Author Topic: Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?  (Read 3670 times)

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Offline Luna

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« on: March 23, 2007, 08:21:26 PM »
I've been thinking (this is purely a theory based on logic and nothing more) maybe there is another reason for why humans commit suicide, laugh, and dream. Could it be a product of conciousness? As to say, that humans are "beyond" our natural evolution. Almost like a "ghost in the shell" type thing. I'm not talking spiritual or anything, but suicide is contrary to everything we learn in evolution, and laughter seems to have no purpose. Maybe laughter is the brain's reaction to abstract thoughts. And dreams, I don't know...

Just wondering what you guys think. P.S this isn't any quasi existentialism, just food for random thoughts.  :D
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Offline cosmicvagabond

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Re: Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2007, 08:35:55 PM »
Quote from: "Luna"
P.S this isn't any quasi existentialism, just food for random thoughts.  :D


But is there really any such thing as a random thought?  :wink:
Bold ideas, unjustified anticipations, and speculative thoughts are our only means for interpreting nature... Those among us who are unwilling to expose their ideas to the hazard of refutation do not take part in the scientific game.    ---Karl Popper, "The Logic of Scientific Discovery"

Offline 2112

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 08:40:43 PM »
Laughter has a valid evolutionary explaination. It conveys that you are not hostile. Chimpanzees and bonobos have laughter-like behavior.
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Offline jason

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 08:42:02 PM »
Evolution resulted in our conscious awareness, an emergent property of the modern human brain. That awareness gives us all kinds of capabilities in solving abstract problems, planning for the future, and communicating our knowledge effectively.

It is reasonable to assume that with that awareness comes all kinds of consequences that may not directly support our survival. The point of a successful trait (or a complex set of traits, or the properties that emerge from those traits) is that the species survives as a whole. If our brains result in a subset of individuals who commit suicide, but overall most don't, then it's an aberration that doesn't actually harm our overall ability to survive as a species.

In other words, the various characteristics that humans possess may not be directly linked to our survival. They could have just turned up, and since they are not necessarily detrimental, and aren't resulting from a particular evolutionary change (no doubt some bizarrely complex interaction of genetic traits plus environment), they will continue to appear.
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Offline stickman

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 08:42:58 PM »
Dolphins commit suicide.

And I'm pretty sure cats and dogs dream.
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Offline Chris Lamb

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2007, 09:29:09 PM »
I think the act of suicide is irrelivent to our evolutionary history.

I think people who are driven to suicide usually do so as a result of severe mental illness or depression. Sufferers from these conditions I think by definition are not rational. Suicide is definately from the nurture side of the spectrum and will only arise from a set of individual circumstances.

I understand our level of conciousness is a direct result of our evolutionary past but this explains exactly why we are by no means perfect. Our minds break down from time to time, chemical imbalances occur or sometimes we would simply rather die than face the consequences of our actions.

edit: I typed the above before realising Jason has already explained it better than I ever could.
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Offline Ariel

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2007, 10:49:26 PM »
I disagree that suicide is necessarily a product of chemical imbalances or a diseased mind. If someone feels that their life is truly unbearable and that it is not likely to get better, they may feel that ANYTHING else, even ceasing to exist, is preferable. There may not be an evolutionary reason for suicide, but individuals can very easily reproduce before they kill themselves - it may disadvantage their offspring, but won't necessarily end the genetic line.
quot;And then, there are fossils. Whenever anyone tries to tell me that they believe it took place in 7 days, I reach for a fossil, and go: fossil. And if they keep talking, I throw it just over their head." - Lewis Black

Offline amber

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2007, 12:35:40 AM »
I would have to agree with Chris_Lamb above.  Just as we have disease of the body we can have disease of the brain.  It's just that we've scratched the surface of understanding the brain.  Normal and depressed brains can be measured.  I've read about MRI comparisons of normal, depressed and diseased brains (e.g. Alzhemers) -- although this does appear to be a qualitative visual analysis.  I also remember reading an interesting article regarding serotonin levels and brain function -- a depressed brain is at 50, a normal brain at 100, on cocaine 200 and methanphetamine at 1200 (yikes!) -- sorry, I'm not sure of the units.  I can understand life affects on someone that leads to depression.  However, someone who is bipolar can have a disastrous life and be in a manic phase.

I watched an interesting HBO documentary on addiction.  The explanations of brain function under addiction are pretty interesting.

Offline jdj

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2007, 05:44:52 AM »
Quote from: "stickman"
And I'm pretty sure cats and dogs dream.

My cat certainly seems to dream sometimes. When she's sleeping sometimes her feet are moving as if she is walking. That looks like she's dreaming that's she's walking. :)

Offline stickman

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2007, 09:46:29 AM »
Quote from: "jdj"
Quote from: "stickman"
And I'm pretty sure cats and dogs dream.

My cat certainly seems to dream sometimes. When she's sleeping sometimes her feet are moving as if she is walking. That looks like she's dreaming that's she's walking. :)


I remember reading about an experiment where the part of the brain that paralyses the body while dreaming was removed in a cat.  The cat, fast asleep, was observed to run arround as if chasing a mouse.  Sounds like dreaming to me.
For whatever reason, our brains seem to need to dream.  It seems ridiulous to assume that human brains are the only brains with this requirement.  It would be interesting to survey the animal kingdom and discover what level of brain complexity leads to dreaming.  Anyone know if any work has been done on this?

Re: suicide, I agree that some, but not all suicides are based on disease or disorder in the brain.  The way I look at it, some suicides are acts of desperation; given time to think, the person would reconsider.  Others, IMO, are rational acts carried out for good reason.  The former should be stopped, the latter should not.  Problem is, it's never easy to tell the difference.
It's interesting that in a survey of people who jumped off the Golden Gate bridge and somehow survived, every single person interviewed had changed their mind about wanting to die on the way down.  :cry:
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Offline Ariel

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2007, 12:16:23 PM »
Quote from: "stickman"
The way I look at it, some suicides are acts of desperation; given time to think, the person would reconsider.  Others, IMO, are rational acts carried out for good reason.  The former should be stopped, the latter should not.  


I think that even rational acts carried out for a good reason should be stopped - perhaps the person is acting rationally given te choices they have at the time. If that person is given new options, or is able to change his/ her situation in some way, suicide may no longer be necessary.
quot;And then, there are fossils. Whenever anyone tries to tell me that they believe it took place in 7 days, I reach for a fossil, and go: fossil. And if they keep talking, I throw it just over their head." - Lewis Black

Offline Bartmon

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Dreams, Suicide, and Laughter. What Are They Really?
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2007, 08:04:54 PM »
Everybody has it all wrong. Listen to Stephan A. Schwartz! http://www.stephanaschwartz.com/home.htm

It's pretty clear that there is a group concsiousness that transcends all living things and connects every being in a delicate interwoven tapestry of minging......oh fuck I can't do it....

Even when i'm trying to kid around I find this stuff so fucking ridiculous that I have to give up!

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esus Never Existed