Vox had a post describing how our economic growth since 1980 has just been a debt-fueled illusion (which implies as our ability to shoulder ever-increasing debt diminishes, so will the happy reality produced by the illusion). One of the commenters made a reference to how during the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929, we heard of stock brokers jumping out of windows, in large numbers.
I just want to point out the amygdala-based mechanism behind that. Individuals who experience regular hardship see their amygdala adjust to that hardship. As challenge after challenge is presented to them, they gradually develop neural pathways in the amygdala which clearly flag the most important part of the challenge, and then send impulses to the rest of the brain which provoke behaviors that attend to the challenge, and vanquish it. Such an individual is like a highly trained, combat-hardened veteran, when the bullets start to fly. They hear the cracks, and immediately identify cover, take cover, assess threat, plan response, execute, and repeat.
In 1929 however, the roaring twenties had never presented stock brokers with a significant adverse stimulus. You got money from people, invested it, and it grew, and each day you came in, you measured how much more money you had, compared to the day before, and you felt good about your success.
Suddenly, the crash happened, and everyone’s amygdala was stimulated. Unfortunately, these people’s amygdalae had not developed any pathways designed to deal with the threat, by assessing its exact nature, finding a strategy to deal with it, and executing. Had these brokers been sent to a boot camp, of sorts, where they were put through a procedure to follow in just such an eventuality, and drilled until executing the strategy was second nature, everything would have been different. The moment they identified the conditions as appropriate to their strategy, and decided to execute, their amygdala would have focused on the execution of the strategy, and not the conditions.
In a way, this is what hypnotists do. Something is screwed up, you are seeing it, and you are so focused on it you can’t sleep. The hypnotist tells you, focus on your tense muscles. Feel each one, contract it, and then focus on how it feels when you relax it. Visualize a small brook, flowing down a hill towards you, filling a small pool. Little fish in the pool are schooling around, darting in and out of the aquatic plants in the pool. See the glints of sunlight off the water, smell the fresh air, feel a gentle breeze. Suddenly, you aren’t even aware of what was bothering you, because your amygdala is absorbed with something else.
Of course, the brokers didn’t have any strategy to focus on executing, or anything to distract them. They were in the midst of an amygdala hijack, where there was panic, the panic kept them from being able to figure out how to act, and that produced more panic. The cycle repeated, until the only way they saw to shut off their amygdala was literally to jump out of a building, and kill themselves. So they did it.
That is what we want to do to Liberals in debate. We need to understand their amygdala, figure out what it is flagging as significant, and then present panicking stimuli to them in such a way that it is flagged for significance, and focused upon.
Of course, if you read Vox’s article, and the comments, you get the impression that very soon, we may not have to do anything ourselves, to see Liberal amygdalae stimulated, and Liberals unable to get out of their amygdala hijacks.