[Paleopsych] why do we need to SEE sex and violence?

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Sat Aug 13 15:52:19 UTC 2005


Many cultures besides out have erotic literature. The Karma Sutra in 
India, the Thousand Nights and One in Arabia, the Tale of Genji in Japan.

And they all have tales of great warriors.

What's unique about the West, I think, is the notion of companionate 
marriage, as opposed to arragned marriage. Think Romeo and Juliet of 
Renaissance Italy. The West has also developed unique ideas about the self 
and moral agency. I'm trying to get a better fix on these ideas.

As far as animals go, you can find many precursors to things human. What 
is a stretch is to go from animals directly to the modern West. In fact, 
understanding the Occident (which comprises Classical, Western, and what I 
call Darwinian civilizations) is *the* problem in human history.

On 2005-08-13, HowlBloom at aol.com opined [message unchanged below]:

> Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 01:08:59 EDT
> From: HowlBloom at aol.com
> Reply-To: The new improved paleopsych list <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
> To: paleopsych at paleopsych.org
> Subject: [Paleopsych] why do we need to SEE sex and violence?
> Judging from the following item, our perceptual system  seems preprogrammed
> to stop, pause, and rivet on sights that promise sex or  threaten violence.
> Makes  sense.  Sex makes sure that when we  die our genes go marching on.
> Avoiding violence makes sure our body and mind live to see another  day.  Gawking
> at violence from a  distance hopefully helps us learn how to avoid itÿÿor
> overcome it-- in the  future.
> Now  the question is this.  Is this  fixation on violence and sex a product
> of Western Culture.  Or is it universal in humans?  If itÿÿs universal in
> humans, does it  also show up in lab rats, pigeons, and anolis lizards?  In other
> words, does it go back to a  common ancestor of birds, mammals, and lizards?
> At  what age does this phenomenon appear in humans?  When are babies able to
> perceive sex and  violence?  When do these two become  emotionally potent to
> kids?  Howard
> Retrieved August 13,  2005, from the World Wide Web
> http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7845  NewScientist.com Erotic images can turn you blind  *
> 18:09 12 August 2005 * NewScientist.com  news service * Gaia Vince
> Researchers have finally found evidence  for what good Catholic boys have known all
> along ÿÿ erotic images make you go blind. The effect  is temporary and lasts just
> a moment, but the research has added to  road-safety campaignersÿÿ calls to ban
> sexy billboard-advertising near busy  roads, in the hope of preventing
> accidents.  The new study by US psychologists found  that people shown erotic or
> gory images  frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards.
> And the  researchers say some personality types  appear to be affected more
> than others by the phenomenon, known as ÿÿemotion-induced blindnessÿÿ.  David
> Zald, from  Vanderbilt  University in  Nashville,  Tennessee, and Marvin Chun and
> colleagues  from Yale  University in  Connecticut, showed hundreds of images
> to volunteers and  asked them to pick a specific image from the rapid sequence.
> Most of the images  were landscape or architectural scenes, but the
> psychologists included a few  emotionally charged images, portraying violent or
> sexually provocative scenes.  The closer these emotionally  charged images occurred
> prior to the target image, the more frequently people  failed to spot the
> target image, the researchers found.  ÿÿWe observed that people failed to detect
> visual images that appeared one-fifth of a second after emotional images,
> whereas they can detect those images with little problem after neutral images,ÿÿ
> Zald says. Primitive brain  ÿÿWe  think there is essentially a bottleneck for
> information processing and if a  certain type of stimulus captures attention, it
> can jam up the bottleneck so  subsequent information canÿÿt get through,ÿÿ Zald
> explains. ÿÿIt appears to happen  involuntarily. The stimulus captures
> attention and once allocated to that  particular stimulus, no other stimuli can get
> throughÿÿ for several tenths of a  second.  He believes that a  primitive part
> of the brain, known as the amygdala, may play a part. That region  is involved
> in evaluating sensory input according to its emotional relevance and  has an
> autonomic role, influencing heart rate and sweating.  ÿÿIt is possible that
> emotionally-charged  stimuli produce preferential rapid routing of the impulse
> that bypasses the  slower cortical route via the amygdala," Zald told New
> Scientist. "Patients with  amygdala lesions pick out the target image without
> reacting to violent images,  although they show normal blindness reactions when
> sexual images are introduced,  which suggests another mechanism may also be
> involved.ÿÿ Harm avoiders  The researchers think emotion-induced  blindness could lead
> to drivers simply not seeing another car or pedestrian if  they have just
> witnessed an emotionally charged scene, such as an accident or  sexually explicit
> billboard.  The  effect could exacerbate the more obvious problem of drivers
> simply being  distracted by large, arresting images. "It's the responsibility
> of drivers to  ensure that when they are behind the wheel they keep their eyes
> on the job in  hand," says a spokeswoman from Brake, a  UK road safety
> organisation.  And some people are  more vulnerable than others. The study assessed
> participants using a personality  questionnaire, rating them according to
> their level of ÿÿharm avoidanceÿÿ. Those  scoring highly were more fearful,
> careful and cautious; those scoring low were  more carefree and more comfortable in
> difficult or dangerous situations.  The researchers found that those with low
> harm avoidance scores were better able to stay focused on a target image than
> those with high harm avoidance scores.  ÿÿPeople who are more harm avoidant
> may  not be detecting negative stimuli more than other people, but they have a
> greater difficulty suppressing that information,ÿÿ Zald suggests.  The Brake
> spokeswoman says companies  should think about the consequences of placing
> emotionally charged billboards at  dangerous road junctions: ÿÿWe should be
> concerned if drivers are experiencing  split-second breaks in concentration, which
> could result in an accident or death  on the roads.ÿÿ  Journal reference:
> Psychonomic Bulletin and Review (August 2005 issue) Related Articles  * Early
> blindness frees brain-power for  hearing *
> http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18524845.200 * 29 January  2005 * Porn panic over eroto-toxins *
> http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18424750.800 * 27 November 2004 *  Women's
> better emotional recall explained *
> http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2576 * 22 July 2002  Weblinks  * David Zald,  Vanderbilt University *
> http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/zalddh/zaldhomepage.htm * Marvin Chun,  Yale
> University *  http://www.yale.edu/psychology/FacInfo/Chun.html *  Brake,  UK
> road safety organisation  * http://www.brake.org.uk/ * Psychonomic Bulletin
> and Review *  http://www.psychonomic.org/PBR/  Close this window Printed on Sat
> Aug 13  05:53:57 BST 2005
> ----------
> Howard Bloom
> Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of
> History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the
> 21st Century
> Recent Visiting  Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University;
> Core Faculty  Member, The Graduate  Institute
> www.howardbloom.net
> www.bigbangtango.net
> Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic
> of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The
> Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American
> Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society,
> Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International
> Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Institute for
> Accelerating Change ; executive  editor -- New Paradigm book series.
> For information on The International  Paleopsychology Project, see:
> www.paleopsych.org
> for two chapters from
> The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,
> see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
> For information on Global Brain: The  Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big
> Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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