very small ten year old.)

Later, my mom told me she was proud of me that instead of beating my brother to a pulp, I'd turned my rage on something inanimate, not to mention squashy and damage-free (socks = harmless). Looking back, yeah, as a mom I too would probably have taken that as a good sign. At the time, though, had I known who the Incredible Hulk was then, I'm sure I would have identified with him (sans the purple shorts).

That particular part of the hindbrain never showed itself to me again (though I caught a glimpse of its red-and-black hide once, years later, when my college boyfriend smugly opined that it was fine for him to have slept around in high school but that girls ought to be virgins...but that's another story, and it wasn't really a surprise LOL!). But I've never forgotten my amazement at this hitherto unsuspected capability lurking inside me, and my astonishment at the power of this most basic of hindbrain emotions.


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May. 17th, 2012 01:27 pm (UTC)
Remind me never to piss you off, or if I do, remind me to hide my socks.
May. 17th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
Ha! No, I've moved on to shirts and trousers now ;)
May. 17th, 2012 01:57 pm (UTC)
Ahhh... I've had moments like that in my life, luckily not in recent years. I have this image of you now though, as a ten-year-old in a veritable storm of socks and underwear in a swirling vortex around you. LOL!
May. 17th, 2012 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yep, that was me -- Fruit of the Looms everywhere, socks dangling from the lampshades. It was quite satisfying, in a way, but now that I'm no longer ten years old I find I can no longer get away with it ;)
May. 17th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
It is astonishing, isn't it, when it comes out? Nice when it expends itself on soft, cushy things like socks, though.
May. 17th, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
The fact that the feeling has stuck with me for so many years (I won't say how long it's been since I was ten years old...) I think attests to just how strange and surprising a moment it was. As to the soft cushiness, well, perhaps this explains the lasting success of Nerf™?
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