Seite/page 97.2/5  back
cain.html 28.11.2018

Cain and Human Nature

Copyright Helmar Kloss, English version 2018

     As we all know, Cain has killed his brother Abel. But why? Why didn't Abel kill Cain? Was it just a coincidence?
     There are much indications that it was no coincidence. Cain was the eldest son and Abel his younger brother. Psychological insights from psychoanalysis, sociological studies, the whole history of mankind and unbiased observation of normal families draw attention to the fact that the eldest siblings are more jealous of their younger siblings than vice versa. For children born after the first child it is normal to have siblings, not so for the oldest. But although the younger ones may not necessarily become jealous they could become malicious while trying to assert themselves against their older and at least initially superior sibling. The unleashing trigger of what in the Bible is called the "original sin" seems to have been jealousy and as that it is at the root of all evil.
     How this could happen?
     Jealousy is not an exclusively human emotion. It is also known from other animals; e.g. dogs, which often react jealously to newborn children or animals coming into the family. Probably, the emotional pattern is hereditary and originated long before man came into being. But how jealousy can have such a destructive effect on man that "evil" has arisen, which in turn results in infinite sufferings?
     The incarnation probably took place as a result of one or several changes in the habitat, i.e. the environment in which pre-humans lived. Normally, changes in the environment cause the extinction of many of the species living there. Any species that fails to adapt to the new conditions will perish. When, where, how, how often and in which order the environment has changed is largely unknown. Most probably, at some stages of development changes in living conditions have also brought the human species close to extinction. Furthermore it can be assumed that we would not exist with a substantially different sequence of environmental changes. But the pre-humans have managed to adapt. And they did not just survive. They developed while surviving. Successful adaptation means development.
     For example, the upright posture could have been a consequence of moving from the jungle to the savannah. The upright walk, for its part, resulted in the atrophy of the gripper feet and freed the hands from the task of locomotion. This allowed new tactile experiences, which in turn stimulated manual skills and promoted the development of intelligence. The brain of the pre-human species grew.
     For example, the upright posture could have been a consequence of moving from the jungle to the savannah. The upright walk, for its part, resulted in the atrophy of the gripper feet and freed the hands from the task of locomotion. This allowed new tactile experiences, which in turn stimulated manual skills and promoted the development of intelligence. The brain of the pre-human species grew. As a result of the growing brain pregnancy became longer and longer. In addition, newborns remained increasingly dependent on parental care; not only for a few weeks, like not yet fully-fledged birds, but for months, finally even for years.
     But unlike orang-utans and chimpanzees living in jungles the mother was no more able to care alone for the child. The pre-humans had dared to venture into areas where a single mother had no chance to survive. She could no longer cope with the tasks of baby care and foraging on her own. The survival of the species required a social organization. Families - consisting of mother, father and the dependent offspring - and sooner or later hordes were formed. Or – on the contrary - thanks to the division of labour within their families the pre-humans could venture into areas that were too inhospitable for other primates. Probably, the nature and chronological sequence of so many different environmental changes and developmental steps will never become sufficiently clear. But recently a 790,000-year-old fireplace has been found, so that it can be assumed that fire control played a much more important role in the incarnation than assumed until now.
     The need to coordinate the actions of family members favoured the emergence of language, which in turn favoured the emergence and development of what is called "culture" or “civilization”.
     When and how is unknown, but also the sex life of this group of pre-humans organized around a fireplace changed. Already chimpanzees know constant sex readiness instead of annual heat, but only among pre-humans happended what is unknown among other species - except in case of twin births - namely that a mother with a dependent child gives birth to another child. And if there were other species, they do not have such a high intelligence as man has and unfortunately uses also to think out and do evil. As a result, after the second birth in every family arises what I call the “Cain problem“.
     To understand this, one has to imagine the situation of a first-born child at the birth of a sibling. It is decisively influenced by the traumatizing event, which is particularly drastic for those children who are under four years of age because they cannot remember it: The beloved mother - for the youngest their super-ego in a non-freudian sense, because children at the beginning of their development - having just passed the "extra-uterine year", as a biologist called the first year of life - do not yet have an "Ego" but depend completely on their mother. Imagine what they feel if their "basis of existence" in the most real sense suddenly turns to another being which she cares for, tenderly caressing and kissing it in front of their incredulous eyes, so that they have to fend for themselves. At best, they can let their dad, grandma or an aunt console them.
     This tremendous disappointment, this existential threat, about which never will be spoken (the younger ones cannot yet talk at all), but about which will not be talked even later, because the family ideology aiming at harmony and the adolescent mind adapting to it at least for a while are forbidding it. These traumatic events have consequences first-borns have to struggle with as long as they live, because who has been disappointed by such an event has trouble to love and to believe in love. Negative feelings such as envy, jealousy and guilt are plaguing them so that they are unable to develop and maintain a stable self-esteem, which also means: to love themselves.
     Consequently, every problem people of that kind encounter has a dimension that it does not have for others, at least not to the same extent: the self-worth dimension. They react more easily than other people to the statements of others or even experience them as attacks, to which they react with the weapons at their disposal, but rarely with understanding and insight. In addition to what Freud has called "defense mechanisms" their arsenal of weapons may also include real weapons, which is why - if they have arrived at the head of a tribe or state to which their own pathological ambition or that of their ancestors have led them - war or genocide may follow that brings untold sufferings to many thousands or even millions of people.
     Unfortunately, it does not seem that the intelligence of humans is helping to understand the Cain problem or resolve it, let alone to master the catastrophic effects that have arisen since the beginning of history from the fact that the majority of humans are shaped in family constellations where the competition of more or less openly envious and jealous siblings of different ages plays a central role. One of the consequences - often regarded as 'natural' - is the fact that everywhere first-borns are in charge. In the course of many thousands of years, their age-related superiority has not only given them political, legal and economic advantages, but has often forced or even legally anchored evil in the form of injustices of all kind - e.g. the oppression of women and the exploitation of the weaker. Deeply disappointed as they are, they will chase in vain after surrogates of love as for example power and influence, money and goods, enjoyment, - but unfortunately often devote themselves to revenge, which usually hits innocent people.
     And even if everything looks comparatively kind, because there are neither hate orgies, which can now and then culminate in near-death aggressions, as I have seen it, nor lifelong hatred in the form of secret enmity poisons the atmosphere as was the case in my family of origin, a closer look reveals competitive behaviour with which the elder try to use their physical and mental superiority in order to humiliate the little one(s) and to keep them in check, because even in apparently harmonious families feelings resulting from the described source rage under the surface and poison interpersonal relationships.