Category Archives: drug abuse

Alienation, Deindividuation, and Disillusionment: Differences and Development

img_20170220_045856

You may believe many things separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and while there are no doubt good arguments that can be presented in opposition – the reality is that only self-awareness distinguishes our behaviors from animals. This is no groundbreaking notion, but self-awareness opens the dark door to comparison, critique, and yes, higher consciousness. It is at the center of our higher consciousness that our ability to critique helps us realize we are distinct entities of an environment, that we are unique contradictions who need love, yet desire to stand apart.

Animals are not self-expressive. Aside from a muted “meow”, or high-pitched “hiss”, my cat cannot laugh, nor express himself through art, nor can he cry. As much as I may want to believe he has feelings, simply put, animals respond to instinctive drives, but lack self-expression. Perhaps this can be better illustrated the next time you and your cat are near a mirror. Place the mirror before it and it will behave as if its reflection is another cat altogether. It will sniff the image and look behind the mirror as if it realizes the barrier between itself and the “other” cat. At any rate, it’s worth a laugh or two. 🙊

While most of us grasp we are individually unique, some people have a difficult time indeed accepting this and blending in with others. This feeling of being out of place, is called alienation.

Instilling in one’s children a strong sense of self should be high priority for parents. This strengthens who they are, their unique qualities, and makes them less susceptible to pressures.

When one feels alienated, it can largely be traced back to a lack of confidence, an extreme introspection, or hyper-awareness.  The feeling of alienation can lead to, among other things, depression, isolation, and a debilitating preoccupation with conformity.(1) A most common disguise from such discombobulation is to dull the senses with alcohol or other psychoactive substances. This is the slippery slope: when one believes one can and needs to detach from oneself, whether by drug or psychological trick, bad things happen.

img_20170220_215531

The process and state of losing one’s sense of individuality is termed, deindividuation. It is likened to a person “in a crowd of surging mob violence, and being swept up by the chaos” also participates in the mob behavior. It’s as if being deep in a crowd, that anonymity protects the individual from responsibility of action and consequences of choice (2).

Typical, hard-working people looted businesses in the L.A. riot of 1992. Swept up by the pandemonium, everyday people grabbed electronics, food, and clothes, rationalizing the items would have likely been lost to other looters anyway. This concept, deindividuation, is not lost on history nor contemporary civilization. To promote deindividuation, governments issue uniforms to its soldiers. The sense of anonymity and conformity of purpose is symbolized through the uniform. Deindividuating shields the mind, the conscience, from whatever actions may arise. After all, military service implies fighting; and when nations fight other nations, death emerges from the smoke.

img_20170220_223120

Disillusionment is the realization that something, some belief, was not as great as it initially appeared to us. Disillusionment is an awakening of sorts, a dispelling of illusions. It is during this process that we must remain grounded, that we have strong enough “selves” to push beyond our previous blindness. Where we don’t have strength, avoid the urge to hide in the shadows or in the anonymity of a crowd. Reach out your hand instead, express yourself by seeking help from others.

Throughout our lives, we should hope to continue to unravel the beautiful mysteries of life. No matter the cost, no matter the consequences,  we must learn to prefer truth and openness wherever possible. Though we should not don the banner of crusade, the most good comes from welcoming others, celebrating their uniqueness, and removing barriers to the gathering of truth. Using our self-awareness in a telescopic manner, as opposed to a microscopic view will allow you to better understand your purpose.

What do these ideas mean to you? What are your opinions?

______________

1) Ankony, Robert C., “The Impact of Perceived Alienation on Police Officers’ Sense of Mastery and Subsequent Motivation for Proactive Enforcement”, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management, vol. 22, no. 2 (1999): 120–32. 

2) Reber, Arthur, and Emily Reber. (2001). Dictionary of Psychology, 3rd Ed. N.Y.: Penguin.

Images: public domain customizations

Advertisements

LETTING GO: A RECIPE FOR THE FUTURE

IMG_20160622_224527

During the course of each of our lives we hear many things that cause us to listen. Some of these things are helpful, some disastrous, and between all that is conflicting advice. Take for instance, the concept of forgiveness. I have always been told by my elders to forgive people for their wrongs and accidental slights – no matter what these were. Few people have gone so far as to advise that, in addition to forgiveness, “to pray for them”, or “forgive, but don’t forget”. I’m sure I’m not alone in this confusing matter, so I’m going to briefly share what I think about it.

Forgiveness, at its very core, harbors the assumption that people will cross you, people will do you wrong, hurt you, use you, amongst all other manner of negative things. This means that forgiveness exists because people are capable of harm – directly or indirectly, and sometimes both ways.

Secondly, forgiveness assumes a therapeutic role – in that there is marginal benefit for victims and a vague notion that is to befall those unforgiving people. Resentment, negative expectations, deteriorated social relationships, spiritual stress, ailments, and sometimes deep-seated cultural morés, such as distrust in the “white-man” – or some such things – can be traced to unforgiveness.

IMG_20160622_224347

So, here I am, discussing forgiveness – an idea that most of my loved ones proclaim I should adopt, yet, they have such difficulty themselves with forgiveness. (This is not to say they are sociopaths.)

Perhaps the world I want to see doesn’t have forgiveness at all; a world where there are no people whose words trespass against anyone, and that acts are no longer harmful; eliminating all of those things that typically trigger the need for gifting or asking forgiveness. Of course, that’s not a reality; however, just as forgiveness does, we can also act upon our world in ways to preempt forgiveness: we can work to eliminate forgiveness. This idea may seem, at first glance, tricky, for us Indigenous people, having carried so much pain about the world in which our ancestors lived, a world near universally lost. But, if we can change our approach to how we are affected by others, we would do some real good for our next generation – freeing them from the weight of all that could have been.

😉

Our Social Imperative

Our Social Imperative

I WAS NOT ALIVE DURING THE SIXTIES; a turbulent time for the minority of America. The seeds of social equality in America were sewn over a hundred years earlier, and it was during the middle of the 20th-Century when we began to harvest fruits of our sacrifices, when our solidarity began to be felt by justices of The United States Supreme Court (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954; Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 1960; Boynton v. Virginia, 1960), and in the actions of leadership (Civil Rights Act of 1964).

This period began with such great potential.

Again, I wasn’t alive then, but I have immersed myself in the light of that period: I’ve read Malcolm X’s biography, read Doctor King’s letters from his days as a political prisoner, and watched documentaries of gunfire, riots, and bigotry mar this otherwise great period. I am a fragment of that generation, a generation that came out of the ashes, tears, and triumphs of the civil rights era. I am proud of that fact.

So you might understand it was no accident that I cried during Obama’s initial inauguration. Inside, my soul sang loudly that old Sam Cooke tune about being born by the river… but I was crying happy tears. I felt energized, that finally, as a minority, I witnessed the energy behind grand historic progress, that I had a small taste of that harvest that Doctor King dreamt about. I am proud of that, also.

image: allposters.com

image: allposters.com

I believe, as a nation, we need more moments like that. Moments that prove we are at our best when we work together and acknowledge that personal progress is in fact, correlated to the progress of our neighbors.

As cultural beings, we set aside special days and months to remind us that true success, our true strength is inextricably bound to how well we treat and celebrate others. Nearly every American holiday, does not exist for us to celebrate individuals, they aren’t there to remind us of the fleeting benefits of individual success. Nearly every holiday exists to remind us of the importance of loving other people and celebrating the bonds of our shared humanity. Most major religious tenets or ethics are based on the same idea: celebration of caring for other people.

It remains my hope, that as we journey through 2016, anticipating another grand inauguration, that when we are able, we give a helping hand to people who need it; that along our way, we donate a talent or skill we may possess to make someone’s life easier – if only for a few moments a week. In celebration of this special month stop by and check on your parents and grandparents; promote the value of what it means to have been a part of their lives. We can never forget how far we’ve come. Participate in your community, be nice to people, and you will enjoy a great, productive year.

References
___________
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Ks. 347 U. S 483 (1954)
Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454 (1960) Racial segregation in all public transportation illegal under the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 364 U.S. 339 (1960) Electoral districts drawn to disenfranchise blacks violated the Equal Protection Clause

REDISCOVERING BELIEF

REDISCOVERING BELIEF

IMG_20150809_233420
____________________

In ancient Rome, there were only two men in all of pre-Christiandom who were ever thought to be the “Son of God”, thought of as divine beings. One was the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus (Julius Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian ), the other – to no ones surprise – was Jesus of Nazareth. Ideas regarding exaltation (of men to divine status) developed across centuries, through help from a miraculous thing called: belief. For Caesar Augustus, he became the “Son of God” after Julius Cesar bequeathed this status to him – an adopted son, at that. For Jesus of Nazareth, this title occurs through writings of what are now called The Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic, means similar, or synonymous. The Synoptic Gospels include Mark, Mathew, and Luke. (It is only in the book, The Gospel of John where Jesus becomes exalted to God-equivalent status, beyond being the Son of God). Jesus, himself, was also, interestingly an adopted son (Ehrman 233).
Jesus believed himself to be the prophesied Messiah, the King of the Jews. In Roman-ruled Palestine, only Caesar could appoint a king, only Caesar was divine, thus, Jesus was killed for his beliefs.

As a result of legend, and the lives of both of these men, we are living in a world that is exactly the result of our belief in them. Think back into history of all the wonderful things that have resulted from Jesus alone: The Reformation, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment Period, the United States itself, was pieced together via belief in God. The world – as we know it – would not exist, if not for belief.
Beliefs are powerful!
______________________

Beliefs Determine Vision

Beliefs Determine Vision


____________________

So, contemporarily, is there anything fantastic and great about what YOU believe in? Do you have beliefs that shake the world? If so, what are they?

I, for one, tend to be optimistic when it comes to the future, and hold the belief that working involves movement toward some betterment, however incremental, else why waste time ritualistically toiling away on something, if no belief supported the action? That would be very robot-like!

It is belief that is compelling you forward

It is belief that is compelling you forward

Personally, I don’t have any Earth-shattering beliefs, but I can list 5-beliefs that have never failed me.

1) I believe people are inherently
sensitive to others needs;

2) Everyone has different needs and
levels of needs, and their behaviors
are affected accordingly (e.g. a
hungry person is going to be
occupied by a search for food);

3) Self-love allows evolution of
love for others;

4) It pays to be teachable, period.

5) An education is worth your time, and
also of benefit to those around you.

You see!? There is absolutely not a single belief that I listed that can be viewed as Earth-changing as any of your beliefs in Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, if you believe in Jesus, you can very well lay claim to being ahead in the game.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s in our contemporary world, drowning in all of our distractions and responsibilities, where we are susceptible to forgetting who we are – and sometimes, what we stand for. (Have you ever gotten unreasonably angry with someone only to realize something else was actually bothering you?) EXACTLY!

It will never hurt you to take a few minutes every few months to rediscover your core beliefs. From your self-rediscovery you will learn that, no matter what happens to you – negative or positive – how you carry yourself, your behavior, your response to adversity will alter your world. Your beliefs are Earth-changing.
(That’s my 6th belief!)

Start today… Write down 5-things that you believe in. Take a few minutes to Rediscover who you are. . .you’ll feel better reminding yourself of exactly those qualities that make you strong!

😉

__________
Notes:

• Ehrman, Bart. HOW JESUS BECAME GOD. HarperOne. N.Y.: (2014)

• images: tinkering with public domain works

VIOLENCE: An Evasive Symptom


VIOLENCE IS A VERY COSTLY SYMPTOM of a more acute set of problems. Every violent act has ingredients, roots, branches, and results, and sometimes they are ongoing. It is at certain periods in our development that predilection to violence seeks to assert itself. Indeed, violence is “default programming”, vital to early human survival and presents when the self is endangered.
Our perceptions can be fooled, thus, to be at our rational best, our sense of reality must align with our emotionality.

What can be done to restrict irrational violence, and when?

IMG_20150203_092324

If we eliminate genetic predisposition/gender factors, perhaps personality factors (sociopathy, psychopathy) we divest a large number of males from scrutiny as producers of violence–particularly males from fatherless homes and having had a parental, or co-substance abuse history. As the foregoing characteristics are factors unique to individuals, we do not review them here although they are specific ingredients of violent criminality as the overview would be infinitely broad. Moreover, we will not discuss spontaneous acts (mob violence/roits) concentrating upon developed violence as adopted behavior through lenses of: social strain, socio-economic factors, social relationships, peers, media violence, and culture, and not individual traits, which are unique anomalies.

IMG_20150203_092633

Social Relationship and Crime

Setting aside nuances of personality and biological defecit, our resulting assumption is that violence is learned without it having to be taught. Thus, violence is preventable as much as predictable, as it is cultivated through ones peer-associations and social environment.

Peer groups, clubs, and cultures possess particular “values, norms, beliefs, and technical knowledge”, “socializing forces”, as from a classroom, religious affiliation, or gang. It’s the cherished anti-social ideas/traits that coalesce as a set of sub-cultural ingredients from which violence (and crime) becomes incubated (Jensen, 2007).
We largely obtain our behaviors via interaction, imitation, and guidance (reinforcement) not through Tabula Raza solitary meditation in a cave, thus , consider the following hints from which you could reduce violence in our world.

Hints:

• Be aware of how we introduce/place our progeny at the outset of life, as learning is very difficult to overwrite;

• Structure stimuli around low-violence activities. Violent video games, movies need to be minimized as they tend to desensitize to violence;

• Instruct upon appropriate responses to bullying, teasing, self-defense parameters, and alienation. This reduces reliance on instinctive aggression;

• Model prosociality; that is, the expected behaviors in situations, even if parents have to create a sham situation (role-play) to provision opportunity for cognitive absorption.

Recalling these concepts over time will insulate against social pressure and individual susceptibility that sometimes turns into rage, or the mind-emotion imbalance.

IMG_20150203_092603

 General/Social Strain and Crime

According to David Farrington, in Origins of Violent Behavior Over the Lifespan (2007), low socio-economic status, intergenerational exposure to disrupted families, and life within neglected neighborhoods are contributors to what is termed as, strain, or social strain. These many types of strains- often beyond individual control-create an atmosphere of stress and hypervigilance when commingled, too much of any negative experience will frustrate the best of us given sufficient time. Multiple strains upon legitimate opportunity lends itself to improvised, non-conformist short-cutting called crime or violence, as a means to gain a foot up (see the post below re: ROBERT MERTON). Resulting in higher crime rates and intergenerational lapses, perpetuating cycles of violence and victimization.

______________

The notions here, are nevertheless built upon lifestyle  and choice: individual factors which have a ripple effect in society. While this may seem an oversimplification, upon initial review, we may recognize susceptibility in our lives, despite any freedom of choice or free will argument. Nevertheless, we can adjust our range of lifestyle factors to minimize risk of becoming victims, and reduce contribution to violence by not being a passive ingredient in its development.

The point here was simply to reiterate the importance of individual relations and the subsequent impressions we leave in our communities as crafters of our own violence. Whichever the excuse: time is money, there doesn’t seem to be enough of one parent to go around, or walking the streets at night is cool, etc. Upon deeper inspection of our reality we may find this to be untrue. We CAN adapt to 3-less work hours per-week so as to ref a flag-football game, or share a pizza to foster bonds with those around us, and stop jogging at midnight. We reduce violence by sharing our attention, laughing, and letting someone know they are important in our eyes, and being responsible knowing our behavior affects others.

Transcend any personal defecit through investment in other people. Watch your energy reduce violence, crime, and victimization. Our result in mind must be taught.

______________

NOTES:

Flannery, D., Alexander Vazsonyi and Irwin Waldman, eds. CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK of VIOLENT BEHAVIOR and AGGRESSION. N.Y. Cambridge, UP (2007)

JENSEN, G., SOCIAL LEARNING and VIOLENT BEHAVIOR. (2007) 636-64

THE EPIC OF CIVILIZATION: What Now?

THE OLDEST EPIC POEM, The Epic of Gilgamesh, elaborates upon a long-standing human notion: the selfish quest for immortality. Gilgamesh, himself, was supposed to have prepared the Cuneiform tablet upon which his poem, his story, was carved. Gilgamesh was sort of the first historian (as well as an early hunter-gatherer). He did great and unimaginable things! He encountered gods, ventured into the underworld, and even suffered moral conflict (the stuff of humanity). IMG_20141213_222000 Interestingly, Gilgamesh is also the legendary “father of civilization”, having founded the first city: Uruk (near what is now, Iraq, Mesopotamia).

His is a great story, foreshadowing the story of Moses and Jesus. But perhaps a very important message is not advanced, or is absent: Once cities are constructed, how then, are we supposed to deal with each other in such unfamiliar/unnatural situations? Why, after millenia of practice, are we so seemingly lost?   Perhaps the very premise of civilization contravenes our innate selfishness, that self-interest that drove Gilgamesh to desire eternal life, is the very thing that separates us today? Perhaps, his story is not to be taken literally, or maybe his nature is ours, and the story applicable to all of us? This nevertheless does not address the reasons that living amongst each other produces such flux…

There were many things that drove us to cities, namely, safety in numbers, agriculture, trade, and a greater or diverse gene pool. Additionally, with all of the barter and craftspersonship comes influence. Thus, inequality becomes more of a salient or necessary force.

In order to combat our inner anti-sociality we have devised codes, laws, policies,  to wit: Code of Hammurabi, The 10-Commandments, Magna Carta, etc., each draft an attempt to curtail what we really are: selfish and autonomous creatures. These codes are each an aim to encourage predictability and stability: norms. Each principle rule addresses sociological concepts, how to live amongst other closely situated humans, conformity, and what we ought not to do. Our values and boundaries began taking shape as we moved closer together.

Do we have to have such formal complexity? Can successfully living next to someone really come down to being NICE to her? Does thou shalt not steal have to be delineated on a stone tablet to remind us? Absolutely. Gilgamesh after all told us that. Codification lies at the root of law, ordering complex society so we can maneuver with the least amount of friction and interests are protected.

What are your values? What are your policies? Do you ponder about them much?
You may have heard the old adage, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.

FIVE-PERCENT (5%) OF THE HUMAN POPULATION have a dominant personality type, meaning, they are driven to lead, to order, or to take. Like the speed of light or pi, this percentile is a natural constant, having extremely little variation.
During the time of Gilgamesh, cities were small, thus 1-of-20 dominant types could flourish in a town of say,1,500. These 75-people would have been priests, teachers, government leaders, or military leaders. Acute problems arise, however, once populations reach into the hundred-thousands, or millions, 50,000 dominant types are problematic as competition is high, there exists lean opportunity for legitimate expression: the result is crime. Crime is a simpler means by which expression of dominance is achieved (Wilson , 2005:72).

(view the following slide)
maslow
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was devised, true from simian observations, yet remains applicable to the types of developed crime having occurred throughout human history. Earliest crimes were for food, then the best of caves, or trees, then the gene pool, and to be chieftain or King, then to be a God-king and realize ones life meant more than a bag of bones and a few children, that one has realized full-potential and accepted that which Gilgamesh had to as well, that we will die, there is no eternal life in a literal sense. (Think Alexander the Great.)

Gilgamesh, cities, and Maslow share for us a view of the Epic of Civilization.

Maslow’s study, at least the pyramid, will be worthwhile study, as it calls forth the essence of motivation, that there are certain things that we must do to stay alive. The hierarchy does not rule over us as a law, it does not cleanly escalate everyone’s needs nor address a clean regression, if at all. However, these five (5) needs exist.

This morning, as you wake, believe in goodness, be motivated by the higher order that Gilgamesh missed, that Maslow defined…accept that helping others will accomplish the greatest good: invoking the ripple effect. We pray their eyes are open, and that they too become motivated by helping others: I understand you, I care for you, and I value you. Pass it on, and remake civilization as you have known it.

Notes:

-Colin Wilson, A Criminal History of Mankind, Mercury. London (2005)

– Gilgamesh photo statuary, public domain, 2014

ARTIST IN MOTION: Miss Native American (2013~14), Sarah Ortegon

MINDFULNESS: Practical Lessons from Buddhism for Existential Combat

Stressors occlude the path we call life. Stress is physical, as in excercise or disease; external, as noise or weather, and emotional, as in grief or loss. Stress can come in many forms: spiritual, social, etc. Stress is basically defined as: stimuli that provokes an engaging reaction in something. Stress affects everyone differently, as in runners and bodybuilding, it is a tool. In a tempermental individual it is an enemy.

Blotterart jpgphoto by bloggerart

”Meditation in the Buddhist tradition involves a process of intense concentration and attention to quiet the conscious mind” (Nataraja 2008:18). The methodology of meditation varies by culture (tai chi, prayer, dance), yet it is in Buddhism where mindfulness meditation~as opposed to trancendental~appeared, which sought to reduce stress via focusing attention. Mindfulness is being in the moment, and being non~judgemental to unfolding experience (20).
Another way to view this focus is as a distraction from physical/sensual stress.

In contemporary industrialized societies we are bombarded by stresses unique to our human evolutionary biology; we have hunter~gatherer bodies and systems reflective of those experiences. Our contempory morés do not always mesh well with our bodies: we may succomb to anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and socioeconomic pressures. These things sometimes cause us to question whether we are purposeful life forms, with divine predestination, or that life and all that exists is meaningless struggling and randomness.

Hmm..how will mindfulness combat physical or existential stress?

Develop these six (6) features:

1] Adopting the non~judmemental attitude to experiences by observing and not reacting to them as good or bad experiences;

2] Patience must be developed to reduce anxiety and slows perceptual time so we do not suffer disappointments;

3] Accept situations as they are to combat denial and struggle: trust the universe is operating as it should;

4] Trust yourself;

5] Sometimes do nothing, exist in an unforced manner to promote the above concepts and relieve modernity of its sway over your ancient self;

6] Release the excessive emotional value to negative imaginings and seductive worry, (198).

As Pavlov showed us, we can alter a response with the chosen conditioner. In fact, that is what ancient Buddhist practitioners have known all along. There are far greater benefits in seeking a calm, mature perspective to the world, because if one does not develop ones place and self in our vast universe, we become vulnerable and seem lost and overwhelmed.
Tell yourself it’s ok to relax and listen to the wind or to the stillness of your soul. This practice of seemingly doing nothing, will make you stronger than ever and insulate you so you can be the lighthouse for others.

😉

Notes:

Nataraja, S. THE BLISSFUL BRAIN: Neuroscience and Proof of the Power of Meditation. Octopus. N.Y. (2008).

Why Did You Do That, Free Will?

EVERY NOW AND AGAIN people talk about decisions, choices, or free will. There are determinists~those who believe what will occur has pre~determined bases, thus, we lack free will of action, and cannot alter our fates. Then there are those who believe that people make rational and independent choices, of their own free will, and remain arbiters of their future.

This author does not propose a resolution to that timeless mystery, only relate a few facts regarding Human chemistry. Human thought, after all, is an invaluable combination of water, carbon, and hydrogen, and a host of amino acids. These also give us a body as well as our animation.

LET’S REVIEW A MOLECULE and its important interplay with our free will: seratonin. Seratonin has a molecular signature of: C10, H12, N2, O, which reads, ten carbon atoms, twelve of hydrogen, two of nitrogen, and a single oxygen atom. This molecule is derived by the amino~acid Tryptophan, found in foods such as bananas, papayas, and meat from turkeys. In humans, 90% of their seratonin is found in epithelial layers of the gut, and the other 10% in cerebro~spinal fluid, and in the brain where it is an important neurotransmitter.

Molecule

”Posture is more erect post~triumph” ~Darwin

”Heads are lowered after defeat” ~Irenaüs Eibl~Eibesfeldt

A HIGHER SERATONIN LEVEL correlates to social rank. Seratonin is found in greatest concentrations in dominant primate males. This is not to say that socially dominant primate males are genetically endowed to use/absorb/maintain/have naturally larger stores of seratonin. Actually, it means dominance
(greater amounts of seratonin) has a social basis.

Reference the quotes above, as relate to body language (a social phenomenon). Darwin’s ape, having defeated Eibl~Eibesfeldts ape in a territorial brawl, has elevated seratonin: a molecule that encourages a sense of well~being, regulates mood intensity, and ”guards against depression and anxiety” (Wright 1994: 243). As a result of such chemical~social interplay, Darwin’s ape sits proud (and it’s not being recommended that one go beat someone up). Interestingly, research has shown to associate low~levels of 5~hydroxindoleactic acid, a seratonin metabolite, ”in aggressive or violent individuals” (Linnoila et al., 1983).

So how does free will play to these ideas? If seratonin is not by itself deterministic, can one assume individuals have independently unique seratonin levels? Further, since seratonin regulates range of behavior, could a level of seratonin below ones unique baseline produce behavior that cannot be judged as free will? Well, drugs such as Prozac (seratoninergic anti~depressants) attempt to empower people with more will power! Selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and Mono~amine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) discourage breakdown of seratonin in the brain, thereby keeping seratonin on the synaptic cleft (edge of a neuron), to encourage mood stability, providing resilience against anxiety and depression and maintaining prosocial levels of seratonin.

Additional biosocial factors influenced by seratonin are the receptorcites: 5HT 1A that influences pleasure via dopamine release (chemical also triggered by cocaine, amphetamine, and MDMA), positive/negative effects of schizophrenia, and learning. 5HT 2A also associated with schizophrenia, depression, mood, and anxiety. Seratonin, in a very simplistic way, according to Wright, is a glass of wine (244). [Ethyl alcohol actually releases seratonin, and research by Masters and McGuire (1994) shows people with low seratonin levels commit greater amounts of impulsive crimes (Wright, 244), and alcohol is involved in 64% of violent crime (Barkan 2000)].

Perhaps we will finally realize that social inequality, education and socioeconomic status, are great powers that induce individual response. Is it a stretch to believe Eibl~Eibsfeltds ape turned into a bum and did not potentialize due to chemistry? Social structure? In humans, whether God has given us freedom to choose, or that we are bound to a range of behavior due to chemistry is to be seen, guarded in faith that we do the right things, develop the most beneficial habits, and have sufficient seratonin to encourage the ripple effect of prosociality.

Notes:
1] Flannery, Vazsonyi and Waldman, eds. THE CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK OF VIOLENT BEHAVIOR AND AGGRESSION. Cambirdge U.P., N.Y. (2007)

2] Wright, Robert. THE MORAL ANIMAL: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology. Vintage N.Y. (1994).

CRIMINOGENISIS: Outlining Three General Theories

CRIMINOGENICS is a subset of theories from the field of criminology. Researchers and academicians use micro or macro approaches to study possible origins and causes of crime. There are three (3) general approaches: Biological (genetic propensity, disability, disease, race); Psychological (pathology, disease, syndrome, insanity, intelligence, morality); and Sociological: (geography, locale of residence, poverty, deficits in education, racism, lack of opportunity, etc).

The first of these two (2) theoretical approaches are micro~level, that is, they look to the individual for clues to criminality. Sociology takes a broader view, and with the assumption that circumstantial pressures are often stronger forces, in toto, than individual will. ( Recall Phillip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Project). Situational forces such as economic, familial, infermity, day/night, rural/urban residence, organizational polices at work, have substantial influence upon psychology and biology of individual behavior.

Ones approach to origin of crime leads to direct handling of crime thusly. In America, our individualism and entrepreneurship places the individual at the fore of responsibility. Technology is pushing psychological and genetic theory forward, but people still find study of groups (racial) quite evocative, partly based on historical blunders, such as, Tuskeegee Institute’s Syphillis Study (virus introduced to unsuspecting black men), Radium/Platonium/Uranium exposure to U.S. military during 19th Century, etc. So there are strong sociological forces inhibiting advancement in these areas, which are micro~level psychological issues: emotions and concern for abuses.

While time passes, we hope our wisdom accumulates and is spread throughout so the greatest good can be done. Taking the broadest views on approaching how best to handle our socially akward is not a slap in the face of personal responsibility, it’s in fact, grasping the most virtuous of calls, that is, to fix societies greater problems: alleviating victimization of poverty, crime, and lack of opportunity.
Join us today. Adopt the ripple effect principle. Act without accident.

Notes:

1) Barkan, Steven. CRIMINOLOGY: A SOCIOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING, 2nd. ed. Prentice Hall. N.J. (2001)

Searching for Home

STANDING ROCK RESERVATION IS NOT A TOURIST ATTRACTION; however, it is a place reeling from the unintended effects of history, yet remains home to thousands of Sioux. Kristen has survived Standing Rock, but not without her share of bumps and bruises.
Kt1
Despite turmoil, a home is difficult to leave. If all one knows is alcohol, emotional and drug abuse one believes it’s typical. Kristen herself had been left with her two sisters in the car while a girl, as mom and dad drank in a bar. She knows the pain of home.

”That’s how dad died, drinking. So drinking was not my thing. I first left home for job corp. at 16, and had not experienced methamphetamine until 18. I used to be a runner and sometime enforcer when asked. I loved to fight. I tried the drug and it has been an uphill battle since then.”

Part of Kristen’s strategy to break the cycle of poverty, drugs, and alcohol was to head to Rapid City, S.D., a new place, greater opportunities. Through it all, she managed to keep all that’s important to her: her boys, Ashton and Logan, a healthy mind, and renewed faith in God.

”My parents, the rez, exposed me to many things. Others’ alcoholism profoundly affected me, my sisters, and my kids, too. I still don’t know where my youngest sister is, but she’s not in a good place. I know what it’s like for alcoholics, but for female meth addicts it’s scarier. Some women steal, lie, con, and prostitute themselves for drugs.
I pray for them.”

Alcoholism is a creeping disease, like meth addiction.

”Some don’t realize the time gone by, years and money wasted until it’s too late to make a difference. One of my major regrets
is losing education. I am a pretty good artist, so while Standing Rock was rough, and we were poor, I learned to paint and craft from my dad. I’ve done tattoos for 20~plus years, so home is still with me, you know. I try to mentor young girls from home and help them cope and understand how bad stuff affects a woman and how to cope.”

Women are especially vulnerable to drug addiction and abuse. Humans were not meant to undergo such trials. Yet, through all the victimization and pain and loss. We still drink, still chase drugs.

Kt2
”I support myself through craft, making dancers’ outfits, and tattooing. My second tat ever was on my mom. (laughs) I broke apart a Walkman and someone showed me how to construct a tat gun and I began tattooing; sometimes even to get/stay high, so my home is always with me.
I recall we had an outhouse, we had to fetch water, we were poor…”

Kt

Life continues, even when you don’t live it. Remaining sober is not a unique challenge, it can very well be ones greatest.

”Anymore, I exercise, go for walks, or read scripture to occupy my mind. Sensitivity to loud/sudden noise, nervousness, suspicion of others are ever present effects from my personal fight with meth. I think about it at times, but I’m wiser, my boys deserve me, and I don’t want to end up a zombie. I do pray a lot and drink water when I feel down. My son likes to smudge (marking with the black ends of burned sweetgrass, for prayer). He smudges the cat, too!” (laughter)
We’re going to be baptized soon, so God and spirituality is a great part of my recovery and lifestyle.”

Kristen’s keys to success.

”Hearing yourself speak heals you; talk to someone immediately. Maybe an elder. If you don’t have someone you can absolutely and genuinely trust, find them. Expressing yourself makes a lot of changes…and you have to stay away from old places and those types of people.”

Thank You, Kristen. Blessings to you.

When He, the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…from him you will receive what He will make known to you.” (John 16: 13~14)

_____
Support Kristen’s effort, order regalia at: kristentuske@gmail.com

Closer to Deviance

Deviance seems straight~forward
enough
 of a term that one can
discern the behavior within a social setting  without too much thought.

For instance, green, mohawked hair deviates from the typical style we see in  everyday life,
except for, say on…oh, St. Patrick’s Day  or Halloween, a green~spikey doo will blend into our surroundings because
celebration is expected behavior.

Moreover, is that green hair
example really the ‘it’ of deviance? No, deviance takes many forms, such as a criminal, genius, or an artist (the latter two examples
are among positive concepts).
The amount  or degree of deviance
from the ‘norm’ provokes action and evokes emotion, confusion, and
possibly punishment.

Deviance is not really what is
interesting phenomenologically,
deviance really allows us to
understand the comfort levels of
those around us, including opinions, preferences, and tolerances.

Deviance, as phenomena, have also  allowed humans to flourish for
nearly two~hundred~thousand~ years!
After all, we recognize ‘outsiders’ (basically, difference) which has
helped us to survive. Simply imagine
the alert sent through one’s small community if a strangely~dressed group of people stumbled into the area?

Finally, deviance can also be  used as a tool of abuse, by the
common tactic of labeling others.
This labeling action draws its strength from taking advantage of
our survival interest to notice deviance, labeling inappropriately alerts us to novelty even when danger may not exist, labeling deviance
is to pray upon our fight~or~flight system.
The next time you hear a label or notice deviance, describe it to yourself.

Personally, I say deviate as positively  as you can. Become the  best athlete or scholar you are
able to. Remember, though,
not deviating correctly, may have
life~altering consequences.

Plan your deviation!
🙂

FAIRNESS: Social Engineering Feat or Trait Intrinsic to Humanity?

Fairness (justice) is an idea we may not ponder about often enough; we have a tendency to rely on our immediate experiences to guide our perception of fairness, meaning, we know what fairness is when we see it or experience it, but is affected by feelings and bias. Any critical analysis regarding whether humans are inherently fair, or are simply molded to consider fairness, lies outside of the scope of most peoples’ day~to~day activities.

However, looking around us, fairness dictates our very existence through morés, values, laws, and norms; it is the glue which binds people, families, and societies and governments to their diversity of people.

Thus, is fairness inherent to humanity or a socially constructed idea? Is this even an important query in your lives?
Headmachinery
Before answering, I want to state I mean no disrespect in this opinion. I spoke with a number of individuals, each of different race, gender, and creed. Each person shared the same view with regard to our query. Can you guess what their collective perspective was?
__________

We begin life without ideologies, but with a range of physico~sensory capabilities restricting our biological preferences: taste (we generally prefer sweetness to hot); touch (velvet pillows over cacti); audition (white noise over foghorns); and olfaction (potpourri versus dog poo); sight is largely spectrally subjective. The point is, our biology determines our physical range of preferences. That is, we operate within rules not set by us. (Geneticists opine life is programmed to protect itself, its offspring, its DNA, strands of amino acids in helical shape: the chemistry of instinct.)

The fact is, we humans only fundamentally differ ideologically. Our thoughts, while influenced by 5~senses, are unconfined by heat, saltiness, or odors. We have power in our minds to perpetuate difference in our environs, to influence our lives to our subjective liking.

Ideas of fairness clash.

We have several religions where God commands structure (a social shape to thought), perhaps because humans must learn justice and other concepts. We have behavioral models in the form of parents and peers who provide perspective and reinforcement of our chosen attitudes. We have history itself, too! These things, combined with personal experiences, prove that subjective fairness (one’s personal ideas) prove less important than objective fairness (social ideas) over time. For instance, God~Kings and Matriarchies have evolved democracies and rule~of~law, yet wars for resources (to satisfy physical preferences) AND masked in ideology (internal preferences). So we are cognitively evolving. So what’s next?

The answer is not set in stone. Any ideas that reign tomorrow will be determined by YOU, through the people you choose to influence, and behavior or ideas you perpetuate. That’s the answer: Fairness is a social construct. When you are alone, what good is fairness?
But we are not evil. We notice social difference, and when difference evinces unfairness, our sense of justice should kick into gear, allowing our behavior to ripple out into the world.

Thank you for stopping by our charitable foundation. Our hope is you had a just and fair visit.

🙂

Education to Action: Note to College Freshman

images-1

December, 3rd, 2015
Dear University Freshman:

I realize you have likely taken an Autumn season break from pursuing your Post-secondary education (which is understandable, since you spent 15+years on some variation of school), but hey, before you decide on a major – hopefully you ease into it – I want to try to convince you to become a sociologist. Let me briefly state why.

THE STUDY OF OUR NEIGHBORS, is the definition used to simplify the actual breadth and contemporary importance of sociology – combining Latin parts socius with the Greek ology.
Studying our neighbors, their interests, morés, and behaviors had profound consequences for us way back when we were ancient people, and the same is true for us today. Sociologists study people in the simplest terms, but it’s what we do with the data that makes a difference. After all, you may spend years on a single study or experiment, but one must act on the results to become a great sociologist. In sum, a great sociologist makes people better at understanding others and the environment. As a result, the actual world can get better.

Dear freshman, part of the problem with communities today is we don’t have many true-to-form sociologists to help typical people make better sense of themselves. Another great problem is that people like us – those in the social sciences – aren’t in a high tax bracket. Money you make must come from teaching, writing books, giving presentations, or consulting. Fame is not an option. But sociology is worth the effort. Studying ourselves can take us places as a community.

Sociologists can observe or conduct varied research to understand, for example, reasons why women achieve the greatest portions of undergraduate degrees. The numbers we crunch to draw our conclusions are derived from polls, interviews, or university profiles, observation – even loan and employment data.
For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and IRS maintain data about single~parents in the workforce (6%); dual~earning families (40%); husband working and wife remains at home (11%). Tangential data perhaps includes the average number of dependents in families for each family type. One can interpret and reinterpret the research as the data grows and compare it to other information such as graduation rates, or crime rate. So while it is common understanding (based on comparisons from our employment data, arrest and drop~out rates) that crime is higher in areas where families are larger and where disadvantaged minorities reside, many of us don’t have any idea why this remains the case (when there exists enough people get together to make changes they desire, it shouldn’t be that way!)
Sociology also tells us that! Yes, and women tend to succeed through all of that, as it appears.

With data from social researchers we can draft policy, develop and institue programs that will thwart some of the greater negative effects of these realities on us, at any stage that it manifests. Solutions are spelled out in the data!

As as a social scientist you can help a lot of people, heal a lot of people. YOU can do field work of you dislike research: social work, be a detective, parole officer, non-profit advisement, parole board member, Federal agent, investigator, writer, police chief, professor, and so much more… You won’t make a ton of money, but you will make a lot of happiness.

Good luck, Spring Semester, freshman – soon to be social scientists. We’re rooting for You.

• THE RIPPLEFX FOUNDATION

Personality: Your ”Big 5” Characteristics

PersonalityThere exists many theories of personality, and of these nearly all avoid defining what exactly the stuff of personality is. The Big 5 theory is the easiest of theories to comprehend. This theory explains that we are unique individuals whose personalities are different, but that differences are only in degree. The Big 5, refer to the following traits, that they are in each of us:

1] AGREEABLENESS: this trait implies we all have varied temperments, diplomatic skill, and that we are easy or difficult to get along with;
2] CONSCIENCIOUSNESS:
that we hold people’s health, well~being in high regard, and that we can suppress the ‘self’ for others’ benefit;
3] EXTROVERSION: the degree to which we seek new experiences, adventure, and independence;
4] OPENNESS: the ability to share our ideas, feelings, and beliefs with others;
5] EMOTIONAL STABILITY: the degree to which we are affected by stress, whether our behavior is consistent over time.

We can draw interesting inferences simply by understanding these definitions. Also, we can safely state that people each have a greater absence or presence of each of these traits, and that these variations make up our behavioral inclination, thus, global personality. This term can be defined, in my opinion, as follows:

PERSONALITY IS THE MANIFESTATION OF OUR EXPERIENCES AND BIOLOGY THAT HAS SHAPED A CONSISTENT GROUP OF BEHAVIORS THAT ARE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS’ WHEN MEASURED AGAINST BASE PROSOCIALITY.

Why this definition? Since experts cannot agree upon a term (across many academic fields), we look to how the social sciences define Personality Disorder, and flip it on its head. A personality disorder then, points to ”any mental disorder manifested by maladjustments in motivation and maladaptive patterns relating to ones social environment” (Reber, 2005: 527).

Now we are getting deeper! We know that using this theory, we each develop~more or less~of each of these traits; that if we imagine traits along a spectrum, say from 1~to~10, we can build a simple profile of who our traits claim we are if you assign yourself 5 personal numbers. From that set of numbers we can hypothesize what we would do in particular situations.
And we can also learn where to strengthen our ‘selves’!

Personality is a part of us that people try to measure everyday. Quantifying personality, that is, measuring it, is of benefit to business, education, and criminology (by design, the areas that the RippleFX Foundation operates).

Personality change can alert people to disease (alcoholism) or disorder (depression). Personality, is considered an inflexible thing, alterable only through life~changing events (war~PTSD; birth~post~partem depression), or other trauma.
Personality (behaviorial propensities) however, can also be consciously re~molded!
Introducing how behavior develops into personality is one goal of The RippleFX Foundation. We are working to reinforce the prosocial side of our Big 5 traits in the criminal justice system now! See our Criminal Justice page to download actual copies of our research~based publications. These workbooks were designed to enrich extroversion, openness, agreeableness, conscienciousness, and emotional stability. Please sponsor a class or download a copy for a loved one. Help us further our community efforts by purchasing a ripplefx.org t~shirt via email, or donate to us at any Bank of America location.

What is your personality profile? Where can you use development? Are you a parent? If so, remember this post and use these concepts. Your child’s future may depend on it.

References:

-Aurther Reber and Emily Reber. DICTIONARY OF PSYCHOLOGY. N.Y. Penguin, 2005.

-Photo of brainscan by, Bill Bosking.

SOCIAL STRAIN and DR. MERTON

Robert Merton (Meyer Schkolnick, at birth) was born in Philadelphia in 1910 and lived to be 92. He was the son of Eastern European Immigrants. Most of Merton’s career, he was a professor at New York’s Columbia University (Scott & Marshall, 2005:404). Dr. Merton contributed great ides to sociology: the study of people.

Robert_K_Merton

Interestingly, Merton built upon Anomie where Emíle Durkheim did not. Recall anomie is the feeling of malaise or discombobulation of those unable to adapt to change~a feeling of not knowing how to act or knowing what to do~a normlessness; a symptom of an expanding techno~cultural society.

Merton’s Strain Theory proposed that delinquency and crime result when people perceive their economic situation as frustrated, thus the ideal social goals such as wealth and power are beyond reach: strained. Anomie shapes itself into 5 peculiar behaviors, as anomic people cope with strain (Bartol, 1995:2).
Merton’s strain theory introduced his 5 Modes of Adaptation:

1) CONFORMITY~allowing ones opinions, perceptions, and beliefs to be affected by prevailing attitudes and opinions;
2) RITUALISM~that of strict adherence to means as the goal itself, such as to get by without disturbance, as in the fear~filled bureaucrat;
3) RETREATISM~a self~imposed withdrawal from the world, as in substance~abuse, or with a ”moving to the woods” mindset like that of Theodore Kaczynski (the unabomber); or SUICIDE, the ultimate retreat.
4) REBELLION~rejecting all legitimate means/rules toward goal achievement; one throws out the whole book and writes her own;
5) INNOVATION~is using the legitimate goals of society, but reconfiguring ones own means to them (1995:2).

In sum, Merton believed people were influenced by the values and attitudes of their social circles. Change produces strain and people adapt differently.
The RippleFX Foundation takes the innovative view of Merton’s. We are here provoking answers to our varied problems stemming from social strain. We will face down and adapt to our changing world.
Join with us and make ripples in your community.
Innovate now!

NOTES:

-Robert C. Merton, son of Robert K. Merton, in 1997 earned the Nobel Prize for economics:

-R. K. Merton gave us the terms, ”role~model”, and ”self~fulfilling prophecy” among others.

Ref:

*Merton photo, Columbia University

-Bartol, C. INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th edition. Prentice Hall, NJ: 1999.

-Scott, J. and Gordon Marshall. DICTIONARY OF SOCIOLOGY. Oxford U.P. :2005.

%d bloggers like this: