Pathologizing Human Behavior
There is much research noting how, when it comes to bad behavior, we excuse our own by pointing to external variables and blame internal unchanging qualities for others. Further, we like to give rationales for all behavior, to place each exhibit into a personally coherent narrative and create an individualized museum dedicated to life’s exploration. Unfortunately, like any archeological dig, we are only able to see what we’ve currently dug up, what we’re currently focused on. There are any number of other behaviors lost to history or simply not being looked at.
In science there’s a built-in mechanism for continuing to ask questions and a peer review process to help doubt flourish even after conclusions have been reached. When it comes to humanity, there is no built-in process, it has to be taught, practiced and actively engaged in continuously.
The result of all this is a tendency to make what is normal human responses within disparate social situations, into glaring pointers towards pathology. A person lies and it’s a sign they’re a sociopath and pathological liar. A person experiences variations in mood and it’s a sign of bipolar disorder. Periods of sadness are now major depressive disorder. That the person in question faced a difficult choice, went from a challenging environment to a supportive one and is working through a loss, respectively, are all side-notes to the need to identify something aberrant.
For more information on “Humanity’s Values,” check out the main page.
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