Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The word "kin" comes from the Old English, 'cyn' which meant "family, race, kind, or nature" Kinship is considered a modern word first attested in 1833 in the writing of Mrs. Browning.

It's a key word. In McLean's Triune Brain is seen the evolution of man internally as likened externally. The lizard brain is there. Lizards have the basal brain mechanisms for maintaining breathing and heart beat, the very mechanisms of the survival and reproduction, territoriality, fight and flight, aggression, defense, and such.

Robert Hare, points out in Snakes in Suits, that the psychopath is really a lizard person with chameleon capabilities. He lacks feelings and conscience.

Feelings are associated in McLean's Triune Brain with the middle brain development, amygdala, basal ganglia and the whole emotional apparatus that is found in mammals. Lizards drop their eggs on the beach like fish drops theirs in the sea whereas the mammals care for their young and form groupings around the raising of young. ( Jurassic Park was an interesting discussion of whether the dinosaurs could do group hunt behavior because that coordinated activity was thought part of the first development of the mammalian proto kinship brain.)

Robert Hare likens this ability to be mammalian to the 'sociopath'. The psychopath is a loner. The sociopath in contrast is part of a group. In the book On Killing about PTSD in the military the writer quotes a sergeant saying that there were psychopaths and sociopaths in the military, very few in fact, because they couldn't be trained to work together. The psychopath loner might function as a sniper but couldn't be counted on not to pick his own targets. The sergeant described the sociopaths as 'wolves' and himself as a 'sheep dog'. The wolves could hunt in packs but there was a question of their loyalty. Indeed sociopaths make good mercenaries for this reason. The soldier who described himself as a 'sheepdog' had a higher sense of 'kin' associating with sheep and humans, allying as such to a greater social grouping than the mere 'blood line' or 'DNA' derived tribal association.

To Hare the sociopath had the capacity to identify with it's own kind. It had the capacity to form a kinship network. A Hell's Angel might not tell the truth to the RCMP or FBI but he would tell the truth to a fellow Hell's Angel. Similiarly a Palestianian might not speak openly with an Israeli or a Mossad with an Hamaz. Klu Klux Klan and the Black Supremacist organizations aren't going to see eye to eye the way Billy Graham and Bishop Tutu might. The issue here is kin and kinship.

Anthropologists found that all tribal people considered themselves "the people", hence the name "Inuit" meant "the people". The significance of this was any one not of the 'the people' was the "other." The rules for the 'people' didn't apply to the 'other'. This was the next question the anthropologist would ask, 'what do you call the neighbor'. When anthropologists encountered cannibals, the answer was the 'edible ones'.

To the sociopath the 'kinship' tribal boundary stops and those on the other side are 'edible ones'. To the human theoretically the kinship association should be at least as advanced as the sheep dog compared to the wolves though of course this is idealistic.

So it really doesn't matter if there are 10 commandments and we say we believe in the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments say "Thou shalt not steal". However to the sociopath or other tribal person this is like one Hell's Angel knowing that he shouldn't steal from another Hell's Angel. The question is who belongs to the 'Tribe'. A tribe can be a political party, or professional group like bankers or a society like the Freemasons or Feminists or Tea Party people.

Democracy is a pretty word until you ask 'who is a citizen'? Only the rich Athens were citizens in the original democracy. Roman citizenship was what kept St. Paul from being crucified without trial. Crucifying non "Romans" was standard operating procedure of the day. The same holds today with the incredibly lucrative business of "immigration" in the United States and the political and legal naming of whose in and whose out. It's no surprise that King Lear called 'courtly things' just that.

The concept of kinship therefore is far more important than 10 commandments or democracy or even the greatest human command, "love your neighbor as yourself" since the word 'neighbour' doesn't mean the same thing for everyone. Sociopaths simply don't use the same 'definition' as Jesus or Paul or perhaps the Christian today would use the word 'neighbour'. Chameleon psychopaths would even parrot the words,nod their heads and chant all the while they considered where they were going to take the first bite.

Sociopaths and other Tribal people aren't operating with a full deck. The lizard is a very good killing machine but it's not a particularly genteel neighbor. It's a whole other matter when your daughter wants to marry one. Kin and kinship are the stuff of Romeo and Juliett.

That said, can a fish love? Can you 'teach' a lizard conscience. Can a sociopath really become a human being in the sense of global citizenship as opposed to Israeli, Palestinian or American citizenship. And finally can this occur without a 'conversion experience'.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments: