FAQ

This section amplifies various viewpoints and addresses a few concerns.   Additional questions will be
added from time to time.

Last revision: September 25, 2004


QUESTION LIST:
 
Clarifications -
1.   But why can’t it be like this – humans became smart and because they are smart they develop                   
    supportive  societies and along the way individuals, because they are smart, develop a sense of who t  
    they are as members of a culture?
2.   What is a ‘sufficient’ Identity?
3.   It could be more clear - what is Identity and why it is usefully different than ‘self’ or the conventional
    meanings of identity.
4.   In the
Summary there is a general reference to not only revisions of current perspectives, but also to non-
    specific directions that might be taken in consideration of I Theory.  Could you be more specific?
5.   Does being a Nobel Prize winner, a renowned basket weaver or a great hockey player improve Identity?
6.   In the Summary there are a few references to schools of child development.  Is this Theory predicated on  
     the acceptance of those constructions?

Objections -
7.   It seems as if Identity Theory ignores the established evidence or considerations of biochemical or  
    physiologic explanations for anomalous behavior.  Not true?
8.  This theory seems to excuse or justify injury caused by dysfunctional behaviors.   Comment?
9.   Identity Theory seems to validate some elements of human behavior or experiences that we generally find
     objectionable.  Does this Theory move us closer to repudiated aspects of ‘social Darwinism’?
10.  Are you saying that violence or emootional abuse is good for people, that they want or prefer it?
11.  You seem to be justifying many antisocial behaviors such as bigotry, as a possible ‘natural’ Identifier  
       strategy, and locally valuable and therefore defensible as a human behavior.  Does that make sense?
12.  That is ridiculous – ‘nurture is nature’.  Are you saying that squalor is natural; that illiteracy is natural?
13.  You say that Identifier selection is ‘morally neutral’.  But if weak people are victimized in an Identity
       strategy, how is that morally neutral?
14.  More on this, ‘Nurture is nature’.  So, does that mean that culture is not affected by the environment?  
      That individuals or groups wouldn’t develop different characteristics in a different culture?
15.  Do your comments on childhood rearing sound a little like mind control?
16.  Isn’t the Theory based on science that is incomplete at this point?
17. There is no new research presented here.  In that sense, is this Theory simply a realignment of known
     information?

Application -
18.  Regarding rearing children, can you be more specific regarding how Identity Theory applies?
19.  Can you give an example of a situation in which an individuals Identity is apparently adequate and the
       person functions normally socially., there is a sudden regression in Identity with a corresponding decay
       in social function, followed by a resurrection of social function with the restitution of an artificial
       (contrived or forced) Identity through reconfigured Identifiers.
20.  Does Identity Theory operate in gender behavior.
21.  What is the most common error(s) regarding explanations of human behavior that persists today?
22.  Is Identity Theory testable?
23.  When was Identity Theory defined?

=====================================================================================

1.   Q:
But why can’t it be like this – humans became smart and because they are smart they develop
supportive societies and along the way individuals, because they are smart, develop a sense of who they are
as members of a culture?

A:  Because nature doesn’t work that way.  Why can’t this particular group of giraffes have longer necks
because their local trees are higher and they have to stretch further to reach leaves than other giraffes and
then they have offspring with longer necks?  This question reflects the modern version of the humans-are-
unique ethos that has misdirected us so long.   Types of behavior are not different than types of beaks or
types of digestive systems.  Animals repeat characteristic beaks and behaviors because of a genetic
predisposition, archaic or concurrently selected.

2.   Q:  
What is a ‘sufficient’ Identity?

A: A sufficient Identity permits a person to function effectively in a complex social environment. Ultimately this
effectiveness is measured in reproductive success, or probable reproductive success.  

3.   Q:  
It could be clearer – what Identity is and why it is usefully different than ‘self’ or the conventional
meanings of identity.

A: The Summary describes a number of differences between self and Identity.  Identity operates on a
different psychological plane than ‘self’ in the common sense in which it is used.  Identity is an elemental,
concurrent and dynamic internal assessment of individual uniqueness.  Self, though certainly used
occasionally to describe a subconscious status, is nevertheless commonly used as an accessible quality, as
in self-esteem or self–awareness.  For example, we feel thirst.  Sometimes the feeling is nearly unconscious
- we accept an offer if a drink or the water cooler seems particularly inviting.  At other times, we are clearly
conscious of being thirsty. We may stop what we are doing and not continue until we have diminished that
level of thirstiness.  Yet neither of these thirst appreciations describes the deeper homeostatic process of
which the behavioral response, and in particular the conscious presentation of thirst is only a small part. This
deeper and adaptively more critical objective is addressed continuously and insensibly.


4.   Q:
 In the Summary there is a general reference to revisions of current perspectives.  Could you be more
          specific?

A:   Certainly, but forgive some restraint for now pending a Theory review period –

   - Child rearing – see a following question.

   - Adolescence – pending

   - Co-dependence – pending


5.   Q:
 Does being a Nobel Prize winner, a renowned basket weaver or great basketball player improve
Identity?  Do explicit achievements work as Identifiers?

A:  Behaviors that society or peers respect or value can enhance individual Identity.  But there are many
people who are famous who sustain a psychically disturbing Identity deficiency.  It might even be argued that
the reason why a person pursues a career known to bring them individual recognition does so perhaps in a
strategy to address an Identity deficiency that has been incompletely augmented by previous efforts or
directions.

Fame is another tool or process to augment Identity.  Fame, even being famous for a unique talent or event,
does not mean that the person must necessarily have achieved an individually satisfactory Identity, or that it
would consequently be easier to resolve an effective Identity.  Anita Mui, known as the ‘Madonna of Asia’
recently died from an aggressive cancer at age 40.  Although proud of her career, was reported to have said
that she would have preferred to have been an attorney instead of a rock star.  


6.  Q:
In the Summary there are a few references to schools of child development.  Is this Theory predicated
on the acceptance of those constructions?

A:   No. These references are given as evidence of analogous thinking or perspective – references to a  
contemporary science.


7.    Q:
It seems as if Identity Theory ignores the established consideration of biochemical or physiologic
explanations for anomalous behavior.  Not true?

A:  Of course not.  Identity Theory mechanisms originate in the genetic domain in which, along with most other
genetically derived behaviors, a satisfactory science remains to be established.  This academic murkiness is
even more pronounced at the physiologic level, where Identity Theory joins countless behavioral routines in
their deficiency of a complete science describing their mechanisms.

The Theory is not intended to be comprehensive in instance or detail as an explanation of human behavior,
nor is certainty insisted on regarding any specific proposed processes.  It is reasonable that genetic
precursors for specific behavioral conditions will be found to function synergistically or collaboratively in the
adaptive sense, with Identity genetic substrates.  Identity Theory is a heuristic proposal, with the
acknowledgement of a currently incomplete basic science, but one in which evidence based advances have
progressively validated this genetic/behavioral model.

8.   Q:   
This theory seems to excuse or justify injury caused by dysfunctional behaviors.   

A:  Many clinical conditions such as arthritis or progressive visual impairment in aging are normal to humans.  
The processes that underlie these conditions are basic physiologies of normal humans.  Nevertheless, we
describe them as being undesirable and contrive to minimize or eliminate these conditions.  Identity Theory
does not ‘excuse’ any outcome any more than immunologic science ‘excuses’ or justifies allergies or
endocrine science ‘excuses’ murder to satisfy thirst.  On the contrary, a conviction that some behaviors are
injurious or intolerable requires, as with the management of physiologic anomalies, an accurate understanding
of underlying mechanisms.


9.  Q:
Identity Theory seems to validate some elements of human behavior or experiences that we generally
find objectionable.  Does this Theory move us closer to repudiated aspects of ‘social Darwinism
’?

A:  No, it does not – or should not.  This theory describes an adaptively selected compulsion to define an
Identity.  The Identity trait does not direct any specific individual behavior, nor does it direct for any particular
universal behavior.  Nothing in Identity Theory directly recommends a social policy, whether or not it is
discriminatory.


10.  Q:  
Are you saying that emotional abuse is good for people; that they want or prefer it?

A:  The conscious experience of emotional abuse is not good for people and they do not prefer it.  Nor is it
good for a person psychologically.  Yet there may possibly be elements in any condition that provide
resources that a person may use to their Identity benefit.  Do they want to endure  or do they prefer these
aggregate conditions or circumstances?  No.  But that is not the same question as asking if there is some
element in their condition that is so effective as an Identifier that the psychological prospect of abandoning it
for an unknown Identifier system is psychologically intolerable or terrifying.  For almost any known human
condition, there are useful Identifiers for a rare person.

11. Q:
You seem to be justifying many antisocial behaviors such as bigotry, as a possible ‘natural’ Identifier
strategy, and locally valuable and therefore defensible as a human behavior.  Does that make sense?

A:  What is meant by ‘make sense’? If you mean does it make sense biologically or evolutionarily, it certainly
could.  If you mean does it make sense that society should accept behavior that is contrary or destructive to
society members simply because it may be advantageous to an individual, of course the answer is, no.  The
phrasing, like peoples reactions to many human behavioral theories, is imprecise and often suggests a vested
perspective that will be a barrier to any explanation whether it makes sense in the first instance, or not.

Certainly bigotry for example, is natural – it is ubiquitous.  That does not make it any more acceptable than
pneumonia, another natural and ubiquitous condition. And certainly, the incidence of bigotry can be affected
by the environment.  The central appreciation is that if we recognize that bigotry fundamentally originates by a
specific non-environmental process, then we are more likely to develop systems to affirmatively affect that
behavioral outcome, than if we mis-attribute the process. Individual bigotry, as with many other objectionable
behaviors, will not be satisfactorily diminished if is only seen as the consequence of learning, and not as a
component of an individual Identity solution.  Calling bigotry bad names will not make it go away.  To be
modified, Identifier management must occur in tandem with strategies to replace any lost Identifier value with
an equally effective substitute.  That effort failing, individual resistance will be essentially impossible to
overcome or it will simply hibernate, continuing not only the primary bigotry behavior, but adding the social
consequences of a misguided intervention and visceral personal or collective reaction.


12. Q:  
That is ridiculous – ‘nurture is nature’.  Are you saying that squalor is natural; that illiteracy is
natural?

A:   No, of course not.  The intended recognition is that no matter what universal adverse element is agreed to
exist because of ‘nurture’ or other environmental conditions, the more likely explanation is that this element
exists and persists because it typically brings some psychic benefit to the participants. And furthermore in
the absence of these benefits, without their substitution by other equivalent psychological benefits suitable to
that person, their psychic and social  equilibrium is less tenable than is the universal adverse condition,
however objectionable or unconscionable.  The tail of a peacock is a fitness catastrophe if seen only in the
context of its size and color in an individual bird.

Our characteristic behaviors are secondary expressions of our genes, as are the migrations of Monarch
butterflies.  Although able to be modified, humans cannot ‘culturally’ eliminate characteristic behaviors in the
sense that is currently applied and legislated. Furthermore, unlike our preference for a particular beverage to
quench our thirst, if we are forcibly deprived of Identifiers that have been individually effective, no contrived
nurture prototype can predictably normalize the subsequent fitness impairment.

More specifically, if ‘negative’ Identifiers are simply extracted without substitute, the social effectiveness of
the individual will be impaired and the individual will suffer psychologically and socially.  Furthermore, as it
deteriorates this Identity deficiency often becomes progressively intolerable to the individual.  At some point, a
person will be aggressively resourceful, perhaps including applying self-injurious strategies, in a central
effort to move back across their psychically critical Identity threshold.


13. Q:  
You say that Identifier selection is ‘morally neutral’.  But if weak people are victimized in an Identity
strategy, how is that morally neutral?

A:  Obviously the act of a bully is not morally neutral.  What is neutral is the method of Identity enhancement
chosen by that individual.  The bully is almost invariably not bullying to obtain an otherwise unachievable
tangible benefit.  Not all people with a dominant power abuse weaker people.  Would the bully prefer to have
a sufficient sense of self augmented by socially supported processes?  Probably. Given the opportunity,
does a person with power and an effective self choose to victimize weaker people?  Probably not.

What is neutral is the psychological process that searches for an Identity resolution and determines that a set
of I solutions that are incidentally socially approved, are somehow also insufficient.  The Identity process
continues to search for effective Identifiers for that individual and clarify Identity.

If a person is severely depressed and secondarily is not reliable as a worker, is negligent as a parent and
unsupportive as a friend, do we say that they are morally (non-neutrally) culpable for their solutions
(behaviors) to that psychological stress?


14. Q:
 More on this, ‘Nurture is nature’.  So, does that mean that culture is not affected by the environment?  
That individuals or groups in this culture wouldn’t develop different characteristics in a different culture?

A:   Certainly Identity Theory or the statement, ‘Nurture is nature’, cannot mean that - it is obviously not true.  
This Theory explains why people behave characteristically.  If that mechanism is recognized, then efforts to
improve human circumstances are more likely to be effective.  To fail to understand that it is an expression of
an evolved genetic trait, an adaptive compulsion of people to adopt (or produce) different cultures in different
environments, is a critical and sterilizing lapse.

Focusing on a substrata or perspective of apparent exception is mute at best.  The environment may cause
alterations in the duration of gestational periods in rabbits.  However that does not diminish the reality of the
genetic orchestration of rabbit gestation, nor does is undermine the heuristic value of the illumination of
genetics in the process of rabbit gestation.


15 Q:  
Do your comments on childhood rearing sound a little like mind control?

A:  Maybe.  But a child’s brain will find its Identifiers, with or without parental guidance.  The successful
parent wants their child to be welcome in society and to feel confident in their individual value.  For that the
off-spring needs a sufficient Identity and non-injurious Identifiers.  The goal is to offer Identity support and
facilitate the Identity processes of the child.  The naïve, non-directive parent should be assured that the mind
is already being controlled.


16. Q:  
Isn’t the Theory based on science that is incomplete at this point?

A:   No. This Theory isn’t based on contemporary science, and indeed was defined before most of the
current science was even considered, not to mention the subsequent tribulations proceeding acceptance of
key elements of that science.  For example, there were no MRIs, no human genome, no mitochondrial DNA, no
PET scanners, no hox genes. This theory is no more contingent on the findings of sequential MRIs in children
than was the validity of Darwin’s theory of the origin of species (a genetic event) contingent on genetic
science, at that time non-existent.  It arises out of induction from off-the-shelf paradigms, recognized data
and observations.

17. Q:  
There is no new research presented here.  In that sense, is this Theory simply a realignment of
known information?

A: Yes, it is a realignment in a strict sense.  However, that does not necessarily mitigate a value or
consideration.  For example, the natural science content underlying the realizations of Wallace and Darwin
had also existed for some time.   Wallace’s epiphany occurred during a fever and Darwin’s may have
occurred when he received a letter (from Wallace).  The theory of species evolution by natural selection
could have been discerned by hundreds of naturalists at any time in any place, prior to 1858.  

Is selfness or Identity commonly appreciated to be the linchpin behavioral/psychological trait of our species?  
It doesn’t seem to be so. Indeed, a seminal work in evolutionary psychology has no reference to self or
identity as an evolved adaptive event.  

A couple more quick observations on this subject.  Any week of the year it is easy to pick up a journal or
other publication and find casual assumptions or explanations about human behavior that are more or less
silly.  Often this is because of an agenda or a constituency.  Sometimes it is because a writer is simply not
thinking or has a goal or deadline.  But probably the most important impediment to open contemplation and
reasoning lies in the same barriers that inhibited the self-evident solution to natural selection 150 years ago.  
In the earlier case, the nascent concept came immediately into conflict with the general and specific tenants
of the prevailing and reactionary religious faiths and institutions in a religious time.  In the current environment,
inspirational miscarriage similarly comes from a familiar virulence of reactions to ideas that don’t conform to
subjective assumptions and scenarios, also institutionalized, that are analogously faith based.  


18. Q:
Regarding rearing children, can you be more specific regarding how Identity Theory applies?

A:  The probability that an individual will be psychologically secure and socially effective, improves in relation
to that individual having a sufficient Identity.  This sufficiency, which is volatile, is approached and sustained
by the implementation of effective Identifiers.  Among the most effective and affirmative Identifiers of
childhood are the nuclear family and ‘taught’ value systems.   Not related directly to content, these elements
function effectively as Identifiers to the degree that they are structural – their quality of proximity, clarity and
consistency.  In addition, the act of learning per se, enhances Identity.

    It is the reliable presence of a parent (or adult) and the consistent environment of a discernable value
system that the Identity compulsion of the child can’t resist.  This compulsion and odd lack of discrimination is
analogous in behavioral significance and genetic implications to duckling imprinting.  Probably at least as
important as the presence of a (recognized) genetic parent, is the clarity to the child of a value system and
the consistency of its application.  In an inconsistent environment, the child Identity drive will define it own
consistentices, albeit perhaps socially negative ones.  Parents should be internally deliberate regarding what
core values that they would like the child to have as an adult.  They should determine how best to
communicate those values clearly to the child.  Finally, they should be actively attentive for opportunities to
demonstrate or reinforce these core values.  Ambiguity and inconsistency though natural, and to some
degree inevitable, should be intentionally minimized when raising a child.  

    Identity development begins best in an environment rich with recognized affirmative social Identifiers.  If a
child does not find affirmative Identity structures that are immediate and reliable, it will (must) find alternatives,
however locally undesirable.  An emphasis on a particular content with the objective of improving social and
individual prospects, and an indifference to structure per se, is misplaced.


19. Q:
Can you give an example of a situation in which an individuals Identity is apparently adequate and the
person functions normally socially, then there is a sudden regression in Identity with a corresponding decay
in social function, followed by a resurrection of social function with the restitution of an artificial (contrived
or forced) Identity through reconfigured Identifiers.

A:  There are many examples.  Almost the entire domain of post traumatic stress disorder can be understood
as a destruction of an intact or generally sufficient Identity and the effort of the individual to reconstitute an
Identity and return to social adequacy though alternative Identifier selection.  For example, the Stockholm
syndrome or the Patty Hearst effect. Groups, cults and analogous social configurations are predominately
successful efforts to constitute and support an Identity – successful in the sense that the individually can
now function more effectively at a basic social level – cooperation, trust, planning, etc.

  The most important routes to effective therapy for PTSD and analogous dissolutions of established Identity
solutions is the implanting of affirmative Identifiers however preliminary or arbitrary. Counseling functions best
when it introduces at the unconscious level, the model of an alternative effective Identifier for the individual.


20. Q:  
If universal and durable traits implicate a genetic substrate and historically gender roles have
tended to have characteristic features, does Identity Theory operate in gender behavior; are gender
behavior characteristics simply primary expressions of recognized physiologic differences or perhaps
there truly is a nurture effect?

A:  Many important gender characteristic behaviors occur primarily although not exclusively because of
Identity genetics. If statistically characteristic gender behaviors have been sustained by producing reliable
and effective Identifier support, then it can be expected that characteristic gender behaviors will only be able
to be changed under very strenuous, prolonged and suitable alternative conditions.

Certainly there are undisputed physiologic differences between human genders.  And it is evident that there
are aspects of these gender characteristics, that are predominately genetically predicated, or predominately
environmentally triaged.  Nevertheless, it is myopic at the least to contend that environmental/cultural traditions
have produced the startling consistencies in gender behavior in a species that is renowned for it’s flexible
behavior.  It is also shortsighted to acknowledge an evolved Identity trait that is so powerful that it has
exploded a million years of species lethargy yet contend that it has had no differential impact on self-
strategies of two highly dimorphic genders.

I Theory application to gender behavior invokes an analysis which, even beyond the subject itself, is
inherently controversial. Gender identity discussion should be deferred pending a consensus
acknowledgement of the validity of the general theory.


21. Q:  
What is the most common error regarding explanations of human behavior that persists today?

A:  There are really two errors. Without question, the most important one is the reluctance to ask the question,
‘Why?’
Why do humans persist in behaving in recognized destructive ways at the individual level? Pick up 5 journals
on human behavior and in one of them is the casual premise that some particular universal human behavior
starts de novo as such.   My view is that this source aversion anticipates the political tensions associated
with academic longevity and brotherhood, the ecology in which essentially all thinkers in this field prosper and
feed their families.

The second serious error is the recurrent practice of (reflexly) attributing common antisocial behaviors to
environmental circumstances, whether it is genocide, racism, tribalism, juvenile delinquency, adolescent
ennui, rape, drug addiction, etc.  As in, ‘John is a racist because his parents are racists’.  Or, ‘People often
commit suicide that are despondent over an emotional loss.’ Or, despite thousands of examples of successful
and abusive despotism, there is either no evolutionary curiosity whatsoever regarding the common behavior
of the tyrannized subjects, or, if there is some local reflection, the explanation refers to irresistible force of
arms, cultural ignorance, etc.  Or, why do all cultures have a mythical system and almost invariably a system
that incorporates post mortem damnation as well as the common prospect of a terrible death on earth? – is it
possible to find an explanation that does not reference (assumptively) a local benefit, proximate benefit as
raison d’etre?  Although there are ten of thousands of engaged experts on the subject, it is currently
unimaginable to consider the life style of homelessness, or mendicancy, as having an evolutionally adaptive
and individually purposeful substrate.

The psychological condition of co-dependency is now a routine recognition.  However the proposal of this
standard science 40 years ago would have lead to academic expatriation.  A serious proposal for co-
dependency as an adaptive solution to evolutionary objectives would receive the same reception today.


22.  Q:
 Is Identity Theory testable?

Yes, there are a number of ways to test, if not prove, I mechanisms.  For example, one can find a severely
traumatized set of people, such as in genocide settings or a natural catastrophe.  Manage a random control
group by the normal processes.  In the test group, provide an easily discernable, regular and consistently
applied behavioral or psychological structure.  The more arbitrary the structure, the more useful will be the
conclusions.  Compare social fitness indicators between groups at the end of pre-determined intervals; say 1
week, 2 weeks, 1 month and 6 months.

23.  Q:  
When was Identity Theory resolved as it is presented?

A:   The Theory itself and essentially all other elements of the Summary were written by me over 20 years
ago.   In 1988 I spent 2 months at Oxford and London, followed by 5 months in Santa Rosa, CA doing
research on a larger work to present the theory, which was never published.

FAQ