The following subject should interest some people, for the rest of you…for shame! It’s a concept known as Experiment Neurosis. When I was actually taking Psychology courses (before the Major’s structure caused me to want to write a collection of depressing poetry) there was a particular concept that I found remarkable. Remarkable both in the fact that it was true and likewise in the fact that it didn’t cause an outcry of "Ah Ha’s!" amongst the class room. I was utterly dumbfounded by the lack of connection. A connection that should hopefully be set within all of you very soon.
Now this definition is full of links that should hopefully aid anyone reading this in reaching a level of understanding that is required. It’s all pretty simple in concept which is why I like it.
Think of it this way. You have a dog (or if it helps a mean person) strapped into a box so that they cannot escape. They are presented with either a circle or an oval. If they click the button when they are presented with the circle they get something nice like food (for the mean person it could be something they like like watching babies cry) and if they click the button when its an oval they receive something not nice like a painful shock (or happy baby imagery). For those that know the terms we would call the first situation an appetitive one. The idea being that all an appetitive stimuli is is one that an organism actively seeks. Whereas the latter stimuli is an aversive stimuli which is simply a stimuli that an organism actively avoids.
What we do with this experiment is slowly make the oval look more and more like the circle until they are almost indiscernible. At this point it becomes a guessing game for the organism and after a even as little as a half dozen (perhaps less) trials you will see a spike in distress. If you continue along this path the organism will begin to show severe signs of neurosis becoming either highly aggressive or highly passive, attacking all things around them or looking almost dead.
Now imagine if you will a situation where the entire world surrounding the organism is structured with a collection of situations where the desired outcome is masked behind a circle and an almost indiscernible oval. This is essentially what hypocritical laws and customs create. In the US alone we have the following hypocrisies (off the top of the head):
Tobacco and Alcohol, the two drugs who hold the highest levels of deaths per year, are the only two drugs that are legal. Whereas much less harmful substances with much higher rates of quitting are illegal and have extreme penalties.
It is illegal to be sexually involved with someone under 18 but likewise teenagers are constantly shown in sexually suggestive situations on television, in music, and in everyday life. This creates a paradigm where you are told it is wrong and yet even the Disney network is doing it.
Humans are like any other organism built to sustain their genetic code and thusly are attracted to and pleased by sexual interaction. However we likewise have taboos that say that these things are dirty, calling people sluts, hoes, and other derogatory terms, actively sexual people are attacked when running for office and sex is the center of one of the most heated discussions in the US political scope: Gay Marriage.
Religions are almost always quoted as being belief systems of peace and love and yet slavery, homosexual prejudice, the twin towers incident, the crusades, multiple nations invading other nations, and even the events between Israel and Palestine are all stated as being supported acts of whatever major deity depending on the event.
Anyone reading this could likely name ten separate things off the top of their head that are hypocritical and yet pervasive throughout their country. This I believe is the cause of many of the worlds worst issues. If not the worlds worst issues it is easily the cause of the events that lead up to those issues.
Experimental Neurosis is what I feel to be the best explanation for the reactions people have with the unknown. The aggression against homosexuality being a grand example. There is no real outside way of knowing for certain who is and who is not gay. This creates a paradigm of circle and near-circle-oval that places the person (well their brain) in a level of discomfort that leaves them with two likely responses: High levels of Aggression or High levels of Passiveness.
It’s also likely why people hold on so harshly to their beliefs. The unknown is likely the greatest example of neurosis inducing stimuli one can deal with. It not only resents you with a circle and a near circle it essentially presents you with an infinite number of them. Even though statistically you are going to be victimized during the day most people are scared of the dark, the absence of light leaves us with a plethora of zones that we cannot see and thusly leaves us with many zones of neurosis inducing unknown. The brain enjoys distinct dichotomies because they are the simplest form of knowledge.
So as you look at the world around you, take some time to think of all the things that are one way but said to be another. Taboos, laws that conflict with personal desire, and the conflicting worlds of reality and belief. It’s a fascinating view on life that makes the quest for knowledge all the more vital to our survival as a species. If we allow neurosis to continually spread with every increasing hypocrisies we will likely not survive it. It only takes one aggressive neurotic in control of nuclear or biological weaponry to end the lives of many.