One side is laughing at you. The other is picking your pocket.
May 18, 2002
The Bi-Polar Bush Face
Looking at both sides of George W. Bush's face is scary.There is a fascinating theory that says the human face, like the brain, is bi-polar. One side of your face, the theory goes, shows the side of your personality that you present to the world, the social construction. The other side reveals more about your inner, hidden, private self.
This has nothing to do with what psychiatrists now like to call "bipolar disorder," which is pretty much the same as what they used to call manic depressive psychosis. This is a different idea entirely which grows out of the fact that the brain is made up of two separate cerebral hemispheres connected by a band of fibers of nerve tissue called the corpus callosum.
In the early 20th Century doctors found they could stop epileptic seizures by cutting the connection between the hemispheres. The subjects could continue remarkably well with the main connection between the two hemispheres cut, but there were some strange side effects.
In one experiment a person with his cord cut was given a spatial mechanical problem to solve and was told to only use his right hand. The left hand, which represented the right brain, was more spatially intelligent. In the experiment, the left hand actually kept trying to take the puzzle from the right hand and solve the problem. The subject could not stop the left hand from interfering until finally he sat on it.
Experiments have tended to show that in general the right side of the brain (corresponding to the left side of the body) is the more creative, dreamier, side. The left brain (right body) is the more rational side, more adept at linear thinking, more outwardly directed and socially conscious.
From many varying experiments on the brain, the left brain-right brain theories were formulated. I saw a study once that described how one could analyze faces from the bipolar standpoint and get some interesting results.
If you look at Bush's face in this context, it is immediately striking how different the two sides look. If you block off one side or the other from your vision and only look at one half of the face, you see two very different faces.
On the right side of the picture above -- the socially constructed, outwardly directed side -- we see the famous Bush smirk. It is a little chimp-like, a little mischievous. It's cocky and defiant, but more or less friendly.
On the left side of the face, the side that represents the unconscious, deeper levels of the personality, the hidden, private side, there is no smirk. If you block off the left side of the picture and look only at the left side of his face, there is no trace of a smile. There is no warmth, none of the familiar, friendly fratboy we have come to know.
Instead on the left side of the face, you see a cold stare. A deep hollow stare that looks right through you. The end of the mouth turns down sharply, in stark contrast to the right side, on which his mouth turns up a bit.
In Mark Crispin Miller's Bush Dyslexicon he says he discovered through a study of Bush's habits of language that under the surface of the funny, backslapping, glad-handing, nicknaming, cheerleading guy, who is somewhat goofy and not particularly cerebral, there is another much darker, more determined, cagier personality lurking. It is the right side of the face where you can see a flicker of the soul of Nixon.
-- By David Cogswell