Dopamine, a naturally produced chemical in the brain functions as a neuro transmitter, which means that it helps pass signals from one neuron to another. Dopamine is the reward center, so when something pleasurable happens, like news of Quattrocchi being arrested, dopamine is released in your brain. Understanding dopamine can help in your love life and explain Musharraf.
A recent study was conducted on 15 people who were mending broken hearts. They were shown pictures of people to whom they had intense romantic feelings and some neutral images. Magnetic Resonance Images showed that when they saw the pictures of their loved ones, the dopamine system in the brain was triggered. This implied that they still maintained feelings for their loved ones.
After 9/11, Musharraf had to part company with his loved ones, the Taliban and al-Qaeda, to whom he had intense feelings. If you do an MRI on Musharraf’s brain and show him images of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden or Mullah Obaidullah Akhund you will see that dopamine system is triggered. In medical tests it has been found that subjects with such failed relationships show brain activity associated with risk taking, and controlling anger. This risk taking mentality explains why Musharraf allows al-Qaeda to roam freely in Pakistan while denying it and we have seen intense anger when it is suggested that Pakistan is not doing enough in the war on terror.
Currently, the relationship between United States and Pakistan, like that between two old lovers has become mundane and not so exciting. Brain studies help here too. It has been noticed that over a period of time, the intensity of the romance between couples fades and something must be done to ignite the passion.
One set of couples were asked to perform new and exciting activities like sailing or an art class while another group was asked to perform familiar activities like dinner with friends. Couples doing new activities found that their quality of marriage got better as the novelty of the new experience triggered the dopamine system.
After 9/11, the relationship between United States and Musharraf has been like that between Charlie Sheen and Heidi Lynne Fleiss. The US pays some money, called aid, and in turn Pakistan offers some Taliban/al-Qaeda types at regular intervals. This worked quite well from 2001 and now after 6 years, the intense romantic feeling has died down. To rekindle the love, United States thought instead of money, why not send some F-16s, but still Musharraf’s dopamine system was not triggered enough.
Then what you need is a drug. Steven Kotler in his book, West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief talks about an experiment conducted by Swiss neurologist Peter Brugger in which he gave the participants L-dopa, a drug used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Such people had increases in the levels of dopamine, the drug which evolution created to get us to do the things we need to do to survive.
Apparently Dick Cheney has the same effect. We don’t know how much of Musharraf’s dopamine system was triggered by the exciting activity called one on one meeting with man who shot a lawyer in the face, but the end result is that Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, former defense minister of the Taliban government and #3 in the leadership council was arrested.
This also explains why India is not able to get Musharraf to budge on anything. Every time there is a Pakistan sponsored terrorist attack in India, all we do is re-issue previous warnings with just a change in the time stamp on the documents. Then there is the usual accusation/counter accusation new cycle and all goes still till the next terrorist attack. If we are able to pull a Dick Cheney on him, something tangible might happen.