Thursday, January 28, 2021

Addicted to Revenge

Harboring perceived grievances does impact the brain—because everything starts in the brain. A brain on grievance resembles a brain on drugs. The perceived wrong or injustice, real or imagined, activates the same neural reward circuitry as narcotics. A key characteristic of addictions is compulsive behavior despite harmful consequences. Retaliation is often first just imagined in one’s brain. Then it may be expressed through an email, text, tweet, speech or even one provocative word. The expectation of an enjoyable retaliation or revenge experience stimulated by the desire for revenge, triggers the Brain Reward System to release dopamine, the feel-better chemical. As anger rises, generated by perceived injustices, so does dopamine. Of course, that “high” is temporary. Therefore, it is necessary to keep thinking and pondering the revenge, imagining the retaliation. Some continue to do this even after long periods of time have passed—years, decades—since the real or imagined injustice has passed. This may help to explain vendettas or blood feuds between rival families in some areas on planet earth that may last for generations.

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