Mental Structure and Extreme Situations
MENTAL STRUCTURE AND DEPTH PSYCHOLOGY
From what is considered a western scientific perspective, studies of the structure of the human mind date back only less than 200 years to the study of "depth psychology" in the form of psychoanalysis.
A brief history of psychotherapy
"People often do not recognize the source of their problems. The history of psychotherapy, in fact, could be summarized as an effort to understand the amnesia surrounding the origins of psychological problems
The origins of psychoanalysis can be found in the detailed case studies of the same basic phenomenon: There is usually an amnesia for the source of psychological problems and neurosis
Carl Jung on neurosis and his understanding of the unconscious mind:
"As a matter of history, it was the study of dreams that first enabled psychologists to investigate the unconscious aspect of conscious psychic events.
It is on such evidence that psychologists assume the existence of an unconscious psyche â€" though many scientists and philosophers deny its existence. They argue naively that such an assumption implies the existence of two "subjects," or (to put it in a common phrase) two personalities within the same individual. But that is exactly what it does imply â€" quite correctly. And it is one of the curses of modern man that many people suffer from this divided personality. It is by no means a pathological symptom; it is a normal fact that can be observed at any time and anywhere. It is not merely the neurotic whose right hand does not know what the left is doing. This predicament is a symptom of a general unconsciousness that is the undeniable common inheritance of all mankind" (Jung, 1964:23).
"He hears and does not hear; he sees, yet is blind; he knows and is ignorant" (Jung, 1964:33).
"If, for a moment, we regard mankind as one individual, we see that the human race is like a person carried away by unconscious powers; and the human race also likes to keep certain problems tucked away in separate drawers . . . Our world is, so to speak, dissociated like a neurotic, with the Iron Curtain making a symbolic line of division. . . . It is the face of his own evil shadow that grins at Western man from the other side of the Iron Curtain" (Jung, 1964:85).
Iron Curtain: Out. Al Qaida and Iran: In. Same evil shadow.
Lifted from Wiki's Jung's theory of neurosis
STUDIES OF MENTAL REACTIONS TO EXTREME SITUATIONS
Similar to the way that particle accelerators allow physicists to observe high energy collisions between particles, breaking composite objects into component parts, so highly stressful situations reveal how the mind often copes with negative shock. The Kubler-Ross seminars and studies give a glimpse into mental tendencies that are deeply rooted. Research cited below shows that the amnesia surrounding many psychological problems, amnesia common in PTSD, various types of neurosis, and hypnotic suggestibility seem to have a common psycho-biological cause.
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
" Any stressful life situation (surgery, war, natural disaster, accident, rape, malnutrition, ect.) that stimulates excessive arousal by the automatic and endocrine systems can lead to the varying clinical symptomatology of post-traumatic stress
. A recent survey of the psychobiology of this syndrome suggests that it is the basis process underlying Freud's original concept of the "traumatic neurosis" as the organic basis of psychopathology. This leads to the provocative insight that the entire history of depth psychology and psychoanalysis can be understood as a prolonged clinical investigation of how dissociated or state-dependent memories remain active at unconscious levels, giving rise to the "complexes" that are the source of psychological and psychosomatic problems.
" -Rossi, Cheek
In addition to the tendencies toward conformity in viewpoint and a disturbingly high percentage of people unwittingly obedient to authoritative suggestions and orders, fear and disorientation can produce spontaneous hypnoidal states. Contemporary research in state-dependent memory, learning and behavior shows that people in a state of heightened fear and disorientation are especially vulnerable to suggestion.
SPONTANEOUS HYPNOIDAL STATES
"Frightened people need no formal introduction to hypnosis; they are already in hypnosis by the time we see them." -Rossi, Cheek
"Hypnosis may occur spontaneously in the presence of fear, sensory or postural disorientation, and in loss of consciousness. It has been established that hybernating mammals and those assuming a reflex pseudo-death for camouflage in time of danger (for example, and opposum) are able to retain auditory capacity after they have lost all perception for pain and all muscular reflexes." -R, C
"Spontaneous Hypnoidal State in Patients
It is not dangerous for a human being to enter into hypnosis spontaneously during a time of stress, provided that there is freedom from frightening suggestions during the time of hypnosis
." -R, C
The hypnotic state is a natural defense mechanism within all higher mammals. There are extreme advantages for the mind-body mechanism to be able to "shut down" during certain extreme threats:
"Hypnosis - with its diminished oxygen requirements, its diminished capacity for feeling pain, its diminished tendency for bleeding, its diminished voluntary muscular activity, and its exclusion of all non-meaningful stimuli - could be used to great advantage by surgeons and anesthesiologist. For these reasons, among others, we should know when to expect a spontaneous hypnoidal response, how to recognize its manifestations, and how to utilize it for the benefit of our patients." -R, C
"Surgical Patients Behave as though Hypnotized
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring body defense mechanism, as analogue of which occurs in animals confronted by danger situations. It appears spontaneously in human beings when they are frightened, disoriented, or in situations of severe violent stress, mental or physical
(Milechnin, 1962), and quite possibly even when physically or chemically unconscious. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that a state of mental activity of an unconscious or hypnotic character exists even in states of syncope or physical unconsciousness. A report indicative of this point is Erickson's hypnotic study in relation to a state of traumatic physical unconsciousness (1937/1980). Also in this connection, one need only to consider various undesirable startle techniques for the induction of hypnosis with what appears to be a transitional state of unconsciousness sometimes intervening between the waking and the hypnotic state." -R, C
As mentioned by Rossi and Cheek, natural spontaneous hypnoidal states can be used to great advantage provided frightening suggestions are not expressed during the vulnerable period
. Needless to say, suggestions like "Al Qaida wants to eat your children" and other such fear mongering can act as direct hypnotic suggestions as long as the conditions evoking the fear and disorientation are maintained. Likewise, "shock and awe" operations intended to produce sudden states of extreme fear and disorientation can be used to great advantage in implanting false negative beliefs through repeated indirect suggestions by the same reasoning.
"Unrecognized, hypnotic responses can be a detrimental force for several reasons. In the first place, a hypnotic trance is deepened by any sudden sensory perception which is out of context with the environment of the moment (Erickson & Rossi, 1976/1980). A deeper trance may be produced by anything that disturbs the individual's normal proprioceptive relationship in space.
Secondly, upon entering hypnosis, or becoming unconscious, there may be a release of memory associations with earlier experiences in life which have been frightening. In inducing hypnosis in timid or frightened subjects, it is fairly common for them to experience a vivid recollection of a post traumatic or terrifying event, or even a whole series of past unhappy memories, sometimes to an overwhelming degree.
Thirdly, the subjective mind, representing unconscious thought, is literal in its understanding of words. It interprets everything which could be significant as relating to itself.
"Patients facing surgery under general anesthesia - by virtue of their spontaneous intense fixation upon their understanding of their situation and their restricted or spontaneously limited awareness of the surroundings - may well be considered to be in a prehypnotic or hypnotic-like state, or perhaps even an actual state of hypnosis.
" -Rossi, Cheek
The extreme limits of psychic fragmentation under repeated trauma; Multiple personality disorder
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE
Induces helplessness and depression. Destroys ones previous sense of invulnerability, the sense that "it can't happen to me".
The most common themes tend to be discomfort over ones own vulnerability.
This leads to a disruption of certain core assumptions. Core assumptions that:
a) The world is benevolent
b) Events in the world are meaningful
c) The self is positive and worthy (people are good)
three fundamental components of our "metaphysical hard core". The victim experiences serious threats to their assumption of meaningfulness. They can experience a disruption of a core cognitive structure or world view, the basis of their assumptive world.
Beginning in childhood people learn to trust the world- learning that they are not vulnerable, but secure. They learn their world is controllable, dependable and just - they develop self worth in that they are the recipient of positive care-giving. The assumption of benevolence, meaningfulness of events and self worth are grounded in the early preverbial experiences.
Victims of violence have to confront the existence of "evil" and the breakdown of the moral universe. Victims in general feel a marked decrease in their sense of self-worth.
This is explained well in "Psychotraumatology: Key Papers and Core Concepts in Post-Traumatic Stress", Chapter 5, Victims of Violence, by Ronnie Janoff-Bulman
Reprinted from S. Fisher and J. Reason, "Handbook of Life Stress. Cognition and Health" (ch 6, pp.101-113)
From the book:
"In processing information, we rely upon schemas without necessarily being aware of their content. Further, these schemas are generally resistant to major changes, for ordinarily we alter our perceptions and memories so as to render the schemas consistent; we persevere in maintaining our schemas
(see discussions in Fisk & Taylor, 1984; Nisbett & Ross, 1980).
Although work on schemas has generally dealt with our "theories" of particular categories of people or events, the psychological perspective represented by this work is consistent with the orientations of psychologists who have been interested in more global theories of assumptions people hold about themselves and their world. Parkes (1971, 1975), for example, maintains that people strongly hold a set of assumptions - their "assumptive world" - that represents their view of reality and is built and confirmed by years of experience. Bowlby's (1969) "world models," Marris's (1975) "structures of meaning" and Epstein's (1973, 1979, 1980) "theory of reality" all represent this same conceptual system that guides our perceptions and actions. As Epstein (1980) and Parkes (1971) maintain, we operate on the basis of these theories or assumptions, yet we are generally unaware of their content. Further, because we perceive the world through these assumptive lenses, it is very difficult to invalidate them. They generally persist and are resistant to change. Our assumptive world provides us with a stable conceptual system that affords us psychological equilibrium in a constantly changing actual world.
Although our basic assumptions about the world and ourselves are generally not questioned or challenged, occasionally particular events force us to objectify and confront them.
In the realm of science, paradigms provide the basis for all work during "normal science" (Kuhn, 1962), just as our basic assumptions underlie normal (i.e., day-to-day) living. Yet there are occasions in science when crises arise. When anomalies call into question fundamental aspects of the paradigm and the old paradigm is "pushed too far", the result is a scientific revolution (Kuhn, 1962). Similarly, there are occasions in peoples lives when their assumptive worlds are seriously challenged.
Violent victimization represents one such experience. Victims of violence can no longer automatically rely upon their assumptive worlds to account for the data of their experience, and the stability of their conceptual system is threatened. The psychological trauma experienced by victims of violence can be understood in terms of the potential breakdown of their assumptive worlds. There is disorganization within their conceptual systems, and the individuals are thrown into a state of psychological crisis.
The threat to the victim's assumptive world occurs because victimization cannot readily be assimilated into his or her conceptual system. A cluster of assumptions (all of which relate to the general perception of relative invulnerability) are challenged by victimization
, particularly by violent victimization. A very common reaction following victimization is an intense feeling of vulnerability. Most people, prior to any serious victimization, feel relatively invulnerable to negative events
(Janoff-Bulman & Lang-Gunn, 1988; Perloff, 1983; Weinstein, 1980; Weinstein & Lachendro, 1982). Victims can no longer say, "It can't happen to me."
Rather, they experience a lost sense of safety and security, whether they are victims of crime (e.g., Bard & Sangrey, 1979; Fischer, 1984; Krupnick, 1980; Notman & Nadelson, 1976), disease (e.g., Taylor, 1983; Weisman, 1979; Wortman & Dunkel-Shetter, 1979), or disasters (e.g., Lifton & Olson, 1976; Titchener et al., 1976; Wolfenstein, 1957). In his work with individuals exhibiting post-traumatic stress - including people who had been assaulted, have undergone a near-fatal experience, and had lost a loved one - Horowitz (1982) found that the most common theme expressed by these victims was discomfort over their own vulnerability.
This sense of vulnerability appears to be tied to the disruption of certain core assumptions about self and the world. In particular, people generally seem to operate on the basis of three fundamental assumptions related to invulnerability: (a) the world is benevolent; (b) events in the world are meaningful; and (c) the self is positive an worthy.
A benevolent world is not only one in which good things happen, but one in which people are good. A meaningful world is one in which events "make sense" because they predictably follow certain accepted "social laws" (Janoff-Bulman & Frieze, 1983; Silver & Wortman, 1980). In Western cultures, events are meaningful if they follow principles of justice (i.e., people get what they deserve; Lerner, 1980) or controllability (i.e., people's actions determine their outcomes; Seligman, 1975). A positive view of the self involves seeing oneself as decent and worthy, and thereby as deserving of good outcomes.
These three vulnerability-related assumptions may form a central core of our assumptive world.
Work on the child's earliest experiences suggests that the groundwork for these assumptions is laid in the child's early interactions. Essentially, the development of the child during the first year involves learning to trust the world, learning that he or she is not vulnerable but rather is protected and secure (Erikson, 1950, 1968, 1980). The establishment of a sense of relative invulnerability seems grounded in early relationships with caregivers (Bowlby, 1969; Fairbairn, 1952; Sullivan, 1940, 1953). Typically the child comes to perceive the world as benevolent through predictable interactions with a responsible caregiver. Through positive interactions in which the child's needs (physical and emotional) are met, the child learns that his or her world is controllable, dependable, and just. Simultaneously the child begins to develop a sense of self-worth, in that he or she is the recipient of positive caregiving. The process is one of mutual regulation, in which the child perceives "friendly otherness" and "personal trustworthiness" through sensitive, dependable care. During the first year, as children learn that others are good, they also learn that they are good and that the world is orderly and predictable. Generally they come to believe that they are not helpless in a hostile environment (Horney, 1937, 1939), but capable and cared for in a benevolent world.
The assumptions of benevolence of the world, meaningfulness of events, and self-worth are grounded in the early preverbal experiences of the child and are therefore apt to be core assumptions in our conceptual system.
Though certainly not the only assumptions an individual holds, these three vulnerability-related assumptions are no doubt very "high-order postulates" (Epstein, 1980) or, as Lakatos's (1974) terms, components of our "metaphysical hard-core". As such, their maintenance is essential to our psychological stability; threats to these core assumptions result in a great deal of psychological distress.
Victimization threatens these assumptions, and the psychological responses of victims indicate their decreased sense of self-worth, coupled with a perception of the world that is malevolent and arbitrary.
Although these three basic assumptions are threatened by the experience of nonviolent victimization (e.g., disease, accidents, natural disasters), violent victimization seems to provide even greater threats and challenges to the assumptive worlds of victims (Janoff-Bulman, 1985). For victims of violence, the world is not only a place in which negative events occur (i.e., unfortunate outcomes become salient; Kahneman & Tversky, 1973), but people can no longer be trusted. Both the impersonal world and the personal world appear hostile. As Bard and Sangrey (1979) write, "Because crime is an interpersonal event, the victim's feeling of security in the world of other people is seriously upset" (p.14). For those victimized by an individual they know well (e.g., a date, spouse, parent, friend), the breakdown in the assumption of a benign world is particularly acute. Considerable emotional trauma follows the experience of rape by a partner or friend (Burgess & Holnstrom, 1974; Medea & Thompson, 1974). Victims of rape and sexual abuse often have a great deal of difficulty establishing a sense of trust in subsequent close relationships (Miller et al., 1982; Nadelson & Notman, 1984). The individual who is victimized by a stranger often suffers a loss of trust in people as well, for the experience forces a direct confrontation with the realization that people can be malevolent; the world of people becomes suspect (Fischer, 1984).
Victims of violence, as well as victims of accidents, disease, and natural disasters, experience serious threats to their assumption of meaningfulness. They have been brought face to face with arbitrariness or randomness, and it is difficult to make sense of their victimization. Once again, however, the intent to harm by another human being suggests the possibility of unique difficulties for victims of violence. They must confront the existence of evil and the breakdown of a moral universe (see Lifton, 1967). Diseases, accidents, and natural disasters do not raise the question of evil; it is as if to be evil, something has to be intended, as is the case in violent victimizations (Janoff-Bulman, 1985).
There is considerable evidence that victims in general experience a marked decrease in their sense of self-worth (Horowitz et al., 1980; Krupnick, 1980). They perceive themselves as having been singled out for misfortune, and this leads to self-questioning, a perception of deviance, and self-stigma (Coates & Winston, 1983). Victims of violence are apt to experience the greatest threats to their self-worth, for being victimized by another who has intended harm is likely to exaggerate one's sense of powerlessness and helplessness, as well as one's sense of "losing" to another human being. One has been overpowered by another person and has thereby experienced a direct "violation of the self" (Bard & Sangrey, 1979). This sense of weakness and helplessness in contrast to the dominance of an evil other is apt to be experienced as humiliation, shame, and a loss of self-respect.
COPING WITH INAPPROPRIATE REACTIONS
Coping with violent victimization involves coming to terms with the cognitive disorganization precipitated by the experience. Assumptions and personal theories that have provided psychological stability over the years are seriously challenged and often shattered.
For victims of violence, intense anxiety - with all of its emotional, physiological, and behavioral manifestations - reflects the disruption in their cognitive systems, and the road to adjustment and decreased anxiety entails reorganizing and rebuilding their assumptive world.
The work of Horowitz (1976, 1980, 1982) is instructive in understanding the process of coping with victimization. According to Horowitz, people's "inner models" change as a result of serious life events, and he calls the tendency to integrate one's inner models and reality the completion tendency.
Prior to this integration or completion, information from and reactions to the traumatic experience are stored in active memory and account for the intrusive thoughts experienced by victims. These intrusions cease when the information has been integrated and thereby is no longer stored in active memory.
This focus on the victim's assumptive world renders the internal reality of the victim paramount in the process in understanding victim's reactions to traumatic events. Once the significance of this internal reality is recognized, certain reactions of victims that ordinarily appear inappropriate or maladaptive from an outsider's perspective begin to be comprehensible.
Thus Janoff-Bulman and Timko (1987) maintain that the often-maligned process of denial is natural and often necessary and can, in fact, facilitate adaptation to traumatic experiences by modulating the attack on a victim's assumptive world.
Denial allows the victim slowly and gradually to face the realities of the victimization and incorporate them into his or her internal world. Certainly it can be argued that it is easier to use denial in the case of victimization by disease than violent victimization, for the latter involves another person and a discrete event. Nevertheless, other apparently odd reactions of victims, particularly victims of violence, can better be understood by recognizing their role in the process of building and rebuilding a stable, integrated assumptive world for the victim."
End of quote.
Dissociation in P.O.W.s
- people in captivity can become adept practitioners of the arts of altered consciousness. They can sometimes reach trance levels only found in deep hypnosis - including the ability to form positive and negative hallucinations and to dissociate part of their personality. Disturbances in time sense, memory and concentration are common.
Mind fragmentary operations (dissociation)
elaborated by children in order to preserve the "delusion of good parents". The establishment of isolated divisions of the mind in which contrary images of the self and the parents are never permitted to coalesce.
Examples of dissociation in young children who have experienced extremely abusive environments:
"He ....... It hurt. I told him it hurt, but he said nuttin' back. I didn't like it at all. It didn't really freighten me. Not really, I just made up my mind to think about other things."
"-to think about other things- I say "I don't know" over and over to myself. When I say my prayers I keep saying the last word of the prayer. Sometimes I do it a hundred times. Sometimes now I find myself not feeling things. I don't feel sad or mad when I should be. I'm not afraid when I should be. I act silly and crazy a lot. The people in my school think I am funny because of it."
Dissociation from physical pain, case of a battered child:
" It just happens now. I used to pretend I was at a picnic with my head on mommy's lap. The first time my step daddy hit me it hurt a lot. But then I found I could make myself go on mommy's lap and he couldn't hurt me that way. I could be some place else and not get hurt. I don't know how many times he punched me. I wasn't paying attention."
A different child:
" I started some planets. I made my planets up in a game. But it's real now. It's no game anymore." He describes a safe planet and a number of unsafe planets where people "got killed". He said he has come to achieve invisibility by repeatedly visiting his own safe planet and avoiding the unsafe ones. "Starting when I was 6, I began to feel invisible. When my mom pointed a gun at my dad, I was thinking like I didn't see it, like "this didn't happen". I blinked to see if I was dreaming. I remember first pretending I wasn't there - that I didn't see it - that I was on my own planet. I had gone there a lot before. When my mom and my dad would fight, I would try not to hear, not to see. I'd try to go to sleep. Normally I couldn't. I'd try to get out of the room where they were. I'd try to visit my planet. But now my mind, yes, it just goes blank. Mostly it happens at home, a few minutes at a time."
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IN THOSE INFLICTING AND WITNESSING VIOLENCE
Book Title: ON KILLING: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman
Available as pdf here
The following 5 diagrams are from the book.
The major factors and psychological dynamics of the act of killing within the context of war according to Grossman:
From the book:
"The Milgram Factors
Milgram's famous studies of killing behavior in laboratory condi-
tions (the willingness of subjects to engage in behavior that they
believed was killing a fellow subject) identified three primary situa-
tional variables that influence or enable killing behavior; in this
model I have called these (1) the demands of authority, (2) group
absolution (remarkably similar to the concept of diffusion of re-
sponsibility), and (3) the distance from the victim."
The effect of being and feeling distant from the victim:
From the book:
"A soldier who constantly reflected upon the knee-smashing, widow-making characteristics of his weapon, or who always thought of the enemy as a man exactly as himself, doing much the same task and subjected to exactly the same stresses and strains, would find it difficult to operate effectively in battle
. . . .
Without the creation of abstract images of the enemy, and without the depersonalization of the enemy during training, battle would become impossible to sustain
. But if the abstract image is overdrawn or depersonalization is stretched into hatred, the restraints on human behavior in war are easily swept aside. If, on the other hand, men reflect too deeply upon the enemy's common humanity, then they risk being unable to proceed with the task whose aims may be eminently just and legitimate. This conundrum lies, like a Gordian knot linking the diverse strands of hostility and affection, at the heart of the soldier's relationship with the enemy.
â€" Richard Holmes
Acts of War
Some of the mechanisms that facilitate this process include:
â€¢ Cultural distance, such as racial and ethnic differences, which
permit the killer to dehumanize the victim
â€¢ Moral distance, which takes into consideration the kind of intense
belief in moral superiority
and vengeful/vigilante actions associ-
ated with many civil wars
â€¢ Social distance, which considers the impact of a lifetime of prac-
tice in thinking of a particular class as less than human in a socially
â€¢ Mechanical distance, which includes the sterile Nintendo-game
unreality of killing through a TV screen, a thermal sight, a sniper
sight, or some other kind of mechanical buffer that permits the
killer to deny the humanity of his victim
"Cultural Distance: "Inferior Forms of Life"
In the section "Killing in America," we will examine the method-
ology a U.S. Navy psychiatrist developed to psychologically enable
assassins for the U.S. Navy. This "formula" primarily involved classical conditioning and systematic desensitization using violent
movies, but it also integrated cultural distance processes in order
to get the men to think of the potential enemies they will have
to face as inferior forms of life [with films] biased to present the
enemy as less than human: the stupidity of local customs is ridiculed,
local personalities are presented as evil demigods
â€" quoted in Peter Watson, War on the Mind"
- pg 161, Emotional Distance
"Bill Jordan, law-enforcement expert, career U.S. Border Patrol
officer, and veteran of many a gunfight, combines this denial
process with desensitization in his advice to young law-enforce-
[There is] a natural disinclination to pull the trigger . . . when your weapon is pointed at a human. Even though their own life was at
stake, most officers report having this trouble in their first fight.
To aid in overcoming this resistance it is helpful if you can will
yourself to think of your opponent as a mere target and not as a
human being. In this connection you should go further and pick
a spot on the target. This will allow better concentration and further
remove the human element from your thinking
. If this works for
you, try to continue this thought in allowing yourself no remorse.
A man who will resist an officer with weapons has no respect for
the rules by which decent people are governed. He is an outlaw
who has no place in world society. His removal is completely
justified, and should be accomplished dispassionately and with-
Jordan calls this process manufactured contempt, and the combina-
tion of denial of, and contempt for, the victim's role in society
, along with the psychological denial of, and con-
tempt for, the victim's humanity (developing a denial defense
, is a mental process that is tied in and reinforced every
time the officer fires a round at a target. And, of course, police,
like the military, no longer fire at bull's-eyes; they "practice" on
Stages of responding to the act of killing, according to David Grossman:
From the book:
"In the 1970s Elisabeth KÃ¼bler-Ross published her famous research
on death which revealed that when people are dying they often
go through a series of emotional stages, including denial, anger,
bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the historical narratives
I have read, and in my interviews with veterans over the last two
decades, I have found a similar series of emotional response stages
to killing in combat.
The basic response stages to killing in combat are concern about
killing, the actual kill, exhilaration, remorse, and rationalization
. Like Elisabeth KÃ¼bler-Ross's famous stages in
response to death and dying, these stages are generally sequential
but not necessarily universal. Thus, some individuals may skip
certain stages, or blend them, or pass through them so fleetingly
that they do not even acknowledge their presence."
The diffusion of responsibility in the case of a reaction of guilt:
From the book:
"Anonymity and Group Absolution
In addition to creating a sense of accountability, groups also enable
killing through developing in their members a sense of anonymity
that contributes further to violence. In some circumstances this
process of group anonymity seems to facilitate a kind of atavistic
killing hysteria that can also be seen in the animal kingdom. Kruck's
1972 research describes scenes from the animal kingdom that show
that senseless and wanton killing does occur. These include the
slaughter of gazelles by hyenas, in quantities way beyond their
need or capacity to eat, or the destruction of gulls that could not
fly on a stormy night and thus were "sitting ducks" for foxes that
proceed to kill them beyond any possible need for food. Shalit
points out that "such senseless violence in the animal world â€" as
well as most of the violence in the human domain â€" is shown
by groups rather than by individuals
"Konrad Lorenz tells us that "man is not a killer, but the group
." Shalit demonstrates a profound understanding of this process
and has researched it extensively:
All crowding has an intensifying effect. If aggression exists, it will
become more so as a result of crowding; if joy exists, it will become
intensified by the crowd. It has been shown by some studies . . .
that a mirror in front of an aggressor tends to increase his aggres-
sion â€" if he was disposed to be aggressive. However, if this individ-
ual were not so disposed, the effect of the mirror would be to
further enhance his nonaggressive tendencies. The effect of the
crowd seems to be much like a mirror, reflecting each individual's
behavior in those around him and thus intensifying the existing
pattern of behavior
Psychologists have long understood that a diffusion of responsibility
can be caused by the anonymity created in a crowd. It has been
demonstrated in literally dozens of studies that bystanders will be
less likely to interfere in a situation in direct relationship to the
numbers who are witnessing the circumstance. Thus, in large
crowds, horrendous crimes can occur but the likelihood of a by-
stander interfering is very low. However, if the bystander is alone
and is faced with a circumstance in which there is no one else to
diffuse the responsibility to, then the probability of intervention
is very high. In the same way groups can provide a diffusion of
responsibility that will enable individuals in mobs and soldiers in
military units to commit acts that they would never dream of
doing as individuals, acts such as lynching someone because of the
color of his skin or shooting someone because of the color of
-pg 152, AN ANATOMY OF KILLING
"Death in the Crowd: Accountability and Anonymity on the Battlefield
The influence of groups on killing occurs through a strange and
powerful interaction of accountability and anonymity. Although
at first glance the influence of these two factors would seem to be
paradoxical, in actuality they interact in such a manner as to magnify
and amplify each other in order to enable violence.
Police are aware of these accountability and anonymity processes
and are trained to unhinge them by calling individuals within a
group by name whenever possible. Doing so causes the people so
named to reduce their identification with the group and begin to
think of themselves as individuals with personal accountability.
This inhibits violence by limiting the individuals' sense of account-
ability to the group and negating their sense of anonymity.
Among groups in combat, this accountability (to one's friends)
and anonymity (to reduce one's sense of personal responsibility
for killing) combine to play a significant role in enabling killing.
As we have seen so far in this study, killing another human being
is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. But if a soldier feels he
is letting his friends down if he doesn't kill, and if he can get
others to share in the killing process (thus diffusing his personal
responsibility by giving each individual a slice of the guilt), then
killing can be easier. In general, the more members in the group,
the more psychologically bonded the group, and the more the
group is in close proximity, the more powerful the enabling can be."
- pg 153
"The diffusion of responsibility
that happens in combat is a two-
way street. It absolves a killer of a part of his guilt, diffusing it to the leaders who gave the order and the truck driver who brought
the ammo and hauled back the bodies, but it does so by giving a
piece of the killer's guilt to others, and those others must then
deal with it just as surely as must the killer
. If these "accessories" to killing in combat are accused and condemned, then their slice of the trauma, guilt, and responsibility is amplified, and it will reverberate in their souls as shock and horror."
- pg 289
According to the observations of David Grossman, the magnitude of PDST is dependent on both the level of trauma and the level of social support experienced:
From the book:
"And the Cost of Noncompliance
Glenn Gray notes what may have been one of the most remarkable refusals to participate in an atrocity in recorded history:
In the Netherlands, the Dutch tell of a German soldier who was a member of an execution squad ordered to shoot innocent hostages. Suddenly he stepped out of rank and refused to participate in the execution. On the spot he was charged with treason by the officer in charge and was placed with the hostages, where he was promptly executed by his comrades. In an act the soldier has abandoned once and for all the security of the group and exposed himself to the ultimate demands of freedom. He responded in the crucial moment to the voice of conscience and was no longer driven by external commands . . . we can only guess what must have been the influence of his deed on slayers and slain. At all events, it was surely not slight, and those who hear of the episode cannot fail to be inspired.
Here, in its finest form, we see the potential for goodness that exists in all human beings. Overcoming group pressure, obedience- demanding authority, and the instinct of self-preservation, this German soldier gives us hope for mankind and makes us just a little proud to be of the same race
. This, ultimately, may be the price of noncompliance for those men of conscience trapped in a group or nation that is, itself, trapped in the dead-end horror of the atrocity cycle."
- pg 226
Created on 08/12/2012 02:27 PM by admin
Updated on 08/02/2015 05:04 PM by admin