Reductionist thinking attempts to reduce the whole to its parts in an attempt to make the world seem more comprehensible and manageable. The left hemisphere appears to carry out primarily reductionist thinking. But the beliefs they generate can give one only a partial view of reality. It taken to the extremes, one can become so absorbed in details that you forget about the larger world and fail to see the forest because of the trees. Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, for example, reflect an overly reductionist brain. Lost in a labyrinth of details, and in order to control the resulting anxiety, patients resort to complex rituals designed to organize and control chaotic feelings and thoughts. They often develop rigid systems of beliefs, which essentially act as a defense mechanism to prevent them from being overwhelmed. The human brain is capable of both holistic and reductionist thinking but not at the same time. (Tovee, M. “Is face processing special?” Neuron 21:1239-1242. 1998)

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