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The Most Pressing Need: Psychological Education

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posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 01:47 AM
With the possibility of a Trump presidency and with the recent news about Boehner planning to step down, I've got to thinking: where does this leave us? Us, that is, the human species, at this particular time? What kind of future will Republicanesque thinking bring about?

This issue is really too great to take apart in just one post, so I'll be interested in hearing some commentary. Just would like to say a few things about myself: I'm a psychologist with an interest in the evolution of human consciousness; because of this, my studies take me from clinical psychology (psychoanalysis), anthropology, primatology, all really for the purpose of understanding one thing: how did we get the big brains that we did?

Alas...I feel like whining, leaking out a little bit of baby vomit, because we still live in a world where some human beings do not believe in evolution - or the methods and purposes of science. How do I get from what I said in the second paragraph, to my basic point, if a whole swathe of humanity live at an earlier evolutionary epoch - the mythological, or literalist take on how human beings came to be?

I guess the best I can do is this: we are animals. I know this is an annoying idea for some people (and it was for me at one point) but an overwhelming amount of evidence from neuroanatomy, archeology, biology strongly, STRONGLY support this thesis. To not believe it, and to insist on something different, is indeed your "right", but it needs to be understood that your insistence on 'rights' feeds upon feelings of insecurity, ignorance, and the basic, evolutionary strategy, rarefied in human beings, known as dissociation.

If you study animal behavior (or perhaps, idk, you just don't care about what such research can tell us about ourselves) there is a basic principle, now elaborated in neuroscience, that has to do with the way the motor system of an animate organism (animal for short) is organized around WITHDRAWAL and APPROACH. Withdrawal behaviors, or movement (in more primitive organisms) is simply about getting away from existential threats. Approach, conversely, is about coming close to something that is good for the organism.

All animal behavior is "hardwired" around the core evolutionary need to survive, and thus, since the sensorimotor system in the brain is all about getting away from predators, it should not be surprising that the amygdala is often the core 'processor' when human beings act or are acted upon. The amygdala's core duty is to 'make meaningful' the significance of any action or activity in environment. In human, from birth onwards, the amygdala is "building up" models of what kind of actions are "threatening" (determined by past experiences) as well as what any action signifies in terms of historical behavioral adaptations: for instance, If i felt overwhelmed as an infant by my over-looming mother, I'll put my hand up to my face: this is an example of an innate 'instrumental avoidance" tendency which all normally developing infants show.

The brain has built-in sensors that make significant certain types of experiences as either "good" or "bad" mostly in terms of what the eminent psychologist Daniel Stern calls "forms of vitality". When stimuli are too "high" they are deemed bad. But there are also basic types that generate negative experiences in infants: a negative face, for example, universally elicits a withdrawal action, and presumably, a deflated, or anxious state in the infant.

Faces, then, contain 'core information' that we are genetically programmed to notice. Happy faces elicit and generate vitality forms, and thus, shared experiences (intersubjectivity). Negative faces, on the other hand, can have the accumulative effect of depressing the infants vitality forms, leading to dissociative states of organization.

Loud sounds, hard touches, and discoordinated interactions with others also leave imprints on the developing nervous system that prevents coherent self-organization.

There is a very frightening (to me) cultural discrepancy growing between the 'tea-party' conservatives of the right, who most people consider to be extremists (due to their willingness to shut-down government, and thus possibly paralyze the world economy - and the astonishing progress human civilization has made - for things that many consider to be trivial, paltry, and narcissistic when considered in the grand scheme of things) and the scientific, progressive logic of the left, who, being governed by science (or at least aspiring to understand the world in true ways) show greater self-awareness, inhibition of desire, and a willingness to compromise in order to establish stability.

This is a very serious thing. It's serious, because it is feeding upon something that human beings excel at: dissociation. Dissociation is something uniquely human because we organize our worlds in two ways: one, which starts off in the first year of life, has to do with social and affective processes, such as how we feel in communicative interactions and how coorodinate our bodily and emotional experiences to effectively interact with others. This process is mostly carried out by the right brain.

But with the advent of language, about 40,000 years ago, human beings became more dualistic. The right brain and the left brain now had very different purposes - with both growing in size as well as complexity, there nevertheless emerged an inconsistency in the way they process environmental information.

The left brain is what makes 'coherent' our experiences. What we tell ourselves - the habit we of deceiving ourselves, pretending, for instance, that we don't feel shame when we do, or awkward, afraid, vulnerable, or even more frequently, when were acting arrogantly, we do not follow the dots - and recognize what neuroscience has shown: we 'protect' ourselves from feelings of weakness by striving to present ourselves as strong, which we do, unconsciously, in the way we identify with particular cultures, views, religions.

The tea-partiers are rightly called atavistic (if only because they base their "science" on a document written 230 plus years ago - as if humans have reached the acme of self-understanding with the writing of the US constitution) because their way of being - the cultural they operate within - systematically compels them to "organize" meanings that will allow them to preserve the power they feel they're losing.

There is a belief that southerners are more violent - which some researchers chalk up to 'culture'. But this is an inadequate explanation. Living at lower latitudes means hotter temperatures, and at hotter temperatures, the vulnerabilities inherent in human socializing can eventually self-organize into "cultures". The culture of the self is as fixated upon self and protecting the self because no one has conventionalized the fact that the heat has made them more defensively oriented than is necessary: HEAT, sweating - this is a metabolic process. Sweating requires changes in blood flow, and the areas of the body that are compromised, as any person who has experienced heat knows, is the frontal-lobes: we get irritable and snappy when were hot.

Our most pressing need is to help one another so that we do not ruin - act recklessly, such as shutting done government - what our species has so far accomplished.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 02:19 AM
a reply to: Astrocyte

The problem is subjects like these are being cast aside in favor of more important fields of studies like engineering, medicine, business, and nursing.

In fact recently there was a thread on how in Japan are planning on cutting down humanities in favor of more emphasis on Scientific studies.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 02:44 AM
I know what you mean when you mentioned that most people deny the fact that humans are animals. It seems like the more FACTS you throw at someone about humans being animals, it makes their denial even stronger, it has an adverse effect, i think, since you are a psychologist, that in psychological terms, this is called "Cognitive Dissonance"....which in laymen's terms is Denial on steroids....because the denial gets even stronger as more contrary FACTS come in. I see this in my social circle when i exploit the fact that we are animals, people still maintain the illusion that because we are more intelligent and sophisticated, and because we evolve technologically, that must eradicate all primitive neural processes that makes us primal in nature, but when i present the science that should, ideally, crush the illusion, it strengthens the illusion, it blows my mind.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 10:34 AM
Excellent thread. S/F

Yes, psychology is extremely important as we move forward - it astounds me, actually, how many people dismiss it as "junk science."

I'm in the same field, and think it's critical that higher-learning institutions are no longer INSISTING on a broad Liberal Arts and Humanities curriculum for the first two years of college. Western Civ, Psych 101, and basic social science instruction is appallingly under-funded and under-appreciated.

It makes me very, very nervous.

posted on Sep, 26 2015 @ 01:36 PM
Here is a start on that education. Inform the people of the tactics used to control them.


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