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Brains and Brawn: The Neuroscience of Violent Youth Behavior. 2010 School Safety and Violence Prevention Conference Keynote Address Commerce City, Colorado Jonathan I. Cloud. What We Will Cover. The Culture of Brawn Deeper Views of Safety, Pain, and Victimization
2010 School Safety and Violence Prevention Conference
Commerce City, Colorado
Jonathan I. Cloud
Source: The Chalice & The Blade: Our History, Our Future, by Riane Eisler
A higher than average sensitivity of neural receptors (“overexcitabilities”). Reacts with surprise, puzzlement to many things; collides with things, persons and events, which in turn bring astonishment and disquietude.
Physical, Social, Emotional, Spiritual Safety Trends(Duke University’s Child Welfare Index)
The Neurology of Connecting: Or Being SecureSource: Hardwired to Connect, The Commission on Children at Risk, 2006
About Age 11: An idealistic image of self begins to grow in intensity.
About Age 14: Expects something tremendous to happen.
About Age 16: Senses a secret unique greatness that seeks expression.
Source: Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potentials of Our Intelligence, Joseph Pearce
What the Youth Can Become
(Senses a secret unique greatness that seeks expression.)
What the Youth Can Achieve
(Expects something tremendous to happen.)
What the Youth Can Do
(An idealistic image of self begins to grow in intensity.)
A Key Neurological Process in Striving
It appears that alterations in levels of activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in parts of the adolescent’s brain can produce in these young people a relative “reward deficiency.” Translation: For the adolescent, any pleasurable stimulus, from music to drugs, may need to be especially powerful and intense in order to pass the adolescent brain’s recently altered (“reward deficient”) threshold of interest, pleasure, or excitement. Thus, many teens’ quest for adventure, novelty, and risk may simply reflect their efforts [strivings] to feel good.
Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities, A Report to the Nation from the Commission on Children at Risk, Institute for American Values, 2003, p. 22 (addition mine)
Strivings and Risk-Taking
Prefrontal Cortex/Spiritual Brain
transpersonal; reason I will do it; behavior maintenance; meaning-seeking, serving higher self; norepinephrine
interpersonal; how I will do it; behavior regulation; reward-seeking, approval of others; serotonin
Safe and Nonviolent Risk-Taking is Rooted in Security, Not Insecurity.
intrapersonal; what I will do; behavior activation; novelty-seeking; dopamine
R-System (instincts/physical security)
Limbic System (feelings/emotional security)
Right Hemisphere (creativity/social security)
Left Hemisphere (intellect/psychological security)
Cerebellum (coordinates brain systems; coordinates attention; links a lower system with a higher one)
Prefrontal Cortex: Later (transcendence/spiritual security)
Prefrontal Cortex: Early (unfolding of one’s genius; learning and growth; moral evolution)
The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, Joseph Pearce, 2002, modified
The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit Joseph Chilton Pearce
Darwin Theorized Prefrontal Cortex Would Become Dominant(Darwin’s Lost Theory of Love: A Healing Vision for the New Century, David Loye, 2000)
self-organizing pro-cesses of mutual aid; higher agencies than natural selection; the dynamo of conscience and conscious choice; love/self-transcendence
Prefrontal Cortex and Cerebellum
Neocortex (right and left hemispheres)
Higher Limbic System
natural selection and random variation; survival of fittest; struggle for power
Lower Limbic System
Looking to future generations, there is no cause to
fear that our social instincts will grow weaker,
and we may expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger, the struggle between our higher and our lower impulses will be less severe, and virtue
will be triumphant.
The Descent of Man
In a way, school safety isn’t just about “keeping things under control,” but about the kind of human beings we can become.
Does What We do to Kids Furnish the Kind of Stimulation That Activates Their Prefrontal Neurons?
Source: Richard Rhodes as summarized by John Breeding, Ph.D. in True Nature and Great Misunderstandings: On How We Care For Our Children According To Our Own Understanding
Some Kids Remain at Second Level: Run Away (Flight) and/or Become Victims (Freeze).
self-actualization; working for the well-being of others; moral agency
4.Organized Positive Disintegration
perception of higher versus lower values; what one ought to be
3.Disorganized Pos. Disintegration
moral sense of “what ought to be;” higher impulses; meta-motivations
Youth’s Developmental Potential:
discontent with self and society; non-conformity to “what is”
conformity to “what is;” no inner sense of “what ought to be”
extreme egocentrism; ruthless realization of lower impulsesA Model of Emotional-Moral Developmental Striving(Integrating the Theories of Dabrowski, Maslow, and Darwin)
Environmental Conditions and Stimuli:
Risk and Protective Factors
Modeling: Powerful Acts of Moral Sensitivity
Engaging: Activities of Moral Agency
Mentoring: Implanting Moral Sensitivity
Training: Habits of Moral Sensitivity