Moreover, when in phase-shifted behavior like war and outgroup massacre, mirror neurons can function to give humans a compensatory endorphin “ hit ” at seeing the pain of others without actually experiencing their injury. They can, thus, provide a biological scaffolding for sadism, which is probably a bit uncomfortable for you to hear. Still, there is ample human history of torture, sadism, and the ecstasy of battle to make it clear that this behavior can have appeal for the evolved human mind. Moreover, I suspect that “ mirror neurons ” underlie the rage experienced by a Capuchin or human at some kinds of perceived “ unfairness. ” Imagining the eating of a grape while actually tasting a cucumber is some nasty cognitive dissonance. My advice to you on mirror neurons will be familiar by now: use what evolution gave you, but re-task it rationally. It ’ s good that you evolved to feel empathy for other individuals; learn to broaden that feeling with an ethical basis and creativity so the suffering of groups becomes more salient than the suffering of individuals. Mirror neurons can help you “ walk in another ’ s shoes ” and be more tolerant, transition the functional mechanics of copulation into mutually aware eros, and generally aid your journey to a more complete self-awareness. Just realize that like all gifts of evolution, they are vestigial mechanisms which could use a firmware update.
The Bottom Line: (Contrary to economic theory) we are very sensitive to the feelings and well-being of others.
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