Left Brain Dominance

NOTE: I use “left-brained” and “right-brained” in quotations in this post only to differentiate “auditory-sequential” linear thinking and learning style from “visual-spatial” non-linear thinking and learning style in a simple way – I am aware that the brain is not so hemispherically dichotomous.

Most people are just moderately more “left-brained” or “right-brained.” Although it is not so common, extreme left brainers and extreme right brainers do exist.

People with OCPD are extreme left brainers.

The “left brain” is responsible for “auditory-sequential” linear thinking and learning while the “right brain” is responsible for “visual-spatial” non-linear thinking and learning:

Auditory-Sequential Visual-Spatial
Thinks primarily using words and learns phonics easily Thinks primarily in images and prefers seeing tasks demonstrated
Prefers auditory explanations Prefers visual explanations
Processes information and tasks sequentially Processes information holistically; prefers seeing the overview prior to details
Prefers to learn facts and details; likes specific instructions Prefers abstract thinking tasks; likes general goals and directions
Deals with one task at a time in a linear, orderly process Prefers handling several tasks at a time and multitasking chaos
Prefers structure and is well-organized; prefers proper working materials and setting Prefers open, fluid situations; creates own structure; often improvises; looks for patterns
Is an analytical thinker; logically deduces implications Prefers synthesizing activities; produces ideas intuitively
Prefers solving existing problems Prefers solving novel or self-generated problems
Prefers concrete tasks that have one correct answer Prefers concepts; better at reasoning than at computation
Approaches most situations in a serious manner Approaches problems playfully

[ from "Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults" ]

It is from the “auditory-sequential” linear thinking style where the gifts for excellence and orderliness are birthed.

STRENGTHS OF EXCELLENCE

  • You have an eye for excellence – when your gift for excellence is combined with your sensitivity, you are able to notice levels of excellence that go unobserved by others.
  • You have high standards for yourself
  • You have a strong work ethic – your love for excellence motivates you to work diligently so that excellence can be celebrated.
  • You are an inspiration – your excellence opens people’s eyes and makes them say, “Wow! So that is what excellence looks like!”
  • Your excellence in the way that you live your life is an inspiration to others – rather than settling for “comfortable” or “good enough,” people feel inspired by you to reach for a more enriching, fulfilling life.
  • Your excellence in the way that you work is an inspiration to others – rather than settling for a job that just pays the bills, people feel inspired by you to reach for a dream job that gives them joy and lose track of how many hours they have worked.
  • You have a “nothing is impossible” attitude
  • Your excellence in the way that you love is an inspiration to others – rather than settling for meaningless relationships, people feel inspired by you to love passionately and enjoy exhilarating relationships full of love.
  • The fruits of success usually follow you – money, fame, and power are more likely to fall into your hands because of your innate gift for excellence.

STRENGTHS OF ORDERLINESS

  • You have an eye for order – when your orderliness is combined with your sensitivity, you are able to see order in things that most people cannot see as having any order.
  • You are naturally good at things that follow a logical order – spelling, grammar, mathematics, logical reasoning, etc.
  • You can adapt well to new environments that have organizational structure to them.
  • If a complex machine from outer space was designed in a logical manner and given to the people of Earth to try to figure out its use, you would be the first one to master it.
  • You are very good with directions, you have an accurate mental map in your head.
  • You are your own greatest teacher – while others need instruction manuals and institutionalized education systems to learn something, you can teach yourself easily just by playing around with it.
  • You are organized.
  • You know how to do things more effectively and efficiently.
  • You are a morally upright person.
  • You have a strong sense of justice.
  • You have a good heart.
  • If there really exists logical order to this world, if there really is an ultimate “right” way of living as a human being, you have a great advantage over others in being on the right track in life.
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17 thoughts on “Left Brain Dominance

  1. Kari says:

    So good! How difficult this is for the spouse, child or subordinate of a OCPD individual though! Example: Just the other day I needed to know how to do something on our newly reformatted MAC and I was short on time. Knowing my husband could do this without having to look in a manual or spend hours trying to figure it out, I asked for help. Instead of helping, he made me feel stupid for not knowing how and I never did get the assistance I needed. He just doesn’t get that things don’t always come as easy to others as they might to him. It has caused many bitter feelings and arguments. Suggestions?

    • dankimwriter says:

      Hello Kari!
      Have you asked him why he will not help? If he gives you a logical reason, how about letting him know that, more than the benefits that come with his reason, you simply would like to feel cared for with his help… that you would really appreciate it. Also when he uses words, tones, and body language that make you feel stupid, how about letting him know, “Hey, I don’t mean to perform poorly in this area. I am trying my best. But when you do ___, I don’t feel so good. It makes me feel that the man I love and respect thinks I’m stupid.”

  2. Michelle says:

    Wow! So glad i found this site . Its so positive. So nice to see a such a positive way of addressing ocpd instead of how supposedly evil they are. I have bpd and lived with my ocpd partner for 4 years. I feared him because of lack of understanding. Hopefully now ill get a new slant on him . We are still in contact and our relationship albeit traumatic has survived ‘ just’ i am alwAys looking dorm the answer and no doubt so is he.

  3. mr non-perfect says:

    Well, I was diagnosed with OCPD.

    I see myself being on the right side (Visual-Spatial). Heavily! I’m very absent minded. I’m just very obsessive compulsive how I use it. Never dared to be creative unless I could mask it something else like figuring out intuitively scientific problems. My MBTI type is probably INxJ. I have great difficulty to put my thoughts into words.

    However, I think that there are great contradictions with sensitivity and brain dominance.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      How do mean there are great contradictions with sensitivity and brain dominance? A person can still have an obsessive personality with compulsive tendencies while being extremely “right-brained.” The book “Too Perfect” by Allan E. Mallinger is all about the obsessive personality (“left-brained” and “right-brained”). Extreme “right-brained” highly sensitive people are often misdiagnosed with ADHD. I think the most common MBTI results for people with OCPD would be ESTJ or ISTJ.

      • You know, I also see myself clustered around that table, rather than on one side of it. I think OCPDs tendency to operate on right/wrong, all/nothing, actually encourages him to try both sides. Sometimes to be a lefty, sometimes a righty and eventually fall on a balance between. I really see myself behaving in both manners :P

      • Pete Pell says:

        Daniel, yes a “right-brained” person can really get obsessive while trying to ‘problem-solve’ or getting absorbed in their passions, like music and the like. “God, I spent 5 hours already on this…” I would not compare it to a Type A personality style of obsession. That would be my take on it…

  4. melissa says:

    A little confuse…
    I always see myself as a visual learner – pictures/graphs/charts are very helpful to me.
    Then, I saw sthat folks w OCPD are left brain dominant. So, I decided to take atest and the result is all my answers shows significantly left brain.

  5. Pete Pell says:

    A view from the Right. ‘right-brained’

    I’m an extreme right-brainier,and I’m a psychiatrist, How (not) strange I ended up in the last ‘art’ style specialty. But, that’s changing. Coming from the other side (brain-side). Hopefully, I can give a good perception for anyone interested about the ‘curse’ of being ‘right-brained’. This topic is so critical yet, so under researched and under implemented. I can ‘throw my 2 cents in’, if I may. Medical School is totally set up for ‘left-brainers’. I remembered many times of starred off into space during lectures, bored and clueless, later I just stopped going. Videos and PP presentation were OK. At home I studied Frank ‘Netters’ books. He’s the best medical artist, hardly any words… Yeah. But, often fall asleep after an hour of ‘day-dreaming’. I passed all my exams through intuition, and perception. Since, I knew the question design, and reverse engineer to get the correct answer. Problem is those 2 answers that are really close. For learning i need the ‘big picture’ and go backwards from there. Abstract thought is exciting. And instructions are only if you can’t build or make it after you fail a few times. We don’t like instructions, since it really is an admission to failure. Not following instructions, is one of the worst ‘curses’, i know that, but it doesn’t matter. As far as chaos, it conceptually doesn’t exist. Maybe that is why we deal better with it. I always interrupt people talking on the telephone, of course they get irritated. But i don’t understand why they can not talk to me while on the phone?. We believe there is a pattern (cycle, an order) for everything. I believe even chaos has some formula.or pattern to it, Everything has a cycle. Nothing is random. So chaos is just another pattern of order that can be explained. And yes, ideas always intuitively. based. I need to understand the concept… Why… Why… Why… We learn concepts to reason, I can’t memorize other than than at the minimal level. A challenging problem and improvising are very enjoyable and can lead to solitude. Since we are not able to grasp the idea of testing, money, type A personality types, material objects (no furniture, just things you need, like books, guitar, etc.), . We suffer from depression as well, more than the ‘left-brainers’. We get emotional (often too much), but are able to connect strongly with others, when we are not ‘thinking or day-dreaming in solitude. We compose music easily, because we see the notes in our head. We have very poor language skills and almost impossible to learn a new language esp. as an adult, We jump from topic to topic all the time. To us, it is a logical and sensible flow of thought, but to others it appears tangential,& confusing. ‘Serial’ problem solving such as ‘Differential Diagnosis’ appears as a very primitive and an inferior way of getting to a conclusion (that’s how we see it, we might be wrong, but that’s how we interpret that). I (we) do a matrix style of analysis to come to a conclusion. We speak as we think too (so we will often ‘put our foot in our mouth’ quit a bit). Please feel free to ask any questions…

    • Daniel Kim says:

      Wow thank you very much Pete for all the info on the “right brain” :) I really enjoyed reading about it!

      • Pete Pell says:

        Thanks for the reply! Something else I thought was interesting Daniel, as a ‘psych’, I believe the ‘left-right brained’ subject is very important. Most people tend to be a ‘mix’. Most doctors are tilted to the ‘left-side’ more, and therapists more to the ‘right’. I need to know where my patients are in that spectrum. In my typical ‘right brained’ conversational manner, I’ll try to get that kinda early on. A critical observation of mine is: The rare 90-100% ‘right-brained’ psychiatrist WILL HAVE AN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TIME treating a 90-100% ‘left-brained’ patient outside of simple medication management. The 100% ‘right-brained’ psychiatrist will be crippled in his application of the techniques we would normally utilize (we got a lot of tricks up our sleeve!). Thus unable to have a connection, the sessions generally would be viewed as “waste of time”, tangential, ‘all over the place’ “just talking”, “BS’ing”, etc. by the 90-100% ‘left-brained’ patient. Best to refer those patients out… And I imagine the reverse would be a poor combination as-well…

  6. Irina Rozenstein says:

    Great site

  7. Lyle says:

    Hi Dan,
    I appreciate the effort you are putting into your blog to share your experience with others and give people some positives to consider rather than all negative.
    As you continue your efforts to learn everything you can about OCPD, I am wondering if you have had an opportunity to review some of the recent studies results that do not support the auditory-sequential and visual-spatial learning theories? Maybe that would explain for some of the posters that the “left-brained” description doesn’t ring true in their experience.

  8. Xareth says:

    Hi All. I am beside myself with stress because I have to work with a person who has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. She is driving me absolutely crazy and I need some advice on how to deal with her. I am trying so hard to find some way of working peacefully with her but I’ve hit rock bottom as far as solutions go. Please help.

  9. mohsen says:

    hi sir thank you for your helpful hints
    i am an o cpd person i was just searching for that and i found it perfect
    i am Persian My father and I have this Psychosis problem From birth
    but the biggest problem is insomnia due to DO SOMETHING

  10. Mehmed Farouqi says:

    Excuse my word sir, but this is all bullshit. Seriously, it’s oversimplified to judge that left brain is analytical, logical, detail-oriented and right brain is artistic, fun-loving, and holistic. Scientist now has found that almost every task you do, both logical and artistic is processed by both left and right brain. Well, the process may dominate one brain, like for instance, language and logic are processed more in left brain than in right brain. But still, everyone is different. For some people, language are processed more in right brain than left brain and those people are what we call ‘dyslexic’.
    The only actual difference between left and right brain is how they process the information. You’re right at this point, left brain use sequential, linear processing. And since that is how they process information, they become excellent at detail stuff. They collecting all the fact and giving the conclusion later (inductive). While right brain use holistic processing. They see the big picture first and then seek every fact and detail later (deductive).
    To be a good artist, scientist, engineer, musician, or anything else, you should use BOTH SIDE of your brain. Just try to look at famous philosopher/inventor back then like Aristotle, Plato, Da Vinci, or even Einstein. Aristotle and Plato excel in almost every field that is artistic and logical. The same thing happens to Da Vinci. He is a sculptor, artist, musician, engineer, inventor, physician, architect, etc. And Einstein is known for his appetite for music at his youth. Well, yeah that’s actually what human should do. You should just use BOTH side of your brain. They just need each other to function well. When you just use only ONE SIDE of the brain, you just use a maximum of 50% of real capacity of your brain and you make the other one, atrophy which ended up like muscles that is never trained, useless.
    Please, stop campaigning these stuffs. It’s so shallow to categorize people into two category just based on which side of the brain they mostly use. People are just unique and really different from each other.

    • Daniel Kim says:

      I agree with you. I think you might have misinterpreted my writing a bit. Where do I even mention anything about one side is for artists and one side is not? I’m an artist myself.

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