Re: Making people passive

Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 30 Sep 1999 15:44:55 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 30 Sep 1999, Cynthia wrote:

> Most people who have violence problems are losers too. So it seems
> reasonable to conclude that out of control violence is part of a bigger
> problem.

Well, presumably most violence derives from wanting to get something you can't get any other way, or control your environment, or perhaps in response to a perceived lack of control of your own life.

> I think that most of us have genes for violence, but those genes are kept
> in check by other genes. The ability to imagine the pain of others and
> feel sympathy, is one thing that keeps violent tendencies in check.
> Another is fear of the consequences.

Sure, you have those people who are sociopaths (emotionally dead) and those people who sense emotion, realize right & wrong, etc. and chose to ignore them for reasons of greed (but are kept in check for fear of the consequences).

Genes could be invovled in these conditions as well as those genes that determine things like adrenelin/testosterone levels, breakdown rates, etc.

This is in no way to discount the social aspects (we may pursue violent behaviors because in environments in which we grew up, violence was acceptable).
> So a high tendency for violence coupled with some other deficiencies, is
> what adds up to a big violence problem. So the treatment shouldn't consist
> of making violent persons passive. What we need to do is increase their
> mental capibility so that they can control themselves. And if necessary,
> tone down their violent tendencies down into the normal (but not passive)
> range.

The question becomes what is a normally "acceptable" level of violence in different environments. Presumably as our environments become safer and more secure, the need for violence is diminished. In that respect you either need to continually increase the control or decrease the "set-point" for violent behavior.

I think what you are asking for is conscious control over acts of violence. If you take the case of the family, I believe in the Netherlands, that had a genetic defect for adrenelin breakdown, such that their adrenelin levels would go off the normal scale, I would strongly question whether "conscious" control is feasible. The question becomes, whether people who have violent tendencies in our society have less severe forms of similar gene defects.

> And who can object to making people smarter???

The book/play "Flowers for Algernon", I believe addresses this. If a person is less-smart and happy, making them smarter may not be the best thing to do if it causes them to realize all of the problems of the world and thus become sad.