The hateful and the cruel

11 February 2018

It’s everywhere. It’s at the office and even in your home. It’s beamed at you every day by the media. It’s the hateful and the cruel. In its mildest form it creates unhappiness which undermines wellness and productivity. At its worst, it kills and it maims and it threatens our survival. But what lies at the core of this hatred and cruelty? For if we do not engage and apply our collective minds to understanding this dark side of our nature and implementing appropriate interventions, we are doomed to suffer eternally.

The hateful and the cruel represent one of the more perplexing neuropsychological pathologies which is seemingly intractable to conventional modalities of clinical intervention. Available statistics indicate that the success rate of rehabilitation for these individuals is no more than 10 – 15 percent. Having a special interest in this condition, I undertook a case study analysis of a sample of the hateful and the cruel using my own NeuroSurge application.

Common to many afflicted individuals is a history of significant nurture deprivation, often with elements of abuse. The early narrative emerging from this environment incorporates elements of loneliness, low self-esteem, distrust, the belief that they are born to serve the needs of others at the expense of their own as well as anhedonia –the inability to experience personal joy and gratification. This usually impacts negatively on the ability to form personal relationships and predisposes to a hopeless-helpless outlook on life in general.

The chemical configuration that parallels this state is one of low dopamine (dopamine is associated with personal gratification, fulfillment and motivation), low serotonin and raised pro-inflammatory cytokines – the mediators of inflammation (which underpins many illnesses including cognitive deterioration and possible degeneration into Alzheimer’s Disease). However it is when the narrative includes an element of ‘why should I be the only one suffering’ that the foundation is laid for schadenfreude hostility. Schadenfreude is defined as deriving personal joy from the suffering of others. Studies have indicated that this individual derives a dopamine boost from schadenfreude thoughts and behavior! Thus the condition is perpetuated chemically. It is in fact this element which makes the condition so intractable to intervention – they are deriving high levels of dopamine (personal gratification) from schadenfreude-based cruelty.

The second element which contributes to the intractability of intervention in this condition, results from the compromised function of the pre-frontal cortex, the neurological place of reasoning. High levels of deprivation negatively affect cognitive development (in the pre-frontal cortex). High levels of deprivation also result in raised levels of cortisol which again, negatively affects the development (myelination) of the pre-frontal cortex. The overall result is a marked deficiency of cognitive integration required for effective reasoning. This is compounded by the fact that raised cortisol levels together with raised inflammatory mediators, negatively affect the function of the hippocampus – the place of short term memory.

Interestingly MRI studies show that in the chronic situation many of these individuals have larger amygdalae (seat of fear, anxiety, panic and rage) with smaller or atrophied hippocampi when compared to the low deprivation sample. In fact in children that have experienced high levels of deprivation, the amygdala/hippocampal ratio is significantly enlarged – a possible prognosticating index.

Loneliness and distrust result in low levels of oxytocin. Conversely, becoming part of a group sharing a belief in the same values (hatred, racism, cruelty), boosts levels of oxytocin which also results in raised dopamine levels and collective gratification. Add to this the collective deficiency of reasoning and you get a schadenfreude-driven wrecking machine which feeds on itself. It visits its hatred, terror and cruelty upon a vast spectrum of humans and animals. The terror and cruelty incorporates a need to control and dominate, probably originating from nurture deprivation and self-esteem issues. These traits further contribute to the driving momentum.

There is no current lasting clinical ‘cure’ for this destructive neuro-degenerative condition other than radical psychosurgery. Ethical and logistical challenges however preclude this modality of intervention becoming a viable consideration at this time (even though there are a good number of amygdalae that we’re just itching to excise!). The logical ‘civilized’ intervention includes initial instruction and mentoring with emphasis on the negative consequences of hateful and/or cruel behavior. This should be underpinned by the provision of authentic facts and the neutralization of intrinsic biases and prejudices (elimination of deletion, distortion and generalization of information).

Failing this, prescribed appropriate behavior with violation penalties/punishment becomes the next level of intervention – the carrot has failed and only the stick remains. But when all else fails, there is no alternative for unrehabilitatible, repeat offenders other than banishment to remote workcamps! The hateful condition however is inevitably unstable and self-limiting. If contained and left to its own devices it ultimately consumes itself through its own hatred and cruelty.

Archive

11 February 2018
The hateful and the cruel

2 February 2018
Neuroscience is a joke

14 January 2018
To have and to hold

1 January 2018
Superconsciousness

22 December 2017
The Lethal Cocktail of Fear with an Existential Crisis

9 December 2017
Reflections in a cemetery

3 December 2017
Go forth and multiply

15 November 2017
Reflections of a mirror

29 October 2017
Dumbing down

26 October 2017
Avoid the brain drain

4 September 2017
An authentic lead

30 August 2017
Pop

23 August 2017
Respect begins at home

16 July 2017
An awe-full story

3 July 2017
Mushroom soup

2 June 2017
Relativity, relatives and other relationships

29 May 2017
Inflamed and smoked

25 May 2017
An Ode to my Mentor

10 May 2017
Counter-evolutionary

27 April 2017
Inspire

16 April 2017
Lost in an expert fog

12 April 2017
Don't be short-changed

30 March 2017
A brAIve New World

15 March 2017
The problem with Gus

12 March 2017
United in Energy

5 March 2017
Transcending emotions

25 February 2017
In the blink of an eye

25 February 2017
The real story about emotions

27 January 2017
Meditation Re-visited

21 January 2017
As a light to a flame

31 December 2016
Drowning in snake oil

24 December 2016
In the glow of an aura

19 December 2016
Mindfully yours

14 December 2016
Time to transcend the Flat Earth Society

4 December 2016
Prejudice and other violations

20 November 2016
Lighting up the Abyss

12 November 2016
Embrace the Zeitgeist and Transcend

9 November 2016
A Curious Life

8 October 2016
Perhaps we ought to read the stars?

22 September 2016
The truth about truth

27 August 2016
Conscious Integration

21 August 2016
The Toxicity of the Social Media

3 August 2016
Time to Integrate

24 July 2016
I Believe ...

16 June 2016
Crime, punishment and the brain

4 June 2016
The Essence of Effective Leadership

22 May 2016
Engage with the Eloquence of Neuromodulation

15 May 2016
Peer Reviewed Publications: A Trust Issue

28 April 2016
A Cathartic Therapeutic Moment

11 March 2016
Gateway to Consciousness

9 November 2015
Drivers of Success and Effective Leadership

2 November 2015
A Two-Point Solution

20 October 2015
All Black Rugby: The Eloquence of Applied Neuroscience

8 October 2015
In Mitigation of Limiting Deprivation Determinants

20 September 2015
Lamenting our intellectual malaise

13 August 2015
Respectful Intervention

25 July 2015
The Creative Leadership Zone

16 May 2015
Coaching to Pleasure

6 May 2015
Glowing the Void - Thoughts under a May Full Moon

1 April 2015
Context and Integration

7 February 2015
Add some Awe and become Awesome

11 January 2015
Effective Intervention

3 January 2015
The re-emergence of the right hemisphere

26 November 2014
Where is consciousness?

11 May 2014
A Strong Determinism

15 February 2014
The Physiology of Mindfulness

16 August 2013
The Triple Wheel Combination Model of Value-based Leadership

1 June 2013
Authenticity and Leadership

13 January 2013
The Neurobiology of Empathy

29 November 2012
Neuroplasticity

8 June 2012
The brain as a deterministic blueprint

21 April 2012
That 'Aha' Moment

17 April 2011
Rewarding Value

28 December 2010
The Dangers of Cyber-space

27 November 2010
Enhancing Gratification

23 June 2010
Systemic Degeneration

14 June 2010
Meaning and Purpose

3 June 2010
Medical Challenges