2015-09-16

Neoteny, gut feeling, and dwindling human instincts

Human have a free will, right? My gut feeling tells me no. The field of psychology is a science that figures out what makes humans tick. If humans had a free will, we would just snap out of a deep depression and be happy at will. Psychologist wouldn't have a job to go to. It simply does not work that way. There is even a book about the science of fear. It shows how gut feeling interferes with rational thinking and even leads to riskier behavior.

The human gut feeling are the remains of fully functional instincts. Instincts guide behavior in animals, the perceived situation triggers one or another response. Reflexes are more simpler, sensory input leads to a motoric action. Instincts are like an advanced version of it.

Instincts are good for animals, but not so good for humans. We live in a more complicated world, where our actions should not solely be guided by gut feelings. As mentioned in the book, our gut feeling might be a disadvantage. In difference to animals, humans possess rational thinking, which leads to better outcomes.

Neoteny is an explanation for the dwindling human instincts. While most animals are born with a fully myelinated brain, humans are not. Those animals join the flock after a short rest following birth and show instinctive behavior. Newborn humans show few reflexes and very few instincts.

Neoteny works by slowing down maturation of the affected parts up to the point of standstill. The processes responsible for development simply work at a slower speed. Myelination of the human brain does not happen in uterus, it takes many years of human life. During this time, we learn how to cope with the challenges our environment throws at us, and we develop strategies for survival. Those strategies can work along with our instincts or work against them.

Neoteny appeared due to evolution. This means the maturation processes were faster in some individuals, and slower in others. Those small variations are enough to give an advantage to the ones going into the right direction. Moreover, not all maturation processes are slowed down equally. Compared with chimpanzees the body needs like 3 times the amount to mature, while the brain needs several more times.

Rebellion during the teenage years are a good example for instincts. The irrational behavior is exactly that: irrational. It often is attributed to raging hormones, but is better explained by instincts. The orientation towards age peers and conforming to their pressure is more important than obedience to parents. Even more important is the attraction towards the opposite sex. Parents might forbid it and age peers might ridicule one, nevertheless the opposite sex must be conquered. Some teenagers are more obsessed with it than others. This is so irrational, that instincts must be responsible for that. We all know how teenagers behave who were gifted with more than the usual amount of teenagers instincts.

Those, who have a lesser amount of teenage instincts, will behave according to the learned norms and conform to requests. Since the current society wants to keep adolescents immature for a prolonged time, those children will stay children. Stunted psychological or emotional development is real. There are several theories why this happens, but i'm missing the role instincts play. One very important instinct is the heterosexual mating instinct. If that one does not manifest, then the genes don't make it into the next generation. This is the disadvantage that evolution uses to stop the dwindling instincts from disappearing altogether.

Since i'm always seeking the connection to pedophilia, this is no exception. Quite too often i found on the internet the notion that boylovers see themselves as emotionally young. One even wrote that it is tiring to pretend to be an adult all the time. If one feels himself as a teenaged boy, one probably is stunted in his emotional development. It might be as simple as this. The heterosexual mating instinct is too weak in pedophiles. The obstacles for a normal heterosexual relationships offer too much a resistance for this instinct to overcome. Those obstacles might come in different forms. Sometimes the family environment is diametral to the romantic advances of the child, sometimes it is just missed opportunities. Common factor is the absence of "raging hormones".

1 comment :

  1. https://philiaresearch.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/self-reported-sexual-interest-in-children/#comments

    https://www.reddit.com/r/evopsych/comments/33co5z/adaptive_value_of_some_paedophilic_attraction/

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