Is suffering essential to make us more caring and thus a happier, human beings?
Is suffering essential to make us more caring and thus a happier, human beings? It is a well accepted fact of life that experiences of sufferings and successes in life made us a well- balanced, psychologically stable and socially acceptable individual. It is well said and generally accepted that one will not be able to know the difference between sorrow and happiness unless one has experienced the reality of these emotions. Happiness is associated with success and sorrow is a feeling of despair due to failure. Happiness can also be achieved by act of altruism. Manoj in 2007 said that altruism
refer to acts of ensuring the welfare of suffering individuals regardless of the cost and danger that the helping individual may incur. Upton (2003) claimed that altruists choose assisting those in need as the act of helping bring them joy and happiness. The definitions indicate the state of selflessness of an individual in favor of others’ well being. It is an accepted fact that the normal tendency of a person who experienced the trauma of defeat, loss of property and cherished belongings and untimely death of someone they loved is social isolation and feeling of anger toward the society.
However, there are persons who from cognitive development can show resiliency and see lessons and valuable experiences that can be shared with his fellowmen in the face of similar situation and be happy in return. Happiness and altruism is also experienced if someone has shared his experiences of failure and trauma of defeat to someone who badly needed it resulting to success of the latter. It can be hypothesized that a person who underwent suffering and trauma based from his experience is in the best position to help his fellowmen preempt the same fate. This paper aims to provide the reasons of many human
beings becoming more caring and altruistic after experiencing sufferings and trauma. Scientific view of altruism Douglas A. Vakoch, a scientist at Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence (SETI) of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California in 2001 revealed that the mathematical 2 representation of our message to extraterrestials was inspired from evolution of the human life on earth based on development of reciprocal altruism. The scientist revealed that they cannot convey the message of love, respect and belief in God in relation to human evolution in a form that can be red and understood by extra terrestrial.
The scientist claim that a message in the form of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry may be understandable to extraterrestials as these sciences operate similarly throughout the galaxy. By describing altruism in terms of these sciences, we might overcome the linguistic problem between us and the extraterrestials. The scientist added that altruism as introduction to how humans evolve may cause curiousness among the extraterrestials. The gist of the mathematical message according to the scientist is based on the theory of natural selection by Charles Darwin and we have
good reason to expect that extraterrestials also are familiar with the evolutionary process in their own planet. The message was centered on the fact that the people on earth evolved from a strain of altruistic human beings and human beings have survived the cruelty of nature due to the gene responsible for altruism. The gene for altruism which was transmitted through generations made possible the survival and multiplication of dominant strain of human beings carrying the genes. The author added that Christopher D. Ringwald, Director the Faith and Society Project at The Sage Colleges in Albany, New
York in 2001 director added that the suggestions for communicating altruism revolved around formal and mathematical depictions of humans as they interact with each other. In short, the message in mathematical equation tell the extraterrestials that all human beings on earth are altruistic as they carry the dominant gene responsible for the trait and we have the capacity to be altruistic to them, so they should not be afraid of us. A scientific explanation of acts of altruism and roots of caring following a trauma among resilient individuals was given by authors Cooper, et al.
(2007). The authors 3 explained that resilient individuals have the innate capacity to elevate the availability of 5-HT (1A) receptors related to serotonin which is an anti-depressant. The authors reported that serotonin level can be depressed by other drugs like LSD, mescaline and pylobin thereby resulting to spiritual awareness, insight ness and religious ecstacy. Cognitively resilient individuals feel the same experience as religious ecstacy after feeling of suffering and trauma thereby enhancing the serotonin system and promoting altruism. Theories of altruism
Social scientists came up with different theories with the aim of elucidating the bogging nature of altruism among blood related and distant individuals. Among bloodlines or those related by genes, explanation of altruism is simple but those not related to one another and still exhibiting altruism, the explanation is more complex. 1. Kin Selection Theory This theory was proposed by Haldane and later expanded by Hamilton in 1964 according to Manoj (2007). Hamilton claimed that the gene responsible for altruism can be transmitted by natural selection as long as the cost to the altruist can be fretted
by sufficient amount of benefit among closely related individuals with blood line relation. Manoj revealed that “Hamilton’s rule can be mathematically represented as b > c/r, where c is the cost incurred by the altruist (the donor), b is the benefit received by the recipients of the altruism, and r is the co-efficient of relationship between donor and recipient” (Origins and definition of altruism, 2nd par). Incisive analysis of the theory suggests that altruism is more likely to be encouraged to occur among closely related relatives rather than towards the unrelated members of the
same species. This explains the accepted truth that in a certain community of individuals, there exist a clan known to be hospitable, kind-hearted and altruistic. 4 This is supported by the popular saying “kindness runs in the blood”. 2. Reciprocal altruism theory Manoj (2007) reported that reciprocal altruism was conceived by Trivers in 1971. This theory suggests that altruism is possible not only in closely related individuals but also among non-related individuals if there is an expectation of favor to be returned in the future. As long as non–related individuals interact with each
other in multiple occasions and are capable in adjusting their actions depending on what the individual has done in the past, reciprocal altruism can be developed. The hypothesis related to empathy-altruism cases which involve altruism act following the feeling of empathy and compassion towards a related and even unrelated individual falls under the reciprocal altruism theory. The desire to help other individual in need is aroused by the compassion being felt by the altruist and the predominating guilt in the mind prod one to be an altruist. This model of action is well explained in the
negative relief model (p. 65) presented by Penner et al. (2000). The model suggest that altruists were encouraged to move due to the reward of good feeling associated to helping one in distress. The other model of action that encourages altruist to act is the arousal cost-reward model. Under this model, by-standers witnessing the pain and trauma of a victim is naturally aroused due to the innate property of human beings to help and the accompanying good feeling that one extended help to someone in need (p. 66). The difference between the two model lies in the negative feeling of guilt in the negative
relief model if somebody refuse to assist one in need. Related to this, Fultz et al. (1986) revealed that in a study conducted by Loving, Gollwitzer, Davis and Foushee in 1981, emphatic feeling for a person in need may lead to a decision to help among by-standers due to the fact that emphatic individuals doesn’t want that negative consequences that may happen on the victim be blamed on them. Other social researchers claim that 5 altruism inspired by empathy when developed since childhood can result to development of prosocial behavior in the face of adversity regardless of the presence or absence of
social evaluation. This was the finding by a study conducted by Eisenberg (2007). The moral development of children when exposed to scenarios of compassion, love, caring and empathy will ensure an altruistic individual with prosocial view of life up to his adulthood. Altruism born out of suffering and trauma After consultation with reliable sources, it is now a known fact that altruism can be inspired by genetic makeup as well as empathy towards the victim as to the cause and possible prevention of suffering had help was given on time. Researchers Staub and
Volhardt (2008) reported that altruism can also be born out of traumatic experience and suffering contrary to popular belief that victimization normally result to revenge and harmdoing towards other groups. Author Staub (2005) provided a substantive explanation to this phenomenon and said that those individuals who proved resilient in the face of adversity were those who has fulfilled the basic needs of love, recognition and comfort prior to the suffering and trauma (p. 75). As coping mechanism to the experience of trauma and suffering, these resilient population find enjoyment and challenge in caring
and helping first their inner circle of contacts and friends and then going outward the circle to their acquaintances including those that are completely foreign to them. The author pointed out that the resilient group is doing this based from his internal consciousness of victimization and setting aside the victimization experience in a group. The reason behind is, the individual cognitive make up differs from the make up of others in the group and therefore the individual act according to what he or she perceived is right based from the previous experiences that he or she had undergone (p.
76). From personal experience and observation, people who have undergone traumatic 6 experiences and sufferings were in the best position to implement strategies by which assistance can be given to the victim and would be victims. This is so due to the fact that the individual knew already the loops and holes of the path that lead to his trauma. Conversely, the individual knows the right path to take in order to avoid the same trauma happening to the rest of his friends and acquaintances. According to Staub and Volhardt (2008), not all individuals can be expected to be more caring and helpful.
It all depends on his cognitive development towards being prosocial. Summary and Conclusion Altruism is the act of ensuring the welfare of individual victims of suffering by sacrificing ones’ welfare. The kin theory of altruism consider the act to revolve only around close relatives and bloodlines. This is the basis of evolution of altruism which consider the whole of mankind to possess the genes in varying dominance. The reciprocal altruism theory consider altruism among unrelated individuals with the hope of returning the favor in some immediate or distant future.
Reliable sources pointed to feeling of empathy towards a victim as the determinant of altruism. Not all individuals have the capacity to develop empathy as this depends on the cognitive development and social exposure of the individual. The more the individual experienced love, affection and sense of belongingness during his infancy to adolescent stage, the more altruistic that individual will be. It is said that the basic needs of love and affection should be experienced by the individual from young to adult stage to have the capacity to feel empathy and altruistic toward others.
It was pointed out that victims of suffering and trauma become more caring and altruistic. Being more altruistic, loving and caring after experiencing pain is considered a coping mechanism to stress among resilient individuals. Helping those others in need after experiencing trauma gives the resilient individuals a high feeling of satisfaction as his trauma and stress is likewise relieved in 7 the process. More resilient individuals will mean more empathy and atruism and all these will mean a peaceful and caring world devoid of war and terrorists. References Cooper, N. S. , Feder, A.
, Southwick, S. and Charney, D. (2007). Resilience and Vulnerability to Trauma Psychological Mechanisms. In. D. Romer and F. Walker (Illustrated Ed. ), Adolescent psychopathology and the developing brain (pp. 347-365). Oxford University Press. Eisenberg, N. (2007). Empathy-related responding and prosocial behavior. Paper presented during the Novartis Foundation Symposium 2007; 278:71-80; discussion 80- 96, 216-21. Fultz, J. , Batson, C. D. , Fortenbach, V. A. , McCarthy, P. M. , and Varney, L. L. (1986). Social evaluation and the empathy-altruism hypothesis. J Pers Soc Psychol 50(4), 761-9.
Manoj, V. R. (2007). Cyborgs and Altruism. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from http://ieet. org/index. php/IEET/more/1696/ Penner, L. A. , Dovidio, J. F. and Albrecht, T. L. (2000). Helping Victims of Loss and Trauma: A Social Psychological Perspective. In. J. Harvey and E. Miller, Loss and Trauma: General and Close Relationship Perspectives (pp. 62-79). Philadelphia : Psychology Press Ringwald, C. D. (2001). Encoding Altruism. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from http://www. science-spirit. org/article_detail. php? article_id=235#sub6 Staub, E. (2005). Basic Human Needs, Altruism and Aggression. In.
Miller, A. G. , The Social Psychology of Good and Evil (pp. 51-85). New York: Guilford Press 8 Staub, E. and Vollhardt, J. (2008). Altruism born of suffering: the roots of caring and helping after victimization and other trauma. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 78(3):267-80. Upton, R. (2000). Re-Establishing Altruism As A Viable Social Norm: What is altruism? Retrieved April 26, 2009 from http://www. altruists. org/about/altruism/ Vakoch, D. A. (2001). Altruism: A Scientific Perspective. Retrieved April 26, 2009 from http://www. science-spirit. org/article_detail. php? article_id=237Sample Essay of Edusson.com