Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Trauma and psychopathy

Having made poverty from plenty
Pomposity from prestige
Profit from prohibition
Poison from the beneficial
Propaganda from pestilent presumptions
And but petty pay-checks from the proper profit of diversity,
Puerile pederast preachers and politicians proclaim
The propriety of their perverse demands for deference and praise

If psychopathy involves peculiar brain chemistry &/or structures, as apparently has been demonstrated, do we know which came first, the psychological proclivities and condition, or the physical manifestations of them? I’m not at all sure we do; we do not yet understand the root of the condition.
When I was young, academicians still argued Mendel vs Lamarck. Now we are learning of epigenetic contributions to inheritance and inter-generational physical (and emotional) changes. It has been demonstrated clearly that trauma can generate epigenetic changes. These changes are surely, to some extent anyway, adaptive. The organism responds to trauma as if with hope that it can avoid similar trauma for its progeny. Of course, confidence can be diminished by trauma, even in subsequent generations, and this doesn’t seem to be a genetic advantage, but perhaps the brash bravery of psychopaths is only sometimes an advantage, and sometimes its opposite is.
Psychopathic individuals display deceitfulness, impulsivity, recklessness and lack of remorse. They’re pathological liars with superficial charm, extreme arrogance and compulsive need to control situations and people. These symptoms reflect an overall lack of fear, perhaps resultant from abnormal functioning of the amygdala. Psychopathic offenders show deficits in ability to use threat-relevant information to inhibit inappropriate behavior. They display smaller electrodermal responses to many negative stimuli.
The amygdale, a part of the brain which appears t process emotion, is part of the paleomammalian brain, not the “reptilian” Medulla oblongata at the top of the spine (which is ‘pre-verbal’ and sends automatic chemical and electrical orders out to the rest of the brain and body).
The terms ‘psychopathy’ and ‘sociopathy’ are sometimes taken differently, with sociopaths seen to have a sense of morality. But, although a sense of morality is still present, it allows for circumstances that devalue life. A sociopath is capable of empathy for a cause or an ideology (or a person who represents them), but can prevent themselves from empathizing with any their ideology devalues. A psychopath, as we have seen, has a diminished capacity for empathy that results from their brain not developing correctly. Psychopaths tend to not have a sense of morality. Or so some claim.
Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) used the term insanity without delirium to describe behavior marked by complete remorselessness. A psychopath came to be seen as an intelligent person characterized by poverty of emotions, with no sense of shame, who is manipulative, irresponsible, and inadequately motivated. The psychopath is unfamiliar with the primary facts or data that might be called personal values, and is incapable of understanding them (despite a tendency to practice mimicking the exhibition of values as noticed in others). Psychopaths have little or no interest in the tragedy or joy or striving of other humans as presented in serious literature or art, and is similarly indifferent to these matters in life itself. Such individuals execute well-designed strategies, a necessary feature of psychological adaptations, which have a tendency to be nepotistic - providing aid to close genealogical kin and/or sparing them from harm. Psychopathic individuals might or might not aggress against kin, depending on circumstances.
Psychopathy may arise in part due to selection for social dominance (and possibly mating effort); it isn’t psychopathy itself, but dominance (combined with mating effort) that confers adaptive advantage. Hence, “nepotism” and other “pro-social behavior” displayed by psychopathic individuals is likely a function of dominance as opposed to a care-giving system. Most psychopaths are not violent, and perhaps they victimize kin more often in non-violent ways; even if psychopaths do less often violently harm kin, that’s not the same as giving aid to them.

Being as some of the most influential individuals in history, including Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Henry VIII Alex Hamilton, Winston Churchill, and JFK, can be seen as amoral, morality as social convention merits discussion. Most people accept the killing of other people as occasionally, at least, justified, and most great leaders have sanctioned indeed ordered, violent killings. Mohandas Gandhi didn’t, but he’s certainly been accused of amorality. On the other hand, how much Mussolini, Franco, Tito and others of similar ilk showed real leadership can also be questioned. Were Alcibiades, Mark Anthony, Andrew Jackson or Charles de Gaulle really more than opportunists? The term ‘opportunist weed’ always bothered me: nothing thrives without opportunity. But most of us think we can recognize evil.

We often pretend that if we put a name to something, label it, we know it, understand what it is, even have power over it. If we identify a condition, then we can combat it. To know your enemy, first find that enemy’s name, or identifying characteristics. What is defined can be contained (maybe).
Well, psychopathy, narcissism, egocentrism, ethnocentrism or whatever are only parts of amorality, of readiness to sacrifice others for the cause of what seems good for oneself. Often it’s just short-sightedness, or over-involvement in some dynamic (group identification, feelings of religious reverence, sense of moral propriety or even, amazingly, dedication to fashion). There being no bedrock fulcrum and lever basis to moral comprehension despite so many teachings to the contrary, we must go with somewhat fragile constructs like empathy, respect for life, mercy, charity, honor, honesty or maybe integrity. Not a lot to stand on, really, little more than an “I know it when I see it” kind of thing.
But we d know when someone is out of control, being irresponsible, selfish, self-centered, mean, petty or cruel. Not all the cues or clues are verbal: body language, pheromones and other smells, witness of pain inflicted, maybe even some much more subtle things, can tell us a lot sometimes even save a life.
But in the face of social hierarchy and pecking order, much of that seems to fall away. We submit, rationalize or just accept, become all but as bad through implication and association. It’s normal, but it’s not good.
We’re social, and some are stronger or more capable than others. To break away can be pretty darn scary and dangerous.
We need checks and balances, guards to guard the guards’ guards… It’s tricky. Like so much of life. And we’ve been lulled, spoiled, hypnotized maybe…
Some of us, certainly, are overcoming the effects of trauma.

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Blogger Mythorelics said...

7:15 PM  
Blogger Mythorelics said...

8:55 PM  
Blogger Mythorelics said...

Could part of psychopathy be a response to feelings of injudicious loss of anticipated ‘special’ entitlements? A sense of having been deprived of favors which could be seen to validate a questionable sense of self-worth does seem to set some folk off…but perhaps it has nothing to do with hurt feelings, even epigenitically inherited ones, but only the sense of entitlement.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Mythorelics said...

11:56 PM  

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