Runaway Greed

Selfish behaviors are reward driven and innate, wired deeply into the survival mechanisms of the primitive brain and when consistently reinforced, they will run away to greed, with its associated craving for money, food, or power. On the other hand, the self-restraint and the empathy for others that are so important in fostering physical and mental health are learned behaviors--largely functions of the new human cortex and thus culturally dependent. These social behaviors are fragile and learned by imitation, much as we learn language. To be sustained across generations they must be carefully nurtured by extended families and viable communities. Inadvertently, in our frenzied search for profit and economic efficiency we have built a consumer society dominated by centralized megamarkets that magnifies desire and minimizes collective responsibility, eroding the small market-based economies that once provided stable and meaningful employment. Our ill health and growing discomfort are in step with these social trends.

~ Dr. Peter C. Whybrow American Mania: When More is Not Enough