Back in 1993, when I wrote an academic book, I finished with the argument that world history has shown that as society becomes more ennobled and sophisticated in its scientific understanding, conditions like epilepsy and psychosis ceased to be viewed within a moral / theological context and more within the humanitarian context of treatment. I repeat that refrain in The Anatomy of Violence. It’s something I sincerely hope for, a more enlightened society that can learn from a new and exciting body of biological knowledge on what causes offending. Chalking a violent act up to “evil” is easy, but it’s thirteenth century thinking. We need to move on into a more scientifically enlightened future.
To stop violence we have to understand its causes. For the past century we focused all our attention to only one side of the coin, the social contribution. Now it’s time to flip the coin over and examine the biological contribution. Unless we do that, we’ll never have the full picture, and we’ll go on living out the disheartening headlines that we read in newspapers today.
Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe. He can be reached at garethideas AT gmail.com or Twitter @garethideas.