Predator avoidance and memes

Mark Mills (
Tue, 4 Nov 97 22:04:09 -0600

Message-Id: <>
Subject: Predator avoidance and memes
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 97 22:04:09 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "memetics list" <>

A friend recently told me that movies like 'Psycho' and 'Jaws' play upon
the way our brains process threatening situations. The smart movie
director takes advantage of how we process experiences to inject terror
into the viewer's response. My friend told me that under attack, our
brains attempt to simulate the predator's perspective, perhaps to
anticipate attack and avoiding the danger. During the attack, our brains
are rapidly jumping between our personal perspective and a simulation of
what the predator sees. Thus, we experience reality through the eyes of
the predator for brief moments.

By mimicing this process, movies like 'Psycho' put us (the viewer) in the
'terror' mode. For example, in the famous bathroom scene, the camera
goes back and forth between the attacker's perspective and the victim's
perspective. There are something like 80 cuts in the brief shower scene.
There is never an objective view of attacker and victim to provide
distance for the movie goer.

This feature of our 'fight-flight' instinct often leads the victim of
attack to have great confusion about their identity. They remember
experiencing the attack from the perspective of the attacker and often
have a feeling that they somehow participated in the attack. This is
particularly true of victims of incest, people who often have high
ability to empathize with their attacker.

By internalizing this simulated foreign identity, the victim often
responds as 'attacker' in stressful situations later in life. Thus, the
victim grows up to be attacker and the cycle can repeat, generation after

Anyway, that was the story.

It seems this relates to memetics since it describes a cycle of
replicating behavior. It is not as 'ideological' as examples we
typically discuss. Physical attacks are low on 'idea' content and high
on kinetics, but it seems relevant. If memetics could suggests ways of
halting the passing of violent behavior from one generation to another,
it would certainly get a fair share of acknowledgement.

Additionally, this example provides a nice link between conscious and
pre-conscious memetic activity for those interested in memetic evolution
over the last 200 million years.


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