The limbic system has a lot to answer for – but it can’t answer because it doesn’t do language, just feelings. That means our behaviour is sometimes influenced – or even ruled – by something we can’t explain. “Going limbic” means losing control over our rationality and “losing it”. David Rock’s work, some of which is published in “Your Brain at Work”, eloquently summarises and develops much original research in neuroscience, in particular his SCARF model captures the anguish the limbic system can inflict at work.
SCARF is an acronym for the five concepts – and they are concepts because we make these things up for ourselves – can cause us to “go limbic. These are the hot buttons that, if pressed, can cause words to be uttered we regret for ever, career limiting outbursts, moments of madness and ruined reputations.
Status – Somewhere after Safety and Belonging in Maslow’s hierarchy comes Esteem. The sense of self worth which is in comparison to others. You need others for status – you can’t be number one in a population of one. If status is your hot button then, when it’s challenged you will feel the burning rage of being made to look stupid or worthless.
Certainty – Keeping things under control means knowing exactly what will happen next – even though it’s an illusion since we can not predict the future. The warm glow of a beautiful plan can turn to icy fear and panic when plans go out the window and no-one seems to know what’s happening and there’s no data to help get back on track.
Autonomy – You’re good at what you do and you can be trusted to do a good job. You like deciding for yourself what to do next and how to tackle a problem. So when the email stream from the over-controlling boss want to know what’s happened, what you’re doing and when you’ll be done you probably won’t react with logic and rationality.
Relationship – Back at Maslow there was Belonging. To a greater or lesser extent you want to feel part of something – whether it’s a team, organisation, culture or profession. So being cut out from meetings, feeling like a stranger at networking events or blanked by the CEO when you try to say “good morning” are all wounding moments.
Fairness – The curse of our advanced brain structure and social systems is the concept of equity – great as a social principle and right up there with freedom and justice but a pain giver as we notice that we are not getting as much as others. When someone else gets the recognition or one of the few invitations to the management conference the eyes go “green with envy”.
All of these concepts are, paradoxically, real for us. Recognising when they are governing our behaviour to the point where we are losing it is an important step in taking control of our brain and being able to function in high stress situations.
Now updated: the definitive neuroscience resource―from Eric R. Kandel, MD (winner of the Nobel Prize in 2000); James H. Schwartz…
How the brain’s architecture is related to the problems, passions, and aspirations of human beings. In contrast to this view, rece…
The human body is complex. There are still so many mysteries to unravel. Scientists are working
hard, day and night to enlighten t…
The ingredients in calm g promote healthy brain function by modulating glutamate signaling’ managing oxidative stress’ and promoti…
An astonishing new science called “neuroplasticity” is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In…
NEW REVISED EDITION. This short ebook is a compilation of Robert W. Fuller’s article series “Why Everything You Know about Your ‘S…
* How Does the Brain Work? – Human Cognition | PSYCHOLOGY & BRAIN SCIENCE The Brains Inner Workings – HUMAN COGNITION – National Institutes of .
What is Cognitive Neuroscience? Psychology and Neuroscience