Wretched humanity or humans?

The Gods, who are immortal, are not fretted, that, in a long eternity, they must always bear with such a numerous wicked world nay, further, they always take care of it. Yet you who are presently to cease from being, must be fretted and tired with it, tho’ you are one of these wretched creatures yourself!

-Marcus Aurelius

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Wretched humanity or humans?

Your resolution?

It ‘s that time of the year. Everyone runs around aimlessly trying to make something out of what is left of this year. They try to resolve their unfinished business this year, so that on the 1st they can be able to start anew.

They won’t be able to start anew.

You can’t finish in 2 days what you couldn’t do in the rest 360 something. You probably won’t be able to do it next year as well. It’s not as simple to change.

New year – new me? Bullshit.

You have all human traits of character in yourself already. They are just showing only to a certain extent. Technically, you would be able to change something, but really, you can’t do it. You won’t do it. It’s too easy to just stay as you are, to not break the loop in which you comfortably put yourself. Chances are the next year you will be even a bigger loser than this year. Who knows. Maybe you won’t.

I won’t try to kill this initiative though, this motivation that only arises when the deadline is so close it feels physical. Wanting something different isn’t bad. Trying to acquire it isn’t bad either. It’s just that it won’t happen. But lying to yourself can sometimes be a good thing as well.

Your resolution?

Crooked sense of justice pt. 1: punishing the guilty

0c1d178d50f2020617b2608b6864074dYou can punish a very dangerous criminal by imprisoning him for a long period of time, sometimes even sentenced for a life in prison, or punishing him by death, or to say more directly, by killing him. But who gives permission to one person to kill and forbids someone else to do the same thing?

By very dangerous criminals I will infer to those who committed crimes against humanity, to serial killers, and other very dangerous offenders. Also, I will be speaking about the death penalty. 

Is it right to punish a person by inflicting the same thing back on them? If I accidentally step on your foot, I might allow you to step on mine in return. I think this will only serve to your feeling better about the situation, it would give you the feeling of revenge. It might even condition my fear of stepping on someone’s foot ever again, I would be afraid to not get stepped on again. But if you stomp my foot so hard it breaks, would that be right?

Utilitarian theory holds that the punishment cannot exceed the evil done. Then, if someone goes on a killing spree and leaves a number of bodies behind, does that mean this someone should be killed that amount of time? This situation might be seen from different perspectives: first, the victim or their relatives. Since an evil has been done to them, they want justice to be restored, and the perpetrator should be punished and suffer for what he has done. Let’s say he would get a life sentence. Second, from the offender’s point of view. If he were to think technically and not from an emotional point of view in which the families would have been left without a person they cherished or a source of income, he freed those people from the burdens of life. It might even leave him confused since those people are now at peace while he will have to suffer.

Then, should those offenders be killed before they can commit any crime? If there is a hint of criminal tendencies in someone’s behavior, should we isolate them and “treat” them, or should we just “eliminate” them?

What is the point, then, to get rid of a person only after the deed was done? Yes, to stop that person from continuing destructive actions. But then, if we kill the killer, doesn’t that make us killers too? Don’t we also become that from which we try to cleanse the world?

 

Crooked sense of justice pt. 1: punishing the guilty

Why psychopaths just can’t care less

Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by a profound lack of empathy and elevated instrumental aggressive behaviour. This trait is mostly due to a dysfunction in the amygdala, the area of the brain that is responsible for fear and that also lights up when it comes to empathy. In a study published in the journal Brain, MRI was used to study the neurological response to witnessing the emotions and actions of others and how that influences one’s motor and somatosensory cortices in individuals with psychopathy (Meffert, Gazzola, den Boer, Bartels, Keysers, 2013). A number of studies provide evidence that psychopaths display reduced physiological responses to social emotional stimuli and recognize less accurately emotions in the faces or voices of others.

The study subjects were asked to watch short clips of a pair of hands interacting with each other. The gestures were either neutral: shaking hands, loving: one hand caressing the other, or hurtful: one hand is slapped with a ruler. Some more complex gestures included a hand gently approaching the other just to be violently pushed away. The actions performed in the clips were of emotional, goal- oriented nature, therefore meant to induce vicarious activation of motor, somatosensory and emotional brain regions. The same actions were then performed with the subjects’ hands. Psychopathic individuals’ responses were much lower than those of the control group, that is, less activity manifested in the temporal, insular, parietal and frontal lobe. When explicitly encouraged to emphasize with the actors on the screen, the differences in the neural responses of psychopathic individuals and those of the control group were greatly reduced.

This study sheds new light on the neural basis of psychopathy, showing that the individuals suffering of it are not completely incapable to emphasize, but rather do not do so spontaneously. In other words, if empathy would be a switch, for most of the neurotypical population it would be turned on, while for psychopaths it would be turned off.

This discovery may serve as a new starting point in showing that therapeutic efforts do not need to be based on the effort of creating the ability to empathize, but rather on how to make it more automatic. However, it is yet unclear how to do so. Low motivation for change and less compliance with therapy of psychopathic individuals will represent an unfortunate challenge in such efforts.

Why psychopaths just can’t care less

How many dead people can keep a secret?

keep_secretsIn this day and age to be able to guard a secret is a privilege. It could take no longer than 5 minutes to find detailed information about any person or topic, be it by looking it up on the internet, asking the right person or getting your hands on the needed documents.

But if a secret is trusted to someone, what could keep that someone from revealing it? Fear? Love? I read these wise words somewhere: you can control fear, but not love. If someone fears you, you have the upper hand, but it doesn’t work the same way with love – it can disappear very quickly if a wrong move is made.

I had people reveal secrets I told them not to – because of their anger, or just because they felt the need to say something during a conversation – and it made me disappointed. It made me realize that to keep a secret safe you can trust it to only one person: yourself.

How many dead people can keep a secret?

Hello, Monster

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In the vast ocean of Korean dramas and TV shows I had the luck to stumble upon two amazing television series: Liar Game and I Remember You/ Hello, Monster. About the first one I will maybe talk some other time, this post, however, will be dedicated to the latter, as it is still fresh in my mind.

The story follows two brothers, separated at a very young age by a serial killer who murdered their father. At first, I thought that this action was just an impulse psychopaths in these kind of situations just cannot resist, as the story evolved, however, I came to understand the motives behind the actions of this character. The father of these two brothers considered one of them a genius monster, conclusion that led to locking this young boy in a room where he would provide him with the correct kind of education. Fortunately, this separation didn’t weaken the brothers’ bond.

The father’s reasoning can’t be blamed as he only deduced facts from his son’s behaviour. It happened after the little boy, Hyun, was caught burrying a dead animal’s corpse. The father might not have been wrong calling his son a monster, if we keep in mind that the boy found himself in this kind of situation before and that psychopathic traits manifest themselves in children at a young age.

The serial killer, Lee JoonYoung (let’s abbreviate LJY to make reading easier), learned about this situation when Hyun confessed to him that the real monster is actually his little brother, Min. Later, after killing the father, LJY decides to raise Min himself noticing that he and this boy are alike.

Years later, Hyun and LJY meet again, the second having raised Min as an attorney and a serial killer like himself. When Hyun confronts the psychopath about who could have handled the younger brother better, I wondered about which decision could have been better: a genius, but small boy educating a younger psychopath, or a psychopath serial killer raising a boy just like him.

Certainly, psychopathy is not only defined by nature, but also by nurture. Even if this deviation from the norm resides in the structure of the brain and the way it functions, the environment in which a young child is placed influences his behaviour as well. This is exactly the factor that can differentiate a serial killer from a white-collar criminal or a con man. Or a neuroscientist.

Really, I don’t know what would have been the right decision and what to do with the boy. Maybe to teach him to be smart enough to not get himself into trouble. How do you even raise a young monster?

Hello, Monster