Friday, 14 June 2013

The empathic breakdown through manipulation

Laurie Penny was interviewed this week by the Artist Taxi Driver for his documentary in progress, 'This is not a recession, this is a robbery' and she made two great and fascinating points; the first was about the erosion of empathy being part of the capitalist project and how psychological damage that is being created by society is never factored into mental illness.

A fascinating statement and one I believe rings true. To lack empathy is to be a psychopath and may explain the decisions made by the people running this planet.

Empathy is hardwired into us and the RSA, Empathic Civilisation, explains this brilliantly. We witness it during everyday occurrences without noticing we are doing it, any time you have watched a spider crawl across someones arm and got that shivery feeling, that is empathy or when you see someone take a particularly hard tackle during a sporting event and you can "feel the pain", it is our empathic capabilities coming through.

What the war criminals and scoundrels seem to be doing is re-wiring our empathic civilisation to desensitise us to the horrors they conduct on our behalf the world over.

These claims may sound like psycho babble to some but there is a weight of evidence out there to prove the brains ability be re-wried according to its environment.  One such study has been conducted and reported by the Daily Mail of all agencies into the increasingly aggressive appearance of Lego characters today and that they may be harming a child's development. A documentary called Secret History of the Brain: Emotion, also covered this aspect of violence and programming of children. This showed scenes of children playing nicely together who then witness an adult attack a doll. They then replicate this behaviour with the most violent reactions occurring if the adult is of the same sex. It is called the bobo doll test and perhaps unsurprisingly the results were repeated by children who witnessed the same violence on television as opposed to witnessing it in the flesh. These reactions can be tempered by empathy as it develops within us as we reflect upon what we witness, the problem is the constant bombardment and violent environment we live in is hampering this. The problem is 360ยบ immersive advertising and is investigated at length by the documentary Consuming Kids.

Make him angry, he'll make you angry

The re-wiring of the brain has also been discussed recently on BBC R4 which has been running a series called The Science of Music. The latest episode asked the question on how our brains are re-wired through music and explained that musicians are the perfect example of how the brain can be re-programmed according to what it called environment. We are all products of our environment whatever you may think.

By flooding our environment with violence, demonising the poor and highlighting our cultural differences, the establishment is able to manipulate and control us and our feelings, so that we are less likely to share empathy with people put into poverty by our governments, killed by our governments and arbitrarily locked away by our governments. We have to start seeing that we are more alike than we are different and that there are no problems but human problems, we are empathic by nature but it is being destroyed through nurture. An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

You can follow Laurie Penny and The Artist Taxi driver on Twitter; @PennyRed and @chunkymark

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