Dominance and Emotionality

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Robert J. Doman, Jr.

The final stage in developing neurological organization-neurological efficiency is the establishment of cortical hemispheric dominance. Cortical hemisphere dominance refers to the establishment of a controlling hemisphere of the brain, separation of, or specialization of neurological function. This separation of function is possible when dominance has been achieved.

Dominance, that factor which permits cortical specialization, exists at such time as when the individual has a dominant hand, eye, ear, and foot which are all on the same side. Specifically the right handed individual need also be right eyed, eared, and footed, the left handed individual left eyed, eared, and footed.

Much has been written in the last few years relative to the specific functions of the dominant and subdominant hemispheres, the dominant hemisphere being that which is on the opposite side of the dominant hand, eye, ear, and foot. The person with right sided dominance has a dominant left hemisphere, the person with left sided dominance, a dominant right hemisphere.

One very significant function, relative to learning which has not been mentioned in most of the literature, is emotionality. As is music (it is not difficult to see the correlation between music and emotionality) emotionality is a subdominant hemisphere function.

Emotionality in the neurologically organized individual is controlled, it being subdominant. One of the problems associated with neurological dysorganization is the lack of laterality-dominance, lack of separation, and specifically relative to emotionality, lack of control of emotionality. In the dysorganized individual subdominant tends to control dominant, as opposed to the appropriate dominant control or balance. This lack of control is significant for all individuals with neurological dysorganization. The dysorganized child with a “learning disability” often is excessively emotional, becomes upset easily, is difficult to calm once having become upset, and tends to become anxious-emotional in a learning situation. Functioning subdominantly-emotionally the child cannot take in, or put out information efficiently. Most everyone has experienced the frustration of being nervous about an exam and being unable to recall specific information until after the tests have been collected, and it’s too late. For the dysorganized child this problem is greatly magnified. The solution is the elimination of the neurological dysorganization, but while such dysorganization exists, we can only put information in or get it out when the child is relaxed, confident, and functioning dominantly.

Dysorganized adults often (mental institutions are full or people who can not) learn to cope, by creating conscious controls of emotionality. They develop screens between themselves and others, and often appear to be non-emotional because they have learned that they can either fight off emotion, or become virtually engulfed by their emotionality. These individuals are forced to live their lives limiting emotionality and protecting themselves.

We have learned to accept our inefficiencies, spending our lives with the pressures of attempting to cope with our problems, when solutions are available. Thousand of hours are spent in academic remediation, counseling, analyses, and thousands of dollars on medications to help us cope with neurological inefficiencies which are easily eliminated if we address and treat the cause.

An understanding of the relationship between neurological dysorganization, dominance, and emotionality can dramatically improve any aspects of our lives, as well as those of our children.

Reprinted from the Journal of The NACD Foundation (formerly The National Academy for Child Development)

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 2 No. 2, 1982 ©NACD