Wednesday, May 09, 2012

humans as animals.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles on I’m not a comic or a video game nerd, and though I enjoy movies, I’m not fanatical about the science or the weird facts behind their making, and politics is just too complicated for my little brain. I invariably end up on the articles about people: the science of flirting, why we think the way we do, why we do the things we do, how our brains often trick us. That kind of thing. I find all that psychological and physiological stuff fascinating. Hanging around with a soon-to-be psychologist helps as well – any questions I have about how mental people are, are often fired at my friend, Niall, who’s taught me about histrionic people, how a sociopath and a psychopath are the same, and about the different ways you can motivate people.

Because of all this psychological banter, I’ve been sourcing everyone’s actions to chemicals their brain. Back to chemicals. But I’ve discovered a glitch. And maybe it’s because I’m not a psychology whizz kid and I haven’t yet had time to ask Niall about this particular facet of the human psyche. Everything you read on is hilarious, no questions asked. It’s also educational and informative. It’s very scientific. It relates everything that we do as humans back to the desire to be wanted, and the need to reproduce, which is fair enough. I get that. I get why heterosexual girls wear perfume and dresses and all that. I get why heterosexual boys try to act macho – not just because that’s what society wants, but because it’s what girls want. Girls want strong men with strong genes who can take care of them and their offspring. I mean, that might not be a conscious want, but it’s there. If you believe in all that primitive stuff. The problem, I think, with all that primitive stuff is that it leaves a gap where love should be.

You know in 500 Days of Summer and Summer says, “You don’t believe that, do you? … There’s no such thing as love – it’s fantasy.” I could never get my head around that. How can you not believe in love? Love is not a tangible thing but you know when you’ve felt it. But then maybe it’s one of those things that your brain tricks you with. Maybe all it is is chemicals and pheromones and nothing special. But I find that hard to believe. Not that I think it’s unlikely, I just don’t want to believe it. It’s tragic. Chemicals. Love doesn’t feel like chemicals. Maybe that’s its greatest deception.

But if love is just chemicals, just an illusion to encourage us to reproduce, fair enough. I mean, my brain is too uninformed to argue properly about this kind of thing. I can see both sides of the argument though. I get it.

What I don’t get is self-destruction. I don’t get suicide. Not in terms of humans as animals anyway. There’s that rumour that lemmings commit mass suicide, but we know that’s not true. But humans often commit suicide. Far too often. And I don’t get it. Well, I do. I’ve felt suicidal a hundred times. I get feeling awful and wanting to just leave. But I don’t get it in terms of humans as animals. From that biological and physiological point of view, we are here to reproduce. Self-preservation and all that. So where does self-harm come into the equation? I know that it’s a coping mechanism, but I don’t get why we need it.

I know that we are not the only animals to feel emotional pain. I know that a lot of other mammals have allegedly shed tears for their dead. We do that too. But do you think that they blame themselves and they turn to self-destruction? And if they do, why? What’s the scientific reason for slicing your arms or jumping off a bridge? I guess we want to end it all. But what is “it” anyway? Something arbitrary. Capitalism, probably.

1 comment:

  1. Well from an evolutionary psychology point of view, people fall in love to have babies and further the human race and all that. But depression and suicide, while deeply psychological phenomena, aren't evolutionary in that they don't preserve the human race. I don't know why depression exists in the first place, there are loads of theories for depression, but it is generally agreed that it's a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, precipitated by social factors and some people are genetically more vulnerable to it than others. There are probably some evolutionary theories about it, like seasonal affective disorder maybe a result of previous generations hibernating or something like that. That's the thing though, like it's the opposite of what we're meant to feel, like self-destruction as opposed to self-preservation. Figures for depression are rising all the time though. In our psych lectures they always point out that there's a higher rate of depression than cancer in europe and they expect us to be surprised even though most people are either directly or indirectly affected by it. I kind of feel that maybe in the western world anyway, people have so much time to analyse their feelings and emotions, and when you do have all that time, you tend to focus on the bad stuff and not the good. Like I'm not implying that everyone just lays around all day thinking their thoughts, but just that the majority of people have their primary needs covered, have enough food, water, shelter etc, so then everyone becomes preoccupied with what's not going right and they turn the focus inwards. And also most people are either in stressful jobs, or stressed by unemployment, or are doing tough college courses and that all adds to it. Aaaand people socialise more through facebook than face-to-face these days which just causes lonliness.

    Sorry for rambling...


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