Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Can good people do bad?

I took my first psychology class in ninth grade. It transformed my life.  I was beyond shy; I was introverted. I learned that I could metaphorically step outside my body and observe my actions--see what I was doing that wasn't working for me, put an action plan together and change my behavior.

I had decided to step outside my comfort zone, to try something that made me uncomfortable. As I did this, I developed a new comfort zone. My comfort zone expanded and my self esteem grew.  I began to like myself, even love myself.

I took another psychology class in college. I became fascinated with how the human mind worked; with the studies done on how thoughts influenced behavior. I took courses in behavior modification. My career now in fact is about changing behavior based on motivating the individual.

As I embraced science, I also left behind magical thinking. I could no longer believe my thoughts were the cause of magical beings, but because of chemical reactions in our brains.  Chemical imbalances could be fixed and therapies such as cognitive therapy can help change thought processes.

 I had been raised in a religion that believed that evil thoughts and actions are caused by an invisible entity.  What we learn from science, however, is that group peer pressure and group think can cause good people to conform to do things they normally would not do. It has nothing to do with an invisible spirit.

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