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09 Mar 2003

when we were young
A comment about personalities.

I'm now in my thirties and I've recently been thinking about this because it fascinates me. I remember when I was a young boy (under the age of 8) there were kids in school who appeared to take great pleasure from hurting others e.g. by teasing about some kind of physical issue. It appeared to come natural. However, I couldn't get myself, for example, to join in on the teasing. It didn't feel right and it made me hurt inside.

So here is two different personality types. One who takes great pleasure from other's pain and the other the opposite. I'm wondering if its nurture or nature. I personally don't think it was nurture because of our young ages. It must be nature then.

Maybe I'm having problems with this because of religious issues, but its hard for me to believe that certain people are just born to hurt others. Or am I the weird one because I didn't act like a normal kid during childhood? :)
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

Personally, I've never got hung up on the Nature versus Nurture genes versus environment debates --- because all human natures get nurtured ; all genes grow up within an environment, and environments devoid of genes don't interest me much.
I don't believe that all men are created equal in the sense of beginning as absolute angels, only to have some corrupted by the way they're raised --- some kids seem to be capable of cruelty, and incapable of ( or at least terribly unwilling to exercise any cability of ) taking the interests of others seriously. Certainly, an upbringing in which you see little if any tenderness and caring, in which such behaviours are laughed at or scorned by parents and peers, etc., would greatly discourage the growth of any innate kindliness towards others. But it doesn't determine what sort of people we grow to be --- some of the kindest and gentlest people I know grew up as abused kids in horrific settings ; and some of the nastiest brutes grew up lavished with care and cuddles.
Within one brutal family, there may be five kids --- one of whom grows up to be criminal or otherwise significantly unpleasant to others --- and four grow to be nice, ordinary good citizens. In other words, similar genes can develop differently in even the same environment, let alone in different settings.
it is these complexities which make it hard to make absolute, black & white judgements and assumptions, so often ; but which keep this field of inquiry, thought, and research, so fascinating.
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