A new study of 1,024 mammal species has determined which animals are the most vicious killers of their own kind. Killer whales perhaps? Pit bulls maybe? For the answer, just look in the mirror.
A surprising outcome of my four-year investigation into the neuroscience of human aggression for my new book Why We Snap, was how the reductionist approach that I took to understand individual violent behavior in terms of the specific neural circuits responsible, exploded in scope to illuminate human aggressive behavior in mass–between groups of people, from gangs to races to nations at war. Brexit is a recent example.
New research reported in the journal <em>Psychological Medicine</em>, concludes that continued use of cannabis causes violent behavior as a direct result of changes in brain function that are caused by smoking marijuana over many years.
The tragic violent death this week of LaVoy Finicum, one of the Militia of Ranchers occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon illustrates the LIFEMORTS triggers of rage in action. The difficult situation is an example of the type of violence that I hope an understanding of the neuroscience of aggression can help to reduce.
On Saturday, July 4, 2015, a horrifying bloodbath erupted before the eyes of passengers on the Red Line Metro subway train heading to Fourth of July festivities in Washington, DC. Wide-spread criticism in the press and social media erupted over the “apathetic” response of onlookers who reportedly said or did nothing to help the victim. But from the perspective of brain science, this scornful criticism is misguided.
Yesterday I encountered a colleague outside the elevator. He was profoundly troubled, as are many, anguished by the violence in Baltimore this week. The looting, burning, and scores of injured from angry youths hurling bricks at police were sparked by the violent death of a black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody.
“I was there yesterday,” I told my concerned colleague.
“I went to the CVS Drugstore that was looted and burned,” I replied.
In disbelief he asked, “What was it like?”
(First published on BrainFacts.org )
The last time I was on Boylston Street it was to give a lecture in November at a scientific meeting in the Weston Hotel. Today, Sunday, I’m looking out onto an empty street, barricaded. An eerie modern-day ghost town festooned with yellow police tape rippling in the cold Boston wind. I look across an enormous pile of fresh-cut flowers, teddy bears, helium balloons, baseball caps, candles, and hand-written notes. American flags spout from the mound like brilliant poppies. Grief, still raw, is slipping away, drifting as if carried helplessly on a current, and transforming into something else. Defiance, but shaken with bewilderment. Tourists gather now, out of sorrow and the need to understand. “Do we have anything to give?” a woman asks her companion desperately. “Do we have anything to give?” she repeats, and turns back to survey the makeshift shrine empty handed. It must have begun with a single bouquet. Now it has grown into a mountain.