Category Archives: Happiness & Wellbeing

MIGRAINE AND DEPRESSION: It’s All The Same Brain – Gale Scott * Migraine May Permanently Change Brain Structure – American Academy of Neurology * Migraine: Multiple Processes, Complex Pathophysiology – Rami Burstein, Rodrigo Noseda, and David Borsook.

The symptoms that accompany migraine suggest that multiple neuronal systems function abnormally. Neuroimaging studies show that brain networks, brain morphology, and brain chemistry are altered in episodic and chronic migraineurs. As a consequence of the disease itself or its genetic underpinnings, the migraine brain is altered structurally and functionally.

Migraine tends to run in families and as such is considered a genetic disorder. Genetic predisposition to migraine resides in multiple susceptible gene variants, many of which encode proteins that participate in the regulation of glutamate neurotransmission and proper formation of synaptic plasticity.

Migraine is a leading cause of suicide, an indisputable proof of the severity of the distress that the disease may inflict on the individual. 40% of migraine patients are also depressed.

Migraine and Depression: It’s All The Same Brain

Gale Scott

When a patient suffers from both migraines and depression or other psychiatric comorbidities, physicians have to treat both. It’s a common situation, since 40% of migraine patients are also depressed. Anxiety is even more prevalent in these patients. An estimated 50% of migraine patients are anxious whether with generalized anxiety, phobias, panic attacks. or other forms of anxiety, said Mia Minen, MD Director of Headache Services at NYU Langoni Medical Center.

Health care costs in treating these co-morbid patients are 1.5 times higher than for migraine patients without accompanying psychiatric disorders.

But sorting out whether one problem is causing the other is not always easy, she said in a recent interview at NYU Langone. “it’s really interesting, which came first,” she said, “We really don’t know.”

There may be a bidirectional relationship with depression. Anxiety may precede migraines, then depression may follow.

Fortunately, she said, the question of which problem came first doesn’t really matter that much.

“It’s all one brain, one organ, and some of the same neurotransmitters are implicated in both disorders.” Serotonin is affected in migraine just as it is in depression and anxiety, she said. Dopamine and norepinephrine are also related both to migraines and psychiatric comorbidities.

“So it’s really one organ that’s controlling all these things,” Minen said.

The first step in treatment is having patients keep a headache diary to track the intensity and frequency and what they take when they feel it coming on.

For a mild migraine that might be ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain killer.

If the migraine is moderately severe there are 7 migraine-specifuc medications that are effective, she said. There are oral, nasal, and injectable forms of triptans a family of tryptamine-based drugs. “We sometimes tell patients to combine the triptan with Naprosyn,” she said.

If triptans are contraindicated because the patient has other health problems, there are still more pharmaceutical options.

Those include some classes of beta blockers, antiseizure medications, and tricyclic antidepressants at low doses.

The drug regimen may vary with the particular comorbidity. For instance, for migraines with anxiety, venlafaxine might work. If patients have sleep disturbances, amitriptyline might be effective. “Lack of sleep is also a trigger for migraine,” she noted.

The toughest co-morbidity to treat in patients with migraine is finding a regimen that works for patients who are taking a lot of psychiatric medications, like SSRIs and antipsychotics.

For older patients with migraines plus cardiovascular disease, drug choices are also limited.

Botox injections seem promising, but Minen is cautious. “It’s a great treatment for patients with chronic migraines but they have to have failed 2 or 3 medications before they qualify for Botox.” Treatment involves 31 injections over the forehead, the back of the head and the neck. Relief lasts about 3 months, she said.

In addition to pharmaceutical treatment, there are cognitive behavior approaches that can work, like biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation therapy.

Opioids are not the treatment of choice, she said. They have not been shown to be effective, Minen said and reduce the body’s ability to respond to triptans.

“For chronic migraine, studies don’t show opioids enable patients to return to work; there is no objective study showing they work,” and their uses raises other problems. Patients used to taking opioids who go to an emergency room and request them may find themselves suspected of drugseeking behavior. “It’s hard for doctors and patients,” she said, when patients ask for opioids “It puts doctors in a predicament.”

New drugs are on the horizon, she said. “Calcitonin gene related peptide antagonists look good,” and unlike triptans are not contraindicated for people at risk of strokes or heart attacks.

For now, said Minen, treating migraine and comorbidities “is more an art than a science,” she said, “But a large majority of patients do get better.”

Migraine May Permanently Change Brain Structure

American Academy of Neurology

Migraine may have longlasting effects on the brain’s structure, according to a study published in the August 28, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Traditionally, migraine has been considered a benign disorder without long-term consequences for the brain,” said study author Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD, with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. “Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways.”

The study found that migraine raised the risk of brain lesions, white matter abnormalities and altered brain volume compared to people without the disorder. The association was even stronger in those with migraine with aura.

Migraine with aura
A common type of migraine featuring additional neurological symptoms. Aura is a term used to describe a neurological symptom of migraine, most commonly visual disturbances.
People who experience ‘migraine with aura’ will have many or all the symptoms of a ‘migraine without aura‘ and additional neurological symptoms which develop over a 5 to 20 minute period and last less than an hour.
Visual disturbances can include: blind spots in the field of eyesight, coloured spots, sparkles or stars, flashing lights before the eyes, tunnel vision, zig zag lines, temporary blindness.
Other symptoms include: numbness or tingling, pins and needles in the arms and legs, weakness on one side of the body, dizziness, a feeling of spinning (vertigo).
Speech and hearing can be affected and some people have reported memory changes, feelings of fear and confusion and, more rarely, partial paralysis or fainting.
These neurological symptoms usually happen before a headache, which could be mild, or no headache may follow.

For the meta-analysis, researchers reviewed six population-based studies and 13 clinic-based studies to see whether people who experienced migraine or migraine with aura had an increased risk of brain lesions, silent abnormalities or brain volume changes on MRI brain scans compared to those without the conditions.

The results showed that migraine with aura increased the risk of white matter brain lesions by 68 percent and migraine with no aura increased the risk by 34 percent, compared to those without migraine. The risk for infarct-like abnormalities increased by 44 percent for those without aura. Brain volume changes were more common in people with migraine and migraine with aura than those with no migraines.

“Migraine affects about 10 to 15 percent of the general population and can cause a substantial personal, occupational and social burden,” said Ashina. “We hope that through more study, we can clarify the association of brain structure changes to attack frequency and length of the disease. We also want to find out how these lesions may influence brain function.”

The study was supported by the Lundbeck Foundation and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

To learn more about migraine, please visit American Academy of Neurology.

Migraine: Multiple Processes, Complex Pathophysiology

Rami Burstein (1,3), Rodrigo Noseda (1,3) and David Borsook (2,3)
1 – Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston
2 – Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital
3 – Harvard Medical School

Migraine is a common, multifactorial, disabling, recurrent, hereditary neurovascular headache disorder. It usually strikes sufferers a few times per year in childhood and then progresses to a few times per week in adulthood, particularly in females. Attacks often begin with warning signs (prodromes) and aura (transient focal neurological symptoms) whose origin is thought to involve the hypothalamus, brainstem, and cortex.

Once the headache develops, it typically throbs, intensifies with an increase in intracranial pressure, and presents itself in association with nausea, vomiting, and abnormal sensitivity to light, noise, and smell. It can also be accompanied by abnormal skin sensitivity (anodynia) and muscle tenderness.

Collectively, the symptoms that accompany migraine from the prodromal stage through the headache phase suggest that multiple neuronal systems function abnormally.

As a consequence of the disease itself or its genetic underpinnings, the migraine brain is altered structurally and functionally. These molecular, anatomical, and functional abnormalities provide a neuronal substrate for an extreme sensitivity to fluctuations in homeostasis, a decreased ability to adapt, and the recurrence of headache.

Homeostasis is the state of steady internal conditions maintained by living things.

Advances in understanding the genetic predisposition to migraine, and the discovery of multiple susceptible gene variants (many of which encode proteins that participate in the regulation of glutamate neurotransmission and proper formation of synaptic plasticity) define the most compelling hypothesis for the generalized neuronal hyperexcitability and the anatomical alterations seen in the migraine brain.

Regarding the headache pain itself, attempts to understand its unique qualities point to activation of the trigeminovascular pathway as a prerequisite for explaining why the pain is restricted to the head, often affecting the periorhital area and the eye, and intensities when intracranial pressure increases.

Introduction

Migraine is a recurrent headache disorder affecting 15% of the population during the formative and most productive periods of their lives, between the ages of 22 and 55 years. It frequently starts in childhood, particularly around puberty, and affects women more than men.

It tends to run in families and as such is considered a genetic disorder.

In some cases, the headache begins with no warning signs and ends with sleep. In other cases, the headache may be preceded by a prodromal phase that includes fatigue; euphoria; depression; irritability; food cravings; constipation; neck stiffness; increased yawning; and/or abnormal sensitivity to light, sound, and smell and an aura phase that includes a variety of focal cortically mediated neurological symptoms that appear just before and/or during the headache phase. Symptoms of migraine aura develop gradually, feature exeitatory and inhibitory phases, and resolve completely. Positive (gain of function) and negative (loss of function) symptoms may present as scintillating lights and scotomas when affecting the visual cortex; paresthesia, and numbness of the face and hands when affecting the somatosensory cortex; tremor and unilateral muscle weakness when affecting the motor cortex or basal ganglia; and difficulty saying words (aphasia) when affecting the speech area.

The pursuant headache is commonly unilateral, pulsating, aggravated by routine physical activity, and can last a few hours to a few days (Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society, 2013). As the headache progresses, it may be accompanied by a variety of autonomic symptoms (nausea, vomiting, nasallsinus congestion, rhinorrhea, lacrimation, ptosis, yawning, frequent urination, and diarrhea), affective symptoms (depression and irritability), cognitive symptoms (attention deficit, difficulty finding words, transient amnesia, and reduced ability to navigate in familiar environments), and sensory symptoms (photophobia, phonophobia, osmophobia, muscle tenderness, and cutaneous allodynia).

The extent of these diverse symptoms suggests that migraine is more than a headache. It is now viewed as a complex neurological disorder that affects multiple cortical, subcortical, and brainstem areas that regulate autonomic, affective, cognitive, and sensory functions. As such, it is evident that the migraine brain differs from the non-migraine brain and that an effort to unravel the pathophysiology of migraine must expand beyond the simplistic view that there are “migraine generator” areas.

In studying migraine pathophysiology, we must consider how different neural networks interact with each other to allow migraine to commence with stressors such as insufficient sleep, skipping meals, stressful or post stressful periods, hormonal fluctuations, alcohol, certain foods, flickering lights, noise, or certain scents, and why migraine attacks are sometimes initiated by these triggers and sometimes not.

We must tackle the enigma of how attacks are resolved on their own or just weaken and become bearable by sleep, relaxation, food, and/or darkness. We must explore the mechanisms by which the frequency of episodic migraine increases over time (from monthly to weekly to daily), and why progression from episodic to chronic migraine is uncommon.

Disease mechanisms

In many cases, migraine attacks are likely to begin centrally, in brain areas capable of generating the classical neurological symptoms of prodromes and aura, whereas the headache phase begins with consequential activation of meningeal nociceptors at the origin of the trigeminovascular system.

A nociceptor is a sensory neuron that responds to damaging or potentially damaging stimuli by sending “possible threat” signals to the spinal cord and the brain. If the brain perceives the threat as credible, it creates the sensation of pain to direct attention to the body part, so the threat can hopefully be mitigated; this process is called nociception.
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The meninges are the three membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord. In mammals, the meninges are the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. Cerebrospinal fluid is located in the subarachnoid space between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater. The primary function of the meninges is to protect the central nervous system.

While some clues about how the occurrence of aura can activate nociceptors in the meninges exist, nothing is known about the mechanisms by which common prodromes initiate the headache phase or what sequence of events they trigger that results in activation of the meningeal nociceptors. A mechanistic search for a common denominator in migraine symptomatology and characteristics points heavily toward a genetic predisposition to generalized neuronal hyperexcitability. Mounting evidence for alterations in brain structure and function that are secondary to the repetitive state of headache can explain the progression of disease.

Prodromes

In the context of migraine, prodromes are symptoms that precede the headache by several hours. Examination of symptoms that are most commonly described by patients point to the potential involvement of the hypothalamus (fatigue, depression, irritability, food cravings, and yawning), brainstem (muscle tenderness and neck stiffness), cortex (abnormal sensitivity to light, sound, and smell), and limbic system (depression and anhedonia) in the prodromal phase of a migraine attack. Given that symptoms such as fatigue, yawning, food craving, and transient mood changes occur naturally in all humans, it is critical that we understand how their occurrence triggers a headache; whether the routine occurrence of these symptoms in migraineurs (i.e., when no headache develops) differs mechanistically from their occurrence before the onset of migraine; and why yawning, food craving, and fatigue do not trigger a migraine in healthy subjects.

Recently, much attention has been given to the hypothalamus because it plays a key role in many aspects of human circadian rhythms (wake sleep cycle, body temperature, food intake, and hormonal fluctuations) and in the continuous effort to maintain homeostasis. Because the migraine brain is extremely sensitive to deviations from homeostasis, it seems reasonable that hypothalamie neurons that regulate homeostasis and circadian cycles are at the origin of some of the migraine prodromes.

Unraveling the mechanisms by which hypothalamic and brainstem neurons can trigger a headache is central to our ability to develop therapies that can intercept the headache during the prodromal phase (i.e., before the headache begins. The ongoing effort to answer this question focuses on two very different possibilities (Fig. 1). The first suggests that hypothalamic neurons that respond to changes in physiological and emotional homeostasis can activate meningeal nociceptors by altering the balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic tone in the meninges toward the predominance of parasympathetic tone. Support for such a proposal is based on the following: (1) hypothalamic neurons are in a position to regulate the firing of preganglionic parasympathetic neurons in the superior salivatory nucleus (SSN) and sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the spinal intermediolateral nucleus. (2) the SSN can stimulate the release of acetylcholine, vasoactive intestinal peptide, and nitric oxide from meningeal terminals of postganglionic parasympathetic neurons in the Spheno palatine ganglion (SPG), leading to dilation of intracranial blood vessels, plasma protein extravasation, and local release of inflammatory molecules capable of activating pial and dural branches of meningeal nociceptors; (3) meningeal blood vessels are densely innervated by para sympathetic fibers. (4) activation of SSN neurons can modulate the activity of central trigeminovascular neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus. (5) activation of meningeal nociceptors appears to depend partially on enhanced activity in the SPG. (6) enhanced cranial parasympathetic tone during migraine is evident by lacrimation and nasal congestion, and, finally, (7) blockade of the sphenopalatine ganglion provides partial or complete relief of migraine pain.

The second proposal suggests that hypothalamic and brainstem neurons that regulate responses to deviation from physiological and emotional homeostasis can lower the threshold for the transmission of nociceptive trigeminovascular signals from the thalamus to the cortex, a critical step in establishing the headache experience. This proposal is based on understanding how the thalamus selects, amplifies, and prioritizes information it eventually transfers to the cortex, and how hypothalamic and brainstem nuclei regulate relay thalamocortical neurons. It is constructed from recent evidence that relay trigeminothalamic neurons in sensory thalamie nuclei receive direct input from hypothalamic neurons that contain dopamine, histamine, orexin, and melanin concentrating hormone (MCH), and brainstem neurons that contain noradrenaline and serotonin. In principle, each of these neuropeptides/neurotransmitters can shift the activity of thalamic neurons from burst to tonic mode if it is excitatory (dopamine, and high concentration of serotonin, noradrenaline, histamine, orexin, and from tonic to burst mode if it is inhibitory (MCH and low concentration of serotonin). The opposing factors that regulate the firing of relay trigeminovascular thalamic neurons provide an anatomical foundation for explaining why prodromes give rise to some migraine attacks but not to others, and why external (e.g., exposure to strong perfume) and internal conditions (e.g., skipping a meal and feeling hungry, sleeping too little and being tired, or simple stress) trigger migraine attacks so inconsistently.

In the context of migraine, the convergence of these hypothalamic and brainstem neurons on thalamic trigeminovascular neuruns can establish high and low set points for the allostatic load of the migraine brain. The allostatic load, defined as the amount of brain activity required to appropriately manage the level of emotional or physiological stress at any given time, can explain why external and internal conditions only trigger headache some of the times, when they coincide with the right circadian phase of cyclic rhythmicity of brainstem, and hypothalamic and thalamic neurons that preserve homeostasis.

Cortical spreading depression

Clinical and preclinical studies suggest that migraine aura is caused by cortical spreading depression (CSD), a slowly propagating wave of depolarization/excitation followed by hyperpolarization/inhibition in cortical neurons and glia. While specific processes that initiate CSD in humans are not known, mechanisms that invoke inflammatory molecules as a result of emotional or physiological stress, such as lack of sleep, may play a role. In the cortex, the initial membrane depolarization is associated with a large efflux of potassium; influx of sodium and calcium; release of glutamate, ATP, and hydrogen ions; neuronal swelling ; upregulation of genes involved in inflammatory processing; and a host of changes in cortical perfusion and enzymatic activity that include opening of the megachannel Panxl, activation of caspase-1, and a breakdown of the blood brain barrier.

Outside the brain, caspase-1 activation can initiate inflammation by releasing high mobility group protein B1 and interleukin-1 into the CSF, which then activates nuclear factor KB in astrocytes, with the consequential release of cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide swithase (iNOS) into the subarach noid space. The introduction into the meninges of these proinflammatory molecules, as well as calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) and nitric oxide, may be the link between aura and headache because the meninges are densely innervated by pain fibers whose activation distinguishes headaches of intracranial origin (e.g., migraine, meningitis, and subaraeh noid bleeds) from headaches of extracranial origin (e.g., tension type headache, cervicogenic headache, or headaches caused by mild trauma to the cranium).

Anatomy and physiology of the trigeminovascular pathway: from activation to sensitization

Anatomical description

The trigeminovascular pathway conveys nociceptive information from the meninges to the brain. The pathway originates in trigeminal ganglion neurons whose peripheral axons reach the pia, dura, and large cerebral arteries, and whose central axons reach the nociceptive dorsal horn laminae of the SpV. In the SpV, the nociceptors converge on neurons that receive additional input from the periorbital skin and pericranial muscles. The ascending axonal projections of trigeminovascular SpV neurons transmit monosynaptic nocieeptive signals to (1) brainstem nuclei, such as the ventro lateral periaqueductal gray, reticular for mation, superior salivatory, parabrachial, cuneiform, and the nucleus of the solitary tract; (2) hypothalamic nuclei, such as the anterior, lateral, perifornical, dorsome dial, suprachiasmatic, and supraoptic; and (3) basal ganglia nuclei, such as the caudate putamen, globus pallidus, and sub stantia innominata. These projections maybe critical for the initiation of nausea, vomiting, yawning, lacrimation, urination, loss of appetite, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and depression by the headache itself.

Additional projections of trigeminovascular SpV neurons are found in the thalamic ventral posteromedial (VPM), posterior (PO), and parafascicular nuclei. Relay trigeminovascular thalamic neurons that project to the somatosensory, insular, motor, parietal association, retrosplenial, auditory, visual, and olfactory cortices are in a position to construct the specific nature of migraine pain (i.e., location, intensity, and quality) and many of the cortically mediated symptoms that distinguish between migraine headache and other pains. These include transient symptoms of motor clumsiness, difficulty focusing, amnesia, allodynia, phonophobia, photophobia, and osmophobia. Figure 2A illustrates the complexity of the trigeminovascular pathway.

Activation

Studies in animals show that CSD initiates delayed activation (Fig. 2D, 2B,C) and immediate activation (Fig. 2D) of peripheral and central trigeminovascular neurons in a fashion that resembles the classic delay and occasional immediate onset of headache after aura, and that systemic administration of the M type potassium channel opener KCNQ2/3 can prevent the CSD induced activation of the nociceptors.

These findings support the notion that the onset of the headache phase of migraine with aura coincides with the activation of meningeal nociceptors at the peripheral origin of the trigeminovascular pathway. Whereas the vascular, cellular, and molecular events involved in the activation of meningeal nocieeptors by CSD are not well under stood, a large body of data suggests that transient constriction and dilatation of pial arteries and the development of dural plasma protein extravasation, neurogenic inflammation, platelet aggregation, and mast cell degranulation, many of which may be driven by CSD dependent peripheral CGRP release, can introduce to the meninges proinflammatory molecules, such as histamine, bradykinin, serotonin, and prostaglandins (prostaglandin E2), and a high level of hydrogen ions thus altering the molecular environment in which meningeal nociceptors exist.

Sensitization

When activated in the altered molecular environment described above, peripheral trigeminovascular neurons become sensitized (their response threshold decreases and their response magnitude increases) and begin to respond to dura stimuli to which they showed minimal or no response at base line. When central trigeminovascular neurons in laminae I and V of SpV (Fig. 2F) and in the thalamic PO/VPM nuclei (Fig. 2G) become sensitized, their spontaneous activity increases, their receptive fields expand, and they begin to respond to innocuous mechanical and thermal stimulation of cephalic and extracephalic skin areas as if it were noxious. The human correlates of the electrophysiological measures of neuronal sensitization in animal studies are evident in contrast analysis of BOLD signals registered in MRI scans of the human trigeminal ganglion (Fig. 2H), spinal trigeminal nucleus (Fig. 2I), and the thalamus (Fig. 2J), all measured during migraine attacks.

The clinical manifestation of peripheral sensitization during migraine, which takes roughly 10 mins to develop, includes the perception of throbbing headache and the transient intensiflcation of headache while bending over or coughing, activities that momentarily increase intracranial pressure.

The clinical manifestation of sensitization of central trigeminovascular neurons in the SpV, which takes 30-60 min to develop and 120 min to reach full extent, include the development of cephalic allodynia signs such as scalp and muscle tenderness and hypersensitivity to touch. These signs are often recognized in patients reporting that they avoid wearing glasses, earrings, hats, or any other object that come in contact with the facial skin during migraine.

The clinical manifestation of thalamic sensitization during migraine, which takes 2-4 h to develop, also includes extracephalic allodynia signs that cause patients to remove tight clothing and jewelry, and avoid being touched, massaged, or hugged.

Evidence that triptans, 5HT agonists that disrupt communications between peripheral and central trigeminovascular neurons in the dorsal horn, are more effective in aborting migraine when administered early (i.e., before the development of central sensitization and allodynia) rather than late (i.e., after the development of allodynia) provides further support for the notion that meningeal nociceptors drive the initial phase of the headache. Further support for this concept was provided recently by studies showing that humanized monoclonal antihodies against CGRP, molecules that are too big to penetrate the bloodbrain barrier and act centrally (according to the companies that developed them), are effective in preventing migraine. Along this line, it was also reported that drugs that act on central trigeminovascular neurons, e.g., dihydroergotamine (DHE), are equally effective in reversing an already developed central sensitization a possible explanation for DHE effectiveness in aborting migraine after the failure of therapy with triptans.

Genetics and the hyperexcitable brain

Family history points to a genetic predisposition to migraine. A genetic association with migraine was first observed and defined in patients with familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM).

The three genes identified with FHM encode proteins that regulate glutamate availability in the synapse. FHM1 (CACNAIA) encodes the pore-forming a1 subunit of the P/Q type calcium channel; FHM2 (ATP1A2) encodes the 112 subunit of the Na+/K+ ATPase pump; and the FHM3 (SCNIA) encodes the a1 sub unit of the neuronal voltage gated Nav1.1 channel.

Collectively, these genes regulate transmitter release, glial ability to clear (reuptake) glutamate from the synapse, and the generation of action potentials.

Since these early findings, large genome wide association studies have identified 13 susceptibility gene variants for migraine with and without aura, three of which regulate glutaminergic neurotransmission (MTDH/AEG-1 downregulates glutamate transporter, LPRI modulates synaptic transmission through the NMDA receptor, and MEF-2D regulates the glutamatergic excitatory synapse), and two of which regulate synaptic development and plasticity (ASTN2 is involved in the structural development of cortical layers, and FHI5 regulates cAMP sensitive CREB proteins involved msynaptic plasticity).

These findings provide the most plausible explanation for the “generalized” neuronal hyperexcitability of the migraine brain.

In the context of migraine, increased activity in glutamalergic systems can lead to excessive occupation of the NMDA receptor, which in turn may amplify and reinforce pain transmission, and the development of allodynia and central sensitization. Network wise, wide spread neuronal hyperexcitability may also be driven by thalamocortical dysrhythmia, defective modulatory brainstem circuits that regulate excitability at multiple levels along the neuraxis; and inherently improper regulation/habituation of cortical, thalamic, and brainstem functions by limbic structures, such as the hypothalamus, amygdala, nucleus accumbens, caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus. Given that 2 of the 13 susceptibility genes regulate synaptic development and plasticity, it is reasonable to speculate that some of the networks mentioned above may not be properly wired to set a normal level of habituation throughout the brain, thus explaining the multi factorial nature of migraine. Along this line, it is also tempting to propose that at least some of the structural alterations seen in the migraine brain may be inherited and, as such, may be the “cause” of migraine, rather than being secondary to (i.e., being caused by) the repeated headache attacks. But this concept awaits evidence.

Structural and functional brain alterations

Brain alterations can be categorized into the following two processes: (1) alteration in brain function and (2) alterations in brain structure (Fig. 3). Functionally, a variety of imaging techniques used to measure relative activation in different brain areas in migraineurs (vs control subjects) revealed enhanced activation in the periaqueductal gray; red nucleus and substantia nigra; hypothalamus; posterior thalamus; cerebellum, insula, cingulate and prefrontal cortices, anterior temporal pole, and the hippocampus; and decreased activation in the somatosensory cortex, nucleus cuneiformis, caudate, putamen, and pallidum. All of these activity changes occurred in response to nonrepetitive stimuli, and in the cingulate and prefrontal cortex they occurred in response to repetitive stimuli.

Collectively, these studies support the concept that the migraine brain lacks the ability to habituate itself and consequently becomes hyperexcitable. It is a matter of debate, however, if such changes are unique to migraine headache. Evidence for nearly identical activation patterns in other pain conditions, such as lower back pain, neuropathic pain, Hbromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and cardiac pain, raises the possibility that differences between somatic pain and migraine pain are not due to differences in central pain processing.

Anatomically, voxel based morphometry and diffusion sensor imaging studies in migraine patients (vs control subjects) have revealed thickening of the somatosensory cortex; increased gray matter density in the caudate; and gray matter volume loss in the superior temporal gyms, inferior frontal gyms, precentral gyms, anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, parietal operculum, middle and inferior frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and bilateral insula.

Changes in cortical and subcortical structures may also depend on the frequency of migraine attacks for a number of cortical and subcortical regions. As discussed above, it is unclear whether such changes are genetically predetermined or simply a result of the repetitive exposure to pain/stress. Favoring the latter are studies showing that similar gray matter changes occurring in patients experiencing other chronic pain conditions are reversible and that the magnitude of these changes can be correlated with the duration of disease.

Further complicating our ability to determine how the migraine brain differs from the brain of a patient experiencing other chronic pain conditions are anatomical findings showing decreased gray matter density in the prefrontal cortex, thalamus, posterior insula, secondary somatosensory cortex, precentral and posteentral gyms, hippocampus, and temporal pole of chronic back pain patients; anterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex of complex regional pain syndrome patients; and the insula, midanterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus and inferior temporal coxtex in osteoarthritis pa tients with chronic back pain.

Whereas some of the brain alterations seen in migraineurs depend on the sex of the patient, little can he said about the role played by the sex of patients who experience other pain conditions.

Treatments in development

Migraine therapy has two goals: to terminate acute attacks; and to prevent the next attack from happening. The latter can potentially prevent the progression from episodic to chronic state. Regarding the effort to terminate acute attacks, migraine represents one of the few pain conditions for which a specific drug (i.e., triptan) has been developed based on understanding the mechanisms of the disease. In contrast, the effort to prevent migraine from happening is likely to face a much larger challenge given that migraine can originate in an unknown number of brain areas (see above), and is associated with generalized functional and structural brain abnormalities.

A number of treatments that attract attention are briefly reviewed below.

Medications The most exciting drug currently under development is humanized monoclonal antibodies against CGRP. The development of these monoclonal antibodies are directed at both CGRP and its receptors. The concept is based on CGRP localization in the trigeminal ganglion and its relevance to migaine patho-physiology. In recent phase II randomized placebo-controlled trials, the neutralizing humanized monoclonal antibodies against CGRP administered by injection for the prevention of episodic migraine, showed promising results. Remarkably, a single injection may prevent or significantly reduce migraine attacks for 3 months.

Given our growing understanding of the importance of prodromes (likely representing abnormal sensitivity to the fluctuation in hypothalamically regulated homeostasis) and aura (likely representing the inherited conical hyperexcitability) in the pathophysiology of migraine, drugs that target ghrelin, leptin, and orexin receptors may be considered for therapeutic development which is based on their ability to restore proper hypothalamic control of stress, hyperphagia, adiposity, and sleep. All may be critical in reducing allostatic load and, consequently, in initiating the next migraine attack.

Brain modification

Neuroimaging studies showing that brain networks, brain morphology, and brain chemistry are altered in episodic and chronic migraineurs justify attempts to develop therapies that widely modify brain networks and their functions. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is thought to modify cortical hyperexcitability, is one such approach. Another approach for generalized brain modification is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Conclusions

Migraine is a common and undertreated disease. For those who suffer, it is a major cause of disability, including missing work or school, and it frequently has associated comorbidities such as anxiety and depression. To put this in context, it is a leading cause of suicide, an indisputable proof of the severity of the distress that the disease may inflict on the individual.

There is currently no objective diagnosis or treatment that is universally effective in aborting or preventing attacks. As an intermittent disorder, migraine represents a neurological condition wherein systems that continuously evaluate errors (error detection) frequently fail, thus adding to the allostatic load of the disease.

Given the enormous burden to society, there is an urgent imperative to focus on better understanding the neurobiology of the disease to enable the discovery of novel treatment approaches.

World Happiness Report 2018 – John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs.

The most striking finding is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population.

Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live.

The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives.

A higher value for migrant acceptance is linked to greater happiness for both immigrants and the native-born, by almost equal amounts.

Human psychology is complicated, and behavioural economics has now documented hundreds of ways in which people mispredict the impact of decisions upon their happiness. It does not follow that we should over-regulate their lives, which would also cause unhappiness. It does follow that we should protect people after they make their decisions, by ensuring that they can make positive social connections in their new communities (hence avoiding or reducing discrimination), and that they are helped to fulfill the dreams that led them to move in the first place.

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness. The World Happiness Report 2018, ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.

The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migration within and between countries.

The overall rankings of country happiness are based on the pooled results from Gallup World Poll surveys from 2015-2017, and show both change and stability. There is a new top ranking country, Finland, but the top ten positions are held by the same countries as in the last two years, although with some swapping of places. Four different countries have held top spot in the four most recent reports, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and now Finland.

All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Among the top countries, differences are small enough that year-to-year changes in the rankings are to be expected.

The analysis of happiness changes from 2008-2010 to 2015-2015 shows Togo as the biggest gainer, moving up 17 places in the overall rankings from the last place position it held as recently as in the 2015 rankings. The biggest loser is Venezuela, down 2.2 points on the 0 to 10 scale.

Five of the report’s seven chapters deal primarily with migration, as summarized in Chapter 1. For both domestic and international migrants, the report studies not just the happiness of the migrants and their host communities, but also of those left behind, whether in the countryside or in the source country. The results are generally positive.

Perhaps the most striking finding of the whole report is that a ranking of countries according to the happiness of their immigrant populations is almost exactly the same as for the rest of the population. The immigrant happiness rankings are based on the full span of Gallup data from 2005 to 2017, sufficient to have 117 countries with more than 100 immigrant respondents.

The ten happiest countries in the overall rankings also are ten of the top eleven spots in the ranking of immigrant happiness. Finland is at the top of both rankings in this report, with the happiest immigrants, and the happiest population in general.

The closeness of the two rankings shows that the happiness of immigrants depends predominantly on the quality of life where they now live, illustrating a general pattern of convergence. Happiness can change, and does change, according to the quality of the society in which people live. Immigrant happiness, like that of the locally born, depends on a range of features of the social fabric, extending far beyond the higher incomes traditionally thought to inspire and reward migration.

The countries with the happiest immigrants are not the richest countries, but instead the countries with a more balanced set of social and institutional supports for better lives.

While convergence to local happiness levels is quite rapid, it is not complete, as there is a ‘footprint’ effect based on the happiness in each source country. This effect ranges from 10% to 25%. This footprint effect, explains why immigrant happiness is less than that of the locals in the happiest countries, while being greater in the least happy countries.

A very high proportion of the international differences in immigrant happiness (as shown in Chapter 2), and of the happiness gains for individual migrants (as studied in Chapters 3 and 5) are thus explained by local happiness and source country happiness.

The explanation becomes even more complete when account is taken of international differences in a new Gallup index of migrant acceptance, based on local attitudes towards immigrants, as detailed in an Annex to the Report.

A higher value for migrant acceptance is linked to greater happiness for both immigrants and the native-born, by almost equal amounts.

The report studies rural-urban migration as well, principally through the recent Chinese experience, which has been called the greatest mass migration in history. That migration shows some of the same convergence characteristics of the international experience, with the happiness of city-bound migrants moving towards, but still falling below urban averages.

The importance of social factors in the happiness of all populations, whether migrant or not, is emphasized in Chapter 6, where the happiness bulge in Latin America is found to depend on the greater warmth of family and other social relationships there, and to the greater importance that people there attach to these relationships.

The Report ends on a different tack, with a focus on three emerging health problems that threaten happiness: obesity, the opioid crisis, and depression. Although set in a global context, most of the evidence and discussion are focused on the United States, where the prevalence of all three problems has been growing faster and further than in most other countries.

Edited by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs This publication may be reproduced using the following reference: Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2018). World Happiness Report 2018, New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Chapter 1

Happiness and Migration: An Overview

Increasingly, with globalisation, the people of the world are on the move; and most of these migrants are seeking a happier life. But do they achieve it? That is the central issue considered in this 2018 World Happiness Report. But what if they do? The migrants are not the only people affected by their decision to move. Two other major groups of people are affected by migration: • those left behind in the area of origin, and • those already living in the area of destination.

This chapter assesses the happiness consequences of migration for all three groups. We shall do this separately, first for rural-urban migration within countries, and then for international migration.

Rural-Urban Migration

Rural-urban migration within countries has been far larger than international migration, and remains so, especially in the developing world. There has been, since the Neolithic agricultural revolution, a net movement of people from the countryside to the towns. In bad times this trend gets partially reversed. But in modern times it has hugely accelerated.

The timing has differed in the various parts of the world, with the biggest movements linked to boosts in agricultural productivity combined with opportunities for employment elsewhere, most frequently in an urban setting. It has been a major engine of economic growth, transferring people from lower productivity agriculture to higher productivity activities in towns.

In some industrial countries this process has gone on for two hundred years, and in recent times rural-urban migration within countries has been slowing down. But elsewhere, in poorer countries like China, the recent transformation from rural to urban living has been dramatic enough to be called “the greatest mass migration in human history”. Over the years 1990-2015 the Chinese urban population has grown by 463 million, of whom roughly half are migrants from villages to towns and cities. By contrast, over the same period the increase in the number of international migrants in the entire world has been 90 million, less than half as many as rural to urban migrants in China alone.

Thus internal migration is an order of magnitude larger than international migration. But it has received less attention from students of wellbeing, even though both types of migration raise similar issues for the migrants, for those left behind, and for the populations receiving the migrants.

The shift to the towns is most easily seen by looking at the growth of urban population in developing countries (see Table 1.1). Between 1990 and 2015 the fraction of people in these countries who live in towns rose from 30% to nearly 50%, and the numbers living in towns increased by over 1,500 million people. A part of this came from natural population growth within towns or from villages becoming towns. But at least half of it came from net migration into the towns. In the more developed parts of the world there was also some rural-urban migration, but most of that had already happened before 1990.

International Migration

If rural-urban migration within countries is an age-old phenomenon, large-scale international migration has increased greatly in recent years due to globalisation (see Table 1.2). In 1990 there were in the world 153 million people living outside the country where they were born. By 2015 this number had risen to 244 million, of whom about 10% were refugees. So over the last quarter century international migrants increased by 90 million.

This is a large number, even if dwarfed by the scale of rural-urban migration. In addition, on one estimate there are another 700 million people who would like to move between countries but haven’t yet done so.

Of the increased number of recent migrants over a half comes from migration between continents (see Table 1.3). There were big migrations into North America and Europe, fuelled by emigration from South/Central America, Asia and Africa.

There were also important flows of international migrants within continents (see Table 1.4). In Asia for example there were big flows from the Indian sub-continent to the Gulf States; and in Europe there was the strong westward flow that has followed the end of Communism.

From the point of view of the existing residents an important issue is how many immigrants there are, as a share of the total population. This requires us to look at immigrants as a fraction of the total population. At the world level this has risen by a half in recent years (see Table 1.2).

But in most of the poorer and highly populous countries of the world the proportion of migrants remains quite low. It is in some richer countries that the proportion of immigrants is very high. In Western Europe, most countries have immigrants at between 10 and 15 per cent of the population. The same is true of the USA; while Canada, Australia and New Zealand have between 20 and 30%. The most extreme cases are the UAE and Kuwait, both over 70%.

Figure 1.1 shows the situation worldwide.

The Happiness of International Migrants

As already noted, migration within and between countries has in general shifted people from less to more productive work, and from lower to higher incomes. In many cases the differences have been quite extreme. International migration has also saved many people from extremes of oppression and physical danger, some 10% of all international migrants are refugees, or 25 million people in total.

But what can be said about the happiness of international migrants after they have reached their destination?

Chapter 2 of this report begins with its usual ranking and analysis of the levels and changes in the happiness of all residents, whether locally born or immigrants, based on samples of 1,000 per year, averaged for 2015-2017, for 156 countries surveyed by the Gallup World Poll. The focus is then switched to international migration, separating out immigrants to permit ranking of the average life evaluations of immigrants for the 117 countries having more than 100 foreign-born respondents between 2005 and 2017. (These foreign-born residents may include short-term guest workers, longer term immigrants, and serial migrants who shift their residency more often, at different stages of their upbringing, careers, and later lives).

So what determines the happiness of immigrants living in different countries and coming from different, other countries? Three striking facts emerge:

1. In the typical country, immigrants are about as happy as people born locally. (The difference is under 0.1 point out of 10). This is shown in Figure 1.2. However the figure also shows that in the happiest countries immigrants are significantly less happy than locals, while the reverse is true in the least happy countries. This is because of the second finding.

2. The happiness of each migrant depends not only on the happiness of locals (with a weight of roughly 0.75) but also on the level of happiness in the migrant’s country of origin (with a weight of roughly 0.25). Thus if a migrant goes (like many migrants) from a less happy to a more happy country, the migrant ends up somewhat less happy than the locals. But the reverse is true if a migrant goes from a more to a less happy country.

This explains the pattern shown in Figure 1.2, and is a general (approximate) truth about all bilateral flows. Another way of describing this result is to say that on average a migrant gains in happiness about three-quarters of the difference in average happiness between the country of origin and the destination country.

3. The happiness of immigrants also depends, importantly, on how accepting the locals are towards immigrants. (To measure acceptance local residents were asked whether the following were “good things” or “bad things”: having immigrants in the country, having an immigrant as a neighbour, and having an immigrant marry your close relative).

In a country that was more accepting (by one standard deviation) immigrants were happier by 0.1 points (on a 0 to 10 scale). Thus the analysis in Chapter 2 argues that
migrants gain on average if they move from a less happy to a more happy country (which is the main direction of migration). But that argument was based on a simple comparison of the happiness of migrants with people in the countries they have left.

What if the migrants were different types of people from those left behind? Does this change the conclusion? As Chapter 3 shows, the answer is, No.

In Chapter 3 the happiness of migrants is compared with individuals in their country of origin who are as closely matched to the migrants as possible and are thinking of moving. This again uses the data from the Gallup World Poll. The results from comparing the migrants with their look-a-likes who stayed at home suggests that the average international migrant gained 0.47 points (out of 10) in happiness by migration (as measured by the Cantril ladder). This is a substantial gain. But there is an important caveat: the majority gain, but many lose. For example, in the only controlled experiment that we know of, Tongans applying to migrate to New Zealand were selected on randomised basis. After moving, those who had been selected to move were on average less happy than those who (forcibly) stayed behind.

Migration clearly has its risks. These. include separation from loved ones,. discrimination in the new location, and a feeling of relative deprivation, because you now compare yourselfwith others who are richer than your previous reference group back home.

One obvious question is: Do migrants become happier or less happy the longer they have been in a country? The answer is on average, neither, their happiness remains flat. And in some countries (where this has been studied) there is evidence that second-generation migrants are no happier than their immigrant parents.

One way of explaining these findings (which is developed further in Chapter 4) is in terms of reference groups: When people first move to a happier country their reference group is still largely their country of origin. They experience an immediate gain in happiness. As time passes their objective situation improves (which makes them still happier) but their reference group becomes increasingly the destination country (which makes them less happy). These two effects roughly offset each other. This process continues in the second generation.

The Gallup World Poll excludes many current refugees, since refugee camps are not surveyed. Only in Germany is there sufficient evidence on refugees, and in Germany refugees are 0.4 points less happy than other migrants. But before they moved the refugees were also much less happy than the other migrants were before they moved.

So refugees too are likely to have benefitted from migration. Thus average international migration benefits the majority of migrants, but not all. Does the same finding hold for the vast of the army of people who have moved from the country to the towns within less developed countries?

The Happiness of Rural-Urban Migrants

The fullest evidence on this comes from China and is presented in Chapter 4. That chapter compares the happiness of three groups of people:

• rural dwellers, who remain in the country,

• rural-urban migrants, now living in towns, and

• urban dwellers, who always lived in towns.

Migrants have roughly doubled their work income by moving from the countryside, but they are less happy than the people still living in rural areas. Chapter 4 therefore goes on to consider possible reasons for this.

Could it be that many of the migrants suffer because of the remittances they send home? The evidence says No. Could it be that the people who migrate were intrinsically less happy? The evidence says No. Could it be that urban life is more insecure than life in the countryside, and involves fewer friends and more discrimination? Perhaps.

The biggest factor affecting the happiness of migrants is a change of reference group: the happiness equation for migrants is similar to that of urban dwellers, and different from that of rural dwellers. This could explain why migrants say they are happier as a result of moving, they would no longer appreciate the simple pleasures of rural life.

Human psychology is complicated, and behavioural economics has now documented hundreds of ways in which people mispredict the impact of decisions upon their happiness. It does not follow that we should over-regulate their lives, which would also cause unhappiness. It does follow that we should protect people after they make their decisions, by ensuring that they can make positive social connections in their new communities (hence avoiding or reducing discrimination), and that they are helped to fulfil the dreams that led them to move in the first place.

It is unfortunate that there are not more studies of rural-urban migration in other countries. In Thailand one study finds an increase in happiness among migrants, while in South Africa one study finds a decrease?

The Happiness of Families Left Behind

In any case the migrants are not the only people who matter. What about the happiness of the families left behind? They frequently receive remittances (altogether some $500 billion in 2015), but they lose the company and direct support of the migrant. For international migrants we are able to examine this question In Chapter 3.

This is done by studying people in the country of origin and examining the effect of having a relative who is living abroad. On average this experience increases both life-satisfactlon and positive affect. But there is also a rise in negative affect (sadness, worry, anger), especially if the migrant is abroad on temporary work. Unfortunately there is no comparable analysis of families left behind by rural-urban migrants who move to towns and cities in the same country.

The Happiness of the Original Residents in the Host Country

The final issue is how the arrival of migrants affects the existing residents in the host country or city. This is one of the most difficult issues in all social science.

One approach is simply to explain happiness in different countries by a whole host of variables including the ratio of immigrants to the locally born population (the “immigrant share”). This is done in Chapter 2 and shows no effect of the immigrant share on the average happiness of the locally born. It does however show that the locally born population (like immigrants) are happier, other things equal, if the country is more accepting of immigrants.

Nevertheless, we know that immigration can create tensions, as shown by its high political salience in many immigrant-receiving countries, especially those on migration trails from unhappy source countries to hoped-for havens in the north.

Several factors contribute to explaining whether migration is welcomed by the local populations.

First, scale is important. Moderate levels of immigration cause fewer problems than rapid surges,

Second, the impact of unskilled immigration falls mainly on unskilled people in the host country, though the impact on public services is often exaggerated and the positive contribution of immigrants is often underestimated.

Third, the degree of social distress caused to the existing residents depends importantly on their own frame of mind, a more open-minded attitude is better both for immigrants and for the original residents.

Fourth, the attitude of immigrants is also important if they are to find and accept opportunities to connect with the local populations, this is better for everyone. Even if such integration may initially seem difficult, in the long run it has better results, familiarity eventually breeds acceptance, and inter-marriage more than anything blurs the differences.

The importance of attitudes is documented in the Gallup Annex on migrant acceptance, and in Chapter 2, where the migrant acceptance index is shown to increase the happiness of both sectors of the population, immigrants and the locally born.

Chapter 5 completes the set of migration chapters. It seeks to explain why so many people emigrate from Latin American countries, and also to assess the happiness consequences for those who do migrate. In Latin America, as elsewhere, those who plan to emigrate are on average less happy than others. Similar to themselves in income, gender and age. They are also on average wealthier, in other words they are “frustrated achievers”.

But those who do emigrate from Latin American countries also gain less in happiness than emigrants from some other continents. This is because, as shown in chapters 2 and 6, they come from pretty happy countries. Their choice of destination countries is also a less happy mix. This combination lessens their average gains, because of the convergence of immigrant happiness to the general happiness levels in the countries to which they move, as documented in Chapter 2. If immigrants from Latin America are compared to other migrants to the same countries, they do very well in relation both to other immigrants and to the local population. This is shown in Chapter 2 for immigration to Canada and the United Kingdom, countries with large enough happiness surveys to permit comparison of the happiness levels of immigrants from up to 100 different source countries.

Chapter 6 completes the Latin American special package by seeking to explain the happiness bulge in Latin America. Life satisfaction in Latin America is substantially higher than would be predicted based on income, corruption, and other standard variables, includIng having someone to count on. Even more remarkable are the levels of positive affect, with eight of the world‘s top ten countries being found in Latin America.

To explaIn these differences, Chapter 6 convincingly demonstrates the strength of family relationships in Latin America. In a nutshell, the source of the extra Latin American happiness lies in the remarkable warmth and strength of family bonds, coupled with the greater importance that Latin Americans attach to social life in general, and especially to the family. They are more satisfied with their family life and, more than elsewhere, say that one of their main goals is making their parents proud.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are large gaps in happiness between countries, and these will continue to create major pressures to migrate. Some of those who migrate between countries will benefit and others will lose. In general, those who move to happier countrIes than their own will gain in happiness, while those who move to unhappier countries will tend to lose. Those left behind will not on average lose, although once again there will be gainers and losers. Immigration will continue to pose both opportunities and costs for those who move, for those who remain behind, and for natives of the immigrant-receiving countries.

Where immigrants are welcome and where they integrate well, immigration works best. A more tolerant attitude in the host country will prove best for migrants and for the original residents. But there are clearly limits to the annual flows which can be accommodated without damage to the social fabric that provides the very basis of the country’s attraction to immigrants.

One obvious solution, which has no upper limit, is to raise the happiness of people in the sending countries, perhaps by the traditional means of foreign aid, and better access to rich-country markets, but more importantly by helping them to grow their own levels of trust, and institutions of the sort that make possible better lives in the happier countries.

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World Happiness Report

THE HAPPINESS EQUATION. The Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset – Nick Powdthavee.

What do we do, then? What do we do when our lives are a series of trade-offs between different combinations of ‘what ifs”? What do we do when there is an endless horizon of time and resource constraints constantly telling us that whatever we do, we can’t possibly have it all?

“Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” Rabbi Hyman Schachtel.

Why is marriage worth £200,000 a year? Why will having children make you unhappy?

Why does happiness from winning the lottery take two years to arrive?

Why does time heal the pain of divorce or the death of a loved one but not unemployment?

Everybody wants to be happy. But how much happiness precisely will each life choice bring? Should I get married? Am I really going to feel happy about the career that I picked? How can we decide not only which choice is better for us, but how much it’s better for us?

The result of new, unique research, The Happiness Equation brings to a general readership for the first time the new science of happiness economics.

It describes how we can measure emotional reactions to different life experiences and present them in ways we can relate to. How, for instance, monetary values can be put on things that can’t be bought or sold in the market such as marriage, friendship, even death so that we can objectively rank them in order of preference. It also explains why some things matter more to our happiness than others (like why seeing friends is worth more than a Ferrari) while others are worth almost nothing (like sunny weather).

Nick Powdthavee whose work on happiness has been discussed on both the Undercover Economist and Freakanomics blogs brings cutting-edge research on how we value our happiness to a general audience with a style that wears its learning lightly and is a joy to read.

Dr Nattavudh (Nick) Powdthavee is a behavioural economist at the University of York (shortly to move to the Department of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore). Discussions of his work on the economics of happiness have appeared in over 50 major international newspapers in the past five years, including the New York Times and the Guardian, as well as on TV, including Channel 5 News and The Wright Stuff. He is originally from Thailand.

CHAPTER 1

THE PURSUIT

Most of us go through life believing we know exactly what we need to make us happy. For the most part, we believe that all we ever need is to have someone we love loving us back. Or it’s a combination of more money, a good job, a stable marriage and perfect health. Sometimes it’s the little things in life, like a day off work; a clear blue sky on an autumn afternoon; a nice cup of cool mochaccino on a hot day; an hour-long foot rub; a day spent laughing with friends and family; 45 minutes of uninterrupted sex with our partner, and the energy to last for the best part of it.

But unfortunately in the words of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards we can’t always get what we want. At least, we can’t always get what we want all the time. A day off work every so often sounds like a good idea until, of course, we realise that we will become a little poorer because of it. And that’s no good because, according to the abstract idea we have in our heads of what makes a good life, money matters a lot. Okay then, in that case, we’ll put in more hours at work. But wait. That will also mean less time to be spent with friends and family, and that doesn’t seem so good either.

So what do we do, then? What do we do when our lives are a series of trade-offs between different combinations of ‘what ifs”? What do we do when there is an endless horizon of time and resource constraints constantly telling us that whatever we do, we can’t possibly have it all? Well, according to economists, who are supposedly experts on decision-making, what usually happens is that we try to do the best we can with our choices. We gather all necessary information about our options. We engage in rationalisation and mental calculations. We quietly argue and debate within ourselves over the potential impacts of each individual decision on our happiness. We cross-refer them to the rule-book of ‘All the things that make me happy’, put each possibility into an order of preference, and then, subject to both time and resource constraints, choose the best combination of bundles that we know would optimise our wellbeing. Easy.

Bounded rationality

But of course, if that were true if we always chose the best possible combination of options according to stable preference functions and the constraints facing them then the way we led our lives would literally be disappointment-free. Whatever decisions we made, we would know exactly well in advance what we were getting ourselves into. After all, our rationality would have already done the homework for us: we would be getting the greatest reward at the lowest cost.

How could we possibly not be happy with that?

The reality, however, is that our lives are too often filled with disappointing and regrettable decisions, whether big or small. The holiday we went on last summer; that antique car we bought; or even the job or college degrees we picked. The following anecdotal evidence from a chance meeting between two economists and a dentist makes it all too clear.

Two economics professors and friends, John Bennett and Chuck Blackorby, were attending an economics conference. On the first evening, they met a dentist at the hotel bar who was at an annual conference for dentists just next door to them. After a brief introduction and a couple of drinks, Chuck, who was known for his sometimes brash and direct manner, decided to ask the dentist, by then a little tipsy, a somewhat personal question.

‘So, tell me, are you very happy being a dentist?’

‘Happy? I’m miserable as a dentist’, replied the man.

Chuck smiled to himself. ‘What? If you’re so unhappy, why on earth did you choose to become a dentist in the first place?’

‘I didn’t choose to become a dentist.’ The man took another swig of his drink before delivering the final hammer blow. ‘It’s that stupid kid eighteen years ago that chose to become a dentist. Not me.’

And even when we’re not too disappointed; when we actually think we’re fairly satisfied with the choices we made, sometimes there’s just no way for us to know for certain whether or not we would have been happier if we’d gone with the alternatives. Take having children, for example. For most parents, a natural and genuine response to the question, ‘Would you be happier without children?’ would be a screaming ‘No!’ However, there’s no real way of knowing precisely what life would have been like if these parents had decided not to have their little David or Sarah simply because the childless alternative didn’t take place for them. The same argument holds true for partners who choose not to become parents.

One of the main reasons why we aren’t always able to choose the best options for ourselves is that our rationality is often bounded by the amount of information it possesses, the cognitive limitations of our brains, and the finite amount of time we have to make a decision. According to the so-called ‘bounded rationality’ concept, we human beings are only partly rational and downright irrational in the remaining part of our actions. While economists believe that all human beings are approximately Homo economicus (economic man), rational and broadly self-interested by nature, the reality is that we are just as likely, if not more likely, to let emotions overrule rationality and completely dictate the way we behave.

That we are not wholly rational is shown by studies that have identified two distinct sides to our brains: one that is rational controlled, slow, deliberative and deductive; and one that is emotional automatic, rapid, associative and affective. The mesh between the two is extremely complex, and one does not always dominate the other. And while economic theories of decision making have tended to emphasise the operation of the rational side of our brain in guiding choice behaviour, it’s often the case that, when making decisions under pressure or under conditions where information is incomplete or overly complex, we tend to rely on simplifying heuristics or ‘gut feelings’ rather than extensive algorithmic processing. These ‘rules of thumb’ are far from perfect, and it’s precisely why we sometimes spend too much money on food when we go grocery shopping with an empty stomach, or find it increasingly difficult to walk away from a bus stop the longer we have been waiting for a bus to come even if it would have been a lot quicker to walk than to wait for that damn bus to arrive.

The adaptive unconscious and past experiences

But maybe it’s not always such a bad thing to trust our emotions. Research carried out by psychology professor Timothy Wilson suggests that, in situations where we have had a lot of experience, decisions made without thinking (those made on impulses and gut feelings) can often lead to better and happier outcomes than if they had been made under a strict rule of optimisation, simply because this is when the emotional part of our brain works best at detecting that something is out of the ordinary even if we may not know ourselves what that something is at the time and alerts us in the form of emotional alarm bells such as sweaty palms and butterflies in our stomach. And it’s in these scenarios that practice really makes perfect. It’s also where thinking too much about our past experiences can actually hurt rather than help us.

The question is: Why?

One reason. According to psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, the cognitive part of our brain tends to suffer from what he called the ‘peak-end’ effect, which is the tendency to judge past experiences both pleasant and unpleasant almost entirely on how they were at their peak and how they ended.

Kahneman and his colleagues illustrated the core concept of the peak-end theory in a series of experiments, most notably that involving hospital patients and the very painful colonoscopy procedure. While undergoing a colonoscopy, the patients reported their level of discomfort every 60 seconds throughout the procedure. Afterwards, the patients were asked to remember how unpleasant the procedure was, using several different scales including a ten-point scale, and also about the relative unpleasantness of the colonoscopy compared to other unpleasant experiences such as stubbing a toe, or an average visit to the dentist.

What Kahneman and his colleagues found was astonishing. While there was almost zero correlation between the duration of the colonoscopies that different patients experienced and the global rating of the procedure, the relationship between the peak-end average (the average of the peaks and how the patients felt at the end of the procedure) and the global rating of the procedure was simply undeniable. In other words, we are more likely to remember our experience of a colonoscopy as being awful if the peaks of unpleasantness were very high or if it ended awfully for us, than if the entire procedure itself took a long time to finish. What matters is not the duration of an experience; we hardly ever think about it when we try to recall and judge how happy or unhappy we were in the past. It’s how we were feeling at the peaks and at the end of our experience that count the most.

What about frequency? Surely having experienced something often can teach us to repeat only the things that we remember with pleasure and fondness, and avoid those that we remember with embarrassment and regret? The trouble is, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, we are just not very good at remembering them correctly. He illustrates his point by prompting the readers of his book Stumbling on Happiness to think about where they were, whom they were with, and what they were doing when they first heard the news about the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Okay, that sounds easy enough. Closing my eyes, I can still remember that I was standing at one of the check-in counters at London Heathrow airport, trying to get on the evening flight to Bangkok. Sitting behind the Finnair counter was a man in his late 50s who, as I recall, spoke with a very thick Glaswegian accent.

‘So you’re off to Thailand then, eh? Ah, what a beautiful country! Lovely food, gorgeous beaches, very pretty women!’ His eyes twinkled as he said this.

I smiled politely, acknowledging his appreciation of my country of birth. I knew he was just trying to be friendly in what seemed to be a surprisingly empty airport on a Tuesday afternoon.

‘Okay, sir. Here’s your boarding pass. Have a nice flight. Oh, and have you heard? Two planes hit the World Trade Center not half an hour ago. Probably a terrorist attack. But since you’re flying to Finland first, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.’ He ended with a beam while I stood there, rigid as a board.

Like me, most people will be able to remember in fine detail what they were doing when they first heard the news. But, Gilbert added, would the same people also remember precisely where they were, whom they were with, and what they were doing on the morning of 10 September 2001, one day before the attacks?

I personally couldn’t, of course. And I’m confident enough to bet that not many people could either, a fact that is also true for most Americans.

The main reason why it’s relatively easier for us to recall the exact details of 11 September 2001, but nearly impossible to remember what happened a day earlier, is because momentous events like the 9/11 attacks do not happen frequently in our lifetime. While 11 September 2001 defied our every sense of normality, 10 September, by contrast, was like almost any other day. And unless we religiously keep a diary of everything that ever happened in our lives, any other day is nothing more than a blob in our memory bank.

Daniel Gilbert’s message is clear: it is the infrequent and unusual experiences that are most memorable. These are the ones that stick like glue to the clipboard of our memory cortex. Not the other way round.

Conventional wisdom and imagination

There are two lessons we can draw at this stage. The first is that, in situations where we have had a lot of experience, it’s perhaps better to trust our instincts when it comes to making a decision. And the second lesson, related to the first, is that it seems important not to rely completely on emotions in situations where we have had little or no prior experience. The explanation is simple: in these circumstances, the emotional part of our brain will not have had enough chances to adapt and learn from our past experiences, which will inevitably make it impossible for it to distinguish which decision is better for us.

That sounds perfectly reasonable. All we need to do now is follow any great professional’s advice and just practise, practise, practise. Then afterwards, we can sit back in situations where we have had a lot of these experiences and just make snap decisions without having to think too much about the best outcomes.

Two problems, though. First, how do we know when we have had enough practice doing something? How do we know when we can let the rational brain take a back seat and the emotional brain do all the work? Will 10,000 hours of doing something repetitively be enough? Or will it take a lifetime of experience? Second, what about other, more novel situations? How do we know that we will be happier being married than staying single? How do we know whether we will be happier in a job that pays less but is nevertheless much closer to home? How can we be sure that rationality will not fail us when we have to face dilemmas that we have never faced before?

So now we’ve come full circle: economists’ description of how the world works though somewhat incomplete actually turns out to be useful advice on what we should do in situations where we have had little or no prior experience. According to theories on rational choice, there are perhaps two essential ingredients to successful decision-making when a degree of rationality is involved. The first is time. Unlike the emotional part of our brain where all decision-making is done instantaneously, the rational part of our brain needs time to think things over, to mull over the information. The second ingredient is getting the right information. It’s important that we have perfect awareness of all relevant information regarding the outcome of our choice before making a decision, especially one that could change our lives.

Since we can often find time to think things over before coming up with a solution for many of our life problems, could it just be the case that we don’t always have the right information about the choices we plan to make? Going back to the unhappy dentist, could it be possible that he decided to obtain a degree in dentistry on a whim or, worse, on a dare? Maybe. Nevertheless, considering the potentially life-changing impact of choosing the right career, it’s perhaps more likely that he did try to seek all the available information about how happy a career in dentistry would make him in eighteen years’ time. How could he then have been so wrong?

There are usually two ways of getting the information we need about the potential impacts of a novel experience. First, we can do some research about the experience. So in the case of the unhappy dentist, his decision to study dentistry could have been influenced by what he was expecting to get objectively from becoming a dentist, such as financial return, or by other people’s accounts of their subjective experiences as dentists, or even by conventional wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

Second, if all else fails, we can still use our imagination to conjure up the information we need to undertake a decision. We can try, for example, to picture ourselves in the future: what life would be like being married, or having kids, or having so much money we don’t know what to do with it.

. . .

from

THE HAPPINESS EQUATION. The Surprising Economics of Our Most Valuable Asset

by Nick Powdthavee

get it at Amazon.com

Why Men Rebel. An analysis of political violence – Ted Robert Gurr. 

Introduction to the Fortieth Anniversary Paperback Edition

Why Men Rebel was written in the late 1960s when observers in the Western world were deeply concerned about political violence in postcolonial states, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia, and mass protest movements, especially against racial discrimination in the United States and military intervention in Vietnam.

Looking backward, the question is how well its arguments help us understand later waves of violent conflict within societies. This introduction reviews and updates some of Why Men Rebel’s arguments and, in a concluding section, applies it to the wave of pro-democracy protests that swept through the Middle East from 2009 in Iran to 2011 in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and beyond.

Why Men Rebel was first published in 1970 by Princeton University Press and was awarded the American Political Science Association’s Woodrow Wilson Award as the best book of 1970 in political science and international relations. In the next few years it was translated into German, Spanish, and Thai. In the first decade of the twenty-first century it attracted a new Hurry of intellectual interest that led to the appearance of editions in Arabic and Russian. 

In my late twenties, when the Why Men Rebel arguments were first formulated in a New York University dissertation, I thought it was possible to provide a general explanation for political protest and rebellion that could help readers understand not only the violent conflicts of the 1960s but a great many others as well.

I was convinced then, and am convinced now, that to build a more peaceful and secure world, we need to begin by analyzing the minds of men—and women—who oppose bad governments and unpopular policies. But equally we need to know about the societies in which they live, their beliefs and cultural traditions, and the governments they oppose.

The essential argument of the Why Men Rebel model is that to understand protest and rebellion in general, and in specific instances, we should analyze three general factors.

First is popular discontent (relative deprivation), along with an analysis of its sources.

Second are people’s justifications or beliefs about the justifiability and utility of political action.

Third is the balance between discontented peoples capacity to act—that is, the ways in which they are organized—and the government’s capacity to repress or channel their anger.

In the present era, people almost everywhere worry about international terrorism, instability in Africa and the Islamic world, and the risks that political conflict will lead to genocidal massacres of dissidents. Does an analytic framework from 1970 also apply in the second decade of the twenty-first century?

The Why Men Rebel model has been tested by many researchers during the last forty years, including its author.

Comparative analyses have asked how political violence is affected by relative deprivation, group organization, regime repression, and international support, and whether it takes shape as political protest or rebellion. Detailed case studies have applied the model, and modified it, to explain particular events such as the Hungarian revolution of 1957 and the Tiananmen Square uprising in China in 1989.

In the 1990s, Stephen G. Brush, a historian of science, analyzed several hundred publications in the social sciences that addressed the scientific agenda laid out in Why Men Rebel and published his findings in 1996 in the Journal of Conflict Resolution. This is his summary:

“The extent to which theories in the social sciences are accepted or rejected on the basis of empirical tests can be shown only by a detailed analysis of specific cases. [This study] examines the reception in the 1970s and early 1980s of T. R. Gurr’s theory of collective violence based on the concept of relative deprivation.

The history of this theory may be considered an example of definite progress in social science: A hypothesis widely accepted at one time has been tested and rejected, thus making room for the development of alternative hypotheses. But although Gurr and other advocates of the theory have abandoned it in its original form following the mostly negative results of empirical tests, many social scientists (especially psychologists) have continued to cite it favorably. Slightly less than half of the unfavorable citations have been supported by references to empirical evidence. He points out that less than half of the unfavorable citations were supported by references to empirical evidence—in other words, negative judgments had other bases, such as a preference for different approaches to explanation.”

Brush adds that a shift toward more favorable citations in the American social science literature was evident by the early 1990s. The argument prompted strong theoretical critiques. Prominent scholars such as Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol, and Sidney Tarrow argued that we should begin explanations by examining social and political structures (Skocpol), political mobilization (Tilly), and mass social movements (Tarrow).

Mark Irving Lichbach showed that the anger-grievance-rebellion sequence could be explained within a rational choice framework.

In light of forty years of research and reflection, I think the core of the Why Men Rebel model remains valid but is incomplete. First, I continue to think that people, with all their diverse identities, desires, and beliefs, should be central to our analyses of conflict. This means using individuals as the prism through which to examine the effects of social structures, beliefs, and the possibilities for mobilization and political action. Is “relative deprivation” the best concept for doing so? In my own later research, I have used the words grievances and sense of injustice to capture tile essence of the state of mind that motivates people to political action. Whichever phrase is used, the essential first step in analysis is to understand what people’s grievances are and where they come from.

This brings me to my second point, which is that to understand grievances, we must first examine where people stand in society and what goods and bads they experience from governments. It is not enough to point to big economic and social structures as the “explanation.” We need to understand how people interpret the situations in which they find themselves. Protestors against the effects of globalization, for example, are mainly young people in advanced industrial societies who, objectively, benefit from globalization. Why do they protest, and not the poor of the global South?

Some young men in the Islamic world are attracted to militant movements like the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and elsewhere in the Middle East that justify political violence by appealing to a perversion of Islamic doctrine. Some seek opportunities in the modern world in cities, in the Gulf States, and in Europe and North America. And tens of thousands of young people have led a virtual tsunami of protests against autocratic rulers in North Africa and the Middle East.

Why do they respond in such different ways to political appeals and opportunities?

My third point is that Why Men Rebel does not analyze carefully enough the sources of people’s beliefs about justice and injustice. The phrase “relative deprivation” implies that they feel unjustly treated by comparison with other groups, but explanation does not stop there. The content of ideologies and revolutionary or militant Islamist doctrines also help shape their expectations.

Group identity is even more important; To understand grievances we need to understand peoples clan, ethnic, religious, and political identities. With what people do they feel kindred, what networks of social interaction and communication connect them? The politics of identity are central to understanding people’s reference groups, their sense of collective injustice, and their susceptibility to appeals for political action.

In my more recent writings about the sources of protest and rebellion by ethnic groups, summarized in Peoples versus States (2000), the theoretical beginning point is analysis of group identity, The question is:

With whom do people identify and in what circumstances does a particular identity become more or less salient for them?

This approach does not abandon the essential “understand people first” principle of Why Men Rebel. But it recognizes that in most of the world, including the West despite its emphasis on the individual, group context and identity shape people’s hopes and grievances.

My fourth point concerns group mobilization. Empirical analyses of the causes of political protest and rebellion mostly confirm the late Charles Tilly’s contention in From Mobilization to Revolution (1978) that whether and how people are organized is the immediate source of political action. The greater the extent of mobilization in a group, a city, or a country, the greater the extent of political protest and rebellion.

The Why Men Rebel model also looks at the extent and structures of group organization, in chapter 8, but does not provide a full account of the processes by which they become organized. Tilly gives much more attention to process, but with one major omission: He does not analyze carefully how a group’s grievances and beliefs shape the mobilization process. Therefore, a full analysis of group mobilization and ensuing political action requires a synthesis of a Why Men Rebel analysis of grievances and beliefs with Tilly’s analysis of mobilization as a process.

In summary, to understand when and how people are politically mobilized, and which kinds of people are prepared to take risky political action, we need to begin with group identities and shared grievances.

Fifth, we need to examine the ways in which communication of ideas and personal mobility are transforming political action in the twenty-first century. When Why Men Rebel was written, most protest and revolutionary movements were specific to one country, or even one region within a country. The Internet and social networking make for much and more rapid communication of ideas, air travel gives organizers greater mobility. It is much easier now than it was forty years ago to establish a transnational movement in support of indigenous rights, or environmental protection, or democratic governance. It also is easier to create a transnational network of revolutionaries using a strategy of terrorism.

In other words, political action no longer stops at national borders.

To understand why and how this occurs, it remains useful to begin with some of the Why Men Rebel arguments, which include an analysis (in chapter 4) of the role of the communication media in spreading political ideas. We understand the mechanisms. What we do not understand as well is how skillful communicators can create a sense of identity and common purpose that transcends national boundaries and then use it to mobilize people in many different places for coordinated political action. Sidney Tarrow’s work provides a good starting point for analyzing the formation and effects of social movements.

Next are some observations about the rationality of political action. Why Men Rebel was written on the psychological assumption that non-rational responses to frustration help motivate episodes of political violence. An effort was made in chapter 6 to incorporate elements of rational-choice analysis, showing how cost-benefit calculations are used—especially by leaders—to put anger to strategic political purposes.

In retrospect, I think it was a mistake to suggest that people who react violently to their sense of injustice are non-rational. It is true that the consequences of violent political action are more often destructive than constructive and can lead to great suffering for those who take the step to violence. An important complement to Why Men Rebel is Mark Irving Lichbach’s The Rebel’s Dilemma (1995), which shows that elements of rational calculation permeate the entire process of political conflict.

I do not now think it makes sense to assume a priori that conflict behavior is either rational or irrational. Instead, one should focus on the identities, grievances, and objectives of people who initiate political action and ask, critically, whether and how their actions contribute to the attainment of their goals.

Let me turn next to the role of governments in the process of conflict. Why Men Rebel points out, in chapter 5, that the legitimacy of governments is a major determinant of whether people’s anger is directed against authorities or channeled into other kinds of action. This argument has been verified in many subsequent studies: legitimate governments are Seldom targets of rebellion. But the model also simplifies reality by making a linear argument that people rebel and governments respond. This seems to imply that rebels are the problem and government the solution. A more careful reading shows that governments are implicated in creating the conditions for conflict at every step in the process.

Government-imposed inequalities are a major source of grievances, repressive policies increase anger and resistance, denial of the right to use conventional politics and protest pushes activists underground and spawns terrorist and revolutionary resistance.

But this leads to a big set of questions that Why Men Rebel does not attempt to answer. Why do some governments rule by repression, thus reproducing the conditions of future rebellion, while others govern with policies and concessions that contribute to social peace? No specific explanations are proposed in Why Men Rebel or in this new introduction about why and how governments respond to political action or the grievances from which it springs, but here are a few suggestions.

Democracies generally do better because their leaders have to face reelection and therefore are encouraged to compromise. Nonetheless some democracies suppress minorities and some autocratic leaders carry out long-term programs of social reform, so democratic governance is not the only factor.

Equally important are the beliefs or ideology of political leaders. Some have fundamental commitments to protecting all citizens’ rights and well-being; others are ideologically committed to objectives such as radical nationalism or religious purification. Exclusionary ideologies like the latter can be used to justify discrimination, repression, and in extreme cases the physical annihilation of offending minorities, as Barbara Harff has shown in her analysis of the causes of genocide and political mass murder.

We need also to recognize that all leaders, in whatever kind of political system, have strong survival instincts and, if their and their supporters’ security is seriously and repeatedly threatened, they will resort to almost any means to defeat challengers.

Lastly, governments and political movements alike are increasingly exposed to international influences. One of the good consequences of globalization is that most governments now are dependent on international trade, investment, and external political support. Therefore they face political pressures to respect human rights, to rely on reform rather than repression to contain discontent, and to open up their political systems to popular participation and power sharing. Failure to do so is risky because it often leads to international criticism, diplomatic pressures, reduced trade and investment, and in response to the worst abuses, international intervention.

Why Men Rebel continues to be recognized as a classic because it helped lead the way to a systematic, people-based understanding of the causes of political protest and rebellion. The book itself and forty years of critical analysis also point to additional questions. I encourage readers in the contemporary world to keep these guidelines in mind when seeking to understand and to respond to popular discontents:

Begin by examining the group identities and grievances of disadvantaged people, including the poor, underemployed urban youth, and members of ethnic, national, and religious minorities. Understand the sources of people’s grievances by examining their status and their treatment by governments and by other groups. Listen to what people say, not just what others say about them. Ask why group identities and disadvantages make their members susceptible to different kinds of political appeals and ideologies that justify protest or rebellion. Analyze the motives and strategies of leaders who seek to build political movements among aggrieved people.

Study the motives and strategies of governments in dealing with disadvantaged groups. Are governments open to political participation by such groups? Do government policies increase or reduce the potential for disruptive conflict?

Look for evidence about international factors—transnational movements, ideologies, examples of successful political action—that affect group grievances, mobilization, and choices among different political strategies. Analyze the international pressures and constraints that influence the way governments respond to political action. Consider how political action and government responses affect the groups involved. How much does a group gain or lose? Do governmental policies restore public order or do they provoke further resistance?

Let me sketch an analysis of pro-democracy protests in the contemporary Middle East that helps illustrate many of these points. The analysis should begin in Iran in mid-June 2009, with eight weeks of massive protests (reaching a peak of nearly two million on July 17) in the streets of Tehran and other cities against the fraud-tainted national election that returned President Ahmadinejad to power for a second term. Security forces and most senior clergy supported him and the campaign of repression that followed.

Censorship, scapegoating protestors as Western stooges in the government-controlled media, random shootings, arrests, and show trials won the day and Ahmadinejad was sworn in on August 7.

There was a very different outcome of protests in Tunisia, where urban protests by young men began in December 2010 against economic conditions and corruption in the government of President Ben Ali. In power for twentythree years, Ben Ali soon lost the support of the military and went into exile in January 2011. Protests escalated until a caretaker regime was purged of his close associates.

Anti-government protests followed in almost every Middle Eastern country. In Egypt President Mubarak, in power for forty-two years, was prompted to resign by the military establishment. In Yemen urban protest against President Saleh’s long-standing autocratic rule worsened the stresses of long-standing regional and sectarian conflicts. In Bahrain the disadvantaged Shi’a majority challenged the ruling Al Khalifa family in demonstrations that mobilized as many as 100,000 people. In Libya urban protest escalated into east-west civil war. Protests in Syria against the repressive government of Basilar al-Assad began in the southern city of Daraa and, in reaction to the regime’s deadly responses, spread to cities throughout the country.

There Were other echoes of anti-government protest in almost every country in the region, from Morocco to Iran, with governments seeking to preempt them with a mix of concessions and arrests.

The outcomes of this wave of protest will be uncertain for some time, even in Tunisia and Egypt, where military officers are overseeing transitions to more participatory and reformist governments. From an analytic perspective, the primal cause of virtually all protests has been the cumulation of economic and political grievances, especially among the rapidly growing population of city-dwelling youth, against corrupt and repressive regimes and their sclerotic leaders.

Decades of research aimed at testing the Why Men Rebel arguments about the primacy of relative deprivation have foundered on the lack of reliable means of assessing the depth and content of grievances across diverse populations, especially in tightly controlled autocracies. Yet no close observer or distant analyst doubts the depth of smoldering anger and resentment among young people in Middle Eastern societies. It was the perceptions of aggrieved populations in the Middle East that changed in early 2011, not their objective situations. The power of the ideal of participatory democracy, spread through the global media and personal contacts with friends abroad, had gradually eroded the legitimacy of autocratic regimes. Government violence against protestors intensified anger and eroded the last shreds of legitimacy.

The trigger for Muslim youth was the demonstration effect of successful political action elsewhere—not Iran 2009, where protest failed, but Tunisia and Egypt, where it helped push entrenched leaders from power.

Mobilization, that is, the capacity of the pro-democracy forces to turn out tens and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, developed very rapidly in response to external cues.

Newborn civil society organizations in most Middle Eastern societies had long been suppressed by autocratic rulers. Those that survived did so clandestinely, or, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, were constrained by harassment and sharp restrictions on their political activities. Political networks, facilitated by Internet-based means of social communication, provided an alternative basis for mass mobilization.

Max Rodenbeck reports that in Cairo an antigovernment protest group called April 6 had organized small, ineffective antigovernment demonstrations in 2009 and 2010. In January 2011 it linked up with a Facebook-based group of some 300,000 established the previous summer to protest the killing of a young businessman. Members of April 6, activists from the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth wing, and a mix of socialists and secularists called a protest for January 25 using the social media to spread the word. Between their planning session and January 25, protests in Tunisia led Ben Ali to resign. Rally turnouts were unexpectedly large—25,000 in Cairo, 20,000 in Alexandria. And they snowballed from there.

Once detailed accounts emerge from other countries in the region, we can expect similar accounts—the very rapid emergence of mass protest from informal networks that rely on social networking rather than formal organization.

The Cairo example also suggests the importance of new communication networks in shaping ideologies of resistance and persuading people of the feasibility of political action—the subjects of chapter 7 in Why Men Rebel.

Grievances about acts of regime violence are reinforced, successes elsewhere are publicized, scenarios for action are planned. Once mass demonstrations begin they become self-sustaining: they build solidarity and provide the protection of numbers, unless and until the regime responds with massive and deadly force. Solidarity provides normative satisfactions, numbers increase utilities—individuals feel safer about participation and more hopeful about winning.

The outcomes of pro-democracy protest are shaped by what are called “the coercive balance” between regimes and dissidents and their “balance of institutional support” (Why Men Rebel, chapters 8 and 9).

Protestors’ only significant coercive power is to paralyze cities, a short-term tactic that ultimately hurts them economically. But their symbolic power is enormous, an issue not much discussed in Why Men Rebel. They attract international media attention and generate political pressures on regimes, giving dramatic evidence that regimes lack the capacity to satisfy their subjects or to maintain public order. These pressures often reveal, or create, fissures in elite support for the regime. The loyalty of the military and security forces are critical: If they defect, or pressure autocrats to step down, the pro-democracy forces have won half the game.

A general autocratic fatigue effect also may be at work. The longer a Ben Ali, Mubarak, or Qaddafi is in power, the less effective he becomes and the more likely to be challenged by restless and ambitious members of his inner circle. Public protest thus can be a pretext for ousting him.

Iran in 2009 gives challenged autocrats in the Middle East one alternative scenario. The Ahmadinejad government, much younger than that of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, or Yemen, orchestrated a campaign of intimidation and repression that kept it securely in power. By contrast, Jordan’s King Abdullah II responded to the first evidence of protests in early 2011 by dismissing his cabinet and promising further reforms. Protests gradually diminished.

The countries that escaped serious protest in the first quarter of 2011 included Oman, led by a rapidly modernizing monarch; the prosperous Emirates of the Gulf; and Saudi Arabia.

Repression was the principal strategy of regimes in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, sometimes accompanied by proposals for reform. The risk is that concessions often signal regime weakness and embolden dissidents. Repression failed in Libya when the rebels violently ousted the Qaddafi regime in August 2011. The outcomes in the other three countries remain to be seen.

Why Men Rebel gives little attention to the effects of international intervention on the balance of coercion and institutional support between regimes and dissidents, or how it can shape outcomes. In the late 1960s there was little relevant scholarship or evidence on the issue, though it was commonly thought in U.S. and British policy circles that Communist-led rebellions could and should be defeated by military assistance to the regimes they attacked. Later empirical research, done in the context of the Cold War, suggested that military intervention on behalf of one party to an internal war was more likely to prompt reciprocal support for the opposing party and thus to lead to an escalating proxy war rather than a decisive outcome.

The post-Cold War experience is very diverse, and complicated greatly by international advocacy, and occasional practice, of “humanitarian intervention” justified by a normative responsibility to protect civilians.

It is far too soon to analyze or assess the effects of international responses to anti-government protests in the Middle East. When they began, most Western democracies gave them cautious symbolic support. When the Qaddafi regime responded with indiscriminate violence against civilians, international sanctions were imposed, followed by the UN-authorized imposition of a no-fly zone to shield civilians in eastern Libya. Western military intervention in support of the rebels was widely criticized as war without an exit strategy, but in fact it decisively tipped the coercive balance. It enabled the rebels to reorganize, arm, and mount a winning offensive.

Less attention has been given to the international response in Bahrain, site of a major U.S. naval base. The United States reportedly has encouraged the Al-Khalifa regime to make significant concessions. Some members of the ruling family favored this approach but they were overruled by hard-liners. The Saudis, fearing a new center of Iran-backed Shi’a influence in the Gulf, has sent troops to help maintain public order. In Bahrain, as in Syria, there is no basis for predicting outcomes.

Most conflict researchers cited here, including the author, try to be objective in their analyses. The ultimate normative purpose of this kind of conflict analysis, the objective that attracted most scholars to the subject, is to help all of us—political activists, policy makers, and scholars—understand how to build more just and peaceful societies. The Middle East example shows that protest movements, like internal wars, are now subject to major international influences at every level analyzed in Why Men Rebel. Analysis thus has become more complex and the goal of giving research-based guidance to those who would make peace is ever more challenging.

Ted Robert Gurr

Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus Founding Director, Minorities at Risk Project Center for International Development and Conflict Management University of Maryland

***

Introduction 1970

Do we really know so little about the causes of riot and rebellion that we must invoke contemporary exorcisms like “aggressive instincts” or “conspiracy” to explain them?

I think not.

Men have rebelled against their rulers for millennia, and during those millennia many perceptive observers have offered careful explanations of why they did so, in particular instances and in general. In a way we know too much about our inclination to violence. The accumulation of monographs and reports and data about this revolution and that, this theory and that, tends to obscure our view of some basic mental and social uniformities.

This study tries to identify and order some of those uniformities. Are men inherently aggressive, or aggressive only in response to specific social conditions? We will examine psychological evidence that suggests that men have a capacity but not a need for aggression, and other evidence about the patterns of social circumstance in which men exercise that capacity collectively.

Do some men learn to use violence? The answer is obviously yes; what is less obvious is why and how some groups adopt while others eschew violence. Certainly the use of public force to counter private violence, and the nature of human organization, make a difference in the shape and extent of violence. Here again we will discern patterns in much of the reporting and rhetoric; certain uses of force and some kinds of association among people have generally foreseeable effects on political violence.

This book is an exercise in simplification of the kind known as theory-building. I will try to point out the more important uniformities in the causes of violence in politics, drawing from the work of all the human sciences. I will attempt to be precise in describing and defining these uniformities, even at the risk of elaborating some truisms, on grounds that a precisely stated principle is a better tool for understanding than a dull analogy.

The uniformities are also documented with a sample of the evidence for them: the laboratory work of experimental psychologists, the speculation of grand and lesser theorists, the case studies of rebellions, the comparative evidence of those who count demands and deaths, and a measure of logical deduction.

The tentative explanations that emerge from this process are still complex, not simple. Violence, like those who use it, is complex, but it is not indecipherable. At least that is what I hope this book will demonstrate. A general explanation of political violence can become a guide to action as well as comprehension, even if it is not ideally precise. It can be used to evaluate, for policy purposes, the “revolutionary potential” of specific nations, and to estimate the effects of various actions on that potential.

This theory is not devised for these applications, but many of the characteristics that make it suitable for scholarly inquiry similarly suit it to policy purposes. Social theory can be put to unethical as well as ethical ends, and an author has little control over the use of his work short of refusing to publish. But I am persuaded that insofar as this study has policy uses, it should contribute more to the alleviation of human misery than its perpetuation. There is more than conceit in this concern.

The study’s impact can at most be marginal, but the world is large and “marginal” impacts can affect thousands of lives. This book is as likely to be read by rebels as by rulers and suggests as many courses of effective action for one as the other. Rebels should read it, for I think it implies means for the attainment of human aspirations that are more effective and less destructive to themselves and others than some of the tactics they now use.

The study will surely be read by men seeking means for the preservation of public order. They will find in it a number of implications for strategies to that end, but they will find little justification for reliance on tactics of repressive control. There is a wealth of evidence and principle that repressive policies defeat their purposes, in the long run if not necessarily in the short run.

The public order is most effectively maintained—it can only be maintained—when means are provided within it for men to work toward the attainment of their aspirations.

This is not an ethical judgment, or rather not just an ethical judgment. It approaches the status of a scientific law of social organization. Some kinds of force maybe necessary if revolutionaries or ruling elites are to create and maintain social order in time of crisis, so that constructive means can be established.

But exclusive reliance on force eventually raises up the forces that destroy it.

This study is in any case not designed for policy ends but for explanation, and that at a general level. If it clarifies the reasons for and consequences of men’s violent actions, it will have served its purpose.

The uses of illustrative materials in this study may require a note of explanation.

Many of the general relationships to be examined operate in the genesis of each occurrence of violent political conflict. No case of political violence is comprehensively described or analyzed, however. Particular aspects of many specific events, and comparative generalizations about sets of them, are cited to support or illustrate specific hypotheses. None of these references are complete descriptions of the events cited or, unless so specified, are they evidence that the aspects cited are more important than others.

For example, a phase of the French Revolution maybe summarized in one or two sentences without reference to the fact that it is only one of its facets. The study can justly be criticized according to whether such characterizations are true in the narrow sense. If it is criticized on grounds that specific events are misrepresented because only partly analyzed, the object of the study is misunderstood.

I am indebted to a number of scholars for their advice and criticism in the development of this study. My work on the subject began with my doctoral dissertation, “The Genesis of Violence: A Multivariate Theory of Civil Strife,” Department of Government and International Relations, New York University, 1965, work in which I was encouraged and guided by Alfred de Grazia and Thomas Adam.

My greatest obligation during the intervening years in which this study was written is to Harry Eckstein, who has been a consistent source of moral support and intellectual sustenance, and who provided detailed criticisms of a draft of the manuscript.

A number of other scholars at the Center of International Studies and elsewhere also provided thoughtful and useful commentaries, including Leonard Berkowitz, Mohammed Guessous, Chalmers Johnson, John T. McAlister, Jr., Mancur L. Olson, Jr., J. David Singer, Bryant Wedge, and David Williams. William J. McClung of the University Press gave especially helpful and competent editorial guidance.

Responsibility for inadequacies of fact, interpretation, judgment, and logic is of course my own, and in a study of this scope they will no doubt be found in some measure.

I also wish to thank June Traube and Mary Merrick of the staff of the Center of International Studies, who spent many laborious hours preparing the manuscript, and James Bledsoe and Mary Fosler, who helped prepare the bibliography.

Initial theoretical work was supported by an award from a National Science Foundation institutional grant to New York University. Empirical work, which contributed to some of the revisions in the theoretical framework, was supported by the Center for Research on Social Systems (formerly SORO) of American University.

Writing of the final manuscript was made possible by support of the Center of International Studies and by a basic research grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Support from the last source implies neither that agency’s acceptance of this study and its conclusions nor my approval of policies of the U.S. government toward political violence.

*** 

WHY MEN REBEL

1. Explanations of Political Violence Conflict … is a theme that has occupied the thinking of man more than any other, save only God and love. Anatol Rapoport, Fights, Games, and Debates

THE INSTITUTIONS, persons, and policies of rulers have inspired the violent wrath of their nominal subjects throughout the history of organized political life. A survey of the histories of European states and empires, spanning twenty-four centuries, shows that they averaged only four peaceful years for each year of violent disturbances.

Modern nations have no better record: between 1961 and 1968 some form of violent civil conflict reportedly occurred in 114 of the world’s 121 larger nations and colonies. 

Most acts of group violence have negligible effects on political life; but some have been enormously destructive of human life and corrosive of political institutions. Ten of the world’s thirteen most deadly conflicts in the past 160 years have been civil wars and rebellions; 3 since 1945, violent attempts to overthrow governments have been more common than national elections.

The counterpoise to this grim record is the fact that political violence has sometimes led to the creation of new and more satisfying political communities. The consequences of the American, Turkish, Mexican, and Russian revolutions testify in different ways to the occasional beneficence of violence.

In this study political violence refers to all collective attacks within a political community against the political regime, its actors —including competing political groups as well as incumbents —or its policies. The concept represents a set of events, a common property of which is the actual or threatened use of violence, but the explanation is not limited to that property.

The concept subsumes revolution, ordinarily defined as fundamental sociopolitical change accomplished through violence. It also includes guerrilla wars, coups d’état, rebellions, and riots. Political violence is in turn subsumed under “force,” the use or threat of violence by any party or institution to attain ends within or outside the political order.

The definition is not based on a prejudgment that political violence is undesirable. Like the uses of violence qua force by the state, specific acts of political violence can be good, bad, or neutral according to the viewpoint of the observer. Participants in political violence may value it as a means of expressing political demands or opposing undesirable policies.

Limited violence also can be useful for rulers and for a political system generally, especially as an expression of social malaise when other means for making demands are inadequate.

Ethical judgments are held in abeyance in this study to avoid dictating its conclusions. But it does not require an ethical judgment to observe that intense violence is destructive: even if some political violence is valued by both citizens and rulers, the greater its magnitude the less efficiently a political system fulfills its other functions. Violence generally consumes men and goods, it seldom enhances them.

Despite the frequency and social impact of political violence, it is not now a conventional category of social analysis. Yet some common properties of political violence encourage attention to it rather than more general or more specific concepts. Theoretically, all such acts pose a threat to the political system in two senses: they challenge the monopoly of force imputed to the state in political theory; and, in functional terms, they are likely to interfere with and, if severe, to destroy normal political processes.

Empirical justification for selecting political violence as a universe for analysis is provided by statistical evidence that political violence comprises events distinct from other measured characteristics of nations, and homogeneous enough to justify analysis of their common characteristics and causes. For example, countries experiencing extensive political violence of one kind—whether riots, terrorism, coups d’etat, or guerrilla war—are rather likely to experience other kinds of political violence, but are neither more or less likely to be engaged in foreign conflict. 

The properties and processes that distinguish a riot from a revolution are substantively and theoretically interesting, and are examined at length in this study, but at a general level of analysis they seem to be differences of degree, not kind.

The search for general causes and processes of political violence is further encouraged by the convergence of recent case, comparative, and theoretical studies. One striking feature of these studies is the similarity of many of the causal factors and propositions they identify, whether they deal with revolution, urban rioting, or other forms of political violence. This similarity suggests that some of their findings can be synthesized in a more efficient set of testable generalizations.

However good the prospects seem for a general analysis of political violence, research on it has been quite uneven, both in substance and in disciplinary approach. There is considerable European historical scholarship on segments of the subject, notably the peasant rebellions of the twelfth through nineteenth centuries and the great revolutions of England, France, and Russia. American and European scholars, most of them also historians, have in recent years contributed a modest case-study literature. American policy scientists have written a small flood of treatises on the causes and prophylaxis of subversive warfare, most of which seem to have had neither academic nor policyimpact.

The lapses of attention are striking by comparison. Of all the riotous mobs that have clamoured through the streets of history, only the revolutionary crowds of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe and the ghetto rioters of twentieth-century America have attracted much scholarly attention. There are relatively few case studies of political violence in the non-Western world, and fewer systematic comparative studies or attempts at empirical theory. Experimental studies dealing with social-psychological mechanisms of collective violence can be counted on one hand.

Among social scientists the historians have been by far the most active; American political scientists have until recently neglected the subject. Of 2,828 articles that appeared in the American Political Science Review from its establishment in 1906 through 1968, only twenty-nine appear from their titles to be concerned with political disorder or violence. Moreover twelve of the twenty-nine were concerned specifically with revolution, and fifteen appeared after 1961.

Political scientists might be expected to have a greater concern with political violence than others. Authoritative coercion in the service of the state is a crucial concept in political theory and an issue of continuing dispute.

Some have identified the distinctive characteristic of the state as its monopoly of physical coercion. Max Weber, for example, wrote that violence is a “means specific” to the state and that “the right of physical violence is assigned to all other associations or individuals only to the extent permitted by the state; it is supposed to be the exclusive source of the ‘right’ to use violence.” 

Thomas Hobbes, dismayed by the brutish anarchy of men living outside the restraint of commonwealths, conceived the sovereign’s control of coercion to be the foundation of the state and the social condition.  Schattschneider sees conflict, which subsumes violence, as the central concept of political science.

Nieberg emphasizes the positive functions of non-authoritative violence and its threatened use as an instrument of social change.

From any of these perspectives the occurrence of collective, nonauthoritative violence appears to pose two fundamental questions for political science: From what sources and by what processes does it arise, and how does it affect the political and social order?

What Is to Be Explained?

This study proposes some general answers to three basic questions about our occasional disposition to disrupt violently the order we otherwise work so hard to maintain:

What are the psychological and social sources of the potential for collective violence?

What determines the extent to which that potential is focused on the political system?

And what societal conditions affect the magnitude and form, and hence the consequences, of violence?

The study has four primary objects of analysis. Two are intervening variables: the potential for collective violence and the potential for political violence. Propositionally, potential for collective violence is a function of the extent and intensity of shared discontents among members of a society; the potential for political violence is a function of the degree to which such discontents are blamed on the political system and its agents.

The remaining objects of analysis are dependent variables: the magnitude of political violence and the forms of political violence, both of which are discussed below.

Theories of revolution are usually concerned with specifying a relationship between some set of preconditions and the occurrence of revolution. Political violence, however, is a pervasive phenomenon, as was suggested above: few contemporary or historical societies have been free of it for long. It may be useful for microanalysis to specify whether political violence is likely in a given society at a particular point in time.

For macroanalysis, however, the more interesting questions are the determinants of the extent of violence and of the forms in which it is manifested. If one’s interest is the effects of political violence on the political system, the questions of its magnitude and kind are both highly relevant. And if one is concerned in an ethical way with political violence, then almost certainly one wants to assess its human and material costs, and consequently the determinants of its magnitude.

Various measures of the relative extent of political violence have been used in recent comparative studies. Sorokin combined measures of the proportion of a nation affected (social area), proportion of population actively involved, duration, intensity, and severity of effects of violence in assessing the magnitude of internal disturbances. Tilly and Rule make use of man-days of participation. Rummel and Tanter have used counts of numbers of events. The Feierabends have developed a scaling procedure that takes account of both number of events and a priori judgments about the severity of events of various types.

Some researchers have used the grisly calculus of number of deaths resulting from violence.

The proposed relation between perceived deprivation and the frustration concept in frustration-anger-aggression theory, to be discussed in chapter 2, provides a rationale for a more general definition of magnitude of violence and a more precise specification of what it comprises. The basic frustration-aggression proposition is that the greater the frustration, the greater the quantity of aggression against the source of frustration. This postulate provides the motivational base for an initial proposition about political violence: the greater the intensity of deprivation, the greater the magnitude of violence. (Other perceptural and motivational factors are also relevant to political violence, but many of them can be subsumed by the deprivation concept, as is suggested in chapter 2.)

Intense frustration can motivate men either to intense, short-term attacks or to more prolonged, less severe attacks on their frustrators. Which tactic is chosen is probably a function of anticipated gain, opportunity, and fear of retribution, which in political violence are situationally determined. Hence the severity of deprivation affects both the intensity of violence, i.e. in the extent of human and physical damage incurred, and its duration. Moreover there are evidently individual differences—presumably normally distributed—in the intensity of frustration needed to precipitate overt aggression.

Extension of this principle to the deprivation-violence relationship suggests that the proportion of a population that participates in violence ought to vary with the average intensity of perceived deprivation. Mild deprivation will motivate few to violence, moderate deprivation will push more across the threshold, very intense deprivation is likely to galvanize large segments of a political community into action.

This argument suggests that magnitude of political violence has three component variables that ought to be taken into account in systematic analysis: the extent of participation within the political unit being studied (scope), the destructiveness of action (intensity), and the length of time violence persists (duration).

Sorokin’s empirical work takes all three aspects into account; so does mine.

The intensity and scope of relative deprivation and magnitude of violence are unidimensional variables. Theoretically, and empirically, one can conceive of degrees or quantities of each in any polity.

The forms of violence, however, are attributes that do not form a simple dimension. A society may experience riots but not revolution, revolution but not coups d’état, coups d’état but not riots. Hypotheses about forms of violence as dependent variables thus are necessarily different from those about deprivation and magnitude of violence. They are expressed in terms of probabilities (the greater x, the more likely y) rather than strict concomitance.

The question is how many forms of political violence ought to be accounted for in a general theory. The principle of parsimony, which should apply to dependent as well as independent variables, suggests using a typology with a small number of categories, events in each of which are fairly numerous. Conventional taxonomies, of which there are many, provide little help. Some, like that of Lasswell and Kaplan, provide simple typologies for revolutions but not for political violence generally.

Eckstein proposes a composite typology comprising unorganized, spontaneous violence (riots), intraelite conflicts (coups), two varieties of revolution, and wars of independence.

Perhaps the most complex typology is Rummel’s list of twenty-five types of domestic conflict, the analysis of which provides an empirical solution to the problem of a parsimonious typology. In Rummel’s analysis, and in a number of subsequent studies, data on the incidence and characteristics of various types of political violence were collected and tabulated by country and the “country scores” (number of riots, assassinations, coups, mutinies, guerrilla wars, and so on, in a given time period) were factor analyzed.

Whatever the typology employed, the period of reference, or the set of countries, essentially the same results were reported. A strong turmoil dimension is characterized by largely spontaneous strife such as riots and demonstrations. It is quite distinct both statistically and substantively from what can be called a revolutionary dimension, characterized by more organized and intense strife.

This revolutionary dimension has two components that appear in some analyses as separate dimensions: internal war, typically including civil war, guerrilla war, and some coups; and conspiracy, typically including plots, mutinies, and most coups.

These types are not absolutely distinct. The analyses mentioned on pp. 4-5 indicate that, at a more general level of analysis, political violence is a relatively homogenous universe. Within that universe, however, some kinds of violence tend to occur together, and the occurrence of some types tends to preclude the occurrence of other types.

The principal distinction between turmoil and revolution is the degree of organization and focus of violence, a distinction also made by Eckstein in his composite typology.

A major difference between the internal war and conspiracy components of the revolutionary dimension is one of scale. General definitions of the three forms of political violence examined in this analysis are as follows:

Turmoil: Relatively spontaneous, unorganized political violence with substantial popular participation, including violent political strikes, riots, political clashes, and localized rebellions.

Conspiracy: Highly organized political violence with limited participation, including organized political assassinations, small-scale terrorism, small-scale guerrilla wars, coups d’etat, and mutinies.

Internal war: Highly organized political violence with widespread popular participation, designed to overthrow the regime or dissolve the state and accompanied by extensive violence, including large-scale terrorism and guerrilla wars, civil wars, and revolutions.

In summary, this study is an attempt to analyze, and develop testable general hypotheses about, three aspects of political violence: its sources, magnitude, and forms. The processes by which the potential for violence develops and the kinds of conditions and events that channel its outcome are examined as part of this analysis.

Two topics often examined in theories of revolution are examined here only in passing: the immediate precipitants of violence, about which most generalizations appear trivial; and the long-run outcomes of various kinds of political violence, about which there is little empirical evidence or detailed theoretical speculation.

Toward an Integrated Theory of Political Violence The basic model of the conditions leading to political violence used in this study incorporates both psychological and societal variables. The initial stages of analysis are actor-oriented in the sense that many of the hypotheses about the potential for collective action are related to, and in some instances deduced from, information about the dynamics of human motivation. The approach is not wholly or primarily psychological, however, and it would be a misinterpretation of the arguments and evidence presented here to categorize it so.

Most of the relationships and evidence examined in subsequent stages of analysis are those that are proposed or observed to hold between societal conditions and political violence. The psychological materials are used to help provide causal linkages between and among societal variables and the dependent variables specified above: the potential for collective and political violence; the magnitude of political violence; and the likelihood that political violence will take the form of turmoil, conspiracy, or internal war.

Use of psychological evidence in this way makes certain kinds of social uniformities more clearly apparent and comprehensible, and contributes to the simplification of theory. At the same time the analysis of societal relationships is crucial for identifying the sources of some common psychological properties of violence-prone men and for generalizing about the many facets of political violence that have no parallels in psychological dynamics.

The goal of this analysis, at best only partly realized, was proposed by Inkeles in the context of a discussion of social structure and personality: “What is required … is an integration or coordination of two basic sets of data in a larger explanatory scheme—not a reduction of either mode of analysis to the allegedly more fundamental mode of the other.”

The outlines of the theory can now be sketched briefly.

The primary causal sequence in political violence is first the development of discontent, second the politicization of that discontent, and finally its actualization in violent action against political objects and actors.

Discontent arising from the perception of relative deprivation is the basic, instigating condition for participants in collective violence. The linked concepts of discontent and deprivation comprise most of the psychological states implicit or explicit in such theoretical notions about the causes of violence as frustration, alienation, drive and goal conflicts, exigency, and strain (discussed in chapter 2).

Relative deprivation is defined as a perceived discrepancy between men’s value expectations and their value capabilities.

Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled.

Value capabilities are the goods and conditions they think they are capable of attaining or maintaining, given the social means available to them.

Societal conditions that increase the average level or intensity of expectations without increasing capabilities increase the intensity of discontent.

Among the general conditions that have such effects are the value gains of other groups and the promise of new opportunities (chapter 4). Societal conditions that decrease men’s average value position without decreasing their value expectations similarly increase deprivation, hence the intensity of discontent.

The inflexibility of value stocks in a society, short-term deterioration in a group’s conditions of life, and limitations of its structural opportunities have such effects (chapter 5).

Deprivation-induced discontent is a general spur to action. Psychological theory and group conflict theory both suggest that the greater the intensity of discontent, the more likely is violence. The specificity of this impulse to action is determined by men’s beliefs about the sources of deprivation, and about the normative and utilitarian justifiability of violent action directed at the agents responsible for it.

Societal variables that affect the focusing of discontent on political objects include the extent of cultural and subcultural sanctions for overt aggression, the extent and degree of success of past political violence, the articulation and dissemination of symbolic appeals justifying violence, the legitimacy of the political system, and the kinds of responses it makes and has made to relative deprivation (chapters 6 and 7).

The belief that violence has utility in obtaining scarce values can be an independent source of political violence, but within political communities it is most likely to provide a secondary, rationalizing, rather than primary, motivation. Widespread discontent provides a general impetus to collective violence.

However, the great majority of acts of collective violence in recent decades have had at least some political objects, and the more intense those violent acts are, the more likely they are to be focused primarily or exclusively on the political system. Intense discontent is quite likely to be politicized; the primary effect of normative and utilitarian attitudes toward violence is to focus that potential.

The magnitude of political violence in a system, and the forms it takes, are partly determined by the scope and intensity of politicized discontent. Politicized discontent is a necessary condition for the resort to violence in politics. But however intense and focused the impetus to violence is, its actualization is strongly influenced by the patterns of coercive control and institutional support in the political community.

Political violence is of greatest magnitude, and most likely to take the form of internal war, if regimes and those who oppose them exercise approximately equal degrees of coercive control, and command similar and relatively high degrees of institutional support in the society. The coercive capacities of a regime and the uses to which they are put are crucial variables, affecting the forms and extent of political violence in both the short and long run. There is much evidence, some of it summarized in chapters 8 and 10, that some patterns of regime coercive control increase rather than decrease the intensity of discontent, and can facilitate the transformation of turmoil into full-scale revolutionary movements.

Dissidents, by contrast, use whatever degree of coercive capacities they acquire principally for group defense and for assaults on the regime. The degree of institutional support for dissidents and for regimes is a function of the relative proportions of a nation’s population their organizations mobilize, the complexity and cohesiveness of those organizations, their resources, and the extent to which they provide regularized procedures for value attainment, conflict resolution, and channeling hostility (chapter 9).

The growth of dissident organization may in the short run facilitate political violence, but it also is likely to provide the discontented with many of the means to alleviate deprivation in the long run, thus minimizing violence.

The preceding paragraphs are an outline of the framework in which the hypotheses and definitions of this study are developed, and a summary of some of its generalizations. The hypotheses and their interrelationships are summarized more fully and systematically in chapter 10.

The Appendix lists all hypotheses developed, categorized according to their dependent variables, and the chapters in which they are proposed. The three stages in the process of political violence—those in which discontent is generated, politicized, and actualized in political violence—are each dependent on the preceding one, as the outline indicates.

It is likely but not necessarily the case that there is a temporal relationship among the three stages, whereby a sharp increase in the intensity of discontent precedes the articulation of doctrines that justify politically violent action, with shifts in the balances of coercive control and institutional adherence occuring subsequently.

The conditions can be simultaneously operative, however, as the outbreak of the Vendee counterrevolution in 1793 demonstrates: implementation of procedures for military conscription intensified the discontent of workers and peasants already sharply hostile to the bourgeoisie and the government it ruled. Mass action against the bourgeoisie began in a matter of days; the social context for dissident action was provided in part by preexisting communal and political organization, action that was facilitated by the concurrent weakness of government forces and institutions in the region.

The point is that many of the attitudes and societal conditions that facilitate political violence may be present and relatively unchanging in a society over a long period; they become relevant to or operative in the genesis of violence only when relative deprivation increases in scope and intensity.

Intense politicized discontent also can be widespread and persistent over a long period without overt manifestation because a regime monopolizes coercive control and institutional support. A weakening of regime control or the development of dissident organization in such situations is highly likely to lead to massive violence, as it did in Hungary in 1956 and China in 1966-68, and as is likely at some future date in South Africa.

The concepts, hypotheses, and models of causes and processes developed in the following chapters are not intended as ends in themselves. Intellectually pleasing filters through which to view and categorize the phenomena of a disorderly world are not knowledge. Systematic knowledge requires us to propose and test and reformulate and retest statements about how and why things happen. We know enough, and know it well enough, only when we can say with some certitude not just why things happened yesterday, but how our actions today will affect what happens tomorrow, something we can always hope to know better, though never perfectly.

This analysis may demonstrate that too little is known about the violence men do one another, and that it is known too weakly and imprecisely. It is designed to facilitate the processes by which that knowledge can be increased. 

*

from

Why Men Rebel

by

Ted Robert Gurr. 

get it from Amazon.com

The surprising things you do when you’re happiest. 

In a new study published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ researchers find that, contrary to popular belief, we actually don’t spend all of our time going after activities that make us feel good. In fact, it’s at times when we’re feeling our best that we tend to gravitate toward doing the least pleasurable tasks on our lists, like laundry and chores. So maybe we forgo things that’ll make us feel happy immediately, like happy hour, for duller things that have the potential to make us feel satisfied in the long term, like housework. The findings could have big takeaways for our understanding of happiness and motivation.

“Our positive emotion, perhaps, can be seen as a resource. When we don’t have enough, we need to replenish it, but as soon as we have enough, we can potentially use that to get things done.” WeForum