left biblioblography: Because In Most Cases, It IS Biological, Not Ideological

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Because In Most Cases, It IS Biological, Not Ideological

Gene-BrainImage chemistry

Cross posted @ God Is 4 Suckers!

Lately, it seems that some folks have been picking fights with me. There was a ridiculous brouhaha here, which led to a severe misdiagnosis of my present mental state. Following this, I actually got into it with an antireductionist asshat at Pharyngula (because despite what my detractors may say about me, I do try to be polite at first, but being accused of something I’m not doing tends to irk me, go figure).

The point of contention (on the second part) is Anthony Powell, the crazed religious youtuber who killed a young woman and then himself. Now I’m just as guilty as any other atheist in pointing out that religion obviously doesn’t improve people like it claims (the common methodology the religious use is the old sharpshooter fallacy, or what I like to call ‘selected highlights), nor is it a ‘force for good in our world’. But as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, for the most part, claiming that religion motivates these people is a specious argument.

Now, I am on record here as citing Grossman’s Law, AKA “Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers.” However, Freud’s famous maxim about cigars also applies.

Because anti-social behavior is predominantly a chemical imbalance.

This is where someone would jump in, and start pointing out differentials between cultures, and how it just can’t be primarily chemical with all the possible equations factored in. I’m going to have to say, yes it is. Because when some mentally ill parent torments a child, there is a biochemical response triggered, it’s a neurological pathway built, a misfire of synapse that sets up an alchemical mix of crazy that usually lasts a lifetime of scar. And if that child as an adult is seeking therapy, usually it’s a combination of verbal communication (this is chemical also) mixed in with (usually) a good dose of medication.

Let’s take another example: the isolated child (foster home or orphan), who has little or no interaction with other human beings through infancy and childhood. Again, this is specifically a chemical response. Again, neurological pathways are built, and in this case the child becomes sullen, withdraw, introverted.

And for a third example, the isolated prisoner. Solitary is the worst possible punishment for a prisoner. Why? Because we are primarily social creatures. Isolation drives most people crazy. The social interactivity is a complex blend, but primarily a heady mix of chemicals. Pheromones, input from the 5 senses, estrogen (or testosterone, contingent on gender)

And from the article from whence I copped the picture:

This neuroimaging research - in normal, non-violent subjects - strengthens the link between low levels of the brain enzyme, known as monoamine oxidase A (MAO A), and aggressive behavior, which has been a topic of research for more than two decades.

"Our study provides evidence of an association between brain MAO A level and aggressive personality traits in normal individuals," said Nelly Alia-Klein, an assistant scientist at Brookhaven Lab's Center for Translational Neuroimaging, who presented her work at the society's 54th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. "If this model of understanding is tested with individuals who actually engage in aggressive or antisocial behavior, such as domestic violence, it could show promise in the future for pharmacological intervention against abnormal aggression," she added.

The researchers assessed brain MAO A activity in 27 healthy, non-violent male volunteers using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning. This technique uses a radiotracer-tagged molecule that binds to brain MAO A and can be measured quantitatively by PET. The subjects also completed a standard, 240-question personality questionnaire, which gave the researchers a complete profile of the men's personalities, not merely their tendency toward aggression.

The main finding: The lower the subjects' brain MAO A activity levels, the more they answered "yes" to statements about taking advantage of others, causing them discomfort, having a short temper, vindictiveness, and enjoying violent movies. "Only aggressive personality was related to brain MAO A activity - not other personality dimensions," Alia-Klein emphasized.

It is important to note that MAO-inhibitor drugs are effective in treating depression and are not associated with aggressive behavior, she added.

And while it’s a complex topic, there are certain indicators. The human body/mind has a specific internal balance. As these balances become out of whack, your doctor prescribes chemicals (sure, sure, for the most part they’re not sure just exactly WHAT causes depression, but there seems to be a specific chemical for alleviation of this particular illness).

So, no, on the larger scale, religion isn’t a cause, what it is is an excuse, or as is more often these days, an umbrella for the deranged to hide under. As for all those folks in the past who committed atrocities in the name of it, well, for the most part people are sheeple (as has been observed before), and are easily led to slaughter or engage in slaughter. So yes, the crazies were in charge, and fear is (unfortunately) a prime motivator to get folks to carry out horrendous deeds. There were perhaps in those days full scale dementia whipped up into a lather by the high shaman (and again, if you’ve ever been to a concert, been in a mob, or been in a revival tent think: all that rhythmic chanting/music/hollering, yep, that was all a chemical response, because there were chemicals being released into the air along with all those other mitigating factors).

Because Man is the animal who deludes himself. We are the species that hallucinates regularly, we are the creatures who hear voices from nowhere and see visions that don’t exist, whose brains can be tricked into imagining that we’re experiencing an OBE.

Till the next post then.

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