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Dr. House Says People Don't Change.


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I'm sure the beloved Hugh Laurie [an outspoken atheist like the creator of the series 'HOUSE'] has a large fanbase on this site.

So I'm hoping you'll understand what I'm referencing when I say that Dr. House says "people don't change."

 

I have trouble with this, but I understand what he means. Dr. Carl Jung said that people had layers. And different layers of a person are expressed in different ways at different times but always simultaniously.

 

I know that the word "epiphony" is used too comonly in society to mean a bright idea or the answer to a problem that is suddenly clear.

When "epiphony" is mean to be reserved for an event or a conclusion that drastically changes a person. Something so extreme and so personal that a person can't possibly remain the same after experiencing it.

 

In the event of a drastic epiphony I accept a person changing entirely.

 

But certainly who a person is is measured in what they do. And what they do is measured in how they behave. And behavior can be manipulated, blocked, and outright changed. Humans are learning machines afterall. And modern psychology shows with some ambiguity how people work.

 

Humans are shaped with nuture and not only nature. This in mind I don't understand how House can adopt the now popular philosophy that people never really change. In fact up until about our mid-twenties we are changing and adapting more than any other time.

 

So I find it interesting that sites like this can even exist while holding the philosophy that humans don't change.

 

Maybe the fundimental nature of a human cannot change but the learned 'nurture' of a human can?

 

It is said that if an alcoholic never takes another sip of alcohol it is only because he hasn't lived long enough.

 

Clearly I'm still sorting all of this out and looking for some understanding.

 

Do you think people change?

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I do believe people change. I do believe I have changed. People say I have changed. So if we can't change, then why and how is it possible that I am different today?

 

Perhaps most people do not change, and perhaps in general no one really changes certain aspects of their personality, but it is possible for some to change to a certain degree?

 

And if people can't change, then why do we have AA, or psychotherapy? If people can't change, doesn't that mean psychiatrists and psychologists are just fooling themselves, and getting well paid for getting no results?

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Hmm. An epiphany would be a radical new insight. An epiphony would be faking that you had a radical insight. (just a bit 'o humor there...)

 

When I look at the change I am going through, in many ways I'm returning to what I was thinking prior to my conversion at about 11 years old. Back in the 70's we were as a society starting to look at things like ESP, psychic ability, auras, and such. I am going back through some of that now to get a reset on some of my thinking. So the impetus for my deconversion was an epiphany of seeing that Jesus could not be the messiah because he and John the B introduced hell as a natural part of the Jewish faith, when it is at odds with historic Jewish thought and scripture. So in one way I changed, and in another I went back to what I was like before. And I imagine that in the next year or so I will change more dramatically, or perhaps peel back the onion to reveal what I was all along.

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I'll put it this way. most people are capable both of justifying an action, and having remorse for that same action, but not simultaneously most of the time. Now, barring brain injury, I think most people can experience a shift in their outlook toward a situation, but that fundamentally, their thoughts, personality, and behavior are what they are.

 

Take House for instance. House is through and through a distant, impolite jackass, wholly consumed with the quest for a new puzzle and the solution thereto. He was like that before his leg got all fucked up. House is NEVER going to experience an epiphany that makes him change that drastically. If his leg suddenly healed, he might not be quite so testy, but he's always going to be distant, and impolite, and dedicated solely to the pursuit of the puzzle.

 

OTOH, there are people who are not what they act like. Circumstances and events in their life that provides shades (to use what I believe to be a Jungian term) to their personality that aren't quite in harmony with the fundamental "them". So when they "change", what's happening, is that fundamental nature is coming through.

 

There are also people for whom I believe a little of both are true. They are, perhaps charitable by nature, but dismissive because their mother didn't take them seriously, or something.

 

Basically, the degree to which a person changes is determined by how much they can change, and the nature of the event that causes that change. How they do change is determined by their fundamental personality. You don't really get outside of that-- they change, but at the core, they're still the same them-- just a different expression. Unless a railway construction accident drives a spike through your brain, severing the connections between the hemispheres. Now that's an epiphany right there! :lmao:

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Take House for instance. House is through and through a distant, impolite jackass, wholly consumed with the quest for a new puzzle and the solution thereto. He was like that before his leg got all fucked up. House is NEVER going to experience an epiphany that makes him change that drastically. If his leg suddenly healed, he might not be quite so testy, but he's always going to be distant, and impolite, and dedicated solely to the pursuit of the puzzle.

Actually they had a couple of episodes playing on that, and what happens is that House does not work as well, and is not as interested in the solving of the puzzle. His behavior does change. Like this season he switched drugs for his pain, and Wilson noticed something was wrong because House was suddenly nice! And in the end House realized he wasn't as good doctor but screwed up the diagnosis because he was without pain. So that episode really shows that his leg-pain is part of his ability of being a great doctor. If he can change behavior just by getting rid of pain, then people can change for other reasons as well.

 

 

 

Basically, the degree to which a person changes is determined by how much they can change, and the nature of the event that causes that change. How they do change is determined by their fundamental personality. You don't really get outside of that-- they change, but at the core, they're still the same them-- just a different expression. Unless a railway construction accident drives a spike through your brain, severing the connections between the hemispheres. Now that's an epiphany right there! :lmao:

Yup.

 

Here's a thought... if a person's personality is that he can change and adjust, then he will not change that behavior. i.e., change will be constant in his life. :HaHa:

 

I realized that according to evolution one of the reasons why homo sapiens is a successful species is because its ability to adjust and modify its behavior depending on situation. So to say that humans don't change is to contradict why humans are humans. But... on the other hand there is certain parts of our personality that doesn't change. For instance I'm an INTP personality type according to Meyers Briggs, and other tests show I'm a spatial/visual learner, etc. And those things doesn't change much over life. It's like a Mac is a Mac, and a PC is a PC, and those things don't change, but then again, the software, the versions of programs, can change and even change behavior in people.

 

To summarize, I think when someone say: "people don't change," they look at only one part of human nature and can't see the other parts. It's like the thing with "the glass is half-empty" or "the glass is half-full." Some people only see the negative things that doesn't change in other people, and others can see the positive things that do change in other people.

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Actually they had a couple of episodes playing on that, and what happens is that House does not work as well, and is not as interested in the solving of the puzzle. His behavior does change. Like this season he switched drugs for his pain, and Wilson noticed something was wrong because House was suddenly nice! And in the end House realized he wasn't as good doctor but screwed up the diagnosis because he was without pain. So that episode really shows that his leg-pain is part of his ability of being a great doctor. If he can change behavior just by getting rid of pain, then people can change for other reasons as well.
Not quite. The beginning of season 3 he actually lost his leg pain entirely, and was no less effective as a doctor. He DID however, become somewhat more interested in solving the puzzle for the sake of the patient, and not the puzzle itself, as evidenced by the vegetative man he tried to cure, and eventually talked Cuddy into administering a cortisone shot, which reversed his vegetative state.

 

There was another episode where House faked having brain syphilis, in which he acted less testy, and less interested in solving the puzzle, and less capable of doing so after being diagnosed by his staff and "treated".

 

When House switched to methadone, he wasn't less interested in solving the puzzle, he was less able to, which is why he switched back to vicodin, at the cost of his leg pain returning. House is a miserable man, who will do ANYTHING to have the pain in his leg gone, AS LONG AS it doesn't interfere with his ability to do his job. Also, I admitted that behavior may change if one's conditions change, but that's different from personality.

 

When I said barring brain injury, I actually meant any sort of disease or actual injury can distort one's personality. For instance, chronic fatigue syndrome can render a person apathetic and lazy. I think it would be significant if the change that resulted remained after the condition had been treated-- If one's CFC were treated, and physically they had more energy, they might not be so apathetic. What I think "people don't change" means is that the fundamental You is still distinguishable no matter what superficial changes, however drastic they might seem, that you may make. I don't know that I fully agree, but I've noticed that it is a strong likelihood.

 

I think of it as a balloon tethered to a pole. Sure, the winds (of change) can blow the balloon in any number of directions, but it's still constrained by the tether. It's position relative to the pole is unchanged most of the time. It takes a great deal to break the tether (Railroad spike, permanent injury due to brain syphilis or other disease, watching your family murdered in front of you), and most people don't experience that much changing force.

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Do you think people change?

 

I'd say that people don't change very much unless they feel they have more to gain by changing than from staying the same.

The "gain" can be material or psychological.

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House said it, I believe it, that settles it.

 

As others have said one way or another, behaviors change but personality traits don't.

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Everything living goes through changes from internal causes, and even rocks get externally changed. Nothing and nobody is static.

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Everything living goes through changes from internal causes, and even rocks get externally changed. Nothing and nobody is static.

Exactly. Everything is subject to change.

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Agree. I believe people do change.

 

I looked at a few titles of psychology articles, which states that even personality traits can change. One of them was about how parenthood changes people's personality, outlook on life, and attitudes.

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I think people change, but how much and for how long depends on what aspects of a person are changing.

 

I believe basic personality and behavior, while somewhat plastic, is easier to revert back to if met with similar sets of circumstances in which the earlier behavior was developed. For example, how many strong, independently minded women have said when they go back home, they feel and even sometimes behave like insecure, insignificant little girls in the presence of their parents or siblings?

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It has been said, "the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior." Score one more for the doc.

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It has been said, "the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior." Score one more for the doc.

:58:Seventies Rock! :Old:

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This is a tough one. I think House is brilliant and totally hot :wub:, so I hate to disagree with him. But, if I look at my own life, I really want to believe that I have changed.

 

Maybe my basic personality has not changed. I’m sure I am still hauling around a lot of baggage from my childhood, but I really want to believe that I have grown, developed, matured, and gained knowledge that has resulted in changes in my outlook and my behaviors, and, possibly even resulted in changes in my personality. I don’t know. Maybe I am trying to give myself too much credit. I know other people who repeatedly return to their addictions and bad behaviors no matter what good things or bad things happen in their lives. :shrug:

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Well...

 

I watched one senior relative die from Parkinson's disease. Another developed senile dementia before she died. Another was on a crapload of painkillers when she was dying from cancer. Other relatives (myself included) have been put on a whole host of psych meds at one time or another, for one reason or another. Still others used drugs or were alcoholics.

 

All of these things fucked around with each individual's brain somehow - via biochemistry, physical deterioration, what have you. And yes, they definitely all changed, in one way or another. Personality traits shifted, cognition was lost or shifted somehow, behavior changed.

 

So I gotta disagree with House on this one.

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All of these things fucked around with each individual's brain somehow - via biochemistry, physical deterioration, what have you. And yes, they definitely all changed, in one way or another. Personality traits shifted, cognition was lost or shifted somehow, behavior changed.
House dealt with patients like that all the time. I have qualified my statements to exclude things like this, and as such, I don't think House had it in mind to include these things either.
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House dealt with patients like that all the time. I have qualified my statements to exclude things like this, and as such, I don't think House had it in mind to include these things either.

 

Fair 'nuff... I probably spaced on the qualifications, my bad.

 

I was sort of wandering in the vague direction of thinking about brain change and resultant changes in a given human though. Maybe extreme examples are excluded, but I'd wager change happens all the time in subtler ways.

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The thing though with the qualifiers is that, what constitute a personality change qualifier? If drugs are out, alcohol, smoking, and any other mood changing drugs, then what about chocolate, coffee, or perhaps milder things like omega-3 vitamins or perhaps other chemicals we consume from fruits or sodas or whatever over a life time? Isn't everything something that also changes a physical condition in our body? Isn't food a form of mood altering substance? Does the brain go into a static, crystal like state after we are born? Or after 20 years of age? The scientists talk about the plasticity of the brain, and it is the reference to its ability to change and that it does change. But why and how can the brain change, but we don't? Does this mean that our personality is located outside and independent of the chemical status of the brain? I don't know. I can't agree with house, since I've seen articles in psychiatry which also disagree. Where do we draw the line between "approved substance which alter our body chemistry only slightly but doesn't change our personality" and "mind altering substance which alters our personality?" And why should we separate them? Doesn't the existence of personality changing drugs mean that we can change? If the statement is: "people does not change," doesn't that make a very broad statement without qualifiers? Shouldn't it be: "people does not change unless they take drugs which could change them?" I think the problem here is: what is "change" and what is the level of accepted influence to such a change?

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I wonder if perhaps our basic natures or personalities don't change, but the filters though which we present them to the world and/or view the world DO change.

 

In my case, as a gung-ho Christian throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I saw the world through the filter of Christianity. However, that filter was at odds with my basic rational nature. Seeing the world through that filter drove me to study theology and attempt to rationalize away the Biblical problems I encountered. Now that that filter has mostly crumbled (due to said study), my rationalism can shine through. To Christian family and friends, it may appear that I have changed because I no longer "live by faith". I know, though, that *I* have not changed.

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I wonder if perhaps our basic natures or personalities don't change, but the filters though which we present them to the world and/or view the world DO change.
I think this is a good point. Looking back at my own deconversion, some things about me have clearly changed since deconverting. I see the world through different lenses and I've changed sides on certain moral issues, I no longer live my life fearing the wrath of God, and I'm not as much as a busybody on things like sex and marijuana but my basic over-all personality I think is more or less the same. Maybe we should do a poll on how much do you think your personality has changed since deconverting?
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  • 7 months later...

I had to resurrect this, because I was going to start my own topic but knew deep down it had to have been discussed before.

 

I resurrect this because me and hubby had almost a very heated discussion over the question if people change. He seemed disapointed with me and treated me like a terrible pessimistic angry individual. Really, I don't think I am.

 

No.

 

I don't think people change. People change their behaviors. But can not and do not change themselves.

 

People may stop smoking, stop drinking, stop crack, but they just fix onto something else. Another religion. Sex, relationships, happiness, religion.

 

Did I change? Did we change? From Christianity to where we are now, I mean? Or did we simply accept what has been in us all along? I think so. I think and believe that I accepted the doubts in me and embraced them. I accepted the facts that I always knew: Christianity made no sense.

 

People do not change. They want to. Pretend that they do. They change their behaviors to make it seem like they, themselves, have changed. But no, they do not.

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I had to resurrect this, because I was going to start my own topic but knew deep down it had to have been discussed before.

 

I resurrect this because me and hubby had almost a very heated discussion over the question if people change. He seemed disapointed with me and treated me like a terrible pessimistic angry individual. Really, I don't think I am.

 

No.

 

I don't think people change. People change their behaviors. But can not and do not change themselves.

 

People may stop smoking, stop drinking, stop crack, but they just fix onto something else. Another religion. Sex, relationships, happiness, religion.

 

Did I change? Did we change? From Christianity to where we are now, I mean? Or did we simply accept what has been in us all along? I think so. I think and believe that I accepted the doubts in me and embraced them. I accepted the facts that I always knew: Christianity made no sense.

 

People do not change. They want to. Pretend that they do. They change their behaviors to make it seem like they, themselves, have changed. But no, they do not.

You make a good case for people not changing, but I can't help but think that people can change. For better or worse.

 

Part of the problem is deciding what has actually changed. When I was Christian, I was good, generous, outgoing and happy. Now I'm good, generous, outgoing and happy. Seems like nothing has changed, but then why should I change anything?

 

Have you seen the movie "Trading Places" with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd? I believe that if you alter circumstances enough, you will change the person. Take a good man and wrongfully convict him of a sex crime, and you can expect that he won't be as nice as he used to be. The change is in ones expectations, interactions, hope and experiences. We will adapt, and that changes us.

 

We can become distrustful. Or we can learn to love. We can become defensive, or we can attack. You could argue that these characteristics are ingrained, and our responses are innate and a reflection of "who we really are" but that diminishes the very real emotional AND behavioral changes brought on by life's circumstances.

 

I would even argue that simply altering ones appreciation for things we may have once dismissed as unimportant is a major transformation - a change.

 

We may not be able to do it "on command" or even control it, but we do change. Even age makes us change. My political orientation is probably different from when I was young. Having people depend on me makes me more aware of what I have to do to protect them, and that changes how I view the actions of others and what I am willing to do myself. Likewise, being foolish when young does not mean we must be foolish when we are older. Wisdom brings on changes.

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Did I change? Did we change? From Christianity to where we are now, I mean? Or did we simply accept what has been in us all along? I think so. I think and believe that I accepted the doubts in me and embraced them. I accepted the facts that I always knew: Christianity made no sense.

 

 

But isn't learning to accept something you've known all along a change itself since you're changing from being in denial to accepting something as true?
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To answer everything, as I see it:

 

You could argue that these characteristics are ingrained, and our responses are innate and a reflection of "who we really are"

 

You said it.

 

You can say "add this life changing experience" and you'll change, I say you wouldn't have reacted in any way contrary to who you are. Thus, no change.

 

Notice how differently people react to such "life changing" experiences. Rape, death of loved ones, divorce, failure, etc. Everyone reacts differently, thus a reflection of who the person is. Not a change. It just brings out something that was already there, a tendency. I "changed" when my grandmother died. I "changed" when I got married. But not really, I'm still me, just another layer of me came out. I "changed" when traumatic, degrading things happened to me.. but not really, I reacted how I had in me to react.

 

The change isn't really a change if it's a tendency that is built in. Otherwise, everyone would react to the "same" thing the same way. Rape/sexual abuse turns some women into suicidal depression, some to hate and anger, some to sexual promiscuity, some to a feel of needing to reach out to abuse women and the possibilities go on... but someone with a depressive tendency doesn't usually become an evangelist.

 

Does that make any sense? I think it does. Hubby doesn't. But he's the psychologist, I'm the angry un-believer I guess. =P

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