In the last post, Is our credit creation system the father of all pathogenic human interferences?, I made reference to the pathogenic selves and pathogenic credit creation systems that serve to undermine our sense of belonging and connection to other living systems in our social and planetary spheres of influence. I also described an alternative salutogenic credit creation system that powers the function of all living beings that is interest and debt free, and comes to us from the sun as solar energy and is distributed by the mitochondria (the communal banks) of the cells as chemical energy in the form of ATP, the basic universal income, which empowers all life functions within the cell.
If the basic building blocks of life are evolutionarily designed for health, and if we pay attention to the R&D that have been performed by Mother Earth over billions of years, why is it as a human species our values and our practices, inclusive of our rituals and narratives are not salutogenic and life-centered? Why do our religious, economic and political theories give us the impression we are pathological by design, in terms of having 1) fallen, 2) being born with “original sin” and 3) are mainly selfish, acquisitive and competitive in nature? As a result, a corpus of laws from commandments, constitutions and treaties have been designed by the elite establishment of religion, economics and politics in order to domesticate us and to save us from our pathological wild selves.
But if the default mode of human nature and human nurture are salutogenic by evolutionary design, (which seems self-evident to me), then how come our best cultures and narrative do not reflect this? If “life creates conditions conducive to life”, then how come our dominant worldviews, theories and models appear to be ecogenocidal in practice and undermine all of life-enabling principles on the planet?
What I have found by studying the neurobiology of the systems in the brain, is that this phase of our evolution over the past 10,000 years or so is very much anomalous of our true human nature and our authentic human journey. For 99% of the existence of the human species, we have existed as small-band gatherer-hunters (SBGH) and we were socially attuned to other humans and other life beings in our environment (Please see: The 99% — Development and socialization within an evolutionary context: Growing up to become “A good and useful human being.” and the images reproduced below).
We have now identified four affective emotional systems in the brain that gifts us, when fully developed and mature, with the potential and capabilities to become socially engaged and communally attached to our living environment. (Please see: The quartet theory of human emotions: An integrative and neurofunctional model, and the images and quotes reproduced below.) The lack of care and nurturing of these adaptive emotional systems resulted in the shift of baselines that had occured from SBGH to the Western moral life.
The brainstem-centered system is responsible for arousal and our safety, and was evolutionary designed for survival with protection subroutines involving FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE and FAINT responses. The diencephalon-centered system “looks” inwards and is responsible for “looking” after the bodily homeostatic needs with pleasure/pain SEEKING responses. The hippocampus-centered system “looks” outwards and is responsible for “looking” after our social needs with CARE and PLAY responses. And the orbitofrontal-centered (OFC) system is described as being responsible for automatic cognitive appraisal. This highly evolved centre has some interesting functions as described below:
“The OFC performs a fast and automatic (non-conscious) cognitive appraisal of both external and internal information. Though beyond awareness, this appraisal is referred to here as “cognitive” due to the fact that it is based on a number of high-level processes that are classically considered as cognitive, such as integration of sensory information with information stored in long-term memory, decision-making, and changing preferences (note that non-conscious appraisal in the sense of an evaluation of the significance of external or internal stimuli for immediate survival of the individual or survival of the species can be performed by all four affect systems)…
…The OFC also generates affects based on representations of relatively complex social norms, roles, and conventions. Such affects are hereafter referred to as moral affects. Patients with OFC lesions show abnormal social behaviour, including a striking disregard for, and transgression of, social norms and moral principles, a lack of ‘bad conscience’ after the transgression of social norms, and a compromised ability to express emotions according to social norms…
…It appears that, in humans, the OFC develops mostly within the first seven years after birth (i.e., prior to puberty): Given the general trend of the phylogenetically older zones of the brain (such as median thalamus and hypothalamus) to maturate earlier (as indicated by myelination) than the phylogenetically younger neocortex, it is reasonable to assume that the orbitofrontal periallocortex develops and maturates earlier than the neocortical mantle (the latter maturing well into at least the second decade of life). Therefore, it is tempting to speculate that “primary internalization” during early childhood has long-lasting effects on the generation of moral affects within the OFC in later life. That is, during the social calibration of a child into the configuration of norms and roles within a family, norms and roles are stored in the OFC and influence behaviour (according to the learned norms) also later in life. Therefore, such contents (internalized in the OFC) have a major influence on the apparent personality of an individual throughout life. Because the OFC is not a language area (and because the OFC does not consist of neocortex), such internalized contents cannot be directly verbalized (i.e., they are not propositionally available), and are thus non-conscious…”
With regards to the diencephalic- and hippocampus-centered affect systems, these have different satiation properties:
“Another important differentiation between diencephalon-centred affects and hippocampus-centred affects is that the diencephalon-centred affects satiate: Once an organism has satisfied bodily needs and achieved homeostasis, the organism is satiated, and stimuli that previously functioned as incentives can even become aversive (e.g., because too much of a chemical compound can be harmful for an organism). This stands in contrast to the hippocampus-centred tender positive affects, which do not satiate. Note that a brain system for attachment-related affect that does not satiate is evolutionary adaptive, because feeling attached to a child, loving a child and feeling the joy of being together with the child are emotions that serve the continuous protection, and nurturing of the offspring. Similarly, the need to belong to a social group and the feeling of social inclusion (both of which do not appear to satiate) serve the formation and maintenance of social bonds, thus strengthening social cohesion.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that Brodal reported that “man, a representative of the microsmatic mammals, possesses a very large hippocampus. Indeed, if comparisons are made between the size of the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus in various mammalian species, the extreme position is occupied by man, who has relatively (and absolutely) the largest hippocampus”. He also wrote that “it is worth emphasizing that the development not only of the fornix, but also of the mamillary body, the mamillo-thalamic tract, the anterior (more particularly the antero-ventral) nucleus of the thalamus and the cingular gyrus runs roughly parallel with the degree of development of the hippocampus. All these structures reach their peak of development in man”. These observations might be related to stronger and more differentiated attachment-related emotions, as well as to stronger and more extensive social networks in humans.”
This new understanding produces “a pattern that connects”. If our socialization and enculturation are such that we are under-cared for, our hippocampus-centered system would underperform and our attachment to other people and attunement with the environment would be deficient. Also, if what is normative in society is such that we are not people and planet centered and this is not consolidated by our dominant narratives in our religions, economics and politics, then our moral sense would be distorted and dysfunctional. Also, if the normative culture supports an environment that is constantly threatening to one’s survival and chronically activates the stress response and keeps us in a perpetual survival mode, the development of our socialization and coping skills would be severely undermined and our abilities to thrive would be severely compromised.
Given the built-in drive to connect and the longing for belonging, if we become psychosocially disconnected, we would become attached to things instead of people and planet as explained in The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit:
Adapted from: Addiction as Seen from the Perspective of Karl Polanyi
It is fitting that addiction is now appropriately called ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking which has been connected to adverse childhood experiences. So by losing our default salutogenic connections to people and planet, we develop pathogenic attachments to things, hence the pandemic of addictions we see in our midst. Our pathogenic credit creation system not only fosters and capitalises on this psycho-socio-ecological disconnection, but leverages and profits off of the addictions to money itself (greed) and things (consumerism). This system further underlies the “greatest epidemic sickness to humanity” also referred to as wetiko disease, as explained in The Psychological Depths of “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism”, Healing Our Collective Sickness.
What the above understanding in neurobiology highlights is that all of our dominant religious, economic and political theories are not fit for life-purpose, thus undermining the true potential of our human nature and the authenticity of the human journey. They are based on the false image of the self that is “programmed” by our dominant culture to deflate our social and ecological connections and to inflate our ritualised compulsive comfort-seeking behaviours which are never satiated – as they do not provide the psychosocial integration that we are hardwired for in the first place.
This is why our true moral sense is severely distorted and our true human nature and our authentic human journeys have been incapacitated. Instead of the leaders in the fields of religion, politics and economics espousing life values, and enabling rituals, heroes and narratives that enable resilient social and ecological connections, they have misguidedly used the artificial credit creation systems to prioritize money value above all else. As a result, we have enabled and supported life-disabling rituals, heroes and narratives that manufacture distraction, deception and destruction in their spheres of influence (all hallmarks of cancerous behaviour).
Instead of investing in life-denying financial instruments, we need now to invest in our children and help to ensure that all their life-giving emotional faculties are nurtured to be fully developed. We would then be able to create a society that has less brain “damaged” individuals, so that the full spectrum of the human capacity is actualised to solve our pressing social and ecological problems. It is only by so doing would we now be completely engaged and atuned in peaceful partnerships with other people and planet and become fully human.
I do not think we can afford to do otherwise.
Please take time to view the short videos below that highlight where we have gone off course and how we can nurture salutogenic connected and contented selves in one and all for once and for all.