Left-Handedness - Brain Damage?

Robert A. Fink, M. D. rafink at ibm.net
Mon Dec 23 10:34:50 EST 1996

phis at sprynet.com (James Howard) wrote:

>>In article <engelking-2012961128350001 at cust119.max18.san-francisco.ca.ms.uu.net>,
>>  engelking at earthlink.net wrote:
>>> I am a left-handed person and I have been recently reading up on the
>>> causes of my handednes.. Many of the reports I have read conclude that it
>>> is caused by either trauma to the brain at birth, it is genetic, or that
>>> it is a form of brain damage (!). What is the status of all these theories
>>> in the medical community? And also, do we left-handed people have any
>>> special right brain skills (visual-spatial I've read?)? What are the
>>> consequences of being left-handed? How do I differ from right-handers?

I am ostensibly right-handed.  I have a sister who is strongly
left-handed, and there are several others in my family who are
likewise.  I spent a great deal of time, as a child, with my
grandmother, who was from the "old country" and was superstitious.
She felt that the left hand was "evil".

As I grew up (right-handed), I discovered that there were numerous
things that I did better with my left hand.  I became a
"switch-hitter" when I played baseball in high school (unusual in
those days).  When I chose my career (I am a neurosurgeon), I
discovered that I was actually ambidexterous, and could perform
skilled hand movements with either hand.  This has been a great boon
to me (and to my patients).

I suspect that I was born left-handed, and was "switched" by my
superstitious grandmother (I asked her when she was still alive, but
she denied it).  I think that handedness is genetic most of the time
(in the absence of other "brain damage"); and that, if done early in
life, can be "switched" easily.  In my case, it proved to be



Robert A. Fink, M. D., FACS  Professional Corporation
Diplomate, American Board of Neurological Surgery
2500 Milvia Street   Suite 222
Berkeley, California  94704-2636  USA
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