Friday, July 30, 2010


(CNN) -- Seismic cultural shifts about 10,000 years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries, it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists and covered up by moralizing therapists.

In recent decades, the debate over human sexual evolution has entertained only two options: Humans evolved to be either monogamists or polygamists. This tired debate generally devolves into an antagonistic stalemate where women are said to have evolved to seek male-provisioned domesticity while every man secretly yearns for his own harem. The battle between the sexes, we're told, is bred into our blood and bones.

Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work.

Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay." But most insist that long-term sexual monogamy is "normal," while the curiosity and novelty-seeking inherent in human sexuality are signs of pathology. Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens.

This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.

Our ancestors evolved in small-scale, highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything. Anthropologists have demonstrated time and again that immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies are nearly universal in their so-called "fierce egalitarianism." Sharing is not just encouraged; it's mandatory.
Ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.
--Christopher Ryan

Most foragers divide and distribute meat equitably, breast-feed one another's babies, have little or no privacy from one another, and depend upon each other every day for survival. Although our social world revolves around private property and individual responsibility, theirs spins toward interrelation and mutual dependence. This might sound like New Age idealism, but it's no more noble a system than any other insurance pool. Compulsory sharing is simply the best way to distribute risk to everyone's benefit in a foraging context. Pragmatic? Yes. Noble? Hardly.

For nomadic foragers who might walk hundreds of kilometers each month, personal property -- anything needed to be carried -- is kept to a minimum. Little thought is given to who owns the land, or the fish in the river, the clouds in the sky, or the kids underfoot. An individual male's "parental investment," in other words, tends to be diffuse in societies like those in which we evolved, not directed toward one particular woman -- or harem of women -- and her children, as conventional views of our sexual evolution insist.

But when people began living in settled agricultural communities, social reality shifted deeply and irrevocably. It became crucially important to know where your property ended and your neighbor's began. Remember the 10th Commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that [is] thy neighbor's." With agriculture, the human female went from occupying a central, respected role to being just another possession for men to accumulate and defend, along with his house, slaves and asses.

The standard narrative posits that paternity certainty has always been of utmost importance to our species, whether expressed as monogamy or harem-based polygyny. Students are taught that our "selfish genes" lead us to organize our sexual lives around assuring paternity, but it wasn't until the shift to agriculture that land, livestock and other forms of wealth could be kept in the family. For the first time in the history of our species, biological paternity became a concern.
Our ancestors evolved in highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything.
--Christopher Ryan

* Sexuality
* Social and Behavioral Sciences
* Anthropology
* Relationships

Our bodies, minds and sexual habits all reflect a highly sexual primate. Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago, about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans' existence on Earth.

The two primate species closest to us lend strong -- if blush-inducing -- support to this vision. Ovulating female chimps have intercourse dozens of times per day, with most or all of the willing males, and bonobos famously enjoy frequent group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and conflict-free.

The human body tells the same story. Men's testicles are far larger than those of any monogamous or polygynous primate, hanging vulnerably outside the body where cooler temperatures help preserve standby sperm cells for multiple ejaculations. Men sport the longest, thickest primate penis, as well as an embarrassing tendency to reach orgasm when the woman is just getting warmed up. These are all strong indications of so-called sperm competition in our species' past.

Women's pendulous breasts, impossible-to-ignore cries of sexual delight, or "female copulatory vocalization" to the clipboard-carrying crowd, and capacity for multiple orgasms also validate this story of prehistoric promiscuity.

"But we're not apes!" some might insist. But we are, in fact. Homo sapiens is one of four African great apes, along with chimps, bonobos and gorillas.

"OK, but we have the power to choose how to live," comes the reply. This is true. Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives. But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you've chosen to be vegan, it's utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christopher Ryan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Think back to yesterday. Imagine that your memory is a videocassette that you can rewind to any time you choose. Right now, take it back just twenty-four hours. What were some of the things you did during the day? Did anything frighten you or make you angry? Focus on a moment of anger, becoming aware of the sensations in your body as well as the emotions in your mind.

Next, rewind the videotape back exactly one year. Do you recall being angry or worried about something? Try to feel the emotions of that time in your mind and in your body. Are the feelings the same as the feelings you remember feeling yesterday?

Rewind the tape even father back to when you were a teenager. Repeat the process. Then try to remember an incident from childhood. Notice how the anger that you experienced yesterday has been built on emotions from so long ago. Notice how the fear and anger have accumulated over the years.

Although you cannot remember it, there was a time in your life before you ever felt anger or fear, a time of total peace and tranquility. Try to imagine what that experience of utter bliss might have been like. Focus on a time before fear or anger.

Rewind that imaginary tape of your life until the screen goes back, and feel the boundaries evaporate between yourself and your surroundings. For the next minute, feel the total loss of all your accumulated anger, fear, and ego.

With that feeling of total bliss still in your awareness, begin to move that imagery videotape forward again. Visit the same points in your life that you stopped at earlier. As you envision these scenes again, introduce the experience of bliss back into the setting.

Instead of allowing one moment of anger to build upon another, begin to erase these moments one by one, from earliest childhood to just yesterday. Spend a minute or so feeling the anger and fear being erased by this memory of bliss. And as those feelings are erased, allow the toxic buildup of years of anger and fear to be erased from your spirit.

Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gibson's Gospel

Let us enter, you and I, into the moral universe of the modern narcissist.

The narcissistic person is marked by a grandiose self-image, a constant need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy for others. He is the keeper of a sacred flame, which is the flame he holds to celebrate himself.

There used to be theories that deep down narcissists feel unworthy, but recent research doesn’t support this. Instead, it seems, the narcissist’s self-directed passion is deep and sincere.

His self-love is his most precious possession. It is the holy center of all that is sacred and right. He is hypersensitive about anybody who might splatter or disregard his greatness. If someone treats him slightingly, he perceives that as a deliberate and heinous attack. If someone threatens his reputation, he regards this as an act of blasphemy. He feels justified in punishing the attacker for this moral outrage.

And because he plays by different rules, and because so much is at stake, he can be uninhibited in response. Everyone gets angry when they feel their self-worth is threatened, but for the narcissist, revenge is a holy cause and a moral obligation, demanding overwhelming force.

Mel Gibson seems to fit the narcissist model to an eerie degree. The recordings that purport to show him unloading on his ex-lover, Oksana Grigorieva, make for painful listening, and are only worthy of attention because these days it pays to be a student of excessive self-esteem, if only to understand the world around.

The story line seems to be pretty simple. Gibson was the great Hollywood celebrity who left his wife to link with the beautiful young acolyte. Her beauty would not only reflect well on his virility, but he would also work to mold her, Pygmalion-like, into a pop star.

After a time, she apparently grew tired of being a supporting actor in the drama of his self-magnification and tried to go her own way. This act of separation was perceived as an assault on his status and thus a venal betrayal of the true faith.

It is fruitless to analyze her end of the phone conversations because she knows she is taping them. But the voice on the other end is primal and searing.

That man is like a boxer unleashing one verbal barrage after another. His breathing is heavy. His vocal muscles are clenched. His guttural sounds burst out like hammer blows.

He pummels her honor, her intelligence, her womanhood, her maternal skills and everything else. Imagine every crude and derogatory word you’ve ever heard. They come out in waves. He’s not really arguing with her, just trying to pulverize her into nothingness, like some corruption that has intertwined itself into his being and now must be expunged.

It is striking how morally righteous he is, without ever bothering to explain what exactly she has done wrong. It is striking how quickly he reverts to the vocabulary of purity and disgust. It is striking how much he believes he deserves. It is striking how much he seems to derive satisfaction from his own righteous indignation.

Rage was the original subject of Western literature. It was the opening theme of Homer’s “Iliad.” Back then, anger was perceived as a source of pleasure. “Sweeter wrath is by far than the honeycomb dripping with sweetener,” Homer declared. And the man on the other end of Grigorieva’s phone seems to derive some vengeful satisfaction from asserting his power and from purging his frustration — from the sheer act of domination.

And the sad fact is that Gibson is not alone. There can’t be many people at once who live in a celebrity environment so perfectly designed to inflate self-love. Even so, a surprising number of people share the trait. A study conducted at the National Institutes of Health suggested that 6.2 percent of Americans had suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, along with 9.4 percent of people in their 20s.

In their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite data to suggest that at least since the 1970s, we have suffered from national self-esteem inflation. They cite my favorite piece of sociological data: In 1950, thousands of teenagers were asked if they considered themselves an “important person.” Twelve percent said yes. In the late 1980s, another few thousand were asked. This time, 80 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said yes.

That doesn’t make them narcissists in the Gibson mold, but it does suggest that we’ve entered an era where self-branding is on the ascent and the culture of self-effacement is on the decline.

Every week brings a new assignment in our study of self-love. And at the top of the heap, the Valentino of all self-lovers, there is the former Braveheart. If he really were that great, he’d have figured out that the lady probably owns a tape recorder.
J Brooks


William Lambert

So you have been living for 40 or 50 or 60 years. What do you have to show for it? What comes to your mind first? Your children? Your house? your car? Were your children an accomplishment or an accident? Should a spouse who loves you be listed in your inventory?

I did this inventory 10 years after I have been teaching school. I personally felt my inventory was not what it should be. I had a car and an apartment. I wanted a family and a house. I changed my behavior in an attempt to get those things.

Ten years later I felt that this was not enough. A wife and kids for me was not enough for my inventory. A new direction had to be derived. I spent much time in determining what truly makes me happy. I discovered that what really made me happy was helping other people.

My inventory includes letters from three people whose life I saved using my CPR skills. A distinguished teacher award. College Degrees, Letters from students that say without my influence they would never have attended college.

Action Step. Do your life's Inventory. Try to add things that cannot be taken away from you. Certificates, Degrees, and Marketable Skills that you enjoy. Do not focus on material things.

Action Step. Discover the joy of helping others. Share your skills, your knowledge, your understandings with others. Do this without seeking credit or anything in return.

Action Step. Look at your resume. Rewrite it as if you have accomplished more. Then work on making it happen. Never think the thought that "I am too old." There exist a list of people that were over 60 before they achieved their major accomplishments. The greatest joy in my life is when I received an E Mail stating that I helped someone change their behavior.

Action Step. Please note that you don't necessarily help someone if you give them material things. You really help when you teach them how to get their own and/or when you cause them to change behavior.

Friday, July 2, 2010


By Joseph Russo

My grandfather lived to 102. I believe his longevity was in large part due to his special attitude.

At his 100th birthday party we sat for four hours talking. During our talk he proclaimed that Life is a wonderful and beautiful adventure to be appreciated and enjoyed. I reminded him that Life could not have been so when he was fighting in World War I in the trenches in France.

He said that sometimes things and situations do get in the way of seeing Life's wonder and beauty but that Life's wonder and beauty are always there, whether we see them or not.

Then he told me this story to explain further: during WWI in France, when he was lying in the cold trenches watching the death and destruction all around him he thought that Life was hell and a very ugly journey. Then he looked up at a nearby tree and saw and heard two birds singing to one another. That, he said, is when he realized that Life is always beautiful and wonderful, but not always easy to see that way.

He told me that on my darkest and stormy day to do my best to remember that above the dark and stormy clouds the sun is always shining...keep looking up, you will see the sun and/or the birds eventually. Have faith...Life's beauty and wonder are always there waiting to be seen and appreciated