posted on Oct, 8 2015 @ 12:32 PM
I'll make this post short: Ben Carson says that if he were in the situation that the 9 Oregon victims were in, he would have acted rationally. He
would have had the "cognitive wherewithal" (my term) to realize that if everyone came together and attacked the shooter than less people would have
died. I agree. A very rational, and, I'd like to repeat, very cognitive way to think about that situation.
However, reality doesn't work that way. Carson, the neurosurgeon, demonstrates his general ignorance of neuropychology - particularly that related to
It's simple. Everyone's heard of "fight or flight" - I'm sure Carson has as well. But what Carson does not seem aware of is that when an organism
(or mammal) finds itself in a life-threatening situation, another impulse arises - and this one, literally "turns off" the rest of the system i.e.
your thinking brain. This is called the freeze response.
Why does the freeze response happen? It's evolutionary. ALL mammals do it. But why, in the situation that Carson imagines, do only some people have
the cognitive wherewithal to think, while others succumb and "tune out"? Again, this is developmental; even more ironic to my psychologist mind is
the way consumerist culture BUILDS INTO our neurological processing an inability to "inhibit" the overwhelming fear that is felt. Carson, the
conservative, pro-business, pro-consumerist archon of neoliberal culture, speaks from his ivory towers of "what would be logical". Typical of the
conservative ethos, he cannot seem to understand that DEVELOPMENT SHAPES PERCEPTION.
Freeze follows fear. The person is sooooo scared, that they can't move. That they can't move, or feel that they can't move, speaks to how
powerfully an overwhelming fear response to existential threat can be. For the most part, MOST people would find themselves "lost" in the
dissociated, hypoaroused daze of the freeze response for the simple reason that it takes PRACTICE to a) recognize the affective processes occurring in
your body b) INHIBIT them and c) conceptualize the nature of the situation, as so well cognitively described by Ben Carson.
I can tell you, as an expert in psychological trauma, that the vast majority of human beings in a consumerist, impulse driven society will be
STRUCTURALLY UNABLE to INHIBIT the freeze response triggered by an existential threat to their lives, for the simple, obvious reason that the they do
not practice the INHIBIT function (localized in the left hemisphere). In order to have the cognitive wherewithal that the low-reactive, soft spoken
Carson speaks of would require a certain background - such as his own (as a medical surgeon) that equips the individual with enough cortical control
of subcortical inputs - in this case, the most harrowing flow of emotion that an individual has likely ever experienced.
Carson of course articulately argues that he is "just planting seeds". Which is well good. But the problem isn't awareness. It's having the
awareness that one can cognitively inhibit the intense affective (feeling) arousal in the body that matters: not some piece of cognitive knowledge.
Carson, and many others like him, does not "get" that a different developmental history puts people in different situations vis a vis their
feelings. Many people would 'fall' into the despair of the freeze response because their bodies respond far more strongly than others; Carson, for
his part, would probably have the wherewithal to think - but again, in a consumerist culture that prods and coaxes pleasure-seeking, and which
seemingly does everything in it's power to strangle self-awareness, it is very likely that a typical person in such a culture, even if they had the
knowledge Carson speaks of, WOULD BE TOO OVERWHELMED, too horrified by THEIR OWN IMMOBILITY, to move, and thus perform the eminently rational strategy
suggested by Carson.