Homosapiens are One F–ked-Up Species!
It should be well-known that a common human tendency is to not assess our own strengths and weaknesses accurately. It is often an advantage to have other trusted individuals provide us with their perspectives about us when we attempt to do an objective self-assessment.
I think this is also true when most humans attempt to assess the strength’s and weaknesses of their own species, the Homosapien.
A friend of mine, another Ph.D. practicing Psychologist, with 40 plus years of experience and I were discussing the recent murder of nine black Christians in a bible class in South Carolina by another crazed (and racist) barbarian.
My colleague told me that, when his patients/clients ask him how people could do some of the awful things they do to others, he now states the title of this blog (which I borrowed from him) to them.
My colleague said he frequently softens this exclamation, but added that the profanity included carried “the emotional punch” he often wants to create with his statement. I agree with him on this matter.
On the other hand, it might be said that we both have a slanted perspective on this matter. After all, people do not come to see us unless they personally have a problem or someone is treating them badly. I believe this perspective is incorrect, my colleague and I both live in a broader social environment and have done so for a great many more hours than we send working as therapists. I will simply leave it to world history to counter this skeptical remark.
My friend and I are not the first to confess such thoughts. Albert Ellis argued that humans are basically irrational. Ellis developed an early form of cognitive therapy designed to correct his patient’s deeply held and automatic irrational beliefs that caused them to feel anxious, depressed, frustrated and angry. Ellis identified numerous common irrational beliefs that underlay so much of humanities self-defeating/self-abusive behaviors. See the following: http://changingminds.org/explanations/belief/irrational_beliefs.htm
Considering the various bad behaviors that human’s often demonstrate from a different perspective, Homosapiens are very intelligent creatures who developed a language that they often use it to cleverly deny their own very obvious basic animal nature. In other words, we have propagandized ourselves into thinking that we are something special and apart from the conditioning and learning laws and principles that shape the behavior patterns of all of the animals on earth. At times we are also prone to deny the genetic influences on our behavior, now well-documented by science.
We call ourselves humans and, though we are often quick admit that we are not perfect…and we may point to the worse examples of human imperfections (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Jack the Ripper, etc., etc.,), we are far more likely to say positive things about our own human nature. We speak glowingly about we homosapiens: our great intelligence and wisdom, arts, literature, sciences, technologies, various humanitarian efforts and accomplishments, and so much more.
Beyond all of this, many of us believe that we are the children of God and that we are very special among all other creatures in the universe. We claim to be made in God’s image, given stewardship of the earth and dominion over all other animals.
It is important to note that scientific evidence is accruing that humans who hold such beliefs and follow the teachings their benevolent God, are more likely to be mentally and physically healthier, happier. and well-behaved than those who do not.
But, my colleague and I, both of us Christians, are mindful that humans remain animals imbued with strong tendencies toward mistaken inferences, self-delusions, and the denial of reality. Also certain that certain pathogenic histories of learning (abuse, neglect, abandonment and psychological trauma) commonly cause us to become hopelessly dependent upon others who neglect and abuse us; compulsively involved with substances and activities that harm or kill us; or cause us to neglect, abuse, neglect, abandon, traumatize, or even kill our offspring and others around us.
In addition to the many good things that homosapiens have done, we have also invented a massive technology that we have used to poison, abuse and destroy life on planet earth. Also, just like other micro-organisms living in their smaller ecosystems, we mindlessly consume the finite energy resources available to us and spread our pollution world-wide with little regard for the quality of life for all life forms beyond our own life-spans.
Another counter-intuitive observation about homosapien “wisdom” has been made by historians of human behavior patterns at sociocultural levels. They have recorded that there is a political tendency for humans to seek freedom from tyranny. But, when this is achieved, in the form of a democracy, within roughly 200 years the tendency is to seek more tyrannical forms of governance.
See the following for this idea pertaining to the dwindling life-span of our own American Democratic Republic. Other more contemporary intellectuals have made similar arguments.
How does this perspective relate to what is happening to America now?
I hope you will think about all of this.
I will return with a continuation of these basic concerns about the nature of us Homosapien animals.
V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.