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Camy

Being 'bad'

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Of course your definition of 'bad' is important, since a cadaver is a person 'gone bad', but I suspect that isn't what you wanted to discuss.

Genetics plays a very large role, although situation environmental circumstances can alter things dramatically. Those include nurturing, or lack thereof, diet, and probably even electrical fields and contact with bad air quality, not to mention just being in the right place at the right time to maybe meet that person who 'completes you', as the romance movies say it.

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I just realized that I didn't answer the whole of your question post. Redemption, it seems to me, is an external thing, originally religious in nature, but now transposed to people...I think that most people will be quick to condemn and slow to forgive, meaning that redemption from outside ones own self is unlikely, even if you have become a completely changed person.

As for love, I think that an amazing number of people will put up with, or even desire, the strangest and possibly revolting behaviours and characteristics, with the only problem being actually FINDING those people in order to join them in 'true love'.

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Does being bad to the bone remove all chance of true love and redemption?

How big a part does genetics play in being bad?

Any views on these gnarly questions would be most appreciated.

Camy

Only my opinion, of course, but being bad is almost certainly a combination of nature and nurture, and I'd guess nature is the more potent element. Unless we're talking about psychopathic behavior, which may indeed have a larger genetic genesis.

I think most kids learn to be bad, and the cause is probably, when you get right down to it, lack of love. Kids need to be loved, and without it, act out. Kids seek attention, and will find ways to get it, however they can.

A truly bad kid can still find someone to love him, or her, because there are people in this world who feel drawn to such types, feel their destiny is to heal.

Redemption is harder. From whom are they getting it? Themselves? Victims? I think that depends on circumstances and personalities.

This probably doesn't help at all, and is written about kids, which is my wont. Just opinions. You shouldn't ask such leading questions of writers, you know.

C

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Does being bad to the bone remove all chance of true love and redemption?

How big a part does genetics play in being bad?

Hmm, good question - and one that childcare experts still puzzle over, methinks.

Nature v nurture? There's plenty of evidence that badly behaved children are usually the product of dysfunctional homelives. At the same time three children brought up together and in the same manner won't always turn out the same - one may 'turn out bad' while the others don't.

I've often heard parents bewail 'where did I go wrong' about their delinquent child, despite the fact they have two or three other children well-behaved, at home. Perhaps our genes predispose us to certain behavioural traits, which we can either run with or resist, and those with 'bad' genes but good families may turn out fine, while those without stable upbringing may revert to type.

I don't believe anyone is quite irredeemably bad. History has recorded some notable bad'uns, but the run-of-the-mill baddie is probably a little lost boy inside, just waiting for the right man to give him the right hug at the right time. I'd rather believe in the inherent goodness of my fellow man than consign us all to the scrapheap.

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Thank you all for your thoughts. The reason I asked is that I was in a quandry over one of my protagonists, and now, thanks to this:

I think that most people will be quick to condemn and slow to forgive, meaning that redemption from outside ones own self is unlikely, even if you have become a completely changed person.

This:

I think most kids learn to be bad, and the cause is probably, when you get right down to it, lack of love. Kids need to be loved, and without it, act out. Kids seek attention, and will find ways to get it, however they can.

And this:

the run-of-the-mill baddie is probably a little lost boy inside, just waiting for the right man to give him the right hug at the right time.

I'm all sorted out! :hug:

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Does being bad to the bone remove all chance of true love and redemption? How big a part does genetics play in being bad?

That was one of the principle themes of my novel Jagged Angel, which featured a character who truly was "bad to the bone" -- literally a Bad Seed, inspired by the 1950s novel and Broadway play. I never delved much into the character's past, but my take was that he did have a genetic problem which essentially gave him anti-social, sociopathic tendencies. But he was also intelligent, cunning, and very attractive.

Could somebody like this ever experience true love? I don't think so, because to me, real love is when you value somebody else's over your own. I think a person this bad would be so self-absorbed, anybody else would always come second in terms of their life's priorities.

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This is a truly interesting thread to me, as it hits so close to home. I'm a foster parent, as I'm sure most of you know, and the kids that are being placed with me now are troubled kids. David and I were "treatment" foster parents prior to our association with the New Mexico state agency. Because of our past experience, our state agency seems to think that we are better equipped to take their more difficult children.

Kids are kids and they learn to be "bad" because they were taught to be that way...period. They lacked the guidance and love from people that should have been their role models. How do kids learn anyway? They watch what's around them. BTW, most parents aren't bad parents. They're just teaching their kids what they had learned while growing up.

Cole, you got me on the topic of "bad and good" with your example of kids.

But, (and here I go again starting with a conjunction, which I'm sure I'll hear about from you all) genetics does have it's play here. Genetics is actually the wrong word, but there are conditions that a child goes through that make him/her process information differently than their peers. ADHD is one example. The brain of kids with ADHD work differently than other kids. The synapse connections that they have formed send information to different parts of the brain than in other kids. Social information can be sent to the limbic part of the brain which reacts in a "fight or flight" mode to defend that person.

There is still controversies within the psychology sector whether these connections were formed from "nurture" or "nature" Whatever the case, these kids have synapses connections that send information to places in the brain different than other kids, and to change that, or rebuild new connections, will take a long time by very patient people. I believe that these synapse connection are formed for nurture, the kid's environment.

But, it can be done!

Kids are born with a "clean slate," as they say. What turns kids into "bad seeds" is the people around them, the lack of or fulfillment of love, the model of how they should react, and everything around that child.

Richard

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While I respect your thoughts, and what you do for people, Richard, I simply cannot accept that genetics isn't a more major factor. We have found people in our own family, who split away several generations back, and have had no contact with my branch, and they behave almost identically to us. That's genetics, pure and simple. I won't say it is everything, but it is certainly more than just a vague and marginal factor.

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Kids are born with a "clean slate," as they say. What turns kids into "bad seeds" is the people around them, the lack of or fulfillment of love, the model of how they should react, and everything around that child.
While I respect your thoughts, and what you do for people, Richard, I simply cannot accept that genetics isn't a more major factor. We have found people in our own family, who split away several generations back, and have had no contact with my branch, and they behave almost identically to us. That's genetics, pure and simple. I won't say it is everything, but it is certainly more than just a vague and marginal factor.

Having quite recently been in the "I'm a kid" category, based on my personal experience I have to agree with Trab on this point. I don't think kids are born with a "clean slate" but that their genes play a major part in their behaviors, both when they are children and when they are teens and adults. We're lucky that most are born with "good" genes and don't suffer negative environmental situations when children and thus grow us as "good".

So I vote for genetics as a major contributing factor.

Colin :hug:

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Whether 'badness' is genetic, nature, or environment, nurture, is debatable, of course, but Richard's testimony shows that it can be counteracted. With the right care a child showing 'badness' tendencies can be turned around and can grow to be a credit to his carers and an asset to society. I'm sure that sometimes it takes superhuman effort and devotion to the task but as Richard says it can be done. Kudos to him for being one that does it.

No doubt reversing bad behaviour once the individual has grown to adulthood is a different task but I'd like to think even that is possible in some cases?!

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Probably more than what anyone wants to know:

Camy wrote: "Does being bad to the bone remove all chance of true love and redemption?

How big a part does genetics play in being bad?"

I agree with Trab that any examination of these questions begins with defining what 'bad' is. Or at least how we wish to regard what is, 'bad.'

Philosophically, and practically speaking we might regard being bad as causing harm. The extent of the badness being dependant on a number of issues of which nature and nurture are considered dominant.

It is at this point that we run into the problem of the influence of the predetermined negative outlook on the human condition; namely the one which says humans are basically evil.

I want to emphasise that. Considering human nature to be intrinsically evil, or bad as in harmful, is conjecture that does not stand up to logical examination.

Let us look again at 'bad', and this time extend it to encompass destructiveness. This implies that harm can be destructive or non-destructive.

So we can draw a conclusion from Camy's question that 'bad to the bone' would be described as harm which destroys.

Not all harm is destructive in the sense of annihilation.

In classical philosophy it is proffered that 'bad' exists so that the 'good' may be known.

So we may conclude that there are degrees of badness, less than obliteration, that therefore do not deny the possibility of redemption, if goodness is revealed and adopted to at least some useful outcome.

Indeed there can be bad situations which threaten to negate life, and from which we therefore learn the value of goodness; where goodness is defined, as that condition which affirms life. And before anyone jumps up and down as to whether we should consider same sex relationships as a negation of life, let's state quite clearly that the freedom of sexual expression, regardless of the participating genders, is always an act which affirms life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

To this brief discussion on good and bad, we might add the idea of Darwinian natural selection being instrumental in passing on, to the next generation, those genetic factors which provide the best chance for an individual to survive, and thereby continue the species. It is fairly obvious that a genetic factor disposed towards destructiveness would not in itself be a guarantee of survival. Indeed it might well be viewed as a viral condition that destroys its host.

But the ability to destroy life in order to survive is also a factor which we need to consider as natural, or we wouldn't have developed the capacity to kill and eat the flesh of animals. Whilst harmful to the animal, it is life-giving to those who eat it. (Arguments for and against vegetarianism are outside the scope of this discussion.) In this regard we do not need to find the gene that makes us killers, but see that the genetic factor for survival will enable us to kill in order to affirm our own life.

What we need to consider here is the balance between the grey areas of destruction in order to live, and avoiding harm. (The environment debate is exactly this problem but in cultural terms.)

Back to the individual development, we can see that being born with a disposition to survive is a primary objective of the human condition, and all the genetic factors are hopefully in place for the first few years of life which are open to the influence of childhood rearing, and to the cultural influences of the tribe, and its society.

It is here that we might depart from the usual regard of human nature being intrinsically bad, or as some would call it, evil.

The desire to survive is not in itself, evil. Neither is the desire to be accepted, to grow, to assist the growth of the village, or even to lead the people, etc.

In Camy's inquiry as to whether someone who is bad can find true love, we face the difficulty of defining 'true love.' We should see that this term, 'true love' is a term which may have variations of significance in different cultures. I will assume Camy refers to romantic love as it is in any case the dominant anticipation in our cultures.

Genetically, love originates from the genetic predisposition for survival, for our affinity to life. Our natural affinity for each other, for life itself, defines our lives, but if experience convinces us that such affinity is a fools errand, then we may well find ourselves in a situation of committing harm and destruction. (The precipitating psychological interpretations of the 'fool's errand' are what makes it possible for us to write about so many different characters, and is far too complex to discuss here.)

The message we need to see here is that it is not the natural genetics which determines our being bad or evil; it is not our genes (devoted as they are to survival) that are disposed towards being bad (even if we are sometimes aggressive...or passive), but that we are subject to badness through any number of means that surround us, influence us, and ultimately turn us into harmful beings.

It is certainly true that we might protect our individual survival at the expense of our affinity for others, but even that is not true in every case. Many times people place the survival of others ahead of themselves. In that case our affinity for others is working to affirm life, for goodness.

We can say that replacing our compassion for others with those philosophies of selfishness that we can find espoused in some cultures, is nothing more than inconsistent with our human affinity for life. If it were otherwise we would have died out in a few generations. In this regard it is more than likely that even a bad person will act to sustain life, except where he determines that he should deprive life of its existence.

Perhaps it might be clearer if we state that humans are not naturally bad, but that we unwittingly and consistently create cultures that lack the ability to encourage compassion, love and the natural affinity for life we all have at birth. Therefore the individual can, under certain influences, have his affinity for life displaced, grow into a bad person, and may seem unredeemable once he has become entrapped in the forces of his own solidified, petrified thoughts of serving ego's desires. However, if those desires are challenged, if the individual realises the corruption of his life force, it is possible to regain some kind of balance towards his natural goodness.

The natural affinity we have for each other, for life itself, is an inherent attribute of all conscious beings, Mankind included.

The idea that we are blank pages at birth is plainly erroneous, or we would have no genetic instinct for survival, and no natural affinity for each other, or for life itself.

On the other hand, we must have a sufficient ability to be nurtured to the changing conditions for which our genes could not be preprogrammed. In the animal's brain this would be instinctual; in Man it is eventually more intellectual.

The intellect is a trade off with instinct, and in the process we sadly, often sacrifice our intuition. This leaves us vulnerable to manipulation by external forces, to abandon the natural growth of our consciousness, our love of life, indeed, of our knowing that we are life aware of itself.

The answer to your questions Camy, is that badness can be caused by misconstruing our survival instinct, at the expense of our compassion for other people, and at the expense of our own personal intrinsic goodness. That goodness can be corrupted by external influences as much as it can by self-deceptive thoughts and desires. Our survival instinct is not born genetically disposed towards its own destruction or that of others. It certainly cannot be born 'misconstrued' because the intellect has yet to develop. Whilst we may have a natural instinct for survival, how we survive is effectively a result of the development and nurture of our intellect, which should be an ongoing investigation of life until we die. Unfortunately too many people do not know that intellectual growth is a continuing process.

Nature then, is an accommodating condition for the adaptation (the nurture) of life, with its abundant variations to survive for the experience of that affinity we call love. Sometimes it all goes bad. Other times we can and do realise our goodness.

The degree to which any bad individual may find love and redemption depends on their ability to forgive themselves for their bad deeds. The forgiveness of others may well ease their burden, their sense of shame and guilt, but the awareness of their past deeds will remain with them for as long as they live. (See the play 'Peer Gynt,' by Ibsen.)

For a thorough examination on the subject, I suggest for further reading: An Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by Erich Fromm.

It might also be obvious from the above that I do not adhere to the concept of biblical, 'original sin' which is used by religions in many cultures, to further instil the asinine idea that human nature is sinful and evil, but that is another discussion.

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Who are you and what have you done with my friend Des?

Des has been a bad boy and is in detention, or was until we realised he was enjoying being tied up.

He was released into the custody of the local Anonymous Smoker's Society. where he was made to smoke an electronic cigarette.

He may never be the same again.

:smile:

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A hundred years ago, we didn't know what ADHD was - we just knew that some kids were "unruly." We didn't know what dyslexia was - we just knew that some kids were "dumb." We didn't know what selective mutism was - we just knew that some kids were "stubborn." The list goes on and on - S.E.D., O.D.D., O.C.D., sensory disorders, the autism spectrum, agoraphobia. All of which, when observed out of context, could lead someone to thinking a person is simply "bad" or "weird" or "crazy."

The scary (and fascinating) part is that these are just the ones we know about. A hundred years from now, how many more "brain disorders" will we have discovered?

What happens if we discover a "brain disorder" (read: chemical/electrical impulse) that causes, say, generosity, or friendliness? Maybe the only reason those don't have names and medications yet is because we don't look at positive behavior the same way we look at negative behavior. We see someone flip out and throw a punch at a bystander, and we ask "What's wrong with him? How can we fix it?" We see someone giving to charity and we think "There's a good person who made a good choice." Who's to say he isn't simply being led around by, say, Good Samaritan Syndrome, a mental disorder that makes one value the comfort of others more than one's own?

And what's love if not a mental disorder that causes one to think and act irrationally? If the (occasionally faulty) probability formula running through our neurological/endocrine system starts telling us that another person can cause greater happiness than our previously targeted obsessions, that could cause us to change our behavior - start being a better person. This would explain people overcoming addictions for someone they love (be it in the familial or romantic sense of the word).

Could this also explain religious experiences (love of a god) leading to someone changing their ways?

Is "nurture" simply an outgrowth of "nature" - the slight alterations in our mental probability formula based on intellectual (rather than instinctual) discoveries? Living things attempt to adapt to their environments, after all. We've all read about sociopaths who are able to "blend in" because they've learned the scripts that "normal" people are supposed to follow...but isn't that what everyone does? Perhaps there isn't much in the way of true "change," but more along the lines of "practiced adaptation."

What if the chemical cocktail we call "love" could override the chemical cocktails that cause hostility, or selfishness? Literally re-wire the nature of a man?

That would be a materialist view of redemption through love, yes?

But don't mind me, I'm just spitballin'.

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That would be a materialist view of redemption through love, yes?

But don't mind me, I'm just spitballin'.

Elecivil, if that is your idea of "just spitballin'" I'd hate to have read your dissertation on, projections of the human brain's adaptation to life. Hmm. Maybe I just did read that. Well done!

:icon_geek:

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