Monday, March 27, 2017
Believing that aggression was learned, gives rise to the notion that aggression is commonplace and normal within our culture. Blockbuster or popular TV and films such as Mission Impossible, Wolverine, and Game of Thrones demonstrate the public’s interest. We loudly cheer when the good guy wins or slaughters his antagonist. Video games also depict destructiveness as well. Aggressive sporting events such as football, boxing, and car racing are also big revenue industries with plenty of fans witnessing brutality and death. The media over and over shows the gory details of death and destruction. Aggression is a major component in our society with plenty of rewards. There is no shortage of killing or incarceration. We lead the world in both. What is the ratio of aggression versus love as seen on our screens? Don’t forget the amount of verbal nastiness on today’s social media. Another explanation regarding aggression was that it was a response to anxiety; and that it often happened when an individual’s goal seeking behavior was blocked by some barrier. When man is threatened or afraid he becomes anxious as well. He can either fight or flee. Man is striving, seeking, desiring, willing, and has numerous goal driven behaviors. On man’s locomotion to complete the goals, he encounters various obstacles that can interfere and get in the way and block goal attainment. One emotional response to non-goal attainment is frustration. And when frustrated, man often acts out aggressively either verbally, physically or both. I remembered watching Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, yelling and throwing chairs on the court during a basketball game. His inappropriate behavior was pretty consistent when things didn’t go his way. Superego, conscience, ethics, moral code and guilt are few of the internal mechanisms that can influence control over our impulses. Religion, laws, police, despots and the military are a few of the external devices devised by society in an effort to control behavior. Even though we have more “jails” and spend outrageous amounts of money on our criminal justice system, and have many weapons of mass destruction, we are like Sisyphus in that the problems of human aggression and atrocities just continue as we repeat the same old, not so effective, solutions. In essence, we are threatened by a world in which we created. If there is a God, now’s a good time to intervene. Depending on one’s theoretical framework and belief regarding the origin of aggression and anger, influences man’s attempt to deal with this component in our society. Better and more psychotherapy; a buildup of more police and laws actually following the various religious teachings are some strategies. “Thou shall not kill” etc. etc. would be a prudent start. In any event, we need to make better choices for change. The mood toward violence, malignant aggression, inhumanity towards man is toxic and contrary to the love of life. Man must make better decisions and choices if things are to change.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
The expression of aggression, at times, seems very commonplace especially within our news cycle. For example, there has been a recent incident-car and bridge killing in London; bomb threats against Jewish community centers; stabbing in New York; kidnapping, political rhetoric regarding building walls, expelling nonresidents, limiting immigrants, a significant addition to the military budget, North Korea’s missile threat, NBA’s Matt Barnes “I want to kill the King’s”, along with comments last year like “lock her up etc. etc. Thus we have verbal and physical aggression. The following are a few viewpoints regarding aggression, anger, hostility and destruction. Darwin’s theory of evolution pointed to “survival of the fittest.” Thus, he suggested that man was hardwired. Prehistoric man had to be competitive, in order to live and survive. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory built on that idea and it evolved when he later postulated the notion of a destructive instinct-drive in order to better and more fully explain man’s cruelty toward himself and toward others. Henry Murray postulated the idea that a need was hypothetical process .He believed that man’s aggression was a need and physiological. He then labeled aggression as a human need. He briefly described aggression as: “to overcome opposition forcefully; to fight; to revenge; to injure; to attack, injure or kill another; to oppose forcefully or to punish another. The above ideas viewed aggression as built-in within man’s nature. Employing his hypothesis, we find that it is a human characteristic with motivational and emotional qualities which described interpersonal interactions. Another view of aggression was presented by American psychologists with a behavioristic orientation. They discounted the biological aspect in understanding aggression. They believed that aggression was learned and the behavior was the result of the ratio of positive and negative consequences of rewards and punishments. Newborn infants cry as they do not have another way of communicating with the caregiver. The caregiver can respond to crying behavior by ignoring, constantly attempting to comfort, yelling, or even spanking. Often, sleepless caregivers have difficulty using sound judgment. And there is no sure manual for the correct caregiver response. Thus, rewards and punishments begin early. Later on, the young child misbehaves, according to some caretaker notion. Does that caretaker ignore the behavior; yell or say unkind words to the child; or, does the caretaker use physical techniques such as spanking or pinching some body part of the child? Once again, positive and negative consequences are employed by the adult along with modeling and/or imitating aggressive or nonaggressive behavior. In an attempt to stop aggressive behavior, some caretakers employed aggressive behavior. As a consequence, aggressive behavior can be learned by the child. To Be Continued
Saturday, March 18, 2017
A recent study by Ball State University found that 9 out of 10 jobs that had disappeared since the year 2000 were lost to automation and not to workers from other countries. Further, a 2015 report from the Manufacturing Institute found that seven in ten manufacturing executives said they faced a shortage of workers with adequate tech skills. To confront this problem, the Department of Labor, listed, 21,000 programs with about 500,000 apprentices. However, this represented only 1.5% of 18 to 24-year-olds. In the last two years, our government has allocated $265 million that enlarged these programs. Thomas Perez, President Obama’s Secretary of Labor established partnerships between registered community colleges and sponsors. Mr. Perez hoped there would be a doubling of the number of apprenticeships by the year 2018. At another level, a grant, created a creative experimental program in downtown Manhattan for youths with a high aptitude for math. This program was called Beam 6. In fact 76 students were drawn from the New York City public schools from low income populations. This program was founded in 2011, with the help from Sandor Lehoczky a senior trader at Jane Street. One can even look overseas to find a significantly different educational model than ours. Switzerland, for one, has compulsory education up through the ninth grade. Then their students choose either an academic or vocational curriculum. Beginning in the 10th grade, the vocational student pathway rotated among employers, industry organizations and school academics for the next 3 to 4 years of training and mentoring. For these students, learning is hands-on. In fact Switzerland’s unemployment rate for the youngest is the lowest in Europe and about a quarter that of the United States. it’s clear that federal and local government, major business , corporations, labor unions , interested citizens, and the educational school systems have worked together to establish creative pathways into the world of work. It’s significantly important that parents play a major part in the solution because there continue to be negative attitudes in some quarters about blue-collar work. It’s obvious there are models to solve this significant problem. It’s also true that conditions change, so solutions need to be fluid as well. Change is difficult, as well, as some are not willing to relinquish power and control. Remember, it’s about the young teens and young adults. When they succeed, we all succeed. And we need them to succeed.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Back in the 1950s, I remembered that Aunt Eva and Aunt Sarah talked about college in the context of “they can’t take that away from you.” As both sets of grandparents came from Russia and World War II completed, their statement made complete sense. It was expected that I attend the University and so I did even though I did not, at that time, have a clear sense of a career choice. Later on I read that college graduates earned, over a life time, more than high school graduates. That’s still generally true today. Dave, one of my high school buddies, took a white-collar job at General Motors. He married, reared a family, purchased a house and, now comfortably retired in Florida. The big three automobile companies were doing well, and so did he. Attending college, at that time, was reasonable as well. In fact, in the 1950s, employment was booming, the standard of living was comfortable, so it didn’t matter if one attended college or not. Today, things have changed dramatically for employment opportunities for high school graduates. It’s clear that many do not have skills to compete in this information driven economy. On the other hand, attending the University has become extremely expensive and many students and their families have gone into massive school debt. A recent article in the February 5, 2017 edition of the New York Times addressed the issue confronting today’s high school graduates. For example, there was a job fair, in North Carolina. 10,000 people, or so showed up for 800 job positions. Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant there and administered a reading, writing and math screening test geared for a ninth grade level of education for their job openings. Unfortunately fewer than 15% of those job applicants were able to pass their test. For this employer as well as John Deere, a high school diploma was no longer sufficient for these entry level jobs. These employers relied heavily on computers. These factory floor workers were expected to have advanced math comprehension skills with ability to solve problems when confronted. A typical high school diploma was insufficient for their jobs. Solution, these two companies became partners with the local community college and set up an appropriate curriculum. They also offered internships that allowed the students to be employed with these companies. To Be Continued
Monday, March 6, 2017
Moreover, testosterone levels after rapid production increased reaching its peak around the age of 20, then also significantly declined. Changes in libido, aggressiveness, sexual desire, muscle building, bone and urinary issues came into play. In essence, prescriptions for prostate related issues and sexual function becomes a pharmaceutical delight for that industry. Men became cognizant of the fact that they had shorter lifespans than women. That translated into more female centenarians as well as more feminine in nature assisted-living facilities. And of course, aging men’s top fears seemed to be and rightly so with physical weakness, loss of purpose, impotence, dependence on others, and developing dementia as brain atrophy becomes more pronounced in men. Men also experienced more heart attacks earlier than women as well. Many men became what Alfred Adler called the masculine protest. According to Adler, man was motivated more by his expectations of the future than he is by the experiences of his past. These strivings are ideals that affected and influenced present behavior. Masculine protest becomes the desire for superiority or competence, which arises out of feeling a sense of inferiority and/or incompetence. This makes sense when we take a look at the typical older, overweight, muscle less, fragile, impotent and lack of purpose and control freak male. It’s not surprising that these aged men overcompensated when they felt inadequate and inferior. One clear example is related to their verbal expression. Words and language becomes more aggressive with sadistic putdowns, coupled with other mental games, doubletalk and mixed messages. Another example of a sense of weakness is when they attempted to control and dominate others with passive aggressive interactions. According to Adler, the final goal of man was to be aggressive, to be powerful and to be superior. He called this a striving for superiority. However, biology might be saying something otherwise. Biology equals destiny.
Sunday, March 5, 2017
It started, in the beginning, by playing soldiers, cowboys and Indians and other roughhousing games and activities. In school, they were bigger, faster, stronger, louder, and aggressive, kicked and threw the ball harder, and had more difficulty staying in their seats. They noticed that the other sex read better, had an easier time with math, and seemed more prim and proper. Then came adolescence. Some demonstrated more highly masculine interests like playing sports, getting into verbal and physical fights, being more rebellious, engaging in sexual promiscuity, being independent, smoking, drinking, and even engaging in drug use. Fitting in with that boisterous peer group was rewarding. Some even developed a rural frontier mentality. Unfortunately, having a masculine identification did necessarily guarantee a stable sense of well-being for their future. Cliché’s like “being king of the castle,” “the one with the biggest toys wins,” “driving muscle cars,” “being a big wheel,” “men don’t cry,” “ real men don’t eat quiche” etc. did not necessarily translate well , during their later years. By the time these men reached their midlife crisis, their masculine identity, or sex specific social behaviors were well-established. Divorce, economic hardship, loss of employment showed its ugly head. Unfortunately, these crises became more pronounced and had a more significant impact as they aged. On a biological level, various changes, without exception, occurred through the passage of time. For example, human GH [h GH] or human growth hormone production peaked before the age of 20, then declined steadily. Its primary function helped bones lengthen and expand. Its amino acids were found in proteins that were used in their body and created more muscle mass. When young, they were able to eat a high-protein diet without terrible consequences. But as they aged, their body produced fats. They were building flabby bodies, not muscles. They even lost flexibility and became more rigid. Their bones became brittle. Further, D H E A produced by their adrenaline glands is called the mother of all hormones. This important and necessary hormone also declined during aging. Unfortunately, fallen DHEA levels are associated with the number of age related diseases and disabilities. Infection, cancer, coronary artery disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc. along with a decrease in muscle mass come to mind. To Be Continued