Revenge and the reward system

A chimpanzee brain at the Science Museum London

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve often wondered about all of AA’s emphasis on resentment and whether research will end up provide an evidence-base for all the attention it receives in the steps, literature and discussion.

I found this, from a recent episode of On Being, very interesting:

Mr. McCullough: And if you look at the brain of somebody who has just been harmed by someone, right, they’ve been ridiculed or harassed or insulted — we can put those people into technology that allows us to see what their brains are doing, right? So we can look at sort of what your brain looks like on revenge. It looks exactly like the brain of somebody who is thirsty and is just about to get a sweet drink to drink or somebody who’s hungry who’s about to get a piece of chocolate to eat.

Ms. Tippett: It’s like the satisfaction of a craving?

Mr. McCullough: It is exactly like that. It is literally a craving. What you see is high activation in the brain’s reward system. So, the desire for revenge does not come from some sick, dark part of how our minds operate. It is a craving to solve a problem and accomplish a goal.

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