The Agonic and Hedonic Styles of Social Behaviour

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Edwin Mellen Press, 2005 - Social Science - 175 pages
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This book discusses the aspects of human and animal social behaviour. The starting point is the assumption that human and non-human animals use comparable mechanisms of behaviour. By Russell Gardner, Jr., M.D., F.A.P.A., F.A.C.P. In a career as a psychiatric researcher (e.g., ethology of sleep and dream correlates) and as an educator of pre-clinical and clinical psychiatry, I and think-tank colleagues (Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP)) have suggested that the specialty could use a basic science akin to those utilized by other specialties in providing pathogenetic formulations for their ills (see Bakker et al for the succinct GAP statement).1 That is, in most of medicine, knowledge of the normal body workings informs one about the abnormal variants, or the dis-eases or dis-orders (dis = bad).If one knows how oxygenation of the heart's muscle must happen for it to continue its pumping, then one understands how rupture or clogging of the coronary arteries cause congestive heart failure and pain. the handling of by-products of hemoglobin on the other hand help explain the symptoms of gall stones clogging the common bile duct, not only abdominal pain but intolerance of fatty foods and change in fecal color. By contrast psychiatry (as well as clinical psychology and other not-usually-medical sister disciplines) presently focus on the individual as though that person's conspecifics (members of a same species) can be ignored or taken for granted. Rather the brain should be viewed as a social brain. These clinical human disciplines would benefit by using front and center understandings of how human communication works on all brain and behavioral levels in reckoning with their ills. Mental illnesses and their treatments represent variations of human signaling amongst human conspecifics. Thus, mania can be seen as a communicationalstate in which a person exhibits a difficult to contain dominance state that shows a parallel to a human alpha state that when expressed normally other people find highly adaptive (Gardner, 1982).2 characterized by failure of usual communication. The authors present here a thorough-going investigation of the crucial and undervalued touch system that deals with caring, tender, gently caressing skin experience, what they call tederheid, noting that English tenderness doesn't do the concept justice. I feel that their work on this under-examined sensory system provides powerful leverage for the better understanding of human psychiatric and psychological ills. Let me turn to a quasi-ethological anecdotal illustration observed naturally of touch and its concomitants in development. Sitting midmorning in a Madison, Wisconsin, coffee shop I see a mother enter with her son approximately four years old. Students from a nearby school arranging an art display temporarily left some precarious ceramic works on a small table next to a couch where the mother settles her son. She cautions him about the works' fragility, and comfortably goes to the next room for a cookie for each of them and coffee for herself. ignoring the ceramics, appearing to be very much in touch with the coffee-shop gathering place. His mother returned, settled next to him, casually stroking his hair in a quick gesture that startled me (because I was working on this foreword!) and prompted me to begin noting their interaction more specifically, although in fact, if asked, neither of them would probably have explicitly remembered that touch; indeed I myself would not have noticed were I not involved with this writing. They worked with pleasure on the two cookies, not only the taste, but later, as she again lightly touched the side of his face, as his appetite diminished, she seemed to guide a discussion about the spots on his cookie. Though not in earshot, I gathered that a small story ensued, perhaps a geography lesson. Then wrapping in paper his left over cookie, she let him play with toys on a nearby shelf, placidly sipping coffee. Attractive, wearing a wedding ring, she at one point made a brief call on her cell-phone, and then retrieved from the publication shelves a magazine. play, knowing - I concluded - that he felt held by his mother's constant, sustaining, approving awareness, a state designed to provide him with confidence for later life, equipped in part by the signals of light touch that he undoubtedly experienced most days of his life so far, supplemented of course by innumerable other maternal stimuli occupying each of his senses. And I found myself assuming that her own mother and many others had touched her meaningfully in her own early and continuing life. The four-year old then came over to show her something he had worked on in his play. She admired it and told him that soon they would continue their errands and then go home. A little later he returned, apparently having some trouble with manipulations of a project-board; she patiently helped him out though now - so far as I could see - she didn't again touch him, but she fitted her audience-ship comfortably with his play, giving him what autonomy he needed as the play episode went on. doings, able increasingly to solve the problems of his world with her in his sensory background, rich memories on many levels providing him with impetus, pleasure and power in doing what he will need to do at the varied life stages yet to come. For many people who consult with clinicians such apparently ideal mothering had not occurred. But palpable yearnings, however inchoate and wordless, cause searches that continue in all sensory modalities and on all levels of the cognitive apparatus such as planning and organizing. Communications opposite to those of the coffee shop mom, those that cut-down, put-down or make the recipient feel less valuable also contribute to the complex psychopathology seen in psychotherapy, counseling, and the family physician's consulting room. From what we saw the coffee shop mother provided and will continue to provide to her son if their family life persists on its present affluent relaxed trajectory; but if she had not, he would have wished she had. little in their own development what the coffee shop boy will take for granted. How these interpersonal systems operate at all levels - experience, all parts of body involved, learning, brain molecules, hormones - should commandeer the time of many researchers and the funding agencies that provide them with resources. But, while some behaviorally focused developmental researchers have begun to understand something of the processes of which Kortmulder and Robbers speak, and to which other human ethologists have paid some attention, most neuroscientists have to date paid little attention to these critical processes; such issues as tenderness and intimacy are tellingly too touchy-feely.3 They yearn instead for hard data measurable from dissection or from analyses of test-tube contents, through x-rays and other imaging, or electrophysiology. realities as we know them in the consulting room, though the psychopharmacological model of work puts the clinician in the broken or deficient molecule framework, far removed from how the patient feels directly. And commercial factors affect the central focus of investigation. Thus, the industries of international drug manufacture and, in the U.S. at least, the health maintenance companies, work via metaphors of economy to the effect that the fewest human contacts at minimal depths holder greatest value, that treatment as relationshipless as possible should optimally prevail. A thorough going appreciation of sociophysiology, the importance of relationships and communication at all levels, may reverse such trends. I became acquainted with one of the authors of the book you have in your hands via the pages of The Across-Species Comparisons and Psychopathology (ASCAP) Newsletter,4 initiated by me in the late 1980s but written in good part by members of the Birmingham Society led by human ethologist Michael R. A. Chance, first president of The ASCAP Society and the person to whom this book is dedicated

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abscissa African Black Duck Agamid aggression agonic and hedonic agonic mode agonic styles agonistic animals ASCAP avunculate babblers barb Beatrice Webb Behavior Genetics behavioural expansion Birmingham Group Blue Duck Boltzmann statistics Bose-Einstein statistics Canada Goose chapter chapter 11 Character structure characterised chemical elements Chimpanzee cognitive compared competition complexions conchonius Congener context courtship cross-cousin Cyprinid David Bohm David Stevens diagram display distrust dominance dominance and submission dominance hierarchies dominance-submission droodles dyad dynamics eclipse egalitarian elementary particles energy and information ethologist Ethology example exchange exogamy female Fermi-Dirac statistics Frank McKinney Frans de Waal geese goose Grey Teals group behaviour habitats Handicap Principle hedonic and agonic hedonic mode hedonic style hierarchy House Mouse However human incest individuals interaction K-selection kinetic energy Kittiwakes Kortmulder Kula laminar flow latter Long-tailed macaque Love and Order Lunar Society macaques mafia Malayan Tiger male mammals marbles marriage Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics memory hole Michael Chance monkeys morphogenesis mwali natural kinds nest Newspeak nigrofasciatus Odysseus organisations pair pair bonding particles partners patrilin patterns phratries play Potlatch prestige Preuschoft primate protons Psychiatry rank order regular polyhedrons relationships relatively represent Rhesus Rhesus macaque Rhesus monkeys role Rosy Barb rules seems sensory system siblings social styles space spawning species stoliczkanus Stump-tailed Stump-tailed macaques subordinate symbiotic symmetry breaking teder tederheid tend tension territories tetrazona thus Tiger Barb Tonkean Tonkean macaques trust type specimen typical University of Leiden vertebrate vortices Waal Zahavi

About the author (2005)

Yuri Robbers is currently employed as a teacher at the Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden, and as a researcher at Leiden University. Koenraad Kortmulder taught ethology at Leiden University for 40 years.

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