Left-handed individuals only make up 10 percent of the world’s population. Despite that small number, 40 percent of all cases of severe mental illness come from left-handed individuals. Scientists aren’t quite sure why mental illnesses have a higher chance of manifesting in left-handed people, but they believe it could be directly tied to the way their brains are wired.
Mental illness isn’t something to balk at. In fact, most of us suffer from some kind of mental disorder or illness at some point in our lives, be it a psychotic disorder or depression. But, the fact that left-handed individuals have always had a higher chance of being associated with those more severe mental illnesses has been baffling.
To truly understand why this might happen, we have to look at the differences between a right-handed and a left-handed brain. Our brains rely on a process called lateralization, which lets our bodies create areas of “expertise.” This separation allows for more efficient processing. And, some believe it could also allow for higher chances of left-handed individuals experiencing mental illnesses.
The cause for left-handedness in the brain comes down to a number of possibilities. Things like genes or even environmental stressors can lead to “lefty brains”. Recent research into the genetics important to brain development has shown that certain genes are associated with left-handedness. As a result, those genes may also play some part in why left-handed people experience more severe mental illnesses.
But, as Big Think notes in a report, these theories are not proven, and there could be other reasons behind why left-handed individuals experience higher rates of mental illnesses that are more severe. But, at the moment, it does appear that some of the stressors that can cause left-handedness, such as subtle brain damage or even less brain lateralization, can lead to higher chances of mental disorders.
But that doesn’t mean that being left-handed is bad. In fact, there are a number of benefits that left-handed individuals can count on – such as increased skill at fighting and competing. In fact, some researchers say that left-handed individuals are more like than right-handed individuals to become elite athletes.
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