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Can Modern Brain Research Help Society?

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The mysterious and fascinating human brain

Both of us have had some questions about how some people find themselves doing heinous things like molesting children and other out of control sexual appetites of all types or committing cold blooded murder with no feelings at all. We understand that everything we end up doing starts with a decision in the mind. We wonder how on earth could anyone make some of the choices that they obviously have made. Here are some of our thoughts.

We watched an episode of the Charlie Rose program called The Charlie Rose Brain Series for the first time a few weeks ago. This series focuses on brain research and how it might explain different aspects of a person’s life and its impact on society as a whole.

Each episode has a panel of research experts from leading Universities and Research Centers that discuss the findings of their research. The panel is led by Eric Kandel, a neuropsychiatrist who is currently a professor at Columbia University. This has been a field of study he has been fascinated with for over six decades. When he started his research there were not a lot of research tools available. However in recent years more sophisticated tools are now available to research the brain. Some of the tools provide 3D models to help identify portions of the brain and what makes the brain function properly.

The third episode we watched discussed research of the section of the brain that affects Aggression. We were stunned at the information and the tools available to determine which sections of the brain impact aggression and how proper treatment, including drug therapy and counseling, could completely reverse dangerous aggressive behavior. We also had a better understanding on how complicated and amazing our brains are. 

During this episode it was mentioned that the area of the brain that controls aggression is right next to the area of the brain that deals with sexuality. You can only imagine if those areas of the brain are not quite working right or if the needed hormones levels are low or if they are to close. This might explain how someone could become heartless and get joy in sexually assaulting someone.

Another part of the program discussed the section of the brain that controls compassion and empathy. Imagine if that part of the brain is not working well in combination with the area of the brain controlling aggression not functioning properly. This may be a possible explanation of how a person who can kill someone and not have any remorse or feeling about it.

A few days ago we watched the fourth episode of the Brain Series titled The Biology of Parenting. This one gives possible explanations of how children are positively or negatively impacted depending on the type of parenting they experience. It also brings insight as to what could be happening in the brains of parents that make them not want to nurture their children, especially when they are the most vulnerable. Postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis were also discussed. 

In society we correctly condemn bad behavior and work hard to protect society from those that have proven to be dangerous people. Our prisons have men and women incarcerated in many cases for the remainder of their lives or may have been executed for their crimes. In many cases when really heinous acts have been committed it is assumed that those people will never change in order to protect society. In light of modern brain research we sincerely wonder if the results in the future could help rehabilitate some of them.

Some people are born with brain dysfunctions. Some people acquire the same dysfunction by the way they have been treated by others, especially at an early age. Others have acquired the same dysfunction from their day-to-day behavior as adults.  

Question: Should society and the justice system treat them all the same or differently?

Let us know what you think.

Until next time.......

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