I found the source. Paul MacLean introduced the concept of a triune brain in the 1960s. This model of brain structure and function is based on three specific regions of the human brain: the 1) basal ganglia, 2) the limbic system, and 3) the neocortex.
Each of these structures is thought to be responsible for a specific group of mental activities: 1) the fight-or-flight survival response and other primal activities, 2) emotions, and 3) rational thinking.
To make these more accessible to his lay audience, MacLean called these three brains: the reptilian brain, the mammal brain and the primate brain.
The reptile brain (brain stem) keeps our hearts beating, keeps us breathing and keeps us alive. It is in survival mode and is hardwired to feel a constant, vigilant anxiety. The mammal brain (limbic system) regulates our emotions and desires. Its main job is to move us toward the things that maintain life and connect with others. The primate brain (cortex) handles the higher cerebral functions—thinking, making mental maps of our world and finding the right words.
Apparently when we are in a state of panic, fight, flight or freeze mode, the blood rushes to the bottom reptilian brain to support this panic and thereby dismisses the clarity of the rational brain which is why it is suggested that in the heat of an argument, we take a break to let the blood flow to the place of clarity. We just can’t negotiate and think clearly when we are in survival mode.
Our reptilian brain is nothing to sneeze at – undealt with it can create debilitating trauma and we remain in fight, flight, freeze or frenzy mode for all of our lives.
All the psychological literature suggests that it is extremely difficult to move up from the reptilian brain to the rational thinking neocortex brain.
I have dubbed this climb from the reptilian to the cerebral as the "Red Stair Case." It is the most important stair case in our lives!
After learning all of this I wondered about that night when after seeing the presence on our bed, both Cliff and I said, "We will forgive," and the presence moved off the bed, and we were able to discuss the next day, plan for it and fall asleep. How were we able to move up so quickly from our reptilian brain to our thinking brain? And because it was so visibly powerful that first night - we continued to use it almost like a miracle potion for every trauma infected situation thereafter with more or less the same results.
What is it in the forgiveness process that makes it that powerful? And if forgiveness is that powerful - why are we not paying more attention to it in our trauma literature?
Which just leads us to a whole different set of questions? Why did those words have the power to change things for Cliff and myself when others who say the same thing don't experience the same healing? What did those words mean to us? And did we know what they meant? And here it becomes just complicated - but worth exploring. What does this all mean? And how can we learn from it?
“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.” —Conrad Anker