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We are all drug addicts
comfortable
I can't find a forum on human motivation vis-a-vis evolution.

I want to explore a hypothesis:
We are all drug addicts.
We constantly seek "fixes" of chemicals in our brain receptors.
Feelings of
- love
- maternal instinct
- righteousness
- charity
- compassion
(every emotion a human can experience)

...involves bathing of brain receptors in various combinations of chemicals (endorphins, oxytocin, etc...), and our daily behaviors are really attempts to re-enforce these neural stimuli.

For every "street drug", there are "natural drugs" - else the receptors would not be there in our brains in the first place. Chemicals taken into the body that do not pass the blood-brain barrier and attach to evolutionarily endowed receptors are not capable of becoming "street drugs".

Those receptors were put there by evolutionary forces - in order to reinforce behaviors conducive to increasing our share of the gene pool.

The thrill of a lover's kiss results in a massive release of 'psycho-active' chemicals.

Taking actions to secure more of the same is 'addictive behavior'. In fact, much of human misery, even murder - is the result of these overpowering urges to get one's "fix". Arguably, emotions drive more human behavior than logic (as Mr. Spock will tell you) - and science tells us that emotional reward neural pathways are chemical pathways.

Oxytocin has been identified as a big player in the "maternal instinct" and "sexual lovers" behaviors.
Oxytocin (IPA: /g6;ɔk.sɪ.g2;toa0;.sɪn/) (Greek, "quick birth") is a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

It is best known for its roles in female reproduction: it is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and vagina during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding, respectively. Recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin's role in various behaviors, including social recognition, bonding, anxiety, trust, and maternal behaviors.
http://en.wikiped...i/Oxytocin

But there are others.
Jealousy, smug self-satisfaction, anger - all have their chemical cocktail signatures. To the extent that we seek more of any "feeling" we are drug addicts.

Discussion?
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The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
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Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Skeeve
I can see it. We are a chemical driven being. I'm not much of a biologist so won't even try to go further.

I remember reading an article somewhere that mentioned this. It discussed the 'thrillseekers' that were more or less abusing their fight or flight reactions to get their high. If abusing could be used in this context.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
comfortable
So, Skeeve - should there be another forum category?

Human motivations have fascinated me for the last 5 years or so - and after reading everything I could by Dawkins, our evolutionary basis for our behaviors seems obvious to me.

If you remember where you read that, I'd love to buy the book or read the article. It would help me with my synthesis of this view of behavior.

I see the raw emotions of my dogs, or the birds nesting on my porch, and feel the kinship and see the parallels with much of human behavior.

I guess I'm lucky that you appreciate the biological underpinnings...Many others will refuse to even contemplate such an idea.

New forum category under Science? or is this one okay?

Thanks
Edited by comfortable on 11/09/2008 17:45
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The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
.
Men are sheep in credulity, but wolves for conformity.
 
Skeeve
I think we can rename the current Evolution vs Creationism and let that type of debate take place in the debate forums...if we ever get any creotards that want to debate.


I'll rename and move this thread there.
"The world is my country, and do good is my religion." - Thomas Paine
 
Cynic
I would question the particular choice of the word "addict". It comes with a lot of baggage and implications of a viscious downward spiral. But when we're talking about the normal functioning of the human brain, that's not the case.

To quote Sweet:

love is like oxygen
you get too much, you get too high
not enough and you're gonna die
love gets you high

There's a balance, which isn't the hallmark of an "addiction" at all.

In general, I think addiction has a necessary component of dysfunction, not function. This doesn't negate the overall hypothesis that such needs drive us, however. We go pretty far out of our way for oxygen and other requirements, and I see no reason to exclude emotions and feelings of well being as any different.
 
Bob of QF
Skeeve wrote:
I think we can rename the current Evolution vs Creationism and let that type of debate take place in the debate forums...if we ever get any creotards that want to debate.


I'll rename and move this thread there.


I could offer to play the role of a fake creotard.

I've more than enough experience.

But then again, my made-up-on-the-fly, pulled-out-of-my-ass "explanations" are very difficult (if not impossible) to tell apart from those actually used by real creationists.

On second thought: I've not the stomach for it, even in jest... nevermind.
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
RayvenAlandria
Yes, humans are driven by biochemistry, as is every other living thing. Our social mechanisms are controlled by our biochemical responses, bonding is chemical, fighting is chemical etc...

That is why we can easily become drug addicts. Drugs mimic biochemistry so we seek out the ones that make us feel good, then we develop a dependency on them because our body stops making the natural form of whatever it is they mimic (adrenaline, serotonin etc...). Even after the drug starts to make us feel like shit we still take it because our body thinks it will die if it doesn't get it.

Our evolution depended on these chemicals. Adrenalin prompted you to fight, flee, and explore, serotonin and oxytocin formed our social bonds, which ensured our survival. Without these biochemicals, we would never have evolved.

What we call *feelings* are just biochemical responses.
 
Cynic
When my wife and I got married, we wanted it to be secular but couldn't find a nonreligious officiator that would come out of their office into the light of day. So we found this hippie who runs an "environmental church" -- had the pony-tail and all, which was cool because it meant I wasn't the only guy up there with a pony-tail.

Anyway, the guy was religious, and was still having a problem with the idea of leaving the word "god" completely and utterly out of the cerimony, so we were disussing it. In an effort to convince me, he resorted to the argument "you don't think love, the thing that brought you together, is just chemicals, do you", so which I basically said "yes". That disturbed him, but he did the cerimony without religious trappings.
 
RayvenAlandria
LOL, I can picture that conversation Cynic. I have had some similar ones.

What bothers me is that most religious people fell that if we think that love and emotions are *just* biochemical responses that it is somehow sad, tragic even.

In my eyes, it is a beautiful thing, not a letdown of some sort. I consider our biology amazing and wondrous, much more so than the idea of a gawdfairy.
 
neilmarr
Yep, Ray, but it wouldn't fit so neatly into the songs, would it ... All You Need is Certain Biological Responses (dum-de-dum-de-dum). All You Need is Certain Biological Responses (dum-de-dum-de-dum). All You Need is Certain Biological Responses, Responses. Certain Biological Responses is All You Need ... Cetain Biological Response is a Many Splendoured Thing ... Certain Biologal Response Me Tender. And Certain Biological Response Story probably wouldn't have been such a big hit at the box office. Neil
 
catman
I agree, Rayven. I don't think it's 'tragic' that our emotions are explainable in terms of biochemistry. To me, that makes it all the more wondrous (I appreciate your using that word, it fits perfectly!).
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
Comfortable - Its an interesting idea really. Things like sex addiction certainly would seem to fit that description. It almost begs the question whether treatment by inhibiting certain chemical receptors would be effective.
 
JDHURF
Interesting post comfortable. There are anthropologists who have put forth the theory - some more convincing than others - that the sudden burst in the evolution of mind in hominids was due to apes coming down from the trees, the highlands and so on and scavaging for food and finding and consuming psychedelics (such as mushrooms). They cite as evidence early cave paintings, burial cites and so on. Interesting stuff.
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