Behaviour Patterns:Tolerance has its limits, how far is too far?

Behaviour Patterns: Tolerance has its limits, how far is too far?

“I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.” Christopher Hitchens

The quote is from an outspoken journalist, author and polemicist who challenged the dogmas of religions and politics. I like the quote because in dogmatism, individuals or organisations believe they are right with righteousness in one hand but a synergy of narcissism in the other. The creation of new ideas is the light bearer of truth but the irony of this illumination there are only half truths with a shadow casting doubt on the sceptic.


Tolerance definition from one source said it is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own: freedom from bigotry.  The dilemma from objective to the subjective is a bridge with holes and cracks revealing the abyss of conflict of human emotion, intrinsic beliefs, and the connection of idealism.


The difficulty in exploring how tolerant a person behaviour is and why, calls into question many parameters of conscious and subconscious ideas is not a rational answer. I will explain this with few scenarios that springs to mind. This may evoke a personal response because everyone tolerance levels are subjective.


1: The women and men in abusive relationships even at the threat of their own lives.


2: The men and woman who are abused by work colleagues or employer and sometimes both.


3: The community vanquishes the family because of religious or ethic differences.


4: The victimisation of sexuality and morality.


These views are apparent in some cultures where extreme propagated by the media prejudice infiltrated by political and religious institutions. The basic preface to intolerance for some is ignorance and pretentious ostentatious egos. In essence all humanity has the right and dignity to live safely in the modern world with the freedom of choice. Raises the question what are acceptable limits for singular to community perspective?


We will explore some of the dimensions of why perpetual tolerance can be a barrier for an individual individualisation. We will focus on psychological reasons that inhibits the limits of person safeguard in managing tolerance. This is a snapshot of some of a person’s dynamics from my perspective. If you are facing difficulties in your personal life from the above scenarios that triggered you, I warmly recommend you seek professional advice and guidance.



Did you know Scientists estimate that 20 to 60 percent of temperament is determined by genetics? The case studies of twins in particular fraternal twins ‘gives clear evidence of different temperaments in twins.


There are 4 main temperaments






This doesn’t mean a behaviour trait is fixed because events will determine integrated temperaments at different levels. Adding to the equation environmental cues will enhance or subtract a behaviour trait. The construction of temperament from birth to adulthood has a mixed mash of components. For some fun you can do a temperament test online at But don’t be fooled with the results as conclusive, it might be useful to explore yourself in detail with a professional.


Psychologia website summarise the four-temperaments:


People with a sanguine personality type tend to be lively, optimistic, buoyant, and carefree. They love adventure and have high risk tolerance.


Someone with a phlegmatic personality is usually a people person.


Someone with a pure choleric temperament is usually a goal-oriented person.


People with melancholic personalities love traditions. Women cook for men; men open doors for women.


These are just basic ideas to explore on how temperament is a gauge to a person tolerance. The natural behaviour trait will influence a person interpersonal relationship learnt from childhood with ongoing correlations of personal experiences in life.


Historical Perspective


The brain remembers the environment from childhood even if you are not aware of it.

The subconscious patterns primed the organism for survival that are fight, flight, freeze and fawn. The lessons learned, prime the subconscious to act in a routine behaviour.  The Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) trains the brain to opt for autopilot behaviour to avoid danger. I would argue that even if you have not suffered with PTSD, a series of repeating events on a smaller scale will impact the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). The familiar environment learned as a child may pacify the brain or ramp it up to extremes with the person different tolerance levels.




The American Psychology Association defines Devaluation as defence mechanism that involves denying the importance of something or someone, including the self.  The contrasting belief of idealization, a person or institution has illusions of perfection or grandiose entitlements. This is evident in hierarchy of religious systems of the two systems integrated.  This brings into question a person identity from a qualitive and quantitively appraisal of the self of polar opposites.  The distortions of how a person sees the world is apparent in their behaviour of tolerance. The naive will tolerate more than the informed person. In contrast the of the victim mentality may avoid all imagined scenarios as intolerable for further confirmation biases. The linearisation of childhood beliefs and experiences attaches the self on how it identifies it’s value in relating to the world.




The catalyst for change is in the spark. Differences between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation in every individual has roots of self-perception. The reward and aversion stimuli in neural networks have impetus with biological mechanism throughout the body in motivation. The extrinsic reward of the social brain in connections or the shame of being different has deep core motivations on tolerance. The passive or assertive personality measures tolerance at different junctions according to the degrees trust. Finding ways to increase motivation is crucial because it can change behaviour towards balance view of tolerance.



In summary, the question: Does tolerance have its limits and how far is too far? The answer cannot be a sweeping statement that a person should change from an intolerable situation. Its evaluation and estimation are from perspective of the individual. The personal limits of each individual has its own autonomy with freedom of choice. We have seen how influences on a community or singular viewpoint will shape a person tolerance. Next time we will explore how far is too far? It is the conundrum of realistic expectations that has a balancing act of freedom of thought to safeguarding of the vulnerable.



















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About Stephen Hyne

I am creative and curious about life. I have a passion for the brain and the psychology of human behaviour. I love the renaissance art, culture and architecture. Music is my best friend follows me on my life journey of discovery.

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