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Dark Triad Victims, Animal Empathy, Alpha Male (+Schizotypals, Freud)

Uploaded 3/11/2021, approx. 42 minute read

Today, we have a smogasbord. We have a very diverse buffet of issues that we are going to discuss, schizotypals, Freud, the brain, animal empathy.

Do animals have emotions? We're going to discuss the infiltration of victim movements by dark triad, psychopaths, narcissists, and a lot more besides.

So there's no single topic, but a diversity. I hope you enjoy the ride.


My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and I'm a professor of psychology.

Let's start with schizotypal personality disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, these people with schizotypal personality disorder possess, and I quote, peculiar, eccentric, or unusual thinking, beliefs, or mannerisms.

If in special powers, such as mental telepathy or in superstitions, unusual perceptions, such as sensing an absent person's presence or having illusions, and if this sounds like you, it is because a growing number of people are making these preposterous claims about themselves and about reality.

Many of them are known as conspiracy theories, and many of them become gurus and coaches and self-styled experts, and you, the brain dead, are following them.

But we all know this by now, don't we?

So these unusual cognitive patterns in people with schizotypal personality disorder, they can involve counterfactual grandiosity. In other words, grandiosity that does not accord with the facts, that doesn't reflect reality, that is, divorce from reality.

And this kind of grandiosity can be either narcissistic or it can be paranoid.

So schizotypal people sometimes come across as grandiose narcissists or vergers narcissists, and sometimes come across as simply tinfoil head, paranoid.

And very often it involves something called pseudomania. Pseudomania is a manic phase of behavior, but not to the full extent. It's like just being restless, like attention deficit disorder, being unable to sleep.

But there are no serious disturbances in thinking and in speech. At any rate, this makes it difficult at times to distinguish the schizotypal from the narcissist, of the paranoid, or from bipolar patients.

A schizotypal may consider himself a revolutionary genius, possessed of superhuman or supernatural skills. He may even think that he is a professor of psychology with 190 IQ. Or he may erupt with unbridled insomniac energy as he seeks to implement harebrained schemes or concoct new theories. He may become convinced that he's being followed, surveilled, and about to be assassinated.

Disorganized thinking, disorganized speech are common in these phases, as the schizotypal slides perilously close to schizophrenia.

So I hope I answered your question.


Now, many people had been accusing me of victim blaming and victim shaming and this and that. How dare I suggest that some victims actually like their victimhood? How dare I say that victims are invested emotionally in their victimhood, that victimhood had become an integral dimension, a determinant of their identity.

This is no, no, this is politically incorrect. This is shameful. Even YouTube itself is actually shadow banning or deranking my channel because of what they had informed me is hate speech against empaths and victims.

Okay. Unfortunately, everything I say is backed by research. There's been a series of studies recently in the past two years that had revealed the fact that many victims are actually narcissists and psychopaths.

First of all, a while ago, Judith Herman and a series of other scholars, Judith Herman had invented the diagnosis of complex trauma or complex post-traumatic stress disorder. So Judith Herman had suggested that complex post-traumatic stress disorder and the victims of CPTSD are indistinguishable actually from borderline personality disorder.

She and others are strong advocates of eliminating the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and replacing it, yes, exactly with CPTSD.

So the distinction between people with a personality, a severe personality disorder, a personality disorder that is now widely considered to be a form of psychopathy. So the distinction between borderline and CPTSD is blurring. It's becoming more and more fuzzy.

Then there was a study in British Columbia, which had demonstrated that people use victimhood as a form of virtue signaling and that people who use victimhood in order to signal virtue to show how angelic and perfect they are, blameless and guiltless and flawless, these people are actually narcissists and psychopaths. That's not me, that's a study.

Then there were a series of four studies by Gabay, G-A-B-A-Y and others, and they came up with a new psychological construct called the Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood, T-I-V.

And they said that many people had adopted victimhood as a form of identity. It's like identity politics. And they leveraged their victimhood, propagate and perpetuate it, embellish it. They use it as a form of enchantment and they use victimhood to define themselves, to make sense of what's happening to them and of the world, to read other people properly, anticipate their moves, predict them, etc.

So victimhood is very, very useful.

And they refused to let go of the victimhood.

I have dedicated several videos to these recent studies and today I want to add yet a new one.

There's new research and this research provides evidence that narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, these are the maladaptive personality traits known together as the dark triad. These are associated with overt displays of virtue.

And yes, you guessed it, victimhood.

This study suggests that people with dark personalities use these signals of I'm a virtuous victim to deceive other people and to extract resources from other people.

The study is titled signaling, virtuous victimhood, as indicators of dark triad personalities. The authors are Ekin Ock, Young, Q-I-A-N, Brandon, Strzegzelk, S-T-R-E-J-C-E-K and Carl Aquino.

And again, signaling virtuous victimhood as indicators of dark triad personalities.

This has been published in the journal of personality and social psychology.

I want to quote a bit from the study.

The authors say, "Fortune and human imperfection, assure that at some point in life, everyone will experience suffering, disadvantage or mistreatment. When this happens, there will be some who face their burdens in silence, treating it as a private matter. They must work out for themselves. And there will be others, say the authors, who make a public spectacle of their sufferings, label themselves as victims and demand compensation for their pain one way or another.

The latter response is what interests us.

So the studies are huge by psychological standards. They included almost 3,600 participants. And the authors examined how signals of virtue and signals of victimhood are related to dark triad traits and deceptive behaviors.

Before we proceed, we no longer use the construct of dark triad. We increasingly are using a construct known as the dark tetrad. And the dark tetrad is the three components of the dark triad, Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy, coupled with borderline or covert narcissism.

So the vulnerable versions. And this is the dark tetrad.

At any rate, this study that focused on the dark triad.

So the researchers, first thing they found is that perceiving someone as a virtuous victim made people more likely to try to help the victim indicating that if you use signals of virtue and signals of victimhood, it's a great strategy to gain resources from other people.

If you want to take something from someone, if you want to get something from someone, you can pretend to be a victim or you can signal your virtue and you're likely to get it.

And that includes even extreme things like sex.

So in the study, there are examples.

So participants were more willing to help a victim. Participants were more willing to help a victim of a random act of violence who was described as being short while volunteering at a charity, even when this was not verified.

So if you came and said, well, I've just been short, it's a random act of violence. And this happened to me while I had been volunteering at a charity event.

And then there's another guy who says I've been short. It's a random act of violence. And this happened to me as I was walking past a grocery store or a strip club.

People would prefer the victim, the person who had been short while volunteering in a charity event.

So in subsequent studies, they established that it was a positive relationship between dark triad traits and emitting signals of victimhood and virtue. If you participate in a charity event, then of course you're virtuous. And if you were short while you were participating in the charity event, you're both virtuous and you're a victim.

And these forces, these caresses them in a way, manipulates them into giving you help. And the help could be substantial. They could even become self sacrificial in trying to help you.

Among the three dark triad traits, Machiavellianism, which is a willingness to be manipulative, an urge to be deceitful, tendencyproclivity to be deceitful. Machiavellianism was the strongest predictor of virtuous victim signaling.

I want to repeat this because this is mind boggling and shocking and it supports everything I've been saying for almost 20 years. If you are a victim and you signal your victimhood, you make a spectacle of yourself, you share your victimhood everywhere, and you do this while claiming to be a virtuous, blameless, guiltless, helpless victim. You've done nothing to deserve the victimhood. You've contributed nothing to your predicament or situation. You are an angel. You're an angel and your abuser is a demon, the devil. It's a morality play. It's the ancient splitting defense mechanism. He is all bad. You are all good. If you're doing this, if this is the way you behave and the vast majority of empaths online, this is precisely their message.

Well, if you're doing this, according to this study, you're very likely a psychopath.

I mean, I've been charitable. I have been saying in my last few videos that empaths are actually covert narcissists. Wrong, they're psychopaths. It's even much worse.

In other words, people with high level of Machiavellianism, according to the study, were more likely to report that they have often pointed out how I'm not able to pursue my goals and dreams because of external factors. In other words, they had an external locus of control. People with Machiavellianism positioned themselves, postured as victims in the sense that someone external or something external, usually someone, but it could be an institution or could be victimized by the state, by the FBI, you name it, anyone and everyone and everything can victimize it. But generally it's another human being.

So they position themselves as people whose lives have been disrupted, interrupted, thwarted and stunted by other people. But actually they're Machiavellian psychopaths or narcissists. So some of them were saying, many of them said in the studies, I don't feel accepted in the society because of my identity. Remind you of something? Yes, Black Lives Matter. Me too.

And of course, right wing militias and conspiracy theories. All these victimhood movements essentially are founded on dark triad traits and it's offline and it's online in, for example, the empath movement. All these people, they really had convinced themselves that they are victims and they had moments of victimhood in their past. I am not invalidating the experience of victimhood, but it is what you do with your victimhood that matters.

And if you have narcissistic traits, psychopathic traits, borderline traits, then you're very likely to embrace your victimhood, leverage it, love it, hug it, cuddle it, go to sleep with it and wake up with it. Let's call it victimhood fleas, like narcissistic fleas, victimhood fleas. And you're likely to convert yourself into a victim in the sense that victimhood is likely to become your primary identity, the organizing principle of your life.

And the thing that gives your life rhyme and reason, direction and purpose and goal, victimhood helps you make sense of your life and the world around you and other people.

Sentences like, I don't feel accepted in the society because of my identity. I am not able to pursue my goals and dreams because of external factors. Sentences like people like me are underrepresented in the media and in leadership and in business. These are all sentences from the studies, from the study that I had mentioned.

And these people also report virtue signaling more often so they buy products in a way to communicate their positive moral characteristics, their charity giving, their altruism is ostentatious and conspicuous, it's a show, it's a theater production, it's not real, there's no empathy behind it.

And this relationship between victimhood, virtue signaling and dark triads, a shocking relationship. This relationship held even after accounting for demographic and socio-economic characteristics.

So people with darker personal analogies, people who were more narcissistic, more psychopathic, more Machiavellian were more likely to claim victimhood status regardless of their actual status in society.

In other words, they claimed victimhood status even when they were not victims at all and even when they were actually the abusers.

Participants who reported engaging in more virtuous victim signaling scored, also scored higher on other measures. They tended to be more willing to purchase counterfeit goods. They were more likely to cheat. There were conflict games and other games and they were cheating. They're much more likely to be deceitful.

I repeat this because it flies in the face of all the nonsense propagated online. People who claim to be victims, people who render the victimhood a spectacle, people whose identity is that of a victim, they are actually much more likely to engage in antisocial, even criminal activities and they are far more likely to cheat and to deceive others.

This is not the first time this is being demonstrated.

In Gabbai's studies, G-A-B-A-Y, published in October last year, the same finding in Danarelli's studies, the same finding, beware of people who claim to be victims. They are as likely to be narcissists or psychopaths.

Participants who reported engaging in more virtuous victim signaling were more likely to exaggerate perceived mistreatment by a colleague in order to gain an advantage over the colleague, an association that was mediated by dark triad traits.

In other words, victims very often exaggerate their victimhood in order to extract benefits either from society, from others, but above all from their abuser or tormentor from the other party.


Now, I wouldn't go as far as saying that all victims are like that. Of course, that would be untrue. That would be vastly untrue. It would be to caricature the fact that there is real victimhood out there.

But some victims, those with narcissistic traits, psychopathic traits, borderline traits, these type of victims, they would tend to lie, to cheat and to deceive about their victimhood. Simply, they would invent stories that had never happened. They would describe being accidents that had never happened. They would exaggerate the misbehavior of the abuser and they would do all this to take him to the cleaners, to destroy him.

It's a form of vengeance and to extract material or other benefits from him, a form of blackmail and extortion.

I will read another section from the study.

Together, the authors say together, our studies present convincing evidence that the virtuous victimhood signal is an effective mechanism for persuading other people to part with their resources in a way that benefits the person who is doing the signaling and that people who tend to engage in amoral social manipulation to achieve their goals are more likely to emit these signals of victimhood.

The researchers themselves, as I do, strongly caution against interpreting these findings, suggesting that everyone who claims to be a victim has maladaptive personality traits such as Machiavellianism. No one is saying this. I am not saying this. I'm just saying, when you come across a group of victims whose victimhood is their identity, who exaggerate and exalt in their victimhood, who love their victimhood, who are emotionally invested in their victimhood, victims who have victimhood competitions, victims who render themselves all good, refuse to acknowledge any personal responsibility or contribution to their predicament and condition and circumstances, decisions they have made, choices they've undertaken. These kind of victims are extremely likely to be narcissists, possibly psychopaths, and they are definitely Machiavellian. They are manipulative. They are dangerous people, covert narcissists, psychopaths, and essentially con artists who pretend to be victims.

Many of these victims convince themselves that they are victims because it's good for business. You should be very aware of these communities because these victims are actually extremely defiant and aggressive people, defiant and aggressive. They can retard your healing. They can retard your healing by forcing you to conform and to remain a victim for the rest of your life. And they can punish you or penalize you if you express any opinion that is independent and autonomous and critical and questioning.

These are very violent neighborhoods.

The authors conclude by saying, our conclusion is simply that victim signals are effective tools of social influence and maximally effective when deployed with signals or virtue.

We also provide evidence supporting our proposition that for some people, these signals can be deployed as a duplicitous tactic to acquire personal benefits they would otherwise not receive.

A very sobering view of victimhood on top of several such major studies in the past two years, we are beginning to reconceive of victimhood as a manipulative tactic, a manipulative technique.

You see, there's a big difference between saying, I am a victim and saying I had been victimized. A world of difference.

On to another victim, Sigmund Freud. And I'm saying that he's a victim because Sigmund Freud and the theory of psychoanalysis and then psychoanalytic theories, which are derivatives of Sigmund Freud, anything from Adler to Jung and so on, they are today considered to be shambolic scams. We don't teach them at university because they are not substantiated by experiments and studies and the scholarship is dubious, they're speculative, they're based on anecdotes, on introspection, God forbid, and so we don't teach them. We don't teach them because we think these pioneers of psychology were actually not psychologists in the sense that we perceive the discipline today. We think they were possibly literary figures, like Dostoevsky, or maybe even kind of con artists, you know. Jung was on the verge, he was having sex with his patients, he was into UFOs and the occult and astrology, he was psychotic for five years, so he doesn't cut a very impressive figure.

And so in many, many universities around, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, but not only, we have discarded the baby with the bathtub and the bathtub with the building. Everything got out the window and Freud had been victimized, in my view.


Now there's a new book published about the correspondence between recent discoveries in neuroscience and Freud's models, models of consciousness and the psyche.

Freud himself was a neurologist, not a psychologist. He was a scientist. His initial studies had to do with the nervous system.

He described hysteria, for example, in terms of nerve impulses and activity in the brain.

So he started off as a scientist and what he wanted to do, he wanted to scientific psychology, he wanted to render it, convert it into a science.

And it's very ironic that this most scientific of psychologists had been discarded by his very own profession, because Freud was a proto-neuroscientist.

And so I would like to review a bit what's happening nowadays, because there is a kind of revival of interest in Freud, because recent discoveries in neuroscience seem to indicate that he got many things right, many things straight, and that his models, albeit abstract, symbolic, there's no question that there is no such thing as an ego.

You can't capture it in a vat or a lab. You can't experiment on it. So we don't presume that these are objective entities out there.

But as symbols, as notation, a kind of formal notation, like symbols in mathematics, they do seem to capture reality, because more and more neuroscience is discovering that Freud had actually been right, which would render him one of the greatest geniuses of the human spirit of all types.

There's a new book by Mark Saunders, S-O-L-M-S. The book is titled The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. The Hidden Spring: Journey to the Source of Consciousness. Mark Saunders, S-O-L-M-S, W. W. Norton and Company. It's 400 and something pages, each one of them amazing if you are into neuroscience and Freud and so on and so forth.


Let's go back in time.

In October 1895, Sigmund Freud had written a letter. He sent the letter to his colleague, his confidant.

I doubt if Freud ever had friends. He had disciples. He had colleagues. I don't recall that he had friends of any kind, but okay. As close to a friend as possible.

His name was Wilhelm Fliess, Fliess, sorry. So he wrote to this guy and he said, after an industrious night, the barriers lifted, the veils dropped, and everything became transparent from the details of the neurosis to the determinants of consciousness.

And so Freud, on that specific night, had thought, reached a conclusion that he had deciphered the human psyche.

And he started to write down his discoveries and the title in his handwriting was Project for a Scientific Psychology.

Freud's project started off as an attempted science. By the way, a pretension and hubris and grandiosity that we still carry with us as his spiritual descendants to this very day.

Psychologists want very much to be scientists. Never mind, the psychology can never ever be a science in principle. At any rate, he started off with this very, very scientific looking thing.

And the first manuscript includes equations and mathematical symbols and sketches and nervous system branchings and synapses and axons and so on. And he wanted to reduce the psyche, reduce the human soul into an energetic apparatus, into a machine. He said it's like a battery, a battery that builds up excitation and then discharges us it.

And this discharge of excitation is what we call relief. And the discharge goes through the coils of the nervous system.

Gradually, Freud began to realize that such a reductionist model is not going to work. It's not going to capture the vast majority of human experiences, introspective or observed.

And so he gravitated more and more towards language, from science with its mathematical obstructions to language, which led him much later to talk therapy.

Talk therapy is not Freud's invention, but he was the first to popularize.

And so modern brain research has gone back full circle.

Because modern brain research, neuroscience, is trying to do what Freud had tried to do in 1895 and had failed dismally.

So the idea that psychology can be reduced to the brain, that it is essentially the science of the brain, but it's a primitive way of describing the brain.

It's like psychology, when it grows up, when it matures, is going to be neuroscience.

And of course, Mark Saunders, the author of the book, is a neuropsychologist. And he has quite a resume of cognitive scientific research. And he surprisingly reaches a conclusion that Freud's theories had anticipated some of the key findings in modern brain research.

It's a shocking read, the book.

So you keep saying, I mean, when I read the book, I kept saying to myself, this Freud was something else. I mean, when Freud had embarked on his work, at the very tail end of the 19th century, no one knew anything about the brain, close to anything. And Freud had rich conclusions that have taken 150 years to substantiate, 130 years to substantiate. He was way ahead of his time. He was like a prophet, a biblical prophet.

And neuroscience is actually neuroscience begin to look like a primitive version of Freud, because neuroscience is focused on the cerebral cortex, the outer layers, you know, the crown of the brain. And so neuroscience is concerned with what we call higher order cognition. That's contemplation, rationality, deliberation, this kind of types of thinking, which are essentially analytical things.

And everyone is into this, this cerebral cortex, one way or another.

Yes, other parts are studied also.

But when you talk about cognition and emotions and so on, there's amygdala, there's cortex, and essentially that's that.

And what about desires? What about deeper emotions? What about pressures? What about pleasures? What about stressors?

I mean, neuroscience is not up to it yet. Maybe one day, but right now it's not up to it.

And Freud was, Freud anticipated future neuroscience, not only current neuroscience.

And so songs starts with the brain stem, the primitive reptilian, not David, like reptilian, really, part, it's in the stem, not in the cortex, where consciousness arises. As he says, it is the hidden wellspring of the mind, the source of its essence.

If you shift your view anatomically, you shift your view psychologically. If you focus on the cerebral cortex, you get a picture of human psychology, which emphasizes high level cognition and the detriment of everything else that is human.

But if you start with the brain stem, where emotions are, pleasures are, desires are, it's very reminiscent of Freud's concept of the id.

And so songs write, the neurological sources of effect in consciousness are at a minimum, deeply entangled with one another. It follows that feelings pervade conscious experience.

So songs wants to move past the model of mind that, that, like, is separate from our base feelings. It's like we don't feel comfortable with the fact that we're animals. We are primitive. We're very basic. We're binary machines in a way. We don't like that. We don't like to consider ourselves the missing link, chimpanzees.

So we invented this concept of mind and mind is uniquely human because it includes introspection. It includes all kinds of capacities and, and, and abilities that separate us from animals. And we're very invested emotionally in this grandiose superiority self perception.

And so this bias, this prejudice had directed, confined, channeled, structured our neuroscience. Neuroscience is actually a massive propaganda campaign to prove that we are unique exceptionalism in science. It's like neuroscientists are trying to prove that humans are not animals or not only animals.

So mindless drives, they're the basis of more sophisticated forms of conscious thinking. And we refuse to admit it.

Mental life, perception, memory, volition is not cool reason, as Shakespeare had put it. It's much more than that and much less than that.

And neuroscientists are terrified of, of admitting it in effect.

Freud laid the groundwork for this. Freudian psychoanalysis started off with the most primitive animalistic urges. And Freud himself had posited, claimed that it is culture, not anything in the human mind, not anything in the brain, culture, outside, other people, social structures, mores, memory, institutional memory. He said that culture interacts with the human mind, which is very animalistic and basic and constrains it via the ego.

Now Jung just took it a step further. Jung created the collective unconscious. So it was not only current day culture, but like the totality of the experience of the human species.

But even with Jung, there is this conflict. There is this clash between our basic nature, which is essentially vestural, essentially primitive, primordial. And our institutions, including historical institutions, current institutions, cultures, and so on, which somehow constrain and channel and sublimate and transform this raw energy inside us.

So in his early work, songs was focused on sleep and dreams exactly like Freud. Dreams were an unlikely path to proving Freud right, because Freud took dreams and had converted them into a language of symbols, which was essentially a form of literature.

And researchers associate dreams with REM sleep, mindless state. There's no mind in dreams, neuroscientists used to say.

When you dream, you're mindless. Of course, Freud said exactly the opposite. He said, you're mindful to the maximum. When you dream, it is when you're conscious, when you don't dream, that you filter out the vast majority of highly relevant information.

And that's why dreaming and sleep are crucial, according to Freud.

And today, the scientific consensus is, and I'm quoting another scholar, neuroscientist, Alan Hobson, the primary motivating force for dreaming is not psychological, but physiological.

Dreams, according to this model, are like neural indigestion, or cleansing with spinal fluid, cleansing of the brain.

So all the meanings that meaningfulness that Freud had attributed to dreams, they were nonsense, neuroscientists said, until recently, as Freud said, the dream is an expression of unconscious, unconscious wish, and unconscious content.

So the dream's explicit imagery, the manifest content, is hiding stifled desires and passions and urges and drives, the latent content, latent content is buried underneath, and then sub and then converted into a language of symbols.

Psalms actually reaches the conclusion that Freud's version of dreaming, Freud's idea of dreaming, conception of dreaming is much closer to the truth than contemporary neuroscience.

Psalms discovered that patients with damage to the part of the brain that generates REM sleep actually still dream. It's wrong to say that REM sleep is a precondition for dreaming. It's not.

People who cannot experience REM sleep can still dream. REM is rapid eye movement. So REM sleep has some connection to dreams.

The psyche's reward system maybe, wanting system, is also connected. So some parts of the hardware are connected to dreams, but it's not a precondition.

You can dream without these parts being activated. And this is revolutionary. It means that Freud was right.

Dreaming has to do with wishes. It has to do with much more complex processes that involve multiple areas of the brain, not a single center or a single function or a single observed behavior or activation or multi-unit activation. It's wrong.

Dreaming, in other words, is an extensive multi-unit activity, multi-part activity.

You could easily say, actually, that dreaming is the activity of the totality of the brain. Almost all parts of the brain participate, including the famous rewardpathways, and so on. And this is much closer to Freud's view than to anything modern neuroscience has to say.

Dreams are also symbolic. They're puzzling. They're like imagining. They're like detective stories. Dreams are manifestations of suppressed wishes, was Freud's initial position.

And souls tend to agree. Souls isolated the parts of the brain where wishes originate, are expressed, and then pursued. And these parts, it seems, are intimately connected or activated, at least, when people dream.

So, souls is coming up with a model of the brain that is, like Freud's, sensitive to the psyche's efforts to balance competing needs and pressures. It's a homeostatic or equilibrium model.

So, pleasure and pain guide our interactions with the world. And the world is uncertain. We miss a lot of information. It's information incomplete, informationally incomplete. And it is pleasure and pain that signals, they are the signals, this kind of direct our behavior, precisely as Freud had said. It's precisely what Freud said.

Freud wrote, a thing which has not been understood inevitably reappears. Like an unlaid ghost, it cannot rest until the mystery has been solved and the spell broken.

And this is what's happening to his theory. Repression is now well-documented in neuroscience. The unconscious has been proven beyond doubt. And now dreaming and dreams, wish and wish fulfillment, suppressed wishes, all this is emerging, desire, fantasy. All this is emerging, not onlythese are emerging, not only as artifacts of mental life, but as actually situated in specific locations in the brain.

Neuroscience is converging with psychoanalysis, never mind how low neuroscientists are to admit it.

So, ironically, Freud had abandoned his scientific project. And now neuroscience is returning to Freud's work as a scientific project.

Highly recommended book, The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness, by Mark Vaknin, S-O V-N-I-S, W. W. Nortonand company.

I want to move on to another topic, that is the topic of empathy.

People keep asking me, is empathy a human, merely a human manifestation, a human phenomenon? In other words, do animals have empathy? And what's the connection between empathy and emotions? And can we develop empathy? Can we acquire it? Can we learn it later in life? Let's call it late onset empathy.

I think it's very instructive and very interesting to deep dive into the question of whether animals have emotions, and then do animals have empathy? And then, of course, what's the connection between emotions and empathy in the animal kingdom?

And there's a very simple reason for this. We are animals. Of course, people on YouTube are animals, but all humans are animals. Even people who don't use YouTube are essentially animals. So, we know that people have emotions towards animals. They have pets. They love animals. They anthropomorphize animals. In other words, they attribute to animals, to their pets, for example, human qualities, human behaviors, human expressions, human manifestations, and human motivations, and human internal processes. They humanize their animals. Of course, most animals, if they could speak, probably would have resented this, because they're not human. They're animals. A giraffe has essential giraffeness. She doesn't want to be considered a very tall blonde.

So, the humans anthropomorphize animals is a problem, both for the animal and for the human, because we get it wrong. We attribute to animals the kind of love and empathy that humans have.

But is empathy a uniform quantity? Like, there's only one kind of empathy? Is it possible that there is human empathy, dog empathy, cat empathy?

Well, forget cat empathy. Cats have no empathy. Mouse empathy? I mean, is it possible that each animal has its own kind of empathy, shaped by its mental apparatus, by its brain, by its emotions, by its experiences, by its, of course, genetic template, DNA? Is it possible?

I think it's far more safe to assume this than to assume that animals and humans have the same kind of empathy. In other words, it's a safe assumption that there is animal empathy as distinct from human empathy. And it's a safe assumption that there are animal emotions as distinct from human emotions.

In fact, in ethology, ethology is a science of human, animal behavior. So, in ethology, the current consensus is that animals do have empathy, and definitely they have emotions such as grief, fear, and even complex emotions, which we used to think were primarily associated with human beings.

Animals are very emotional, actually. Pythagoras, who was an ancient philosopher and mathematician and Greek, no one is perfect, lived in 490 BC. Pythagoras said that animals, I quote, possess the full range of human emotions. Pythagoras lived a long time ago.

Things have changed. Now we have science.

And so Charles Darwin wrote, I'm quoting, there's no fundamental difference between men and the higher mammals in the mental facilities.

Current research, bleeding-edge, cutting-edge research, definitely had proven pretty conclusively that animals display behavior that can be explained best, most parsimoniously, by assuming that animals have emotions.

I mentioned grief, but also fear, joy, happiness, shame, rage, compassion, even respect.

There is a famous conservationist, animal rights activist, and professor of mythology and so on. His name is Dr. Mark Beekoff, B-E-K-O-F-F.

Mark Beekoff, and he stated at the time, non-human animals are amazing beings.

Daily we are learning more and more about their fascinating cognitive abilities, emotional capacities, and moral lives. We know that fish are conscious, sentient, rats, mice, and chickens display empathy and feel not only their own pain, but also that of other individuals, presumably individual chickens.

So it's widely accepted now that animals have emotions. They have emotions.

Humans were not right, were not wrong, I'm sorry, when they had attributed emotions to animals. They may have been wrong by attributing human emotions to animals, but animals have some kind of emotions, because we can observe their behaviors, and the best explanation is that they have emotions.

But what about consciousness?

Consciousness, what about interpersonal relatedness, our connection to other people?

We know now, and it's been a maxim in psychology for several decades, that our self and the perception of self, the self-perception of self, our introspective capacity crucially relies on our interactions with other people.

In other words, we are not individuals, we are not atoms. Our very being, our very separateness, our very process of individuation depend crucially on interacting with other people, and this way emerges consciousness.

Consciousness may be described as a hive mind, so we are all fragments and shards, a kaleidoscopic collection, collage, and assemblage of other people.

And in this sense, humanity is like an ant colony. It has a single mind, fractured and fragmented among numerous individuals.

Well, if this is the case, is it the same with animals?

I've mentioned ants or bees. Is it the same in higher order animals?

Why do we experience our consciousness as separate and distinct?

In other words, why do we experience ourselves as individuals, not as part of some mass that is homogenized and faceless and impersonal, but we stand apart in our own eyes at least?

How do we reconcile this myth, self-perpetuating myth, that we are alone, that we are we, that we are not other people, even as we say that our selfhood depends crucially on interacting with other people, on object relations?

So there is a behaviorist approach to studying animals, and the behaviorists say that we are making a mistake by assigning human emotions to animals.

The behaviorists say you don't need emotions. It's enough to have a stimulus response theory. If you know that stimulus A creates response B, you don't need to introduce emotion C in the middle, but it's manifestly untrue. It's manifestly untrue in humans, of course, although the behaviorist did their best, B.F. Skinner and others did their best to extrapolate from rats and mice to humans, to say that humans also don't have emotions or cognitions. It's all false. It's all misinterpretation.

Humans too are stimulus response machines, which is rank nonsense. Rank nonsense. I have no idea how Skinner came to be known as a genius. The guy was intellectually challenged. So it's nonsense in humans, and it increasingly seems that it's nonsense in animals.

Animals experience emotions. They're advanced technologies. We observe animals in natural habitats. We put them through functional magnetic resonance imaging. We have a lot, we have a huge body of knowledge and information. We've seen animals having what appear to be emotional reactions to triggering events. These reactions are not instinctual because they deviate from instinct.

We know, we have a full map of the instincts of every animal.

And when the animal behaves in ways which are utterly unpredictable and context dependent, situational, we know that the animal is deviating from instinct.

Why? How? If it doesn't have any internal process, which we can safely label as emotion.

And so animal researchers are asking themselves increasingly what line separates humans from animals? What sets us apart? If we perceive the world emotionally and animals perceive the world emotionally, in which sense are we non-animal and in which sense animals are not human?

And there's a huge debate.

Scientists agree that emotions are very crucial in human beings.

Also, there's the issue of consciousness, sentience. There's an issue of introspection, which most animals have a very primitive form of if at all.

So is it a question of degree maybe? Maybe we are like animal version 2.0, the more advanced upgrade. Is it a question of quantity only? Or is it a question of quality? Do we have some things that animals don't have even a hint of a shade of an inkling of? They don't have a trace of.

It's uniquely human.

It's a problem because we fail to find such things.

There is not a single thing that humans do that animals don't do. Animals do it more primitively, more basically, more badly, less efficiently, less often, but they do it.

Language, yes. Tool making, yes. Emotions, yes. Self-awareness, yes. Introspection to some extent, yes.

It's all there. Even our sexual habits and practices fully exist in the animal kingdom. Animals do everything humans do, in bed and outside bed.

So it's increasingly begins to look like the line separating humans from animals is a quantitative line, not a qualitative line.

And emotions play a pivotal role in the well-being of humans and probably emotions are the engine and driver of evolution.

It seems that emotions guarantee our survival and affect our daily lives so as to optimize or maximize our chances to survive.

And put differently, emotions are the glue that binds us together also socially via a manifestation of emotions, which we call empathy.

And here we come to the question, do animals have empathy?

Empathy could be safely described as an agglomerate or conglomerate of emotions, complex, integral emotion which involves other or triggers or calls upon other emotions.

The ability to understand other people, to share their cognitions and their emotions, to guess properly, appropriately, correctly, their state of mind, their emotions, their motivations.

This is crucial. We display empathy not only towards other people. We display empathy towards animals as well. Sometimes we display empathy towards a situation, a nation, a collective. There was a lot of empathy in the wake of 9-11 towards the American people. Sometimes we display empathy towards an institution.

For example, many of us are very sad that the family is falling apart. So do animals do the same? I can't tell you, I can't give you an unqualified yes, but it's a pretty qualified yes.

It seems that in social species, in animals that associate in social groups, animal is prevalent.

There's a Dr. James C. Harris at Johns Hopkins University and he said that empathy is an evolutionary mechanism to maintain social cohesion.

So animals rely on the group for survival and they must be very sensitive to other members of the group, what they're feeling. Sometimes the other members of the group are human beings.

Diane Fossey headed with gorillas. I mean primates had reacted to human observers with empathy.

The idea of empathy in animals is a new way of looking at animals because our feelings towards animals may actually be reciprocated by these animals as any dog owner would tell you. It's possible that animals truly care about members of their own species in a way that we can somehow relate to, however remotely.

So in primates, in dogs, in mice, in elephants, we had observed empathy most definitely. We had observed elephants mourn the death of a conservationist, a person, a human being. We had observed dogs comfort humans in the aftermath of trauma. We had observed rats look out for their friends. We had observed animals having feelings and having empathy.

There's an environmental writer, his name is Carl Safinaand he gave an interview to National Geographic and he said, watching animals my whole life, I've always been struck by how similar they are to us. I've always been touched by their bonds and been impressed occasionally frightened by their emotions. Anyone who works closely with animals will tell you that they are convinced beyond doubt that animals display and contain many emotions and feelings, empathy included.

Some of it is anthropomorphism, but not everything. Animal behavior admittedly is not inherent proof of their inner experience, but we can say the same about human beings.

All I have when I look at you, all I have is what you say about yourself and your behavior. I can't enter your mind. I have no access to your mind. I don't know if what you're telling me is true. Maybe you're trying to manipulate me.

All I can do is observe you and based on my observations, construct a model of what's going on inside your mind.

Same with animals. Maybe I'm anthropomorphizing you. Maybe you're an alien from Mars or somewhere and you're just your body snatched and you're not really human. Maybe you're an android produced by some obscure company in China.

No one has heard of and you're the first android unleashed upon us. As long as you self-report as a human being and as long as you behave in a way that is recognizable to me, I'm going to judge you to be human. I will deem you to have humanity.

And same with animals. Animals are conscious beings and they experience varying degrees of emotional responses.

How do we know that?

Because we observe them. We see how they behave and they self-report non-verbally in many ways.

There's a lot of research to be done but the evidence already is pretty conclusive.

I'm going to finish by reading to you an excerpt from a book and this excerpt is about true alpha males.

What is an alpha male?

I've delegated the whole video to the issue of what is an alpha male and this is just an annex or appendix which supports my views.

The book is the Cast: Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.


So I would like to read to you an excerpt from the book.

The social hierarchy and vocabulary of wolves and canines runs throughout our culture.

Alpha male, underdog, lone wolf, pack mentality.

In part due to our observations of the dogs we may have owned and to the seeming parallels between ourselves and this companion species of social animals.

Current day canine specialists have sought to correct the distortions of the term alpha male, the king of the world, beta of popular imagination. This image of alpha male has worked its way into our psyches but it's wrong.

True alphas, says Wilkerson. True alphas are fearless protectors against outside incursions but they rarely have to assert themselves within the pack. Rarely have to act with aggression, bark orders or use physical means of control.

We treat dogs like children but as pack animals they respond to the cues of an alpha in a pack structure.

A human alpha should never have to raise her voice. Dogs don't understand that.

If you're having to raise your voice to get a dog's attention, a dog will not see you as the leader. You have already lost.

A true alpha does not behave like that and doesn't have to.

If a so-called alpha resorts to that, they are signaling that they are not in control at all anymore.

True alphas command authority through their calm oversight of those who depend upon them. They establish their ranks early in life and communicate through ancient signals, their inner strength and stewardship, asserting their power only when necessary.

An alpha generally eats first, decides when and who will eat afterward, inspires trust through firm shepherding for the safety and well-being of the entire pack.

An alpha is not necessarily the biggest, not necessarily the fastest but usually the innately self-assured one who can chastise a pack member with a mere look or a low voice.

A true alpha wields quiet power judiciously apportioned.

You know that you're not seeing a true alpha or put another way you have encountered an insecure alpha.

If he or she must yell, scream, bully or attack those beneath them into submission, then individual does not have the loyalty and trust of the pack and endangers the entire group through his or her insecurities, through his or her show fear and lack of courage.

We owe our misconceptions about alpha behavior to studies of large groupings of wolves placed into captivity and forced to fight for dominance or to cower into submission.

In nature, wolf packs are more likely to consist of extended family systems, packs of between five and 15 wolves led by an alpha male and an alpha female whom the pack trusts and has reason to trust for the survival of them all.

The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf is quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance.

Richard McIntyre, a researcher of wolf behavior at Yellowstone National Park, told the ecologist Carl Safina, you know what's best for your pack as an alpha male. You lead by example. You're very comfortable with it. You have a calming effect.

The other members of the pack, the various beta and gamma wolves can thus go about their tasks with greater reassurance in the wisdom of the alpha.

At the bottom of the hierarchy is the omega, the underdog, the lowest ranking wolf arising from natural personality traits in relation to others in the pack.

The omega generally eats lost. He serves as a kind of court jester who acts as an escape valve often picked on by other wolves. He bears the brunt of the tensions they face in the wild where they are subject to attack from predators or from rival packs and during lean times in the hunt for prey.

The omega acts as a kind of social glue, allowing frustrations to be vented without actual acts of war, wrote a wolf conservationist.

The omega is so critical to pack structure that when a pack loses its omega, it enters into a long period of mourning where the entire pack stops hunting and just lays around looking miserable as if they were no longer risen to go on.

The loss of the omega can threaten social cohesion and put the entire pack at risk.

Depending on the composition of the pack, an omega might not be easily replaced.

The new omega would mean a demotion for one of the lower to mid-level pack members.

Either way, the pack is destabilized. After all, these roles are not artificially assigned based upon what an individual wolf looks like, as with certain other species.

But they emerge as a consequence of internal personality traits that surface naturally in the forming of a pack.

Humans could learn a lot from canines.

Isabel Wilkerson cast The Origins of Our Discontents Random House, published last year. Great book. ###

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