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Human Behavior, Physiology and Freedom
What determines exactly where human behavior comes from? Who is the ultimate authority that in effect, evaluates the appropriateness of such behavior? What is freedom and to what extent does behavior influence freedom? What physiological and environmental factors contribute to the assessment of such factors? Is cultural design and the control of freedom and behavior the answer to solving behavioral issues?
The answers to these questions are complicated and involved. Human behavior is the result of many complex biological and physiological processes, including cell growth, adequate nutrition and hormone presence in the body. Does it seem interesting that males and females often are cited as communicating differently? This is in part the result of the prevalence of different hormones in the genetic make up of males and females. Scientifically, it has been proven that a deficiency of nutrients and/or certain proteins in the body can result in adverse human behavior. Does this mean that adequate levels of hormones, appropriate levels of cell growth and proper nutrition will result in an "appropriately behaved" human being? The answer is complex.
Human behavior is the result of physiology and physical environment. Any individual can be brought into the world with the best genetic make up, an appropriate mix of X and Y-chromosomes for example, and be provided with adequate nutrition to stimulate average cell growth. However, environment must also be considered a factor in human behavior. Even if a perfect human being were to be formed, there is no guarantee that this individual will act "appropriately" as designated by society. If the environment in which a human is brought up into is filled with strife, violence, insecurity or any number of factors that disrupt the mental perspective of the person, behavior changes. Thus human behavior must be considered on many levels.
The world very effectively produces changes in human behavior, as do physiological factors as demonstrated by the following. From a physiological perspective, the pituitary gland is responsible for producing thyroid stimulating hormone, which, among other things regulates metabolism. Source: (http://biology-online.org/3/4_animal_hormones.htm).If an individuals body produces too little of this hormone, a person's behavior can become depressed, sluggish and cause the body to add weight. This in turn may cause the affected individual to feel depressed and ashamed, changing their behavior. Someone that was once outgoing and social may become more introverted, feeling ashamed of the changes in their body. The behavioral changes in this example are linked to a physiological change. However, it is possible that the physiological change resulted from environmental stimulus.
To expand upon this idea, consider the premise that the individual in question lived in poverty. Perhaps they did not have access to adequate nutrients, which resulted in a deficiency in iodine, ultimately leading to insufficient pituitary function and thus a sluggish thyroid.
Unfortunately, time has proven again and again that no two people are alike. It is very plausible that the person who is depressed and sluggish has no physiological abnormalities whatsoever. Consider the disaster that occurred in 9/11. The world in this instance produced changes in the behavior of thousands of individuals. Changes were evident not only physiologically but also in daily life. When tragedy occurs, as does every day and in some countries and regions is more prevalent than others, behavior naturally changes. It is difficult to ascertain whether behavioral changes are the result of these purely environmental or worldly changes or more probably a combination of the worldly happenings and subsequent physiological changes that follow.
For example, take an average individual, with characteristically "normal" behavior. A disaster occurs, a worldly event such as 9/11 where the person in question loses a loved one. The person, suffering a great loss and concern loses interest in every day activities, including working, taking care of the children and eating. The subsequent lack of nutrition that follows and the build up of stress hormones in the body results in physiological changes, which ultimately may lead to the person becoming depressed. Once depressed, further physiological changes may occur as medications may or may not be introduced that disrupt the chemistry of the body and result in variant behavior.
The true reason that the world is slow to develop methods of dealing with human behavior is that human behavior is inordinately complex and varied. As state before, no two people are alike. What causes one person to become the next Einstein and another to become a mass murderer; the reasons are complex and varied. Both may be genetically similar but have alternate external or environmental circumstances. Today many physician's attempt to address the physiology of behavior, addressing disorders such as depression and anxiety by prescribing medications to control such behaviors and modify human physiology. The process is naturally slow. Some individuals absorb medications for example more quickly than others. Many factors, such as medical history, age and weight, consumption of alcohol for example need to be considered. It is a proven fact that alcoholics absorb fewer nutrients than non-alcoholics. This physiological aspect could alter behavior. Worldly and environmental factors however, may play a role in the reasons any one person become an alcoholic or not.
Who is to say what behavior is appropriate? In each culture and society, appropriateness is determined differently. In the United States for example, individuals respect their personal space, and it is common for people to feel most comfortable when there is a measurable distance between one person and the individual with whom they are interacting. When greeting someone, most "Americans" would simply shake hands. However in other cultures, this "behavior" may be considered rude. In many European countries, the appropriate greeting upon meeting a friend, business consultant or acquaintance is to hug and kiss, on one cheek or both. Many Europeans may consider American behavior rude upon first observance. Therefore, the appropriateness of behavior is contingent not only upon physiology but upon the locality and environmental surroundings in which a person is surrounded by.
There are however, universal behaviors that are considered right and wrong. Most societies and cultures would for example, consider murderous behavior an abnormality. However, in ancient times it was considered appropriate to sacrifice human life in honor of gods and worship. This is an indication that indeed behavior in part results from the experiences and environments in which people are brought up into.
Freedom, as expressed by many, is often described as a feeling. Many proponents of personal freedom have branded "all control as wrong." Is this statement a reality or fantasy? In a world as described above, with complex feelings and emotions, behavior brought on by environmental and physiological factors it is difficult to argue that freedom can be truly allowed with little or not controls.
Controls serve some purpose in the lives of humans, from a worldly and physiological perspective. Freedom in itself may be defined in many ways. Merriam Webster defines freedom as the following:
The quality or state of being free: as: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another / the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous: the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken: improper familiarity: boldness of conception or execution: unrestricted use" (Webster, Merriam, 2002).
The science of freedom would likely define freedom as the ability to mentally decide what is right and wrong, what is best and what is unworthy for any individual in particular. Freedom is as many say, "usually defined as a feeling." This plays into physiological factors that for any one person may be diverse and varied. A person who has the capability of choosing where they live, what job they have, what clothes to where and what to eat for dinner may consider themselves as the epitome of cultural "freedom." Physiologically, this individuals hormones are likely in balance, they are well fed and feel happy, have a supportive home-based system and positive outlook on life in general.
Proponents for the struggle for personal freedom may argue that in order to truly be free, individuals must have the luxury to make all of the decisions in life that impact them in minor or major ways. The single mother with three children and minimum salary income, according to some, should have the freedom to steal a loaf of bread from the grocery store to feed her family. This is according to many advocates the ultimate freedom. Physiologically however, the woman taking the loaf of bread may feel tremendous guilt as the result of her actions, causing a decrease in serotonin levels ultimately leading to depression and as society deems, more "deviant behavior."
The existence of some controls, such as a law preventing the stealing of bread, as trivial as it may seem, may force the woman in question in the previous example to examine alternative methods of feeding her family. Controls however, may also lead to further biological disturbances such as depression, decreased levels of serotonin and violent…[continue]
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