The feud pyra­mid

The Morning Call - - GUIDE - Amy Alkon

Two weeks ago, I fi­nally dumped my to­tally abu­sive jerk of a boyfriend. I do miss him, but I know I made the right de­ci­sion. I came to see that he was cruel, ma­nip­u­la­tive, so­cio­pathic, and toxic. How­ever, I stupidly went on Face­book and saw that he al­ready has a new girl­friend! I’m so pissed that I was re­placed so quickly. I do not want him back, but I do want to make him suf­fer, ba­si­cally to get re­venge for all he put me through. My friend keeps telling me re­venge is un­healthy and toxic and for­give­ness is good for you and I need to for­give him. Is she right? —Burned

Re­venge looks so Clint

East­wood-cool in the movies — less so when you get ar­rested for key­ing “mi­crope­nis!!!” into your ex’s car, right un­der a street cam. The de­sire for re­venge is ba­si­cally the urge to pun­ish peo­ple who’ve harmed us or those close to us. It’s widely be­lieved to be a poi­sonous and mal­adap­tive feel­ing that leads to poi­sonous and mal­adap­tive be­hav­ior — like for­ays into the dark web to seek out a highly rec­om­mended but af­ford­ably priced assassin. In fact, evo­lu­tion­ary psy­chol­o­gist Michael McCul­lough ex­plains in “Be­yond Re­venge” that the re­venge mo­tive seems to be “a built-in fea­ture of hu­man na­ture,” a sort of psy­cho­log­i­cal po­lice force guard­ing our in­ter­ests. It was likely vi­tal to the evo­lu­tion of hu­man co­op­er­a­tion, which in turn led to es­sen­tial hu­man in­no­va­tions such as flush toi­lets, open-heart surgery, and the Dorito. Re­search that McCul­lough cites sug­gests the re­venge mo­tive has three func­tions: De­ter­ring aspir­ing ag­gres­sors, de­ter­ring re­peat ag­gres­sors, and pun­ish­ing (and re­form­ing) freeload­ing moochbags. The thing is, re­venge has a com­pan­ion mo­ti­va­tion, for­give­ness, which McCul­lough de­scribes as “an in­ter­nal process of get­ting over your ill will for an of­fender.” In­ter­est­ingly, whether we for­give ap­pears to be con­text-sen­si­tive, mean­ing it usu­ally isn’t the par­tic­u­lar crime so much as the par­tic­u­lar crim­i­nal that mat­ters. McCul­lough notes that the for­give­ness mo­ti­va­tion seems to switch on when there’s a valu­able re­la­tion­ship at stake — a con­tin­u­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the harmer and harm-ee. In your sit­u­a­tion, how­ever, there’s no on­go­ing re­la­tion­ship to mo­ti­vate you to for­give the guy. And though for­give­ness is cor­re­lated with men­tal health and even phys­i­cal well-be­ing, the as­sump­tion that for­give­ness is al­ways the best course of ac­tion is a lit­tle un­der-nu­anced.

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