Wellspring of the sick mind

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


HAL HERZOG, in his book Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, insisted that the way people treat animals mirrors their own irrationality. He said: “The inconsistencies that haunt our relationships with animals also result from the quirks of human cognition. We like to think of ourselves as the rational species. But research in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics shows that our thinking and behavior are often completely illogical.”

Health and wellness of the body are of no good consequence in a pathological mind. In fact, such physical prowess can become a tool to destroy the human person. The human condition however can be very complex to that point that classifying people for the purpose of predicting human behavior may in fact be misleading.

Statements like these can be a headache to those who avoid discriminating others: “Those who live in the slum most likely become criminal”; “the rich are thieves”; “playing violent video games makes a child violent”; “politicians are corrupt,” etc. Studies, however, showed not all who played violent video games became violent. Most of them did not. We have seen people who grew up in the slums become important and productive members of the society. We know of rich people who diligently worked their way to affluence honestly. And certainly not all politicians are corrupt.

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Psychiatrist Eric Berne, founder of transactional analysis and author of the best-selling book Games People Play, wrote: “The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.” A sick mind destroys the one who has it.

Even while living in the same environment, why do some people become criminal while others do not? Psychiatrist Ray Jeffery, proponent of the differential reinforcement theory of criminal behavior, wrote: “Criminal behavior is learned. The act occurs in an environment in which in the past the actor has been reinforced for behaving in this manner, and the aversive consequences attached to the behavior have been of such a nature that they do not control or prevent the response.”

In short, he believed that the development of criminal behavior came from a breakdown of discipline at home when a child’s criminal-like behavior received none when it should have. When the child, for example, learned that stealing is alright because no one caught him or his parents did not discipline him, the benefits of stealing will keep him from doing it. Unless that mindset changes, that child will steal throughout his life.

Bret Easton Ellis wrote in his novel American Psycho: “Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?” Unfortunately, evil is something you believe in first. Once you believe it, doing is just a matter of time.

zim_breakthroughs@yahoo.com http://breakthroughs.today.blogspot.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 20, 2014.

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