Do humans have the capacity to change?
The modern view of neuroscience is that ‘You are your brain.’ Many scientists conclude that any behavioral change in humans is a direct result of the imbalance in their neurobiology. Humans have the capacity to change, and it can be either positive or negative depending on the experience that caused the behavioral alternation. The literature brings variety of examples on different types of human change. Some of them can be taken consciously when others are the result of trauma, eye-opening events, or the strong influence of the environment. Humans constantly change. The number of people fighting their addictions is constantly increasing. As the awareness of the problem spreads widely the more people start to engage in a positive change process. But why is the overcoming of addiction so difficult? The problem lays in our physiology. Our bodies and especially the brains are quickly adjusting organs. They respond to the incoming data and process them in the most convenient and simplified way. If you are to start smoking for example, you will teach your brain to respond to nicotine dosage by releasing the dopamine hormone. The dopamine is known for activating and stimulating the reward centers in our bodies, so once the brains is ‘taught’ to become excited during smoking, it will become a habit and a part of your body’s physiology. For a smoker to quit and embrace in positive change is to again teach his/her brain to start releasing the dopamine without the presence of nicotine. This process can be tough and challenging, but ‘You are your brain’ and as long as your brain can evaluate the proper response to incoming signals, the behavioral change can be approached. The process of thinking is the way our brains respond to information we feed them with. The perfect example of how quickly the brain can burn the information down into the circuits comes from the story “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver. It is a short story that describes the personal growth of the narrator within one day. Raymond Carver creates minimalistic picture of an arrogant, simpleminded man whose change is both authentic and forever. The narrator will never be able to reverse what the ‘eye-opening’ experienced has done to him. He becomes deeply aware of his surroundings. The contrast in the story is strong. In the beginning the reader is being introduced to an insensitive and simpleminded guy. The only idea the narrator has about blind people is the one he got from watching a television. He admits that his idea of blindness comes from the movies, and blind people are usually led there by “seeing-eye dogs” (Carver 513). He also thinks that “they move slowly and never laugh” (513). The narrator doesn’t want his wife’s blind friend to visit his house; he’s obviously feeling uncomfortable to be around someone he doesn’t know much about. Carver gradually unfolds the more complex pieces of the narrator’s personality making him more ‘digestible.’ When Robert arrives at narrator’s house, he’s trying to make him comfortable. He starts to admire the way blind man deals with the reality. When Robert asks him to draw with eyes closed, the narrator’s perception of blind’s man world changes: “It was like nothing else in my life up to now” (523). Why is his change convincing? The sensory input of the narrator’s expectations has been violated and this brought the awareness of the surrounding. Our brain refine its model of the world by paying attention to its mistakes, and the narrator’s brain has just adapted to the new information. In this term his change is real and irreversible. The new perception is strong and solid. “He Becomes Deeply and Famously Drunk” by Brady Udall is another story that embraces human’s capability for change. The main character, Archie, is a young boy whose life has been filled with anger and hatred for a man who killed his father. When Archie was young, he lived with his parents on a farm. His father was a...
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