Could Your Brain Be Hijacked?

In Brain, Conflict, Dopamine, Media, Politics by dcmcguireLeave a Comment

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Next time you tune into a program, read an article or a post, pay attention. The primary devices used by many politicians and media to grab and hold attention is the activation of fear and anger via ranting candidates and media personalities.

Anger and fear flood the brain with the neurochemical, dopamine. As that occurs, access to regions of the brain necessary to think analytically or react logically are limited. Follower’s brains become theirs to manipulate. A majority of the population unable reason, analyze or ask meaningful questions?

How convenient.

Campaign consultants, marketers, and entertainment “news” take brains hostage by activating unavoidable human anger and fear responses, termed the “Startle Response”. We can’t prevent ourselves from stopping, turning, and focusing in the direction of auditory or visual indications of potential danger.  A frenzied announcer, images of a riot or crash, even a ringtone, must command our attention.

At a primitive survival level, this makes sense.  We’re rewarded with a fix of our naturally produced cocaine/amphetamine-like neurochemical, dopamine, for responding to immediate danger – the old Animal Brain “fight or flight” mechanism. The price of a fix?  Simultaneously cutting off the pathways to our prefrontal cortex, the Human Brain. Muscles, bones, and viscera take priority.  The kinds of things that separates us from our mammalian relatives (emotional management, long-term planning, innovation, collaboration, and empathy) don’t stand a chance.

When our alert system is working correctly, we attend to the threat, tuck away the memory for future encounters, reclaim our mental power from the Animal Brain, and return to thinking with our evolved prefrontal cortex/Human Brain.

This election cycle reveals that the majority of Americans are lost, distracted, and trapped in low functioning Animal Brain-mode. Our population has become addicted to fear/anger, highs regularly activated by frenzied politicians and raving extremist media personalities. All of which are supported by the 24/7 “news” at home and around the world.

As with any opioid addiction, a tolerance for real concerns leaves us bored or depressed.  Searching for the next fix, the Animal Brain desperately seeks out bigger, more ominous threats, imagined or real, to score the high. For an addict, exaggeration and bizarre innuendo (“Could it be that . . . ?) will do the job just fine. The media pros are willing and able to generate enough fear and anger to transform their audiences of millions into mindless junkies. Whatever might be of authentic value is lost to an audience high on dopamine and low on mental capacity to act for collective, long-term good.

No one left to reason, analyze or ask meaningful questions?  How convenient.

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