Saturday, January 08, 2011

Seeking a Work-Around

Criminals are very good at getting you act in ways that go against your self-interest.  Whether it is the archetypal pimp at the bus station offer help to the innocent girl he intends to turn out or the inmate manipulating new jail staff or the sophisticated serial rapist who wants to get his victim alone but make it seem like each step was her idea.

There are tactics for it, and I usually direct people to Gavin DeBecker's "The Gift of Fear" for a pretty good list.

A lot of the tactics are based on social instincts, that gut-level deep-brain tribalism that is so common and seems so necessary to humans.

But people, not just predators or victims, everybody, uses the same tactics on themselves when their identity is threatened.  We all have things we believe, and some of those things are more important than others.  Some are so deep that they impinge on our identity.  Those will be defended, and they will be defended despite all logic, even by extremely intelligent people.

Because of what I try to do with martial arts and self-defense, I'm getting a little obsessed with trying to find a work-around.  Realistically, it's not important.  Violent crime is at an all time low and for almost everyone it is safe to believe any damn thing that makes you happy.

But...
Two conversations today, talks where intelligent people lied and math (not fake philosophical math but simple "2x4 is less than 2x8, you realize that, right?" ) was dismissed, and historical documents didn't count.  But the most important thing is realizing, whether in criminals or martial artists or debate, that there is an identifier.  When the other side gets labeled.  When the person says "You are a _________" or "You sound just like___________"  Right there the tribal mind is engaged.  You are no longer reasoning with a human but trying to reason with a monkey (Did I just label right there?  Is this my neo-cortex still firing or did my mid-brain just kick in, convincing me that I am the smartest of all the monkeys?).

With patience and by pretending to not notice dominance games or accepting a label as 'other' I have sometimes given people the space and time to let the monkey brain die down and get back to tangible problems.  But rarely, if ever, when the problem was tied directly to their identity.

I can identify when it happens and have a pretty good idea of how and why... but I don't know if there is a simple strategy.  Maybe not.  More to think on.

26 comments:

Joshkie said...

Rory - "Realistically, it's not important.  Violent crime is at an all time low and for almost everyone it is safe to believe any damn thing that makes you happy."

Maybe it makes finding the work around more important, because violence is rare this makes you more vulnerable when or if it happens to you? You can gamble that it will never happen to you and statistically you proble get away with it.

Anonymous said...

That is a very valid point which can also be applied to many areas of life, such as dealing with a salesman, investing in the stcok market which is governed by fear and greed.Unfortunately we can just be overtaken by the moment, some of the time we can reflect on what we are doing even as we are doing it, but sometimes we just react

Liz said...

Rory - "Realistically, it's not important. Violent crime is at an all time low and for almost everyone it is safe to believe any damn thing that makes you happy."

Perhaps because of this, now is the very time to think about this? Maybe because now you have the luxury of time to reflect?

Maija said...

So you are trying to find a simple way to get back from intransigent monkey to reasoning human? - Assuming here that tribal/monkey is fixed to the point of irrationality and unable to 'see', and front lobe/human is mutable and able to 'see' from a 'meta' viewpoint?
Are identity and resistance to change always associated with monkey?

Have been looking at the value of dissonance as a teaching tool, and teaching in the realm of physical experience/actuality as ways to create change. Neither is 'talking-based'.

Perhaps verbal communication is a hang up to the process because it hooks in to our internal narrative ...? How DO you get someone out of the groove their self story has worn into their heads over years of repetition ...?

Kai Jones said...

Things that have kicked me out of monkey brain so that I could change my identity:
1. Trauma (probably not useful as a therapeutic tool)
2. Unconditional acceptance and support from a trusted authority figure to explore what I wanted to change

It's funny, one of those is being completely safe and the other is being completely unsafe.

Joshkie said...

WoW, the things you write when tired.
Why that phrase stuck in my head...?

I think the work around you are talking about, lets see if we are on the same page this time, is how do we get the monkey brain and the rational brain to work together and make for a more fluid brain able to adapt to new and changing stimuli. This would need to be in some form of training.

One, the person would have to recognize that there is a need for this training or at least open to the idea it might be needed.

Two, it would have to be a delibrate process.

Three, Question would it need to be an analytical process of questions an answers, an emtional journey of what made me feel this way or both?

Four, time. For best results I would think the younger the person is the better. As, the older we get the more locked the paterns in our brains become and so harder to change taking more time.

Just had a geek moment: Vulcans & and Romulans. (Rational & Monkey)... Hmmmm.

Not sure if I'm missing anything, and I think what I was trying to get at(in the first comment) was just because we might never need any of this, only means that if we ever do need it we really will need it.

Joshkie said...

Now if we are talking about getting some one to flip from the monkey to the rational brain in the heat of the moment when identity was involved not sure.
I've never had to do this where I thought the other persone was about to kill me but only in some heat arguments, so take it for what it is.
All I've ever done is stay calm as if I get excited it just going to get out of hand. Then I try to engage the rational mind by asking questions and clarifications of there staments.
One of two things usualy happens; it calms down to a normal discussion, where if nothing else we agree to disagree, or they storm off in a huff.
There is a third thing, where they could decide to go physical, but I only know this phase through my brother and I don't think we where actualy trying to kill each other, not really.
I seem to remember you talking about couple of times doing something like this a during your time in corrections. But I guess none of those times were tied to their identity, but some of them where pretty irrational and deep in the monkey side of the brains. So, where does that leave us?

Hmmm... questions, questions needing answers are there any to be had?

Josh

Jim said...

Just to echo you, in my experience, if you can give a person space to protect their identity/self, they can often work their way out of a bad situation. But if that identity/self is threatened or compromised -- watch out. Things are going to go bad, fast...

Jim said...

By the way -- the threat to identity/self doesn't have to be a real, physical, or present threat... though at least (most of the time) when the threat isn't immediate (like a challenge on-line vs in a bar) at least nobody bleeds in the conflict.

Justthisguy said...

Off-topic, but kinda On-topic, because it just happened:

What do you think about that guy who shot up a bunch of folks, to include a Congress-critter, a Federal Judge, and a little kid, among others, in Tucson, Arizona? What do you think about the bystanders, and how they reacted?

From what I've read, he wasn't politically motivated as much as he was batshit insane.

Joshkie said...

Justthisguy-

Are you asking for a rational answer to an irrational situation?

Are you asking 'Why?'

J Callahan said...

"Realistically, it's not important. Violent crime is at an all time low and for almost everyone it is safe to believe any damn thing that makes you happy."

That may or may not be true at the moment but there is no guarantee it will remain true. That is why thinking individuals are considering the things you discuss now rather than later.

Justthisguy said...

Joshkie, I'm not asking "why", I'm asking Rory what he thinks about how that went down, in terms of how to see that coming, and what the bystanders could have done to stop it. Yah, I know I should buy his book and read it, and all will be explained...

Joshkie said...

Justthisguy -

What, you do realize that you are asking a rational human being (I'm giving Rory the benefit of the doubt) to think like someone thats not thinking rationaly. You are asking someone that was around two thousand miles away from where and when it happened to give an opinion and make some guesses.
He would be taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more hand information to form an opinion that you might or might not take as gosple.
As to the reaction of the crowd, they "probably" reacted like any large group of "individuals" individually, but I don't know as I wasn't there.

If you are looking for hard answers; well I was going to say don't buy his book, because you will be disappointed, Thats not fare to Rory's tummy, so buy his book and be disappointed.

As to my question, "Are you asking 'Why?'," that was my atemped to get you to look around the blog as there is a post titled "Why?" mid December.
Sorry I was being obtuse, and I should of just came out and said it.

I'm a lound mouth so I'll give you an answer to your questions its just not the ones you where looking for.

Rory said...

Couple of things: Joshkie, Justthisguy has been reading the blog for years. He doesn't post much, so I don't know how often, but he's not a newbie and he does think things through.

All the comments about the right time to think about it and violence being at an all time low- that's a line that often pops out when I'm getting frustrated. The only way to test a theory when you can't do rigorous experimentation is to test its predictive power. I'm confident in the way I analyze things because I've had numerous high risk chances to check it. Without that, it's like any other religion: you believe what makes you comfortable and helps you fit in with your peer group. I feel it should be more than that. I get frustrated when people mouth the words and then act in completely different ways.

Maija- In teaching we have the time and the relationship to do much. But in casual conversation or real problem solving, that won't often be there. When there is no time, how can I get someone out of their tribal mind? Has anyone else noticed that as the two major political parties start to act exactly like each other, their rhetoric and infighting get more vicious? They are fighting over nothing of substance, just identity markers, but they are fighting harder. Or so it seems to me.

Kai- The only thing I would challenge is that some of the most skilled and invasive predators and cults are masters at setting up that initial feeling of acceptance and unconditional positive regard. If it is sincere, it is wonderful. But I don't find it safe at all.

Joshkie, in your numbered post you got really close to the steps in the ConCom model.

Jim- Double hammer that comment. People will fight harder, often, for an identity marker than for their own lives. If this wasn't true, we couldn't have soldiers. NEVER think because a given thing is not really real that you won't be killed over it.

Justthisguy- Not enough information, but within hours I heard friends on one end of the political spectrum saying that even if he was crazy, he was clearly motivated by right-wing speech and therefore right wing speech must be stopped. They would have looked very natural wearing brown shirts. As far as what bystanders could have done, wish you had a chance to go through scenario training and feel that particular freeze.

Joshkie said...

Sorry, Justthisguy if I was condescending or rude as that was not my intent. Im just blunt maybe to much so.

Josh

Joshkie said...

Ps. Sometimes I think I'm the smartest monkey in the room.
:-(

Joshkie said...

Rory- I've been meanning to read and look into your Conflict Communications site that you have with Marc Mcyoung I guess I really need to get on that mabye more reading and doing less being annoying.

Justthisguy said...

Thanks for taking up for me, Rory!

Joshkie, I first saw this blog as a result of googling "autistic". I got pointed to Rory's post about a policeman's duty to act when confronted by a non-malicious, though yet dangerous, autistic person. Rory has said that at least one of his kids is autistic and has admitted to being a bit strange himself. I am, too. I sometimes refer to myself as a half-aspie.

I read this blog to help me try to understand the normals, i.e., monkeys.

Joshkie said...

Sorry again,
I tend to question and challenge myself and those around me. Sometimes (most of the time) I'm not the most tactful person. I like to think I do this to strengthen my own understanding and to see if poeple have really thought things through, or it could be I'm just an a**.

I do try to keep a fluid mind open to criticism. This is the whole reason I started my own blog, but alas, ether I'm so brilliant that noone can find fault with what I write( don't laugh I doubt this myself) or they just don't want to criticise me on my own blog and this is frustrating.
:-(

I'll try to not be a nuisance on other peoples blogs,
Josh

Justthisguy said...

Joshkie, I am glad this is just the comments on somebody's blog, and not a bar. Otherwise we'd be blubbering into our beers and throwing arms around each other and saying things like "I love you, bro! sniff."

You stop that right now, hear?

Joshkie said...

OK, I will and I new something was missing from this conversation ....Beer.

Anonymous said...

Purpose of action might ultimately be determined by the concept of ones identity. People crave purpose, and so they seek identity. The clearer identity is, the stronger the purpose can become.

Two people of at least average intelligence and if intending to communicate can always sit down together and work through the subtleties of the most divisive issues. The same two people will almost always become irrational and even irate from twenty paces in a public forum. In public, dialogue becomes the rhetoric that is defense of beliefs and attacks on those of others. It is not debate or argument. More primitive types communications are just more efficient at achieving the new purpose. That being to resemble as strongly as possible those underlying beliefs which support the premise of their argument. The intent becomes not persuasion, to inform/educate, or to convey meaning, but simply to identify very strongly with those beliefs.

The difference is purpose of action as dictated by the identity concept. And, when the purpose is membership …identity, then it is preaching to the choir. Belonging makes it personal. We preach to ourselves all the time. Some do it out loud and manifest this in aggressive actions. In politics the relevant identity is a group of beliefs or values. Other conflicts may mean other social identities are in play. This could be obvious, but the identity concept drives the purpose. Maybe it is the self-image giving justification for action. That is a mindset. Purpose is what probably needs to be shorted out. Or, as Rory mentioned he could successfully ‘wait it out’ in order to not to attack the core identity. I’m not sure how. Maybe all this is just saying the same thing a different way.

BTW… as I see it, this is what’s wrong with the idea you can build a kid’s self esteem by not keeping score during the games. A team means identity. It has a purpose. You engineer success right out of the challenge and tell them its OK to feel good about themselves when there is no purpose to their actions. My cousin's son was playing in one of those leagues. I asked he and his friends what the score was. They answered that the coaches don't let them keep score, but they were winning by at least three of four goals... "These guys are horrible. We're killing them." (He's awesome). Children call this pretending. How much trust in grown ups can be expected from kids when the adults don’t ever acknowledge such an emotional charade? Certainly it is not enough respect to make these good teachers. And, for those kids to meek to question …trying to build self-esteem where success has been engineered right out of the challenge, life will slap them down at every turn, creating nothing but insecurity and confusion. Social experimenting. What a betrayal.

-Billy G.

Anonymous said...

Purpose of action might ultimately be determined by the concept of ones identity. People crave purpose, and so they seek identity. The clearer identity is, the stronger the purpose can become.

Two people of at least average intelligence and if intending to communicate can always sit down together and work through the subtleties of the most divisive issues. The same two people will almost always become irrational and even irate from twenty paces in a public forum. In public, dialogue becomes the rhetoric that is defense of beliefs and attacks on those of others. It is not debate or argument. More primitive types communications are just more efficient at achieving the new purpose. That being to resemble as strongly as possible those underlying beliefs which support the premise of their argument. The intent becomes not persuasion, to inform/educate, or to convey meaning, but simply to identify very strongly with those beliefs.

The difference is purpose of action as dictated by the identity concept. And, when the purpose is membership …identity, then it is preaching to the choir. Belonging makes it personal. We preach to ourselves all the time. Some do it out loud and manifest this in aggressive actions. In politics the relevant identity is a group of beliefs or values. Other conflicts may mean other social identities are in play. This could be obvious, but the identity concept drives the purpose. Maybe it is the self-image giving justification for action. That is a mindset. Purpose is what probably needs to be shorted out. Or, as Rory mentioned he could successfully ‘wait it out’ in order to not to attack the core identity. I’m not sure how. Maybe all this is just saying the same thing a different way.



-Billy G.

Adam said...

Personally, I see the biggest challenge for me in this regard is identifying when my own monkey brain has responded to another persons monkey brain. Especially when other people are present. This presents social pressure as we know.

Like has been mentioned on yours Rory and Marcs material on another site, the monkey brain can be saying loudly to its own brain that it is being rational and not getting caught up in the moment when it actually is.

That is where I see the biggest challenge in a real situation. Recognising this. Once I have recognised it, then I can take a breath, relax a bit and only then, change the way I am coming across.

Meron said...

Hi,

Long time reader, second time poster. I figured I should stop lurking...

I was thinking about this post in relation to my work. I'm a doctoral candidate in Theater History doing work on the representations of martial arts on the American stage (and I have another life as a professional fight director).

I keep coming across writing about stage violence that references "authentic" martial arts. And this is by people who are actively engaged in creating fake (and by necessity SAFE) violence. There is a lot of identity value tied up in having access to something that has actual danger to it, especially if there is a "historical track record."

So much of what I'm writing about is the fantasy of martial arts as the stage has inherited it from the movies. And perhaps the dojo.

For the record, Meditations On Violence comes up in my dissertation.

There are also ongoing debates about whether historical stage duels resembled what was being done in the fencing schools of the time, with people coming down very strongly on one side or another.