Q. What do you say to people who ask "How does brain dominance theory sit with personality theory that I already understand?" I can't resolve it in my own brain because they seem to be two different models. Personality theory says "you can adapt" while brain dominance theory says "you have an innate preference."
A. Personality theory and brain-dominance theory do represent two different models. And if you add brain function, then you’re probably talking three models. And while there is often some overlap, there is not a complete overlay. For example:
- Personality theorists say you can adapt, and you can. Everyone does.
- Brain dominance theorists say you have innate preferences, and you do. Everyone does.
- Brain function specialists say that you will likely be healthier, happier, and more successful (and perhaps even live longer) if you match the majority of your overall activities in life with what your brain does energy-efficiently, and limit your adapting to 49% or less. I think that's usually doable and some people manage to get more than 51% overall.
In terms of work life, the problem often surfaces when an individual spends much of the day doing activities that are energy-exhausting for their brain. By the time he/she gets home from work there is little or no energy for interacting with the family and for doing activities the brain loves. These individuals often vege-out in front of the TV or computer, become somewhat irritable and/or eating junk food as the brain tries to tell them how tired it is.
In terms of parenting, the problem often surfaces when a parent with an innate energy advantage in one of the frontal lobes of the cerebrum becomes overwhelmed with all the detailed, repetative tasks that are required in raising children. Those parents often find it easier to parent as their children become teenagers.
The reverse is also true. A parent with an innate energy advantage in one of the posterior lobes of the cerebrum often loves babies and children when they are younger in age. These individuals can become frustrated when their children become teenagers. None of it is good or bad. It is what it is. The bottom line is energy. You often give up something to get something in life—and that something usually involves energy.
The research projects I have done have convinced me more than ever that the excessive energy drain--when too much time is spent on activities that are energy-intensive for the brain--sets one up for illness and/or exacerbates autoimmune diseases and etc. This is especially true as the brain ages. Over time, excessive energy drain can set a person up to exhibit symptoms of PASS (Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome). The symptoms are similar to those of PTSD except there is no one precipitating incident and no flashbacks.
See also The "Who I Am Pyramid" [PDF]