Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Left: Ares (God of War) with Phobos (God of Panic, his son) and Nike (Godess of Victory, his daughter).

One of the core features of dysfunctional human units is fear of conflict. This is pathological in the sense that what needs to be said and done is not said and done because there is fear of punishment, ridicule or severe criticism.

There are several phobias closely related to fear of conflict such as Allodoxaphobia (fear of opinions), and Rhabdophobia (fear of being severely punished). However, in every day life people may act out of habit without even having any awareness when they are frightened. In other words fears can be set in as parts of personality.
From a psychodynamic point of view one would say that traumatic life experiences lead to fear of conflict. Thus a child learns that standing up to adults is very dangerous even though there is apparent weakness in adult(s) such as stupidity, cruelty, lying or abuse. Therefore, from the bad experience there is expectation of the future conflict being laden with anxiety and punishment.
I have certainly seen cases where speaking up against the abuse led to murders but also victory against the abuser(s) eventually.
To overcome fear of conflict one can take several measures. Hypnosis is a good way to learn relaxation and positive visualizations experiences where one is a winner and not a loser.
Self-hypnosis is another way for imaginative individuals who can design their own "experiences" to visualize.
Daily treatment for fear is my prescription. This involves being open to new experiences even if it is very simple such as taking a new walk or route when driving. Enriching everyday life experience is not difficult even if it requires an effort to start with. It could be cooking new dishes every day. Doing new sports even without the need to commit to it permanently is helpful to eradicate habitual reaction to new things with fear.
Excellent managers know about psychodynamic approach to managing their staff. A lot of problems at work arise out of fear of inadequacy and fear of inferiority. These fears are often not conscious and can manifest in a number of ways:
1. Psychosomatic problems such as headaches, stomaches
2. Hostility to others
3. Feeling depressed
4. Not able to sleep properly
5. Avoidance behaviours (eg of work duties, but can be family duties or in other relationships)
6. Feeling anxious
7. Anger
8. Aggression
9. Procrastination
10. Lying
11. Loss of appetite
12. Losing things/Forgetting
13. Embarrassment, shame and guilt leading to a lack of commitment
The above list is probably not complete, but above are the behavioural patterns that came to my mind promptly when thinking about the fear of inadequacy and inferiority.
It is easier for people, in general, to face up to sadness first, anger second, but fears can be most resistant as it is, of course, frightening.
To enable individuals to leave dysfunctional social units an escape route is required and depending on the situation there are a variety of options.
For some people it may mean changing everything: home, friends, and country.

It is possible to introduce changes to dysfunctional units and the work takes years and commitment.
The institutional fear of conflict may be based on economic interests but also staff mentality favouring quiet life and secure salary. Some professions like medicine may appear attractive as there is pseudo security of earnings combined with all the excitement of medical emergencies.

There may be fear that innocent people would be punished if challenge is made eg to the system. For example, what would happen to poor people's health if there is more private health provision? Some people may never want to even talk about it in fear that it could be bad with no guaranteed health provision for all that has high quality.
There are different ways in which individuals can protect themselves when fears are reasonable: such as finding outside support. Children can call charities in some countries, or talk to their teachers when in a situation where fear of conflict is great.

Adults can have professional advice and help (such as medical and legal) but all of those can fail you if you have stumbled inadvertently across system fault(s).
Even professional politicians have known for thousands of years that there is nothing more dangerous than attempting social change. For that reason alone some people do little, some die and some become legends.
Greek mythology is of interest here. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love had several children with Ares, God of war:
twins: Phobos (God of Panic) and Deimos (God of Terror)
Eris (Goddess of Hate)
Nike (Goddess of Victory)
Harmonia (Goddess of Harmony).
It is rather obvious which children went to war with Ares.
Harmonia was probably the only one in Greek mythology who at her wedding ceremony had all the Gods attending. However, as she was the product of adulterous affair and Aphrodite's husband knew that, he gave her as a wedding present a cursed necklace that would mean endless tragedy to her or anyone else who possessed it. She suffered one tragedy after another and had to go into exile to Illyria. There she and her husband had conflicts with local tribes but won at the end. After that she and her husband metamorphosed into dragons to be carried to Elysium., heaven for heroes.
Thus, even Harmonia could not escape conflict and only became immortal and happy by engaging in conflict.

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