Cerebral self-help bestsellers reproduced and exploited the right-brain boom that emerged during the 1960s in the context of counterculture movements [...].
As we have seen, the notion of a divided mind, embodied in a divided brain in conflict with itself, goes back to Wigan and others in the nineteenth century. After Broca, the left hemisphere came to be considered superior because it was seen as responsible for the intellectual, civilized activities predominant in white European males, while the right one was thought to dominate in women, criminals, Indians, blacks, madmen, and homosexuals (Harrington 1987).
Cerebral self-help bestsellers reproduced and exploited the right-brain boom that emerged during the 1960s in the context of counterculture movements, but they also made use of the split-brain research mentioned above, which could itself give room to Wigan (the neurophysiologist Joseph Bogen [1971, 1985] reprinted The Duality of Mind and described his own position as “neowiganism”). The self-help market is full of titles relating the right hemisphere to the most varied phenomena, from the classification of artists, musicians, politicians, and dictators according to their cerebral “orientation” to tantric sexuality, mediumistic capacities, and other paranormal activities supposedly enabled by the right brain (Capacchione 2001, Ehrenwald 1984, Spotts and Atkins 1999, Wells 1989).
Since the late 1960s, several authors in the area of education have insisted on the countless advantages of a school that would focus on the right brain and have criticized traditional pedagogy for its emphasis on left-hemisphere capabilities (Edwards 1979, Gainer and Gainer 1977, Hunter 1976). Such proposals for a “hemispheric balance in the curriculum” that would avoid the didactic failures of left-brain educational programs hark back to nineteenth-century pedagogical crusades and revive many of the assumptions of Brown-Séquard in France and the Ambidextral Culture Society in the United Kingdom.