The biology of terror

In yesterday’s blog, I shared a little of my family history (refugees and Holocaust survivors) and discussed the interesting issue of how our survival instincts allow us to accept persecution.

Today I wish to further clarify this issue of the biology of persecution, and to share more of my thoughts as I toured the Torture Museum in Budapest.  Finally I want to raise the question of how free are you really?

Biology of persecution

It might sound counter-intuitive to read that our survival instincts can get us killed.

You see, our brain is adaptive. Sometimes we “win” (survive) and sometimes we “lose” (get hurt, maybe die).  When we win, our brain remembers what activity caused the win, and this is associated with survival.  The activity doesn’t have to be healthy; it merely caused us to survive once.

The nature of evolution / adaptation is that the characteristics that caused us to win are passed on from parent to child.  You tend not to inherit the characteristics that cause one to lose (that’s what survival of the fittest means).  So each and every one of us has inherited tens, maybe hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of these survival instincts.  Our R-complex or “reptilian brain” is like a history of all the instincts and patterns that kept our ancestors alive.

Sometimes this is a good thing – we have a suite of resources to keep us safe.  On the other hand, almost all human problems (physical disease, emotional suffering, and spiritual blocks) seem to stem from one or more of these survival instincts being locked.  It’s like we know how to survive, but we don’t know how to switch off that survival mode.  We get stuck in a survival mentality.

The instant healing method we use in RPT is very simple – we find these survival instincts that hold our problems in place and switch them off.  It’s extremely simple and the results are almost always instant and permanent.

Back to the question of persecution:  Blog reader Oya left an interesting question about how different brothers have different survival instincts.  In my reply to Oya yesterday I pointed out how different brothers and sisters can inherit different patterns from different parents and have different dominant survival instincts.  That’s why in any family, in response to the same threat or trauma, one child will run, one will hide and one will fight.  This is a very good thing – the survival of humanity requites us to have a range of different tools to respond to different threats.

The key point is this – just because you are listening to your gut instincts, just because you feel safe, doesn’t mean you are safe. You are just playing out the decisions and characteristics that kept your ancestors safe. You might be in terrible danger. You might be about to die – like my ancestors who chose to stay in Europe and not flee with their family.  But you wouldn’t know it yet, because in your gut, your feel safe.

So, in an ironic and perhaps counter-intuitive way, it’s our survival instincts that often get us killed, or cause disease.  Don’t worry though – it’s quite easy to remedy this using the latest generation of personal development tools like RPT.

Man’s inhumanity to man: Budapest Terror Museum

These articles were inspired by my visit to the thought-provoking Budapest Terror Museums.

Like other torture themed museums I have visited (the Killing Fields and S-21 in Cambodia for instance), I am left with a sickness in my heart and a sense of bewilderment.  I cannot understand – mentally or spiritually – how people can treat each other with such cruelty.

The behavior of the Fascists in Hungary was sad but predictable – nationalism and the deportation of Jews.  I was much more upset by the Communist history.   It seems that it was the stated intention of Stalinist Russians to destroy the Hungarian people on every level – emotionally, physically and spiritually.  Able bodied young men were carted off to work camps or “gulags” for no real reason other than to break them.  After 10% of the population died in WWII, this further inhumanity ensured that the people were weak and completely subjugated to Russian control.

It’s not my goal to discuss history (which is biased at best – this was the Hungarian side of the story after all).  Rather I want to ask a question from the Russian / Communist point of view: WHY DO THIS?

I’m no expert on political philosophy, but I can only imagine that the founders of communism like Marx and Engels would have rolled in their graves had they known how their ideology was used to break the spirits of the very “working men” that they sought to liberate.

Russia has no exclusivity on crimes committed in the name of communism. During the 20th century well over 100 million people were killed in the name of this ideology.  Some of the worst culprits include Pol Pot in Cambodia (said to be the world’s only example of auto-genocide), the Gang of Four in China and of course North Korea’s leadership.  In each case, the Marxist ideology of freedom from slavery and empowerment to the working man was used to justify a brutal regime of murder and the use of starvation as a political tool.

There can of course be only one answer to the question of “why?”  The answer of course is “power.”

Any political system – capitalist, fascist, communist, socialist, etc., aggregates power at the top.  No matter how good the intentions of the founders, the people who are drawn to “play the game” (i.e. enter politics) are those who are drawn to power.  And the more they get, the more they want. And the best way to entrench that power is to break the spirit of anyone who stands to challenge or threaten you.

One key conclusion of the Terror Museum was that the Fascists (extreme right-wing) and Communists (extreme left-wing) behaved in an almost identical fashion.  There’s nothing new in this conclusion.  But I’d like to take it a step further. I’d like you to start asking yourself “how free am I really?”  How different is your country to communist Europe? Sure the gulags have gone, but is the government’s intention any different?

Tomorrow I’ll share my thoughts on these issues.

Until then – don’t forget that your comments and questions here are your exchange, your “payment” for enjoying the blog. Hit the “Like” button and make your contribution.



May 31, 2011 in Financial freedom / Lifestyle design, RPT theory and teachings
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses

  1. I like the direction you’ve taken with the blog Simon. It’s a fascinating subject and I’m looking forward to finding out what you’ve got to say about it tomorrow.

    And a thought, in reply to the question “Why do this?” – perhaps it’s also a survival instinct? Perhaps some of our ancestors learnt that in order to survive they had to subjugate the ‘competition’… perhaps only those who were at the top ate enough; were able to mate; and could feel safe?

    If so, then another survival instinct could be something like “dominate / suppress (other people)”? Would certainly explain a lot of abuse.


  2. All the best dictators turn on “the masses”, even if they were the means by which they achieved power, and I imagine that is out of fear: fear of there not being enough, fear of what is rightfully yours being taken, fear of the masses as “other” and therefore a threat.
    Fear is easily associated with survival.
    Maybe that inferiority/superiority thing plays a part, too. If the masses are inferior, less than human, then it doesn’t matter what you do to them. You get to feel superior and therefore excused even though that sense of superiority is a smokescreen for what’s really going on in there – a screaming sense of inferiority.
    The best dictators are great projectors, attributing their own motives and methods to others who are therefore to be feared and to be squished before they get the chance to “do unto you”.
    I wonder if using the mechanism of the state to torture and murder imparts some perceived sense of legality to the proceedings so that the perpetrators get to feel guilt-free and, still, superior. Being/feeling right feels safe, however much of a stretch it is to get to that.
    Some would have us think that such brutality is our default setting. I don’t agree. Ego just runs wild sometimes, and in some hands it finds its expression on a grand scale. Mostly I think we’re pretty nice.
    The new Zeitgeist movie that I’ve banged on about a bit for it’s excellent epigenetics section (google Zeitgeist Moving Forward to find the in-full free online version then watch from 9 minutes in) speaks of natural altruism and co-operation in our evolutionary history. Not the line we’re usually fed.


  3. “Those who seek power are not worthy of that power.”
    - Plato
    The punishment which the wise suffer, who refuse to take part in government, is to live under the government of worse men

    Evil prospers when good men do nothing.
    John Philpot Curran

    People who seek power at what ever level in our society, be they Dictators running an empire or a schoolyard bully running the local sports team, do so from a position of powerlessness. They use fear as a means of control because they themselves are living in fear and believe that everyone else does. Fear as a tool of control and manipulation is exremely effective. Bend the truth to suit your agenda add, a smattering of fear. Bingo people listen and begin to believe that this guy is talking sense.

    Hitler, Stalin, the schoolyard bully all started out the same way, where they come unstuck is when they encounter someone who does not respond to that fear or threat. If you are Hitler or Stalin you make arrangements for their departure from the scene. The schoolyard bully usually uses other means/tatics to retain control.

    In RPT all we can do is acknowledge the fears in ourselves and those we work with. Governments of every persuasion use fear to control the masses because it works, as practitioners of RPT we are the forefront of changing the world and changing how governements run by taking fear out of the equation.

    On a practical note one of the possible problems with survival responses being locked in clients is when two or more survival/safety responses kick in to the same stimulus/situation. For example if you inherit one response from your Maternal Grandfather (flight) and another one from your Paternal Grandfather (freeze)…………

    I agree with Ben, love the way the blog is heading Simon.


    As John Philpot Curran observed


  4. Regine Vavasseur

    You totally forgot the African Nation with all the genocide’s in Rwanda,The Congo and Dafur other nations there that don’t come to mind. It’s interesting that Black folks are somehow left out of the mix when people talk about this subject.


    Simon Rose Reply:

    Hi Regine

    Thanks for that point, yes we should all remember that terror/genocide is universal and not endemic to any group or culture.

    That said, I want to make a comment or rebuttal. I guess I feel a little defensive when you say “You totally forgot.” You are quite correct to remind us about how terror is univeral. However I don’t feel I forgot anything. I think that in making your point you missed the (quite different) point of my article.

    I was not listing all the terror in the world. I was writing about my feelings and thoughts after visiting the Budapest Museum of Terror. Not many black people were killed there.

    I write about things I experience and know something about. When I go to Africa I would love to do some research in Rwanda and I promise to write about it here. But when I’m in Hungary, I’ll stick to what I learned there. Call me focussed and scientific if you will, but that’s how it is.

    I don’t know anything significant about genocide in Africa. However I do know a bit about genocide and slavery in the South Pacific and I have written about it on this blog. For example in relation to epigenetics I drew on my knowledge about the “forgotten” black slave trade in Vanuatu, see

    I will do my best to keep universal concepts in mind in future, and I hope that in the future you will judge racial sensitivity in relation to the context that a writer is writing about (you can’t mention everything all the time).

    Thanks for visiting the blog.





    Simon Rose Reply:

    hi Lyn nice to hear from you
    I was going to ask “what’s with all the capital letters” but then I thought “she’s in Canberra in the middle of winter, I’d be shouting too!!” :-) If it makes you feel any better it’s actually cold here in Vanuatu now too, thanks to all the rain. (and yes it’s the middle of the dry season.)

    I’d love to go to Canberra, we have some great friends there. In terms of teaching a course though it would make a lot more sense for one of our Melbourne based or NSW based teachers to come there. I can help get you in touch with someone – or have a look at the teacher list on the About Us page of the webiste.

    Yes I do still offer therapy consultations which I do over Skype. Info on the consultations page.

    all the best


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