Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brain Washing

With the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut and almost daily reports of children or young adults using violence or the threat of violence to right perceived or actual wrongs that children are spiraling out of control. What could be the cause?

In experiments with rats in high-density populations the incidents of psychotic and anti-social behavior in the rat populations soared. While the violence and behaviors in the inner-cites of places like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and London may be explained away through environmental stress due to overcrowding, Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut hardly fall into the super-dense population categories. What else can cause people to behave in ways that are considered inhumane and psychotic? One is brain-washing, either deliberate or accidental. In well documented cases using hypnotic suggestion and other techniques subjects, who normally would eschew violence in any form, were made to shoot, stab, blowup or in other ways harm other people, admittedly in a simulated environment, but the subjects didn’t know that it was simulated.

If you look at references about brain washing you will find they all utilize to some extent several key methods:

1. Drugs to make the subject more compliant and open to suggestion

2. Sensory deprivation

3. Sleep deprivation

4. Isolation

5. Utilize a stressor

6. Repetition of key ideas, phases and concepts

One of the most prescribed drugs for pre-and-post adolescent children is arguably Ritilin. Ritilin blocks Dopamine uptake thus increasing the amount available. This blocking of Dopamine leads to enhanced concentration and ability to stay on task, it also makes the subject more compliant and open to suggestion. Of course Ritilin isn’t the only psycho-active drug used to control behavior, Prozac, Adderall, Concerta and several others are also used. This shows we meet the first of the key methods.

In the 1950-1970 timeframe most children played outdoors and spent very little time indoors watching TV or playing video games since video games had yet to be developed. Beginning in the 80s and now coming to full bloom most children spend an inordinate amount of time glued to the TV or video games, with the TV or computer becoming a de-facto electronic babysitter. Unfortunately this use of an electronic babysitter results in sensory deprivation as only sight and hearing are usually engaged depriving the children of the full immersion sensory input that was present in outside playtime. So now we have met the second key method.

With the breakdown of the family unit and most homes requiring both parents to work, rules such as bedtimes and other key constraints on behavior have become lax. Many children are not getting the needed number of hours of sleep because of this. This we have met the third method.

TV and video games (and other computer behaviors) are isolating. Some may argue that social computing such as Facebook, Twitter and other networks are opening communication, however, these technologies lack the honesty of face-to-face communication. The person on the other side of the virtual communication could be who they say they are or someone with an agenda using the virtual communication as a means of manipulation. So rather than providing sincere communication much virtual communication can fall under the heading of propaganda, lies and falsehoods leading to further isolation from reality if that is the primary means of communication. Video games can lead to complete isolation in a made-up world, I can testify the fact that before I recognized them as the time drain they are I would spend hours, isolated and alone, striving to get to the next level of a game. So we can also show we meet item 4 of our list.

Stressors are all around us, usually we are taught to deal with them in non-violent ways. Bullying, verbal abuse and other stressors are all present to some degree in many schools causing further isolation of specific individuals. Individuals are isolated because they are different or refuse to fit in. This of course drives up real isolation and feelings of resentment making that person self-stressing in the brain-washing cycle. The feeling that everyone is against them is reinforced, sometimes over years of time, especially when ill-conceived zero-tolerance policies punish both bullies and victims equally.

Finally, what ideas or concepts are being driven into the conscious and sub-conscious brains of our children, especially those addicted to violent video games? Desensitization to violence and killing and a complete amoral attitude toward the taking of life is what most violent video games teach. Most first-person-shooters involve killing everyone who isn’t a part of your group. Now, as a child I played army, cowboys and Indians, and other “violent” games, but the guns didn’t shoot, there wasn’t splattered gore, severed limbs and carnage over and over again. At the end of the game when I was a child we all were still friends and no one was dead. We knew we were playacting with those army, cowboy, spaceman and other games and we weren’t isolated, drugged, sleep and sensory deprived and didn’t play the games for several hours each day with no other play.

Essentially we are drugging children into a receptive state, allowing them to be sensory and sleep deprived, overloading their visual and auditory senses with images of death and violence and then wondering why they behave like monsters.

Do all children exposed to video games become monsters? No, of course not. However there are a certain percentage of individuals that with the combination of the five factors mentioned will become a killer. Now, it could be argued that even without the five factors some percentage of individuals have a predilection for becoming a psychopath. In many cases, the warning signs were there to tell us the individual needed help, but in our society of political correctness we tend to overlook behaviors that would have thrown up alarm bells before suing each other became the national pastime.

So, what is the fix? For some children who are true psychopaths there is nothing you can do to stop their destructive spiral other than isolating them from the rest of the world. However, by enforcing discipline, teaching self-worth, ensuring children get a majority of their play from interactive sources external to TV and computers and eliminating or restricting TV and video game play are a start. We must also break the narcissistic me-first, entitled behaviors so prevalent in todays society. We should require strict reviews by multiple Doctors before placing children on psycho-active drugs. We need to teach conflict resolution so we can reduce the chances of violence being the only outlet for destructive impulses. In addition in schools and other social settings bullying must be mitigated and inclusion of children from diverse backgrounds taught.

If we don’t get a handle on this violence generating brainwashing I am afraid our society as a whole may face a lost generation of children sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and misguided experiments in child rearing.