Homo Sapiens Sopranos: How Dopamine Addicts Hijacked Evolution

by Charles Lyell on July 4, 2011

“There is nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.”   – Alfred Hitchcock

Most people don’t know and/or care if our species is on the brink of extinction for the same reason we’re speeding towards self-annihilation. Recent scientific discoveries have revealed a majority of us are addicted to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Eons ago the biggest dopamine addicts stole control of the species and their descendants have been in charge ever since.

Getting a handle on how we ended up in this predicament is as easy as watching reruns of HBO’s The Sopranos. The Sopranos might be fictional but Tony and his crew, like the real-life crime families they’re based on, provide a glimpse into the workings of the primitive gangsters, I call Homo Sapiens Sopranos, who replaced survival of the fittest with survival of the dopamine addicts. And they did it using the same tricks of the trade that still work for both modern-day mobsters and chimpanzees — collusion, bribery, and murder. Because like every crime boss before him, Tony understood that if you want to steal from Peter all you have to do is cut Paulie Walnuts in for a piece of the dopamine.

Once the first crime families cut to the head of the evolutionary line they initiated the tradition of letting cronies slip in behind them. In return, the assistants helped eliminate anyone who had a problem with the fix. As a reward for their inhumanity, the flunkies, cheats and enforcers got to sire more flunkies, cheats and enforcers.

By corrupting the natural laws of genetic inheritance with malleable legalities and propping up inferior offspring with extra helpings of schooling, opportunities, positions, possessions, and gratuitous certainty, the bosses turned gangs into nations and their kin into kings. With the selection process perverted to fit the mobsters’ needs it was only a question of time before contenders were dominated by cogs bred by and for warring crime families competing to prove who was most aggressive and least humane.

Think Lord of the Flies. Think “D” students taking over by organizing the “F” students and offering the “A” “B” and “C” students the choice of falling in line, torture, or death. Think firmly entrenched, amoral, unconscious, murderous, self-deceptive chimpanzee-hybrids purging the new-humans-on-the-block shackled by reason, awareness and conscience. Same difference: the dummies stealing control and bequeathing dopamine-induced addictions that require deception, cheating, stealing and killing.

Inured to taking what they wanted, the brutes stole the title human beings and whitewashed the notion that the need to cheat is indicative of inferiority with the flattering deception that power and position connote superiority. The miscreants threatening our species’ viability might prefer to be called financiers, bankers, hedge fund managers, congressmen, CEOs, wheelers, dealers, capos, and dons, but when you strip away the pricey suits and veneer of respectability what’s left are packs of destructive, depraved, out-of-control, mindless criminals, colluding, corrupting, destroying, and killing to feed insatiable dopamine addictions.


One Response to “Homo Sapiens Sopranos: How Dopamine Addicts Hijacked Evolution”

  1. I just discovered your site and read through quite a few of the articles. This is all quite fascinating, and I have also pondered for a long time about why us humans seem to be so violent, abusive, self-deceiving, etc. etc. in spite of seeming to have such an enormous potential for very much higher capacities, as Maslow pointed out in his studies.

    One possibility for the origin of the dopamine addiction you write about is the hypothesis of a massive ancient world climate change that traumatized a large section of humanity, who became violent and then took over from the more gentle, untraumatized ones who remained. I found this at this site:

    But I think it is more likely that it is something in human evolution itself, and in human development, which recapitulates that in each of us as we grow up. The sepration from Life-Pleasure that happens during individuation (following the individuation stage of human evolution) causes a disconnection of the higher congitive functions from primitive pleasure-pain instintual feeling-perceptions, and thereby also causes the inability to distinguish true instinctual pleasure (dopamine flow) from substitute pleasures (dopamine addictions.) And then, when this separation became entrenched historically, substitute pleasure (dopamine addiction), and all its “evils,” became entrenched, and came to dominate humanity.

    I think that the origin of the addiction matters because that shapes how to go about dealing with it. The way I see it, as above, it is a “felix culpa” which is in fact an evolutionary spur for humanity, and individuals, to go to an entirely new evolutionary/developmental level, where the natural pleasure-flow of primitive/infant life is integrated with the higher cognitive functions that got separated off.

    If this higher integration can happen, humans can then operate at a much higher level, and be both pleasure-filled and rational at the same time.

    Anyway, though, this is just speculation. (But it IS something I’ve been working on for 45 years.)

    Thank you for your really interesting and good work.

    David Cicia

    Posted by David Cicia | June 26, 2014, 11:06 pm

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