Joy Gallary10 months ago
wow! quite the load down. Ok well that is a popular current perspective but not one I entirely agree with. However I like your individual approach and I think personal vs political are often two different stories altogether. As far as 'hard wiring' goes I've never seen or heard any evidence, only theories to support any hard wiring in our neurological though pathways. A brain of electrical impulses and synapses.. not fixed unchangeable thought paths.. as cognitive therapy's popularity can attest. On the other hand there is a strong body of evidence in Neuropsychology for the plasticity of the human brain. It is an adaptive organ, it is possible to change so much that goes on up there in that grey matter, perhaps everything other than automated nervous system responses. There is no possible way to study human psychology and behaviour outside the paradigm of society. We are not raised in a vacuum, neither do we spend our adult lived in isolation - unless we are the most extreme hermit. However, again, I agree with you on some points. One point being: the body we inhabit affects our behaviour (that is we are an embodied self, not just an idea of a self) for a number of complex reasons both biological and sociological, and then individual psychology also plays a part including disposition or personality - hereditary traits combined with parenting. If we look at biological reasons for violent behaviour then we might find testosterone levels play a big part, but then so does diet. There have been studies done even twenty years ago that connect meat consumption and aggression levels. But testosterone alone does not account for choices in how aggressive urges are played out. Being male also means being exposed to a different set of beliefs about your body and how to use it than what being female would expose you to. Neuropsychologists have not found any difference when testing on brains of boys and girls. The differences they find in men and women's brains cannot be separated from the life choices they have made, how they spend their time, what activities they do or do not participate in, and who they spend their time with. This is where plasticity comes in. Not only can we choose to not follow base urges which occur due to a combination of hormones released and interactions with automatic parts of our brain, maybe the hypothalamus for example, but we are also choosing how to evaluate what we are 'fed' or exposed to on a daily basis. That we have certain urges as a result of biology doesn't mean our brains are 'hard wired' to make us rape people, or dominate our peers. However, our biology and hereditary tendencies make us more or less likely to choose aggressive responses to what happens around us. Girls are not all sweet passive things and nor are males all hyper aggressive. There is a biological and psychological range of aggression that crosses the sexes (ie. hormone levels, fitness and agility combined with disposition), that is then manifested in an environment/culture/society in which we grow up and live. Take a very gentle male with a quiet disposition who has good physical agility and co-ordination but is not a very large or particularly strong boy, in a nurturing intelligent creative family, with happy healthy respectful parents what are your chances he will turn out an aggressive megalomaniac? Take a strong, passionate, impulsive and practical disposition and not a very reflective thinker in a good stable family, whether male or female, and you could have a great trades woman or man, craft person, sports achiever etc. But raised in a violent, prejudiced, criminal or addiction afflicted family what will you get? Possibly a big tough disturbed bully of either sex. The worst cases are probably the first example: quiet, intelligent, sensitive kids raised in highly dysfunctional unsupportive and aggressive environments. They can turn out very conflicted damaged people ready to vent on others and may lash out unexpectedly from their quiet little corner one day never to retreat again. The same infant, taken from this household and raised by a caring relative in a secure environment could be a kind nurturing and successful person. I'l call it complexity, a nervous system, IQ capacity (the amount of grey matter we have apparently along with other genetic peculiarities in the brain affecting it's capacity to learn) combined with social environment, how smart your parents are, how much they communicate with you, what school you go to, what neighbourhood you live in, what year it is, what country, what religion. This is why society matters, politics matters, gender politics matters, media and visual arts matter. They all reflect and reflect back to us our society's beliefs, perpetuate inequality and prejudice or pull the rug out on the same and make us question what we have always believed to be true. It is not just an individual thing. We all have a social responsibility as well as a personal one. We can choose to ignore it and just worry about our own personal choices, but ultimately there is a knock on affect in everything we do because we don't live in a nice little personal capsule.