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Car brats

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  • Bruce Minturn
    I forwarded part of last week s discussion on the possibility that cars are addictive to a friend of mine in Australia who is working on her Ph.D. thesis in
    Message 1 of 12 , Mar 3, 2001
      I forwarded part of last week's discussion on the possibility that cars are
      addictive to a friend of mine in Australia who is working on her Ph.D.
      thesis in neurochemistry and addiction.

      She responded with the following:

      Yes, "car addiction" can cause the same sort of neurological changes that
      drug addiction does, or to be more precise, vice versa: it's the neural
      changes that cause the addiction. Any compulsive behaviour is caused by
      certain changes to a neural pathway called the mesotelencephalic dopamine
      (MTE DA) system, and drug addiction is the most extreme form.

      The MTE DA system focuses attention on a stimulus and activates a
      motor response to it. If the stimulus is strongly reinforced, eg by social
      pressure in the case of cars, the responsive changes in this system become
      incremented and semi-permanent, so that the person's attention and action is
      increasingly and automatically (compulsively) drawn towards the stimulus.
      In the case of addictive drugs, including alcohol, the chemical molecules of
      the drug itself enter the MTE DA system and activate the system because
      they're similarly shaped to the natural neurochemicals. They're very
      efficient at doing this, and furthermore, because they enter the system from
      an external source, they by-pass the safety loops that normally help
      restrain compulsive reactions. That's why drugs are the worst offenders.
      Compulsive disorders, such as the famous repetitive hand-washing or
      door-checking behaviours, are similar malfunctions of this system.

      The concept of aggression in driving is a fascinating and complex one, and
      is starting to receive some neuroscientific attention. Aggression is
      largely mediated by a brain structure called the amygdala, and it has
      intimate connections with both the MTE DA system, and the adrenaline system
      that permeates the whole body. In fact these 3 systems all egg each other
      on. Driving uses all these systems to some degree, even in normal
      circumstances. The covert or overt encouragement given by the media to
      aggressive driving behaviour, is sure to prove a major component in
      hyperactivating the MTE DA and associated systems towards aggression.
    • Roy Preston
      ... Fascinating, Bruce. I remember when I used to drive, and someone in front of me did something stupid, I used to shake my head at them in disgust and look
      Message 2 of 12 , Mar 3, 2001
        >She responded with the following:

        Fascinating, Bruce.

        I remember when I used to drive, and someone in front of me did something
        stupid, I used to shake my head at them in disgust and look skyward at
        other drivers as if to say, what a twit!

        I think it's more a case of the inability to be able express a simple
        'sorry' to everyone involved. You *know* you did something silly, but
        you're not an absolute imbecile as indicated by the above, so the desire to
        appease yourself turns into unrestrained anger. . .

        Roy
      • T. J. Binkley
        Hi Bruce, ... Thanks, that s good to hear. I d be delighted to hear more, if you do. Cheers, T.J.
        Message 3 of 12 , Mar 3, 2001
          Hi Bruce,

          >I forwarded part of last week's discussion on the possibility that cars are
          >addictive to a friend of mine in Australia who is working on her Ph.D.
          >thesis in neurochemistry and addiction.
          >
          >The concept of aggression in driving is a fascinating and complex one, and
          >is starting to receive some neuroscientific attention.

          Thanks, that's good to hear. I'd be delighted to hear more, if you do.

          Cheers,

          T.J.
        • Chris Bradshaw
          This physiological explanation is not all that useful. Although I am the first to recognize that there are emotional pay-offs that accompany driving, not all
          Message 4 of 12 , Mar 4, 2001
            This physiological explanation is not all that useful.

            Although I am the first to recognize that there are emotional "pay-offs"
            that
            accompany driving, not all people are susceptible to them. I think
            there are two
            other linkage mechanisms people have that cause them to drive: 1)
            dependency caused
            by failure to organize one's life to allow for practical use of other
            modes
            (including the "social" use of cars, e.g., ride-sharing and
            car-sharing). 2) the
            increasing # of people who, although such alternatives are available and
            practical,
            find the streets too dangerous -- in terms of exposure to criminal
            intent of others
            and to the consequences of "accidents" -- to allow movement without the
            security of
            a car.

            Like all addictions/dependencies, car use creates new or worsened
            conditions that
            only car-use can cope with, such as danger, distance, and
            din/dirt/dinginess. And,
            thanks to 50 years of "defensive driving," the onus for being safe falls
            on the
            endangered, not the endangerer, contrary to the basic principle of a
            civilized
            society..

            Chris Bradshaw
            Ottawa
          • Lanyon, Ryan
            So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to lessen the addiction or break it? ...
            Message 5 of 12 , Mar 5, 2001
              So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to
              lessen the addiction or break it?

              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: Bruce Minturn [mailto:bruceminturn@...]
              > Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 2:29 PM
              > To: carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: [carfree_cities] Car brats
              >
              >
              > I forwarded part of last week's discussion on the possibility
              > that cars are
              > addictive to a friend of mine in Australia who is working on her Ph.D.
              > thesis in neurochemistry and addiction.
              >
              > She responded with the following:
              >
              <snipped>
              >
            • Bruce Minturn
              Ryan asked, ... From June in Australia: Addiction in the proper sense, ie artificial brain chemical changes caused by drugs, is very difficult to treat - you
              Message 6 of 12 , Mar 14, 2001
                Ryan asked,

                > So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to
                > lessen the addiction or break it?

                From June in Australia:

                Addiction in the proper sense, ie artificial brain chemical changes
                caused by drugs, is very difficult to treat - you can withdraw addicts from
                drug use but relapse rates are high because the brain changes are so
                persistent. Car "addiction," however, would more likely qualify as a
                compulsion, which can often be successfully treated with classic
                behaviour modification methods.

                Basically, you prevent the person from using a car. Each time they wanted
                to but weren't allowed, another
                transport solution would be offered in its place. If this is done
                consistently, the person should quickly "unlearn" dependence on
                cars for transport. The problem is, while this would (theoretically) work
                if cars
                were seen simply as transport, of course they're not. They're very much
                tied up with self-image, status (a profound psychological force) and sexual
                imagery (the powerful hunter, the sleek seductress etc). These values are
                probably an innate part of human psychology wired into the dopamine "must
                do" system and reinforced by cultural environment. A way to overcome innate
                programming is to override it with cultural programming - ie create a
                strong anti-car environment. In that scenario, car deprivation behaviour
                therapy should work. Unfortunately, you have the Catch-22 situation of
                trying to create the anti-car society so you can get people to give up using
                cars so you can create an anti-car society...
              • 3L
                ... A solution to this might be to draw the self-image, sexual imagery and status to other objects, like, say: Hey! I m a real man! I own a super stereo
                Message 7 of 12 , Mar 14, 2001
                  > tied up with self-image, status (a profound psychological force)
                  > and sexual
                  > imagery (the powerful hunter, the sleek seductress etc). These values are
                  > probably an innate part of human psychology wired into the dopamine "must
                  > do" system and reinforced by cultural environment. A way to
                  > overcome innate
                  > programming is to override it with cultural programming - ie create a
                  > strong anti-car environment. In that scenario, car deprivation behaviour
                  > therapy should work. Unfortunately, you have the Catch-22 situation of
                  > trying to create the anti-car society so you can get people to
                  > give up using
                  > cars so you can create an anti-car society...
                  >
                  A solution to this might be to draw the self-image, sexual imagery and
                  status to other objects, like, say:
                  "Hey! I'm a real man! I own a super stereo system with a high-end tube-based
                  amp, a DJ's undestructible turntable (aka the Technics SL-1200 you probably
                  find in night clubs), which sounds much better than those car stereos!" (and
                  btw it's really true).
                  or
                  "If you're lucky to still be alive when your actual nice looking car will be
                  rusting in the landfill, I'll still be living in my actual nice looking red
                  brick house."

                  You can certainly do this with a computer, or better yet, a SUB (aka a
                  sports & utility bicycle) or elegant, sports, sexy clothing.

                  In a sense, we need to lower down the car image, and let people develop more
                  pride or self-image for other objects, if they're still not able to discover
                  these feelings from their souls.

                  I admit it's not easy to promote this when nearly half of ads in general
                  concern cars.

                  Louis-Luc
                • Guy Berliner
                  This seems to me like much the same problem as tobacco. Smoking is slowly turning into a social faux pas in the US. It s taken a decades-long campaign to
                  Message 8 of 12 , Mar 15, 2001
                    This seems to me like much the same problem as tobacco.
                    Smoking is slowly turning into a social faux pas in the US.
                    It's taken a decades-long campaign to achieve this result.
                    And the coup de grace has been the massive legal case against
                    the industry as a whole, precipitated by evidence of
                    outright criminality at the highest official levels. The
                    petrochemical, automotive, and allied industries will
                    eventually have a similar, but vastly greater debt to pay
                    to society.

                    Consider just one datum alone: the case of leaded gasoline. As
                    documented in the story by Jamie Lee Kitman,
                    "The Secret History of Lead," (The Nation, Mar. 20, 2000), some
                    of the biggest firms in these (or any) industries engaged in a
                    classic conspiracy to keep a known dangerous product on the
                    market for decades, even though safer alternatives were available.
                    The resulting damage to public health and the environment is
                    incalculable. Estimates cited before Congress are that 67 million
                    American children were exposed to toxic levels of lead (levels at
                    which measurable impairment can occur) over the course of the sixty
                    years of legal use of leaded gasoline in the US. If, in this one
                    case alone, the firms responsible were held to the same liability
                    standard as the tobacco industry, the legal settlement would likely
                    be big enough to rebuild most of America's decaying urban core.


                    Bruce Minturn wrote:
                    >
                    >Ryan asked,
                    >
                    >> So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to
                    >> lessen the addiction or break it?
                    >
                    >From June in Australia:
                    >
                    >Addiction in the proper sense, ie artificial brain chemical changes
                    >caused by drugs, is very difficult to treat - you can withdraw addicts from
                    >drug use but relapse rates are high because the brain changes are so
                    >persistent. Car "addiction," however, would more likely qualify as a
                    >compulsion, which can often be successfully treated with classic
                    >behaviour modification methods.
                    >
                    >Basically, you prevent the person from using a car. Each time they wanted
                    >to but weren't allowed, another
                    >transport solution would be offered in its place. If this is done
                    >consistently, the person should quickly "unlearn" dependence on
                    >cars for transport. The problem is, while this would (theoretically) work
                    >if cars
                    >were seen simply as transport, of course they're not. They're very much
                    >tied up with self-image, status (a profound psychological force) and sexual
                    >imagery (the powerful hunter, the sleek seductress etc). These values are
                    >probably an innate part of human psychology wired into the dopamine "must
                    >do" system and reinforced by cultural environment. A way to overcome innate
                    >programming is to override it with cultural programming - ie create a
                    >strong anti-car environment. In that scenario, car deprivation behaviour
                    >therapy should work. Unfortunately, you have the Catch-22 situation of
                    >trying to create the anti-car society so you can get people to give up using
                    >cars so you can create an anti-car society...
                    >
                  • J.H. Crawford
                    Hi All, On the subject of advertising, I d like to remind everybody that Ad Busters is doing superlative work in this area. They re very funny and they have a
                    Message 9 of 12 , Mar 15, 2001
                      Hi All,

                      On the subject of advertising, I'd like to remind everybody
                      that Ad Busters is doing superlative work in this area. They're
                      very funny and they have a take-no-prisioners attitude. They
                      publish a print magazine every two months that's full of very
                      disturbing stuff that they have come across. What's going on
                      is much, much worse than most people realize.

                      http://www.adbusters.org/

                      What would the world be like if all the extremely talented
                      folks who market and advertise to us were released to do
                      useful work?




                      -- ### --

                      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                      postmaster@... Carfree.com
                    • Rod and Lennie Kat
                      I prefer the term pro-pedestrian to anti-car. One view pushes people apart, the other pushes them together. Maybe I m just pushy. -Lennie Dusek ...
                      Message 10 of 12 , Mar 15, 2001
                        I prefer the term "pro-pedestrian" to "anti-car." One view pushes people
                        apart, the other pushes them together.

                        Maybe I'm just pushy.

                        -Lennie Dusek


                        > Ryan asked,
                        >
                        > > So if car use was treated like an addiction, what tools would we use to
                        > > lessen the addiction or break it?
                        >
                        > >From June in Australia:
                        Unfortunately, you have the Catch-22 situation of
                        > trying to create the anti-car society so you can get people to give up
                        using
                        > cars so you can create an anti-car society...
                        >
                        >
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