Tuesday, November 21, 2017

There is no "Real You." There is no "Real" Anybody.

Ever hear someone say something to the effect of "I thought I knew him/her but obviousdly not-she/he really revealed who he/she really is that day in that one moment. 20 years of knowing them (well, thinking I did) and it all goes away in an instant. How could I be so blind? Or were they just lying the whole time?

Maybe you have said something like that yourself.


The deeper truth that a few philosophers, neuroscientists and psychonauts know is that there is no "real you." There is no "real anybody." All there is is tendencies governed by momentary situational factors. You might not see a certain behaviour in someone until 20 years into a relationship and this is not because they are hiding the "real them" but because the specific set of circumstances in play at the time of the behaviour had not existed in that exact form at any other time.

A pedestrian example is irritability when tired (which many people share). A "nice" person may be great 23 hours a day but a real shitbag between 7-8am. Which one is the "real them?"

A less pedestrian example is a self proclaimed (and seemingly objectively so) pacifist slapping his girlfriend in the face eight years into their relationship during a really bad fight. He had never, EVER shown any signs that this was possible nor had he ever hit anyone else in that eight years- wow, I guess you just don't know who someone "really is" even if you think you do. You had not seen that behaviour because those exact circumstances had not yet come into play. Not once before had you ever been in a major fight following infidelity and the death of his mother and found yourself making an egregious, incredibly hurtful comment about his other's death. And it's possible you may never see that type of reaction from him again. So which one is the "real him?" The "pacifist" or the (duhn duhn duhn) "abuser (#metoo)?"

Answer: It's all him.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Temporary Insanity" Is a Legal Term But Not A Valid Psychological Concept

This is a short summation of the circumstances surrounding the first ever implementation of the legal defense known as "temporary insanity:"

George Reimus built a massive bootlegging empire during prohibition. His wife was by his side during his ascent to becoming a major kingpin and he provided her with anything she ever wanted.
Reimus gets sent to prison for a short 2 year prison term. He left her in charge of his entire empire while he was incarcerated. She was his soulmate and he trusted her completely, without hesitation.
His wife starts sleeping with a new man. Within 6 months, she sold all of her husband's assets, stole all his money, and filed for divorce.
Upon his release, George was driving to his divorce hearing when he spotted his wife in another car. He forced her car off the road, then shot and killed her. He immediately turned himself in and admitted to the murder.
At his trial, he pleaded temporary insanity and won. He said this afterwards: 
It was a duty I owed society. She who dances down the primrose path must die on the primrose path. I'm happy, this is the first piece of mind I've had in years - George Reimus

The problem with this defense is the fact that it's simply not real. 

"Temporary insanity" is a legal term but isn't at all a real psychological phenomenon. In fact, in reality, there is no sanity or insanity or even a "real you." There are just moment to moment brain states which are a result of biological, chemical, physiological, environmental, etc factors.

That guy wasn't "temporarily insane." His behaviour was the end result of a specific set of factors which were in play the moment he saw his wife; the reason he had never acted that way before was simply because he has never been in that situation before. Just like when an otherwise "friendly dog" attacks someone. They aren't insane in that moment; they were acting on circumstances that hadn't been in play prior to that moment.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Another "Sexist" Warning to Women about Drinking to Excess

Article: Anti-drinking ad in university women's washroom blasted for being sexist"

My take on this nonsense that seems to be so prevalent these days? Simple:

  People too readily validate their kids' emotions from a young age; that combined with a lack of philosophical education (logic, reason, forming arguments) leads to this stuff. It's vital to teach your kids to a) challenge assumptions (others' and their own) and possibly more importantly, challenge their own emotional states. Not every moment of sadness, anger or depression (or in this case, 'offense') is reasonable or based on valid assumptions and if they don't learn to challenge them or push through/ignore them (at times, not always obviously) then they end up being like this- unreasonably offended/emotional and then acting upon this shaky foundation.