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Origins of Violence
A real life incident in which a phony cop induces a chain-restaurant owner to investigate an employee he accused of stealing from customers provides substantial support for these two social scientists. “Officer Scott” visited a restaurant and asked for the manager. When she arrived, he simply stated that an employee had been stealing from customers and that it would be simpler for everyone if the employee were searched on the premises. Officer Scott claimed to have the manager’s boss on his cell phone. The 18 year old female employee was strip-searched with no money found. At that point, Officer Scott induced the manager’s fiancé to watch over the employee when the manager claimed she had to take care of something out front. That something was to call her boss who was shocked by what the manager said. Meanwhile Officer Scott had induced the manager’s fiancé to rape the employee.
Extended Book Review.

Bruce D. Perry, MD & PhD, Maia Szalavitz, Journalist specialist in science and Health.

Perry was trained in the psychoanalytic school but you would never know it the way he lets his clients teach him. He readily ditches diagnoses of others if they do not seem to fit. He digs deeply into the nitty-gritty of the family and social environment that led to calls for therapy looking for the real issues and the how and when each problem child suffered trauma. He shares his insights into how brains develop in babies and children through the first three most-vulnerable years. Even mild neglect can have lasting and distorting consequences for the child if it is at all repetitious. One of his critical keys is to look at each case from the child's point of view.

The message to be taken away is that nurturing in otherwise healthy individuals can trump genetics if it is negative enough. In short, sociopaths are made, not born.
Every red- or blue-blooded American should face up to our place in the world. If we don't, the march of history will soon do it for us. Not only do our national debt and congressional paralysis look bad, but our basic morality is going the way of the Romans. Read on and decide for yourself.

"As we cope with downturns in American power in the world and the American economy at home, there is much talk about reviving, renewing, rescuing, or redefining the American Dream. We would be better off facing the anguish inherent in the American Dream. Once we recognize that the dream has always been dependent on domination, we can see what fundamental changes are necessary to avoid a planetary nightmare. The American Dream - Professor Robert Jenson.
Extensive extracts from: An Interview with Martha Stout

For the complete original see: Book Browse

How do you spot a sociopath?

A sociopath has no conscience, no ability to feel shame, guilt or remorse. Since 1 in 25 ordinary Americans is a sociopath, you almost certainly know one or more than one already. How can you recognize him or her?

  • Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they live only to dominate others and win.
  • They often have a kind of glow or charisma that makes them more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They are more spontaneous, more intense, complex, or even sexier than everyone else.
  • They crave stimulation and excitement, often show brief intense enthusiasms that they later drop.
  • They are seductive, encourage others to take risks.
  • They will tell you that you are just like them. Don't believe it.

Two previous studies (2003 and 2009) were done on the Internet relating monotheism to violence. Here we add additional data that permit a deeper look. Toward that end the same eight "religions" (Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, Atheism as a control, Hinduism, and Confucianism) along with four phrases:
  • "religious violence,"
  • "ethnic violence,"
  • "religious intolerance,"
  • "ethnic intolerance,"
were used. The word pairs were not connected by "and" as in the earlier studies--inserting "and" returned virtually no data. The tabulated columns pay attention to the "Atheism Ratio" which ranks the various religions relative to Atheism on a per-capita basis. Google and Yahoo were used to develop the associations between the number of returns (as proxy for actual events) and the religion/violence phrases.

To say the least, we were surprised by the results. When paired with Judaism on both search engines, all phrases, positive or negative, returned top results relative to atheism and the other seven religions.
Updated 28 April 2010

The bad news is that the polarization really has grown multiples worse over the last six years and is now in extreme territory.

The good news is that we seem to have a president who is trying to reverse this dire trend. This page extends an early study of Monotheism and Violence.
Updated 29 June 2008

From an apogee between 2001 and 2006, when much of Islam either supported al Qa'ida or joined it, to its present shell of its former self, one wonders what happened. Thanks to the Sunnis, al Qa'ida was at least temporarily chased out of Iraq. The Surge didn't do it; al Qa'ida is on the defensive virtually everywhere.
The focus of this discipline is on how we get through each day smoothly in pursuit of social order. Without thinking about it, we employ various strategies to avoid confrontational situations, or if that is not possible, to avoid humiliation and loss of self respect. It is all about preserving one's self-esteem and image.
Extended Book Review [Reviewer’s Commentary]

Authors have various perceptions from different angles as to the origins of violence. Arendt addresses the macro aspects of violence as they play out among nations. Her perspectives are mainly national or international in nature. Yet she uses terms that will be familiar as manifestations of Authoritarian Personality as discussed on this web site.
We posit that aggression along with conventionalism and obedience are genetic in origin. These are the traits that Authoritarian Personalities wear on their sleeves, and we now propose they have their origins in the jungle and savanna. We are not yet in a position to say the genes controlling these features do so via hormones, but that is a very reasonable possibility, especially for violence.
The Psychopaths Among Us
Robert Hare
Extended Book Review

Marvelous rendition, very readable and accessible by any who might be interested. Hare is a world-class resource for what ails humanity. At once scientific and down to earth, he presents a readable account of a, perhaps “the”, primary danger in our times. The dangerous psychopaths are those who are socially smooth and ingratiating on the one hand, but who are devious exploiters and defilers on the other. The metaphor might well be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One never knows until s/he is stung and by then it is too late. The psychopath is in it only for him/herself. Nothing else matters. They populate all societies.
"The System" defined by Zimbardo is so pervasive it is proper to give it a special name. Phillip Zimbardo first identified, then illustrated how EVIL it can be. He lived the system in his laboratory and later participated in the defense of a sergeant victimized by the American system at Abu Ghraib. The Abu Ghraib System condemns the lowest-level actors only. The hierarchy is immune from punishment, even if its designers created the system and gave the orders orally.
Stephen Coote
Book Review With Commentary

Coote does a marvelous job of "novelizing" history. His book is just plain interesting to read. Instead of names, dates and places, the usual history fare, Coote brings Napoleon to life. His personal failings are woven into his military genius in unforgettable ways. Napoleon was an accomplished Authoritarian a dozen decades before the personality was defined and named.
Torture has been the bane of humanity. It is motivated by revenge, sociopathology, simple meanness, or in a twist the Bush Administration seems to be orchestrating, for intimidation. This fits the world-view Bush seems to be following--Dictatorship at home and dominating the world. It explains his obsession with keeping AG Gonzales in his job at considerable political risk.
Stanford Prison Experiment
Understanding How Good People, in Their Blind Obedience, Turn Evil.
Philip Zimbardo
Book Review with commentary: by Harry Rosenberg

(Zimbardo's results predicted Abu Ghraib!)

The Problem Is Not About Bad Apples In A Barrel,
It Is About Bad Barrels.

Philp Zimbardo in reference to Abu Ghraib
A New American Dream

by William Pfaff:
May 16, 2004 by The Observer

Now the Most Powerful Nation, the US Feels Destiny has Chosen It to Remake the World

[Commentary] on excerpts 31 May 2007

The United States and Britain have an Iraq crisis on their hands, but the US has something worse, a crisis of thought and assumption in the mainstream intellectual community over foreign policy.
Willaim Pfaff; Tribune Media Services International.

31 May 2007

Selected excerpts on how to murder a nation while saving it. [Commentary]

"Paris, April 26, 2007 –

The disputed wall in Baghdad, meant to separate Sunnis from Shia, is the admission, as if another were needed, that the situation in Iraq is out of American control. It is a desperate measure, taken in despair of anything better.
The path to world dictatorship [and world dominance?]

Except perhaps for Pax Romana, perpetual war describes human history. The human being, the consummate predator, having vanquished its natural enemies, turns on himself. HIMself is used for war and violences are mainly male endeavors, which is not to say females cannot behave similarly. They can and they have--a teen-age girl-warrior left an indelible mark on French history, and high profile murderers can be women as well as men.
Editorial

26 April 2007

There is a correlation. Of the four former British colonies and Britain, Britain has the tightest restrictions on gun ownership. The US has the least restrictive laws of all.
23 April 2007

For a week now, Virginia Tech has held us spellbound and horrified. A quiet University reacted as well as it could to a new frightful event. A massacre is not a unique or new event in America. It is, however, the most serious and deserves introspection of the most careful kind. We have, as a society, several approaches. Lock down, to borrow a phrase in the news, on all public educational institutions; review security standards; identify and track poeple medically certified as "possibly violent;" tighten gun control laws or banish them altogether; look for and fix the roots of individual violence; limit gun ownership to those willing to complete safety courses in their handling. All the above.
Posted 23 June 2006; Updated 17 Mar 2007

The play acting was supposed to be benign, as play acting usually is. As if by the stroke of a magic wand, Philip Zimbardo proved otherwise in 1971 in his now-famous Stanford Prison Experiment. His two-week study of the psychology of incarceration had to be called off on the sixth day because the conditions of Abu Ghraib had developed of their own accord. For some of his later commentary see: Stanford News Service.
Updated 10 Apr 2009

Martha Stout (Martha Stout is a practicing psychologist and a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.)

Extended Book Review With Commentary By Harry Rosenberg

Engaging, enlightening, and frightening--all at once. If there is no sociopath next door, then surely there is one on our street. Four percent of us, one in 25, according to Stout, have many or all the earmarks of a sociopath.
As used on this site: A belief system adhered to by many in a coherent, concise manner. Communism, Confucianism, capitalism, atheism, extremism, authoritarianism, and monotheism are examples. while this singular word captures one essence of RTP, it is not intuitively abvious enough. Peace will only come as a society-wide peace-ism. Establishing and naming that "ism" remains.
9/11 was accomplished primarily by 16 nationals of Saudi Arabia, counting bin Laden himself as an active participant. They were not sponsored by the Kingdom; rather they were radicalized, at least in part, by the feudal regime.
Book Review with commentary
America, The Cold War, And The Roots Of Terror
Mahmood Mamdani

The title is a bit misleading; the subtitle captures the essence of this book. The title becomes clear late in the book, where former allies changed from good to bad by turning on us. And of course, whether another person is good or bad depends on which side we are on.
A Parable For Our Times

The setting is an East End Pub

Editorial

War and Peace

If Humanity does not change,
it will destroy itself.

HG Wells
Stanley Milgram added a punctuation mark to the pioneering efforts by Adorno and his co-authors. Yes, one can be too obedient--and not even know it. Close study of Milgram's full article is highly recommended for his insights apply today just as they did a half century ago. In fact Milgram found something very disturbing in both its concept and timelessness:
Research so far and the religious face of terror today provide strong evidence that the solution to the phenomenon of terror will not come through war among monotheisms.
Views of others
Book Review with Excerpts

Critically important. Rationalizes findings of Road to Peace. [Editor]
Ashutosh Varshney, "Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life," illustrates that ethnic integration at all levels provides positive results.
"One billion people live on less than one dollar a day; one billion people go to bed hungry every night; a quarter of the world's people never get a clean glass of water;
Updated 18 May 2008

Public figures in the US have called suicide terrorists crazy cowards. They say that the goals of such terrorists are senseless destruction and that terrorists thrive in poverty and ignorance. President Bush called the 9/11 hijackers "evil cowards."
Updated 4 July 2007

Along with Alienation, an important element of the radicalization process for terrorists is simply humiliation where one person or society lords it over others individually and as groups.
Updated 23 Jan 2010, Sept 2013.

Perceived Rates of Violence are Apparently Associated with Religion when driven by psycho-sociopathic personalities. The religious involvement is not new to us. It is a fact of history most of us would deny from our conscience. See for example: Religious Tolerance for a list of atrocities from 1450 CE to 1903. Violence arises from other causes as well and some are discussed on this reference.

If Humanity does not change, it will destroy itself.
H G Wells
Causes of Terrorism

Along with Humiliation, alienation promotes the state of mind many terrorists themselves report as being significant to their radicalization.
The roots of the current violence [between Palestinians and Israelis] extend much deeper than an inconclusive summit conference.
Israeli leaders do not wish to be perceived as "rewarding violence." Palestinian leaders do not wish to be perceived as "rewarding occupation."
In this report, the dialogue leader for the North Ireland Peace Accord reports his observations.