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THE TRUMP REVOLUTION
RESTORING THE AMERICAN DREAM
According to some, Donald Trump is destined to become the next President of the United States. Unimaginable? Trump is not a politician, yet he is out-gunning all his competitors. My short book, The Trump Revolution: Restoring the American Dream, tells the story of his incredible appeal and why he might and should be elected.
Trump is a constant irritation for a socialist government and a placating Congress. But with millions gathering behind Trump’s ideas and aggressive style, he is gaining political strength daily. Moreover, he is changing the face of politics for the better. His legacy will remain with these achievements. The question I pose is can he withstand the hot wind of opposition and indeed ‘make America Great Again?’
Del Thiessen, Ph.D. & Editor
Agave Publishers LLC
494 Hwy 71 W., Suite 140-305
Bastrop, Texas 78602
My sense of current events is that demographic factors shape not only the current political scene but also long-term cycles of population growth and contraction. Underneath the stream of behavioral changes are the specific mechanisms that influence the population parameters. Often these variations are related to psychopathic and non-psychopathic behaviors, particularly of youthful males. What follows is a broad description of the demographic events that are heavily influenced by the proportion of young males in populations. These events determine degrees of social dominance, leadership positions and aggressive activities. Populations cycle in patterns of growth and aging, and, in fact, the birth and death of populations, nations, and empires.
Explosions of Old Age, Psychopathy, and Migration
Del Thiessen, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas
at Austin, e-mail: Wolf@delthiessen.com
Jonathan V. Last (2013), senior writer at the Weekly Standard and author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: American’s Coming Demographic Disaster,startled us by pointing out that 97% of the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility is falling. Western and Asian nations are showing signs of demographic wear and tear that invariably will deplete their resources and slow, if not stop, their global advantages.
I build the proposition here that it is fundamentally the relative proportion of young males that determines population success and failure, and is responsible for social and economic innovations. Young males are also heavily responsible for psychopathic conflicts and many global disputes, many that we encounter today. Males are also the majority (70%) of migrants streaming across the face of Europe. The demographic trends show us that younger populations tend to increase in size and economic success but fall with the disproportionate consumption of wealth by older individuals (Burbank and Cooper 2010; Diamond, 2005; Ferguson, 2006; see Mayhew, 2014 for the historical impact beginning with Robert Malthus).
The “inevitability” of ageing and consumptive excesses can be modified to some degree through emphases on private entrepreneurial endeavors – we can make a difference for us and others – but regardless of what we may engineer within cultures, many nations will remain vulnerable to younger and more aggressive migrant populations of males, many that are welcomed into host countries.
In youthful populations (with especially high ratio of young males) vitality, innovation, and optimism appear united to drive populations to greater competition, higher aggression, and more robust responses to local and global challenges. The youthful populations are the founding rocks of empires and are in many cases psychopathic (Machiavellian) in nature.
The following discussion is intended to draw a general profile of demographic changes, particularly those that result in a disproportionate growth of older and more vulnerable populations, and those that result from unintended growth patterns of younger individuals – especially male – as the result of the surge of refugees and mostly illegal immigrants. The picture is mixed, as it is only now being painted in future events. Nevertheless, the prospects for the future are not pleasant to anticipate.
I approach the subject not as a demographer or number-cruncher, but as a psychologist with long-term interests in deviant behaviors, especially those that are reflected in psychopathic acts and in potential violent behaviors. My analyses may not agree with those experts who are closer to demographic and social structures, but they may help to rationalize turbulent situations which may help to understand population demands of ageing populations, aggressive acts of younger individuals who compete with stable populations and nations, and, possibly, ideological changes that are occurring around the globe. Revolutions do not emerge in stable and ageing populations: they are the product of unrest among those who compete for limited resources and opportunities.
Aging; Populations; Demography; Birth Rate; Male Bulge; Migrants; Behavior
The author thanks Robert K. Young, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, University of Texas at Austin and referees for helpful comments.
POPULATIONS AS DRIVERS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR
Populations tend to cycle in attributes. They are either “empire building” with substantial numbers of innovative and aggressive males on the upswing, or they are in “social and economic contraction,” with the forces for expansion graduating into stoic oldsters on the down leg (Mayhew, 2014). It appears to me that in older populations (low ratio of young males) psychological energy is lost, scientific and technological advances lag, and social inertia prevails. One can, in a probabilistic way, count on reciprocal relations to occur in a cyclical way.
The cyclic nature of demographic change, as I view it and is presented as a working hypothesis, is seen in the Figure 1. Most populations rise, stabilize for a time, and then decline, reflecting population changes in reproductive processes and suggesting the duality of human behaviors on the upswing and the downturn. The inverse relations, depending on the demographic movements of populations, are simply illustrated below. Behaviors also cycle along with demographic transitions.
FIGURE 1 SHOWS THE INCREASE IN POPULATION GROWTH AND REPRODUCTIVE EVENTS THAT DRIVE THE POPULATION IN THE DIRECTION OF INCREASED YOUTH, INNOVATION, AND AGGRESSIVE ACTIVITIES. AS POPULATION GROWTH SLOWS AND BEGINS TO FALL THERE IS A INCREASE IN THE PROPORTION OF OLD INDIVIDUALS, A LOSS IN INNOVATION, AND DECREASED AGGRESSION.
Psychopathic motivations and human innovation are often correlated in the form of the Machiavellian personality – part psychopathic, part genius. The common path of the two is not unusual, as we see a similar and well-traveled path among our brightest intellectuals, successful business leaders, great artists, writers, and media performers, superb athletes, and able political and military leaders (Thiessen, 2014). They may often be narcissistic and abide by their own self-interests, but, at the same time they can and often do contribute significantly to the intellectual and technological advances of free societies.
We can view the demographic and psychological changes of populations as related to the changes in the ratio of young males – when there are proportionately more young males, the higher relative number of males command the greater attention; with fewer young males the communal energy is lost and the mounting tide of old people add to the high costs of society that dampen population growth and innovation. To understand one side of the population cycle is to understand the other, as one might do by looking through a telescope from both ends.
Older age need not be wasted in remorse or inactivity. I believe that this mood is shared by millions of elderly folks, but is suppressed in most, as if they have become irresponsible infants again who have to be told what they can do and what they cannot do. This is ill advised as a national and global “attitude,” even though it may happen because of economic default. We face a reality that cannot be sustained fiscally, intellectually, or morally. With a growing appreciation of the potential in our aging groups, we may be able to help others take advantage of the productive and satisfying possibilities that are associated with new vigor and determination that can come with retirement and old age.
EXPLANATION FOR SENSATION SEEKERS AND THE INCREASE IN VIOLENCE
Genes, evolution, and neural and physiological mechanisms are compelling explanations for major aspects of human behavior. Yet, when the integrated picture is studied we see the overwhelming influence of demographic and experiential factors. There may always be rock-hard biological bases for the potential of psychopathic and other forms of behavior, but how the variations play out during a lifespan seem dependent on demographic changes in populations. Population pyramids often show wide variations in structure – age, number of males and females, fertility, longevity, financial status, standard of living, medical costs, and other parameters. These are what underlie the building of empires, the fighting of wars, the loss or change in moral values, and ultimately the innovation, happiness, and drive of the people.
The typical population pyramid may in fact contribute more to our understanding of instances of short-term behaviors in populations than individual mechanisms preset by our biological history. It is in the flexibility of populations that determine most of the variations we see, even though the bioloogical parameters of growth and ageing have strong and long-term effects on individual and social behaviors.
Is it possible for us to have peace in our time? The answer: not right away. The last study of the Institute for Economics and Peace (Withnall, IEP, 2014) indicates that the world has been getting progressively less peaceful since 2007, reversing a trend away from conflict after the Second World War. Only 11 countries of 162 surveyed were not involved in some sort of conflict with other countries. The only countries with the lowest conflict scores were Switzerland, Japan, Qatar, Mauritius, Uruguay, Chili, Botswana, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Panama, Brazil, Chili, Costa Rica, and Panama. They are currently the targets of affordable refuge for Americans searching for a more peaceful existence.
The US ranked 2nd among nations in personal and economic freedom (prosperity is a measure of this) as recently as the year 2000. Now, however, the US has declined to the unenviable rank of 36 for these same variables. Today the freest economies of the world are Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand.
Much of the increase in conflict and violence over the last several years is related to the number of young males living in various countries and subject to personal and social hardships. I will explore those relations in my discussion.
WHY YOUNG MALES ARE IMPORTANT
Christian Mesquida and Neil Weiner (1999) center their attention on male conflict and warlike aggression and show a widespread relation between conflict behaviors and national male age ratio (MAR), defined as the number of men aged 15 to 29 years of age, relative to males aged 30 and older. In their investigations, conflicts, including wars between nations, civil wars, and other forms of aggressive behavior within populations, are higher in frequency among populations that have a higher ratio of younger to older males. They are also more likely to force their way into prosperous countries and seek asylum from persecution, as I will attempt to demonstrate.
One can imagine other possible reasons for variations in population violence, but the most outstanding long term explanation is the relative number of young people – particularly males — within populations.
Using the male age ratio (MAR) as an index of potential conflict is consistent with the data showing that young males, and generally not females or older males and females, commit aggressive acts. It is also consistent with the findings that it is more often young males who are risk takers, psychopaths, street protesters, terrorists, and the movers of cultural reform. They may be influenced by females who chose or reject them as mates, and are often guided by older leaders who see opportunities in youthful ferment and who can tap that unrest to build monuments to themselves or the ideologies they represent.
Probably, without the restless energy of many young males, leaders do not dare send “armies” against entrenched enemies or against enormous economic challenges (Collins, 2001). There is long term victory only with population growth, increases in MAR, and a small frequency of elderly folks. Another way to look at potential changes in attitudes about war is to suggest that with a heavy expenditure to support a high-age population, it is more difficult to support or rationalize war efforts (Fitzgerald and Walter, 2014). Populations may, as a result, lose economic and social benefits, and, instead, become targets of more aggressive groups.
According to Mesquida and Weiner the overall correlation between extreme conflict behaviors and male age ratio in 153 countries is around 0.76. Conflict behaviors range from individual increases in aggression to warlike responses in coordinated activities. A correlation of this magnitude in the social sciences is unusual and should certainly guide our thinking and understanding.
Demographic shifts in MAR not only help explain variations in life and death issues, but they lay bare the variations in motivations and behaviors of individuals (Available, 2014). What individuals think and do most often reflect the Zeitgeist of population changes. Thus, individual behaviors to a large degree will follow the social changes that are written demographically and enforced through cultural evolution. The extent of influence is much wider than a simple competitive motivation, and includes all those acts that add innovative solutions for cultural success.
Table 1, which expresses the extent of MAR in world countries, gives us the projections for future actions of individuals living in large populations (Wikipedia, 2014). They express the likelihood that internal conflicts, mass migrations, murder, war, revolutions, and terror will envelop a nation and perhaps bring down nations, empires, and even civilizations. There are masses of potential psychopaths living under volatile population conditions.
The table gives the median age of males in different countries, and thus, indirectly, the level of potential risk of violence. For example, Uganda, with a male median age of 14.9, thus a country of young males, is more likely to engage in violent behaviors in the future than Japan with a male median age of 42.9, a nation of old males. The United States has a fairly high average age for males, associated with a relatively low risk for violence, but that may be changing in some regions because of migratory shifts toward more and aggressive young males.
RISK OF VIOLENCE FOR WORLD COUNTRIES:
MEDIAN AGE FOR MALES *
Data From Wikipedia (List of countries by median age, 2014)
TEN HIGHEST RISK TEN LOWEST RISK SPECIAL INTEREST
COUNTRIES COUNTRIES COUNTRIES
Country Age Country Age Country Age
Uganda 14.9 Greece 41.1 World 28.4
Niger 15.0 Finland 40.7 United S. 36.8
Mali 15.8 Austria 41.5 China 36.8
Yemen 16.8 Guernsey 41.8 United Emir. 30.2
Congo Rep. 16.3 Hong Kong 42.4 Israel 29.3
Chad 15.5 Jersey 42.5 Iran 27.6
Burundi 16.6 Germany 42.3 Panama 27.2
Bukina Faso16.6 Italy 43.0 Mexico 26.7
Ethiopia 16.5 Japan 42.9 India 25.9
Malawi 17.2 Monaco 48.0 Libya 24.2
High risk age: 14.9 – 16.5 Saudi Arabia21.6
Low risk age: 41.1 – 48.0 Syria 21.5
Medium risk age: 16.6 – 41.0 Pakistan 21.2
* “Median” age is the age where 50% of the male population is below that number, and where 50% of the male population is higher than that number. Generally a “median score” correlates positively with an “average score.” The overall risk levels are suggestive points for changes in aggressive activities and are not hard and fast points of transition.
Young-male hotspots include Paraguay, Venezuela, Southern Sudan, and Brazil (Pew Research Center, 2014). Almost no one considers the fact that most group confrontations – Islamic provocations, political assaults, urban riots, military incursions, protests against losses of government welfare, overthrow of governments, massive storming of national borders, and general terrorism are perpetrated by young males with high testosterone, dopamine, and perhaps on the average more mesomorphic body types. These are surplus males not chosen by marriage-age females, or males in poverty. These are often males without hope for the future, except, perhaps, by adopting more aggressive short-term mating styles. We might properly refer to MAR as a measure of population testosterone, dopamine and risk taking, and as an index of gravitational pull toward aggressive acts or possible personal greatness. Remember that young males not only stretch their muscles, they stretch their minds – some may adopt aggressive routes to success; others may use their youthful vigor to build and innovate.
Ordinarily, the birth ratio of males to females is about 100 males for every 104 females, but with higher male mortality rates, the ratio often reverses itself. Worldwide, it isn’t merely migration across national borders that alters population levels of males, but differential sex abortions that add to the ratio of young males and change the frequency and nature of psychopathic behaviors. Mara Hvistendahl (2011), a correspondent for Science magazine, argues that widespread abortions of girls in favor of boys, along with heavy early-age female genocide worldwide, tend to increase population instability, increase poverty, heighten male-male competition, and lead to higher levels of crime, wars, and deviant behaviors.
Historically, examples of high sex ratios (male verses female numbers) go back as far as the fourth century BCE in Athens, a particularly bloody time in Greek history. In the American West the sex ratio in Mississippi was 125 males to 100 females; in California that ratio was 186 to 100, in Nevada it was 320 to 100, and in western Kansas it reached 786 to 100. The Wild West may have been wild in large measure because of these skewed distributions of rough sensation seeking young males. Perhaps, a greater proportion of females would have gone a long way in decreasing the aggressiveness of males and increasing the social stability of the culture.
But at the same time we must acknowledge that the reduced ratio of males, should the demographics had fallen in favor of older males, may have curbed the exploration and settling of western lands. Our spread across the frontiers of the continent was as much a demographic push by young males as it was an individual tendency to pursue the unknown (see the discussion by Thiessen, 2014). I might add the speculation that the founding of new territories, nations, and empires with high levels of male aggression are the strongest explanations for imperialistic human tendencies.
Today there are a number of countries where males are prized for their abilities to contribute to agrarian success and differential abortion is practiced. In India the current male to female ratio is 112 to 100, In China that ratio is 121 to 100, in Azerbaijan the ratio is 115 to 100, in Georgia it is 118 to 100, and in Armenia that ratio approaches 120 to 100. Ms. Hvistendahl (2011) argues that over the past three decades 163 million girls have been denied existence because of differential killing or abortions, no doubt affecting sensation seeking, aggression, and psychopathic behaviors among males and females. Certainly, the demographic bulge of males distorts the expression of male and female behaviors. Again, we should keep in mind the possibility that natural selection for survival and reproduction may shape both the demographic nature of populations and the correlated psychological changes, at least over long periods. Ultimately it is biology that shapes our inclinations, even though they may bend under the environmental pressures of demographic variations within and between populations.
In a critical issue of Science dealing with the young and the restless, and in other publications, Jack Goldstone (2010), a political scientist at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, summarizes the usual importance of demographic changes. In the end, Goldstone says:
. . . demography has turned out to be a better tool for analysis
than any alternatives – and the youth bulge theory works more
than it fails. In terms of broad probabilities, demography tells
you almost everything you ought to know.
The dynamic nature of MAR can change risk levels dramatically, especially at “ports of entry” for migratory groups. Demographer Steve Murdock (2011) at Rice University in Houston, Texas, indicates that the population of Hispanic males coming from Mexico and other southern nations is reshaping the age population pyramid of Texas. Between 2000 and 2040 the public school enrollment will show a 15 percent decline in Anglo children, while Hispanic children will show an increase of 213 percent. Murdock says that “It’s basically over for Anglos.” The same projections apply to vast areas of California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
Newly minted citizens and younger illegal males are rising rapidly in the United States. In data released by the Census Bureau, last year the U.S. population rose to 304.3 million, and the number of newly naturalized citizens climbed 3.5 percent to 16 million. The number of non-citizens grew 1.4 percent to 21.6 million. Those born in the U.S., classified as native citizens, comprised the largest group, 88 percent of the total, but rose at the slowest rate of 0.7 percent to 266.7 million. New waves of illegal immigration will quickly exaggerate the impact of migrants.
Jeffrey Passel of the Pew Research Center (2008)puts the future for the US more bluntly. It points out that our population is expected to rise to 438 million in 2050 from 296 million in 2005, and that about 82% of that growth will be due to immigrants coming over our boarders. Of the 117 million that will be added to our population 67 million will be the immigrants themselves, 47 million will be their children, and 3 million will be their grandchildren. Of course, these numbers are projected growth that assume continuous rates of immigration. Given recent policies implemented by the Obama administration, the numbers could be much higher. Not just Hispanics are showing rapid growth. It has been noted by Tamara Audi (2015) that Muslin populations also have high fertility (3.1 children per reproductive woman) and are expected to equal the number of Christian populations by 2050. That projection generalizes to the United States as well as globally.
Texas is a leading indicator of problems associated with uncontrolled immigration. The danger is not directly in the transformation of ethnic distribution but the fact that soon 30 percent of the state’s labor force will soon not even have a high school degree and the average household income will be $6,500 lower than it was in the year 2000. Most will be unskilled and not speak fluent English. The population will for some time shift toward younger males with a lower educational level, a reduced income, and a greater social dependency.
Paul Bedard, a demographer cited by the Washington Examiner (2015), shows in a report to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, that the foreign-born population of the United States surged 324.5 percent from 9,740,000 to 41,348,066 from 1970-2013. During that same time the incomes of the bottom 90 percent (the middle class) dropped 7.9 percent from an average of $33.621 annually to $30,980. What is cause and what is effect here is debatable, but the truth is that as illegal immigration increases and cost in taxes is higher for most of us, the financial capabilities of taxpayers are diminishing. This may be an unfortunate trend, and that trend may last for generations.
In the future the loosely controlled immigration into the US over southern borders may stimulate new but different economic growth. Neil Shah (2012), a demographer, presents a unique argument that has substance. He points out that the birth rate for naturalized Americans has fallen to 1.86, below replacement levels of 2.1. Based on trends of decreased fertility since 2007, there has been a “loss” of 2.3 million offspring (2008 – 2013). That is certainly one perspective on a complex problem.
If the new millennials, including recent immigrants (18 – 34 years of age), have a greater reproductive rate, and they probably will, the US could experience a “baby boomlet.” Surprisingly, the increased birth rate for immigrants may not replace the millions of children lost because of a negative replacement rate in the larger population. One thing is certain, the character of the US will change as the demographic curves change more and more toward non-white populations.
Below is a figure (Figure 2) illustrating the most recent European surges in migration; in this case the migrants come from Syria, Turkey, and the broad spectrum of Africa. At the moment immigration is uncontrolled and chaotic and may continue for years to come. These trails of immigration will soon reach the United States. The Obama administration is committed to accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, a total, according to Secretary of State John Kerrey, that may reach 100,000. Add these numbers to the millions of immigrants already crossing our borders illegally, and one can immediately predict an unhappy outcome due to increased demands from immigrants, higher taxes to support these surges, a probable rise in criminal and terrorist behaviors, and a balkanization of foreign populations as we have seen in European nations. The acts of charity and provisioning for individuals and families who are destitute may seem like moral actions and seem to be inevitable, but a nation without borders and without discriminations may bring itself down.
FIGURE 2 IS A MAP OF REFUGEE FLOW ACROSS EUROPE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
Some 10 million people have been forced from their homes in Syria with almost 500,000
arriving daily in Europe
DailyMail.com., Sunday, September 13, 2015
The numbers tell a similar story of social and economic change happening in particular areas of the United States. The demographic change in young males, especially, is the strongest indicator of potential political agitation, and that extends over wide cultural differences. The higher number of young males, may suggest new vigor for future generations as the MAR is magnified among immigrant offspring, but a devastating chain of events may reduce our optimism. This may be especially true for older populations already under economic and social stress.
FACTS OF GETTING OLD
High MARs (male age ratio) are evident in many cultures today, but are expected to fall as populations age. Ageing is an inevitable consequence of wide-spread decreases in reproductive rates, increases in longevity, and decreases in incentives to multiply.
Many demographers were surprised when they learned that populations around the world are getting smaller, with low birth rates, increased longevity, and a disproportionate growth of old people. But those are the facts. For the moment we cannot predict that future surges in migration of young males will replace the overall increase in older folks. The disproportional number of older people are likely to continue for generations.
These demographic changes are occurring not just among affluent Western countries, but also in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. They happen regardless of GNP levels, education, general affluence, or religious affiliation. It’s as if unknown but similar forces are influencing over 97% of all cultures.
What is the basis of the global decrease in population numbers and the disproportionate increase in old folks? Political economist Nicholas Eberstadt (2015) of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. says that people have finally found out that family responsibilities are inconvenient and subtract from personal freedom. They refuse to get involved.
Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant
international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice,
and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s
pursuit of happiness.
That’s pretty much how things appear. The flight from family seems inevitable as living becomes more expensive, as taxes increase, as people become healthier and live more robustly, as pregnancies are easily avoided, as technology replaces labor in the fields and factories, as children become more ungrateful, and as new opportunities turn heads toward individual freedom. The flight from family seems inevitable.
Indeed, marriage is becoming less desirable among heterosexual couples as divorce is easier to obtain and sexual partners less demanding. More same-sex relationships are expected. Overall, the direction of change is toward people living alone and, in my opinion, valuing small pets more than large partners.
Europe is witnessing a surge in child-free relations where the proportion of childless women of around 40 years is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, one in four for Italy, and one in three for Hamburg Germany. This trend of new independence is spreading worldwide. Eberstadt (2015) believes that more humans are becoming child-free, partner-free, and free of long-term family responsibilities.
The economic crunch is on, and maybe that has something to do with disdain for family values. As fertility drops life expectancy has increased by six years over the past two decades (Gautam Naik, 2014). The net effect is that there are fewer young people who can, and are willing to, support older folks. One can imagine that even with surges in youthful migrants, their willingness to support existing and expanding older populations will be weak. The problem quickly becomes chronic. Medical science is also responsible.
Longevity is lengthened by drops in infectious disease and heart disease. According to Naik, during the six year period of increased longevity diarrheal diseases dropped by 60%, neonatal diseases fell by 41%, respiratory infections dropped by 37%, and cardiovascular diseases by 22%. Poor countries have shown declines in the death of children from pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.
Global deaths from infectious disease overall have dropped by 25%. Other diseases did not do as well, as with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as they tend to be chronic, genetically determined, and are more expensive to manage.
The net effects from all of these changes are that old age is becoming unusually common and burdensome on societies. Government programs profit more when birth rates are high and when populations have high employment. But given demographic “stagnation” of low birth rates, long-lived older folks, and non-participant (illegal) immigrants, public finances and standards of living are adversely affected.
The more that certain segments of society are excluded from full employment, the greater is the negative impact on older (and other) individuals. For example Michael Auslin (2015) estimates that 67% of Japanese women have jobs, but many of these jobs are part time. Goldman Sacks projected that full employment of women in the United States, if at the same rate as most men, would expand the economy by 15%.
Together, the problems of low birth rates, greater citizen longevity, and less than full employment of the abled, are disabling factors of all economies. Add to this: up to 40% of government spending goes to funding pensions and health care. Coupled with long-term deficits (money that doesn’t create more money) and cut backs in military defense spending, the burden of social systems eventually becomes unsustainable.
In other words, it’s possible that full employment, a change in sentiments toward the aged, and debt free expenditures maximize the benefits to the economy and allow old folks and others to benefit more directly from their financial contributions to society. The general argument for success is that economic growth and proper money management raise all ships (see Harper 2014 for an extension of this argument.
ISOLATING THE COSTS OF AGING
In about five years the number of individuals 65 years and older around the world will outnumber children who are under five years of age. This aging cohort is projected to grow from 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050. The proportion of the world population over 80 years is rising quickly as well, and more people reach the age of 100.
Reuters news service (May 6, 2014) estimates that the growth of the number of individuals over 65 years just in the United States is expected to grow from 43 million in 2012 to nearly 84 million over the next four decades. By 2050 the number of U.S. seniors will be larger than the number of individuals 18 years and younger (Heavey, 2014). The difficulties of coping with the huge increase in numbers are only part of the growing problems. This pattern, coupled with increases in number because of immigration, is expected to change the balance in favor of non- white individuals. By 2060 the non-white populations will make up the majority of the U.S. population, completely revamping the political and social atmosphere of the nation.
The medical costs of aging are unfortunately rising faster than expected (Suzman and Beard, 2009). At least 25 to 30 percent of those over 85 years have dementia. Financial losses due to disabilities, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes will double by 2015 in most countries. The number of cancer victims in aging populations is expected to reach 27 million by 2030. It has been estimated by Dang, Antolin, and Oxley (2014) at OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) that the over-65 cohort accounts for about 50 percent of healthcare spending. The per capita healthcare costs are up to five times higher than for those people under 65. These community costs will no doubt increase as the demographic curve continues to bend toward older and older groups.
The demographic and family changes are equally staggering, as there will be fewer offspring and fewer younger males and females to care for the growing needs of older citizens. The proportion of working individuals 15 to 64 years of age in Japan, for example, fell below 80 million as of October 1 for the first time in 32 years (Kyodo, 2014). The Japanese population of those 65 and older is expected to reach 40 percent by 2060. Contributing to the problem is a decrease in heterosexual marriages and an increase in fatherless offspring. The psychological and economic consequences of these and other age related problems are enormous and continue to add to the collective burden of our cultures.
Old age was often venerated in small tribes and tight-knit communities – groups that are small and vulnerable can profit from a community history of elders, with their long-term perspective and wisdom and might tip the balance between extinction and survival. Today the situation has changed. Technology and affluence have diminished the value of elders, as has the sheer impact of extreme numbers of aging individuals. Barring, terrorism, wars and starvation, the major crisis we face in the future is the disproportionate increase of old age.
In today’s populations the precious history and moral persuasion once carried by old members of the group are widely available through written and digital channels that easily transcend generations, language barriers, changing circumstances, and civilizations. Single old people with only bits and pieces of local and cultural information no longer provide a reliable transfer of critical information across generations. Situations move too fast for that.
Venerable aging is largely replaced by more technologically sophisticated young males and females who not only have unexcelled access to knowledge and possible wealth, but also carry longevity in their loins. The wisdom of the old men and women may still be substantial, but it may not seem as predictive of the future as it once did. Many of their function will likely be replaced by younger folk and engineered robots.
By default, the old, with fragile capacity and without substantial social prominence, no longer possess cultural leverage and thus face isolation, dethronement, and abandonment. What once was esteemed and rare suddenly becomes debased and
common. In a recent study of 1,315 of men 53 to 85 years of age, researcher Carolyn Aldwin (2014) at Oregon State University found that men expressed more negative emotions when they reached 70 years and older. They probably suffer from more diseases of ageing and spend a great deal of time dealing with health issues. The road ahead also appears short. A friend of mine at the University of Texas believed that natural selection for reproduction and survival is not strong enough at 70 years to sustain a healthy life style. Medical science may override that evolutionary “mandate,” but it still might not compensate for emotional and intellectual loses.
Retirement today and aging are more apt to bring isolation and discontent than happiness and optimism. Colleagues, friends, and relatives die or drift away, knowledge and instruction are no longer tribal or stored in the minds of elders, nor can much of what is known be transmitted from parent to offspring. Qualities once critical for the continuation of small and vulnerable groups have a short life span and are more reliably obtained and broadcast through Google search engines, electronic libraries, and tornado-like dissemination of information in digital form.
The result is a growing group of frail old people whose value diminishes exponentially following retirement. Instead of contributing to the society that spawned them, old people now consume far more than they produce and with each passing year they stoically turn inward, fail to adjust to changing cultural requirements, worry most about declining vigor, health, and money, and wait for death.
At the more proximate level, the aggregate population level of male testosterone, according to projections, may fall 38% by 2050 (see Thiessen, 2014). It begins to fall about one percent a year beginning around 35 years of age. It’s also the case, at least in the United States, that testosterone is decreasing among individuals regardless of age, another reason to suspect that open conflict will decrease in the future, at least among certain demographic groups. There will always be young males with high testosterone and a craving for physiological highs, but there will be fewer of them in the future and the cultures will shift emphases to accommodate older individuals and deteriorating circumstances. See Thiessen (2014) for a longer discussion of this point.
Presumably, MAR conflict activities will diminish in older populations, psychopathy will tire, fewer males will be single, prison populations will shrink, extreme sports will lose their shine, education may be valued more, voting and referendums will assume more importance, and war, revolutions, and terrorism may become bad memories. What could be wrong with that?
But these changes may not be adequate to support a viable and competitive population. The expanded length of adolescence and the global increase in life span that we see today will have major consequences among world populations (Dahl, 2003). One thing is clear: with increasing age comes a longer period of retirement and a decline in anti-social behaviors and psychopathic acts, but at the personal level aging is not welcome.
Aging is also stressful and often without benefits. Obviously there is a looseness of biological regulation that gives comfort to those who like to explain psychopathy in terms of early and later experiences, rather than in terms of genetic influences. It also opens the possibility that psychopathy is in part learned and delivered to us as a product of culture and is therefore amenable to change. While anti-social behaviors may reflect old genetic programs for adaptive responses in competitive situations, we have strong reasons to believe that psychopathic influences will expressly decrease in the long run as age distributions shift in the direction of older individuals and smaller populations.
Temporary circumstances, such as the emigration of millions of young Latinos and refugee populations across U.S. borders, will decidedly increase the degree of psychopathic behaviors displayed at points of entry and beyond. We should be concerned, as high MAR sets the necessary chaotic conditions for the revolutionary ascension of commanding leaders to positions of power and possibly governmental tyranny. Increased terrorist activities are expected.
DOWNSIDE TO DEMOGRAPHIC DECREASES IN YOUNG MALES
Ask Germans if they are pleased that the world demographic trend is toward older males, lower testosterone, and peaceful living, and they will tell you that the expectations are not pleasant. Germany is now on top of the world – the third largest economic nation in the world, and one without excessive debt or obligations to other countries.
The German people like their influence on other world powers and dearly cherish their national destiny. Germany recently shocked the world by refusing to back NATO allies in the war in Libya. Germany is flexing its strategic muscles and likes the feel of strength and independence. Germany has evolved into a nation of business activists, entrepreneurs, and leaders in an otherwise depressed European conglomerate. But the future may not be a smooth road.
Germany’s population is forecast to shrink 20 percent by 2060 and in some regions the drop may be as much as 40 percent (see general forecasts for world populations in Science (2011) and Discover (2012). Birth rates have dropped despite attempts to stimulate marriage and reproduction, and the percent of older non-producing males and females is increasing. Small towns are in danger of disappearing or are becoming senior citizen communities. Kühnhausen, for example, a small town on the outskirts of the eastern city of Erfurt, is already 25 percent senior citizens.
The working age population of Germany is shrinking by more than 100,000 people a year, raising fears that there will soon be too many retirees and not enough working people to support them. The birth rate is exceptionally low – 1.36 children per woman, the lowest in the European Union. According to the demographer, Harald Wilkoszewski, “The wolf is coming back, nature is taking over, so to speak, and it’s really literally only old people left.” I think, rather, that the demographic cycle is reaching its inflection point, and all that follows is expected.
Peace may follow this dramatic pattern of population change, but the implications are not sanguine. The best but shadowy view, suggested in this review, is that significant global changes are often fraught with initial consternation and uncertainty, only to be followed by later adjustments that minimize long-term disruptions in social and economic objectives. We will get a glimpse of this transition as the world population parameters shift to new levels, and where, hopefully, aging will no longer be seen as an inevitable burden on societies.
A second look at Table 1 predicts the future, with a sharp drop in economic status and world power for aging nations, including Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and even China. The entire world is shifting demographically and economically.
Rarely is the birth replacement rate greater than 2.1, the minimum rate to replace the population, indicating a demographic slide toward fewer young men and women and a decrease in population number. The total fertility rates from 2005 to 2010 for the top 10 countries by gross domestic product (GDP) are indicated below.
1. United States 1.86
2. China 1.64
3. Japan 1.32
4. Germany 1.36
5. France 1.97
6. Brazil 1.9
7. UK 1.83
8. Italy 1.38
9. Russian Federation 1.44
10. India 2.73
Among other things, low-fertility societies do not show significant increases in social and technological innovation. These societies are spending a larger fraction of their GDP on health care and preservation of life. There are fewer young people who are productive and add to the GDP. Germany is not alone in its concerns. As I indicated earlier, Japan now has an over-sixty-five population of 25%, and by 2060 that percentage will reach nearly 40%. Neither do low-fertility groups (with relatively higher levels of prosperity) tend to export their younger people across borders. In Latin America the fall in fertility rates is even greater than it is for the United States. Consequently, closing U.S. borders to the south, according to some views, will probably not change the normally expected fall in illegal immigration nor alter the long-term increase of older citizens. But ageing populations is a reality. Others, including myself, believe that only population crashes and long historical changes can reverse the overall global tendencies of ageing.
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said in the last few days (September, 2015) that the influx of 800,000 refugees over the German border during the last year may have the positive effect of producing a larger population of younger workers that may offset the reduction of productivity that is associated with an ageing population. A little more than a day later the magnitude of the rush of refugees into Germany resulted in Germany instating border inhibitions of migrants, totally against the widespread permissive attitudes in Europe that actually encourage the influx of young individuals (the so-called Schengen agreement among 26 European nations aimed at non inhibited border crossings).. Enough is enough, something that could have been anticipated years ago.
Those nations with aging populations will inevitably show less sensation seeking, less crime and overt psychopathy, but they will also lose economic and social advantages and become less competitive internationally. A stronger future is emerging for African nations that show increasing rates of reproduction and an increase ratio of young, aggressive males. There is where future strategies for illegal immigration and wars will be hatched. It is also the nest from which the world’s leaders are born.
The continent of Africa is currently an enigma. The MAR, instead of falling as it is in Western and Asian nations, is increasing. The birth rate for marriageable women is over twice as high for sub-Saharan Africa as non-African nations, averaging over five births per woman (Eberstadt, 2014). Moreover, the economic trends are being disrupted by the sheer magnitude of the problems. The grip of Africa’s strongmen is escalating, as evident by the growth of insurgents such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Somalia. Recently, Boko Haram has joined objectives with ISIS and is capturing hundreds of women for their own use, and is killing any opposition (Hinshaw & McGroarty, 2014).
One of the biggest threats of African militancy is the unstoppable illegal immigration of young (mostly male) to other continents. By almost any measure these individuals are unprepared to successfully comingle with people who are targets of their migration. They often share a dislike for their host countries, isolate themselves, and institute legal and social policies in opposition to the country that welcomed them.
Despite the recent atrocities of Islamic extremists in the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls by Boko Haram and his rebel henchmen, the long-term prospects of Nigeria and other African nations are solidly based on the demographic boom of young men and women. In fact the increasing MAR predicts outrageous actions by young barbarians, but also technical innovations and new leadership.
As non-African countries move toward lower population sizes, smaller birthrates, and older ages, African nations are gearing up for world domination. Most of us living today will see that trend sharpen.
Explosive immigration problems are evident with thousands of African migrants flocking to Spain’s territory in Morocco (WSJ April 4, 2014). David Román relates how large numbers of migrants simply overpower border barriers and demand asylum. Double walls to block insurgents have been built higher and are even topped with blades of steel. The long term trend toward older more peaceful nations in much of the Middle East is the mirror image of the increased MAR and aggression that is emerging from the sub-Sahara and North Africa. The opposing population trends in Western and African countries may present clear social predictions for the demographic models discussed here. Iran Birrell (2014) states the extent of the African growth.
Goldman Sachs predicts that Nigeria’s economy will be bigger than Canada’s
or Italy’s by 2050 – and not far behind Germany’s. And this is just one of 54
countries on a large continent that is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-
growing populations on the planet. The same rapid evolution is visible in
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique or Tanzania. …much of Africa
stands on the brink of takeoff comparable to China’s. Those who fail to see
this are likely to regret their anachronistic attitude.
Data begin to support the Goldman Sachs projections. Stevis (2014) reports that foreign investments in Africa, particularly Nigeria and South Africa, will reach $80 billion in 2014 despite near social collapse. Economic output for the entire continent will grow 4.3% this year and 5.7% in 2015. As a result of this strong grow vector the overall dependence of African nations on foreign aid will shrink. There will be serious bumps in the road for these emerging nations, but the overall prospects are both promising and alarming to those nations that are declining in MAR and economic growth.
Demography offers evidence of tipping points for assessing moods and actions of nations, ethnic groups, populations, and individuals. Deep in the structure of population pyramids lays the wide sweep of discontent and the future success or failure of commanding leaders and the type of leadership cultures will follow. As investigators and as interested observers, we may discover the individual mechanisms of psychopathy as well as the problems of ageing – a great deal of progress can be pointed to – but we must not lose sight of the popular cultural and population influences that may still be predictive of the behavior of the guy who lives next door.
There is a certain scary finality to population transitions that is difficult to reverse or stall; one cannot simply wave a wand or demand greater reproduction. But we can recognize a problem when we see it coming, ignore our political beliefs, and apply a truthful scientific analysis to the task. We have overcome much worse in the past using free market analyses and scientific approaches. Here are some suggestions.
GLOBAL NEED TO ENCOURAGE POSITIVE MODELS FOR PRODUCTIVE RETIREMENT: CONCLUDING COMMENTS
E.O. Wilson (see Alexandra Wolfe, 2014)) reflected what may be the new mood of some 85 year olds when he said “I’m turning 85 years old. I’m going to tell it like it is.” The father of Sociobiology in 1975 has done that, in fact, all of his life. Now he is trying to prevent the extinction of Homo sapiens by advocating balanced biodiversity.
I repeat what appear to be general and inverse relations among traits associated with population expansion and population retrenchment. Populations increase in size when reproductive rates are above replacement levels and longevity increases. It is during those times that the male age ratio (MAR) increases. The population is young and robust. Sensation seeking, innovation, and psychopathic behaviors expand. But typically the population growth slows, reproductive rates fall, and the population ages. MAR decreases and the momentum of the population falls. Many lifestyle changes follow the MAR.
The “Malthusian” curve of transitions seems apparent for most populations according to historians (e.g., Burbank & Cooper, 2010; Diamond, 2005; Niall Ferguson, 2006, 2011). Today, most Western and Asian countries show these transitions and appear to be in decline; empires are founded and lost based on these principles. African countries currently with high reproductive rates appear to be in initial phases of the population cycle. They will likely be the winners in migration, innovations, and international social and economic competitions, that is, until populations cease to expand and instead grow old.
Some populations seem to be stable in growth or show only short-term effects, as reproduction and survival seem more in balance with their ecology. But those situations may reflect brief conditions within the larger framework of demographic and cyclical changes. If resources and their access change, which is likely for almost all ecologies, the population is presumed by many investigators to move in accord with those changing ecologies (see Meadows, Randers and Meadows, 2004). Short-term variations do not necessarily mirror more general population movements. Our projections must be based on long-term changes within and between groups.
The global view of old individuals is highly consistent and generally negative views of ageing among 26 cultures and among the 3,435 college students sampled (Lökenhoff et al, 2009). The exceptions were Mainland China, India, Malaysia, Russia, and New Zealand. In these places participants hold neutral or slightly positive views of the aged.
Perceived expectations about aging males and females indicate (1) decline in physical attractiveness, a fall in the ability to perform daily tasks, and the decreased ability to learn new things, (2) a small increase in respect, wisdom, and knowledge by others, and (3) possible family stability and life satisfaction. Overall, respondents from most cultures indicate a general negativity about the processes of aging. Negative attitudes can inhibit rational solutions and temporarily hold demographic positions in place.
The consistency across cultures suggests that people (e.g., college students) see that with age many abilities deteriorate, but that wisdom and satisfaction with life may increase. Overall, the view of the usefulness of old people’s lives decreases. Virtually no culture endorses any large social benefits from old age. The young are no longer interested in acquired wisdom and family values. The latter influences are somehow better found in the technology and science of our time.
This is the zinger in all of the work with older individuals. People don’t want to age; they see the loss of abilities including cognitive functions, and know that few who are old ever appear to get younger, more attractive, or more productive. The prevalence of these views worldwide under different cultural conditions indicates that negative feelings are part of our inevitable genetic program of the species – the bed of long existing adaptations that support many life-giving behaviors and attitudes.
Whatever we can do to ameliorate negative views and actually make a difference that will benefit the aged (and society) will be like walking uphill carrying a 100 pound backpack. Still, if we want to avoid a total socioeconomic catastrophe, walking the hill cannot be avoided. Some things can be improved with increased entrepreneurial activities among the aged, and society is likely to benefit. The alarm for change is sounding.
Nicholas Eberstadt and Michael Hodin (2014) reopened the critical discussion in a recent Wall Street Journal article, America needs to rethink “Retirement.”. They begin by stating the consequence of continued neglect of the demographic conditions of old age:
The U.S. should adapt now or risk being less prosperous and competitive
in the 21st century
They go on to describe some measures that have improved conditions of the aged and positively increase general social and economic conditions, or are likely to:
1. Increasing the retirement age from 60 to 65 years could increase our GDP 10% by the year 2025.
2. Increasing the number of workers over 65 by only 2.6% a year (UK study) could increase the per capita output by 6% in 2037.
3. Workers in the UK who moved from retirement and entitlements to work experienced improvements in general health and mental well-being.
4. Work rates by American workers have been rising for 20 years, indicating that more individuals are moving toward increased participation in the work force.
5. Nearly 50% of American entrepreneurs occur after 45 years of age.
6. Improvements among the old could increase by employer work flexibility, making pensions portable, and instituting training and education. Corporations could use older workers to expand abilities they have gained over the years.
7. Adding older individuals to the work pool would act to stimulate economic growth, just as women’s rights have.
8. We should add too that older people can give younger people the benefit of their history, their experiences, their special skills, and their inestimable wisdom.
We must also recognize that old women in America outnumber men at most age groups, and especially at higher ages. For example, at 100 years of age the number of centenarians in the United States is approximately 44,644 women as contrasted to 10,313 men (Jeffrey, 2014). These differences represent special problems that must be considered in any overall strategy to involve old people in productive enterprises and encourage them to participate in social and economic activities.
The concern for increasing population age in developed nations is growing. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamene (see Dehghan, 2014) recently announced an extreme program to reverse the percentage of older folks in the Iranian population, perhaps involving a ban on vasectomies, a tightening of abortion rules, and a movement away from the West’s progressive laws on family planning.
These measures are expected to double the population from 77 million to 150 million. Chances are, however, that such a punitive program would not work, and would not be acceptable to men and women who are striving for independence and higher levels of personal liberty. Nevertheless, countries are beginning to realize the problems associated with increasing older members in the population and are considering ways to elevate the percentage of working young men and women.
Using different strategies of reward rather than punishment to stimulate population growth, China has recently disavowed its one-child birth policy (CNN World, 2014), in order to cut back on infant abandonment and, it is believed, in part to relax restrictions on reproduction, and Russia is suggesting new programs for early reproduction, sometimes with gold as incentives.
In dramatic fashion women still make choices of potential mates, seeking quality of male traits that may benefit them. Pryra Joshi (2014) indicates that the highly selective behavior of women in modern societies extends to differential choices of sperm donors. As populations age and women seek fewer offspring, their choices for male quality become stronger.
Joshi reports that in Haifa there has been a surge in requests for sperm donations from elite members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Of 60 women who approach the sperm bank, almost half of them have requested a donor with a history of combat service. The women also seek sperm donors with particular hair and eye color, but their major hopes for reproductive success often depend on receiving sperm from combat veterans – those who have demonstrated courage, ability, and risk taking. One can think of this choice process as a form of “natural selection” for strong reproductive qualities, something that has gone on for millions of years.
The lessons of neglect and selective attention to demographic changes are coming late, but they will come as the problems of the aged mount. We might also observe that there are dangers of cutting back the military because of austerity measures. These cutbacks will increase the global dangers as African nations and other populations with large increases in young males become more affluent and aggressive. The time for realistic analyses of socioeconomic challenges and actions to curb the economic burden of aging populations is now.
Aside from the benefits of increasing work for older retired men and women described by Nicholas Eberstadt and Michael Hodin (2014), we might also expect benefits from a changing perspective by the general public. Older people can not only improve their own situations, they can improve the lives of others, including younger folks who might otherwise feel negatively about all old people.
I would like to see a wide conceptual revolution that would include the National Institutes of Mental Health, my research base for many years. Free competition among investigators could have a major impact on how nations deal with older populations. Imagine what could follow if NIMH announced a “Decade of research into the benefits of aging,” instead of the constant emphases on the brain as the primary driving force of individual and group behaviors.
Conferences on aging involving older and retired individuals would gain increased importance with the endorsement of health agencies, scientific groups, and other concerned health workers. We need to explore how we can better integrate old people back into the mainstream of American life, rather than downgrading their existence by ignoring their plights and resenting their burden. These goals would possibly include the founding of learning centers, retirement planning, increased project involvement, better access to medical diagnoses and treatment, religious counseling, help in contacting and working with relatives and friends, and financial and personal advising.
Old folks’ homes and senior citizens’ centers should be open to everyone who might want to volunteer work or just to visit. Much of this activity could be generated in the free market arena by old people and admirers who are closest to the problems of ageing. It is good business and an ethical stance in a darkening world. The approach is also associated with a decline of psychopathic behaviors, a win-win situation.
Little things can mean a lot. Laura Johannes writing for The Wall Street Journal (2015) illustrates that age is no barrier to increasing health and strength. She wisely says:
While old-school wisdom held that older adults were too
frail to pump iron, a growing body of research is showing
that strength training helps stave off age-related disability,
preserve bone mass in women and even boost brainpower.
The public should also be reeducated about the problems and benefits associated with aging. Finally, we can encourage the self-worth of older folks by tapping into their unique skills and experiences, opening for them and us the wider world of art, literature, and history. Eighty-five years of age may actually be a solid platform for new adventures and accomplishments. I share these sentiments with my friend E.O. Wilson.
Clearly there are many things we should do to better the conditions under which old people live, and we can help ourselves, the nation, and the world by extending ideas and results to all populations that face the inevitableconsequences of demographic cycling. We no longer emphasize primarily the historical structure of our past, but are more aware of the importance of the cognitive, psychological, and evolutionary influences on the important characteristics of the universal mind. These advances in our thinking about the interaction of biological and demographic factors become stepping stones to unveiling socioeconomic patterns of all behaviors and ultimately to a better understanding of individual differences within and between our species members.
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Dark Side of the Brain is a place that recognizes and explores the deviant nature of the brain, which are both the key to our innovative behaviors and the harbinger of our darkest motivations. Without these two psychological biases our accomplishments would be few and our evolutionary history short.
We are great as a species because of our deviant minds, but we also understand that our remarkable oddities are a curse leading to selfish narcissism and destructive behaviors.
Too often we strive for “ideal greatness” and forget that we also have a sinister and duplistic nature, a psychopathic disposition built through eons of natural selection for survival and reproduction. Dark Side of the Brain is dedicated to a deeper understanding of our zebra-painted behaviors.
Over the years, Dr. Del Wolf Thiessen has written widely about our layered and diverse personalities, using his research and teaching background as an evolutionary psychologist to unravel the critical themes of our existence. Much of his work is presented for sale in this website (see Bookstore) and in a free weekly posting (Blog) for those who question their own psychology and the deviant patterns of behavior that we see among many who fill our lives.
The author of this material hopes that his readers will gain insights into their own complex structure and share comments with other explorers of the variable mind.
The Inhumane side of Humanity
FROM DARWINIAN NATURAL SELECTION TO PSYCHOPATHS IN YOUR HAIR AND IN YOUR BED
Creative literature is often the leading edge of understanding the remarkable and often dark measures of the mind. So it is with Oscar Wilde’s incredible novel of 1891, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I believe that this extraordinary narrative is one of the best portraits of the duality of the human mind ever conceived – extreme beauty acting on one dimension and deep evil on another. Oscar Wilde’s story is really a sensitive self-analysis, more insightful, perhaps, than much of the later explorations of the mind by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.
I invite you to read the following summary and think about the profound revelations that Wilde gives us. Keep this story in mind as I introduce deviant mental strategies on this website and in my weekly blog. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a superb context for understanding the passions of the human mind.
Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite observers of human pathologies, inspired the focus of this website when he opined: “The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappears. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature.“
The Decay of Lying, 1891
What we see over and over is a thin line – more of a blur – between man’s nobility of purpose and extreme evil that lurks in hidden crevices of the brain. The short explanation for our multiple mind is to understand that our ancient ancestors survived not only because they cooperated with potential mates and found reasons to band together to challenge difficult environments, but also because they loved the bloody taste of victory and the importance of competition, aggression and human destruction.
Nothing less than full commitment by both males and females allowed our ancestors to survive and pass their critical genes on to future generations, and finally on to us. We all carry genes for nobility, altruism, and sacrifice, and we all carry the dreaded traits of narcissism, lust, duplicity, and murder.
Only some individuals reach the extreme levels of the psychopathic brain. Overall, while psychopaths disturb our tranquility and cause us problems, some are highly intelligent and contribute in important ways to society and cultural growth. Without the adaptive mix of “good” and “evil” that haunts our universe social progress might be totally derailed.
Our problem is to identify psychopaths that might cause us short-term and long-term distress, including psychopathic spouses, friends, relatives, lovers, bosses, teachers, people on the street, and those with political power. They usually don’t display a revealing label and are often difficult to uncover.
Below are a few strategies we offer our readers to help those interested in the good life, and who need to be able to spot and counteract the influence of psychopaths that, by hook or crook, would take your money, destroy your time, demand restricted behaviors, and possibly even take your life.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT TO ENCOUNTER ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE BRAIN?
- Psychopathy does not imply insanity, and pathological brain organization is not all that apparent.
- Psychopaths are charming, short-term maters, frequently sexual, and sometime live a complex life of destiny.
- We will discover that psychopathy is underestimated in frequency, and over represented in the arts, in top corporate CEO’s, among adventurers, sensation-seekers, scientists, politicians, and dominating personalities.
- Readers with keen intellect and deep curiosity will enjoy Dr. Thiessen’s blog located on the next tab.
- News Reports update the workings of the strange mind and introduce new outrages and personal encounters submitted by readers (anonymously, of course). If readers have something to say, this is the place to share.
- The most extensive investigation of the Dark Side of the Brain, Psychopaths Rising: Unholy Links to Civilization and Destruction (by Del Wolf Thiessen, (2013)) will be available soon.
- Books and manuscripts written by Dr. Thiessen illustrate the struggles and accomplishments of deviant minds. They are available from the author’s “Bookstore.”
- A new series of reports is being developed by Dr. Thiessen, illustrating how to deal with the psychopath in common interactions, in love relations, in business, and at work. They will soon be available from the author’s “Bookstore.” These reports will help protect individuals from deception and harm.
Wolf (Del) Thiessen, Professor Emeritus
University of Texas at Austin