Hormones and Voter Suppression? The Bio-Chemistry of Political Activity.


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“As the night advanced I did not care so much about the audience – I turned making tips into a game of sorts.  In fact, as I gathered more and more money I became more and more flirtatious with the customers…  It began to feel like I was using sexuality as a weapon and I was enjoying this form of manipulation to gain an objective.  Excerpt from “Freedom from Conscience – Descent into Darkness.”

The above quote is from my latest psychological thriller. The protagonist, Melanie Lindberg, a state legislator, is forced to go under-cover into an exotic nightclub she suspects is both a cover for sexual trafficking and the source of threats made on her family. A sub-plot running through the book is her learning how to use every skill at her disposal not just to survive, and eliminate her opponents, but also in the process she learns how to better advance her real career objectives through manipulating customers/voters at the emotional level.  And isn’t this how it works in real life? And as hormones obviously come into play in the business of sex they also play a huge role in the more “respectable” game of politics.  What? How are hormones involved in the political arena? Let’s examine this, paying special attention to testosterone and…well, voter suppression.

Testosterone is generally associated with male sexuality but it is not just present in males, it is merely in higher levels than in females. It is generally associated with aggression but such may not be the case. In truth it is associated with having a more competitive nature, that “I want to win and I will win.” mindset that tends to translate into more social and physical dominance. High testosterone levels in men and women, indicated by for instance, the longer ring finger to index finger ratio has been shown to be correlated with highly successful female athletes, as well as success regarding stock trading in males.  Testosterone does not make us who we are; it does help kick us in the seat of the pants to push us along though. And while it is not the only hormone associated with mindset and behavior it is a critical component that cannot be ignored.

In the animal kingdom, specifically pack animals like wolves, there is often a struggle for power with the alpha female and male being established through fighting for dominance. However, it does not benefit the strength of the pack for an alpha to seriously maim or kill fellow members of the pack. Instead a fight will take place but the winner, once in a position to clamp its jaws on or next to the neck of the opponent, but not to take a lethal bite, signals an end to the competition. The wolves can then get on with daily life. And while in Twilight this made for an interesting aspect of the plot, with unusual anthropomorphic implications, does this really have application in the most powerful pack animal species – namely mankind?

Back in 2008 a study was conducted on male supporters of Obama and McCain. On the election night testosterone levels were measured in all participants. When it was clear that Obama was going to win the testosterone levels plunged in the McCain supporters.  A similar study was done on male rugby players and, sure enough, once one team was assured that they were going to win the testosterone levels decreased in the team that was losing.  And have we not seen that many times, be it our kid’s soccer game or a nationally televised sport event, where, when one team pulls ahead, the other appears to loss hope and motivation, and just goes through the moves until the clock runs out?  The idea is that just as in the case of the vanquished wolf a human who losses motivation is likely to give up and avoid life-threatening injuries. So in the past the men who surrendered on the battlefield at least had a chance to survive and pass on their genes, while men who fought to the bitter end, against insurmountable odds, often died and failed to make any further contribution to the gene pool. And while politics in a democratic system does not often lead to death it is our more civilized way of picking leaders. As Freud said, civilization began when someone used words rather than violence to settle a dispute.

So how can this apply to voter suppression? We need only to look at the Democratic primaries of 2016. The mainstream media (often referred to as the media oligopoly or corporate press) employed a bit of hormonal warfare against Bernie by ignoring him at the beginning or marginalizing him as his support continued to grow despite his supporters being demonstration of commitment.  Towards the later quarter of the race the media ran stories as to whether, when he lost, he would endorse Hillary. They also ran stories predicting which states would go for Hillary and at what point Hillary would reach the magic number of delegates to clench the nomination.  We can be fairly certain that this not only caused some otherwise Bernie supporters to stay at home but others might have voted for Hillary, “The sure thing.” And when you saw the faces of the primarily young enthusiasts for Bernie as he won states but did not win the majority of delegates they looked the same as fans realizing that the referee is only going to rule in favor of the other team’s controversial plays and, thus, your team is destined to lose. One wonders if any researchers were out there testing Bernie and Hillary supporters and their testosterone levels through this race.

Okay, so we have an idea of how the thought that your team losing will reduce testosterone and competitiveness.  How is this playing into the general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?  Needless to say the same media is virtually united against Trump. And whether you love or loath him it is not difficult to see how media influence could be doing a job on Trump’s supporters in regards to their hormonal fluctuations.  Some of the largest media outlets have run not stories based on insider leaks but rather speculation as to when Trump might drop out of the race. The same tactic was used against Bernie if you recall.  This could have effects such as reducing people’s willingness to contribute to Trump’s campaign or do grass-roots organizing to get people to vote for Trump. Then, as hormonal levels plummet, the media can point to gloom, pessimism and lack of enthusiasm within his campaign. And, as people do not want to be associated with the losing team, a large number might decide to find other things to devote their time to.  Is this voter suppression? Yes, but unlike the old days where polling stations might change location at the last minute in a certain candidate’s staunchest areas of support, this is psychological with physical consequences that then affect the original psychological state. You have what you might call an internal feedback loop developed that makes the once more dedicated supporter assume a state similar to the wolf that realizes they cannot possibly win. Better to be passive…it’s in our nature and our endocrine system.

So yes, testosterone and our expectations, based on reality or not, affects our behavior.  Yet are we mere slaves to our internal glands?  Not at all, not if you recognize how this works.  You see if outside forces can diminish our strength and resolve our ability to connect to and control our perceptions can be used to counteract whatever is thrown at us.  Whether on an individual basis, team situation, workplace, dating involved in a political cause a person can, instead of dwelling on negativity, focus on whatever positives that exist, even if things look dire for one reason or another. The beauty in this bit of wisdom is that boosting natural testosterone levels can make men and women more confident, and more confidence can lead to success, which leads to a positive rather than negative feedback loop. Of course exercise helps too but for now perception is the key I want to throw out for now.  So, winner or loser…you really do have more control than you think, as long as you recognize you really are in control.

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Sexual Slavery and Human Trafficking


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“Slavery is founded on the selfishness of man’s nature; opposition to it on his love of justice.” Abraham Lincoln

Recently, President Donald Trump stated, in regards to human trafficking:

“It’s a very, very terrible problem, it’s not talked about enough. People don’t know enough about it and we’re going to talk about it and we’re going to bring it out into the open and hopefully we’re going to do a great deal to help prevent some of the horrific, really horrific crimes that are taking place.”  (Reuters, Feb. 23, 2017)

Human trafficking can take on any sort of involunary bondage or servitude. Quite often there is a sexual component to this issue, especially when it involves trafficking in developed nations.  And as Donald Trump has stated, it is an issue that gets too little coverage in the media.  Oh, and just to make it clear, this is not a partisan issue as I quote former president Barack Obama on this issue at the end of this article.

If we want to help the victims of this practice we need to bring it out into the open.  This will put pressure on politicians to act.

In my most recent book in the ”Freedom from Conscience” series, “Freedom from Conscience – Descent into Darkness” the protagonist, a state legislator who is a former vigilante serial killer, must go undercover in an exotic  dance establishment, that is in reality a front for a sex trafficking operation.  She partners up with a young Russian woman who is seeking answers as to the whereabouts of her vanished sister when someone begins to threaten her family after she begins to expose this issue.  http://finest.se/jasmincroft/2016/01/13/descent-into-darkness/  Again, sex trafficking and human slavery merely are not merely an interesting plot to a psychological thriller or action movie, or is it something in which the magnitude far exceeds the attention it receives in the corporate media news outlets. And again, this must change.

Around the early part of the 21st Century there was a fair amount of news coverage of the plight of eastern European and Russian women being tricked or forced into sex slavery. As is usually the case any time war or economic circumstances makes people vulnerable to exploitation there will be those who will capitalize on the misery of others.  The situation in the former Soviet bloc nations was dire; criminal gangs worked with impunity, there was little if any work available and the ability of law enforcement to tackle such things as human trafficking was severely limited.  Sometimes women sought any employment and were willing to be transported to nations in Europe, the Middle East and North America. More were tricked into believing they were being hired as nannies or models only to have their passports confiscated and forced to work in brothels, sex clubs or as private mistresses.  Some estimated that hundreds of thousands of women got caught up in this.

As the economy of the former Soviet nations has improved and the legal infrastructure has become more efficient and accountable the numbers from these regions have decreased, but it still exists.  In fact victims and perpetrators can be found in most advanced nations, although, as stated earlier, war and economic uncertainty create a perfect breeding ground for this sort of activity.

Recently some reports have trickled out of the Middle East of Syrian and Yazidi girls being forced into sex slavery by ISIS captors.  And in other areas affected by war, or where massive migrations are occurring, people can become easy prey for these operations.  As for forced labor this is another aspect of slavery that exists in some areas of the developing world; to assume that slavery ended in the whole world when it ended in the USA is quite naïve.

To his credit President Obama has addressed this issue:

“When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape — that is slavery. When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving — that’s slavery.

When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family — girls my daughters’ age — runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.”   https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/end-human-trafficking

We can help by making sure this is an issue that gets attention in social media, the regular media and that we encourage our elected representatives to address this problem as well.


Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Modern Society


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“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Have you ever heard of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave?  Chances are you haven’t. Perhaps the warnings of a Greek philosopher from antiquity may not be seen as pertinent to our modern technological age. Yet one may be surprised at the idea that his allegory speaks directly to the here-and-now. We should pay attention to Plato’s analysis of how our perceptions are governed by biases such as our upbringing, what media we are exposed to and our peer group.  In psychology we call this schema.

Plato’s lesson goes like this. A group of people, let’s say five women have been raised from birth chained to each other in a cave in such a way that they can only see directly in front of each other.  It is not a torturous existence as they are provided food and water and they can talk with each other in a language they have developed together. So what is their world view? Well, their gaze is fixed on a wall directly in front of them.

Behind our women is a fire in the very back of the cave. And between them and the fire are workers going about their business. So as these hypothetical workers move about it castes shadows onto the wall for our women to observe. They label the various images and interpret their origins and their relationship to them.  This is their world…their reality.

Well, one day one of the women is released, maybe a caretaker forgets to lock her back up after a cleaning, who knows, and leaves keys sitting on a rock.  The woman stands up and turns around to see light coming from the entrance to the cave. Forgetting her lifelong companions she stumbles out of the cave and is met with a sunny day. Her eyes take time to adjust to her new surroundings but eventually she is able to see a totally exotic world. There is a large sun overhead, some clouds, and a green landscape underneath. She sees trees with leaves glistening in the sunlight as a light breeze moves them about. She begins to pick up objects, smell flowers and, while the loose rocks hurt her bare feet as she explores about she enjoys both the sensations of the sun’s rays on her body and all this new world has to offer.

After a few hours she decides she wants her companions to experience her new insights…her new reality. She strolls back to the cave and approaches her friends. She is excited about her discoveries and begins to recount all she has experienced. Her friends roll their eyes and shake their heads. They cannot comprehend what she is trying to relate to them. She picks up the keys and offers to unlock them and see that what she is saying is true.  As she approaches they kick at her and insist she sit down and fasten herself back into her locks.

The four women lash out rather than consider seeing for themselves if the free woman is telling them the truth. After all, if she is correct then it threatens their world view, their schema.  So in a sense their lashing out is an ego-defensive mechanism; deep down they fear she may be right. What if she is right? What then?  It is safe in the cave, their needs met and acceptance in their shared community…prisoners yes, but a very predictable existence. Of course it would be unlikely the one that has seen the real world will submit, sit down and lock herself back into confinement.

So how is this applicable to the world of today? In my book, “Freedom from Conscience – Descent into Darkness” the theme is an awakening to the real world of the protagonist outside her comfortable middle-class background as she must go undercover into the dark world of organized crime, corrupt police and the sex industry to protect her family. A sub-plot involves her trying to wake up two women she comes in touch with to a new way of living, to step out of the lives they are used to. In fact, that is the underlying message of this and the other “Freedom from Conscience” book series; question authority, question assumptions and dare to break free of cultural chains that are as strong as the iron  chains Plato was referring to in his allegory.  In our day “reality” for most people is set by the corporate media (news shows, movies, music videos, commercials, and TV programs), sports, and public education, and reinforced by getting approval from friends, family and co-workers. Some aspects of mainstream thought and culture are quite positive, but that is not the point. The only way to personally evaluate which are positive and which are negative to individuals and society in general is to examine who is asking us to believe or act in certain ways, what will be the results and why should we choose what we choose.

So whether you are, as the woman in the cave, just discovering you have the ability to leave your chains behind, on your way out, discovering the real world or trying to awaken those around you it is vital to remember that at one point you were as this women chained into place and accepting the reality that was forced upon her. Never allow enlightenment to develop into arrogance.  In the United States there are six large corporations that control almost all the media you are exposed to and that power has a tremendous effect on government, production, and even education and religion. Of course the latter institutions exert their own power and each creates a gigantic feedback loop in which the individual is as pulled along as if he or she is caught in a massive whirlpool.  Too many metaphors and analogies? Perhaps.  But the point is that everyone can help one another caught up in modern society to dig a bit deeper, question a little more, analyze and enable each other to dare to step out of the cave.


10 Reasons to Have Children


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I recently ran across the news that Italy is thinking of doubling its subsidy for children to combat what is being called a birthrate “apocalypse.”  And while Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world the conditions that have led to this are affecting pretty much all the western world, and some in the east.  Of all the reasons that could be examined I think the most important one is that people today have been conditioned to focus on the purported disadvantages to having children as opposed to the advantages.  In reality children are a blessing and perhaps, in addition to nations giving bonuses to advance the birthrate, they could create campaigns to promote the advantages at the personal and societal level.  For instance:

  • The greatest investment ever. Okay, true there are costs associated with having children, and some people choose to forego any births, or curtail their families to only two children, but let’s look at this carefully.  Ultimately pretty much every consumer item you crave to have will be in a second-hand store or junk yard in a decade. How much is that computer you wished your parents would buy you back in 2005? That car you envied the neighbor having back in 2000? On the other hand children are an investment into the future. The fulfillment one will gain from one child can only be magnified by many children and these children can bring you grandchildren.
  • Your family is the only enduring social network you will have. Very, very few of the people you call friends will remain close to you as time goes on.  And the more children you have the larger this biological network will be.  You have to admire many of the immigrants from the Middle East who go into a business as a family and then expand it, filling the administrative positions with brothers and cousins.  Our “modern” society has, for the most part, abandoned this aspect of family… and along with it possibilities as well as security.
  • Greater support. I read an article about Mexican Americans and depression a few years ago. It said that recent immigrants had much lower depression than the general culture, but then their children began to acquire the traits of those around them.  The theory was that the first generation newcomers came from large extended families.  They were able to turn to each other for psychological support in times of stress or depression. Maybe ones parents don’t understand a person that well while one of the brothers or sisters do. Large families have an advantage there. I cover the issue (with a fiction platform) in the second novel, “Freedom from Conscience – Melanie’s Awakening: http://finest.se/jasmincroft/2012/07/29/freedom-from-conscience-melanies-awakening/
  • People who are in strong family units tend to fare better on health measures than those who don’t.  How many times have you heard of parents dying in an accident so the grandparents assume the role of parents again; and their agility and outlook returns to a younger state?  Family gives us meaning and people who have a sense of their importance supplied by family will have an advantage in health and well-being.
  • Married people live longer than single people and people with families tend to live longer as well.  Childbirth can of course reduce risk of certain cancers but even beyond that larger families may hold advantages. For instance, we see an explosion of childhood obesity and one factor that has been cited is smaller families that can afford to indulge one or two kids with lots more treats than one with three or four (or more) children would be able, or willing, to do.
  • Better use of resources. People with families tend to buy more in bulk and use less resources per person for heating, water and even transportation.
  • Cultural preservation. A culture that is not replacing itself is one that is slated for the same fate as the Shakers – decline and extinction.  It is not so simple as saying that the average birthrate has to be around 2.3 children per woman just to have a replacement of the previous generation.  We have to consider that there are many people who are sterile, others who never marry, mortality, and some people absolutely not wanting families.  To attain 2.3 you have to have a significant number of couples having three or more children to offset this.
  • Genetic survival. It is more than chromosomes; much more.  You are the result of countless generations of people who survived long enough to reproduce. Your DNA is a chain that connects you to the ancient past.
  • Seriously, while I often hear parents complain about the responsibilities of raising children not a one of them, at least the many I have encountered, say they wish they had not had them, or had avoided the youngest or whatever. On a cost-benefit scale the joys of parenting far outweigh the costs.
  • Getting to experience life again. What better excuse to re-gain the fun you had when you were a kid playing with toys than to have an excuse to play with them again with your children? And even a person who is an astronomer as a living can experience the simple pleasures of looking at the stars with their kids on a July night.  As adults we often get caught up with the complexities of life that we forget the joys of simply watching ants go about their business on a spring day, or planting seeds in a garden. Yet in the company of children we regain the perspective that we may have had twenty or thirty (or more) years previously. The marvels of creation can often be forgotten in our dog-eat-dog world, but children remind us of what is important.

Darwin once said, “How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.” He should have known, he and his wife had ten children together.

Of Bathrooms and Combat Boots?


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20160516_151951“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”

Quote often attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt

I do not usually cover what some might call “conspiracy” but I do believe in deeply analyzing socio-political issues.  We need to investigate far beyond what the corporate press feeds us and sometimes…sometimes one has to ask if two seemingly unrelated issues might indeed be related under the surface. The case in point here, and bear with me it might seem far-fetched, but could the whole controversy with breaking gender barriers in reference to bathrooms in the USA be connected to aims of the military-industrial complex? I mean…could it be true, at least indirectly?  Let’s just throw it out there and see what happens.

Two things are a bit suspicious here. The first is why the federal government, all of a sudden, is urging public schools nationwide to allow transgender students to be able to use the bathroom they choose despite their sex at birth.  The second is timing of something that again may seem unrelated, that of moving towards the policy of allowing women to serve in combat roles as well as mandating they be included in draft registration.  Note: I am not going to address the issue of transgender youth or adults.  I want to deal with the possible underlying motives of the people who run the nation.

So let’s look at what many people see as an issue of “modesty” or appropriate separation of the sexes.  Okay, I see the concern, that eventually we will start allowing men to use the women’s bathroom…men who are anatomically male but identify as female. I get it. However I would personally like to see a change in our facilities themselves – do as they do in Scandinavia and have individual toilets inside a closet, not the so-called barriers between toilets that provide virtually no privacy.  I also have heard people saying that the Obama suggestions would eventually lead to men being let into the women’s showers.  I do not think that is the goal of most people supporting this change of policy but here is where we can tie in the possible military connection.

Follow me here. We shall start with entertainment. What? Where is the tie-in? One cannot divorce the military from popular entertainment.  This relationship started in WW2 and we all have probably seen the cartoons featuring what we often think of as children’s entertainment characters fighting Japanese and German soldiers.  It did not end there however. For instance, the Pentagon has been accused of actually influencing plots in films (check “Iron Man and Transformers Censored by US Military for Getting too Close to the Truth” in the July 11th, 2015 Mirror).  Now I cannot prove anything but I have noticed that in science fiction since the late 1990s it seems the norm that in the depiction of military combat units they feature women fighting along-side men.  So while few nations have women included in front-line forces the media appears to be slowly getting us used to it, and that is how attitudes are influenced, and when attitudes change that makes for policy changes.

In the May 13th Reuter’s article, “Congress Moves Closer to requiring Draft Registration for Women” it is noted that the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee have approved proposals that would require young women to register for the draft.  And Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced that all combat positions be open to women.

So again, the relationship?  Well, many people, especially social conservatives, might wonder how living quarters, restrooms, showering…you know, the concerns that center around biology and gender, might complicate women serving with men, especially if registration evolved into compulsory military service for young men and women.  Could the push for restrooms in the USA to move away from biological segregation be connected to the idea that erasing norms that mandate separation could facilitate a new expectation that appears more like those movies where you have male and female soldiers using the same bathrooms and showering together?

I suppose my point is ultimately I do not trust that the federal government would take the issue to the lengths they have without some other agenda.  Personally, I do not see that big of a deal with transgender people using whatever bathroom they want. There are people who are genetically male who have undertaken transformations that make them look quite female and vice versa.  And if people are worried about the sexual aspects I can guarantee that if you use a public bathroom there are people who of your own biological gender who feel attracted to other members of their own biological gender.  Again, I hate using American public bathrooms as there is little privacy afforded by stalls and I prefer privacy at home and away from home. Seriously, does anyone really want to be subjected to the knowledge that the person next to you ate something earlier that really disagreed with them?

As for the idea of showering I again think that facilities can be set up to afford privacy. Many children cringe at the idea of showering after PE around their peers regardless the biological gender. Now those who have read my “Freedom from Conscience” books might feel that an odd position for me to take as my main protagonist, Melanie Lindberg, sees nudity as a form of personal and spiritual expression. However the context is choice.  If someone wants to go to a hot spring in Oregon or Washington and sit in a pool with a group of naked hippies and yuppies then what of it? The ones that have bathrooms are still private, and as they are private there is no need for “men” and “women” signs on the doors.

So ultimately, aside of my suspicion that this whole national issue has other motivations (at least in regards to the government), the most practical solution would be to design bathrooms with complete privacy, especially in public schools.  There are nations in Europe where this is the norm. If they can do it so can we.

The Deeper Lesson of The Walking Dead


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“The show is valuable because it allows you to apply the principles of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill to a sort of game-theory decision tree in a “real world” simulation.”

Mario Loyola, “The Walking Dead’s Political Philosophy,” National Review, Dec. 5, 2015

I was recently in a meeting where the topic of food storage and preparing for natural disaster came up. I noted that anyone who tunes into “The Walking Dead” will at least be left with the thought that maybe it’s a good idea to stock up on essentials in case of a disaster. I found it interesting that only one other person had seen the show and they agreed, although several said they would give it a look.

I too resisted the series for a couple of years thinking it was a typical, run-of-the-mill zombie show with lots of gore and a standard plot-line. However, one day I tuned in on Netflix and was hooked. The program actually employs a strong philosophical thread, as the article from National Review notes, but also tackles a wide array of psychological and sociological themes.

One thing that is hinted at, but made more apparent in the spin-off, “Fear the Walking Dead” is the social decay that would ensue if the traditional infrastructure collapsed. What happens when there is nobody to call for help? What happens if there are no police or military to come in and save the day? What if everyone was left at everyone else’s mercy? And what if, as I assume there will be no zombie epidemics in our future unless someone messes up with a nano-technology experiment, society disintegrated due to a pandemic, war or catastrophic economic collapse? Would it be that much different than the world of the TV series?

In my book, “Freedom from Conscience – Deliverance from Evil”  http://finest.se/jasmincroft/   the heroine, Melanie Lindberg, is kidnapped by a serial killer who anticipates a societal breakdown and has prepared himself in a compound in eastern Oregon. His vision is that people in the cities would run out of food and begin a march to the suburbs in a quest to take what they lack. The suburban soccer moms and hockey dads would not fare well, but there would be enough people with guns to finally decimate the rampaging hordes. Yet in the end survivors would be clustered into small networks without much of an aim or focus beyond survival. That would lead to a power vacuum our super-villain, Vincent Elkington, anticipated filling.

So is that how things would work out? Would psychopathic individuals establish their own little kingdoms and we would return to an era similar to 12th Century Europe? The world of, “The Walking Dead” gets viewers thinking about this in reference to three communities, Woodbury, Terminus and Alexandria. In the first we are presented with a charismatic psychopathic leader who will employ any sort of Machiavellian principles to maintain power and protect his community from both humans and zombies (I know they are called “walkers” but I will stick to the more recognizable term). In contrast we later are presented with Alexandria which is filled with people who appear akin to folks that support Bernie Sanders, and are led by an idealistic woman who used to be a congresswoman. I won’t deal with Terminus because they had devolved into cannibals and we are not given detailed background in explaining their collapse into barbarity. Yet the Woodbury and Alexandria settings allow us to explore extremes in social thinking that can be applied to regular society even without a disaster scenario. In Woodbury might makes right, but people are willing to fight to hold onto what they have.  Again, their leader may not be all that stable but in Hobbesian world sometimes you need to be tough to have the benefits of eventually securing a society ruled with the ideals of John Locke.  As we see in Alexandria the people are isolated from danger and have become weak; easy prey for those who would do them harm. Do such societies survive in real life? Sadly history has shown that they do not unless they have the security of existing as a sub-culture in a powerful state.

Overall I have to say that “The Walking Dead” is far deeper than most entertainment on TV today. If nothing else if one takes away from it the need to be prepared in case of disaster then that is an important lesson since our modern society and infrastructure while, being complex, is actually increasingly vulnerable to weather, disease and whatever mankind can come up with in the quest for power. And lastly, what would your community look like if the lights did indeed go out…go out for good?

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How Psychopaths See Life


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“Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.”

Niccolo Machiavelli


Well, election time is upon us and like a plot akin to Game of Thrones fused with House of Cards we are being treated to America’s favorite reality show featuring personality types ranging from malignant narcissism to psychopathy. Yes, our shock-and-awe political gladiator event mixed with a hefty dose of glamour and glitz to bring you…the ultimate quest for power.  This modern blood-sport is one that favors the men and women able to deliver the decisive blow to opponents, yet maintain a cool and collected look even after they decimate their foes on the field; and afterwards we don’t even see a drop of blood splatter running down their pretty cheeks.  So many dimensions of American “democracy” we could explore but why not get into politicians collective minds and ask: How do such psychopaths see the world?

A psychopath is an interesting individual.  They of course have defining traits including:

  • Glib and superficial charm.
  • The ability to lie, or important in American politics, reconstruct the truth with creativity.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Lack of guilt.
  • A grandiose sense of self.
  • Easily bored and a need for higher-than-average stimulation.

It is easy to judge the psychopath as some sort of dangerous individual, or even a monster. Yet this “monster” can elicit admiration from entire societies. That is why politics is the perfect world for them.

Okay, as promised though, how do they see the world?  As children they realize there is something different about them.  And no, they are not necessarily bullies – often they are the bullied. Why? Well, childhood can be very cruel, especially to those who do not react the same as others to emotional stimuli, or who question a bit too much, or are judged as arrogant because they can analyze the complexities of life even at a young age.  This leaves them open to being picked on, to being left out.  This aspect of psychopathy I deal with in my book “Freedom from Conscience – Melanie’s Journey.” She is an outsider, with a history of being bullied, but as she matures she uses her insights and skills to her advantage, with deadly consequences. http://moaklang.tumblr.com/post/47194554291/book-review-title-melanies-journey-author

And what skills does a psychopath learn to use? At least the intelligent ones learn that even if they do not feel the same emotions, or at least at the same level as regular people around them, they need to master their environment – that means to learn how to show regular human reactions to tragedy as well as cheerful events. They also learn the art of communication, be it charm or more weaponized verbal skills.  As the saying goes the art of diplomacy is to have the skill to tell someone to go to hell, and them look forward to the trip.

Naturally the psychopath sees the world in an arrogant way. They cannot understand why they are able to make connections while “common people” are unable to. This causes them to see people as generally being stupid, and to most psychopaths the ability to manipulate them becomes a game.  If they go into marketing they see their job as selling a product – using any means to appeal to the masses. If they are politicians they will see themselves as the product to sell. And if anything causes fear in a psychopath’s heart it is losing. They absolutely will bend rules, tell the “truth” in creative ways (most people call that lying, but is it technically?) and while they form alliances to win it is akin to the alliances formed in “The Hunger Games” in which in the end the alphas will have to turn against each other. People are seen as sources of power and favor. This is how politics really works, and how politicians must behave to win.  So psychopaths are quite suited for this environment.

Of course psychopaths will believe all people think as they do, just as most regular people think that politicians actually have empathy for them and a desire to serve. Now before I go further I will note that psychopaths can internalize ethics. If they do they can become champions of worthy causes if they believe there is a wrong to be righted. So yes, there are anti-heroes akin to those Clint Eastwood movies where he rides into town and winds up saving it from some evil villains, but like the Eastwood character depicted in those movies he (or she) does not really feel compassion for those being oppressed the way regular people might.  Also important to note, the psychopath does not “feel” for the weak.  In fact, a psychopath would likely believe the way to make society stronger is for weak people not to breed.  In a Machiavellian sense, an aspect of psychopathy, the ends justify the means if in the end you can create a Utopia.

As noted, psychopaths project their own personalities so they see other people as possessing their own imaginations and motivations. Therefore psychopaths are more likely to support harsh treatment of criminals…they realize how easy it is to manipulate a social worker or psychologist and thus would never believe a violent criminal can be rehabilitated. So, ironically, as psychopaths hate to be told what to do or conform in any way, they may, once they gain power, seek to make sure the masses don’t cause problems. So the ultimate lone wolf of the psychological world may, if in charge, seek ways to monitor, manipulate, and punish the masses to keep them from realizing what the powers-that-be are doing to them.  And the people who will likely oppose them? Expect them to be psychopaths as well. Maybe this is why revolutions often eat their young first – the victors suspect their colleagues and fear their toppling them.

So in a way the psychopath lives in a world divided into sheep and wolves. Some will seek to feast on the sheep and fight other wolves for that privilege. Others will fancy themselves as sheepdogs, there to lead and control the sheep. Yet one must remember, the sheepdog and the wolf have the same origin, instincts, and diet, but the former at least sees the benefit of creating a certain level of order; protection so the sheep can go about their business, but at a price, an acceptable price, one even the sheep agree upon. So in a sense in elections you are often not voting between persons governed by empathy and warm and fuzzy feelings but between sheepdogs and wolves…psychopaths with ethics, or those without.

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Psychopaths, Love and Sex.


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“All I can ever find online is how to leave a sociopath. I want one back. The challenge and all the sex is just too much fun to get over.”

Tweet by M.E. Thomas

I have read a great many articles about the dangerous nature of psychopaths (I have written previously on why technically there is no difference between psychopaths and sociopaths) and how they wreck relationships.  Yet a central theme that runs through these articles is that one of the major things that keep the alleged victim in a relationship is the sex.  It seems there is a consensus that psychopaths are very good at that aspect of life – but why?

I would speculate that there are three traits that psychopaths share that enable them to transcend the average in regards to sex and these are:

  • Psychopaths feel absolutely no mental connection to the norms of society. This feature allows the man or woman to be far less constrained than most people, more experimental and unafraid to try new things. One can easily see that psychopaths are willing to break boundaries and give their partner (s) a thrill ride that most people would feel was, well, improper.  And while a partner might protest at first, and feel guilt and contempt after a relationship has ended, while it is taking place they are in an adrenaline rush of a lifetime.
  • Psychopaths feel no guilt. They can feel disappointment over not achieving a goal, or losing, but not the personal pain and anguish of guilt. Most people who have problems with sex within a relationship have been taught what is proper when growing up (i.e. nudity is wrong) and all these intimacy-killers prevent them from being able to be fully open with their partner.  The psychopath has no such inhibitions, and even though they may actually be quite loyal to their partner, they will do their best to introduce them to a new world of infinite possibilities.
  • Psychopaths get bored easily. That can be dangerous to a relationship as many psychopaths can lose interest and end up dumping a partner merely due to not getting a high anymore.  Yet if the psychopath is loyal to their partner (maybe due to their religious ideals) they will seek to spark things up and seek out new experiences. Again, hang on for the ride.

That all being said I am neither endorsing nor condemning getting involved with a psychopath.  After all, as anyone who has read my book, “Freedom from Conscience – Melanie’s Awakening” the main character abandons her self-imposed puritanical sexuality and embarks on a series of extremely complicated relationships – with possibly some dark consequences for at least one companion – yet everyone she is involved with find her intoxicating and addicting. And in the surprise ending she creates her ideal relationship on her terms, nobody else really matters. One can benefit if they accept her and find happiness… yet everything is based on what her final lover is willing to accept.

This ultimately is the price of being with a psychopath.  Psychopaths do indeed feel love, if they choose to, and they can be quite loyal…again, if they choose to, and on their terms. It all depends ultimately on what they see as their ideal life goal. However, while some people with psychopathic personality desire to be in a long-term romance and raise a family, one that might of course be their greatest personal glory, they will not bring empathy to the table; although one may have to ask, is empathy necessary for love to exist?

How to Counteract Societal Mind Control


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“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

George Bernard Shaw

When one hears the term “mind control” they often think of some science fiction movie where an alien parasite takes over someone’s brain, or a mad scientist uses a device to overpower the will of his intended victims.  To think of mind control in a serious context seems absurd to most people, yet as Shaw, as well as Edward Bernays, the father of modern advertising, recognized most people merely absorb the norms and values of their culture without critical analysis, without questioning, and does this not qualify as mind control?  Of course neither Shaw nor Bernays could have contemplated how technology would make the task of shaping society so much easier than in their day.  Yet the basic means of manipulating people remains the same as it always has been. If you are reading this chances are you are one of the tiny minority not wishing to be submerged into the vast corporate-entertainment industry-political collective unconsciousness. Let’s examine five basic methods that keep the 95% content and the remainder rather frustrated. Of course what we do with this information is up to us.

  • The first can be said to be tribalism. What images appear in your mind, those of half-naked people living in the jungle dancing around an idol? Yet in the first of my “Freedom from Conscience” http://moaklang.tumblr.com/post/47194554291/book-review-title-melanies-journey-author books the main characters observe a pep rally before a big game at their school. The main character recognizes the similarity of such events to ancient pre-battle rituals…heavy music, chanting in unison, young cheerleaders in dance to excite the testosterone of the “warriors” and spectators…and yet we think we are advanced and our ancient ancestors so very primitive? Are we? Look at a commercial for the military, a half-time show at a sporting event complete with flags, or jets flying overhead. The intent is to erase the individual and the spectators merge in a symphony of conformity. Oh, tribalism also works to get people to buy into the latest trends, listen to the new “top hits” or tune into the new hit series on TV.  The adage “Everyone is doing it” is the appeal to conformity and thus tribalism, be it ethnic, religious, national or based on your age or gender.
  • Playing on guilt has always been a favorite of those in power. As I have dealt with before the emotion of guilt starts out in the child when we believe our parents are perfect; friends of God. We feel bad when we disappoint them. Later we project these feelings onto the society we grow up in as it becomes an extension of our parents. This is why people feel guilt when they do something they believe is against the rules, even though they had no direct connection to making those rules, or often in some act that someone deems that they should feel guilty for. Collective guilt is a powerful weapon in the hands of those who know how to use it to their advantage.
  • Insecurity relates to the first two. As the studies by Solomon Asch demonstrated, people are more confident of a decision supported by a group than a single individual, and even if they know the group is wrong they are reluctant to voice a dissenting point of view. Ever found yourself in a class in which the teacher presents an opinion and everyone appears to agree? How many times did you wish you had said something but chose not to? It was uncomfortable, wasn’t it? The same concept applies to marketing clothing or even political opinions. People generally don’t want to stand out, to have to defend a radically different choice, and advertisers, politicians and the media know that. That is why what is “polite” is carefully framed in a given society.
  • Maintaining a state of fear is perfect for insuring mind control. When we are scared we are likely to support whoever promises to keep us safe. Think of a small group of people thousands of years ago sitting around a campfire. Suddenly they hear the roar of lions in the dark. One, maybe not the brightest, maybe not the most likable, jumps up and grabs a spear and demands that the men do as he says because everyone knows he once killed a lion. When scared they put their trust in him. Everyone agrees to make him leader. However, after a few days there has been no sign of lions. Our lion-killer notes that people are losing their desire to obey his orders, and the younger women are no longer paying as much attention to him. So he goes out and kills a small deer, mangles it and puts it near some old lion tracks. When others discover the scene they run back and report that the lions are back. The lion-killer is made permanent leader and protector. Of course we are too smart to fall for such a thing today, right? Well, turn on the TV and see what dominates our corporate news programs. Our population is in a perpetual state of fear and that is why we have seen overall compliance with an erosion of civil liberties since 2001.  And aside from political aspects of fear it is also a basic foundation of modern consumerism; fear of not being pretty enough, rich enough or successful enough. Of course Madison Avenue has a way to ease the pain…buy acceptance, buy symbols of wealth, and make sure to listen to “experts” and celebrities who will tell you what you need to do to not be left out or behind.
  • Finally, appeal to animal or survival instincts. Look at modern advertising today, sex does indeed sell. One does not need to be a devotee of B.F. Skinner to see how products are marketed. Products from hamburgers to beer, are associated with sex. It is called classical conditioning and it is very effective in getting us to buy products that satisfy a sub-conscious need because we have been told the product is associated with the thirst to satisfy the instinctive drive. Of course governments and political organizations can merely appeal to survival needs by “educating” the population that unless they follow a certain course of action then their basic well-being is at stake, or the rulers can take credit for the living standards of the people and warn that if they are thrown out of power then prosperity will be in peril.

Overall mind control is not a process of turning a population into the easily manipulated zombies of 1950s movies, before zombies transformed into out-of-control eating machines. It actually involves creating a compliant populace of people who behave as the society wishes, conform to the wishes of the dominant elite and dare not think or act outside the “polite” parameters which are defined by education, the media and reinforced by peers.  As Shaw states, only a few people dare to “think” and sadly it has become more difficult to do so in today’s media saturated society.

The Appeal of the Dark Side.


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“Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  Carl Jung

Jung felt that most people are too frightened to entertain the darker thoughts that lurk underneath the surface of the sub-conscious mind.  His long-time associate, Sigmund Freud, even went to far as to say in his work, “Civilization and its Discontents” that without guilt for primal urges, in his term the “id” which corresponds well with Jung’s shadow, then civilization itself would crumble and we might well find ourselves in some sort of Hobbesian nightmare of people acting on their sexual and/or violent impulses.

However close Jung and Freud might have originally been, the idea of the darker self was one in which they disagreed on. Freud almost in a religious manner, although he claimed no belief in God, presents the id forces in the same context as a source of evil temptation that a psychologically healthy person must repress. Jung, on the other hand, gives us an essentially non-judgmental view of the shadow (read: id). It is a force of creativity and strength that once recognized can be a source of boundless energy if, as the water of a raging river, it is directed properly to bring forth life in a dry desert in a metaphorical sense.

The problem is that no matter what sort of society one lives in, religious or not, there is a notion that inner drives, fantasy and breaking from the established norms, is a sin to even contemplate. And make no mistake about it secular societies can foster guilt as strong, if not stronger, than religiously conservative societies. One need only examine a nation such as Sweden to see that guilt is an incredibly strong force of constraint on the human psyche.

So should people give in and act out on all their shadowy urges? No, and Jung never proposed that. However, acknowledgement of, and understanding towards, such drives can give one the ability to master them.  Perhaps an appropriate analogy would be that if you attempt to chain your sub-conscious you yourself will become the unwilling slave to these impulses.  However, to recognize the shadow can allow the individual to put a leash on the drives and use them to develop creative impulses, strive for goals in physical fitness and attain ambitions in all areas of life.

Discussion of this topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODMP_DUeAjA

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