Pathological Altruism

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by DarkJello, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. DarkJello

    DarkJello I need me some PIE!


    ...the idea of "codependency" is a subset of pathological altruism. "Feelings of empathic caring . . . appear to lie at the core of . . . codependent behavior," Oakley notes. People in codependent relationships genuinely care for each other, but that empathy leads them to do destructive things.

    Yet according to Oakley, "the vital topic of codependency has received almost no hard-science research focus, leaving 'research' to those with limited or no scientific research qualifications." That is to say, it is largely the domain of pop psychology. "It is reasonable to wonder if the lack of scientific research involving codependency may relate to the fact that there is a strong academic bias against studying possible negative outcomes of empathy."

    That is a provocative charge, and one that Oakley levels more generally at the scientific establishment:

    Both altruism and empathy have rightly received an extraordinary amount of research attention. This focus has permitted better characterization of these qualities and how they might have evolved. However, it has also served to reify their value without realistic consideration about when those qualities contain the potential for significant harm.Part of the reason that pathologies of altruism have not been studied extensively or integrated into the public discourse appears to be fear that such knowledge might be used to discount the importance of altruism. Indeed, there has been a long history in science of avoiding paradigm-shifting approaches, such as Darwinian evolution and acknowledgment of the influence of biological factors on personality, arising in part from fears that such knowledge somehow would diminish human altruistic motivations. Such fears always have proven unfounded. However, these doubts have minimized scientists' ability to see the widespread, vitally important nature of pathologies of altruism. As psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes, "Morality binds and blinds."

    I specifically avoided the political points raised by the WSJ, because we have enough of those in OT already.

    Hoping to keep this focused on science and relationships and such.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
    flador likes this.
  2. kalasle

    kalasle Forum Royalty

    Not sure that really exists: literally all of economics and plenty of biology is about self interest.
  3. DarkJello

    DarkJello I need me some PIE!

    All economic models are designed around self interest?
  4. Bellagion

    Bellagion I need me some PIE!

    Doesn't seem like a very ground-breaking idea to me. Tons of mistakes are made in the name of good intentions. Humans can't predict the future, after all. I don't think the lack of research has anything to do with academic bias. we just don't have a good way to quantify or control the variables involved here, so it's hard to design experiments that test altruism or codependence.
  5. DarkJello

    DarkJello I need me some PIE!

  6. Geressen

    Geressen Forum Royalty

    there are people so into helping others without getting anything in return that it is considered an illness?

    they are sick nice?

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