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Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life

If you struggle to understand why you act in a certain way or why you experience internal struggles or external conflict, I strongly suggest Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s book is a must read! Her story is amazing in that she suffered a massive stroke in her early 30s and essentially lost the left side of her brain. 


In addition to her experience as a stroke victim, she is is a Harvard trained Ph.D. and published neuroanatomist (whatever that is). She was one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008, and her TED talk ‘My Stroke of Insight’ was the first TED talk to go viral on the internet. Her training and her experience give her an unmistakable authority on the subject of the brain. 

Rational vs. Emotional Brain

Most of us are familiar with the concept that our right brain hemisphere is our emotional brain, while our left brain houses our rational thinking. Dr. Bolte refutes this belief with studies that show in fact, our emotional brain and rational brain tissue is evenly divided between the two hemispheres. Consequently, each hemisphere has both an emotional brain and a thinking brain. In this book, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor presents these four distinct modules of cells as four characters that make up who we are: Character 1, Left Thinking; Character 2, Left Emotion; Character 3, Right Emotion; and Character 4, Right Thinking. Dr. Taylor shows us how to get acquainted with our own Four Characters, observe how they show up in our daily life, and learn to identify and relate to them in others as well. And she introduces a practice called the Brain Huddle–a tool for bringing our Four Characters into conversation with one another so we can tap their respective strengths and choose which one to embody in any situation.

My Four Characters

Dr. Bolte encourages us to know what character is showing up and to name our characters. 

Character 1 – Norma

I named my left-brain rational character “Norma.”  She is normal and level-headed and can handle tasks with ease. She also is my Inner Critic, reminding me of all I can’t do because it defies logic. Character 1 tends to override the other 3 characters.

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Character 2 – Hammered Cat Shit

My whiny emotional Character 2 I named “Hammered Cat Shit.”  She plays the victim role and worries about things she cannot control. She remembers all the events that caused pain the the past and brings them up in the face of new opportunities.

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Character 3 – Kerry-berry

My emotional child-like Character 3 I named “Kerry-berry.” She wants to have fun and is up for adventure and exploration. She’s a lot of fun but can be dangerous as she pays no mind to the lessons of the past. This character relates to the Inner Child.

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Character 4 – Cat-feather Crone

My right emotional Character 4, I named “Cat-feather Crone.” She is wise and in touch with the spiritual side of the universe. She the one whispering in my ear “Don’t worry, you got this.”


How does all this analysis of the brain relate to creativity? Recognizing the different characters and being able to use the Brain Huddle tool to address each character’s needs will aid in paving the way to more freedom in approaching solutions to any form of art. Recognize when the Inner Critic shows up. Soothe the needs of the whiny baby. Let the adventurous Inner Child out to play with abandon. Know that the universe has your back according to Character 4.

I purchased the book on Amazon Kindle when it was 99 cents.  Right now, it sells for $9.99.  Even at that price it is well worth the read to learn the techniques and apply them to your daily life.   

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