m:psych

Sensation (Part 1)

Introduction

  • Sensation: the activation of the sense organs by a source of physical energy
  • Perception: the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information; helps us to recognize meaningful objects and events
  • Sensation and perception are parts of one continuous process
  • Sensory Adaption: diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation (why you get used to certain smells, sounds, feelings, etc after a being around it for a while)
  • Transduction: conversion of one form of energy into another; in terms of sensation it’s the transforming of stimulus energies (sights, sounds, smells, etc) into neural impulses our brains can interpret
  • Bottom-Up Processing: information processing that happens at the lowest level of mental processes and uses our senses (this is like when you first only see the rider in the horse in the forest)
  • Top-Down Processing: information processing that begins with the brain and flows down; uses our experience and expectations to produce perceptions (when you notice that the painting has a lot of hidden faces)

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The Real Problem of Evil is Thinking Evil's a Real Problem

The idea that people can be completely evil and have no redeeming qualities, extenuating circumstances, or core humanity at all … That is the only place where true evil lies. The belief that some people are “evil” makes it easier for us to write them off, dehumanize them, destroy them, cease helping them. The idea of evil makes misbegotten moral righteousness possible, and justifies all manner of aggressive and hateful acts.

Sociopathy and antisocial personality disorder are just a repackaging of the age-old concept of pure unredeemable evil. It’s morality-driven dehumanization dressed in a clinical psychologist’s coat.

It is comforting to believe that people commit heinous acts because they are henious monsterous people. Such thinking protects us from wondering if we are capable of committing evil acts, if we are hateful and destructive. It also implies that ending suffering in the world is not a matter of slowly and constant reforming all our hearts and minds; it’s simply a matter of finding all the bad eggs and scrambling them.

The concept of sociopathic evil absolves us from doing the hard work of reforming criminals, remedying the precursors to crime, and examining the morality of our own actions. It is much easier to cast off the malicious as evil, disordered, defective, inhuman, exceptional, than it is to turn such a critical gaze upon ourselves.

By accepting the idea that “some people are just evil”, we resign ourselves to an overly simplified worldview where wrongs cannot be prevented, only punished, and where there is no broader societal responsibility for the sins of society’s children.