Learn how culture uses our primitive instincts, the monkey brain and reptilian brain, to control our lives. See how taking control of the primitive mind is a necessary skill set.
The monkey brain, the reptilian, and the lizard brain are all terms that describe the most primitive aspects of our minds. We share the same primitive functions of the brain with many living things. We can locate these three functions.
Our Monkey Brain vs Lizard Brain
There are different ways to describe the characteristics of the monkey, reptilian or lizard brain. These terms come from human and animal-based research on the brain. The brain is the most complex entity on the planet.
Research (1) shows we share basic brain functions with other vertebrates. So this is how they develop correlations between animals and humans.
The Lizard or Reptilian Brain
The reptilian or lizard brain is a term used to describe the basic automatic brain functions which come from base of the brain stem. This area regulates and coordinates many body functions.
We rarely have conscious control over these activities, but we can learn to turn them on or off with proper training. Many believe this is the home of our basic survival instinct, known as the fight, flight or freeze mode, the sympathetic nervous system. We trigger this system when we perceive a threat. This mode triggers the adrenal gland, an endocrine gland on the top of your kidneys. It pumps adrenaline or epinephrine through the bloodstream to all cells of your body.
The health of our reptilian brain is important for healing. It controls the immune system and determines what enzymes need to be sent. It can also shut down systems of the body in order to prioritize the system’s ability to heal.
Our Monkey Brain
The monkey brain is in the medial temporal lobe. It houses the default mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. Many creatures have traits we associate with personality. For example, dogs have easily recognizable and distinct personalities.
Birds and insects exhibit instinctual behaviors for migration, procreation, and community building. They have specialized migratory GPS which enables them to navigate great distances, and they pass the information about specific routes and destinations to future generations.
Our monkey brain is the control center for our survival, self-preservation, and social instincts. This aspect of our brain is like the RAM of a computer. It holds processes that trigger automatic thinking and expedited value judgments. One of these important brain functions is our fight, flight, or freeze reaction. It enables us to react quickly. It is a genetic function for life-threatening situations.
And monkey brain is also home to nurturing instinct live. Here is where we find the programming for nurturing, procreation, and protection.
The monkey or reptilian brain is important to us. Our “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction mode is vital to our survival. Here, we store the blueprint of things that may be potentially harmful. When something fits the harmful blueprint, we react immediately. That’s good if your programming is correct, but if someone programs false information, that can cause problems.
For example, we freeze when we come upon a bear while hiking. Instinctively, we know running would cause the bear to charge. If we come upon a fallen beehive, we instinctively run. The incorrect reaction could mean serious injury.
Taking control of the primitive mind is essential. It keeps you from triggering this response when it is not appropriate. Clinicians teach techniques people with trauma the response so that they can deal with memories without triggering the fight, flight, or freeze response. Everyone should learn to do this because our culture bombards us with propaganda.
When there is an internal conflict with our monkey brain vs lizard brain, it’s because someone has hacked the instinctual programming.
Organized religion has perfected the use of techniques which drive emotional responses like the fight, flight or freeze reaction. They use emotional propaganda to control thinking, values, and behaviors. Religion and politics are experts at manipulating the primitive mind and using it to control people.
Environmental and Cultural Influences
Our parents guide and teach us what is harmful. They help program our cultural narrative in which we live. Trusted authority figures also engage in this programming. So, our cultural folklore provides the boundaries of our beliefs and values. It tells us what is safe and what is potentially harmful, and sets limits for what is acceptable.
This programming becomes part of our worldview. We see the world through this lens. Our paradigm is a set of programmed boundaries, values, and prejudices.
When you travel to an unfamiliar environment, your cultural programming may not align. It causes several problems. For instance, if you grow up outside a big city where loud noises aren’t familiar, you likely have difficulty adjusting to a big city’s routine of loud noises. In this situation, you would trigger your fight-flight or freeze button continually. Thus, leaving you in a state of distress when no danger is present. You’d have a hard time sleeping, causing fatigue. It would carry over into your day, leaving you tired and stressed.
Conversely, if you grow up in a city environment, you may have difficulty living in the wilderness. There aren’t city noises in the background. You would fail likely to recognize the dangers in the natural environment because they are often subtle and not a part of your cultural programming.
The culture profoundly affects how the reptilian brain responds to stimuli. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how to identify and repair harmful or ineffective programming. When there is a fight, monkey brain vs lizard brain, no one wins. We suffer the consequences.
Misuse of Our Monkey Brain
When used correctly, the cultural narrative can be helpful in communicating practical survival knowledge. For example, our parents and elders taught us to identify various things vital to our safety.
In the past, our ancient ancestors taught us that when all the birds stopped chirping, there might be a harmful predator present. Similarly, we learned to recognize a deadly snake’s rattle as a warning. Some things we fear are instinctual. When we lose our balance, we know that we are about to fall and react correctly.
Unfortunately, Western organized religions Christianity, Islam and Judaism, (2) are known for their history of inserting less than healthy programming. They treat people as assets which produce cash flow.
These are rebranded versions of the mystery religions of the Mediterranean region from Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and Persia. They don’t want you to question the cultural narrative they provide. You are their customer. They add programming to the primitive mind that is unhealthy.
Organized religion is the single most influential social institution, it is the source of the bias and prejudice which pollutes the cultural narrative. Its system of indoctrination producing generation of people with skewed and barbaric worldviews.
How Group hypnosis Affects the Monkey Brain
We need to control our monkey brain to unlock the keys to intellectual and spiritual development. Our negative cultural programming is the obstacle to spiritual exploration because the basis of this programming is not survival. Instead, it contains religious beliefs and prejudices.
Religions teach us to determine if people are “safe” based on their beliefs. They teach us to place value on people by gender, ethnicity, and race. Then use these skewed values to justify bias, discrimination, and persecution. It is easy to see how this affects their concept of spirituality.
Identifying the Negative Programming
Your personal growth depends on your ability to consider new information. You can tell to what extent bias and prejudice affect the primitive mind. Ask yourself these three questions:
1) Safety Based on Religious Standards
Do you need to know what someone believes to determine if they are safe? If you do, explore why. Fear drives the need to find out what someone believes, and it triggers our fight, flight, or freeze instinct. We react to the threat of different beliefs as if they were life-threatening. It comes from programmed bias and prejudice.
If you only feel safe around those with similar beliefs, that is a problem. It shows you have set up boundaries of thinking. Instead, explore why this need governs your values. It’s the reason you need to ask yourself some critical questions. If what I believe is wrong, do I want to know? If what I think is wrong, am I willing to change my beliefs?
2) Lack of Diversity
If your inner circle of friends is limited to a group of people who believe exactly like you, then you won’t grow. You are more likely to assimilate to extremist points of view. So, ask yourself, do you have people in your circle of friends from different backgrounds and spiritual beliefs?
The more diverse your inner circle, the more likely you will encounter ideas and opinions to help you grow. The more segregated and closed your social circle, the less likely you will accept new ideas. Also, the greater the tendency, you will reject any information that conflicts with the “groups” paradigm.
This sets up the conflict between monkey brain vs lizard brain. Your natural social instinct tells you to be kind, but your programming tells you people of some group are your enemy.
3) Reacting Instead of Thinking
Do you react without understanding why? Do you spend time on unimportant things? Are you persuaded to buy products when you don’t need them? These are signs of groupthink manipulation. It shows you how powerful the cultural narrative is in your life. You are acting and reacting like a trout to a shiny object.
Taking Control of the Primitive Brain
Our monkey brain is easier to program when we are young. The more exposure to propaganda, the more susceptible we are to groupthink manipulation. It is the primary tactic organized religion uses to maintain control. The longer you are exposed, the harder it becomes to remove the programming.
Religious prejudice can become deep-rooted. If you can relate to this situation, you may have some negative religious stereotypes and prejudices. Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step in fixing your programming. Realizing you have a problem is the first step. Decide to change course. It will have a positive effect on your life and everyone in your circle of influence will benefit.
It’s hard to break away from religion once you are in its grip. Organized religions make it hard, so you can’t break free. The belief system becomes your identity, so leaving the faith is emotionally challenging. They purposely commingle personal and business relationships with the belief system. These relationships reinforce their control. It would help if you found others who have escaped the religious turmoil. If you can, locate an organization like ours. It helps to have resources peers who have gone through the process of de-programming.
Taking control of the primitive mind isn’t easy. You need to find programming that is affecting it. Sometimes it is unhealthy thought scripts of our personality. It’s likely the problem is the programming of the cultural narrative.
The best tool to help reprogram our thoughts, which affect our primitive mind, is the Enneagram Personality Profile.
The monkey brain vs lizard brain or reptilian brain is a discussion about the important subconscious operations of the mind. We overlook the way these systems work and how they are misused. Now we can control the primitive mind and improve our mental health.
(1) From natural geometry to spatial cognition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22206900/
(2) Abrahamic Religions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions