Documentary featuring UAB anthropologist highlights the origins of hurt feelings

Questions about human aggression, violence and oppression are answered in a documentary featuring Douglas P. Fry, Ph.D.

Douglas P. Fry, Ph.D. Douglas P. Fry, Ph.D. A hard-hitting documentary, “Ordinary Savage,” takes an in-depth look at the origins of violence and how humans get their feelings hurt. Douglas P. Fry, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, provides expert insight on why humans become aggressive and resort to violence.

“In contrast to the bountiful portrayals of killing presented regularly by news and entertainment media, the overwhelming majority of human behavior actually is nonviolent and prosocial,” Fry said. “There are many ways to mend hurt feelings and resolve conflicts. Across cultural landscapes, conflicts usually are managed without physical aggression through withdrawal of one or both disputants, toleration of an unpleasant situation, discussion of the issues, delivery of reprimands, withdrawal of assistance, offering apologies, negotiation of agreements, payment of damages, application of mediation, arbitration, adjudication, and other third-party interventions. The overall pattern is to reconcile disputants so life can return to normal.” 

While most similar documentaries deal with a minority — psychopaths — this film is about the rest of us. Director and producer Staffan J. Thorsell shines a bright light on the origins of violence, racism and hatred. The documentary is available on