Empathy as a Choice and Pleasure vs Pain or Neglect in Infancy

Last week, I wrote about a simple idea: far from being an automatic reflex, empathy often requires a choice to engage with others’ emotions.  Moreover, people often refuse this choice, because empathy can be challenging, painful, costly, or all three.  Instead of meeting these challenges, we often keep our distance from others’ suffering, tune out the opinions of people with whom we disagree, and generally empathize only when it is convenient. …

This changes, among other things, the way we view psychiatric conditions featuring deficits in empathy.  The most famous of these are of course autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  In a landmark work almost 20 years old, Simon Baron-Cohen characterized ASD as a form of “Mindblindness,” or an inability to understand others’ experiences. …

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/moral-universe/2013/08/09/empathy-as-a-choice-part-2-autism-and-psychopathy/

Could it be that some fraction of autistic children are only lacking in motivation to engage others’ emotions?  Such motivations and emotional “reflexes” would be heavily influenced by the early presence or absence of pleasure, something that James Prescott (http://violence.de) emphasizes in his research.  More specifically, pleasure in association with mother, who is the infant’s universe.   If there is no pleasure associated with mother at all, there would be no motivation to understand her or by extension, other people (autism), while an early mixture of pleasure and (mostly) pain would create a motivation to understand people enough to manipulate them (psychopathy).   Total devotion and affection by the mother would create a virtual identification with the mother by the infant which would create a highly developed aptitude and motivation for empathy in adulthood.

Prescott discovered an intense link between adult violence and a lack of vestibular (motion) sensory input in infancy and notes that vestibular stimulation would be the primary sensory input to the developing fetus, thus continual carrying by the mother after birth  would provide a reassuring continuity of experience and an ongoing connection to mother for the baby, and a lack of same might be perceived as abandonment and rejection, which, together with neonatal trauma, is closely linked to violence.  http://members.tranquility.net/~rwinkel/janel/BirthComplicRejection.html

Anyway, none of this is rocket science in the sense that normal birth with normal hormones like oxytocin http://thoughtcrimeradio.net/2014/05/the-hormone-of-love-2/ (which pitocin induction disrupts), skin to skin contact and continual carrying and breast feeding are how humans have raised kids for millennia except in the current era.  Clearly, the most pivotal time for establishing and nurturing emotional aptitude and motivation is birth, which is why it’s so important for the baby to be placed directly on the mother’s belly to give them a chance to get acquainted as separate beings in love.   Standard obstetrical practices (back birthing, induction and extraction, wrapping in sensory-depriving towels, isolation, immobility, lack of breast feeding, poking and jabbing, circumcision etc) could hardly be seen as anything but torture and abandonment by the child.  The parallels with the CIA’s psychological torture techniques (pain and sensory deprivation, see “A Question of Torture” by McCoy) are relevant here.  It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that american obstetrical practices amount to a militarization of medicine, creating armies of unhappy and often violent people who help sustain the machinery of mass destruction.

Effects of Early Mother-Infant Separation One Year Later

Lack of Breast Feeding Linked to Autism

Breastfeeding and Empathy

Oxidative Stress: The Link Between Autism, Vaccines, Glyphosate, Gender-Related Susceptibility and Lack of Breast Feeding

How the Empire’s Child Abusers Censored Revolutionary Research into Causes of Violence

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