Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The Biology of Good and Evil
We all wonder what makes somebody good or evil. How can anyone treat another person so badly? Paul J. Zak gives a TED talk about the biology of good and evil. Paul mentions a few different factors that can make a human act in a way that is evil. Some humans can't feel any empathy at all, they have become psychopaths. Others have had a childhood where they didn't receive the love and care they needed which has made them not able to love others well. The third factor Paul J. Zak mentions is stress, we all know how stress can take a good person and make him/her evil in the moment. We easily yell at others and loose our temper when we are under a lot of stress and suddenly we are able to display behaviors that we would never display in a situation without stress.
The question we all ask ourselves is:"What can we do to help people become more loving and less evil?" Paul J. Zak suggests that we do things regularly that will lead to oxytocin being released in other people. We can say "I love you" often to our own family members, care for someone and help others whenever we can. That's the easy part. The more difficult part is that we also need to show love and care to those who are difficult to love if we want to see change in them. Examples of people who can be difficult to love are drug addicts, or people who have difficulty trusting others because of childhood trauma. A more extreme example is children who display what psychologists call "psychopathic tendencies" due to serious mistreatment received from the parents. After therapy and strong loving relationships even children like these have been able to become fully functioning adults.