Whenever we do a good deed, we feel a sense of accomplishment or happiness. In the pursuit of chasing happiness, we try to maximise the number of good deeds we do and minimize the number of bad deeds. Not only religion, but the personal sense of satisfaction of doing a good thing is what drives most to do good things. But is this just an illusion? A façade? Many find pleasure in doing things that would be considered “wrong” by a common person. What makes psychopaths, murderers, rapists and general criminals do what they do? In which way are they different?
There seems to be a general belief that these kinds of people have their brains probably “wired wrong”. But then, why is it this way? Many theories suggest that the notion of good and bad/evil stems from beliefs and values that get ingrained and learnt since childhood or even infancy. A child learns from his/her parents that hurting someone else or breaking things is bad. As the child grows up, society (in the form of teachers and elders) teach the child that one needs to do “good things”. In a religious family, the concept of “heaven and hell” or something similar to that.
Over time, the child develops a very strong sense of right and wrong and this becomes so ingrained into the sub consciousness of the child that the brain starts to release the pleasure/happiness chemicals whenever doing something “good”.
However, what if the society/parents did not teach the child what is good or bad? Or what if the child had a traumatic experience that shocked the brain into perceiving the world different from normal? Turns out, a majority of psychopaths, murderers etc. seem to have undergone at least one such experience in their early childhood. Some of them are orphans, had abusive parents, or had a neighbourhood in which many “wrong” things were considered normal, such as selling drugs, carrying firearms etc.
Living in such a world, the child quickly tends to form a very protective shell around oneself and the only things considered “good” are ones which are to the direct benefit to the child or lead to its survival. No wonder, their consciences with respect to harming others are unaffected by doing anything.
This makes one wonder, do we feel emotions only because we have been told since infancy that we should? Is it actually a forced feature of the human mind?
Dexter, from the TV Series named after him, cannot feel emotions unless he kills. By the code of Harry, he only kills criminals who have escaped the justice system. The reason for this is because of an extremely traumatic incident that occurred even before he could remember anything. Acting like he can feel emotions is the only way he can survive in this world.
But what if all of us are only acting out emotions? What if none of us really feel anything but “feel” emotions only as a result of our subconscious remembering what is good or bad? These remain questions to be pondered about for a long time.