Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
30 Aug

Violence: An Introduction to a Primal Instinct

For a guy that people don’t usually reference when talking about the ancestral health community, Tucker Max gave a fantastic talk on the importance of violence a couple weeks ago at the symposium. It was on the importance of violence in human evolution, and it centered on what he’d learned about himself since joining a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym several years back. His slides are now available, so I’d recommend taking a quick glance at them. The real meat was in the talk itself, though. Check out the video (and stick around for Seth’s talk, too). Hat tip to Tucker for stoking my thoughts on this topic.

We have a weird relationship with violence, especially in the 21st century. For the most part, we live in a time of unprecedented peace. Although with civilization and government come new challenges to personal freedom, most of us aren’t in immediate danger of being robbed, raped, assaulted, murdered, or dragged into war. Physical violence is easily avoided, and yet we are drawn to it. It fascinates us even as it horrifies us. We condemn those who engage in it while sneaking peeks and wondering what it would be like to fight.

But here’s where we run into trouble: violence is bad, right? Torture, rape, murder, serial killers, genocide, war… these are not nice things, and they’re all examples of violence. Anyone and (mostly) everyone will agree that these are absolute negatives. Laws against murder are universal (if selectively applied), and any reasonable culture considers rape to be a monumental crime. War is sometimes necessary, but it’s not a pleasant endeavor for anyone, neither victor nor loser. “War is hell,” remember. Torture is craven (and from what I’ve read, ineffective) and cruel, while genocide is the ultimate evil (even if some people somewhere support it).

If violence is bad, why are we drawn to it? You say you’re not? Okay – what happens to you when you see two people duking it out on the street, or preparing to do so amidst tough talk? Two things, if you’re like most people. You think “someone should break this up,” and you might even try to break it up yourself. Fighting’s wrong, talking is better, call the cops, etc. At the same time, though, you can’t look away. You might crowd around and crane your neck to get a better look. When the first punch is thrown, a thrill passes through you. You don’t mean to feel it, you might even feel ashamed, but you can’t ignore the excitement. It’s “wrong,” someone is probably going to get hurt, but just the same, something feels very “right” about this. I remember as a kid in elementary school, any time a fight or scuffle jumped off at recess, kids would come running from all corners of the playground as if they could sense it (the kids yelling “fight, fight, fight!” didn’t exactly keep it secret, either). I was right there with them. This was before ultra-violent video games, television, movies, and music were around to get the blame. Nope – this was interest in violence for violence’s sake. No outside influences.

Longtime readers will know that inherent human traits or behaviors pique my interest. When people seem instinctually drawn to something – playing with dirt, sunbathing, delicious animal flesh – I go looking for an explanation, because more often than not, there’s evidence of a benefit to the activity. There’s usually some deep-seated “reason” couched in our evolution as animals. Kids eating dirt introduces novel bacteria to young immune systems, sunbathing provides vitamin D, animals give us fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. What does violence give us? Broken bones, black eyes, and bruised egos aside, I can’t help but wonder if fighting is somehow good, or even necessary for us. At the very least, our apparently instinctual proclivity to violence suggests that violence isn’t a product of civilization, but that it’s much, much older. That there is an evolutionary adaptation to violence. That the potential for it exists in all of us as a holdover from our prehistory.

If you examine our history, it’s obvious that early man knew violence. I won’t say “he was violent” or ascribe a degree of violence, because we just don’t know enough. What we do know is that evidence of human-to-human violence exists in the fossil records and confirms that life in the paleolithic wasn’t auroch milk ice cream and rainbows all the time. Skeletons with stone arrows embedded in chest plates, bones with blunt trauma fractures… it wasn’t necessarily a regular occurrence, but violent death certainly occurred.

It may have even been rare; as one recent article suggests, inter-group conflict most likely occurred due to resource scarcity and territorial infringement (that’s usually why conflicts arise between groups of chimps and there’s plenty of evidence suggesting the same for preagricultural humans) and given the low human population densities of the paleolithic, regular full-scale war didn’t really make sense. The authors do note that the potential for violence probably always existed in hominids. There’s even evidence (PDF) that moderate aggression, which might be described as the potential for violence, was a selective adaptation, since the aggressor would have a better chance of procuring resources and, thus, mates to bear his offspring.

So while most modern humans are largely divorced from violence (at least in any physical, active way), we are drawn to it, and it was a contextual feature of human evolution. Tomorrow, we’ll explore whether we should banish violence outright, or whether we ignore it to our peril. For now, though, I want to hear your thoughts on violence. Have you been in a fight? How do you see violence – is it an absolute negative or is there possible good in it, too?

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Violence is an unavoidable truth. Whether it be sport, crime or war, there will always be violence. In the Primal lifestyle we learn to indulge our instincts, but at the same time we must balance that with being modern civilized people. I can’t go beating up every jackass that cuts me off on the interstate….no matter how much instinct and desire makes me want to. That being said, watching or participating in violent (but controlled and consensual) activities such as MMA is a great way to indulge the violent side many of us might have. Also, one of the main reasons we live this lifestyle is to live long healthy lives. So wouldn’t logic dictate us making other steps to assure a long life? I buckle up anytime I get in the car and using that same self preservation logic I carry a concealed firearm anywhere I am legally allowed to. So my take on violence: maturely accept it, embrace it, prepare for it and be smart enough to avoid it in uncontrolled circumstances.

    Sean Philips wrote on August 30th, 2011
  2. I have noticed that since I went primal in April, I’m much more violent. I keep it all my head though, which is good :)

    Shana wrote on August 30th, 2011
  3. I don’t relate to this article at all. I think what it’s getting at, is the competitive side in all of us; this does NOT have to resort to violence.

    ashley wrote on August 30th, 2011
  4. I don’t relate to this article. I think these are huge and broad slippery slope generalizations. What I think it’s getting at is the competitive nature that’s natural in all of us.

    ashley wrote on August 30th, 2011
  5. When I was a bit younger that “thrill” was certainly appealing, and evident from the accompanied adrenaline. But even with it I still refused to participate in what was happening around me, and I’m still clean to this day. Time eroded my wayward curiosity towards violence, and for that I am thankful. The modern rendition of violence is a sickening, pathetic invention that holds no substance or positive conclusion. I’m talking about cases such as the aforemention bar-fight, or the typical street-scrap after a night out over something so fruitlessly nonsensical. We should all be capable enough to tunnel through these urges. I don’t understand why people have to be so fucking bad to each other.

    Owen wrote on August 30th, 2011
  6. there’s alot of bad men in this world. crazy F#*@ks that want to seriously hurt you, just because you’re not what they are. who would you want in your camp when you come under attack, a pasifist or a fighter? ANGER was how one protected his clan (fight or flight response). i guess it’s one of those genectic traits.

    Dasbutch wrote on August 30th, 2011
  7. Great article and one that I was actually thinking of requesting. Glad someone else did it! I’ve been involved in combat sports for over 10 years now, and in my opinion the reason we see so much spontaneous violence in bars etc (aside from alcohol of course) is because we are continuously told by society to push down those urges. Out of the hundreds of people I have met and know from fighting, not one has the inclination to go out and get into trouble because they “get it out of their system” at training.
    I believe on some level fighting is as innate to us as breathing, however there doesn’t have to be violent intent behind it. Look at all the different animals that play fight for instance. When I am injured or take an extended layoff from training, I inevitably get a bit down. It’s not the down from a sudden withdrawal of exercise (I find ways around most injuries), but the withdrawal from fighting leaves me feeling flat, like something isn’t quite right.

    Peter@themensdomain wrote on August 30th, 2011
  8. Violence is not nice but sadly sometimes seems necessary. I’d love to live in a world without it.

    I’d like to think violence is tempered by good society which in turn is tempered by thoughtful intellect.

    Lets keep evolving.

    Kenny wrote on August 30th, 2011
  9. I’d like to add only necessary in extreme circumstances like when ones life is threatened to some degree.

    I agree with Ashley that violence is different from a competitive nature.

    Kenny wrote on August 30th, 2011
  10. It’s not really a question of good or bad. It’s simply a necessity of living on a planet with limited resources. All animals need to utilize some degree of violence to protect themselves and their interests.

    We now have the technology to overcome most forms of scarcity, so technically violence shouldn’t be needed anymore… but it’s so deeply ingrained in our DNA that it’ll always be with us – just like our need for delicious meat, sunshine, and physical companionship.

    Sol wrote on August 30th, 2011
  11. Violence is anger without rules.
    Anger is violence without rules.
    Which is it??

    OK, so who the hell needs “rules”? But those rules seem to be there — unspoken, unseen, unacknowledged. Like them or not— they are there-

    Anyone, besides me, been guilty of either one?

    PrimalGrandma wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • Anger is an emotion
      Violence is an act

      Not sure what you mean by either having or not having rules. There’s different sets of rules for violence depending on your surrounding, who you are engaging with, etc. There’s also rules in the sense of what helps you win or lose. In true warfare, there’s no rules at all. That’s why you have be careful with violence. If you breech certain untold rules “out in the street”, the other person will be more likely–if not certain–to do as well.

      Jackson wrote on August 30th, 2011
  12. As a man that came from a machismo and military culture I DO NOT like undue or undisciplined violence. Let me explain it in the way I tell my 9 year old son. It’s called “Don’t mess with Daddy’s marshmellows”

    We love to go camping and have fun around the campfire especially roasting marshmellows and making S’mores. We also love to sing songs that I affectionalely call singing “kumbaya” round the campfire. This philosophy extends to all areas of my life.

    All my friends, fellow campers etc are invited to sing, share and have fun in our little campfire neighborhood. Inevitably someone, somewhere will not like my “kumbaya” style and friendliness and mistake it for weakness. I tell my son that there are people that will take our marshmmellows because they think they can. That they hide in the shadows waiting to prey on weak people. They will have the idea that they want our marshmellows and demand that we give it to them even though they didn’t earn it. I always politely ask them to leave us alone and go away while at the same time mentally preparing myself ie prepping the battlefield. He always asks “why” people would do this and I say I am not compleletly sure since we don’t live in that world outside our campfire/kumbaya world but we must always be prepared to defend our marshmellows becasue we like them so much and its so fun to have them and we bought them. Then if someone comes into our marshmellow and kumbaya world uninvited and is violent then the only way is to react with “focused sheer and utter violence” because I am defending our family, campfire (house) and all that we love. Beacause that is what Daddy’s do for those he loves. He provides marshmellows, fun and family and he defends them when necessary. After that we go back to roasting marshmellows and singing kumbaya! :) Just for the record.. I do not condone violence or want or like it. Just that it may be needed at times and one (Me) must have and maintain the ability to react and defend when necessary.

    John wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • Damn right

      Jackson wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • Well said!
      This is my husbands mentality, too.
      He is also ex-military and hardly sleeps during camp nights because he feels like pulling guard duty for the sake of safety and survival.
      I always tell him to try and learn to let go a little and he just looks at me with a mischievous grin.

      Issabeau wrote on August 31st, 2011
  13. Evidence from New Zealand’s very recent pre-European past does show that hunter-gatherer communities skirmished over resources and territory. But the low popluation density (for instance in the lower South Island) meant this didn’t happen often. (Michael King’s Penguin History of New Zealand)

    But in places of higher population density full-scale ‘warfare’-like interactions (with fortified villages etc) were seen amongst settled, agricultural tribes (still pre-European).

    It’s a factor of population density and resource-wealth, rather than ‘hunter gatherer’ versus ‘agriculturalist’ I think.

    On the other hand, ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell points to research which shows that communites who have been agricultural for the longest have the least propensity for violence – and those that are from ‘herder’ backgrounds are far more likely to pick a fight.
    The reasoning being that the biggest threat to an agriculturalist is the loss of their *land* and they will do anything to maintain access to their crops – including submission and slavery. They can’t run away from a fight and so tend not to pick them. These communities often see the extended family as being more paramount than an individual’s status/ego.

    Whereas a the biggest threat to a herder is the loss of their *animals*, to rustling etc, so an early aggressive response is often seen, to chase away theives in the immediate term, and then get the hell out before they come back. These cultures also highly value individual status, and more quickly respond to ‘shame’ with violence and retribution.

    The examples given in the book are university students who came from different cultural backgrounds – those with English/French/Western European ‘farmer’ heritage versus those with Irish/Scottish/Cicilian sheep/goat herder heritage (think Appalacians).

    Those with ‘herder’ bakcgrounds (and we’re talking *generations removed* from that heritage) consistently had a higher ‘rage’ response to an insult, and held onto that rage for a much longer period of time. REALLY interesting study – and my own heritage is the Scottish/Irish herder one, and BOY did it explain the behaviours of some of my male relatives!

    homehandymum wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • *Sicilian. typo

      homehandymum wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • Very interesting thought.

      Jackson wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • As a half-Sicilian I find this very interesting.
      Now I managed over the years (43yo now) to control my aggression so much that 95% of the time most people can’t even tell that I’m pissed but inside I’m cooking fast and high and are ready to kill so to speak.
      Sometimes I can get really aggressive and loud during discussions, even at work and even when I know very well that it isn’t professional it just happens.
      Not much different from my sicilian relatives, but including the females!

      Franco wrote on August 31st, 2011
  14. The video was somehow removed from that website

    Nick wrote on August 30th, 2011
  15. “Maternal Defense: Breast Feeding Increases Aggression by Reducing Stress” appears in the September issue of Psychological Science…

    I’m just saying…

    Teresa Magnan wrote on August 30th, 2011
  16. “Give as good as you get and every once in a while be unpredictable.” I think that was from ‘My Ismael’

    gazza wrote on August 30th, 2011
  17. Video link is down?

    andrew wrote on August 30th, 2011
  18. While violence was certainly paramount in our evolution, I don’t find much intrinsic good in it. The training of violence (combat, martial arts, self defense) can certainly have mental and physical health benefits. Anyone who has seen and tasted the battlefield of human violence knows its a dark and evil place. There is no romance or beauty in this violence, just hopes of survival. We must also consider that humans can be a part of social and asocial violence. Social being human on human violence reminiscent of two mammals showing seniority through growling and eventually attacking. Asocial violence is that in which a human sees another as a member of an alternate species and can then attempt to murder, rape, or rob them. My opinion is that a certain level of preparedness is paramount in avoiding violence. One must simply learn to be aware, avoid, talk down, and run away. This can be a great success in violent encounters. Physical skills should be last resorts and should be trained to a near reflex. Fighting skills should back up pre-emptive maneuvers that take the initiative. Those that wish to round out their Primal fitness with fight training are entering something very positive but must also understand what they are entering. MMA is NOT what humans did to survive no matter how much it is said. If an MMA fighter takes the fight to the ground and dominates on top, he is winning. The same situation in the Paleo times or on modern streets often results in tribe members sending their boot through your face. One must understand which aspects of violence he/she is recreating in their training.

    Vlad wrote on August 30th, 2011
  19. there are many types of violence but the two main types could be described as compassionate violence and stupidity violence.

    Killing an animal is violent but it’s comes from compassion knowing it will suffer less when you masticate its tasty body.

    getting in a bar fight is stupidity – completely avoidable , serves no purpose unless your joining a gang.

    alex wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • While I disagree that killing an animal shows compassion since I’m sure it would much rather enjoy a longer life followed by a death of old age, I do agree that a bar fight is the stupidest choice one could make.

      Vlad wrote on August 30th, 2011
    • I have to say that I agree with you on this one. The Dalaih Lama, who is a staunch advocate for non-violence, implies that even an act as violent as killing another person can be ethical if done with compassion and for the right reasons. It is not quite the same logic as that behind the idea of a “just” war, but it is similar in kind. Mainly has to do with where the “ego” is in the conflict.

      tomh wrote on August 30th, 2011
  20. You and I have very different senses of humor. I personally dont’ find the following “Tuckerisms”about women all that “amusing and hilarious.”

    – “I will gut you and grind you into pig fodder.”

    – “Get away from me or I’m going to carve a f*** hole in your torso.”

    – “I want to shoot every one of these b*****s.”

    – “The only way I can cut you deep is with a battle
    axe and a running start.”

    – “Rape’s not funny, but murder can be.”

    That’s only a small sample.

    Duncan wrote on August 30th, 2011
  21. This makes you wonder if this could be the reason that violent video games are the most popular? After all, non violent video games are very rare and not so popular except maybe farmville, where you go around farming…I think. i’m not sure I never really got heavily into that game, i let my crops die and nature take the land back for herself.
    Well another comes to mind – leisure suit larry, lol. Make love, not war.

    Earthspirit wrote on August 30th, 2011
  22. How timely this post is. Self defense is the 11th Commandment of the Primal Blueprint. Often ignored by zoo humans cosseted by the false security of 911 and EMS. The correct primal (but civilized) attitude to violence is ‘First Do No Harm’. This doesn’t preclude the use of defensive violence (the GOOD type of violence). Exposure to most modern martial arts and entertainment has blurred and confused our understanding thus our negative view of violence. Most self defense concepts taught in zoo human dojos are aimed at obliteration of the opponent (not consistent with non-aggression and preservation of life). However, some martial arts like Systema are completely primal with respect to natural human movement, biomechanics and non-aggression. Some Systema variants (e.g, Homo Ludens) are based on learning through human play (think Exuberant Animal/MovNat martial arts). In Systema, we may have found a framework to use violence in a manner consistent with Primal living.

    Gruesome wrote on August 31st, 2011
    • Interesting. I posted something about systema. I thought I was the only one who saw a correlary between that particular art, and the Primal way of life. It’s refreshing to see. To anyone out there reading this, type in ‘Systema’ on youtube and see what pops up. Do a little research. Systema is also great for combating that most prevelent of human killers – stress!

      Kris wrote on August 31st, 2011
  23. Considering what has been said I must assert that if it were so, and it does seem like it, it would be most unfortunate for the said parties in the long run. Especially if the involvement was to rise and therefore substantiate. I have to point out that it is of course highly improbable while at the same time very intriguing to play around with.

    Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

    I doubt that no one reads this comment…

    Captain Obvious wrote on August 31st, 2011
  24. I’m from South Africa. It almost seems like I grew up with violence. I’m 31 and in my lifetime we’ve had numerous thefts from our homes, my car was stolen and my dad was hi- jacked at gunpoint.

    It is on a monthly basis that you hear of somebody you know, no, not know of, personally know, being personally involved in some form of crime related incident.

    It might sound strange to be able to live in circumstances like this, but it seems that, as of old, crime still prefers darkness. It is quite unlikely that you will find trouble during the day, the risk is higher at night and of course in certain areas.

    Limiting your exposure to risk is a practice that people actively engage in. We live in a security estate with security measures that might seem exhuaberant. Biometric scanners, double outside walling, electric fencing, armed guards 24/7 and a helicopter on call. I also have two staffordshire bullterriers living inside the house, they get poisoned when left outside.

    Bed time ritual unfortunately does not involve story telling. It includes rounds through the house checking that all doors and windows are locked and the alarm is set.

    With that said… As a woman, I never thought I could be violent. But when it comes to protecting who you love, you’ll be surprised at what lengths you’ll go to. A healthy dose of fear is what keeps me and my loved ones safe.

    What is also interesting, and might sound like a contrast, is that this situation, rather than making me depressed, makes me love life even more. When you are constantly reminded of what you stand to lose, you embrace what you have.

    Living Primal has been more than just about health for me personally. I have to ensure that I am physically ready…. Ready to defend myself physically, ready to carry a family member physically, ready to run for my life, ready to heal optimally if it comes to that.

    Yes, when you’re woken in the middle of the night by the sound of glass breaking the adrenaline shoots through the roof!! Fear and aggression alternates through your being and your brain is in pure survival mode. The high lasts for some time, even when it was established that the threat is gone. But being exposed to violence has kept me alert and taught me skills that I need for survival.

    Michelle wrote on August 31st, 2011
  25. hey all….the video link to Tucker´s talk didn´t seem to work for me…anyone have better luck or an updated link?

    NewbieR wrote on August 31st, 2011
  26. The fact that Mark says it is a universal law that violence is wrong is a key to the fact that it it not natural. We all have a conscience, even people who live in the most remote tribes that have not been touched by modern man and are still hunter gatherers have tribal laws that reflect that internal, universal conscience. It’s something animals don’t have and never will have, it’s God given. Unfortunately as the bible says: the heart of man is wicked and as the prophecy in 2 Tim says, we are living in the last days when people will be selfish, lovers of themselves, haughty and all other bad things that we see today. Unfortunately we know it is wrong but our heart want us to do or want to see bad things. However the bible also says that soon there will be a time when we will learn war no more and humans will again be a peaceful community.

    paul wrote on August 31st, 2011
  27. Not sure I agree with sweeping value-based judgments of right and wrong on violence. I live in Spain and was thinking of the interesting (to me) juxtaposition of bull-fighting and MMA. Both violent for sure, but quite different. The bull-fighting puts up a willing participant engaged for the sake of sport, against a creature relying on its instincts to protect itself and survive. MMA is between two knowing and consenting adults (presumably)…so for me, while both of these are violent “activities”, they seem very different when it comes time to dole out good/bad labels. Thoughts?

    RicT wrote on August 31st, 2011
  28. I’m a woman, and I’ve been in a few fights (if you call cold-cocking a bully three grades older and blackening his eye a “fight”) when I was in grade school. I only did it in self-defense, after all other avenues had been explored.

    As an adult, I’ve taken street fighting lessons (part of my police academy training), martial arts training, and I enjoy watching mixed martial arts fighting.

    I would say that violence – or the ability to procure it at any moment – is essential to preventing violence. I’ve found that the way I walk, the way I hold myself, the way I act, and my fitness level all prevent people from confronting me in the first place.

    I am not aggressive, but I am not fearful. I know how to bring it if I am forced, but the fact that I exude the willingness to do so keeps aggressive arseholes from targeting me in the first place.

    People who bully others are usually cowards who pick victims weaker than they are, who will not hurt them in return. They don’t want to be caught, they don’t want to pay the penalty for their viciousness, so they look for someone who won’t fight back.

    One reason humans enjoy watching violence, I think, may be to see that we can sustain a beating and still get up and fight another day. It instills hope, in a strange way. Listen to the crowd roar when the injured quarterback gets up on his feet again.

    Whose name do we still remember today? Spartacus!

    Marcheline wrote on August 31st, 2011
  29. It seems I’m in the minority here but I am thoroughly sickened and horrified by acts of violence. It’s not that there aren’t situations that make me angry enough to occasionally want to hurt someone. These situations usually involve children being hurt by bullies or abusers or women being violently mistreated by men. As a mother, I can see how someone hurting one of my children might perhaps cause some violent urges to surface. However, I simply cannot fathom how some people can instigate or seek out violence. I can’t even sit through a Tarantino movie! Neither am I drawn to men who engage in violent sports (I know it’s just sports). As for bar fights–totally repugnant–I wouldn’t even be able to look.

    I admire people who exercise self control and restraint when they are angry and find ways to resolve conflict through non-violent means. A smart retort is a total turn on, while a punch in the face ( though it may be deserved) shows a sort of impulsiveness that’s a little scary to me.

    It would be interesting to explore the testosterone link to violence because, often, there is a total disconnect between women’s and men’s attitudes towards violence.

    Sabrina wrote on August 31st, 2011
  30. Tucker Max …. Sigh.

    What he learned about violence when he joined a MMA gym…. What does sport fighting have anything to do with violence?

    A really good website to visit on this is Marc MacYoung and Rory Miller’s website Conflict Communications @:

    http://conflictcommunications.com/

    If you want a really good source and study of violence read Rory Miller’s two books “Meditations on Violence” & “Facing Violence,” or any of Marc MacYoungs.

    Just my 2 cents,
    Josh

    I’m going to link to websites

    Josh A. Kruschke wrote on August 31st, 2011
  31. We can confirm or deny violence’s place in our society. But if you have a curiosity about that inner cave-man, I recommend harnessing it in a ‘Systema’ class. Systema is a Russian martial art, and is like yoga-meets-bare-knuckles-brawl. Harnessing your tension and fears (and fear is a healthy primal response to things) and know how to work through it, it is hugely beneficial. And the biggest thing in Systema – BREATHING! That sounds like a ‘no-duh’ statement, but try breathing next time you’re in a really stressful situation. Check systema out on youtube. Don’t deny this inner monster – harness it a little. It’s a healthy thing. It’s done a lot for me.

    Kris wrote on August 31st, 2011
  32. Men punch you in the face.
    Women stab you in the back!

    Men always think we’re the lesser evil, don’t be fooled. We have the exact same thought process when it comes to violence, except knowing that our opponent is stronger, we think up a battle plan to win the outcome.
    But, women forgive easier and that is one of our biggest down falls.

    Issabeau wrote on August 31st, 2011
  33. Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” one of the finest books in modern literature, explores the nature of the violence and its place in the human psyche. By the end of the book, one comes away with the sense that violence – in both the active and the theoretical sense – is literally at the core of the human experience.

    As an epigraph, McCarthy uses a quote from a newspaper article that reports on a discovery of a 200,000 year old human skull that displays evidence of having been scalped.

    Daddah Rednaxela wrote on August 31st, 2011
  34. I should also say that there’s a very big difference between violence and cruelty. The former derives from an emotional necessity that has evolved along with our species: a primordial passion, if you will. The latter, I believe, is only really possible when one’s own relationship with violence becomes divorced from the passion (i.e. the evolutionary instinct) that governs it, submitting instead to an intellectual attitude towards harming another person in excess of self-defense or the welfare of one’s immediate community.

    For this reason, I very seriously doubt that paleolithic humans would have engaged in the sorts of violence that makes many of the headlines today. Most of that stuff is outright cruelty: serial murder, torture, rape, kidnapping and imprisonment, etc. Someone above had a really good point about how agriculture is, by nature, an expansionist technology and therefore impels interpopular violence. It’s only with the advent of civilization that these sorts of violent behaviors became “worthwhile” from an evolutionary (i.e. social – where “society” becomes the civilized equivalent of evolution) perspective. From a hunter-gatherer’s perspective, strapping a rival tribesman to a plank and torturing him to death would have been a total waste of time: far easier (and more cost-effective) just to bludgeon him quickly and leave his body for the buzzards.

    Daddah Rednaxela wrote on August 31st, 2011
  35. Maybe violence is prevalent because more peaceable folks are having to defend themselves against imposing aggressive types that insist on taking what they want – steal your car, set sight on mate; Even push you out of a livelihood. Only time I think of defense is when someone does not respect some very common sense boundaries. Then, it MAY become necessary to hold your ground, prepare to defend best you can, come what may to protect your home or family. In such situations it’s necessary. But, it SHOULDN’T be. That’s the problem I have with this theory. I believe the prevalence for violence in human societies comes from a flaw in human nature.

    And I see the difference in high energy sports where the surge to move reaching physical limits is a cathartic release, the purpose being not to hurt or kill your opponent.

    I believe violence is begetted by selfish actions not from some awesome selective trait for the betterment of the mankind. Technology has progressed but human handling of social and governing responsibilities remain miserably the same. Always comes back down to someone or some group looking for selfish gains.

    The BIG difference is that we are REASONING creatures, in contrast to all the referred to animals that operate mostly on instinct.
    I don’t see violent impulses as a desirable trait when we have the reason to make intelligent and considerate choices.

    Ez wrote on September 1st, 2011
  36. I embrace hate filled testosterone fueled violence fighting is such a rush even when im on the losing end i know i stood up for myself and didnt back down like a punk. i love the chess game while your focusing aggression and using natural instincts to guess your enemys next move and set up your next pain rattaling punch to the guy that in the moment you hate more than anyone and want to destroy! I dont start fights im not going to assualt someone without what i would consider a good reason. i think being hyped up overly aggressive and territorial about what we care about and have is pure in a way cause its primal its not a facade like “civilization” is. Fighting is a good way to settle arguments over mates, politics, money,sports ect i love fighting and bloodsoaked violence in my opinion its awesome and brutal and im not ashamed of it

    Rob Joplin wrote on January 18th, 2012
  37. I think that people don’t want it to happen to them but enjoy seeing it done to orther’s. That’s why they turn there nose up in the air like as if it’s a bad thing but is it really? “I don’t think so” we to are animal’s But we hide behind are intelligence so we can look like the superior specices but the truth of the matter is human nature is revealled in that moment we get upset and we feel like something is taken from us we change back into that animal we have always been in the first place. So it’s like we wear a mask every day trying to be something were not. Now should we give in to it or not that’s up to you! I loved the article I would love to read more.

    klinnikka wrote on February 14th, 2013
  38. I googled this subject because I was wondering about the problem of violence toward women (VTW). It baffles me that some men are drawn to hunting, hurting or even killing women like prey. Are these men only sick & twisted, or are they also deeply frustrated by their unsatisfied ancestral urge to hunt, or both? I would never hunt animals since I’m a ultra-fem chick who digs most of them, but I wonder if some kind of hunting therapy would benefit those men who are violent toward women, akin to extreme play therapy benefits those with ADHD? I’ve been on the bad end of VTW, as I think many if not most women have at one time or another, so I’m not marginalizing it. But I’m wondering if there’s some primal urge that would make men tend to sometimes look at women as prey if their natural instincts aren’t being exercised.

    TamraKat wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  39. I’m a woman and I’m disgusted by violence. I can never understand why people are fascinated by it. It just makes me feel sad and awful. I can’t bear to watch it. I’d rather turn my face away if I see two people fight. I can’t watch violent movies. Yes, I used to fight a lot with my brother and I also really enjoyed martial arts, they called me the girl ninja but I find meditation and yoga much better. I am competitive by nature, that’s why I (used to) love winning but I’m also very empathetic. Other people’s pain makes me feel pain and I can’t bear to watch it because it stays on my mind for days or even weeks. I honestly think empathy is what makes us human. Also, forgiveness. Well, maybe I have too much empathy because it gets on my way but I do believe people can survive without violence between each other but without empathy we are dead and gone.
    The strange thing is as much as I can’t stand violence violent sex is what turns me on. But not brutal kind of sex, more the “I can’t resist you” type of sex. I think many women enjoy being dominated in bed (by an attractive man they trust, not a rapist). I do love it and it’s almost the only way to reach orgasm. I’m also a feminist but that doesn’t change my primal sexual urges.

    Flowers wrote on August 4th, 2013

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