A left handed perspective


From a "lefties" perspective, left-handed people are the only ones in their right minds.

The opposite has proven true throughout history.

A medical doctor reported in the New York Times that many left-handed people in ancient times were once synonymous with criminals, and even associated with the devil.

Today, that stigma has shifted dramatically, but for a leftie, adapting to a right-handed world is still a foreign experience.

"It's just something you have to adjust to," said Terri Kovach, a sociology professor and technical services librarian at MCCC.

"There's an assumption of right-handedness."

According to a Wall Street journal article, left-handed people make up 10 percent of the population while ambidextrous (mixed-handed) is only at 1 percent.

Kovach looks back at her left-handed childhood with a lighthearted approach.

Eating dinner in her 7-person family became an awkward experience.

"I was not afforded the privilege of a left-handed spot," she joked.

Other childhood milestones such as writing with a fountain pen were not easy while attending a Catholic school.

"Those tips aren't made to do it," she said about the fountain pens.

Despite being a leftie, her right-handed counterparts never left her side when she married and raised right-handed children.

However, Kovach became more aware of her surroundings when she saw them perform daily tasks such as opening the cabinet doors and picking up certain items.

"I think watching them made me much more observant" she said.

"I hadn't appreciated how dominantly right-handed they were, but they're fine."

Even Kovach, who considers herself a dominant leftie, can perform certain activities using both hands.

Whether you live in a right, left or ambidextrous world, some have been forced to visit the opposite perspective.

Kovach fractured her left arm last year and was forced to use her "weaker" hand.

"It was just awful. I really struggled with making my way in the world," she said looking back.

Challenges with using her right-hand were apparent in the process.

"Eating was just a nightmare," she said.

Handwriting became an obstacle throughout the injury, but gradually improved its legibility over time.

"I bat right-handed, I use scissors right-handed, I throw a ball right-handed," she said.

A leftie may have an opposite view of the world, but righties and ambidextrous (mixed-handed) individuals have their own perspectives.

"I'll accept the way the decree has come down," said Robin Mills, who is a right-handed, adult student at MCCC.

The information insurance and security major does many activities with his right hand, but uses both hands in daily chores.

Mills' right-handed ways came to a halt in his younger days when he fractured his right arm. For six weeks, he had to use his other hand. Routine tasks became tedious when it came to showering and brushing teeth.

"It was a chore learning how to adapt," he said.

Mills said his handwriting looked "garbled" as he struggled to write with his left.

One MCCC student who is dominantly right-handed says she has done activities with her left.

"It really depends on what it is. I've had to do stuff with my left hand," Kimberly Dingus said.

A third-degree black belt in Tang soo Do, a broken right arm caused Dingus to change hands for a few weeks. The only operable area in her fracture was her wrist.

"My wrist would get tired so I'd use my left," she said.

"I guess it was fine for the most part," she said looking back.

Christina Tsuei reported in the Wall Street Journal that lefties have their own day on August 13, and some scientists say that lefties are better at divergent thinking – an essential building block for creativity.

Some modern researchers have gone as far as to say that left-handed and mixed-handed individuals are at a greater risk for cognitive disabilities such as ADHD, and mood disorders bipolar and schizophrenia.

Around 70 percent of lefties rely on the left hemisphere to recall language, according to Metten Somers, a psychiatrist and researcher who studies brain lateralization at Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

"The other 30 percent of lefties appear to exhibit either a right-dominant or distributed pattern, Dr. Somers says. They may be more prone to impaired learning or functioning, and at greater risk for brain disorders," he says.

However, studies that show particular advantages or disadvantages over a certain trait should be used with discernment.

Dr. Melissa Grey, an assistant professor in psychology, is skeptical about any advantages or disadvantages and cited a recent study.

"When they (the researchers) look at the best samples, these differences wash out," she said about the research conducted with left-handed people.

In other words, there were no considerable differences between right and left-handedness.

"We are always trying to make connections. It seems to be a cognitive habit," she said.
Grey said readers of these studies should pay attention to sample rates -how many people were included in the research. She also said it's easy to draw assumptions if you test a small group.

"It's easy to get a biased sample," she said.

"Left handed people are like a minority group. We tend to link those things more strongly," she said.

Grey said those "things" that we strongly perceive are unusual events or talents associated with "lefties" such as creativity.

However, if there was research that indicated left-handed people are better at certain tasks, she would re-consider her position. Grey also had a message for ambidextrous individuals.

"Oftentimes, people who are ambidextrous favor one hand over another," she said.

Some students, however, shared their views on whether left-handed people are more creative and prone to problems than with right-handed people.

"I think it could be a possibility, but it could be genes," Niles Powell, a middle-college student, said.