Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Flipping social norms from violence to nonviolence

How ironic is it that the more violence is considered "a part of life" the more it is regarded as just a private matter when it happens between family members (Hsu, Huang & Tu, 2014)? In a deeply inquiring study of 13 familial dyads (parent-adult child) that experience diagnosed mental illness in the adult child and violence perpetrated on the aging parent, such violence is normalized and, at the same time, so shameful that parents who are victims rarely seek help.

Suggested de-escalation techniques point toward negotiation with intent for win-win outcomes. They also point away from giving in and granting a sense of victory to the violent. 

Indeed, are there subcultures in our society in which violence between loved ones is just "a part of life"? Is it so private that when it spills out of an elevator ride it takes several minutes and several witnesses to even assist the battered victim? No man will 'interfere' with Ray Rice as he stands around waiting for his fiance to regain consciousness following his brutal knockout punch. They all stand around, seemingly regarding her misery as a private thing between the mighty man and his property, his woman.  

There was no one around to de-escalate the two before the violence and it took months (from February to September) to seriously sanction Rice. He should be incarcerated and in rehabilitation treatment, kept separate from potential victims until he is not regarded as a danger. 

A deep degree of opprobrium, coupled with a clear societal intent to ultimately achieve a better method of conflict management, is needed and so difficult to achieve when controlled violence is what we expect from our football players, our cops, and our military. Rice probably thought that, since he rendered his girlfriend unconscious with one punch and didn't beat her much after that, it would be regarded as within the bounds of proper behavior for someone as big and tough and important as he is. Certainly that is what we forgive all the time with our police and we honor it when military attacks kill. Only the pesky peaceniks spoil the unanimity by pointing out the immorality of accepting "collateral damage" (murdered children and other noncombatants). 
Eric Garner, unarmed and never attacking anyone, murdered by New York cops
When violence is never ever heroic we will be a long way toward a nonviolent world. Our champions, our defenders, should all be nonviolent and never violent. This is a long struggle for far better norms, social mores that will lead to a world that works for all. 

Hsu, M., Huang, C., & Tu, C. (2014). Violence and Mood Disorder: Views and Experiences of Adult Patients With Mood Disorders Using Violence Toward Their Parents. Perspectives In Psychiatric Care, 50(2), 111-121. doi:10.1111/ppc.12028

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