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Delayed reaction
"If we orient ourselves predominantly by intension or verbal definitions, our orientations depend mostly on the cortical region. If we orient ourselves by extension or facts, this type of orientation by necessity follows the natural order of evaluation, and involves thalamic factors, introducing automatically cortically delayed reactions. In other words, orientations by intension tend to train our nervous systems in a split between the functions of the cortical and thalamic regions; orientations by extension involve the integration of cortico-thalamic functions.
Orientations by extension induce an automatic delay of reactions, which automatically stimulates the cortical region and regulates and protects the reactions of the usually over-stimulated thalamic region."
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, Introduction to the second edition, Int'l Non-A Pub. Co. (1941).

It is not a matter here of "thinking twice" before speaking: the neuro-linguistic processes are already activated when we get there. We are not either speaking of a kind of prolonged reflexion, indecision, hesitation, etc. If you put your hand on an very hot surface, no neuro-semantic process will prevent you from removing it very quickly. On the other hand, a delayed reaction will enable you to prevent from shouting, if it could endanger you to do so, for example.

The delayed reaction is a natural and automatic process induced by extensional orientation, leading us to visualise the processes, to 'think' in terms of 'facts', etc.

 Typical errors about Delayed Reactions 

Most errors consist in confusing delayed reactions with traditional wisdoms, such as "think twice", "count ten", etc. This is quite ridiculous since even animals have delayed reactions, while they could not easily apply "count ten." A cat that would not dash from afar to catch a bird, but instead duck and come forward slowly until he is within catching range, has succesfully delayed his instinctive reaction at the sight of the bird.

Another striking example was shown in a recent scientific experiment about gambling. The findings suggested that in many situations our brains rush to judgement. This shows the inability of thalamus alone (and in this case anterior cingulate cortex) to evaluate correctly the situation. Of course, a delay in the reaction could help the cortex make more correct calculations and, by feedback, correct the erroneous evaluation.


© ESGS, 2002.