Donald Trump, Antipathy vs. Empathy and Why It Matters

Donald Trump, the Antipath President and Why It Matters
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An empath is someone who walks in someone else’s shoes and sees the world through the other person’s eyes. And when they’re really skilled at it and more important, compassionate about it, they can feel what the other person is feeling and when they do, they care about those feelings.

An antipath is someone who instead of walking in someone else’s shoes, steps on their toes and furthermore, grinds them into the ground.

Why do these notions matter?

It all comes down to hormones and neuroscience.

Cortisol is a hormone that is related to stress. The greater the stress, the more elevated the cortisol.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is related to bonding and it becomes most elevated when a mother bonds with her infant child.

Here’s the deal.

Cortisol is also increased by antipathy, which is what antipaths exude and even take delight in,

And that delight in causing pain to others can lead you to feel such people are not just antipaths, but sociopaths.

On the other hand, oxytocin is increased by empathy, which is why people often calm down when they feel understood and even more when they “feel felt.”

Many people have heard of these hormones, but not many people know that there is a reciprocal inverse relationship between them. When empathy, bonding and oxytocin go up, stress and cortisol goes down. When instead, antipathy, alienation and cortisol go up, bonding and oxytocin go down.

As an aside, one possibility for why men don’t live as long as women is that when men are under stress and their cortisol goes up, they feel vulnerable, withdraw and then figure out a strategy to come back and “take the hill.” Such strategies might be effective in war, but they’re not very good when it leads to increasing blood pressure, strokes and heart disease or shortening life.

On the other hand, when women feel under stress and their cortisol goes up, they deal with it by venting their feelings and wanting to be merely heard and heard out which increases their oxytocin, bonding and helps them feel less alone. It may explain that when women are expressing their feelings they don’t want advice or solutions, because although men are trying to be helpful, it merely causes women to have their oxytocin thwarted.

Now here is where our discussion switches over to neuroscience. There is model of the brain put forth by American physician and neuroscientist, Paul Maclean, as functionally being composed of three brains that he referred to as the Triune Brain. Our upper human logical neocortex brain has been around 250,000 years and is what enables us to rationally think through a problem and consider options. Our middle mammalian emotional limbic brain has been around for 65 million years and connected to have feelings. Our lower reptilian “fight or flight” brain has been around 245 million years and is about survival.

Inside our mammalian brain is a structure call the amygdala. The amygdala is like an emotional sentinel and functions as a “point guard” for the rest of the brain. When it becomes overstimulated, it can hijack a person’s brain and mind away from rational thinking and instead throw them into instinctual, irrational, fight or flight (or freeze) survival reactivity.

When someone’s cortisol goes sky high, which can be caused among other things by antipathy, that can lead to an amygdala hijack and cause them to not be able to listen to reason.

Alternatively, when someone’s cortisol is greatly decreased, which can be caused by empathy, compassion and oxytocin, amygdala agitation lessens, the person calms down and can listen to reason and engage in a rational conversation.

Which brings us to the subject of President Trump and especially this dangerous psychological game he is playing with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

The more President Trump exhibits antipathy and is demeaning and belittling of Kim, the more he is elevating Kim’s cortisol. The more Kim’s cortisol is elevated, the greater the possibility that his amygdala will hijack him away from rational thought and throw him into a reptilian “fight or flight” which could lead to dire circumstances.

I’m not sure that anyone of influence will read this, but if they do, I am hoping they’ll be able to explain to President Trump why his acting as an antipath is lessening the possibility of cooperation and our being able to deal with and solve the crises that are every day looming larger.

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