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Pathological Altruism$
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Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan, and David Sloan Wilson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738571

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001

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Self-addiction and Self-righteousness 1

Self-addiction and Self-righteousness 1

Chapter 5 Self-addiction and Self-righteousness1
Pathological Altruism

David Brin

Oxford University Press

The word “addiction” appears to limit our perception of a much wider realm—general behavioral reinforcement within the human brain. If neurochemical processes reinforce “good” habits such as love, loyalty, and joy in music or skill, then addiction should be studied in a larger context of both harmful and wholesome reinforcement triggers, their commonalities and differences. Self-righteousness and indignation may sometimes become pernicious addictive habits, arising as much from chemical need as from valid concerns about unfair actions. Among other outcomes, this may cause pathologically altruistic behavior. Indignation addiction may underpin the obstinate behavior of those on both the far left and far right of the political spectrum. Moderate-progressives who seek problem-solving pragmatism may get a boost if it were openly demonstrated that the self-righteous mental state is reinforced chemically by hijacking internal addiction mechanisms.

Keywords:   addiction, habit, indignation, pathological altruism, self-righteousness

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