|The Scientific Case for Owning Up to Your Porn Use
||Many people believe that porn use should be hidden from a relationship partner. However, a new study suggests that when women think their partners are honest about their porn use, they tend to be happier with their relationships.
|The health risks of cyberbullying in college
||Girls who reported being cyberbullied were three times more likely to meet clinical criteria for depression.
|Alternative Approaches in the Treatment of Depression
||Our friends over at The People’s Pharmacy, Joe & Terry Graedon, have a long-running radio show (or podcast, if you prefer) that is one of the best-kept secrets in natural and alternative treatments in health. They also cover mental health topics, and this past week’s topic was alternative treatments for...
|ADHD plus childhood trauma heightens risk for self-harm, suicide
||Young women with ADHD who have been exposed to abuse, neglect or other traumas in childhood and adolescence are at greater risk for self-injury, eating disorders and suicide than those with ADHD who were not mistreated in early youth, according to new research.
|Early life stress may cause excess serotonin release resulting in a serotonin deficit where the brain needs it most
||Mood disorder research suggests that early life stress may cause excess serotonin release, resulting in a serotonin deficit where the brain needs it most. The data suggest a reason why SSRI medications may fail in many patients, and why depressed patients may benefit from strategic SSRI-augmenting treatment approaches.
|Forgetting Apple’s Logo: Why We Forget What We Often See
||Where was the last fire extinguisher you saw? Do you remember where the “B” key is on your keyboard? Even things we see and interact with constantly can be forgotten—sometimes because we see them so much.
|4 Play Therapy Videos for Kids with Attention Issues
||As a play therapist working with kids with ADHD/ADD or various attention issues (or as a parent with a kid who gets easily distracted), you may find it challenging to get the child to focus on any given task. Following are some ideas and techniques you can use to help...
|Creepy New Marketing Targets Female Sex Hormones
||During the fertile phase of their monthly cycle, women are prone to greater risk taking. For psychologists, this means that they are more likely to initiate sexual affairs. Marketers discovered that women are more likely to try new brands as well. Now they plan to use this fact in targeted marketing. Assuming that they get away with it, will the scheme work?
|Stress In Your Child: Useful Resources
||Some helpful resources about childhood stress....
|3 Simple Symptoms of Bipolar II To Look For
||My whole life I thought I had ADD or OCD or something other then what I was diagnosed with over a decade ago: Bipolar II. Often times I visit mental health awareness websites and can’t find any information on Bipolar II aka Chronic Hypo Mania. I spent a lifetime talking...
|6 Things I Learned about Serious Mental Illness While
||Over the past year since I published my memoir about caring for my brother Paul, who suffered from schizophrenia, I have encountered several misguided but firmly held beliefs that get in the way of understanding our fellow humans who suffer from a severe brain disorder. Here are just a few:...
|Singles, You Can Lower Your Risk of Divorce
||Many singles are interested in marriage but fear divorce. You can do things before marriage to increase your odds of lasting love in marriage.
|The Upside Of Down? Three Ways “Negative” Situations Make
|| While life would be a whole lot easier if we could simply say, Feel this, and don’t feel that, the truth is, emotions just can’t be categorized that way. For one thing, negatives give counterpoint to positives much in the same way the existence of darkness makes...
|What Can Bonobos Tell Us about Ourselves?
||When newspaper headlines recently screamed that both humans and chimpanzees are “natural born killers,” this was obviously hype. Not only were some articles accompanied by a picture of two playing chimps, with their mouths wide open the way apes laugh (which was mistaken for aggression), there was a much deeper flaw. The media frenzy was instigated by a Nature paper that reported 152 confirmed, inferred, or suspected killings among wild chimpanzees, mostly by males—and only one suspected killing among wild bonobos.
Why was the second data point ignored? Is the peacefulness of a close relative not worth reporting on?
The media were eager to follow Winston Churchill’s line, who long before he earned his reputation as a warrior wrote: “The story of the human race is War. Except for brief and precarious interludes, there has never been peace in the world; and before history began, murderous strife was universal and unending.”
No one denies our warrior potential, but Churchill may have gotten the interludes wrong. Contemporary hunter-gatherer groups co-exist peacefully most of the time. This probably applied even more to our ancestors on a planet with extremely low population densities. We may need to turn Churchill’s dictum around and speculate that our lineage experienced long stretches of harmony interrupted by brief interludes of territorial confrontation.
We simply don’t know. This is what is so puzzling about the assumption that humans in a “state of nature” (as if such a thing ever existed) would be waging continuous war, and the accompanying assumption that human prehistory is best understood from the male perspective. Violent scenarios inevitably turn around males, with females being the prizes rather than the engines of evolution.
I call it Single Quadrant Anthropology (SQA), because even though every human evolutionary scenario has two genders to work with, and the behavior of two equally close extant ape relatives to consider, only one out of the four possible comparisons is favored. It is all about males and chimpanzees. The male focus has given us the “Man the Hunter” hypothesis, books about the adaptive value of rape, or how the human brain is first of all a male brain that advertises its fitness to females. The chimpanzee focus is recognizable in books with depressing titles such as Demonic Males, and uplifting ones such as The Better Angels of Our Nature, which promote this ape species as the only realistic model to understand where we come from.
Not only are bonobos ignored, they are actively pushed out of the picture. They are too peaceful, too female-dominated, too gentle for the taste of many anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists. They simply don’t fit.
In 2009, Kent State University came out with a press release under the shocking headline “Man Did Not Evolve from Apes.” Kent State had been involved in the discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus, also known as “Ardi,” a 4.4-million-year-old fossil from Ethiopia. Inevitably, creationists and intelligent-designers jumped on the misleading press release as a gift from God. The confusion arose because a scientist on the Ardi team, despite being blessed with the bonobo-like name of Owen Lovejoy, concluded that Ardi’s physique was too different to have come from a chimp-like forebear. Ardi’s less protruding mouth and relatively small, blunt teeth clearly set her apart from the chimpanzee in which males are equipped with long, sharp canines.
But what if we descend not from a blustering chimp-like ancestor but from an empathic bonobo-like ape? The bonobo’s body proportions—its long legs and narrow shoulders, even its grasping feet—seem to perfectly fit the descriptions of Ardi, as do its relatively small canines.
Why was the bonobo overlooked? What if the chimpanzee, instead of being an ancestral prototype, is in fact a violent outlier in an otherwise relatively peaceful lineage? Ardi is telling us something, and there may exist little agreement about what she is saying, but why do I always hear the drums of war while listening to evolutionary scenarios. This has been going on unabated since Konrad Lorenz and Robert Ardrey.
Bonobo are most of the time marginalized. The recent genome data confirm that bonobos and chimpanzees are equidistant to us, and genetically exactly equally similar to (or different from) us. Yet, most anthropology texts about our ape ancestry mention the species only to say how lovely and charming they are, immediately followed by how we can safely ignore them. They are not to be taken seriously. Even their endangered status has been held against them. Anthropologist Melvin Konner once advocated attention to chimpanzees rather than bonobos by saying “And in any case, chimps have done far better than bonobos, which are very close to extinction.”
I have no trouble with the conclusion of the authors of the Nature paper, led by Michael Wilson of the University of Minnesota, according to which chimpanzee violence is a natural behavioral tendency that is not a product of human interference. The interference hypothesis perhaps made sense in the days when Jane Goodall maintained a banana camp for her apes, but those days are long gone. Most of the evidence for violence in the wild now comes from chimpanzee communities that never received any extra food from humans. I have witnessed enough chimpanzee violence first-hand to understand what they are capable of, and have little doubt that field workers are right that chimps use violence to achieve dominance or expand their territory.
No, my beef is rather with the exclusive focus on one ape species and one gender, and the highly speculative nature of the claim that we have continuously been at war since the split between ape and human lineages. Although archeological signs of individual murder go back hundreds of thousands of years, similar evidence for warfare (such as graveyards with weapons embedded in a large number of skeletons) is entirely lacking from before the Agricultural Revolution of about 12,000 years ago. We have no data to make any claims about warfare before this time.
Consider a different scenario. Let’s say we descend from peaceful bonobo-like apes, which mingled at their borders without any violence, the way wild bonobos are known to do today. Instead of fighting, they have sex and groom each other. Like Ardipithecus, our ancestors were anatomically similar to bonobos and slowly developed more aggressive and territorial tendencies, which erupted into full-blown territorial combat only once we settled down and collected land and livestock. This was the main cause of warfare.
In the meantime, an offshoot of the ape branch, the chimpanzee, also became more violent, perhaps because of higher population densities or other reasons related to resources, but its behavior never resembled warfare in the human sense. It did not consist of one organized army meeting another, but was more like opportunistic raiding behavior, so that a comparison with warfare is problematic. The above scenario is equally compatible with the current knowledge about our history and prehistory as the bloody scenario reflected in the media headlines.
I for one would love to see science consider all options. This means inclusion of the female point of view—female reproduction, cooperation, competition, and care for offspring—as well as serious consideration of the make-love-not-war bonobo. The species may be embarrassing to some scholars the way 1960s hippies were to their parents, but it is time for us to explore all four quadrants of comparison rather than limiting ourselves for no good reason to just one of them.
This essay originally appeared in This View of Life, an online magazine that reports on evolution the way that Darwin imagined it—as a theory that applies to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life.
|10 Tips for Finding a Great Therapist
||Making the choice to begin counseling can be difficult; finding a therapist that you connect with and can help you is challenging. Google will gladly overwhelm you with thousands of counselors or therapists in less than a second. Therapy sites such as goodtherapy.org or Psychology Today offer search tools for specific cities...
|A Response to Sam Harris's Writings on Moral Truth Pt 2 of 3
||In August of 2013, Sam Harris issued a challenge to refute the central thesis of his book, The Moral Landscape. This thesis is that "questions of morality and values must have right and wrong answers that fall within the purview of science." This is part 2 of a 3-part post explaining why I agree with everything in his book except the central thesis.
|Keeping Others’ Pain from Becoming Personal
||I have a handful of loved ones in my life right now who are experiencing longer-term painful circumstances. In one case, the pain is medical. In one more, financial. In yet another, the pain is less well-defined as she wishes for (but day after day does not act to build) a...
|Train a Compassionate Brain with 21 Days of Purpose!
||I’ve been in the midst of developing the new free e-Course 21 Days of Purpose that is meant to support a key and radically important natural anti-depressant from Uncovering Happiness - Purpose/Compassion. Creating purpose is a process of understanding your personal personal values and how to put them into action in ways that...
|Teachers Unconsciously Put Girls Off Math and Science, Study Finds
How teachers discourage girls from studying maths, without realising it.
Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is"Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
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|Theo Fleury is Teaching Us How to Heal
||Former professional hockey player Theo Fleury is no stranger to confrontation, both on and off the ice. In 2009, he bravely and publicly confronted a very personal issue – sexual abuse and alcoholism. He explains how communication is pertinent to well-being, and even though the road ahead may not be easy, he truly believes that people can learn to heal.