We look out at our world and wonder why there is so much conflict. So many wars, battles, quarrels, etc. Countries fighting each other, political parties fighting each other, religious wars, civil wars, gang wars, battles between rival supporters of football teams, drunken street fights. Right down to the conflicts we have in both our professional and personal relationships.

We need wonder no more.

We just need to look deeper at the conflicts in ourselves to find the answer.

Our own inner dissonance is at the root of all the conflict we see when we look out at our world and all the conflict we experience in our relationships. It is our attempts to transform our inner dissonance as external dissonance in order for us to have something tangible with which to react to that causes us to project our inner battles upon an outside world. For if we allowed the battle to take place inside us, it would threaten to destroy us.

We are hard wired to see ourselves in a sense of oneness, that our identity is that of a single identity. We have one brain, one mind. We are one being. This is an illusion our minds create for us and when this identity is threatened, it is experienced as a threat to our survival, a danger to life itself. To fully understand the inner conflict we need to look at the structure and geography of the brain and understand the different parts and the role they play in our behaviour, decision making, emotions, feelings, impulses, desires, and most importantly, fears.

To understand the structure we need to look at the brains evolution, but we don’t need to go back millions of years to do this, for we have the perfect model of the stages of human brain evolution within the developing brain of the foetus, speeded up a million times;

At week 3 the brain begins to grow and the first part of the brain to develop is the limbic  system. This is the most primitive part of our brain structure and consists of the amygdala (fear, survival, etc.), hippocampus (memory), Anterior nuclei of thalamus (motor signal relay), septum and limbic cortex. As soon as the brain begins to grow these areas, the brain has begun its learning process. We share the limbic system with just about every other animal on this planet.

The last part of our brain to develop (and which can continue to develop in to early adulthood*) is the orbitofrontal cortex, part of the prefrontal cortex. It is this part of our brain that differentiates us from just about any other living creature on this planet. It is what makes us human. In terms of evolution, this part of the brain is a very recent addition.

*It may be that brains become set because some trigger tells them to set, yet they may still be capable of development should we consciously acknowledge that alteration or further development is required. This is summed up by the term “plasticity of the brain” and is essentially how cognitive therapy works.

The stages that the human brain goes through as foetus mimics the stages it went through in evolution. The first parts of the brain to develop are the most primitive parts. The last parts to develop are the most “human” parts. The human brain is divided in to many sections, with many different functions, and these sections “talk to each other” through chemical and electrical signals down neural pathways. If for any reason these pathways or signals have malfunctioned, or not developed optimally, then there is a breakdown in communication, and the brain enters a state of conflict. The conflict can be described as; the conscious control centres of the higher brain’s inability to regulate the impulses and desires of the primitive systems due to the pathways between areas of  the higher brain and primitive brain being in a state of dysfunction. An argument can ensue in the brain leading to “cognitive dissonance” and in an attempt to ease the inner dissonance, the conflict is externalised, giving a tangible target with which to release the inner conflict upon.

Essentially, we can view “cognitive dissonance” as an internal quarrel between different, conflicting areas of our minds. Awareness of such a quarrel, threatens our illusion of completeness, so the conflict seeks an external source and we seek to find reasons to create conflict in our external world in order to escape the internal conflict that threatens to tear down our illusion of sole authorship and our sense of oneness