AUTHOR: Jared Taylor, American Renaissance
The psychology of white dispossession.
Barbara Oakley, Et. Al, Pathological Altruism, Oxford University Press, 2012, 465 pp., $55.00.
Pathological Altruism is a fascinating book. As a long-time student of the most common and dangerous of all pathological altruisms—the willingness of whites to give up their homelands to non-whites—I was hoping at least one of the 48 contributions would mention this problem. None does, but several throw useful but indirect light on it. The book is also filled with eye-opening observations about human nature and how the brain works, and its main editor, Barbara Oakley of the University of Michigan, has done a wonderful job of eliminating repetition and contradiction. Even Edward O. Wilson of Harvard has written that this book taught him something completely new, and I believe him.
“Pathological altruism” (PA) is a relatively new concept; the term entered the scientific literature only in 1984. There has been very little written about it, partly because altruism is so highly regarded in the West that few scientists dare criticize it. This book makes it clear that PA is a problem well worth studying.
PA is generally defined as a sincere attempt to help others that instead harms others or oneself, and is “an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs.” Several of the contributors offer tantalizing definitions: PA is likely when people “falsely believe that they caused the other’s problems, or falsely believe that they have the means to relieve the person of suffering.” Or, it is “the false belief that one’s own success, happiness, or well-being is a source of unhappiness for others.” PA “often involves self-righteousness,” and can result in “impulsive and ineffective efforts to equalize or level the playing field.”
Together, these definitions are an almost perfect description of white liberal attitudes towards non-whites, yet none of the contributors seems to be aware of this.
A typical case of PA is the battered wife who thinks her own behavior makes her husband violent, and who stays with him because she fears he will commit suicide if she leaves. Another would be a depressed person who mistakenly believes that if he kills himself he will no longer be a burden on his family—and so he kills himself. Some people falsely think their own success comes at the expense of family members or co-workers, and try to make amends for their undeserved achievements.
What is known as co-dependency, or helping someone who is obviously hurting himself, can be another kind of PA. Examples would be giving too much food to a morbidly obese child or lying to a spouse’s employer to cover up his alcoholism. Co-dependents often have low opinions of themselves, and sacrifice their own needs for the person they are caring for. Sometimes they are driven by an inability to tolerate unhappiness or anger from the object of their PA; again, a good description of how whites treat non-whites.
“Animal hoarders” are another example of PA. They fill their houses with “rescued” pets but fail to look after them. They declare their love for animals even as they step over the bodies of dogs and cats that have died of malnutrition. They often neglect their own health, living in tumble-down houses filled with animal filth. Hoarders usually started out with a strong childhood attachment to animals but were neglected or abused by their own parents. They often start hoarding after they suffer some kind of personal setback, such as a divorce or losing a job.
People who have chronically sick family members sometimes become pathological altruists, devoting themselves to serving the patient. If they, themselves, get sick, they tend to believe they are a painful burden to others and to refuse seek help.
Anorexics have a streak of PA in them. Most are women, who were unusually considerate and giving when they were children. As they get older they want to feed and look after people, even as they starve themselves. Some refuse sleep or medical care in addition to food. People with eating disorders are very good at reading the needs of others, and clinics for them are full of women trying to take care of each other. Most anorexics are white.
Human Nature and Biology
Empathy and altruism can clearly get out of hand, but they are part of human nature. Even infants and toddlers show signs of empathy, and try to help people in distress. When babies hear other babies crying, they cry in sympathy. However, if children have been abused or live in tense households they may be hostile to people who are suffering.
Almost all adults sympathize when they see suffering—those who do not are psychopaths—and this instinct appears to have evolved for two reasons. Altruism within the family or kin group makes evolutionary sense because the beneficiaries carry many of the same genes as the altruist. Also, our evolutionary environment was one in which we could easily find ourselves face to face with people who had less food than we did. We probably evolved an impulse to share, both because this improved social relations, and because those we helped might someday help us. This is probably why beggars make people uncomfortable; they stimulate our built-in urge to share. Some people give in to that urge but others just try to get away from beggars.
Experiments in which people are tested to see how altruistic they will behave under controlled conditions suggest that we are a lot more altruistic than we need to be—and in fact people often do return lost wallets, donate blood, and do favors for people they will never see again. One of the contributors, Satoshi Kanazawa, theorizes that this is because the brain has a hard time comprehending things that never happened in the small-band evolutionary environment: “Contemporary humans may cooperate with genetically unrelated others, mistakenly (and unconsciously) thinking that they are kin or repeated exchange partners.”
There is no genetic or material payoff for being nice to total strangers, but we are nice to them anyway because our distant ancestors rarely had to deal with total strangers. Cheating and stealing would make better sense, but we treat strangers like members of the tribe.
What makes altruism go off the rails? One theory is that it can simply be an extreme example of a personality trait we all have. Psychologists talk about the Five-Factor Model of personality, which measures neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Pathological altruists may be too agreeable, and therefore let people take advantage of them. The graph below (from page 89) is the personality profile of a woman who lived entirely for her husband and her family. She was self-sacrificing, docile, and had no ideas of her own. She was more like a servant than a wife, and her husband beat her. Whites, as a race, are excessively “agreeable” to other races.
We can detect agreeableness and friendliness, even in strangers. Studies of rapists suggest that they target women who seem open and agreeable. People who are considerate also tend to marry each other—though some givers end up enslaved to takers.
Another theory about the origins of PA is that it can be seen as the result of an excessively female brain. Women are more likely than men to be co-dependents and have eating disorders. Girls are more compliant than boys, better behaved, and more eager to please. They are better able to figure out the needs of others. They are politically more “liberal,” and more likely to think that an important function of government is to take care of people. Low levels of testosterone in the womb during fetal development is associated with higher levels of empathy in both sexes.
PA may be the mirror image of autism, which is far more common in boys than in girls, and is characterized by an inability to sense the feelings of others. One author speculates that there are probably as many female pathological altruists as there are males with autism.
There are parts of the brain that light up and signal sympathy when we see people in pain or being punished. Psychological studies have been set up in which the brains of subjects were scanned while they watched the punishment of people who had cheated in a game. The sympathy circuits in women’s brains lit up; those in men did not. Men appear to lose their instinctive sympathy for pain when they think it is deserved, whereas women remain sympathetic.
There is very strong evidence that altruistic behavior is under genetic control. The genetic abnormality known as Williams Syndrome has been called “the pathology of overfriendliness,” and people who suffer from it are excessively trusting and sympathetic. They are somewhat retarded and easily become victims of sexual abuse. They have abnormalities in the part of the brain known as the amygdala, which is involved in reading facial expressions and assessing threats. They are perhaps the only known group of people who show no racial bias.
WAS MOTHER THERESA AN ALTRUISM ADDICT?