Articles in Category: Psychologically Speaking...

This Psychological Life


It was the worst of times and is the best of times (apologies to Charles D)

There is an interesting phenomenon known as emotional contagion. Just like a virus, emotions can spread through a group, surreptitiously, out of our awareness. One moment you’re feeling on top of the world and the next you feel grumpy and miserable, and not sure why. Well, yes, it could be the hormones (male ones as well as female) and it could be all sorts of environmental factors that we now know can affect the human brain and how we feel. There you go, that’s why you feel so good swinging in a hammock some- where in Hawaii and less good when sitting at your desk at work. You didn’t need me to tell you that but it is much more subtle.




Psychologically Speaking September #299

The photos we’ve just taken of Uluru and the Olgas hardly do them justice at all. And words to describe them just don’t seem to exist in any dictionary. If I tried, superlatives will just overflow the page. It’s not just the rocks. They rise majestically above a vast landscape of red dust, spinifex, bushes and stunted trees that stretches endlessly to a distant horizon bathed in blue and crystal clear light. In the morning and evening, as the sun alters its angle, the colors change dramatically from minute to minute in ways that no artist could possibly reproduce.

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This Psychological Life

The Terrorist Mind

Jung proposed that we all have a ‘shadow’, the dark side of ourselves. It is the hidden self that drives much of human behaviour, out of our conscious attention. He suggested that the more unacceptable our thoughts and feelings to our conscious, the deeper they are hidden. More positive parts of the shadow are more easily accessed. The evil tendencies that we all have are hidden deepest of all. Modern observations of the human brain now point to primitive centres that can drive behaviour if unchecked by parts of our cerebral cortex: the civilised self that is learned. Other psychological research has long exposed the uncomfortable truth that we are all capable of the greatest evil and, indeed, the greatest good. Yes, given the right circumstances, even you.

For relatively unreconstructed Darwinists like me, there is a functionality to the dark side that worked for us when we were still living in the swamp: unconscionable brutality was essential for survival purposes. But, this was not so long ago and the social controls of civilisation are a thin veneer. 


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