Dracula is a fantasy/horror novel written by Bram Stoker in 1897. It is written as a series of letters, diary entries and other log entries, telling the battle between the vampire Count Dracula and Professor Van Helsing (with the help of some other people). It is one of the most well-known horror fictions in history and defined the modern image of vampires. Although it seems unlikely, the blood-sucking, immortal, creepy vampire that is Count Dracula is (loosely) based on an actual person.
Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia was a Romanian prince who led his army to fight against the invading Ottoman Empire during the 15th century, which was expanding its reach throughout Europe at the time. He was also referred to as Vlad the Impaler due to his incredibly cruel punishment of prisoners and enemies. He would kill the victims by stabbing their bodies with spears, typically through the anus up to the mouth. He would then have the bodies hanging as a warning to others. The victims would die a slow and painful death as they were drained of blood.
Another interesting fact is that Vlad III was an expert in guerilla warfare and would frequently hide his army in trees and strike the enemy at nighttime. This earned him a legend that he was bat-like – hanging from trees and only attacking at night to drain people of their blood. It is likely that Stoker took this legend and incorporated it into his novel, making Count Dracula able to transform into a large bat.
It is fascinating to see how someone who is portrayed as a noble hero in Romania and Slavic countries is remembered as an archetypal monster in modern times. This serves to remind us that no matter what good deed we may do, the world will only focus on a certain aspect and define you by that characteristic. The world is stubborn, critical and narrow-minded. Ergo, it is a waste of time trying to convince the world that you are a certain kind of person. As long as you know what kind of person you truly are and accept it, you will be able to live a happy life.
Parents only have one duty: to bring up their children with love. The problem is that so many parents do not know this fact, or have a twisted understanding of the concept of “love”. Some never even hug their child, some abandon their child for their own lives and some even abuse their child. However, that does not mean one should obsess with their child either. Always teaching the child that “they are the best” is not love. Also, trapping a child and preventing them from leaving you is obsession, not love. Some parents tell their children that studying will lead to a happy, successful future, and compare them to other children who get better grades. This is a crucial mistake, as the children will probably live out an unhappy life with a deep wound in their heart for the rest of their lives. This is because the parents’ role is not to secure a successful future and instructing them how to get there, but to allow the child to independently plan their future, taste failure and develop their own values and philosophy, only supporting them from the side. A parent is not a leader who leads a child along a predestined path of life, but an assistant who supports a child while they pave their own path of life and walk down it. To support and respect a child’s decisions, dreams, talents and potential; to teach the wisdom and skills the child will need to follow their dreams; that is true love.
Of course, that is not to say that one should neglect and leave a child without any interventions. If a child clearly makes an objective error or misbehaves, it is a parent’s role to correct it. This kind of home education is not interference like obsessing about the child’s studies, but supportive intervention that helps the child follow their dreams and not be lost on the way. Home education is a very important form of love that imbues a child with skills such as social skills, ethics, morality, philosophy and love that will allow them to lead a happy and wholesome life.
Why is parental love so important to a child? Childhood is a critical period when the child’s brain is rapidly developing and when the child begins to form his or her personality and view of the world. Almost every mental illness (especially personality disorders) can be traced back to a childhood trauma, or at least be affected by it. For example, a child whose parents did not care for them will grow up lacking love and attachment, leading to constantly seeking love and attention from others, which may develop into dependent personality disorder. If a child has to live up to the parents’ great expectations, they will not receive sympathy and fail to develop a self identity. To fill this void, the child will continuously float from one person to another to seek this sympathy. A child with obsessive parents being led to believe that they are the best could develop narcissistic personality disorder, who becomes violent and enraged when someone points out a mistake they made. As one can see, parental love is a crucial nutrient that fosters a healthy personality in a child, helping them become a wholesome, independent “person”.
No matter how poor the parents are, a child who was raised on love is able to construct a plentiful, happy life. Then, when the child becomes a parent, they will know how to raise their own children with love as well. The best parents are those who respect the child’s decisions and allow them to be free when they set out on their pursuit of happiness. All you need is love.
What is the typical look of a human being? The following is a character bio using data of the most common traits and average statistics from the world population.
The typical model of Earth is a 28 year old Han Chinese male called Mohammed Lee. His height is 1.75m, weight 80kg, he has black hair and brown eyes and he is right-handed. He speaks Mandarin Chinese and his religion is Christianity. He works in a factory earning less than USD$12,000. He owns a cellphone but not a bank account. The following is the most typical face constructed using a composite of 190,000 faces of people fitting the above description.
Do you want to gain trust and build intimacy with someone? That is easy – all you have to do is recognise and accept their identity. Every person tries to define who they are by building an identity or their “self”. This identity includes their personality, experiences, philosophies and interests. If you wish to have a deep and meaningful conversation, start off with a light conversation to explore the person’s identity. What kinds of films do they like? What leisure activities do they enjoy in their free time? What occupation are they in? If you slowly learn such superficial information, an outline of their identity begins to take place. Also, observe the person’s attitude as they speak and how they respond to certain topics. You will be able to know or at least guess what their interests are.
As the person slowly becomes fond of you through conversation, simply lead the conversation towards their interests that you found out. The person will talk excitedly about their interests. Now, respond accordingly with a smile and a look of interest (better if you are actually interested). A positive conversation has been established. Steer the conversation so that the other person talks as much as possible about their “self”. The person will think that you share their interests, and nothing is as attractive as common interests.
Shall we go one step deeper? Interests give an outline and begin to add colour to the identity, but to recognise their identity as a whole you must gather more specific data. Once a sense of trust and intimacy begins to develop, the conversation can develop into a more personal one. Talk about the person’s past, their philosophies, their dreams, hopes and aspirations. The more intimate information they share with you, the deeper the intimacy becomes and the more you learn about their identity. The important point here is that you not only learn about their identity, but acknowledge it every step of the way. The greatest gesture you can make to another person is accepting them for who they are. If you talk with someone that understands you and accepts you, you will talk as if time does not matter and share your deepest secrets.
On the other hand, if you wish to attack an enemy psychologically, what could you do? As you might have guessed, you should attack their identity. Pull out all of their weaknesses and faults and attack them, while logically disproving their fundamental beliefs and philosophies. Systematically pull apart their psyche and destroy the pride they have for their identity and even the strongest enemy will fall to their knees.
How many friends can a person have? Believe it or not, science has solved this question. An anthropologist called Robin Dunbar studied various societies, tribes and primate groups to determine how many members a group can have to maintain stability. He discovered that the ideal size for a group of humans was about 150.
What happens if there are more than 150 people in a group? This is easily explained by the following thought experiment. Imagine that you have a friend called Mr. White. Add a personality to him – flesh him out as a person. Next, you make another friend called Mr. Red. Then Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Maroon… At a certain point, you will no longer remember the name or personality of your “friend” and not even care about that person. This is the limit set by our brains – known as Dunbar’s number, or more colloquially the Monkeysphere.
Any person outside of this Monkeysphere is not of your concern. Once you saturate your brain with 150 relationships, the brain ceases to care about other people. Interestingly, the Monkeysphere is directly related to the size of the neocortex (the part of the brain responsible for higher order thinking). For example, most monkeys can only operate in troupes of 50 or so.
The Monkeysphere can be defined as the group of people that you conceptualise as “people”. Because of this limitation, we are physiologically incapable of caring about everyone in the world. For example, we are highly unlikely to be concerned about the welfare of the janitor at work compared to a loved one. As politically incorrect it may be, the brain sees the janitor as “the object that cleans the building” rather than a human being. You may “care” about the janitor in the sense that you greet him in the corridor, but there is a limit to this. This effect actually explains quite well why society is dysfunctional in general.
Because we do not see people outside the Monkeysphere as “people”, they mean less to us. Stalin once said that “one death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”. Similarly, the death of a family member is devastating but 10,000 people dying in a foreign country from war does not have the same emotional effect. Furthermore, if a stranger was to die in front of your eyes, you would still not be nearly as devastated as the death of someone you are close to.
Also, as we do not feel connected to these “outsiders”, we are much more prone to act rude or aggressively. For example, one may insult other drivers with the most colourful words on the road, but would (hopefully) never say those words to a friend.
This expands to a greater scale in the context of survival. We are wired to put the need of the members of our Monkeysphere ahead of those outside of it. Thus, we would not steal from our friends but openly evade taxes as we see the government and others as a cold, faceless body. It does not occur to us that through our actions, we are harming other human beings. The same applies to our view of corporations; despite being made up of real people, we only see them as heartless machines actively conspiring against us.
What if the scale was then expanded to countries? If we do not see a person on the other side of the road as a human being, it is extremely unlikely we would register a foreigner as one. This explains why racism and stereotyping is so common in human societies. Although liberal-minded people would like to believe that we should treat every human being like we treat our mothers, our brain is incapable of it. In fact, it is much more likely we would see those people as acting against our interests by “stealing jobs” and so forth. Thus, racism is a hard-wired behaviour to protect the best interest of our Monkeysphere.
We have established that it is impossible to worry about the seven billion strangers in this world. This brings us to an important point: it is just as impossible to make “them” interested in “you”. It is a cold, hard fact that if you are outside of their Monkeysphere, people will not care about you. Ergo, they treat you badly, put you down, steal from you and downright ignore you. In fact, cognitive dissonance means you are even less likely to care for people outside the Monkeysphere as your brain actively rejects people from getting closer to your Monkeysphere, exceeding the preset limit of 150 people. This is why propaganda always focusses on dehumanising the enemy and why people seeking votes and attention pull at sympathy strings – to try get as close to your Monkeysphere as possible.
Many people will lament how we are not monkeys and the Monkeysphere does not apply to us. We have laws, ethics and “humanity”. However, we cannot escape our primitive psychological behaviours and this is reflected in societies filled with crime, unhappiness and a general disinterest in people not related to yourself. This is why city-dwellers tend to be less friendly than villagers, as there are too many people to fit in one, happy Monkeysphere. In fact, monkeys may have more functional societies than us because they hardly ever exceed their own Monkeyspheres (which may also explain why they rarely have wars). The same can be said of tribes and villages of the past.
Ironically, the development of society has been based around working around the limitations of the Monkeysphere – a theoretically ideal society. By living in larger groups, humans can achieve greater feats such as industries and large-scale economies. Although we suffer the consequences of racism and crime, we have become very effective in survival.
Economics is based on the Monkeysphere too. As we only care about our Monkeysphere, there is no reason for us to be concerned about the needs of others. So when a system such as communism forces us to share our bananas, we become infuriated that we have to give up our bananas to people we do not know. But in capitalism, every individual can pick bananas for just ourselves and those we care about. The system thrives as each Monkeysphere acts dynamically and everyone is happy. This is the concept of the invisible hand that is the foundation of modern economics.
But still, the concept of countries means that we have to share the burden of millions of people we do not care about in the form of taxes and civil duties. This makes us unhappy. So what can we do?
Firstly, realise that you are to others what others are to you. If you find a certain person on television as annoying and irrational, chances are that someone else sees you in that light. You are limited to your Monkeysphere of 150 people and people outside of it are in their own Monkeyspheres.
Secondly, understand that no one is special. There are no heroes or perfect beings. Everyone is a human being and prone to making mistakes and acting “human”. Therefore, we cannot idolise people and be disappointed by their actions. This also means that you cannot judge another person and consider their words and actions as insignificant, as they are just as human as you.
Lastly, never simplify things. The world is not simple. It cannot be generalised as one happy village with everyone living happily in harmony. It is a composite of a massive number of different Monkeyspheres, all concerned with their own well-being and not caring about anything else.
Remember the words that Charles Darwin spoke to his assistant, Jeje Santiago: “Jeje, we are the monkeys”. As much as we would like to think that we are higher-order beings, we are simple creatures of habit and behaviour limited by our Monkeysphere.