Monday, August 17, 2009


I recently wrote a paper on the topic of "forgiveness". Interestingly, in the lab, forgiveness is broken down into separate attributes; "forgiving-ness", which is the ability to forgive others, and "forgivability", which is the ability to get others to forgive you particularly. Celebrities and sports figures, as well as children, typically have a high index for forgivability. They're easy to forgive. It's easy to overlook their wrong doings. Also, favorite politicians have higher-than-normal forgivability. This explains why Obama typically tends to prove more popular than his policies. He's likable. People want to believe in him while contending with the governmental twists and turns we're taking. Of course, the more people's wallets are stepped on, the more this can change. I'm not a political pollster, although I'm intrigued now with what I know about brain physiology, which is this....

Biased thinking. And this is where forgivability comes in.I'm going to cite myself so I don't get charged with plagiarism (even plagiarism of myself-which is a real offense), which is a distinct possibility and damnable by hellfire and toenail plucking. "Forgivability was actually mapped in the brain as occurring in the posterior cingulate area and lit up on imaging studies when participants were shown their favorite politicians. When the same subjects were next shown slides demonstrating their favorite politicos engaged in unsavory behavior (which required forgiving), the prefontal cortex (which is in charge of emotional reactions) fired up. At this point, the posterior cingulate area over-rided the prefrontal cortex; in essence “damping down” any negative reactions. Following this, the ventral striatum activated, which rewarded the participants for their ability to remain biased (Biotech Week October 22, 2008)."

In other words, the human brain will reward itself to believe in a biased, patently false manner. It will lie to itself and feel good about it! It's OKAY WITH THAT!!! Now! How hard is it for missionaries to do their work? How difficult is it for people from say, the Peace Corp, to go into a village and teach them how to wash their hands correctly and allow the citizenry to get inoculations for their own good? What kind of an uphill climb is it for a teenager to stand in the midst of his or her peers and say, "No. I don't want to drink alcohol or take a hit of weed" and for those peers to still respect that kid? What I'm saying is-maybe miracles occur around us all the time and we're not noticing them. It would take, perhaps, the Spirit of the Lord to undo that wiring and firing in these flawed and somehow incredibly wonderful brains of ours, to allow for that! I'm just putting it out there. I have to read this research from a gospel perspective. And I can only rant about it here, in the safety of my blog. I have to maintain my nonbiased, scientific method in academia.

I also think this. If those researchers studied the Atonement for one week-just one-with diligence and an open heart, it would answer any and all questions they ever had or would ever have, relative to forgiving...or "forgiving-ness"....or "forgivability"...or any other word that has to do with compassion or love or worth or value. All of it.


Katz, D., (2009) Forgiveness: From confessional to couch.Unpublished paper. Walden University, School of Psychology, PhD Program. Rieder, Instructor. Summer Quarter, 2009.

This is your brain on politics. (2008) Biotech Week. NewsRX. October 22, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2009 from HighBeam Research. Document number 1G1-187237046.


hi, i'm nancy! said...

this is so fascinating i can barely breathe. and you are SO right about the uphill battles.

yeah, it's gotta be miracles. GOTTA BE.

The Katzbox said...

Nancy, I'm so pleased you see it that way as well. I value your opinion. My mind blew apart when I read the research because I'm coming from my gospel-centered, eternal perspective, which clarifies so much, and again, my mind is still trembling with joy at the thought of being constantly in the midst of miracles. Constantly!

Love ya!

Emmy Slusser said...

This is really facinating stuff, mom. I love to hear you just talk about it and absorb it and, if any of my kids. .. scratch that. When ALL my kids need therapy. .. you'll give me a good price, right? :)

The Katzbox said...

Em, your kids won't need therapy...tho they may be carriers...