Is the family the key to how we turn out ‘good’ or ‘evil’, and not genetics?

Last week I watch a fascinating program (if you are a nosey people watcher like me) about whether scientists could find scientific signs of ‘good’ or ‘evil’.  If you haven’t seen it check out the BBC iPlayer for Horizon on BBC2.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it for a bit, because some bits surprised me, and some bits proved what I’ve always thought.  I’m not really into labelling things ‘good’ or ‘evil’.  I understand the concepts and why they would be labelled like that.  But I also know that if you go to the opposite side of the world they will turn the labels around.  So it’s kind of arbitrary.  But a psychopath is a very different thing, as it gives a nervous feeling as though they lost their humanity.

First of all they talked about how they proved that it’s not just in families that bonding occurs and creates a hormonal shift.  They showed a team warming up and how the occitocine increased in all of them as they bonded.  So this is the ‘selfless’ chemical which makes us all want to work together as a team.  However, because they were in sports, they also got a burst of ‘testosterone’, which is the ‘selfish’ chemical that makes us have the burning desire to grab the ball and win.  I loved this section because it proved that we need to be both selfish and selfless to be really successful.

Then they talked about soldiers and how stressed they became after taking lives when they got back to their own lives.  Originally the american army (and I bet many others), used the good old encouragement of hate to get their soldiers to kill, because it dehumanises the people on the other end of the gun.  But apparently it often backfires massively when the soldiers get home because they can then find it difficult to get back to normal or struggle with guilt.  The top army guy truly believed that men were not made to kill other people; I’m not 100% sure about that.  However, they found that by practicing over and over and over again, so that it is more muscle memory that makes the kill than anger, that it had a much less detrimental affect on the psychological health of the soldier.  This makes lots of sense, because the soldiers are in a more centred balanced place, rather than the huge chemical surge of anger, which is bound to have a downer.

But what was most disturbing was when they then started to look at psychopaths.  Because these guys have a totally different brain pattern, basically big bits missing in parts of the brain that I don’t remember the long words for.  I do understand the ramifications though.  The psychopath needs to have more and more and more thrills, and they need to be more extreme to get through to them.  Plus, guilt is basically missing.  This I was really surprised at; I assumed there would be guilt, but they kind of got over it.  We are all guilty somewhere, so it must be there, but it’s not there for the serial killings.  Also they found that there is a gene that is in all the psychopaths, hence it can be passed down in families.

I wonder wether this is how come seemingly ‘normal’ people suddenly got involved in the London riots and stole stuff?

They reckoned that a large number of top business executives are actually not really good at their jobs, but successful because they are psychopathic; they love thrills and risk taking, will do what needs to be done to succeed, and are amazingly good at manipulation and charisma.  Which was a bit scary.

Ironically, one of the psychologists then found out that he had a family history and checked himself to discover that he had the genes and the missing bits in the brain.  He was shocked when his family weren’t that surprised because they felt that something had always ‘been a bit off with him’.  So why hadn’t he killed a pile of people and become a serial killer?

His answer is obvious.  But is it so obvious, because we often take it for granted.

He had a lovely childhood, full of joy and love.  There are tonnes of photos showing it.  I’ve always believed that families are tremendously important, especially the mum (or the person that does that role) as the heart of the family.  I’m not trying to add to the pressure of being a Mum.  What I’m saying is not to underestimate yourself, because as a Mum your role is crucial to our society.

I’ve got some plans to help to get Mums back in a strong position in this world, but the first step for you is to look after yourself.  If you feel a little overwhelmed, check out my blogs under the ‘sparkling you’ tab, and keep an eye out for my book coming in October ‘Six Steps To A Sparkling You: get more Time, Energy, Space and Money and beat the overwhelm and greyness’.