Dopamine’s Dirty Little Secret

August 4, 2019

Dopamine loves misery

“I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” – Blaise Pascal

“In the constant sociability of our age people shudder at solitude to such a degree that they do not know of any other use to put it to but (oh, admirable epigram) as a punishment for criminals. But after all it is a fact that in our age it is a crime to have spirit, so it is natural that such people, the lovers of solitude, are included in the same class with criminals.”
– Søren Kierkegaard

Søren and Blaise weren’t touting monasticism or confinement. Their critiques concerned the widespread aversion to being alone with our thoughts. If they’d known about neurotransmitters, they’d understand why private time was, and is, so unpopular.

We’re descendants of animals who persevered because dopamine-induced miseries granted significant survival advantages. Contented, confident, conscious gene vehicles, capable of staying quietly anywhere, never had a chance against unconscious, unconscionable, suspicious, insecure, hyperactive, malicious malcontents.

Dopamine is an effective misery maker. Crediting rewards, pleasure, or pleasure seeking, as opposed to misery management, is as illogical as putting the horse in the cart.

It doesn’t matter if dopamine-induced vexations are called miseries, annoyances, unpleasantries, discomforts, fears, hungers, thirsts, arousals, passions, pains, cravings, lusts, horniness, jealousies, resentments, desires, motivators, itches, withdrawals, or what they are — addictions.

Addictions evolved to ensure the survival of self-sustaining creatures whose intellectual limitations necessitated relentless dopamine related goading to refuel, rehydrate, retreat, and replicate.

Dopamine doesn’t care

“Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” – Ramana Maharshi

Dopamine perseveres by backing all sides in ruthless competitions and letting clueless experiments determine success or failure. For example, some might be programmed to avoid toxic and ingest healthy edibles and others to prefer harmful over healthy substances. Winners bequeath life-sustaining addictions, losers purge life-threatening predilections from the gene pool.

The manipulative brain chemical is indifferent to whether it takes a single still born, defect, mutation, or billions, generations, and millennia of mistakes (e.g., homo sapiens) to cull defective DNA. 

Ceaseless trials and errors and errors and errors and errors hone addictive combinations that demand placation, satiation, quelling, quenching, and extinguishing, for brief respites replaced by withdrawals engineered to foster survival through proven self-perpetuating misery cycles.

History is written for the most miserable victors

“Misery is a communicable disease.” – Martha Graham

While it’s a lot more dopamine appealing to believe we’re scion of the fittest of the fittest, our ancestors’ success can more accurately be described as survival of the most miserable.

The upside is that we’re here because dumb bunnies, fueled by incessant insatiability, won the gene derby by mindlessly scratching itches they didn’t/couldn’t grasp. Misery kept them going and going, and going long enough to pass on defective programming each time they scratched the ultimate itch (to put out the horniness).

The downsides include squandering precious lives scratching pointless itches and passing down dopamine-induced addictions responsible for the mindless consumption, destruction, and pollution undermining our species chances of survival, while accomplishing little more than propagating misery.

The plot sickens. The relentless dopamine-induced addiction to scratching sexual itches breeds untold, unwanted, neglected, abused, vulnerable children, suffering unmet neurological needs, horrible lives, and bleak outlooks, leaving them susceptible to destructive addictions that exasperate misery. 

Homeostasis

“Homeostasis is the tendency of organisms to auto-regulate and maintain their internal environment in a stable state.” – Wikipedia

We inherited an array of powerful addictions because they kept generations of descendants busy feeding hungers, thirsts, lusts, and craving to achieve homeostasis, experienced as fleeting relief. As a result, DIMwit history is a tale of opportunists, driven by primitive biological systems, competing to pass on the most miserable DNA. For logical reasons, contenders whose bioillogical systems didn’t include the right combinations of life-sustaining addictions took their less fit genes with them to early graves.

A seemingly foolproof system, designed to ensure the survival and reproduction of countless clueless creatures, started backfiring with the one species capable of understanding how it works. Ironically and tragically, the unconscious drive to protect against threats to safety, power, acceptance, esteem, and dopamine flow keeps DIMwits opting for cluelessness and denial rather than risk dopamine-repellent expectations of admitting to being miserable, unconscious, self-deceptive addicts.

Nomeostasis

“I can’t get no, satisfaction.” – The Rolling Stones

The dopaminergic system that functioned flawlessly for eons went kablooey with DIMwits because a touch of dopamine-induced misery goes a long way. Minor discomforts keep healthy creatures seeking short-lived homeostasis and finding more of the same, or worse, discomforts.

DIMwits are the product of an unnatural selection that benefited miserable, self-breeding, delusional gene vehicles rendered incapable of acknowledging anything associated with real, implied, or imagined threats to safety, acceptance, esteem, and dopamine flow.

In a cruel twist of fate, the dopaminergic system’s exquisite design ensured pathological efforts to assuage misery invariably backfire because flooding the system desensitizes delicate sensors until too much dopamine can never be enough and homeostasis slips from elusive to unattainable, provoking counterproductive behaviors guaranteed to exacerbate the misery ad nauseam.

Companies love misery

“You know, I’m given to understand that there’s an entire city in Nevada devoted specifically to help people like Howard forget their problems. They replace them with new problems such as alcoholism, gambling addiction and sexually transmitted diseases.” – Sheldon Cooper

Legal and illegal enterprises thrive by identifying, creating, and filling addictive needs. The dopamine-induced addiction to maximizing profits translates to discovering, designing, and devising products, diversions, and services to seduce customers/suckers/victims by inflaming and exploiting miseries with illusions of relief, fulfillment, contentment, happiness.

The more addictive and destructive the products, the more seductive the profits, the higher, more enticing, and dopamine-appealing the salaries, the less ethical the abettors ready, willing, and eager to sell bodies, minds, and souls to the misery industrial complex.

Marketing misery

“By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing…kill yourself. It’s just a little thought; I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can. Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really. There’s no rationalization for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. Okay – kill yourself. Seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good.” – Bill Hicks

Marketers created a multi-trillion dollar deception industry by capitalizing on misery with the help of dopamine-appealing models exuding ecstasy, sexuality, popularity, confidence, and/or boredom. Their job is to arouse miseries with fears of inadequacies, deficiencies, missing out while titillating fantasies and hopes with implied panaceas.

Seduced by illusions/delusions of happiness, approval, and status, DIMwits toil at jobs we hate to buy what we can’t afford and don’t need, leaving us empty, disillusioned, in debt, miserable, and craving more.

The professional liar for hire

“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

Sane societies would discourage dishonest, irrational, self-serving, and unproductive professions that reward members for generating conflicts, harm, and misery.

In DIMwit societies, destructive occupations seduce the crème de la crap because obscene salaries and perks mask depravity with patinas of prestige.

A short list of highly profitable, dishonest, nonproductive trades includes law, (and, by extension, politics and lobbying), marketing, public relations, investing, venture capital, and opportunistic dopamine pushers, such as big pharma, sugar, cola, junk food, tobacco, oil, media, gambling, and recreational drugs.

And then there’s the religion racket, a tax deductible addiction responsible for more suffering and misery than any other affliction.

Passing misery forward

“If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”
― Montesquieu

Today, social media helps miserable individuals do what the needy have been doing since long before Montesquieu noticed, which is waste time stoking friends, acquaintances, and strangers miserly levels.

The process involves insecure DIMwits mindlessly scoring dopamine squirts (triggered by expectations of artificially inflating status, snaring attention, and scamming approval) with desperate attempts to appear happy, accomplished, successful, popular, lucky, and enviable.

Instead of pity, compassion, derision, ignoring, or challenging the chicanery, equally insecure, needy, miserable friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and strangers react to the blow to their dopamine flow by responding, competing, one upping, pretending, deceiving.

Counting our miseries

“Men seek rest in struggle against difficulties; and when they have conquered these, rest becomes insufferable. For we think either of the misfortunes we have or those which threaten us, And even if we should see ourselves sufficiently sheltered on all sides, weariness of its own accord would not fail to arise from the depths of the heart wherein it has its natural roots, and to fill the mind with its poison.” – Blaise Pascal

There’s no stopping armies of miserable miscreants doing their worst to spread unhappiness. They’re addicts doing what dopamine keeps addicts doing.

The thing is, we don’t have to be suckers, marks, and volunteers, making it easier for miserable manipulators to push buttons, pull strings, churn cheap chemicals (manufactured in primitive brains) to turn us into their puppets and our own worst enemies.

 

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