Monday, May 5, 2008

The Formation of Behavioral Patterns & The Importance of Self-Control

I was reading this paper and found it particularly interesting in that it reminded me of my old step-dad and his anger issues (which he always received counseling for from the local church's pastoral staff).

Here's a short paragraph from page 2:

Cognitive neoassociation theory posits that aggressive thoughts are linked together in memory, thereby forming an associative network. Once an aggressive thought is processed or stimulated, activation spreads out along the network links and primes or activates associated thoughts as well. Not only are associated aggressive thoughts linked together in memory but thoughts are also linked along the same sort of associative lines to emotional reactions and action tendencies. Thus, the activation of aggressive thoughts can engender a complex of associations consisting of aggressive ideas, emotions related to violence, and the impetus for aggressive actions.

Wow. So, the fact that Steve's actions and emotions went unchecked to certain stimuli, his behavior became nearly uncontrollable, permeating his first two marriages and no doubt his current marriage as well. So, what I'm saying is that "giving it to God" might not have been exactly what he needed to hear in those counseling sessions.

It's too bad that he didn't receive the help he needed.

Makes me wonder, what behaviors am I priming myself to become compulsory? If as we become older, we lose more self-control in the sense that our actions are increasingly governed by the behavioral precedents we have set, then who am I setting myself up to be in 10 years?

God, that's unnerving,


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