Are humans biased in favor of punishment?

A new study indicates that we humans seem to get more reward from punishing wrongdoers compared to compensating victims.

…By combining a novel decision-making paradigm with functional neuroimaging, we identified specific brain networks that are involved with both the perception of, and response to, social injustice, with reward-related regions preferentially involved in punishment compared to compensation. (Source)

Whether we favor punishment over compensation or not, it’s obvious that we humans like punishment and do it often.

My guess is this accounts for a big part of interpersonal strife. Rather than look for a solution to interpersonal problems, a common default mode is to blame and punish instead. We even blame and punish ourselves.

This is why it is so important to know how to identify problems as they arise and how to deal with them as soon as possible.

Since we are probably born with a tendency to favor punishment, this must be taken into consideration whenever we make social and interpersonal decisions.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, “How Emotions Are Made”

One sentence I liked a lot in this vid is: “The experiences you cultivate today become the predictions your brain uses tomorrow.”

FIML practice cultivates in real-time the experience of changing your real-time interpretation, emotion, perspective, or understanding. Once you have done this many times with a partner, you will find that you will also be able do it with unwanted mental states when alone.

Basic FIML practice can be compared to musical scales or basic sports skills. Once these have been mastered, more complex skills become available. For this reason, FIML is a uniquely effective form of interpersonal psychotherapy.

Why narcissism works

Narcissism works because its victims don’t see it.

Victims don’t see it because they are children being raised by narcissistic parent(s) or very commonly adults who were raised by narcissists. There is even a term for the latter: ACoN, Adult Children of Narcissists.

Other kinds of people also fall for narcissists, but having been raised by narcissistic parent(s) is probably the most common.

Narcissists often appear normal to others due to narcissism being a fairly common disorder and also due to the narcissist’s deep-seated need to appear normal to others. They are experts at “impression management.” That’s a big part of what narcissism is.

For many ACoNs, narcissistic traits look perfectly normal because that is what they experienced at home. Narcissistic smiles, glares, malice, selfishness, ostracism, false concern, abuse, and more all seem normal because they were imprinted on the primary instincts of the child to need and trust their parents and siblings.

In truth, entire culture can be narcissistic, abusive, hierarchical. To break these habits in interpersonal relationships, you have to do FIML practice or something very similar.

Fundamental to narcissism…

…is it is a one-way street.  The narcissist must define and control “reality” so it travels in only one direction—from them to you.

Narcissism is a zero-sum game. The narcissist must win and cannot allow deeply shared realities that require nuance and complexity.

Most narcissists will act maliciously to achieve these ends.

Malice (often hidden), zero-sum, and one-way streets are very strong signs of narcissism.

If you are dealing with a narcissist, especially interpersonally, their narcissism will probably not be clear to you. That’s why you are staying in the relationship.

If you suspect you are dealing with a narcissist look for one or more of the signs above.

Malice, which frequently is concealed, can be the hardest to see. Narcissists gas light, abuse, reputation damage, backbite, physically harm, destroy property, steal, poison, and more. Their pleasure comes from watching you suffer.

Their one-way street deeply needs to define you and your reality. This is typically easier to see than their malice. They may come right out and say what kind of person they think you are. Just saying this does not make a person a narcissist, but saying it often and never accepting your explanations does. And if you say something similar to them, they will become angry either openly or concealed. Remember, it’s a one-way street with a narcissist.

You can’t win with a narcissist because they are always playing a zero-sum game.

At the same time, most narcissists are skilled at “impression management.” They need other people to see them as being right and you being wrong. This is why narcissists often conceal their malice. They may conceal it completely. Or they may hide it in plain sight by explaining to everyone around you (behind you back) what your “problems” are and how they are only trying to help.

If you see any of these signs in parents, siblings, friends, or mates, look more closely. Don’y jump to conclusions. Ask yourself, is my relationship with that person deeply shared or is it a one-way street?