The Chimp Model
The Computer System
The Computer is a reference source for both the Human and Chimp. It stores their beliefs about what is right and important in the world. The Computer also stores memories, providing advice from past experience. Whilst it does not think for itself, the Computer can be programmed to take action in certain circumstances, making it the fastest system in the brain.
The Human System
The Human is the conscious thinking system in the brain – it is you. Only you can decide how you would like to be in life and how you would like to live your life. The human’s basis for thinking therefore is facts and logic, which can take time to piece together.
The Chimp System
The Chimp is a primitive system in the brain which you do not control. The Chimp can think for itself and works with drives and instincts for surviving in the jungle. The Chimp’s basis for thinking is its feelings and impressions of the world; it is emotionally driven, impulsive, and quick to react.
There are two different thinking areas within the brain
It is in the outer edge of the brain, known as the cortex, where thinking takes place and where we put into good use our ‘grey matter’. If the outer edge had just one area for thinking, we wouldn’t have a problem. However, there are at least two thinking and interpreting areas.
The dorso-lateral edge interprets in a rational and logical way. The orbito-frontal cortex interprets by impression, feelings and emotions and has direct links to the amygdala. So, this second way of thinking has ‘joined’ forces with the strongest emotional centre within the brain, the amygdala. What we now have, in effect, are two interpreting brains. One of them is virtually automatic and thinks for us without our input and is based on emotion. The other is under our control and allows us to think, as we want to. The trouble is that these two ’brains’ do not think the same way and they do not typically agree on the interpretation of what is going on. We have a potential ‘battle’ within our head going on all the time!
The Chimp Model is a simplified way of understanding our two thinking brains.
Is there an easy way to make sense of this and to manage the situation to our advantage? The Chimp Model offers a simplified way of understanding our two thinking brains and how we can learn to use them to the best of our ability. A model is not pure scientific fact or a hypothesis.