Corpus Callosum

JMP writers and artists


The corpus callosum, according to Wikipedia, my medical reference of first resort, “facilitates interhemispheric communication” within the brain.  It enables us to speak “across the aisle,” so to speak.  It is the foundation for all things interdisciplinary.  It makes it possible for those of us Meyers-Briggs identifies as INFP types to coexist, sometimes harmoniously, though often in a state of slight chronic bafflement, with ESTJ types.

It may be that this oddly named anatomical feature (the tough body) offers us the instrument we desperately need to make peace with each other, to navigate the grey areas between philosophical extremes and opposing methods of arriving at what is wise or true.

Intuitive hits are hard to introduce as evidence in a court of law, or, for that matter, in “evidence-based medicine.”  The things we perceive as through a periscope, darkly—and slightly obliquely—may, however, be as important as the things we know by dint of incremental accumulation of data.

I believe every good doctor knows this.  I believe every practitioner of medicine has had moments of “just knowing,” moments of epiphany, sudden intrusions of information from an uncertain source, dream images that offered direction.  My hope for the medical educators I know, and for those they educate, is that they might embrace an inclusive epistemology that honors multiple ways of knowing, bringing medicine as science and art into rich two-or-more-part harmony.

One reason I continue to teach Oliver Sacks is because of the playful and surprisingly astute strategies he devises in attempting to arrive at a diagnosis in its broadest sense:  a teasing apart of what one knows.  Arriving at a diagnosis seems often to entail some mixture of finding out what you don’t already know and bringing into consciousness what you do.  That process is facilitated, as our friends at Wikipedia remind us, by the corpus callosum—that tough body in the brain that protects us from the soft-brained self-indulgence of confirmation bias, and from our own worst tendencies to the one-sided methods wherein madness lies.

– Marilyn McEntyre, Faculty Advisor