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Terrorism, Trauma, Biology and ISIS

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posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 07:07 PM
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Lets Start From Biology



A first principle is defined as "a basic, foundational proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption". This may be difficult to get your head around, so I'll put it more simply: first principles are ideas we work from which are regarded as more fundamental than other ideas. In other words, biology and evolution are first principles when it comes to the way human beings function. Thus, the following conversation about ISIS, Terrorism and Trauma, will be the "fleshing out" from this first idea - from the fundamental reality of humans being biological organisms.

A quick Look At The Brain



When we think about human beings, and the nature of our human experience, we can make out two basic aspects: feeling and thinking.

The 'thinking' mind is ultimately based upon memory systems centered in the hippocampus, whereas feeling systems are derived from threat-detection systems centered in the amygdala. Thus, our "ontological" categories of feeling vs. thinking can be correlated with the brain systems of the amygdala and the hippocampus.

So far so good (hopefully!)? The amygdala is older, as it can be found in the most primitive reptiles, which are evolutionary more ancient than mammals. However, the hippocampus is fairly old as well. These two systems complement one another in that the amygdala detects threat, as well as what's useful for the organism, whereas the hippocampus provides context by making distinctions between one situation and another. In this way, the amygdala is regarded as "stereotyped", in that it triggers responses based upon past experiences of threats; whereas the hippocampus allows for a deeper analysis of any particular situation.

It needs to pointed out that the Amygdala is not all there is. The Amygdalas axons (nerve fibers) connect with other subcortical parts of the brain, as well as connect very deeply with the front and right side of the brain. In humans, the amygdala is a central feature of whats called the "ventral-medial" system: brain structures that are lower, and in the 'middle' of the brain, are more functionally connected; on the other hand, the hippocampus sends more axons upwards and laterally, whats called the "dorsolateral complex" - dorso, meaning "top", and lateral, meaning "side". These two brain systems in humans also roughly correspond to the functional and structural differences between the right hemisphere and left hemisphere: the right is more involved in threat detection, bodily states, and subtle contextual features of an environment (that is, is more involved with the Amygdala system). While the left hemisphere is about 'serial processing', making distinctions, language - all extensions of the hippocampal memory systems.

Trauma Screws Up Our Brains and Minds



When human beings experience overwhelming emotions, their perceptual systems become dominated by amygdala functions. That is, when a trauma occurs, the Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis floods the brain and body with hyperarousing hormones like adrenaline (aka epinephrne) which activates threat detecting modules in the brain, as well as amplifying the effects of norepinephrine, a neurochemical associated with vigilance. Cortisol, another important molecule, is a catabolic hormone that breaks down fats, proteins and sugars so that an organism can mount an energetic response. All this energy diverts blood flow away from the center of the body (which is where blood flow is concentrated during rest i.e. to repair cells) and towards the limbs. This makes a whole lot of sense for a creature in a life-threatening situation: it needs energy sent to it's limbs so that it can fight or run away.

However, our minds do not perceive situations correctly when were in an over-aroused state.



As this graph shows, when the amygdala detects threat, it activates the HPA axis, which gets are body's hyper-aroused. When our body's are hyperaroused, our minds reflexively believe whatever ideas pop up within it. This is important: just as the body sends all its energy resources away from life-restoring processes towards the limbs, it also depressed blood flow to the Hippocampus and dorsolateral brain structures i.e those brain structures that allow us to contextualize features of an environment, or situation, that may require some deeper analysis.

But we can't really focus when were aroused like this. Quite the contrary! When our body's become activated by adrenaline and cortisol, our minds tend to dissociate dissonant information - that is, views and perspectives that are incompatible with our current belief (say, towards revenge) are violently dissociated (not recognized) when our body's enter the "hyper-arousal" zone.

This is an important truth about our human nature. We cannot perceive the object world we interact with in a correct way when our body's are overactivated. The body's anxiety, fear, and anger, trigger enactive processes, whereby we say and do things without any cognitive ability to regulate our own acting and thinking. We become stereotyped. We recycle pass "lessons" experienced in a fear state, and act, compulsively, for our own self-defense.

Another possible response to a traumatic situation is to dissociate all feeling from the body. This experience, known in traumatology as "depersonalization", or "derealization", is a state of hypoarousal, that, similarly to the hyperaroused state, leaves an organism unable to perceive the external world in an accurate way. While hyperarousal might get us caught up in a destructive long-term feedback loop, hypoarousal is a last-resort response to overwhelming experience. It generally does not help the organism to survive in the short-term as well as hyperaroused responses would.

Terrorism And The Historical Context



With this primer in place, we need to understand some important things about ISIS, the political movement known as Islamism, and the way acts of terrorism affect us.

First things first, lets try to think about ISIS, Islamism and Islamic terrorism, with reference to our first principle: how the human being has been conditioned by evolution to respond to traumatic emotions.

In order to do this, we cannot simply speak about whats happening today, but must look at the past to get some sort of historical context.

For me, the "problem" of Islamic terrorism does not begin with the west, or Israel, or anything "we" have done. The reality of Islamism derives precisely from the first principles of human evolution, and in particular, with the way humans self-organize with reference to what the evolutionary psychologist Michael Tomasello terms "shared-intentionality". Shared intentionality is an abstract term that tries to make sense of the way human beings seem to know what other people are thinking (or intending). Freud called this function the 'super-ego', and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, speaking more philosophically, called the "view from nowhere". Put more simply, what I'm referring to is our normal human obsession with social-status. The "alpha" and the "beta" are terms we apply to humans who dominate or submit in social interactions. These views are always with us, whether within the group (some direct, others follow) or between groups - humans are ALWAYS concerned with how they are perceived.




posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 07:08 PM
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Now let’s return to our discussion of Islam.

We need to understand that Christianity and Islam, historically, are two competing worldviews, each seeking “alpha” status. However naïve and irrational their respective worldviews, it is inevitable that competition and awareness of one’s status vis-à-vis the other always be a part of how one perceives a situation.

With the advent of the reformation in Europe, came the de-coupling of Church from state, and with that, the epistemological room to investigate the cosmos without the cumbersome constraint of offending the dominant ideology. Christianity, like Islam, sought to “project” the will of God (as interpreted by the Pope and Bishops ) onto society. With the de-coupling of Christianity from society, European culture decoupled the “first cause” (God, or theology) from secondary causes (nature, or how the world actually acts). This set up the conditions for western man to study the secondary causes – or nature – without reference to God. In short, the reformation in Europe set the ground for “Christian Europe” to become the “Alpha” Dog.

Now imagine how the Islamic world experienced the explosive growth of European civilization. Science, machines, technology. Europe made it clear to the Islamic world that they were the “alphas”, and thus, Islam was the beta. Seen this way, the resurgence of what’s called “Salafism”, or the return to the ancestors (the founders of Islam) can be seen as a reactionary, insecure response to the experience of being a “beta”.

Of course, the west has done very little to dampen this response in Muslims. We’ve been coarse, ignorant, brutish, and flamboyant in our sense of being “alphas”. In a sense, we’ve unconsciously cultivated Islamism by not helping the Muslim world adapt more effectively. On the other hand, one could very well argue that the Islamic world was no more situated to respond to wisely to any compassionate overture on our part. In other words, we’ve been building up a situation – or a system – that has left the proud, dissociative alphas, angry and frustrated with the Islamic world, and the Islamic world, buttressed by mythological ideas about the “end times”, are catalyzing support from disenfranchised Muslims both within and outside the “dar Al Islam” – the historical Muslim World.

So where does this leave us? First, let’s remind ourselves of where we are. The Islamic world, beginning with Hassan Al Bannah and the Muslim Brotherhood, has been fostering a myth that the only way for Islam to return to its former glory is for Muslims to return to the ways of the crusading founders of the religion. It must be understood that this response is predictable from first principles: the civilization known as “Islam”, experiencing itself as “betas” relative to the “alpha” (formerly Christian) west, is merely acting out on a large scale what happens between humans on a small scale, and between human tribes on slightly larger scales.

So what do we do?



We need to understand that Muslims are not ‘inherently’ evil. Furthermore, we need to understand that Islamists are human beings who have been “dragged” by historical context, their own individual context (itself an outgrowth of historical background conditions) and environmental “affordances” (Islamism), into believing something that is manifestly delusional.

Here are some points which I think we need to follow if we want to avoid escalating the situation further than it has gone:
Islamists believe that we are living in the “end-times”. This means that any group of people vulnerable to Islamist views (Muslims who feel disenfranchised; and non-Muslims enticed by the Islamist worldview) are likely to be “amped” by statements that comport to their self-narrative. Such as: “this is world war 3”. “we will be ruthless in our response”. “ISIS was right (that the war has been brought to us).

The only way to deescalate the situation is to dis-affirm the myths that are energizing ISIS’s recruitment. If people vulnerable to ISIS’ message hear ideas like “this is world war 3”, the religious theme of ISIS’ myth, the idea that we are living in the end-times, will be confirmed. They will thus be brought to the more general myth of “the west vs. Islamism”. If one party is talking this way, we must resist the urge to add fuel to the flames by conforming to their meta-narrative. This is not the end of the world, but the consequence of something we are only beginning to fully appreciate.
Whereas it may be necessary to fortify our fight against ISIS with military-means, we cannot allow ourselves to speak TO their mythological images – of this being the end times, because this is precisely the sort of language/narrative that feeds their own narrative, that is, which stimulates the minds of potential recruits who, feeling disenfranchised and disconnected from their host culture, are likely to respond to the image of their life finding meaning at a time when “everyone” (even people in the west) seem to be “sensing” the end of the world.

We humans fool ourselves way too easily. We need to use our sciences, our wisdom, and our compassion for how embedded we are, to guide our species out of this troubling labyrinth. But we can only do so if we maintain our sanity in the face of the insane. We can only do so if we remind ourselves of what is happening; and what we need to do if we are to HELP the Islamic world come into the modern era, without succumbing to the all-too-easy defense of dissociation.



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 07:19 PM
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Are you really fired up? charlie rangers are fired up
/
Thank you Nation
edit on 14-11-2015 by stabstab because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 07:49 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

nice job, bud, you really know your #.


Furthermore, we need to understand that Islamists are human beings who have been “dragged” by historical context, their own individual context (itself an outgrowth of historical background conditions) and environmental “affordances” (Islamism), into believing something that is manifestly delusional.


this view denies jihadists agency, and also ignores the fact that their belief system is robust and internally consistent. they're not crazy or delusional, nor are they misled. they are educated and intelligent, and they are very well-versed in their faith.


Seen this way, the resurgence of what’s called “Salafism”, or the return to the ancestors (the founders of Islam) can be seen as a reactionary, insecure response to the experience of being a “beta”.


now take this insight and apply it to the demographic profile of your average isis member. he is likely to be between the ages of 18 and 35. he is likely to come from a stable family of middle to upper class origin. he is likely to be well educated, often in stem related fields.

we aren't looking at trauma, or at least, not exclusively. we are looking at wounded male entitlement.



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 08:12 PM
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Don't over think it. Some people, namely those who kill innocents in the name of an abstract ideology, should die.



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 09:02 PM
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You can lead a horse to water..........



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 10:35 PM
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a reply to: ATODASO




this view denies jihadists agency, and also ignores the fact that their belief system is robust and internally consistent.


What do you mean by 'agency''?

System effects are not easily perceivable. Consider how the process even operates: you 'feel' something i.e. a bodily affect, which the mind then reflexively "speaks" from, or, understood differently, confabulates some basis for.

Narrative - or the thinking which makes our experience coherent - is what makes Islamist beliefs "robust and internally consistent". I do not debate that there is a certain plausibility to Islamist views; after all, how can anyone believe anything if it doesn't "speak" in some way to their own experience?

One more point on "affects". Feeling states are hidden cognition's in that they contain the "memory" of a past response to a particular environmental situation. They are thus logical (in terms of the organisms survival), but obviously, they have nothing whatsoever to do with any "objective" truth. This is precisely why affects/feelings can delude us; why it is dangerous and ignorant to speak from hyper-aroused feeling states; even those "enriched" by some super-value, as Islamists, for example, imbue towards actions that "sanctify" Gods name i.e. terrorism.




they're not crazy or delusional, nor are they misled. they are educated and intelligent, and they are very well-versed in their faith.


They can give off the semblance of sanity, but since they are ignorant of the biological realities of how their organism organizes them, and how, together, they generate cultural myths (massive social constructions) they cannot be said to be sane. Sanity, as understood with reference to systems theory, is relating to the world as the world actually is. The Islamic world, still so far behind, operates with the knowledge of the middle ages, interspersed with the utilitarian good of scientific knowledge.




now take this insight and apply it to the demographic profile of your average isis member. he is likely to be between the ages of 18 and 35. he is likely to come from a stable family of middle to upper class origin. he is likely to be well educated, often in stem related fields.


All these things are true. But obviously they are not "fitting in" with the society around them. Why is that? What is it about their experience that causes them to react this way? It's a mixture of cultural anomie (a void of spiritual values in secular societies) plus the promise and allure of Islamic spirituality, and most saliently, political Islam.

My point about trauma was a far more subtle point: human beings self-organize, or become conditioned by their environments (which acts upon the genes/cells in their developing organism) with reference to how people relate with them.

Given the state of Islamic cultures today i.e. in the greater middle east, the "wrong turn" in the middle ages from Arstolean and neo-platonian philosophy towards the absolutism of Al Ghazali, led to cultural degeneration. What could have been following the 12th century, never materialized, because the Islamic world chose a different theological interpretation that ended up preventing the development of reason, science and democracy.

All of this is a culture conditioned by trauma. In each generation,the nervous system of Muslim youth are conditioned to transmit the cultural myths to the next generation. We too were in this situation (and to a lesser extent still are) if it weren't for the fact that we ended up conventionalizing science, reason, democracy, and thus put ourselves on a pathway towards relating with the world and one another in less punishing, and traumatizing ways.




we aren't looking at trauma, or at least, not exclusively. we are looking at wounded male entitlement.


Largely. The Hebrew Bible seems to have intuited this. The problem with mankind is largely a problem with male testosterone, machismo, and pride. And pride, of course, when it is "over-determined", is a defense against shame.

Why else does the Islamic world experience its "beta status" so strongly, and with such shame?

Do not get too distracted by the plausibility of Islamic theory. The Jews and Christians also have plausible theory.

Whats amazing is how deaf they are to each others similar contentions!



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 10:43 PM
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then explain the white boy born in rural U.S. going to join them or the white man bringing his kids from Australia and taking pictures with the cut off heads. or all the white women going to have little jihad babies.

no it's just a bunch of nuts that get off killing people.
edit on 14-11-2015 by hounddoghowlie because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 14 2015 @ 11:09 PM
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Hyper-intellectualised claptrap.

Should we apologise to the suicide bombers in Paris for having culturally forced them inro a position where they had to blow themselves up?

Were those who died around them merely acceptable collateral damage in what should be an apologist State?



posted on Nov, 15 2015 @ 01:57 AM
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originally posted by: Astrocyte
a reply to: ATODASO




this view denies jihadists agency, and also ignores the fact that their belief system is robust and internally consistent.


What do you mean by 'agency''?



I think "vector" might be more appropriately applied, contextually and relationally. Virology in general, perhaps, can be applied to the socio-economic behaviouralisms that culminate in extremism.



posted on Nov, 15 2015 @ 03:46 AM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

Fascinating post. I got a lot out of that - especially the first part. It can be applied to a large variety of human/trauma scenarios. Even to how I often over-react when in a bad mood. It is the scientific explanation for all of the "fight or flight" responses people can experience on a hour to hour, day to day basis.

The larger context, unfortunately, is all still a part of the individual experience as well, however. We are all stuck on this boat together, more or less. When these Paris attacks happened, I was just on my way to work and my friends and family were all frantically telling me about what happened. I tried to warn them that being addicted to CNN is playing right into the terrorist's hands (and minds). When I turned my head to see the CNN feed my first cynical thought was "Oh, I'll go make the popcorn"...

I try to boycott the news and generate my own reality. Of course, it is still contaminated from the larger world's input. I have plenty of my own trauma and cognitive dissonance. But the World War 3 meme is apparently successful, because I heard it from several strangers just today alone. I suppose it has been launched virally in the mainstream media.

Perfect timing, with 2016 just around the corner... And the whole Friday the 13th thing. 9/11, Friday the 13th. It seems more or less orchestrated...



posted on Nov, 15 2015 @ 03:48 AM
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a reply to: angeldoll

If it doesnt drink you drown it?



posted on Nov, 15 2015 @ 08:47 AM
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originally posted by: Anaana

originally posted by: Astrocyte
a reply to: ATODASO




this view denies jihadists agency, and also ignores the fact that their belief system is robust and internally consistent.


What do you mean by 'agency''?



I think "vector" might be more appropriately applied, contextually and relationally. Virology in general, perhaps, can be applied to the socio-economic behaviouralisms that culminate in extremism.


i'm sticking with agency. these guys made choices and took actions, they aren't passive objects.


originally posted by: Astrocyte

All these things are true. But obviously they are not "fitting in" with the society around them. Why is that? What is it about their experience that causes them to react this way?


while they feel shamed and wronged at the hands of western culture, their global socioeconomic cohort are documenting their meals, obsessively taking pictures of themselves, and pursuing professional victim status under the guise of justice. is it any wonder that when offered a choice between hollow hedonism and a glorious, meaningful death, they choose the latter?

also, according to their beliefs, they are OBLIGATED to come to the new caliphate and fight to expand the dar al islam. they'd have to be crazy NOT to go. again, even if isis is attracting individuals who are mentally ill, the vast majority of recruits are psychologically normal, and a large percentage of those coming in from abroad have not experienced the type of trauma you're talking about.

we're not going to get anywhere with understanding and dealing with them if we just throw out their belief system as irrelevant to their actions, deny them agency by assigning their actions exclusively to external causes, or by labelling them "crazy" or just "evil".




edit on 15-11-2015 by ATODASO because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 15 2015 @ 08:51 AM
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DBBLPOST!




edit on 15-11-2015 by ATODASO because: (no reason given)



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