Opinion/Editorial

THE ZOMBIE EFFECT

Anthropologically, what’s happening in the American culture? A large part of the population has lost its ability to respond to, and therefore express, emotion. You know some of these people personally. It happens a lot with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and you know that if you are caring for someone in their later years. But this condition has also become pervasive in younger people. These people are afflicted with a deadly flat personality (personality being the word used to describe how humans display emotion). These hidden zombie creatures know they have this malady so they work very hard to make believe that they have feelings like other people around them. That’s a survival response.

You are seeing it play out nationally with Donald Trump. His most common made up emotion is outrage, followed by bitter contempt. His celebrations are all composed of hard-edge laughing at the plight of others. He knows he’s not quite right, and he lives in fear that he will reveal that. Intellect isn’t affected by this cold malady. The people who have the malady know they have it and they often think, secretly, that it gives them an advantage over other humans. In some cases, it does. But when you (as a person with feelings) have been around someone like this, even as a caregiver, the only thing you want to do is get the hell away from them. The malady works even more effectively at a distance. People like Dick Cheney and Donald Trump can remain undiscovered simply by not having anyone close. This malady, or syndrome, also applies to family members. Maybe one of the most significant factors in divorce (no counselor is ever going to tell you this) is a lack of care and feeling. No, Trump does not care. For people with normal feelings, this is almost impossible to contemplate. Only the analytical evidence is there that this is happening, but humans are notoriously poor at acknowledging such data as being conclusive. Go ahead, today try to steer a course crookedly through this day avoiding those that don’t give a damn about you. I care, and I thank God every day that I was given empathy, without having to analyze it, as it is a real gift.

The process of expressing emotion, not to mention feeling it, when it comes to encountering other human beings is called socialization. This designated process is the single most important of all cultural processes, not only in ensuring the survival of the species but when it comes to making us dominant over all other life forms on the planet. Socialization, however, fails when a human grouping is encountered by a single member who lacks any ability to gauge or apply emotive responses, concerns or to recognize the emotional situation of those around them. What appears to be happening throughout today’s American culture is an insidious expanding of the number of humans who lack emotional cores.

Knowing societal rights from wrongs is an analytical function, but the application of conduct in taking action on such perceived rights and wrongs is almost all emotion. Carl Sagan wrote a book entitled “Broca’s Brain,” that illustrated how the human mind truly functions, or at least functions in those given a healthy emotional structure. The center of the brain, a part of the organ usually larger than a grapefruit, controls emotion in humans. All thoughts must pass through that center. The part of the mind that controls what we have come to know as critical thinking and decision-making is a thin sheath that is layered over the top of the neocortex or the very top forward surface of our minds. For people who lack emotional responsiveness, that lack of responsiveness means that, next to the rest of any socialized group, that absence will likely be a severe deficit.

How does the world’s new failure to emotionally communicate (influenced so heavily by the ‘zombie’ creatures among us) play out across this patched together gathering of societies and cultures on planet earth? The results are not in yet on this question, or even whether this occurrence has had something to do with other cultures that have grown to technological significance only to fall back into savagery or something resembling what is currently viewed as fallen civilizations. Will the United States follow the tragic lead of Rome’s rise and fall, or will it pull out and return to an earlier time when the natural human instinct to stay and work together overcame the soulless and emotionless wasteland of a zombie-controlled existence?

~~ James Strauss

 

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