Payback is a bitch!

Why does revenge feel so good?

Read Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche and you will surely get that people feel good when metaphorically speaking they see another person pay their debt. For instance, maybe a boyfriend cheated and now you want to go out and cheat on him because he will feel the dreadful pain that you felt when it was done to you. It is a plan that satisfies you because by inflicting just enough pain and suffering in him you feel that he has payed his dues for what he did to you… while you gloriously watch.

I couldn’t help but think of the human evolution of smell. Yes, smell. According to theorists that created 2 theories of smell, scents are received by the brain as molecular shape and/or as molecular vibrations. For instance, molecular shape would mean that bad smells would have a triangle shape that goes into the brain’s receptors and good smells would take on a different form so that the brain differentiates the two experiences. Molecular vibrations would then mean that every experience, good or bad, would trigger the molecules to exhibit different vibrational frequency for the sake of receptors to send positive or negative chemical reactions throughout your body that make you feel a certain way. Often time people get grossed out by the smell of rotten eggs, but interesting fact, some can not smell that scent. Physicists have found a simple explanation for this and it is that overtime the brain has found a way to recognize something that is spoiled so that us humans won’t eat it. The smell of rotten eggs actually benefits human evolution because the feeling of displeasure that one gets when smelling the scent signals that there is a threat to the health of our genetic make up in consuming the spoiled egg. The threat was consistent enough over a long period of time for the brain to need a strategy to identify it and guarantee gene survival. The threat could have caused pain like abdominal pain when the rotten food was consumed which “burned in,” in Nietzsche’s terms, the memory of consequence. Essentially, the process looks like: 1. rotten eggs 2. they smell bad 3. I can’t eat that because I will feel sick. In between step two and step three is the memory/ unconscious memory (of our ancestors experiences in our genetics) of the negative that will result from eating bad food.

Similarly, Nietzsche’s ideas parallel the scientific logic behind our being repelled by rotten eggs. Like smell, the feeling of pleasure that revenge produces in the body is a memory. Our brain through centuries of experiences is programmed to say, “hey that person is indebted to me because he/ she broke the rules and agreement.” For centuries people punished others for not remembering or making a mistake, so the body developed a mechanism to remember and check itself. The boyfriend or girlfriend who cheated on you may feel guilt and that is natural because the body is carrying a genetic makeup that, like a phone’s sim card, holds memories of ancestors pasts that recognize what results from doing wrong- punishment- and that guilt works much like a warning to the body. Those memories had consistently felt physical or emotional pain that “burned in” what is the human’s conscious which experiences “bad conscious” and “guilt.” Our brain over time created a combination of processes or formations in our brain that cause a reaction of guilt if you were the wrong doer and pleasure if you were the person receiving pay back.