Chapter 10 Narrative

Chapter 10 Narrative - Narrative by Paul Burkhart Chapter 5...

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Narrative by Paul Burkhart Chapter 5 defined aggression as physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone. This excludes auto accidents, dental treatments, sidewalk collisions, and assisted suicide. It includes slaps, direct insults, even gossipy “digs,” and by having people decide how much to hurt someone, such as how much electric shock to impose. Animals exhibit social aggression, characterized by displays of rage, and silent aggression, as when a predator stalks its prey. Social and silent aggression involve separate brain regions. In humans, psychologists label the two types “hostile” and “instrumental” aggression. Hostile aggression springs from anger, its goal is to injure. Instrumental aggression aims to hurt only as a means to some other end. Most murders are hostile. Approximately half erupt from arguments, while others result from romantic triangles or brawls under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Freud speculated that human aggression springs from a self-destructive impulse. It redirects toward others the energy of a primitive death urge, which he called the “death instinct.” This follows the theory that aggressive energy is instinctual (unlearned and universal). If not discharged, it supposedly builds up until it explodes or until an appropriate stimulus “releases” it, like a mouse releasing a mousetrap. The imbalanced focus on releasing aggressive tendencies helps explain why more people were killed in twentieth century wars than in all prior wars. The idea that aggression is an instinct collapsed as the list as supposed human instincts grew to nearly 6,000 in 1924. The Social scientists had tried to explain social behavior by naming it. Instinct theory also fails to account for variations in aggressiveness from person to person or culture to culture. Because aggression is a complex behavior, no one spot in the brain controls it. But researchers have found neural systems in both animals and humans that facilitate aggression. When the scientists activate these areas in the brain, hostility increases; when they deactivate them, hostility decreases. Docile animals can thus be provoked into rage, and raging animals into submission. Scientists have found that the prefrontal cortex, which acts like an emergency brake on deeper brain areas involved in aggressive behavior, was 14 percent less active than normal in nonabused murderers and 15 percent smaller in the antisocial men. As other studies of murderers and death-row inmates confirm, abnormal brains can contribute to abnormally aggressive behavior.
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