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<xTITLE>How many people came to the mediation? Probably many more than you can see in the room</xTITLE>

How many people came to the mediation? Probably many more than you can see in the room

by Stephanie West Allen
October 2008

From Stephanie West Allen's blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution.

Stephanie West Allen

Bloom_personality_200 The idea that we carry many people within our personas is not new. As examples, I recently blogged about subpersonalities and in the at post mentioned Bonnie Badenoch's aligned concept of the inner community. And this notion of an inner multitude has just been addressed by Professor Paul Bloom in November's Atlantic in an article with an apt title: "First Person Plural."

Bloom brings the brain into his discussion of multiple selves right away. An excerpt from his look at the brain:

Some scholars argue that although the brain might contain neural subsystems, or modules, specialized for tasks like recognizing faces and understanding language, it also contains a part that constitutes a person, a self: the chief executive of all the subsystems. As the philosopher Jerry Fodor once put it, “If, in short, there is a community of computers living in my head, there had also better be somebody who is in charge; and, by God, it had better be me.”

He goes on to list some of the things we lose if the brain with its squabbling selves is in control.

More-radical scholars insist that an inherent clash exists between science and our long-held conceptions about consciousness and moral agency: if you accept that our brains are a myriad of smaller components, you must reject such notions as character, praise, blame, and free will. ...

The question of whether we are governed by our brains or have a mind, a master self-mediator that can mediate between our sometimes unruly and competing brain patterns, is not just for scholars. For conflict resolution professionals, that question is also very important. Your role and goal in the conflict is going to be largely determined by how that question is answered. Are you mediating at the brain level or facilitating the self-mediator in each party? The number of parties in the room, their resolution, their ability to craft a solution, will vary widely according to your answer. How do you answer the question?


Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive with Center co-founder Gary Friedman. She has been a mediator for over two and one-half decades.

She is the author of Triversity Fantasy — Seven Keys To Unlock Prejudice, Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and many articles on workplace and professional issues for such publications as Lawyer Hiring and Training Report, Colorado Nurse, The Complete Lawyer, National Law Journal, Of Counsel, Law Practice and Denver Business Journal.

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