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Old 01-19-2010, 01:04 PM   #26
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Well, like Hillman, I was not making a statistical argument -- you threw out some numbers toward one end of spectrum and I threw out some countering numbers toward the other end, and there is not simple statistical case to be made on this issue -- which was my only point.
Actually there is and with all due respect a couple of folks have made it...

Quote:
There is a psychological case -- and that is where mythical thoughts have application, for Ueshiba as for Hillman. Humans may be trainable but they are never tame.
Do men fight for facts? They will fight for lies. They will fight for love. But they only really fight for lies about love, so ultimately-- only love is worth fighting for.
Actually survival is a more powerful instinct than love on the battlefield, and altruism among soldiers is the realization that one has a better chance of survival with the others so they combine their efforts. The stresses of modern combat and combat training create and solidify this bond. Personally I am still very close with a number of Rangers I served with though I've never experienced combat myself.

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I like Keegan -- particularly "Mask of Command." I am fond of Victor Hanson as well... Tolkien obviously (on fighting "the long defeat"), not to mention S.M. Stirling -- the latter two , not history of course -- but strong on the mythic mode in modern terms of stories about war itself as a human endeavour vice simply stage dressing for other drama or storytelling.
Not sure where you're going with this other than to point out certain Western Romantic Myths about combat?

William Hazen
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Old 01-19-2010, 04:54 PM   #27
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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there is not simple statistical case to be made on this issue -- which was my only point.
Actually there is and with all due respect a couple of folks have made it...
No and with equal respect -- you have not -- and could not. I measure men as amenable to the idea of killing by the history of training them for it in WWII. They were (with only ~ 1 in 200 defaulters) readily trainable to killing -- 12 weeks of basic and then some months of advanced. The infamous "90-day wonders" for OCS. Ten million of them. I suspect that the contemporary bias of assumption to the contrary (a basis for statistical error) betrays a particular moment in history -- not an enduring change in human nature. People report what they think other people want to hear -- because self-reporting of violent tendencies is prejudged, and widely held to be aberrant now (both the self-reporting and the tendencies). It was not always so, and therefore the confirmation bias in the sampling is in play as a an indeterminate error bar (but presumptively large, because it is systemic).

More critically, while statistics matter in the efficient conduct of war -- war is fundamentally neither an efficient nor a statistical enterprise. It is a contingent and messy business, and it has ever been so. "For behold I saw that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happeneth to them all."

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William Hazen wrote: View Post
Actually survival is a more powerful instinct than love on the battlefield, and altruism among soldiers is the realization that one has a better chance of survival with the others so they combine their efforts.
Is this a Darwinian argument or an argument of rationale choice? While optimality can be judged externally, internally it is not so clear as a rational "survival" matter -- if one takes the individual rational perspective on survival. Maximum chance requires maximum risk -- which is a paradox for the individual rational survivalist. In game theory terms, the war hero risking all for his own guys is a supercritical case of the 'prisoner's dilemma' -- the only optimal outcome involves complete mutual trust at the risk of one's own life -- and if that is not "love" -- what is ?

Quote:
Not sure where you're going with this other than to point out certain Western Romantic Myths about combat?
Not all myths are Western -- or Romantic -- and some are even true..

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-19-2010, 05:57 PM   #28
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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No and with equal respect -- you have not -- and could not. I measure men as amenable to the idea of killing by the history of training them for it in WWII. They were (with only ~ 1 in 200 defaulters) readily trainable to killing -- 12 weeks of basic and then some months of advanced. The infamous "90-day wonders" for OCS. Ten million of them. I suspect that the contemporary bias of assumption to the contrary (a basis for statistical error) betrays a particular moment in history -- not an enduring change in human nature. People report what they think other people want to hear -- because self-reporting of violent tendencies is prejudged, and widely held to be aberrant now (both the self-reporting and the tendencies). It was not always so, and therefore the confirmation bias in the sampling is in play as a an indeterminate error bar (but presumptively large, because it is systemic).
"Enduring change in human nature?" Again Eric your statements are nothing but assumptions coupled with generalizations about polling and statistics 101. I notice you only make these assumptions when they serve your 'argument"

Quote:
More critically, while statistics matter in the efficient conduct of war -- war is fundamentally neither an efficient nor a statistical enterprise. It is a contingent and messy business, and it has ever been so. "For behold I saw that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happeneth to them all."
Stating the obvious here and again your generalization does not refute our argument...

Quote:
Is this a Darwinian argument or an argument of rationale choice? While optimality can be judged externally, internally it is not so clear as a rational "survival" matter -- if one takes the individual rational perspective on survival. Maximum chance requires maximum risk -- which is a paradox for the individual rational survivalist. In game theory terms, the war hero risking all for his own guys is a supercritical case of the 'prisoner's dilemma' -- the only optimal outcome involves complete mutual trust at the risk of one's own life -- and if that is not "love" -- what is ?
In a word...instinct...See Hoffer, Skinner, Pavlov, Jung, Gould, and a host of a hundred other real thinkers on the subject.

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Not all myths are Western -- or Romantic -- and some are even true..
With all due respect...congrats on your ability to rationalize your position.

I am done...Feel free to enjoy the last word.

William Hazen
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Old 01-20-2010, 09:51 AM   #29
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Why so touchy?
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William Hazen wrote: View Post
"Enduring change in human nature?" Again Eric your statements are nothing but assumptions coupled with generalizations about polling and statistics 101. I notice you only make these assumptions when they serve your 'argument"
I am not making a statistical argument -- I simply pointed out certain counter-assumptions not addressed in yours.
I am not making any argument -- but an observation: people seem to have had little difficulty killing other people, wholesale or retail. It is (based on much history) the fact that men have had no difficulty engaging in killing at any arbitrary scale because there have been a terribly great number of dead ones -- correlated, oddly enough. with superficial niceties about how "civilized" and "peacable" we have supposedly become.

In the 20th century -- the most "civilized" and technically advanced century of human history (bar our own) more people were killed than all the wars in all the prior centuries combined -- all the while mouthing platitudes about our "moral progress." I don't buy it. The facts don't support it. We have not changed; we are just as dangerous, fallen and reprobate as we have ever been, and it is (on the historical facts) exceedingly dangerous to pretend otherwise.

Only our warlike nature can control our warlike nature. If this is not the reason for martial arts as a discipline -- what is?

Survival based on love of self (your thesis), while not immoral per se -- tursn out not to be a very SAFE moral basis for violent and deadly behavior --- it is prone to errors that have little internal controls . The piles of corpses reaped in the era of 'nationalism' and 'individualism' and the many other Us v. Them "'- isms" attest this.

If it is "me versus them": I am certainly safer with 'them' ALL dead than with some surviving -- you never know, after all -- 'They" can tricksy and false.... This is plainly sufficient killing to protect me -- immediately and ultimately -- but was it necessary killing ? "Self-protection" too easily slides into a default "if in doubt -- take no chances" mode. After all, if the entire field is laid waste and I survive alone -- then self-protection worked -- but at what cost?

Psychologically, "I will protect myself", and "We will protect ourselves " are categorically different in ordering (and moral force) from "I will protect you," or "We will protect you."

Ueshiba and Hillman (and Gandhi, Gautama -- and Jesus for that matter) posit that protection of others based on a self-sacrificing love has a better moral basis as a motivation in survival situations because it is ultimately SAFER.

There is just as solid a physiological and psychological basis for a survival mechanism in the oxytocin "protective instinct" hypothesis as in the adrenal self-protection mode, without losing those latter physiological functions. This mode seems to have (or to regularly produce) internal or cultural controls that the other mode does not obviously have. The striking similarities of traditions of martial honor seem to address this problem in terms little modified by culture -- so I am little unclear why there is such pushback on the point.

I am most interested in WHY there is the pushback -- more than I am on winning any argument -- because I am not arguing a point. I am simply curious and exploring a position -- though if you choose to see it as argument, I cannot help that.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:02 PM   #30
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Why so touchy? I am not making a statistical argument -- I simply pointed out certain counter-assumptions not addressed in yours.
I am not making any argument -- but an observation: people seem to have had little difficulty killing other people, wholesale or retail. It is (based on much history) the fact that men have had no difficulty engaging in killing at any arbitrary scale because there have been a terribly great number of dead ones -- correlated, oddly enough. with superficial niceties about how "civilized" and "peacable" we have supposedly become.
And I disagree... Relative to population growth People are not killing People at any greater rate than at anytime in Human History...What has changed is our perception with the growth of Media and News...Question... How many loving and compassionate acts are documented on mainstream TV News? How many Murders?

Quote:
In the 20th century -- the most "civilized" and technically advanced century of human history (bar our own) more people were killed than all the wars in all the prior centuries combined -- all the while mouthing platitudes about our "moral progress." I don't buy it. The facts don't support it. We have not changed; we are just as dangerous, fallen and reprobate as we have ever been, and it is (on the historical facts) exceedingly dangerous to pretend otherwise.
See Above...Relative to Population Growth actually killing of human beings seems to remain constant...What has changed is the Technology of Killing....It's now quite possible to wipe out the planet with the push of a few dozen buttons...So if we have this killer instinct... Why are we still here? When was the last major all out war between major powers?
One could say that Budo has found it's way to Pentagon or....That the existence of Budo predates the Philosophy of Budo...Again one more time...Human Beings inherently and instinctively do not kill other human beings. It is a learned behavior

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Only our warlike nature can control our warlike nature. If this is not the reason for martial arts as a discipline -- what is?
Well at one point you quoted Christ the Buddha and Gandhi...How many people did they personally kill?

Quote:
Survival based on love of self (your thesis), while not immoral per se -- tursn out not to be a very SAFE moral basis for violent and deadly behavior --- it is prone to errors that have little internal controls . The piles of corpses reaped in the era of 'nationalism' and 'individualism' and the many other Us v. Them "'- isms" attest this.

If it is "me versus them": I am certainly safer with 'them' ALL dead than with some surviving -- you never know, after all -- 'They" can tricksy and false.... This is plainly sufficient killing to protect me -- immediately and ultimately -- but was it necessary killing ? "Self-protection" too easily slides into a default "if in doubt -- take no chances" mode. After all, if the entire field is laid waste and I survive alone -- then self-protection worked -- but at what cost?

Psychologically, "I will protect myself", and "We will protect ourselves " are categorically different in ordering (and moral force) from "I will protect you," or "We will protect you." Sorry i assumed you had knowledge of the folks i asked you to read. Let me clarify...Protection of the "self" and protection of the "other" are one and the same

Ueshiba and Hillman (and Gandhi, Gautama -- and Jesus for that matter) posit that protection of others based on a self-sacrificing love has a better moral basis as a motivation in survival situations because it is ultimately SAFER.
Sorry I assumed you had knowledge of the folks I asked you to read. Let me clarify...Protection of the "self" and protection of the "other" are one and the same. It is only when there is a separation between me and you and you're something other than human (or 'one of us").Only then do the conditions for killing human beings exist...Aikido emphasizes this on a physical plane.

Quote:
There is just as solid a physiological and psychological basis for a survival mechanism in the oxytocin "protective instinct" hypothesis as in the adrenal self-protection mode, without losing those latter physiological functions. This mode seems to have (or to regularly produce) internal or cultural controls that the other mode does not obviously have. The striking similarities of traditions of martial honor seem to address this problem in terms little modified by culture -- so I am little unclear why there is such pushback on the point.
My point is there is no push back...I just think you need to reexamine your assumptions about the nature of Homicidal Behavior.

Quote:
I am most interested in WHY there is the pushback -- more than I am on winning any argument -- because I am not arguing a point. I am simply curious and exploring a position -- though if you choose to see it as argument, I cannot help that.
Again you simply disagree with me on one simple point...Human Beings are inherently NON-violent towards other Human Beings.

William Hazen.

PS. That is the reason I practice Aikido. It presents a way to resolve conflicts naturally without the use of learned behaviors which force me to go against my natural instincts of NON-violence.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:59 PM   #31
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

I'm a little confused what the arguments are here. Would someone please correct me where I appear to be incorrect. Assuming I'm following accurately, again, I think the difference lies primarily in semantics. How many people there are who have actually killed doesn't refute the idea that it's "natural" for people to kill each other. It's also natural for them to protect each other, but the point is that both are a part of human nature. I would submit the constant string of wars throughout history is evidence of this somewhat natural behavior. No influences other than human ones directly cause wars between humans. As such I don't see how war can be described as anything other than a part of human nature. This doesn't mean one has to do it or that it's somehow justified, simply that it's an extension of the fight part of the Fight or Flight paradigm.
Quote:
A very simple set of questions refutes Hillman's Book Eric....How many Human Beings on this Planet have personally Killed another Human Being during their lifetime? 5%? 10%? 50%?
I submit to you the number is in the single digits...
If you pull back far enough, many statistics start to look less significant. When you look at more specific settings, suddenly you find a greater willingness, and even a readiness, to kill. Again, if part of the argument is that war (organized violence) isn't a part of human nature, I don't see how that can be valid. You might say light and dark are natural states related to a light switch. Even if I never turn the light off, darkness is still one of the natural states associated with the switch, isn't it?

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What the single largest producer of casualties in War Time....Answer... Technology
And who consciously created those technologies, often with that exact purpose? "Guns don't kill people: people do," expresses something pertinent here doesn't it?

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If War is a natural state and men don't mind killing that much" Why do Armies Spend Billions of Dollars removing their soldiers further and further away from the consequences of their actions through the use of technology?
I don't get the logical implications here. Cruise missiles are regularly used to assassinate people...and they regularly kill innocent people while doing so on top of it. They protect our soldiers by removing them from (some of) the consequences of their actions, yet the purpose is to kill people.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:08 PM   #32
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Again you simply disagree with me on one simple point...Human Beings are inherently NON-violent towards other Human Beings.
I would argue it depends on the circumstances and that people are inherently violent AND inherently non-violent. We're generally more non-violent than violent, but both are natural to our physiology (i.e. inherent traits).

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Old 01-20-2010, 01:56 PM   #33
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Human Beings are inherently NON-violent towards other Human Beings.
IMHO, there are always more sheep than wolves. And fewer yet sheep dogs.

I have no statistics, but if I look at the number of people who actually commit violent acts (the number who kill would appear to be exceptionally smaller even among the military) compared to the over all population, I could and would conclude (inherent or not) that human beings are decidedly more non-violent.

IMHO, violence and killing is not genetic, biological, or hormonal. I have seen no research that states if these genetic markers or these biological conditions exits, the person is inevitably going to commit acts of violence and kill. There is a lot of research that suggest its a psychological frame of reference or choice that is learned.

But, I could be wrong. I often am.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:34 PM   #34
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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IMHO, there are always more sheep than wolves. And fewer yet sheep dogs.

I have no statistics, but if I look at the number of people who actually commit violent acts (the number who kill would appear to be exceptionally smaller even among the military) compared to the over all population, I could and would conclude (inherent or not) that human beings are decidedly more non-violent.

IMHO, violence and killing is not genetic, biological, or hormonal. I have seen no research that states if these genetic markers or these biological conditions exits, the person is inevitably going to commit acts of violence and kill. There is a lot of research that suggest its a psychological frame of reference or choice that is learned.

But, I could be wrong. I often am.
Based on my own research You are not wrong Lynn.

William Hazen
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:27 PM   #35
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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I have no statistics, but if I look at the number of people who actually commit violent acts (the number who kill would appear to be exceptionally smaller even among the military) compared to the over all population, I could and would conclude (inherent or not) that human beings are decidedly more non-violent.
Has anyone said people are generally more violent than non-violent? I thought the point was essentially that we're equally capable of both.
Didn't this topic come about initially by discussing a view that acts of other-regarding behavior are superior in some ways to selfish behavior? And that the subject shifted to the nature of mankind with regards to violence and non-violence? I thought the argument William was making was that violence (in this case exemplified by war) isn't natural to people. I thought Eric was saying it is natural because it happens all the time (even if to a significantly lesser degree on the whole) and that believing ourselves to be inherently non-violent is dangerous because it opens the door to all sorts of strange justifications for further violence.
So I thought the issue was whether or not killing comes naturally to folks. I'm fairly sure most anthropologists would argue aggression, and thus it various expressions, are natural to anything living.

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Old 01-20-2010, 03:51 PM   #36
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Well at one point you quoted Christ the Buddha and Gandhi...How many people did they personally kill?
None I know of, but that is beside the point -- the question is WHAT aspect of their humanity enabled their restraint. Some particular statements are suggestive:

Quote:
Mohandas Gandhi wrote:
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.

It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.
The Christian message, while similar, is more than a little complex:
Quote:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. St. Matt., 10:34

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. St. John, 14:27

"Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." St. Matt., 26:51-52.

'When I sent you out without purse or haversack or sandals, were you short of anything?' 'No, nothing,' they said. He said to them, 'But now if you have a purse, take it, and the same with a haversack; if you have no sword, sell your cloak and buy one, because I tell you these words of scripture are destined to be fulfilled in me: He was counted as one of the rebellious. St. Luke, 22: 35-36
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Protection of the "self" and protection of the "other" are one and the same. It is only when there is a separation between me and you and you're something other than human (or 'one of us").Only then do the conditions for killing human beings exist...Aikido emphasizes this on a physical plane.
No, I find that they are not, although to be fair, I also took this approach for awhile -- looking at the enlargement of "Self" to encompass the "Other" within the "zone of self-protection." But it is not so.

The enlargement of love of the Other is not merely an enlargement of love of self. Between me and thee, I do not diminish me or thee by sacrificing to protect thee -- I enlarge BOTH -- I make you more significant if I defend you, and I magnify my own self-significance by sacrificing to do it -- without subsuming you into my self-perception. And the body and the mind know the difference -- because protection of one's mate, or young, or kin provokes the release of oxytocin, whereas protecting oneself does not. Wherefore, this thread ...

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William Hazen wrote: View Post
Again you simply disagree with me on one simple point...Human Beings are inherently NON-violent towards other Human Beings.
Now as to your modern prophets (Hoffer, Skinner, Pavlov, Jung, (Gould ? Gould who? Stephen to my Darwin? )) I have read them -- but your point from their writings was not explicit and so I did not attempt to respond to it. If you mean that they assert that human beings are basically not inherently capable of violence towards one another, I disagree with them and with you.

Skinner I simply disregard -- behaviorism is simply (IMO) among the worst efforts at an understanding of the human condition yet attempted. The mind is more fundamentally word than act and self- reflexive in a way that language (and mathematics) can capture but linear-sequenced objective behavior events cannot encompass. Dunne destroys that perspective with the example of a scene regression in the first chapter of "A Serial Universe" -- any "behavior" to be objectively observed is self-reflexive in a way that has no non-arbitrary temporal limits -- other than those the mind sets by the relative significance of the event -- That is an attribution of meaning as a primary -- not a secondary -- aspect of human existence.

Pavlov? Are you proposing that the dogs really did hunger for the dinner bell? Burgess provided the best logical and rhetorical rebuttal to violence seen as a primarily conditioned response in "A Clockwork Orange." Alex quit his violence sprees not because of forced conditioning, not because he was at last adequately provided for (he never lacked materially), nor on account of any "moral cause" but because he was bored, lonely and wanted someone to care for -- essentially, the same reason he was violent to begin with.

As to Hoffer, I have always liked him (I do not think he means what you think he means) He castigated the SDS witnesses in the Violence Commission in the sixties for their "hoodlum" behavior and took them to task for trying to justify it by the government's supposed "greater violence" in Vietnam. I am unsure how you read his attribution of a powerful human tendency to nihilist self-negating abyss-gazing and mass movement violence as supporting your claim.

I think Jung also does not support any simplistic assertion of a nonviolent human nature, though he makes its source somewhat reflexive: "If people can be educated to see the lowly side of their own natures, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and to love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more tolerance towards oneself can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures."

But apart from that I think we are in complete agreement

Last edited by Erick Mead : 01-20-2010 at 03:57 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-20-2010, 04:10 PM   #37
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Human Beings are inherently NON-violent towards other Human Beings.
I believe that the truth of human behaviours and motivations is never this simple. I do agree that there is a significant amount of truth in this statement though, in terms of how often this rule of thumb can be applied. With one proviso - The question of who an individual defines as a "human being".

Once you dehumanise a group of people, it becomes a great deal easier to kill them. My understanding is that a large part of what happens to those involved in war, whether this is created intentionally by those in command, or as a coping mechanism, is just that.

The only thing we have approaching an example of raw 'human nature' (a concept I think is problematic at best) are tribal hunter gatherer cultures. I seem to recall several examples where the name for the individual's tribe is something like 'the people' or whatever. I would leave this line of argument for someone who actually knows something about this though.

Also worth noting - I have heard of tribal law with provisions for dealing with people who killed within the tribe. Where did this come from? Again... if anyone is an anthropologist - I'm sure they can take this further than I can as I could well be talking crap.

Interesting thread...

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Old 01-20-2010, 04:17 PM   #38
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Has anyone said people are generally more violent than non-violent? I thought the point was essentially that we're equally capable of both.
My only point on this item has been that people harbor murder in their hearts far more than they own up to it (much less act upon it). We are modernly less willing to be honest with ourselves or others about our willingness to do violence for good or ill -- and that the unwillingness to speak of it (there's some conditioning) does not demonstrably involve less killing -- more sprodaic and more concentrated perhaps -- but that is not necessarily an improvement, morally or or otherwise.

If William takes a behaviorist view, then he understandably gives less credence to the interior life not acted upon as less indicative -- or in a sense less "real" -- than the acts performed. I think when people say-- "I'll kill him!!" in anger they actually do mean it for an instance, but then almost immediately think better of it -- it is the source of the reflection and restraint in the very warlike tendency itself that is initially expressed which is interesting to me -- coupled with the issue of moral violence in the protection of others that is so intriguing in suggested capabilities that seem to come from nothing except a selfless motivation. "And that is an encouraging thought."

Hillman quotes the Homeric era "Hymn to Ares" showing this sense that meekness is actually antithetical to maintaining peace and one needs instead a "keen fury" and warlike "boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace." The quotes of Gandhi and Jesus are to much the same effect, as I read them.

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hear me, helper of men, giver of dauntless youth! Shed down a kindly ray from above upon my life, and strength of war, that I may be able to drive away bitter cowardice from my head and crush down the deceitful impulses of my soul. Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife. Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of death.
I think this is the kind of exploration that Ueshiba meant his own mythological perspective to inspire (and which has not received the attention it really deserves) --- and this issue is much, much larger than Aikido per se.

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Old 01-20-2010, 05:41 PM   #39
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
I'm fairly sure most anthropologists would argue aggression, and thus it various expressions, are natural to anything living.
IMHO, most anthropologist would agree that the human species has evolved so far from any thing close to nature or natural that only the social anthropologist would study us.

I will check with my colleagues, but I am fairly sure they will say there has always been the warriors of any clan/tribe, but they were the exception, not the rule. But its their exploits that were valued and recorded, meaning they stood out from the others, which could support that they were not the norm, but the elite.

Guess we haven't evolved that far have we?

Are we all capable of violence/killing? Yes, but few will every actually realize that capability.

Are we all capable of love and peace? Yes, and many more will actually realize that.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:19 PM   #40
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Warfare in hunting and gathering or early agricultural society generally involves raiding rather than invading, and killing often -- but not always -- may be relatively infrequent or unnecessary. For example, counting coup among the Plains Indians, or the highly ritualized raiding in the New Guinea highlands.

In this context, human aggression seems on a continuum with conspecific aggression by other primates such as chimps.

At the same time, the anthropological record contains examples of what we would view as mass murder, for example, among the Inuit.

I think the idea that human beings are reluctant to kill other human beings makes evolutionary as well as sociological sense for highly social animals. Still, clever monkeys that we are, human societies sculpt and organize the human capacity for violence in myriad ways.

But I don't have statistics to prove that hypothesis.

Respectfully.
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Old 01-20-2010, 07:30 PM   #41
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, most anthropologist would agree that the human species has evolved so far from any thing close to nature or natural that only the social anthropologist would study us. (snip)
I disagree. We have not evolved much at all in the past 6,000 years -- a mere blip on the timeline -- and possess virtually the same genes (and potentials) now as we did then.

In the few remaining isolated (human) hunter-gatherer populations, you'll still see human natural instincts in their original, "natural" milieu; they are still our own potentials. If we were to look at their gene pool next to our own, they'd be virtually identical.

Over the past 60-80 years, there have been studies on the world's remaining hunter-gatherer populations. A number of them were known to regularly raid each others' villages and kill their rivals as a natural part of their lives. Theories came down to natural population control, access to (perceived) superior resources (including women), natural selection (obtaining mates from a source outside one's village = more genetic variation/health), etc.

In other words, this is a natural form of aggression that may actually maintain a healthy population- and genetic balance in a human population. It is echoed by similar behavior in primates such as langurs and chimpanzees, who also are aggressive and have been known to kill members of their own species.

I believe that the ability to kill is one of many long-extant survival mechanisms, its natural triggers being 1. self-defense and 2. stress created by population pressure (both actual, physical stress and the stress of limited resources such as water, food, space and access to mates).

There is a tendency for us (post-industrial societies) to see ourselves as representing all humanity -- urbanized, "self-domesticated" -- believing that we alone constitute Modern Man. Perhaps that someday will be true after we have forced the remaining "People of Nature" to move to cities and wear shoes. Yet, the same reflexes and instincts are intact in us as in the peoples of early-20th-century New Guinea and the Amazon; we just express (or repress) them in different ways which reflect our own milieu.

Edit: While I was typing this, David Henderson posted his thoughts. I agree with them, and they mesh with what I have written (making my comments a little redundant! )

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Old 01-21-2010, 08:26 AM   #42
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Hi Lynn! Thank you for the reply.
Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote: View Post
IMHO, most anthropologist would agree that the human species has evolved so far from any thing close to nature or natural that only the social anthropologist would study us.
That's very interesting. I can certainly see how the human mind creates a pretty large distinction between us and other animals...that is to say our instincts perhaps aren't quite so "pure" as other animals and perhaps that makes it difficult. I'm guessing you mean "evolved" in the sense of social dynamic, not genetics.

Quote:
I will check with my colleagues, but I am fairly sure they will say there has always been the warriors of any clan/tribe, but they were the exception, not the rule. But its their exploits that were valued and recorded, meaning they stood out from the others, which could support that they were not the norm, but the elite.
This makes sense and fits with what I'm trying to say. I look at it this way: people are social animals so we have a strong predisposition toward working together; we're generally more drawn to having amiable relationships with each other than not. There are few exceptions, such as the old Spartan life, and it's those cases which make me think this kind of thing can be described as natural, even if not usually normal.
Interestingly enough I just heard a blurb on NPR about a study which suggests people are "programmed to be good." The article hasn't aired yet so I'm not sure what exactly that means, but I guess it probably means being nice to each other and adhering to some sense of justice, which I think seems to support your basic idea.

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Are we all capable of love and peace? Yes, and many more will actually realize that.
Amen to that!

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 01-21-2010, 11:52 AM   #43
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
[These thoughts] mesh with what I have written (making my comments a little redundant! )
Hi Cady,

Now I must disagree; I thought your comments added quite a bit.

Aside from the question of physical evolution, however, I tend to see cultural and social conditioning as akin to ecological pressures in encouraging or discouraging aggression between members of the same species.

I agree that physically we probably haven't evolved much in the relatively short time since the neolithic; but despite the record of historical atrocities that any reasonably aware person could list, I think different cultures have evolved different levels of tolerance, acceptance, or celebration of violence.

A Spartan from 500 BC would be more likely to embrace violence than, say, a Hopi from the 19th Century.

So too, for that matter, chimp society is far more violent than bonobo society, and I don't think it's entirely clear how much that reflects a divergence in their evolution as opposed to different environmental pressures leading to different patterns and frequencies of aggression.

For example, male chimps are known to form gangs and raid other groups and terrorize females, and a male chimp may kill the offspring of another male if given the opportunity.

This doesn't happen with bonobos, where females group together and where, thanks to the legendary promiscuity of the species, males simply don't know whose offspring they would be killing assuming they had the chance.

It's difficult to say how much these difference reflect environmental pressures. One difference I've seen noted in the environments of chimps and bonobos that have been studied is the relatively more food-rich environment of the bonobo and the lack of competition with gorillas. This allows, the theory goes, females to group together and stay together as they feed.

Human genius and hubris lies in our creation of an environment and cognitive framework through culture. Irrespective of whether we're biologically more peaceful or less peaceful than our ancestors, the distribution of violence in the modern world reflects these factors just as the distribution of violence in another species may reflect, for example, population pressure.

In modern, post-industrial societies, violence seems to be highly stratified, with much of the population insulated from direct experience of it, and with the other fraction equipped to inflict disproportionate death. (One reasons why terror is an effective strategy?)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

cdh

Last edited by C. David Henderson : 01-21-2010 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:29 PM   #44
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Hi David,
I agree that cultures have evolved, but I maintain that the human gene pool (and the behaviors it engenders) has not done so appreciably, and that we still have the same potential for killing hardwired into us.

As you note, however, we have cultural controls to alter the way in which that potential is expressed. Human behavior is fluid because our genes permit it to be so. Where it is not beneficial to kill, complex social constructs can keep it under control. In a society where it still may confer a survival-reproductive benefit to act directly on aggression (e.g. village raiding and warfare), humans still kill as a natural event.

I believe that social control system vulnerable to breakdown under the stresses I mentioned previously. Note the looting, raping and killing that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and that which is currently happening in Haiti after two severe earthquakes. Once societal structure and order are shaken, the fabric of society is torn and survival mode draws on primal instinct among the most desperate and the opportunistic.

By the way, a number of mammal species' males kill the offspring (and even fetuses) of rival males. Horses are known for this, with a stallion inducing abortion in mares pregnant by a rival, by kicking their abdomens after driving off the rival and taking over his harem.

Bonobos may be non-violent, but that coupled with a lack of weapons technology, in the evolutionary picture may spell their doom in the face of armed, aggressive humans in search of bush meat. :-/
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:08 PM   #45
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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David Henderson wrote: View Post
Warfare in hunting and gathering or early agricultural society generally involves raiding rather than invading, and killing often -- but not always -- may be relatively infrequent or unnecessary. For example, counting coup among the Plains Indians, or the highly ritualized raiding in the New Guinea highlands.
The evolution of ritual warfare usually takes place in the context of a perceived stalemate in military advantages, which has little to do with the primitive nature of the cultures, and rules developed to manage a chronic sub-lethal (or at least in social terms, a sub-existential) or serial conflict. Even so, the rate of death in such "ritual" warfare is not inconsiderable from reports like those among the Yanomamo in the Amazon, for example.

But this situation changes historically when something tips the balance of advantage. A notable and relatively modern example of this transition is in the rise of the Zulu, under Shaka - who innovated tactics, weapons and regular drill to end the system of "ritual conflict" and ruthlessly consolidate his centralized kingdom by outright conquest or submission.

Apropos the topic, a significant traditional part of the Zulu's military equipment for the conduct of the semi-religious ritual warfare -- which Shaka adapted to more intensive and rationalized use -- was pharmacological. This has interesting parallels in their physiological effects to some of the issues discussed so far here.
Reputedly they used traditional plants including a potent non-sedating varietal of marijuana, a native amaryllis bulb preparation that contained buphanidrine -- with hallucinogenic and pain killing properties similar to codeine and morphine -- but also is a serotonin transporter that has MAO properties like amphetamine and MDMA.

More interesting for my supposition on the combative role of oxytocin is a Zulu war mushroom containing muscimol, a GABA agonist -- and it is believed that the expression of oxytocin and vasopressiin is mediated by GABA binding sites in the posterior pituitary.

This has a subsidiary role, apparently, in post-conflict physiology, and which seems to support the old saw that "Without victory there can be no peace." It seems that social defeat stress stimulates oxytocin expression, by a GABA pathway, (socio-biologically speaking -- allowing the defeated but surviving combatant to nevertheless bond psychologically and emotionally with the victor, increasing chances of ultimate survival.) This kind of substance would have been exceedingly helpful in integrating defeated but now allied warriors into the tightly disciplined Zulu impis.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 01-21-2010 at 01:11 PM.

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Erick Mead
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Old 01-21-2010, 01:56 PM   #46
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Hi Erick,

That is quite interesting; thanks. It reminds me of the berzeker's alleged use of the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria (fly agaric).

To be clear, however:
1. I don't believe hunting and gathering or horticultural societies are necessarily "primitive," even though these subsistence strategies have been around the longest. Many are highly sophisticated and specialized to their environments (e.g., Amazonian knowledge of the natural world), and some appear to be people who (re-)adopted a particular means of survival relatively recently (e.g., in the Philippines). Some of these are, according to some studies, moreover, tied in to the surrounding cash economy for critical material goods, and are suspect as models of "primitive" human groups to some extent.

2. With due respect to Wikipedia, ritualized warfare may be the norm to which more complex societies revert, for example, under the kinds of conditions you list. (In fact, I hypothesize ritual is a key way to mark off that liminal state in which society sanctions killing, and a key trigger for aggression historically) Still, just as the Norse discovered North America but had no practical use for it, and just as the moon remains outside our grasp, many less complex societies have no need to invade and displace others, yet sufficient reason to raid them. Raiding of course takes place in larger-scale social groupings, too.

3. The Zulu are an interesting example, and I don't know enough about them to offer much in the way of a meaningful opinion. I suspect, however, their military innovations occurred in response to incursions by Boers and the British. Additionally, many groups in Southern Africa are closer in the scale of social organization to chiefdomships like the Hawaiians. There, prior to European contact, the smaller islands had been united under a chief and the Big Island was often ruled by several. Attempts also had been made to conquer other islands. But Kamehameha I succeeded in "unifying" Hawaii where others failed, in significant part because he exploited advantages introduced by the Europeans including firearms. The point being, for me, that the Zulu may have, like the Hawaiians, been on the cusp of historical developments that were pushing their societies to be more expansive. European interference may simply have catalyzed the reaction, as it were.
Regards,

cdh

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Old 01-21-2010, 03:42 PM   #47
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Quote:
Charles David Henderson wrote: View Post
Hi Erick,

That is quite interesting; thanks. It reminds me of the berzeker's alleged use of the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria (fly agaric).
The Zulu version is also a type of Amanita.

Quote:
Charles David Henderson wrote: View Post
[indent]1. I don't believe hunting and gathering or horticultural societies are necessarily "primitive," even though these subsistence strategies have been around the longest.
I agree with you -- the term was meant only in the technological sense -- "primitives" can be as amazingly subtle human beings as "civilized" ones can be brutal -- case in point -- Shaka Zulu (Sorry, pet obsession -- "Zulu" is one of the best war films ever made... and Cetshwayo was not as revolutionary, but nearly a capable as, his great uncle Shaka).

Quote:
Charles David Henderson wrote: View Post
But Kamehameha I succeeded in "unifying" Hawaii where others failed, in significant part because he exploited advantages introduced by the Europeans including firearms. The point being, for me, that the Zulu may have, like the Hawaiians, been on the cusp of historical developments that were pushing their societies to be more expansive. European interference may simply have catalyzed the reaction, as it were.
My son was born there. Actually the whole Bantu (mixed pastoralist/ agriculturalist) expansion into southern Africa saw several iterations of this process of expansion and centralization and then societal fracture -- Great Zimbabwe, and others are literal monuments to that -- Europeans had little impact in the genesis of the process that Shaka generally followed -- he just upped the ante technically -- though the Boers and Brits had much influence in its result after Blood River. The black Africans were seriously oppressed and exploited by the Europeans, it is true, but nothing really much out of keeping with the native practices toward one another before the Europeans arrived -- a point that is often lost in the undue Rousseauian martyrology of the "noble savage" meme.

I hate that. People is people, good, bad and indifferent -- pretty much everywhere, and for a long, long time. .., IMO.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-21-2010, 04:20 PM   #48
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
The Zulu version is also a type of Amanita.
How interesting. Take a glance at Wikipedia's article on berserkers, which describes their conduct before, during, and after in a way that you may find supports your ideas. Even if the Norse didn't use this drug, or used alcohol as a trance driver, the descriptions appear parallel to me.

Quote:
My son was born there. Actually the whole Bantu (mixed pastoralist/ agriculturalist) expansion into southern Africa saw several iterations of this process of expansion and centralization and then societal fracture -- Great Zimbabwe, and others are literal monuments to that -- Europeans had little impact in the genesis of the process that Shaka generally followed -- he just upped the ante technically -- though the Boers and Brits had much influence in its result after Blood River.
Thanks for the additional information. The process you describe is similar in Hawaii and, I believe, probably recurs when societies are prone to the kind of centralization of power distinguishing a "kingdom" from a "chiefdom."

Quote:
The black Africans were seriously oppressed and exploited by the Europeans, it is true, but nothing really much out of keeping with the native practices toward one another before the Europeans arrived -- a point that is often lost in the undue Rousseauian martyrology of the "noble savage" meme.

I hate that. People is people, good, bad and indifferent -- pretty much everywhere, and for a long, long time. .., IMO.
I agree.

David

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Old 02-03-2010, 01:04 PM   #49
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

hi Erick,
You've spoken a bit about Oxytocin. Do you mean that that is the chemical released during episodes of compassion?
-Why is it important?
-Is more better? Is it balanced by other stuffs?
-Is the name of the game to increase production of it? From foods? From milking the brain/body to produce more?

You have brought it up a few times; I was wondering if there was anything specific that is implied or suggested to *do* about/with it.

Thanks,
Josh
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:06 PM   #50
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Re: Hormonal & Psychological Responses to Combat

Quote:
Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
hi Erick,
You've spoken a bit about Oxytocin. Do you mean that that is the chemical released during episodes of compassion?
-Why is it important?
-Is more better? Is it balanced by other stuffs?
-Is the name of the game to increase production of it? From foods? From milking the brain/body to produce more?

You have brought it up a few times; I was wondering if there was anything specific that is implied or suggested to *do* about/with it.

Thanks,
Josh
Compassion yes., but more and also in aggressive protection. Not in self-defense -- self-defense is the realm of the adrenal system -- protection of others is the realm of oxytocin. "Love your enemies" becomes martial advice -- not merely moral advice.

For training, if we give credence that "love" can be understood physiologically as well as metaphysically, then the need to work on training to physical limits of proximity, speed and intensity -- with an attitude of protecting the partner by instantly controllling him becomes paramount. Competition would simply destroy that, and is not merely a difference of degree but of kind. The reasons are generally summarized below. Understanding the structural state of the body under influence of oxytocin is also critical. it gives us ways to think about training problems that need to be made both tougher and yet also more careful.

Please browse some of the studies linked above for particular information. Much of the currently existing research is in animal analogues. We are just now seeing much more serious work in the complex neuropsychological and neurophysiological effects in human subjects.

Oxytocin is very complex in its production and effects -- and very powerful -- unlike the adrenal/epinephrine system oxytocin has positive feedback. Some oxytocin provokes MORE oxytocin.

This is critical for understanding its action in men because in males it is very short-acting because androgens antagonize it in the blood. IN women by contrast it is much longer-acting and its effects can be seen at lower levels and in more subtle ways. In men, its consistent expression requires much more extreme stimulus and in a sustained environment. (e.g. --combat) -- the strength of bonding of men in combat is mediated by this hormone -- but in ordinary settings it is far less active in men.

Oxytocin commands the neurohormonal HPA axis (adrenal system, basically), and provides a modulator for the detrimental performance aspects of the fight-flight syndorme. It contracts smooth-muscle like fascia that have been spoken of here in several threads, contraction that is poweful enough to strengthen joints and stabilize the body under load -- it may thereby increase effective strength beyond normal parameters ant the cost of joint mobility.

If this has this structural effect at significant levels of expression one's limbs would be much more difficult to bend at joints (i.e. -- arms would be very close to the tegatana form) Much of the articulation in the body would be far more limited -- This "stiff" formality to aikido seems not "natural" to many people beginning this art. But from this perspective it begins to make far more sense -- though the form is adopted artificially in the beginning -- if aggressive action is provoked under the correct intention then this is the form the body will take and maintain. If this persepective is correct then styles of Aikido training that may illustrate "unbendable arm," for instance. may often be mistaking an effect for a mechanism. Styles in aiki -- (not merely aikido) that emphasize the mediation of structure with "intent" may be correct in one sense and yet wrong in another -- intent does create the structural effect -- but not actually intent toward the structure, as such.

Oxytocin has direct effects in the brain, it provokes both bonding AND aggression, and your body will make as much of it as you need, for as long as you need, and in ever increasing amounts -- if you need it.

That is the problem -- the body knows if you genuinely care for and wish to protect someone -- and that is what provokes the expression of oxytocin -- near as we can tell. The insight of the Founder of Aikido that "True budo is love" is a mad momma tiger love -- not a happy bunny love.

The most accessible reference I can give anyone to note the provoked experience of this hormone -- if you have not been in a situation involving the protection of a loved one -- is in the response to a good film, actually.

Film is a powerful art because it hits multiple sensory cues at once and when well done it stimulates the emotions directly, even though vicariously. Women who feel the flush of care for another in film are experiencing effects of oxytocin. Men are more moved by say, Gladiator in the scene where Maximus triumphs and dies or the scene in Platoon with the Samuel Barber Adagio crescendo. Men and women are more typically moved together by the immediately following scene in Gladiator where the woman actually takes moral command: "Is Rome worth the life of one good man.... ? He was a soldier of Rome. Honor him."

I mention these because they are the closest one comes in ordinary circumstance of the moving experience (That smooth muscle fascia stuff -- it is moving) that this hormone provokes. other setting where i have felt it provoked have been in training where something unexpected happens and the partner will be hurt, if I do not simply take over and control it -- That chest shudder radiating out ward in the limbs I have felt in those circumstances in directly inverse proportion to the degree that I could anticipate it occurring and proportional to the degree of danger to the partner involved. It is very different from the purely adrenal thing -- which is more in the neck hackles and the pit of the stomach

Men are emotionally more moved by the self-sacrificing nature of the violence -- women more by the concern for the fallen or those in harms 's way. Again, way overbroad and much overlapping -- but essentially true.

To put it in that overly simplistic and stereotypical terms that nonethelss capture that certain truth --

Women bond primarily to care for one another --

Men bond primarily to sacrifice for one another.

Both are related, good and necessary -- but distinct.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 02-03-2010 at 03:13 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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