Nancy Sokol Green
Signs of Adults with Incomplete Lower Brain Development
Kids aren’t the only ones who may be functioning with retained primitive reflexes, incomplete pons and midbrain development, and poor sensory processing. There are a lot of adults out there with such underdevelopment—yet most have no clue that they’re even compensating.
That’s because adults often compensate in more subtle and clever ways than kids.
For example, a child with an underdeveloped pons may do something overt—like crawl under a table or hide behind Mom—when he’s in the flight mode, whereas an adult may just quit the minute she’s feeling uncomfortable or rattle off a million excuses why she can’t do (whatever). Yet, it’s very possible that adults who give up quickly and always have excuses for bailing are also doing “flight” behavior that’s reflective of an underdeveloped pons.
So, what might be other not-so-obvious examples of adult behaviors that could actually be signs of or compensations for incomplete lower brain development?
Road rage is an over-the-top, distorted reaction to a stranger’s way of driving, noting that distorted thinking is a common red flag for incomplete pons development.
For example, the extreme reactions associated with road rage suggest that whatever the stranger did was personal—that it was intentionally directed at the person experiencing the rage. However, in truth, the “offender” doesn’t even know any of the people in the cars around him.
Likewise, hostile reactions to drivers perceived as annoying or unsafe on the road are also distorted. Not only are such reactions disproportionate to whatever happened (i.e., the person is not just mildly annoyed—he’s furious!), but nothing positive is ever gained by such distorted responses.
Namely, the absent-minded, clueless driver does not then become a better driver after an aggressive exchange. Similarly, the driver who believes his safety was threatened by another driver’s poor decision actually only jeopardizes everyone else’s safety by responding antagonistically. In fact, road rage reactions increase the possibility that the recipient will now also respond in kind.
If the lower centers of the brain are not fully developed, yes, people hear words, but they don’t always process the actual message that was conveyed. For example, a teacher may tell a parent that her child has not turned in three assignments. But the parent may incorrectly processes that communication as, “You said I’m a bad parent.” In such case, the parent now responds to the perceived accusation, rather than focusing on the missing assignments.
While it can be generally difficult to forgive, it’s especially challenging with an underdeveloped midbrain. That’s because a person with such underdevelopment gets “stuck” on a thought and then, consequently, is not able to let it go. So whatever the offender did that was deemed unforgivable just keeps playing over and over in the midbrain-stuck person’s mind.
When the pons is underdeveloped, people often have distorted angst. Not only do such people experience anxiety regularly, but the subject of their fear is also often something that makes the rest of the world goes, “Huh?” In other words, such people are worried about something that most people have little or no concern about. But if the pons remains underdeveloped, that anguish never goes away. So such adults need and ask for lots of assurance regarding their concerns. Yet, such assurance is always fleeting—at best.
Some adults may use perfectionism as a cover for distorted angst, which (again) is reflective of an underdeveloped pons. For example, suppose an adult likes to have rolls of toilet paper all lined up neatly in a row. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that preference. But what if someone now slightly moves one of those rolls out of the line? Does that perfectionist immediately experience some angst? Does she feel a strong need to put that roll of toilet paper right back in the line?
A person with an underdeveloped pons may experience anxiety as soon as she starts to think she won’t remember what she wants to say—so she cuts right into the conversation. That way, she won’t lose the thought.
Similarly, a person with an underdeveloped midbrain is prone to being impulsive, so she may just blurt out her thought, rather than wait for the other person to finish speaking.
Appearing to be inflexible and rigid to others may actually be more related to a fear of functioning without lower brain compensations in place.
For example, suppose someone is blind, and he has created his home in such a way that makes it very easy for him to get around. But what if someone now wants to re-arrange all the furniture? While that simple change may not affect others, it’s certainly going to make his life a whole lot more difficult. Not surprisingly, he may resist making those changes.
People may also appear to be unbending when they won’t consider replacing a prior way of doing something with a new approach—even when the latter actually serves them better. Here, an underdeveloped midbrain makes it difficult for such people to shift gears and move in a different direction.
When the lower centers of the brain are underdeveloped, people don’t always have access to the cortex—yet that’s where reflection occurs. But without reflection, such people cannot consider how they may have also contributed to an undesirable situation. Instead, they quickly blame everyone else for whatever happened.
Such people also often believe they’ve been unjustly “wronged” when they expected others to do something to make their life easier (i.e. help them compensate in some way)—and that didn’t happen. For example, they may have expected others to make an exception to an agreement (even though they signed the contract) or extend a deadline (after they missed it) or present information in a format that differs from what’s offered (since they’re having difficulty processing the materials).
But since these people have no awareness that such expectations are reflective of needing compensations to help their own brain profile, they often believe the person who does not comply then “hates” them or is “out to get them,” thereby escalating the distortion and victim mentality even more.
When the pons is underdeveloped, people often have limited peripheral vision. In such case, their world is literally that which is directly in front of them. But this can also transfer to viewing life, in general, through a narrow lens—where people appear to act as though they’re the only ones who exist,
Tunnel-vision also happens if the midbrain is underdeveloped. Here, people experience difficulty in seeing the “bigger picture” whenever involved in or assessing a situation. So, they’ll get distracted by lots of details—many of which are unimportant—as they expend a tremendous amount of energy spinning in directions that ultimately do nothing to move the current situation forward.
If the midbrain isn’t fully developed, people don’t often process speech at the rate it is spoken. So, to slow down communications—especially in a lecture-type format—a person may ask questions throughout a presentation. Doing so then temporarily stops the flow of information, while making that person look as though he is very interested in the topic (rather than someone who needs to compensate for incomplete lower brain development).
Of course, if that person views his on-going questioning as confirmation that he’s more savvy and tuned-in than the rest of the group, that’s also distorted. Such thinking infers that other people don’t have questions or want to know more. It also does not take into account that most people wait to see whether their question will be answered later in the presentation or after they’ve checked materials they’ve already received.
People with incomplete lower brain development may also repeat the same questions because they’re not always able to access information that has been previously stored. When they don’t remember what they’ve already learned, they have to ask the question again . . . and again . . . and again.
When people have poor proprioception, they don’t have an innate sense of spatial boundaries in relation to other people and objects. Interestingly, that lack of awareness sometimes transfers beyond physical boundaries. In such case, people may act in ways that are viewed as out-of-bounds by others. For example, they may share sensitive information that they should have kept private, or they create a scene in public. Yet, they do such actions without any awareness that they’ve even stepped over the line.
Of course, not every behavior screams incomplete lower brain development. But it’s amazing how often that which we attribute to being “personality traits” really do reflect such underdevelopment.
So, how can we know for sure? Well, our Adult Screening Quiz provides a way to get a sense of someone's lower brain status, whereas our Screening and Connect course presents ways to do live screenings that provide specific information on someone's lower brain development.
And what if we do discover that we’re compensating for incomplete lower brain development? Well, we can always go back and finish that development—at any age. That’s what makes learning whether we have a disorganized brain . . . so worth our time.