A new study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brain activity of 51 male-female romantic couples as they experienced intimate partner aggression in real time. They found that aggression toward intimate partners was associated with aberrant activity in the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex, or MPFC, which has many functions, but among them is the ability to foster perceptions of closeness with and value of other people.
Now here’s an interesting one. As a student of psychology, in my youth I had supposed that abuse stemmed from some kind of unhealthy childhood development and negative spiritual influences that theologically obsess a person.
Imagine, for instance, the hypothetical scenario of a deranged man who comes to Canada from his communist-occupied land. To facilitate his immigration, he chooses to become deeply involved in espionage and organized crime and marries an innocent, naive young Canadian woman because he thinks he loves her and, moreover, is able to blot out the fact that he’s a wackjob working for a hostile power.
He marries the young lass without telling her about his secret life as a criminal and spy.
As the years go by, she begins to suspect him. His odd, erratic and cagey behavior gets worse. Or maybe she just doesn’t buy his lame excuses anymore. After all, she is older and wiser, no longer a young, sweet lady to be plucked from the tree by a slithering serpent.
The two live in the same home but with isolated lives. She can’t stand the sight of him but stays for the money and also out of fear. If she left, what might this monster do to her? she muses.
They meet at the breakfast table but hardly say a word. She’s cold inside but he’s colder. His brain has numbed itself to the fact that he has been a hostile aggressor from day one—from the very first day he hit on and yet lied to her by never telling the truth about his double life.
This hypothetical situation no doubt touches on some pretty sad realities out there.
Previously I would have attributed such madness to a person being gripped by a satanic power, perhaps made possible or exacerbated by some kind of unhealthy childhood development. But these days I am seeing that several contributing factors could be involved.
Put simply, indulgence in evil could actually change the brain. And the more that a new abusive neural pattern – or rut – is carved out, the easier it is for the devil to delight in controlling someone.
What do you think?
Is choosing and persisting in evil just neurology? Psychology? Spirituality? Or all three?