The Patients’ Symptoms
Historically when captors have tried to brainwash prisoners, the results have been less than spectacular. From the fabled “Manchurian candidate” to the CIA’s MK-Ultra program, there has not been a way yet devised to entirely dominate a person’s will. Having complete control of someone’s body and everyday activities still yields only a very a questionable level of control regarding the individual’s inner drive. In the few instances we have record of, other factors were at play with the small percent that was supposedly “brainwashed” having been convinced they would be personally better off by turning to or against a given group. If real mind control is not generally effective, even with the addition of mind-altering chemicals, this is indicative that during supposed “brainwashing” there is an underlying personal motivation at play. It is not brainwashing that creates destructive behaviors, but temptations. Past generations understood our range of potential nature and called destructive actions “sins”, and before that many of these were understood as destructive even in classical times without the use of the word “sin”. The seven deadly sins, that were around long before electronic media, are a good example of how giving in to temptations lead to destructive actions. Let’s shortly go over each one.
Pride’s most common expression is The percentage of the population expressing traits of narcissism is growing every generation and it propels the impulse to stand out, to be unique and different. You can’t brainwash someone into this. It is an effect of social isolation caused by the breakdown of “community,” leaving individuals to seek the next best thing via technology. Making effort-based, real-world connection is less common and seen as too much work, while a social networking is usually based far more off of superficial qualities and doesn’t force people to self-correct by allowing them to pick and choose their associates like toppings on a pizza. Nevertheless, these people FEEL like they’re truly connecting with others, and so they are bonded by the least important qualities yet remain isolated on a human level. Urbanization and its subsequent technological simulations of meaningful interaction have created the perfect breeding-ground for narcissism and special snowflake mentalities – which lends itself into a circular reinforcing cycle of destructive people who cannot maintain healthy bonds with friends and family. Narcissists don’t care about self-sacrifice for children, or working through hard times with a spouse, and they certainly do not want to put in effort for bonds when they can get immediate attention and instant approval. Attention-seeking behavior and morality-signaling do not come from “brainwashing,” they come from urbanization and through technological innovation have been exported to even the most rural areas.
Greed drives the markets that do not actually care about the nations they exploit. It has fostered an international form of corporatism produced from an extremely complex, ever-globalizing economy creating a machine to which the people are inherently means and not ends. This system wouldn’t work without individual greed, and this is not exclusive to one particular economic system, nor a specific span of time. No economic system focuses on anti-materialism or anti-greed narratives, nor do any attempt to work outside of the larger globalist paradigm. They all push to expand and achieve decadent standards of living, only stopping to argue about distribution method and means of production. Individual greed stems from replacing bonding cycles with instant material gratification and this process has seemingly been an unrecognized, or underappreciated, problem since the dawn of civilization.
The very basics of survival within tribes create the bonding mechanisms within that tribe. In hominid evolution, hunting was driven by both positive and negative reinforcement. A tribe was hungry and worked together to track game then ate which stimulated satisfaction in the brain through dopamine among other things. The hunger allowed the dopamine to re-sensitize and this balanced cycle helped keep the people balanced. The people of a tribe were bonded through the oxytocin of shared experiences as a family units which prompted procreation and child-rearing. The negative aspects or hardships were overcome by the strong bonds, which rewarded the tribe with even stronger bonds. In the modern world, oxytocin fires off all over the place thanks to technological stimuli, which why people are becoming bonded to objects and fictional characters. This contrasts the layered bonding of a tribe, where the individual is like a bullseye supported by immediate kin which is supported by the rest of your tribe. Instead people get trips from cute pictures on the internet, random hookups with people selected from a user-interface menu, and validation from a sea of forum profiles.
Within civilization, the neurotransmitters themselves have become the end goal and money has become the means to achieving this evolutionary-produced “high.” The orgasm is the perfect metaphor for this; what evolved as an incentive to reproduce and pair bond (especially in women) has become just one more “thing” to collect. Materialism is the fabled ‘chasing the dragon’ for the fix which is a part not balanced by the whole and on its own will never lead to emotional fulfillment.
Money for the sake of social power and pleasure further traps people within a process we are not meant to live by — far detached from biological reality and from other people. Greed corrupts politicians, businessmen, and activists alike. Even regular people can become creatures who would rather live an extravagant individualistic life instead of having a family, or who seek a lucrative divorce in which they get the kids just for tax benefits, child support payments, and social attention.
Greed on a macro scale has taken on a life of its own with its avatar best understood as international trade, and the resulting material wealth goes hand in hand with power. In the race to power, extreme war and wealth-disparity are inseparable. This spreads by its own devices, opening up all people to this globalizing civilization while it unconsciously destroys tribal people and unique cultures. A good example of this in the past was the race for all Western nations to open the ports of Japan, and those in Japan that supported this did so because they wanted the power to contend with those who would take advantage of them. Greed becomes a trap in which by not participating you will become subject to the will of those who do, but by participating you destroy yourself. It is a horrible catch 22. You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
Lust is seen everywhere. It is a cheap commodity now, whether through hubris or greed, to get a quick oxytocin trip with “no strings” (bonds). People inadvertently break up their families because of their own lust. No one values real bonds and it is not brainwashing that made them do this. The easier society makes living the less people need each other. In democratic systems, people will elect those that do not hold them to long-term commitments; because to not give their constituency instant gratification would yield a very short career in politics. Horrible policies on adultery and no-fault divorce aren’t a top-down conspiracy nor the results of brainwashing; they are only possible because of the majority’s demand for these things to be accepted.
Envy goes hand in hand with hubris/pride and everything having a very superficial value. People feel entitled to the good in what they perceive of others without accepting the bad that comes with it or the hard work to get there. This relates to all types of things from minimum wage to “equal rights.” There would be no feminism or transgenderism without every single supporter’s envy of the other sex. No one has to trick them into it because a victim-morality appeals by the benefits it promises. Those who oppose it, now that it’s normative, do so not because of counter-brainwashing but from a focus on long-term functionality over short term gratification. It is will-power and utilitarian (not false hedonistic “utility”, but long-term functionality) understanding that opposes temptation, not counter-brainwashing.
Gluttony drives unhealthy lifestyles. You can attempt counter-brainwashing through advertisements all day to try to get people to crave carrots like they crave high fructose corn syrup, but you will soon learn it’s the dopamine release brought on by bad foods that makes people desire them, not the advertisements inherently. Marketing doesn’t make you want junk food, it competes for what type or brand you will choose to quell your craving. Once a person indulges in something, even one who knows a given treat is unhealthy and isn’t subject to advertisements, they can still be enticed by it. This is the same for many other vices that trigger chemical reactions in the brain. To oppose your temptations, you must first acknowledge them and recognize you have the choice or agency to resist them.
Wrath and anger are often used interchangeably but wrath is a very specific type of anger. It is a vengeful anger and pairs nicely with externalized-agency. People will rage and obsess over those they perceive as the root of their own ills, never looking at what they could be doing to themselves. Wrath results from those who are not self-corrective. Other types of anger can cultivate a righteous impetus, like fighting to protect your land from invasion or ending destructive cycles like homosexual pedophilia. These do not root from an externalization of agency onto other groups nor is the drive to them revenge for a perceived wrong. There is an old saying that relates to wrath that goes “when seeking revenge dig two graves.”
Sloth expresses itself currently by seeking easy living or excuses for not doing what is in your capability because complacency is easier. This era has some of the highest widespread standards of living in Western history, but nearly no one is willing to sacrifice effort or their lifestyle for children – this is where sloth and greed meet. When you can delve further into a subject but take the easy answer that feeds into your hubris and wrath, that is sloth. You can be perfectly busy but still commit sloth, just as you can simplify your life to focus on what’s important and not commit sloth. The road to sloth is to do what brings you ease or instant gratification or that which feeds into the other sins without facing the difficulty of seeking what is good and true. The notion of evil triumphing because good men do nothing shows why Sloth truly is the gateway to all other sins.