The Origins of
Violence, Terrorism and Criminality

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The Primal Psychotherapy Page

Is the tendency towards violence genetically based or learned?
in mammals? - in primates? - in humans?

A New York Times article by Natalie Angier, No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture (2004) shows how the environment can exert a powerful force in changing behavior, which under normal conditions, would be typically aggressive behavior in a baboon group.

As a result of fighting over the rights to a garbage heap of bovine tuberculosis-infected meat, the more aggressive members of a Kenyan baboon troupe won, but whose members soon died from the infection. The subordinates and the females who were too submissive to compete for the infected spoils lived and the troupe became less and less aggressive. Mutual grooming became the pasttime rather than continuous fighting.

Two decades later, the troop tranquility continued to prevail even though the original survivors had all died or had departed as juveniles. The social rules of the new culture with its less aggressive code of conduct were somehow transmitted to its newest members with the result that they all had less stress. This was proved by an analysis of appropriate hormone levels.

Fighting within the group still happened, but easy wins no longer seemed to be the goal of the interactions.

Dr. Sapolsky, who wrote the report, hopes that the peace will last. ''I confess I'm rooting for the troop to stay like this forever, but I worry about how vulnerable they may be,'' he said. ''All it would take is two or three jerky adolescent males entering at the same time to tilt the balance and destroy the culture.''

-- John A. Speyrer, Webmeister

"People who have been traumatically abused are saddled with the worst expectations - terrifying anxiety, loss of control, feeling like killing and being killed,(and) being alone
and unable to survive in a murderous universe."

-- Leonard Shengold, M.D.

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