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Dual-Brain Psychology

Dual-Brain Psychology (DBP) is a revolutionary, brain-based approach to understanding and treating human behavior. Developed by Fredric Schiffer, M.D., a psychiatrist from Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, its underlying premise is that the two sides of our brain perceive, feel, and respond very differently from each other, and in essence act as two somewhat independent sub-personalities within us.


Before you toss this idea out, consider these questions: Have you ever known you should act one way but then responded very differently? Have you ever felt strong and confident in one situation but lose your confidence in other situations? Have you “taken” something very personally only to realize later that it was no big deal? All of these experiences have in common two very different ways of responding: an emotional more negative-based response in contrast to a logical and more positive based response.


Schiffer’s DBP therapy approach works by using a simple method  to activate the left or logical side of the brain to see how it responds to a situation, and then uses the same method to activate the emotional or right side of the brain. Generally this is what people find: from a logical (left-brain) perspective people usually feel more confident, less threatened, more capable, more “here and now”, and more relaxed. From an emotional (right-brain) response they feel less secure, less confident, more anxious or depressed, tied more into the past emotionally, and take things more personally (e.g., feeling rejected or unloved by other’s actions).


In using this therapy for over 10 years several phenomena or common experiences become prevalent:

  • When the logical mind is more dominant in a person they will feel more mature, capable, positive, and able to deal effectively with stressors, conflicts, and problems. When the emotional mind is active the person feels less mature/powerful, less confident or competent, more anxious or depressed, and will experience emotions more rooted in the past or their childhood.
  • The emotional mind is more likely to “take” things personally; it feels defined by the problem in a personal way, expressed as personal insults, failure, or incompetence. The logical mind is more objective and sees problems and people as they are, without much emotion. The problem is just a problem.
  • The emotional mind is often “out of date.” Its experience is based on the past usually prior to a person’s maturation and before the adult self has come into being. This can lead to outwardly capable and competent people feeling insecure and incompetent, which in turn leads to excessive worry and stress.
  • The main source of conflict and struggles in relationships is taking other’s actions personally. When therapy helps a person respond in a less personal manner, relationships become much less reactive and much more enjoyable.


DBP is truly revolutionary. While many therapies deal with the specific emotions and responses, DBP deals with the global response from the brain. The effort in treatment is to move the person from responding in the global, negative, emotional, irrational-based response, to a more logical, positive, mature-based response. When we are able to accomplish this, people report improved self-esteem, less anxiety, less conflict, and more “freedom” to experience and deal with life in a proactive and healthy manner.