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复仇心理有什么不为人知的好处?

The hidden upsides of revenge
复仇心理有什么不为人知的好处?

A tale of revenge is always bittersweet. Take the sack of Troy, as depicted in Homer's epic poem The Iliad. When Paris steals away Helen, her husband King Menelaus cannot bear the injustice and seeks to attack her seducer. He brings an entire army to Troy, waging a lengthy war that kills thousands.

复仇的故事总是苦乐参半。例如荷马史诗《伊利亚特》(The Iliad)中描绘的特洛伊之战。当帕里斯(Paris)偷走海伦(Helen)时,海伦的丈夫墨涅拉奥斯(Menelaus)无法忍受这一罪行,于是去攻击把海伦勾引走的人。他带领大军来到特洛伊,发动了一场旷日持久的战争。数千人在战争中死去。

The theme of revenge spirals through the entire narrative. When Achilles' best friend and cousin Patroklus is killed, he too seeks a reckless and bloody revenge.

复仇的主题贯穿了整个故事,并螺旋式上升。当阿基里斯(Achilles)的挚友、兄弟帕特罗克洛斯(Patroklus)被杀死时,他也开始了不顾一切的血腥复仇。

复仇是人性的一部分

Revenge has been part of human behaviour for almost as long as we have existed on Earth. Literature has used it throughout history, from Greek tragedies such as Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy – where Orestes wants to murder his mother to avenge his father – to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

自从人类出现在地球上开始,复仇就成为人类行为的一部分。历史上的文学都曾写过复仇,从希腊悲剧,例如埃斯库罗斯(Aeschylus)的《俄瑞斯忒亚》(Oresteia trilogy)三部曲——俄瑞斯忒亚想要杀死自己的母亲来为父亲报仇——一直到莎士比亚的《哈姆雷特》。

Many of us have no doubt imagined vengeance against those who have wronged us, or even lashed out at them. In the moment, it can certainly feel cathartic to do so. But what motivates us to seek revenge in the first place? Researchers are gradually getting some answers, and they are finding that revenge has some unexpected upsides.

很多人无疑都曾想象过报复那些伤害我们的人,甚至把他们痛打一顿。在那个时刻,这样做有可能帮助我们宣泄情绪。但是,是什么动机让我们想要复仇?研究者开始得到一些答案。他们发现复仇会带来一些意想不到的好处。

Revenge is a powerful emotional trigger that mobilises people into action. "It's this very pervasive experience in human lives, people from every society understand the idea of getting angry and wanting to hurt someone who has harmed you," says evolutionary psychologist Michael McCullough, of the University of Miami, who has spent over a decade studying revenge and forgiveness.

复仇是一种强大的情绪驱动力,它动员人们行动起来。"这在人类中是一种非常普遍的体验。来自任何一个群体、社会的人都理解发怒和想要伤害那些伤害自己的人,"迈阿密大学的进化心理学家迈克尔·麦卡洛(Michael McCullough)说。他研究复仇和宽恕已经超过十年。

It drives crime – up to 20% of homicides and 60% of school shootings are linked to revenge, studies show. And it shapes politics too. Donald Trump's presidential victory, for instance, came as a result of "revenge of working-class whites… who felt abandoned by a rapidly globalising economy," according to an article in the Washington Post. The same sentiment is echoed by many other outlets.

它会导致犯罪率提高——研究表明,高达20%的杀人罪和60%的校园枪击案与复仇有关。它也会改变政治。《华盛顿邮报》的一篇文章认为,唐纳德·特朗普总统选举获胜是因为"白人工薪阶层的复仇心理……他们感到被快速全球化的经济所抛弃。"很多其他媒体也认同这一看法。

While the topic of aggression is well-studied – its triggers include alcohol, being insulted and narcissistic personality traits – revenge is lesser understood. It is not easy to untangle from violent behaviour, making it a difficult topic to study. David Chester of Virginia Commonwealth University was initially studying aggression but quickly realised that there is often a lot more going on before a violent interaction. He refers to the emotions involved as the "psychological middlemen" –  the thoughts and feelings that come between a provocation and an aggressive outcome. "I was curious, how do you take something like [receiving] an insult and how do you go from that to an aggressive response." The key, he believes, lies in the desire to retaliate. "So by the nature of trying to understand aggression I started studying revenge."

虽然有关攻击性的话题已经有很多的研究——攻击性的触发物包括酒精、受辱和自恋的个性——但是对复仇的认识却有些不足。由于很难把复仇与暴力行为区分开来,所以这个话题很难研究。弗吉尼亚联邦大学(Virginia Commonwealth University)的大卫·切斯特(David Chester)一开始研究进攻性,但很快意识到在暴力冲突实际出现之前往往已经发生了很多事情。他把相关的情绪称为"心理的中间人"——在受到挑衅之后、发生攻击行为之前的思想和感情。"我好奇的是人受到侮辱后如何应对,以及如何导致攻击行为的发生。"他认为,关键在复仇的欲望。"所以,我是为了理解攻击性,才开始研究复仇。"

He set out to uncover more about what causes it. First he, along with his colleague Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky, discovered that a person who is insulted or socially rejected feels an emotional pain. The area in the brain associated with pain was most active in participants who went on to react with an aggressive response after feeling rejected. "It’s tapping into an ancient evolved tendency to respond to threats and harm with aggressive retaliation," says Chester.

然后,他开始发现复仇的起因。首先,他和他的同事肯塔基大学(University of Kentucky)的内森·德瓦尔(Nathan DeWall)一起发现,当一个人受到侮辱或者在社会上被拒斥时,他的情感会感到痛苦。当被试者感到受到拒斥后,那些作出进攻反应的人,其大脑与痛苦相关的区域最为活跃。"以进攻来回应威胁和伤害的原理源自远古时期的进化趋势,"切斯特说。

In a follow-up study he was surprised to find that emotional pain was intricately yoked with pleasure. That is, while rejection initially feels painful, it can quickly be masked by pleasure when presented with the opportunity to get revenge – it even activates the brain's known reward circuit, the nucleus accumbens. People who are provoked behave aggressively precisely because it can be "hedonically rewarding", Chester found. Revenge it seems really can be sweet.

在一个跟踪调查中,他惊讶的发现情感伤痛与愉悦感之间存在复杂的联系。虽然拒斥在一开始时让人感到伤痛,但是当出现报复机会时,这种伤痛很快就会被愉悦所掩盖。它甚至会激活大脑已知的奖赏回路:伏隔核。切斯特发现,受到挑衅的人之所以采取进攻行为是因为这会产生"愉悦回馈"。复仇似乎真的能给人带来快乐。

The link between aggression and pleasure itself is not new. The "father of psychology" Sigmund Freud was well aware that it could feel cathartic to behave aggressively, but the idea that revenge provides its own special form of pleasure has only become apparent recently.

进攻性与快乐之间的关联并不是新发现。心理学之父西格蒙德·弗洛伊德(Sigmund Freud)非常清楚进攻行为有助于人宣泄情感,但是直到最近,研究者才了解到复仇能够带来一种特别的愉悦感。

To understand this further, Chester and DeWall set up a series of experiments, published in the March 2017 journal of Personality and Social Psychology, where the participants were made to feel rejected by being purposely left out of a computerised ball tossing game. All participants were then allowed to put pins in a virtual voodoo doll. Those in the rejected camp stabbed their doll with significantly more pins. This rejection test was first done remotely online and later replicated with different participants brought into the lab. In the lab version, rather than a voodoo doll, participants acted out their "revenge" by blasting a prolonged, unpleasantly loud noise to their opponents (who were computers, not real people, which the participants were not aware of). Again, those that felt most rejected subjected their rivals to longer noise blasts.

为了加深理解,切斯特和德瓦尔设置了一系列实验,并发表在2017年3月的《个性与社会心理学》期刊上。实验故意不让被试者加入扔球电脑游戏,让他们感到遭受拒绝。然后,所有的被试者被允许用针扎虚拟的伏都教人偶。被拒绝组扎的针数大大超出正常。这一拒绝测试首先是通过在线形式远程进行,后来他们让不同的被试者来到实验室进行相同的测试。在实验室进行的测试让被试者通过持久、让人不悦的噪声报复对手(对手是计算机,不是真实的人,但是被试者并不知道这一点)。结果一样,遭受拒绝最严重的人向对手施加的噪声更持久。

Lastly, to understand the role of emotion in the desire to seek revenge, Chester and DeWall gave participants what they believed was a mood-inhibiting drug (it was in fact only a harmless vitamin tablet). Still, the placebo effect was so strong that the participants who took the "drug" didn't bother to retaliate against the people who rejected them – whereas those that were not given the placebo acted far more aggressively. The placebo group, it seems, did not seek revenge because they believed they would feel no pleasure from doing so.

最后,为了理解情感在复仇欲方面的作用,切斯特和德瓦尔让被试者服用抑制情绪的药物(事实上,只是毫无伤害的维生素片)。不过,安慰剂的效果如此之强,以致于服用了"药物"的被试者没有报复拒绝他们的人,而那些没有服用安慰剂的人表现出的进攻性远超前者。安慰剂组之所以没有复仇是因为他们以为即使这样做,自己也感觉不到愉悦。

Taking these results together the team came to a startling conclusion. Not only can revenge give people pleasure, but people seek it precisely because of the anticipation it will do so. "It's about the experience of regulating emotions," says Chester. And it worked. After having the opportunity to get revenge, the rejected individuals scored the same on mood tests as those who had not been rejected.

研究团队把这些结果放到一起,得出了惊人的结论。不仅复仇能给人带来愉悦,而且人们复仇正是因为预期到这样做能带来愉悦。"这关系到管理情绪的体验。"切斯特说。而且,它却是起到了效果。遭受拒绝的人在得到复仇机会后在情绪测试中的得分与没有受到拒绝的人一样。

This finding, however, does need to be taken with a necessary pinch of salt. There are currently no long-term follow up studies on how revenge feels days or weeks after the act. Preliminary – as yet unpublished results – show that revenge-seekers only get a momentary feeling of pleasure, Chester found. "Just like a lot of things, it feels good in the moment. That begins a cycle and it starts to look like an addiction… then afterwards you feel worse than when you started," he explains.

不过,我们应该对这一发现保持怀疑精神。切斯特发现,目前还没有关于短暂愉悦感之后数天或数周复仇给人的感受的长期跟踪调查。"和许多事情一样,复仇在当时会让人感觉良好。那会开启一个循环,看起来有点像上瘾……之后你的感觉会比开始前差。"他解释道。

And that might help explain why those who seek the high of revenge fail to anticipate disastrous personal consequences. The footballer Zinedine Zidane, for instance, will forever be remembered for head-butting Marco Matterazzi in the 2006 World Cup. Along a similar vein, Richard Nixon is well-known for his list of foes, the goal being to "screw his political enemies". Some of his dirty tricks later led to his forced resignation.

这有可能解释为什么追寻复仇快感的人无法预见对个人的灾难性后果。比如,在2006年的世界杯上,人们会永远记得齐内丁·齐达内(Zinedine Zidane)用头顶马尔科·马特拉齐(Marco Matterazzi)。类似的,理查德·尼克松也以他的敌人名单而闻名。他的目标是"整垮政治敌人"。他的一些肮脏伎俩后来导致他被迫下台。

The question then becomes, why has this seemingly destructive behaviour persisted in our evolution if it can cause us so much trouble?

于是问题来了,既然复仇会给我们带来这么多麻烦,为什么这种看似毁灭性的行为会在人类的进化过程中留存下来?

The answer is that far from an evolutionary mistake, revenge serves a very useful purpose. Michael McCullough puts it this way: although people might say seeking revenge "is really bad for you" – that it might ruin your relationships, for example – the fact that it exists at all is a very good thing. Its main goal is to work as deterrent, which in turn has clear advantages for our survival. Consider prison or gang culture, where if you meddle with the wrong person, revenge attacks are a sure consequence. "If you have a reputation for someone who is going to seek retribution, people are not going to mess with you or take advantage," says Chester. In Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar-winning performance in The Revenant, so powerful is his desire for revenge that it keeps him alive. With broken bones and open wounds, he drags himself through a hostile and dangerous terrain to avenge his son's killer.

答案远不只是进化中发生的一个错误。复仇有重要的用途。迈克尔·麦卡洛指出,虽然人们可能会说寻仇"对你真的不好"——比如,它会毁灭你的关系——但事实是它的存在是一件好事。它的主要目标是发挥威慑的作用,这对我们的生存来说显然是一种有利条件。不妨考虑监狱文化或黑帮文化,如果你扯上了错误的人,那么你一定会被人报复。切斯特说:"如果大家都知道你喜欢寻仇,别人就不会和你捣鬼或者欺负你。"在莱昂纳多·迪卡普里奥(Leonardo DiCaprio)饰演的奥斯卡获奖作品《荒野猎人》中,他强大的复仇欲创造出了鲜活的人物形象。他身负骨折,伤口裸露,踉跄穿过危险地带,要报杀子之仇。

Even the threat of revenge might deter an attack, says McCullough. "The individual who responds to that harm is going to do better than the individual who takes the slap on the cheek and lets the bad guy have his way." Just like hunger, he considers it a primal urge that needs to be itched. Only then can the avenger move on "because that goal has been fulfilled", in a similar way that we only stop feeling hungry after we have satiated our appetite.

即使是威胁复仇也可能威慑攻击方,麦卡洛说。"受到伤害后作出回应的人比逆来顺受,纵容坏人的人生活的更好。"他认为,复仇就像饥饿一样,是一种基本的渴求。只有满足了这一欲望之后,复仇者才能跨过这道坎,因为"目标已经实现"。类似的,只有当我们满足了自己的口腹之欲后,饥饿感才会消失。

So if a main purpose of revenge is about deterring harm, it is a very good thing indeed. That is not to say, says McCullough, that we should encourage people to indulge in seeking revenge. "We can both appreciate what it's for, understand it's not the product of afflicted minds, and also have an interest in helping people curtail their desire for revenge," he says.

所以,复仇的一个主要目的是震慑他人,让自己免遭伤害。这确实是一件非常好的事。麦卡洛说,但那并不意味着我们应当鼓励人们沉溺于寻仇。"我们一方面能够理解它的目的,另一方面理解这不是受害心理的产物。我们也希望帮助人们控制复仇欲。"他说。

It might also be comforting to know that not everyone acts out on their desire to seek revenge. One 2006 study found that men get more pleasure from the idea of revenge. Male participants were found to have more activity in the reward circuit of the brain than women when they saw cheating opponents receive an electric shock. In another 2008 study, Ozlem Ayduk of the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues, found that those with specific personality types were more likely to act violently after rejection. She found that certain individuals had higher levels of "rejection sensitivity" – who were more likely to expect rejection based on past experiences.

让人安慰的一点是,不是每个人都会将复仇欲付诸行动。2006年的一项研究发现,男人能从复仇的想法中获得更大的愉悦感。当看到对手在作弊后被电击时,男性被试者大脑的奖赏回路比女性更活跃。在2008年的一项研究中,加州大学伯克利分校(University of California, Berkeley)的奥兹莱姆·艾杜克(Ozlem Ayduk)和他的同事们发现某些具体的个性类型较容易在受到拒斥后采取暴力行为。她发现某些个人的"拒绝敏感度"较高,他们根据以往经历预期受到拒斥的可能性较高。

These individuals were also found to be more neurotic and to show anxiety and depression. "They have this tendency to see rejection even where it doesn't exist. Rejection is an existential threat, so that expectation [of rejection] actually prepares – both mentally and physiologically – the person to defend themselves," says Ayduk. Retaliatory aggression for these individuals was therefore a "knee-jerk" reaction to feeling rejected.

这些人同时也比较神经质,容易表现出焦虑和压抑。"即使不存在拒斥,他们也会倾向于看到拒斥。拒斥是一种生存威胁,所以对拒斥的预期实际上是让人在心理和生理上准备好自我防卫。"艾杜克说。因此,对这些人来说,报复性进攻是感到被拒斥时的一种"膝跳反射"。

It is important to note that not everyone who has the "rejection sensitive profile" has violent tendencies. Some deal with their feelings of rejection in other ways, such as self-harm. "Somehow this makes people feel that they are in control of something. Aggression is only one of the responses," says Ayduk.

值得一提的是,"拒斥敏感型"人格并不必然具有暴力倾向。一些人通过其他方式来处理被拒斥的感受,比如自残。"这在某种程度上让人感到自己能控制一些东西。进攻性只是其中一种反应,"艾杜克说。

As well as that, those who are more prone to retaliatory aggression can learn ways to overcome their outbursts, in a similar way that an addict can learn to control his or her urges with various psychological tactics. When Chester and DeWall peered into individuals' brains during one of their revenge studies, they found that those who were able to restrain themselves from acting out showed brain activation in the lateral pre-frontal cortex, an area known to be important for reasoning and inhibiting impulsive actions. "So we're not doomed to succumb to our revengeful impulses. We have evolved this very sophisticated pre-frontal cortex that can inhibit impulsive behaviour and guide it to more social outcomes. There is hope whether we're aware of it or not."

此外,那些较容易付诸报复性进攻的人可以学会通过一些方法来克服情绪的爆发。这类似于上瘾者通过各种心理策略来学会控制自己的渴望。切斯特和德瓦尔在一次关于复仇的研究中仔细观察人的大脑。他们发现,成功控制住自己行为的人,他们的外侧前额叶皮质出现了激活反应。那是推理和抑制冲动行为的重要区域。"所以,我们并不是注定要屈服于报复冲动。我们进化出了非常复杂的前额叶皮质,它能够抑制冲动行为,并引导它求得更具社会性的结果。不论我们是否知道这一点,我们都还有希望。"

So next time you are plotting revenge against someone who has wronged you, know that the anticipation of revenge may feel good in the moment, but don't expect these hidden "upsides" to last for long. Rather, understand that this feeling is there for a very good reason, and it could well have protected many of your ancient ancestors from being taken advantage of.

所以,下次当你在筹划报复伤害过你的某个人时,要让自己知道,对复仇的预期可能会让你在一时间感觉良好,但是不要预期这些隐含的"好处"会持久。相反,你要理解这种感觉之所以存在是有合理的理由的。它很可能保护我们的祖先不受到欺负。
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