Gun violence clues lie in early childhood nurturance and neglect

So long as we dwell on red herring surface issues such as gun control, the underlying issues can never be addressed.

Has anyone noticed that none of the shooters are female?

Rather than rehash old arguments regarding gun control and mental health availability, maybe we should look into how we raise and nurture our sons, our male children in this country such that some of them explode into violence.

A late teacher of mine, Charlie Kreiner, once asked us a question I will never ever forget,

“What do you have to do to a male child such that he will agree to kill and be killed in the name of masculinity?”

I ask: “How do we engage with our adorable, delicious, joyous, and loving male children such that they grow up to perpetrate domestic violence and become killers?”

I suggest that there is a clear connection between gender-related nurturance neglect, developing emotional numbness, and the capacity of any individual to perpetrate violence.

Evidence is emerging in neuroscience literature. Watch and listen to neuroscientist VS Ramachandran speak in the TED Talk The Neurons that Shaped Civilization.

The roots of our capacity to empathize lie in early childhood and in the manner we as young children are treated, or not.

We learn that young children are born with an enormous capacity to mimic, mirror, and to reliably reproduce the world they experience. But the number of mirror motor neurons shrinks by about four years of age and their capacity to learn shrinks as well.

Emotionally neglected children do not develop into adults who have the capacity to feel the consequences of their actions.

It is impossible to feel the pain of another if your capacity to feel at all is stunted or missing altogether. Sometimes it looks like the violence perpetrated on elementary school children; other times it looks like domestic violence in the home.

Gun control is a red herring. The clues to the origins of gun violence lie in early childhood nurturance and neglect of children.

My Path to Victory Over Shame

I just got done watching Brené Brown’s TED Talk, Listening to Shame, and have an urge to be vulnerable.

If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgement. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and dose it with empathy, it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we are in struggle are, “me too.”

Brené Brown

As I read this again and again, I realize that it takes ME alone to mix the three ingredients in the first petri. Not only that, I can mix it into a great storm, without hardly any effort at all.  The three ingredients are a stair step leading me to the abyss of shame.

I fear exposing so many parts of my life. What if people knew the real me? I might not be accepted or worse yet. I might be rejected. I might not be loved. What ever it is, this part of me is so horrible, I must hide it; I must keep it a secret.

I have to keep this to myself. My lips are sealed. I can not tell a soul. Not a word to any one. Since I make a conscience decision to keep my secret, It is so easy to trip to the next step, It is the sound of silence.

And why stop, there? Let’s keep going. This secrecy, this silence is bad. I make the final dive into the abyss. I make a judgement. I am bad, I am worthless. I am not worthy of love, not from anyone, not even myself.

With no help from the outside world, I find myself in the stew of shame. As the pot roils, I am buffeted by the internal and external world. The simplest comment like, “what happened here?”, turns into a blunt instrument which I can use to further inflict pain on myself. It’s a crazy place, shame. It is no fun being there. And as much as I know that, I spend far to much of my life there.

If  I can only stop myself from going from one step to the next, anywhere along the way, it makes it much more difficult to bathe in the bone chilling waters that is shame.

Wouldn’t a shame free life be a wonderful place? Yes it would!  Over the last three months of my life, I have been somehow able to miraculously keep myself out of the stew of shame. I have to say, it is a great place to be. I might go as far to say that it is a nirvana, a little slice of heaven on earth.

I really have to make more of an effort to stay away from this dark lord. What are steps I can take to keep myself away from the dank abyss known as shame?

A wise man, once said lust hates the light. If I  expose my inner most thoughts, my inner most struggles to the light, I break the vow of secrecy. I expose a little bit more of who I am to my confidant. And in breaking that vow of secrecy, I am vulnerable.

And without the secrecy, the silence has no reason for being. What is the reason for silence if there is no secret to keep? Another step avoided.

And without the silence, the next step is that much harder to take. There are no judgements to be made. No sadness to feel. No shame to be felt.

To me, it seems my first step to shame, secrecy, holds the most power. By avoiding the whole secrecy thing, that makes the next two steps exponentially more difficult. A little vulnerability up front goes a long way in breaking my chain.

Paraphrasing the words of Mrs. Brown, vulnerability is not  a sign of weakness, it is the most accurate measure of courage. This reminds me of a magnet that my younger sister gave me that hangs in my bathroom, “Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the little voice inside that says I’ll  try again tomorrow”.

So, for me to remain healthy, I must willingly force myself to be vulnerable. And in the vulnerability, I am courageous. I can be that little voice inside my head that says, “‘I’ll try again tomorrow.”  And shame will have no power over me!

If you have made it this far, I ask you to comment, even if it is just two words. I might suggest you use  the two most powerful words in a struggle, “me too.”

The end of Domestic Violence in sight?

Synopsis: We are beginning to see a connection among mirror neuron development, the development of human empathy, and the occurrence of Domestic Violence.

Infants at birth use a large number of mirror motor neurons, a number that tapers off within the first few years of life. (This may help account for the easy acquisition of language until about age four years.) Employing mirror neurons they and we learn by mimicking and copying the actions, words, and then eventually gaining a sense emotions of the others around us. It is becoming clearer that our human capacity to empathize, to feel and to experience the emotions and pain of others is related to our mirror neuron function.

If it is true that male children are commonly nurtured in a different manner than their female siblings, then we can expect a negative impact upon the growth and development of the male child’s capacity to empathize.

If true, then it should be no surprise to us that a grown male child, an adult deficient in his (or her) capacity to experience the pain of the other will have little difficulty inflicting hurt and pain on another.

The implication as I see it: is that were we to love, touch, hold, cherish, and emotionally nourish our male children to the same degree as our female children, then the chances that our male child will grow up to batter, hurt, and use tactics of power and control may be reduced significantly, perhaps altogether.

Domestic Violence and abuse may very will cease to be.

In addition, mirror neuron development and other related factors may help us to understand other human psychological syndromes from Aspergers Syndrome to psychopathy.

War, Communion, Empathy, Domestic violence, Holons, and much more!

Tossing a number of seemingly unrelated insights into the hopper of thought produced a number of intriguing results. I would love to know of anyone you know would might like to toss ideas like these around, to explore further and see where they might lead….
Do you know of anyone – or group of anyones?
Paul Pinchas Zohav

Conjectures:

War is a dominator holarchy’s attempt to grow in complexity. But because it’s fundamental integrity stands on the suppression of some of it’s parts, War ultimately fails as a means to rise in complexity. Imperialists and Empires fall.
Marriage that is based on the suppression of one of its holon constituent parts, and including domestic violence tactics of power and control, cannot last.
Domestic violence has to be continually applied to keep a marriage holon intact, but must ultimately fail.
Similarly any nation that stands on the suppression and exploitation, of it’s holon parts, will not last. (Think of the Confederate States of America, the Soviet Union, and perhaps our modern American nation as well. )

Communion: It is the capacity of holons to increase in individual and social complexity by means of a linking process named communion.
In popular culture Communion is most often cited as a spiritual practice of the Catholic Church, an performed by a congregant in which by eating the wafer (symbolic of the Body of Christ) and drinking the wine (symbolic of the blood of Christ) causes unity with Christ and thereby experiences a reconnection to the Divine, or Salvation.
In philosophical circles my understanding of communion is that it is the experience, the medium of being, that causes, permits one or more individual or social holon/holarchies to become one, to link and form a higher-order more complex holon or holarchy.
Note: that it can be no accident that communion shares the same roots as communication and community. In the world of Be-Do-Have Communion is the from the realm of BEING that allows the DO-ing of Communication, which when fulfilled, completed allows the holon of Community, a HAVING, to arise.)

Communion:
Communion, as an expression of our universe’s tendency to organize and rise in complexity.
Social alcohol consumption appears to function as a kind of chemical based communion.
Hormonal genetic processes appear to underlay procreation through a biology-based communion (and notably, need not be dependent of thought or intelligence)
Social anger and resentment would appear to function as the glue that assembles mobs, resulting in mob behavior.
Music and spiritual social behaviors have the capacity to link holons within a concert or a church.
Fans: Those who watch or follow a given movie, TV program, sports team, fashion, political movement, and so forth become joined, at least temporarily, into a kind of social holarchy.

Empathy:

Empathy is associated in neuroscience with the development of mirror motor neurons.
Apparently human infants are born with a large number of mirror neurons and that allows infants to learn in their early years of living. Then in the first few years many neurons atrophy. This may be the reason that language, for example, is more easily acquired prior to four years of age, after which acquiring language and other skills of living need to be part of a more formal learning process.
The capacity to empathize may be highly correlated to the degree infants and toddlers are actively loved, handled, touched, and talked with.
If so, then we ought to be able to measure the difference in the average capacity to empathize between males and females. This difference, it is suggested, is a result in the different degrees of human nurturance between male and female infants.
Without the capacity to be empathic a human’s capacity to experience communion and join to become more complex holons is limited.
With a diminished empathic capacity comes the inability to link with other humans, to form good quality human relationships, to be aware of the impact of ones choices of behavior upon others. This phenomenon may help explain aspects of what has been named Asberger’s syndrome, Narcissism, psycho-sociopathic behavior, and more. It is far easier to hurt, murder, kill, dominate another if one is in some sense “immune” to the feelings of the other, the consequence of one’s chosen behavior.
Domestic Violence: A number of our citizens, many males, but not only males, appear to have a deficit in their capacity to experience the pain or joy of another. In the place of good quality empathy, force is used to manipulate and to maintain an interpersonal relationship.
Empathy also seems to be the key ingredient required for holons to move from heap to “good quality” holarchy.

If any of this intrigues you as it does me, let’s talk!
Paul@relationshipliteracy.com