A Note on Morality and Ethics
The words morality and ethics are often used interchangeably, with one or another carrying emotional connotations depending on circumstance. While there is no universally agreedupon definition of either word, there is a widely held consensus among philosophers on usage. On the one hand, morality refers to the choices an individual makes about right and wrong based on personal conscience and feelings. On the other hand, ethics refers to systematic thinking about right and wrong, leading to principles from which we may try to make decisions in specific circumstances. A prominent example is professional ethics, the principles governing behavior in fields such as law, engineering and medicine. Thus, the physicians' Hippocratic Oath is an ethical system in which the commitment to act for good of patients is understood as systematically related to a commitment to do no harm to anyone. Because ethical principles are though through systematically, they are generally codified by specialists and provided to us by an external authority.
Nevertheless, most of us possess a "moral compass" that guides us through our lives without our giving very much thought to the relationships among our moral decisions. Because our moral sense is influenced by various influences from diverse sources, the same individual who wishes to suppress the freedom of women, or the culture of national and sexual minorities, may be the first to rush into a burning building to rescue the very people he finds "immoral". In unusual circumstances, such apparent inconsistencies may lead one to question his or her private morality and attempt to resolve these questions through ethical principle.
Chuck is both the creative designer and websmaster for movingbeyondvioelnce.org.
Chuck is an IT professional with many years experience in programming for highly specialized areas of industry and the gaming business.
Russ is communications consultant to Moving Beyond Violence.
Russ has been working as a producer and director/cameraman in both documentary films and TV commercials since the early 1970‘s. His films have appeared on American broadcast television and won numerous awards at international film festivals.
You can learn more about his work at www.imagique.org
Dear group facilitators and viewers:
I read this poem as a teenager. I was deeply moved by the protagonist's grief at the realisation of the terrible loss he has caused his dead 'enemy', particularly in the face of his realisation of their shared humanity. The poem becomes a requiem, and the poet's suffering compounded, for me, by Owen's own death soon after.
I feel anew and revisit Owen's suffering at that strange meeting every time I see young 'heroic' soldiers grasp the enormity of their acts. It is indeed the story of Moving Beyond Violence - only Wilfred Owen tells if far more poignantly that I ever could. Perhaps you would like to read it with your group.
by Wilfred Owen
It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which Titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall;
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "Here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said the other, "Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
The Ethical Mindset
The concept of “ethical mindset” grew out of Jessica Benjamin’s “moral third.” Developed by relational psychotherapist and peace activist Irris Singer (and her merry band), this is a multi-stage guided process designed to help in stepping out of denial, overcoming perpetrator/victim identities, diminishing trauma and ending violence. This denial refers to the mental roadblocks that prevent us from acknowledging the irreducible humanity of certain others and experiencing empathy for their concerns. In stepping out of denial we must recognize the “otherness” of the other and overcome whatever resistance we may find in ourselves to disqualify difference. The opposite of denial may be compared to the fundamental act of hospitality, the offering of shelter to a stranger. The acceptance of an “otherness” that poses no threat to the identity of the host strengthens both host and stranger, affirming the freedom and authenticity of each in a reciprocal act that transcends the limited perspective of either. The “ethical mindset” concerns the systematic attention to the ethics of reciprocity and intersubjectivity built upon this notion of hospitality.
The Moral Third
Relational psychoanalyst Jessica Benjamin uses the term “moral third” in the context of dispute resolution to mean a space where “opponents can intersubjectively listen to each other’s stories and feel what each other feel, while retaining their own identities. To accomplish this goal the dialogue leader facilitates the empathic connection between human beings, their ability to listen to one another and feel, hear and recognize the other”. The development of this connection builds on the individuals’ moral sense.
False Self and True Self
False Self is a fabrication of a self which will meet the needs or demands of the carer/other and the infant/adults needs of recognition and love. The True Self develops within a facilitating environment where the infant is held emotionally and physically as in a ecure attachment relationship. (Winnicott)
The processes that happen as the result of external stimuli that endure as emotional and cognitive internal structures after the external stimuli have ceased. Later different stimuli may alter the structures, while ongoing similar stimuli will strengthen them.
Co-Creating a Safe Base
Workshop facilitators and participants may want to co-create Bowlby’s empathic responsive safe base to help group members raise and explore whatever issues are important to them. Ground rules, behaviours and procedures are agreed together. In such a setting participants will have an opportunity to recognise one another’s similarities and differences, common strengths and vulnerabilities and engage with reliable care through ethical behaviours. As in Benjamin’s ‘lawful world’ participants will feel held to explore their own processes and behaviours along with the film protagonists’ stories as they step out of denial and into an ethical mindset.
Some scenes in the film contain powerful and emotional stories, which may connect with personal experiences or pain. The facilitator can discuss with participants how and when to address such reactions and accepts that some participants, may not wish to. If there are breakdowns in trust or misunderstandings in the group,
participants will be invited to ‘repair the rupture’ ie to replace the failure in empathy with responsive witnessing and renewed empathy.
Suggestions for facilitating a safe base group.
- Attachment in the group may be facilitated through pairing at the beginning and end of every meeting. Asking pairs to check out where their partner is emotionally, in their body, and understanding of the process, will enhance recognition of the other's similarities and differences. Being recognised enhances a sense of self, agency and resilience. Closing the workshop with a group go-around to share and witness individual and group process helps to maintain the workshop as a safe base.
- group rules of respect and confidentiality: each participant’s story, response, feelings and ideas are listened to and acknowledged. They are addressed with the participant’s agreement. The group facilitator reminds participants that the group discussions are confidential.
- discuss with the group, and practice emotions (guided imagery) and skills of listening, empathy, recognition, seeing and being seen, loss and renewal of empathy and witnessing in rupture and repair, and raising awareness of ethical interpersonal and group behavior.
- Explore the internal process of stepping out of denial Creative Process of Stepping out of Denial via our protagonists’ stories, and participants' own experience.
Challenging Issues for Moving Beyond Violence and Dispute Resolution:
Frequently asked Questions to Combatants for Peace:
- Is violence always unacceptable?
- When might dialogue be resolving the conflict and when is it avoiding the issue?
- How do peace education, psychotherapy and resistance interact?
- Does Dialogue in Combatants for Peace (CFP) fudge harsh realities?
- How can dialogue help the imbalance of power between groups?
- How might external imbalance of power affect relationships and activities within bi-national peace groups?
- Bassam mainly talks in Hebrew in the film rather than Arabic? How might that be understood?
- Some Palestinian members of CFP are accused of normalisation. How do you understand normalisation in this context? Does normaliation prmote helplessnes or resilience?
- "Combatants for Peace ideology diverts people from the real issues. They set themselves up as if they are equal combatants with an equal ability to seek a non-violent solution. It is a naïve euphemism for accepting imbalance of power, inequality, humiliation and denial of human rights. Israeli and Palestinian combatants do not enjoy equality on any level; it is nonsense to believe they can work together to a peaceful solution". Does an Ethical Mindset help us address this issue?
- How can groups like Combatants for Peace impact within a politics of imabalance of power counteract helplessness and hopelessness?
- Would you use the Moving Beyond Violence concept of an Ethical Mindset in your profession or activism?
What part does/would ethical behaviour play?
Add your own challenging questons:
The Creative Process of Stepping Out of Denial
This Moving Beyond Violence creative process of stepping out of denial aims to change the way we previously perceived and denied an unethical situation, belief system, behaviours or collective narrative. The creative process will raise awareness of an internal shift rejecting that unethical situation. change the way we previously perceived, and denied an unethical situation, belief system, behaviours or collective narrative. The creative process will raise awareness of an internal shift rejecting that unethical situation. Hopefully it will be followed by moving into an Ethical Mindset.
What do we need to start the process? Here are some thoughts:
- The creative process starts off with the individual’s gradual or sudden discomfort with an unethical belief system, behaviour, or situation, or a personal, group, or collective narrative; the process may be an internal emotional process, or triggered by an external experience.
- The result is internal conflict, which if unresolved may cause the person to feel “I can’t live with myself”. The internal conflict is resolved if there is enough sense of self and agency to 'transgress' against the belief and behave congruently with the new understanding, for example speaking out.
- The aim of the creative process is to express the changed perception in such a way that other people can begin their own process and step out of denial. The Moving Beyond Violence film and workshops aim to engage with this creative process through our protagonists and participants stories and experiences.
Six stages of stepping out of denial:
- initial disassociation or denial, or unease, of an unethical situation
- awareness, through the creative process above, of the unethical situation
- internal conflict - feelings of betrayal and confusion, of shame or guilt
- acceptance of the new perception and resulting conflict -resilience and agency
- finding support to engage in congruent behaviour with the new belief system - eg speaking out, blowing the whistle, -which may be dangerous to the self -
- finding support with a group where it is safe to adopt a new identity, collective narrative and behaviour: the importance of support.
*When we first meet our protagonists Itamar and Bassam in Video PART 1 they are each within Klein’s paranoid schizoid position of a split between 'good victim' and 'bad perpetrator' each perceiving themselves as good victim and the other as bad perpetrator, a belief common to both their collective narratives. In Video PART 2 they move into Klein's ' 'depressive position' each now perceiving himself as victim AND perpetrator so that they now recognise their shared humanity: they have withdrawn their dehumanising perceptions and projections onto, their ‘enemy’. It has been a meeting of mutual 'ethical mindsets', sharing empathy, recognition, trust and behaviours that will promote mutual well-being. They also seek to repair their inevitable ruptures though empathy and witnessing one another's stories and trauma.
We invite participants in this workshop to share their own experiences and processes of successfully or unsuccessfully stepping out of denial so we can build up a body of knowledge and skills to aid one another.
We encourage participants to introduce movingbeyondviolence into their own settings and communities, and share the experience on the movingbeyondviolence website.
The Workshop Aims
The first workshop aim targets the participants who watch the film and take part in the workshop; they will undergo the creative process with a teacher or facilitator. Our aim is to learn about the process our protagonists underwent when stepping out of denial and violence.
If the film is being used in an academic teaching programme, it is suggested that at least one term (ten weeks) is allowed, with two hour slots. Suggestions for an attachment workshop are offered in: Co-Creating A Safe Base.
The second aim is for participants to initiate their own programmes using their experience of the workshops' creative process in their own work settings and communities.
Learning Objectives, Concepts, and KEYWORDS: each Workshop begins with Learning Objectives, Concepts, Keywords with attached Glossary definitions. The teacher/facilitator will decide how to share this with the group.
Jessica Benjamin’s commentary could be viewed here, before introducing Issues to Explore, or later in the workshop.
The Issues to Explore section of the Workshop is aimed to meet participants’ different contexts, approaching the issues raised in each of the Video Parts from as wide a perspective as possible and integrating participants’ own stories and experiences.
Facilitating the Workshops: suggests ways for facilitators to get into and use the Issues to Explore. The facilitator checks with the group where they are emotionally in the process, and adapts the workshop to the group’s needs. The facilitator is thus modelling a responsive 'secure attachment' encouraging the participants to empathically recognise and witness one another's needs. (See: Co-Creating A Safe Base.)
We suggest the following format: (these are suggestions – we would like to hear what format worked for you)
The Whole or Video Part. We suggest watching the whole film with the group first before exploring each Video Part separately. Each Video Part represents one theme of the Moving Beyond Violence construct of stepping out of denial and peace-building.
Time: Decide how much time you will have for the Workshop; the material is complex and we suggest at least two hours: each Video Part and Workshop could be an all day event.
- View an individual Video PART (10 - 15 minutes) and allow participants to respond to the film spontaneously (15 minutes)
- Introduce the topics in Issues to Explore and ask the group if they prefer to respond in pairs, a small group, or the large group – supporting those who find it hard to join the conversation – (30 - 60 minutes)
- Screen Jessica Benjamin's conversation for that Workshop leaving time for the group to integrate her points into the group discussion. (30 – 60 minutes)
- BREAK FOR DRINK AND BISCUITS (20 minutes)
- Ask participants whether they plan to use the knowledge and skills they have learnt in this Video Part and the Workshop in their own setting; ask if they would like to share what they plan; ask if they would like to invite any group members to join them.
- Offer help by email or a separate meeting according to your own program.
- Build in feedback time in the next workshop for any participants who ran their own workshops to report back to the group.
Beyond the Politics of Violence
My name is Irris Singer. I am Director of our film Moving Beyond Violence. The film is based on a question I have long asked myself: "How is it that some people choose to step out of violence while others don't ?”
My question first posed itself when as a young zionist socialist in 1959 I joined a kibbutz in Israel. I soon realised that Ben Gurion's promise of a State for all its people was not working. Over the years I witnessed increasing hostilities and previously unimaginable behaviours. I have also met people on both sides of the conflict who are deeply committed to peaceful co-existence; though not pacifists, they refuse to kill or be killed, to sacrifice themselves or their children, or to join the cycle of fear, hate, violence and revenge. They have stepped out of denial and seek another way to solve the conflict.
Combatants for Peace is a group of Palestinian and Israeli former combatants who have renounced violence, they have 'transgressed' against their respective collective narratives, they have moved beyond violence to step out of denial. You will meet Palestinian Bassam Aramin and Israeli Itamar Shapira, co-founder members of Combatants for Peace who tell us their compelling stories and how they arrived at the political positions they hold today. Bassam and Itamar share with us their ongoing process.
As a relational attachment psychotherapist I am interested in the complexity of how early and later life experiences, childcare patterns, personal and political experiences associate with stepping into and out of denial. Bassam and Itamar tell us their experiences of empathy, recognition, resilience and agency which led to their 'transgression' of their collective narratives' denial of the others' humanity.
Dr. Jessica Benjamin: Accordingly I invited Dr. Jessica Benjamin, a relational psychoanalyst from the US, who facilitates dialogue in conflict zones, including Palestine and Israel, to offer us her understanding of Bassam’s and Itamar’s stories. In conversation with Dr Martin Land, a physicist, Jessica explores the social, psychological and political processes and contexts of Bassam and Itamar's decisions to step out of their collective narratives and how the imbalance of power affects both agency and responsibility of oppressor and oppressed. Our concept of the Ethical Mindset grew out of Jessicca Benjamin’s ‘Moral Third’.
The Workshops are a space to consider the personal, political and ethical implications of following or repudiating the violence, inclusion exclusion and dispossession inherent in unethical collective narratives. Participants are invited to share their own personal or political experience so that we can pool our experiences and form a body of knowledge and skills to help us step out of denial.
Moving Beyond Violence is for concerned citizens, including those working professionally in peacebuilding, NGOs, psychotherapy, education and related fields, creative arts and politics. We hope it will be helpful for citizens suffering conflict wherever they are.
- It is Good to Die (and Kill) for your Country
- 2: No More Killing or Dying
- 3: Recognition and Empathy
- 4: Pain and Empathy
- 5: Not Seeing the Other
- 6: Death of a Child
- 7: Children and Sacrifice
- 8: Loss of an Ideology, Secrets and Lies
- 9: Peace Movements; what do they do?
- 10: “My sister died – because we didn’t do enough.”
A note about our theoretical framework
The overall aim of this intervention Moving Beyond Violence is to explore ways to step out of denial of our shared humanity and into an Ethical Mindset. Moving Beyond Violence explores the process two former mortal enemies undergo when they step out of denial of one another's humanity. Denial of our shared humanity at the best renders the other invisible, and at the worst creates a dehumanised other, often accompanied by cruel inhumane behaviour.
The Beyond Violence team come from many backgrounds and orientations – including physics, philosophy, creative art, psychotherapy, politics, education, feminism and activism. Our theoretical framework is informed by relational, attachment, facilitating environment, intersubjective, trauma, inter-cultural, feminist, narrative, psycho-social, political and existential theory; our protagonists demonstrate the power of narrative. Our project and overall theoretical concept lies in McNiff and Whitehead’s Action Research, a process which equally involves those exploring the situation and those living it in questions of what and how we know something, how do we share that in such a way that we “contribute to a good social order…” The Moving Beyond Violence team differences in social and political understandings and actions in our personal, professional and political lives have greatly enriched this project.
Dr. Jessica Benjamin, and Dr Martin Land:
Jessica Benjamin is a relational psychoanalyst who specialises in dialogue and conflict; Martin Land is a physicist. Jessica Benjamin accompanies our protagonists on their compelling journeys with her psycho-political commentary. She introduces us to the concept of 'transgression' against unethical collective narratives. Social Ethics is a major concern of Moving Beyond Violence. Extracts of her and Dr Martin Land’s radical psycho-political conversation can be found in Teaching Resources.
In Moving Beyond Violence we aim to learn from our protagonists about the process they underwent while withdrawing denial of their dehumanising collective narratives and behaviours. The workshops that accompany each scene have two objectives: the first is to suggest ways for workshop facilitators to explore this process, and the second to facilitate participants in adapting that process to their own work, social or political settings. The Moving Beyond Violence team conceptualised The Ethical Mindset which underlies the mutual wellbeing of shared humanity, where relationships are based on ethical belief and behaviours.
A word about John Bowlby’s Attachment theory which informed much British post WWII Welfare State policy. Attachment theory spans biology, ethology, psychoanalytic and relational ideas; Bowlby considered attachment behaviour is hard-wired to ensure survival. ‘Secure attachment’ is associated with recognition and empathy which in turn is associated with peace seeking. International research has shown sequalae of secure attachment associated with empathy, recognition, trust, self-worth, confidence to explore and play, comfort of others’ pain, all attributes of the Ethical Mindset. But it would be reductionist to suggest that our psychology operates in a vacuum of family relationships. Aware of the impact of socio-economic and political structure on the individual, family and group we explore the role of collective narratives on inclusion exclusion, trauma, warrior and victim identities, and the perception of sacrifice of self and other as a heroic act. In addition to relational pathways to an Ethical Mindset, ethical behaviours of mutual care may be due to religious or political ideologies, a duty supervening empathy or recognition of the other. We are therefore interested in all early and later interpersonal, social and political experiences that facilitate empathy, recognition and mutual care.
In our Time Line we have drawn on Palestinian and Israeli narratives in over a century of global and local historio-politics as a back-ground to the issues raised by our protagonists’ stories.
In the Moving Beyond Violence Video parts 1 -10 listed below, our protagonists’ stories highlight their processes of stepping out of denial and violence. We have extrapolated themes from their stories, that we believe will help us better understand the process they underwent.
The themes are:
PART.1 It is Good to Die, and to Kill, for Your Country : Development of a warrior and victim identity; the impact of collective narratives
PART.2 No More Killing No More Dying: Stepping out of denial of unethical collective narratives; rehumanising the ‘enemy’
PART.3 Empathy and Recognition: how and where do we acquire it? How important is it for peace-making?
PART.4 Pain and Empathy: the role of pain, and comforting pain, in peace making.
PART.5 Not Seeing the Other: withdrawing dehumanising projections
PART.6 Death of a Child, Abir Aramin: refusal to revenge and sacrifice children
PART.7 Sacrifice and Children: the role ancient and modern sacrifice
PART.8 Loss of an Ideology - Secrets and Lies: betrayal, stepping out of denial, a new identity
PART.9 The Role of Peace Groups: what do they do? transgression, witnessing, a secure base, a new identity, the world as failed witness (Jessica Benjamin)
PART.10 Epilogue: “My sister died - because we didn’t do enough…” ..to bring about peace. Elik Peled Elhanan, brother of Smadar killed by a suicide bomb, says it is forbidden to mourn on Memorial Day - we have to rage against our governments. Elik is a member of the Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Family Forum, and Combatants for Peace.
We invite participants to join us on the Moving Beyond Violence website Discussions. Please share your experiences of events, processes and theoretical perspectives for overcoming denial in the hope of enabling non-violent Ethical Mindsets.
BOOKS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO READ: SEE GLOSSARY
- 1: It’s Good to Die (and Kill) for your Country
- 2: No More Killing or Dying
- 3: Recognition and Empathy
- 4: Pain and Empathy
- 5: Not Seeing the Other
- 6: Death of a Child
- 7: Children and Sacrifice
- 8: Loss of an Ideology, Secrets and Lies
- 9: Peace Movements; what do they do?
- 10: Epilogue: “My sister died – because we didn’t do enough”
Mentalisation is a mental process that bridges recognition and attachment theory which is associated with capacity for mentalising. mentalisation allows us to understand human behaviour in terms of intentional mental states (e.g. needs, desires, feelings, beliefs, goals, purposes, and reasons). Peter Fonagy suggests that individuals with disorganised attachment will have poor mentalisation-abilities. Securely-attached individuals tend to have had a primary caregiver who has more complex and sophisticated mentalising abilities so that as children and later they are more able to mentalise their own and other peoples’ mental states. "The whole idea of thinking about thinking is that we learn about ourselves through being understood by other people. Babies learn about their feelings by having their feelings understood (ie recognised (IS))by someone else." (David Wallin) Wikepedia
Blood Stain Metaphor
Bassam’s and Itamar’s reaction to blood reminds us of Lady Macbeth’s ‘Out damn spot’ response to her part in killing. She is punished with guilt, anguish, madness, and eventual suicide. Likewise the stain on Cain’s head after killing Abel. The ‘blood stain’ is a metaphor which represents the horror of killing.
Moving Beyond Violence Workshops
Moving Beyond Violence has been designed principally as a teaching film. To enable the film to be used in conflict resolution and peace work across a range of educational and community settings, we have developed a series of 10 workshops to accompany the individual scenes of the film. Each workshop has a section for group facilitators with ‘Issues to Explore’. Facilitators will find practical suggestions highlighted.
Below we offer an overview of ways into thinking about and using the film with participants in the context of a group.
The film material is complex and can be approached from many angles depending on the needs of participants and the context in which you are working. For example:
The Social, Economic, Cultural
- group histories and collective narratives
- socially constructed perpetrator/victim identities
- complexity of relationships between individuals and groups with different collective narratives.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES of child rearing and attachment patterns. Also peace seeking: secure base, empathy, recognition, trust, agency, denial, dissociation, splitting and projection; sense of self and worth; stepping out of denial and out of violence. The social and political processes and impact of denial and stepping out of it.
THE ETHICAL MINDSET: a mindset which enables human thriving and allowing engaging thoughts, feelings and particularly behaviours.
Social and political risks are diminished in the Ethical Mindset. We explore the psychological process of stepping out of denial to promote personal and social wellbeing and how these processes can be encouraged.
The above overlapping approaches can be explored in different ways:
- A general or theoretical discussion.
- An exploration through the particular process each of the protagonists goes through in the film. We could think about the individual socio-economic, cultural and political histories of our protagonists, and how they developed into collective narratives.
- We could approach Video Chapter 1 by thinking about the psychological processes behind the meanings ascribed to collective narratives.
- Why do we subscribe to collective narratives and why is it so difficult to step out of them?
- What behaviours might diminish risks to self and other, family and community from warrior type narratives, and enable people to step out of them? How do these behaviours connect with the Ethical Mindset?
- An exploration using the workshop participants’ own experiences. We leave it to the facilitator/seminar leader to discuss with the participants how safe they feel to discuss their own issues in the workshop. See co-creating a safe base
- Creating other venues with more diverse audiences for the film material. Bring some of these workshop techniques into this larger wider setting.
Other ways of exploring the above processes – please add your own:
- You might want to think about the emotional affect this scene has had on you and how you are feeling: where are you feeling it in your body?
- You might want to think about the historical context and collective narratives.
- You might want to think about how this material compares with your own political and social context; does this affect your response to the film?
- What psychological processes might be behind Bassam’s and Itamar’s stories: e.g. denial, dissociation, projection, resilience?
- How do you think Bassam and Itamar maintain their beliefs and their position in the Ethical Mindset? What is the risk they face?
- How might internal conflict be experienced? How can the fear of stepping out of denial and the collective narrative be acknowledged and supported e.g. the fear of survival.
Please post comments and suggestions to the Moving Beyond Violence Forum on the website.
An unconscious psychic process by which a person incorporates into his or her own psyches the good and/or bad characteristics of another person or object.
Denial is probably one of the best known defence mechanisms, used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. "He's in denial."). Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred.
Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defences are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness. In many cases, there might be overwhelming evidence that something is true, yet the person will continue to deny its existence or truth because it is too uncomfortable to face. Denial can involve a flat out rejection of the existence of a fact or reality. In other cases, it might involve admitting that something is true, but minimizing its importance. Sometimes people will accept reality and the seriousness of the fact, but they will deny their own responsibility and instead blame other people or other outside forces.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 7: Children and Sacrifice
In Video Part 7 Itamar talks about how his father urged him to fight with the Israeli army in Lebanon, as being safer than going to prison for refusing to fight. Bassam talks about how easy it would be to avenge his daughter’s death by killing Israelis. But his other children would then be fatherless with no-one to guide them.
They both talk about the horror of living with the stain of blood on their hands. Jessica Benjamin describes how Itamar is not able to dissociate killing from loving. Jessica introduces the notion of ‘transgression’ against national or revolutionary collective narratives, which honour and reward sacrificing oneself or ones children through killing or dying.
- To learn from our two protagonists that being sent to die, or to kill for your country does not benefit individual, family, or country.
- To learn that as dead warrior-heroes, besides sacrificing themselves, they will have abandoned and sacrificed their children; and as surviving warrior-killers they become the traumatised victims of their governments’ warmongering.
- The importance of governments to engage Ethical Mindsets and provide a secure base of hospitality and care, within a democratic and just culture which extends to their neighbours; all peoples survive and flourish together.
- In the absence of a secure base the politics of fear dominates social and economic policies and encourages war-mongering.
Issues to Explore:
- What process have Itamar and Bassam undergone to refuse to sacrifice themselves, or children? What is the meaning of sacrifice in this Video Part?
- How do you understand Itamar’s father’s fear of what might happen to Itamar as a ‘refusenik’?
- Why is Itamar unable to imagine caressing someone with his blood stained hands, and Bassam is not able to look at blood?
- Explore the difference between sacrificing yourself by being killed, sacrificing yourself by killing someone else, and sacrificing the younger generation for your ideology.
- When a father sends a child to military service, who or what is being sacrificed?
- What does Jessica Benjamin mean by the statement, “…revolutionary movements sacrifice their children? Is this true for statutory armies?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Think through the different concepts of sacrifice, starting with willingness to kill to prove loyalty (Abraham/Ibrahim).
The group might be encouraged to look at the function of ‘sacrifice’ to prove loyalty or submission by looking at accounts of what is expected of Abraham and Isaac in the Torah, and Ibrahim and Ishmael in the Quran.
- Next consider sacrifice for ‘the greater good’ (Jesus Christ).
The group could look at the story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, in which the father was willing to kill and the son was willing to die to save the world. Encourage the group to look at this story in relation to mandatory conscription to save the country.
- Now think about the principle of non-violence, and refusal to fight, by looking at World War I when women handed out white feathers to non-combatants.
- Consider the idea of being a warrior as heroism and refusing to fight being cowardice.
Suggest that the group look at the proposition from this viewpoint, and then reverse the statements.
- Where would you place sacrifice and refusal to sacrifice on The Ethical Mindset diagram?
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 8: Loss of an Ideology
In Video Part 8 Itamar tells us about his deep pain that he was ‘lied’ to by his humanist anti-occupation Zionist parents, the education system and the Zionist narrative. He says his sense of betrayal by the Zionist, State, education and army ideologies was more painful to him than killing someone.
As a youth Itamar couldn’t wait to join his pilot father and brother in the army only to become, once he joined increasingly uncomfortable with some army activities in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Itamar confronts his father with regard to his part in the 1948 War of Independence which his father’s generation believed was essential to protect family and country. Itamar reflectively shares with us his internal and external process of stepping out of denial and the Israeli collective narrative, and slowly constructing a new ideology of personal responsibility where he makes his own decisions about whether violence is necessary. CLICK - Glossary Kafr Qasim Ruling 1956
- To be aware of the pain, confusion, and sense of betrayal when relinquishing a previously trusted belief system or collective narrative.
- To understand that discovering truths behind a collective narrative of denial is not only traumatic but also shameful for those left to confront perpetrator images of their loved family members, and by implication themselves. The Creative Process of Stepping out of Denial
- To understand that individuals who have stepped out of denial may find themselves isolated and in danger. It is important for those individuals to identify a support system before attempting to share their enlightenment with others.
- To explore the role of protest groups, peace groups and the Ethical Mindset in supporting those who reject a collective narrative which promotes a cycle of violence, death and any unethical behaviour (see Video Part 9).
- Different narratives may be constructed to make sense of the same conflict or situation:
- Understanding the role of the Ethical Mindset when stepping out of a collective narrative of denial, and replacing it with an integrated ethical collective narrative that can recognise and hold opposing positions.
Issues to Explore:
- Can we make a connection between Itamar’s secure attachment with his parents, his collective narrative, and his subsequent discomfort as a soldier?
- Itamar says “the lies” he was told by his parents, the system, and the Zionist narrative were “more painful to me than the fact that I killed”. How do we understand the experience of secure attachment and trust in this context?
- What does Itamar mean that he will only do ‘what is good for him’ after his army experience and his pain at ‘the lies’ that were told him? Consider Itamar’s process of Rupture and Repair, his bravery and sense of agency
- How do we understand Itamar’s father’s different self-states – the soldier father’s pride and duty as an IDF airforce pilot, and his support of his ‘refusenik’ sons (see Video Part 3)?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Reflect on your own attitude to ‘whistle-blowing’ (making known an unethical situation) and the relationship with betrayal. Who has betrayed whom?
The group might be invited to think about the different views held by the ‘whistle-blower’ and the wider protest group or organisation, as a safe way into looking at the dilemma of being the betrayer versus betrayed.
- Consider the part betrayal may play in Itamar and his father’s relationship. Itamar (who felt lied to) and his father who felt betrayed by his sons’ disloyalty to the Israeli collective narrative, but nevertheless recognised them, (Video Part 3) by supporting their decision.
The group can be invited to compare and contrast the twin felt betrayals of Itamar and his father as an exercise in empathy in the Ethical Mindset.
- Consider the value of ‘holding contradictions’ as intrinsic to an ethical self-state and the Ethical Mindset.
Ask for examples from the group where they are able to suspend judgement of right/wrong and instead can hold contradictions, at least most of the time.
- Despite laws to the opposite, ‘blowing the whistle’ in most Western societies is dangerous for the individual, as may be stepping out of denial of a collective narrative. How can ordinary citizens and soldiers be supported and empowered when they feel something is wrong?
- Looking at the diagram The Ethical Mindset can you describe the development of Itamar’s father’s warrior self and support of his refuser sons?
In part 10 we meet Elik Peled-Elhanan whose 14 year old sister Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber in 1996. At an alternative annual commemoration ceremony to those who have died in the previous year due to the conflict he calls on the public not to mourn but to express rage against leaders who did not do enough to bring about peace.
The Peled-Elhanan and Aramin families are close friends and active members of Combatants for Peace
and the Forum for Bereaved Families. Bassam says “Our work is not being bereaved parents. Our work is to engage in the non-violent struggle against the politics behind our conflict and to stop the Occupation for the sake of both sides”.
Issues to Explore:
- Use this workshop to discuss the issues Elik raises, and to discuss your experience and response to the film and workshops. Do you feel it is has enabled you to address stepping out of denial and violence, stepping out of unethical collective narratives, and engaging in the concept of the Ethical Mindset in your own work or community? Please share your views on the Discussion Forum (hyperlink: )
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 9: Peace Movements – what do they do?
In Video Part 9 Itamar tells us of the excitement and fear of the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian combatants, former mortal enemies. They had all individually renounced violence while not relinquishing their political aims. They later formed Combatants for Peace where together they fight against their common enemy the Occupation. Bassam later tells of a crisis within CFP, erupting as a parallel process of the external imbalance of power. The rupture was repaired by facing their differences as well as their shared aim to end the Occupation and their strengthened attachment.
Jessica Benjamin talks about the processes within a peace group which functions as a safe base offering support for moving out of denial and ‘transgressing’ against the collective narrative, constructing a new identity and ideology and the relationship between members of the group; she describes the value of witnessing and social witnessing, and talks of the world as a ‘failed witness’ by taking sides in conflicts, sending sons to kill or die, rather than acknowledge their suffering and seek a Third way.
- To raise awareness of the function of protest and peace groups as a support system for enabling moving out of denial and constructing a new identity and collective narrative.
- To look at the role of these groups’ individual and social witnessing and of providing support against the world when it acts as a ‘failed witness’.
- To explore the relationship between members of the group in the light of external imbalance of power, individual and ethnic differences, and the internal processes and pressures inherent in groups.
- Protest groups can provide support from which to step out of denial, transgress the collective narrative, and face the emotional and physical dangers of social exclusion. They can allow members to reconnect with humanity particularly after trauma or, as a new community with a belief system and narrative which does not put them in an ethical conflict.
Issues to Explore:
- What happens to our identity when we become a member of a group?
- How can differences between group members be recognised and supported?
- How did dialogue, despite the external and internal imbalance of power, help members of Combatants for Peace when they were in conflict?
- What measures could be used to diminish internal imbalance of power in a bi-national peace group in a conflict zone, e.g. the choice of language.
- Explore the journey protest groups you have been involved in have taken? Would you say they succeeded, and if not why not? Why might protest groups fail: think of size, duration, finances, institutionalisation, coziness, hierarchy of power, external imbalance of power, failure to repair ruptures.
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Map where you would place Peace Groups on The Ethical Mindset diagram.
- Consider the importance of the ‘rupture and repair’ process in the Combatants for Peace internal crisis.
What measures could be used to diminish the impact of external imbalance of power on the internal process of a bi-national peace group?
- Witnessing trauma and comforting pain is an important function of protest and peace groups, how would you build that in to a group?
- Think about the different ways protest groups are perceived: as anti-establishment resistance movements supporting the oppressed, or as divisive and destructive undermining the establishment and the rule of law.
- What strategies might members develop in order to see both sides and hold the contradictions while they may be ostracised from mainstream society. What support can the group and external sources offer members if members are emotionally or physically threatened or in danger.
- What team building skills might help a multi-ethnic group establish relationships and identify the aims and purpose of the group?
Build an exercise with the group whereby members can be helped to identify their own and others’ identities, similarities and differences. Practice dialogue skills.
- Consider the importance of the ‘rupture and repair’ process as intrinsic to maintaining the Ethical Mindset.
Ask participants to think about the functions of apology and justice. Possible responses: ending feelings of internal conflict, a tactic to move the focus to more important issues.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 6: Death of a Child
In Video Part 6 Bassam and his wife Salwa talk about the killing of their 10 year old daughter by an Israeli Army Police bullet outside her school. Bassam tells us how he chooses not to revenge his daughter’s death as it would sacrifice his other children to a life without a father. He chooses legal justice for the killer. Salwa talks about her initial anger with peace activism and her subsequent reaffirmation. We also meet Rami an Israeli whose 14 year old daughter was killed by a suicide bomber. These two sets of parents have put aside their desire for revenge. We accompany them on their journey through unbearable pain to their ultimate recognition of the subjectivity and humanity of their ‘enemy’.
- To try to understand the journey of bereaved parents (Palestinian Bassam and Salwa, and Israeli Rami) after the murder of their daughters to ultimate recognition of the shared humanity of their ‘enemy’.
- How revenge sacrifices self and others.
- How the diagram The Ethical Mindset helps us to understand Bassam’s and Rami’s response after the death of their daughters?
- Killing and death in conflicts can lead to a process of relinquishing violence between ‘enemies’ when loss and pain can be accepted (Klein’s depressive position) when the same suffering is recognised in the ‘enemy’. In this process projections are withdrawn to allow empathic recognition of perpetrator and victim in self and enemy; fear is overcome and pain and comfort shared.
Issues to Explore:
- Ask the group members if they would like to share what they are feeling after watching this video part?
- What can we learn from Bassam’s and Rami’s respective response to the death of their daughters?
- Do Bassam and Salwa and Rami see themselves or their children as victims? children?
- How do you understand Bassam’s ability to maintain his ‘responsibility to his message’ when his daughter has been killed?
- What do we learn from Salwa’s reaction to Bassam after their daughter’s death; think about the role of women in peace-building?
- What is Bassam saying about his daughter’s murderer’s reason for killing her and his insistence on the legal process? Glossary: mentalisation
Facilitating the Workshop:
- You will need to address your own feelings about these bereavements, e.g. sadness and anger, views about perpetrator deaths versus victim deaths (no consensus about which is which!), imbalance of power, and whether loss does or does not obliterate the political backdrop of the two deaths.
- Think about individual and community bereavement and the range of interventions possible after traumas involving terrorists or natural trauma such as earthquakes and floods, where there are no perpetrators.
Allow the group to compare and contrast these and consider the context of the deaths of these two children.
- Consider what the function of having someone or something to blame, e.g. where there may be culprits.
Invite the group to look at the way this option is rejected by Bassam and Rami and others in the film.
- Compare the desire to forgive and who may be being forgiven, with the search for justice. Are they compatible? What happens when justice is not achieved? Consider Bassam and Salwa and Rami with regard to victimhood and sacrifice, resilience and agency.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 5: Not Seeing the Other
In Video Part 5 Bassam and Itamar talk about how Palestinians and Israelis can get to the point of not “seeing” one another, nor their own experience and behaviour. We follow Bassam and Itamar’s process of re-humanising themselves and one another.
- To become acquainted with the cognitive and emotional process of ‘not seeing’ the other: In the absence of empathy, our projections may idealise or dehumanise the other, leading to violence, dissociation or denial of their existence. By not including, responding or relating to the other, we psychologically ‘kill them off’.
- Recognising how projections in the absence of empathy may idealise or de-humanise.
- While projections can dehumanise, withdrawing projections can re-humanise and allow empathy and recognition of the real other i.e. our common humanity, our similarities and differences
- Not seeing the other can become a collective defence mechanism for denial of fear
- Winnicott’s False and True Self: our True Self may become invisible to self and others
Issues to Explore:
- What is the difference between ‘being seen’ and‘recognition?’
- Have you ever felt 'not seen' or not ‘recognised’? What did you feel or think? What, if any, action did you take?
- Have you ever rendered another ‘invisible’? Were you aware it was happening? Did you re- render them ‘visible’ at some stage?
- What action might help when we or the other are feeling invisible or ‘not seen’?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Where might visible/invisible fit into The Ethical Mindset diagram?
- Become clear about the function served by consciously rendering an individual invisible.
It might be helpful to look at whistle-blowers and how rendering them invisible serves the organisation.
- Look at your own strategies that help you hold onto your real and True Self when you are feeling ‘not seen’ i.e. when you are receiving someone else’s projection.
How might you use the ground-rules if your group develops a hierarchy of those listened to and those ignored.
- Compare individual responses to the way groups collectively render others invisible (members of rival tribes, nations, oppressed groups, etc.).
Enable the group to recognise that the stratagem of rendering whole groups invisible becomes a collective survival mechanism for denying fear.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 4: Pain and Empathy
In Video Part 4 we hear from Bassam and Itamar of their childhood experiences of pain and of how their families related to it. We see the connection between that response and their recognition of others’ pain today.
- The association between recognition and empathy and the desire to comfort others’ pain, and peace building.
- If one's own pain has been recognised and comforted we are likely to recognise and comfort another’s pain.
- When pain is not recognised or comforted it might lead to dissociation or denial, lack of recognition and empathy, loss of agency or violence.
Issues to Explore:
- What is the nature of Bassam’s and Itamar’s respective experience and response to pain?
- How might we understand the development of resilience in this context?
- What is the process that Bassam undergoes when someone else is suffering for him?
- What might be the role of pain and other’s response to it in peace building?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Refer to the Ethical Mindset diagram and the role of pain.
- Think of ways (both constructive and destructive) that people use to try to comfort themselves when in pain
Examples include eating chocolate, smoking, substance misuse, dissociation, denial, causing others pain, etc. but think of some of your own.
- Reflect both on your own pain and on the comfort you have had, and how they might affect your response to the pain of others.
Develop ways to raise awareness of the other’s pain if the group is in conflict.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 3: Recognition and Empathy
In Video Part 3 Bassam and Itamar tell us stories from their childhood which highlight the recognition and empathy they received from their secure attachment with their parents. Bassam says “It all begins at home…”. We watch Bassam and Itamar take empathy and recognition with them into adulthood as they step out of denial of their individual collective narratives and out of violence.
This Video Part 3 and workshop is an underlying component of the Moving-Beyond-Violence construct for an Ethical Mindset. We suggest time is spent preparing and researching the issues we raise; please share your own experience and ideas on the discussion forum.
An Ethical Mindset and ethical behaviours of fundamental hospitality and care are necessary for ethical coexistence.
- Bassam and Itamar’s childhood stories recall Bowlby’s secure attachment. Research associates secure attachment patterns (in early or later life) with recognising the other, their pain and a desire to comfort it, internalisation of the secure attachment relationship into personality structures that are associated with peace building. What can we learn from Bassam’s and Itamar’s childhood experience that can be taken into social, educational and political settings in the hope of promoting an Ethical Mindset?
- Experiencing and acquiring recognition and empathy, and congruent behaviours of hospitality and care, are complex processes. This workshop aims to explore different pathways to recognition and empathy including relational, cultural, creative arts, socio-economic, political and existential and inclusion–exclusion dimensions. For instance, recognition and empathy from a teacher or friend, a film or book, a secular, religious or political ideology, observation of recognition and care between others; identification with excluded others; a ‘spiritual’ connection with nature or the planet etc.
- The relevance of the theories of Bowlby, Winnicott, Benjamin and Maslow for facilitating a secure base in the family, society and work place as an important component of peace building.
- The impact of child-rearing practices, socio-economic environment, health, education, inclusion-exclusion, and collective narratives on peace building.
Issues to Explore:
What influenced your interest in this programme, and in Ethical Mindsets and behaviours, and peace building?
- We invite participants to explore their own path to recognition and empathy, and if it exists, whether they feel this has been a component in their relations with different others.
- Might an experience of exclusion and rejection, victimhood or perpetration lead to identification with excluded and oppressed, victim or perpetrator others? How would that happen? Would that identification necessarily include empathy and recognition?
- The Ethical Mindset includes congruent ethical behaviours of fundamental hospitality for shared humanity, and care for the other. They may be the dictate of a religious or political social system. Do empathy and recognition have to be present in order for the behaviour of care to be ethical? Might survival be an issue?
- What role might empathy and recognition play in stepping out of denial of an unethical collective narrative? What other factors might be relevant?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- Think of ways to create a safe base in the group of a secure attachment with empathy, recognition and trust. Co-creating a safe base
Setting ground-rules: You might use games for equal validation, e.g. ‘What does your name mean?’
- Develop your intercultural knowledge-base for groups with members from a range of cultural, political or ethnic backgrounds.
Any ‘difference’ in the room creates opportunities for working with recognition and empathy; use narrative for people to tell their stories, and invite others to share how the stories change initial impressions.
- Using your own listening, feeling and feedback skills think of ways to enable people to move into dialogue with each other.
ALWAYS serve vegan biscuits and explain that they are ‘anti-discriminatory biscuits’! This draws difference and communality together and also provides some necessary ‘light relief’.
- You might want to try these exercises with the group if it feels safe enough:
- Invite members to pair up and to try ‘being in the moment’ as a Buddhist might describe recognition, by silent gazing between them, ‘being with the true other as egos dispel’.
- Bring up an image of two unidentifiable bodies of children from conflicting groups killed together in an accident: the parents are faced with not knowing which is their child, so they must mourn and love both.
WORKSHOP VIDEO PART 2: No More Killing, No More Dying
In Video Part 2 Itamar reflects on his experience as a killer, and specifically of being seen through a Palestinian child’s eyes as the “ultimate evil”. We follow Itamar’s internal process as he struggles with his image of being a perpetrator. Meanwhile Bassam is undergoing an experience with his prison guard where he learns that “through talking you can change the most extreme mind”. They are both going through the process of stepping out of denial.
- To understand the emotional and cognitive Creative Process of Stepping out of Denial
- To consider the role of empathy and recognition in relinquishing denial of perpetrator and victim identities, violence and sacrifice.
- What components of dialogue are important for conflict resolution?
- The complexity and creativity involved in recognising the other's humanity i.e. your enemy in yourself, and yourself in your enemy.
Issues to Explore:
- Itamar came to see himself as a killer when watching that film rather than when he actually killed. What helped Itamar step out of dissociation and denial?
- How did dissociation help Bassam in prison? Can you think of examples of your own dissociation? How might we recognise individual or group dissociation or denial?
- The dialogue with Shimon (Bassam’s prison guard) did not get Bassam released from prison, so what did Bassam gain from it?
- What was Shimon’s part in initiating the dialogue? What transformation did Bassam and Shimon undergo through their dialogue?
- Working with the farmer from Gaza changed Itamar’s attitudes about serving in the reserves in the occupied territories. What brought about this change in Itamar?
- Would you like to describe a situation where your own belief system changed? Can you describe the process? Did it put you in danger – in what way and how did you protect yourself?
Facilitating the Workshop:
- How would you use the diagram The Ethical Mindset to help the group understand the events in Video Part 2?
- Consider how you might help the group recognise dissociation or stress after traumatic events: invite members to share their own experiences of dissociation.
Examples might include wandering attention, absence of person or mind, unconscious facetious comments, orno memory of the event.
- Can you devise an exercise in the group, perhaps role play, which involves dialogue as seeking ‘the third’ as an alternative way out of the conflict?
Help the group think how people can move into dialogue; practice empathic listening, feeling and feedback with the group.
- Considerthe complexities of bringing past and present together into a coherent understanding following traumatic experiences. Recognise that dissociationor ‘denial’ might look like a ‘safe space’ where pain can be avoided, but that resorting to this defence actually perpetuates trauma and its destructive consequences.
Offer the perspective that accepting the pain can acknowledge and integrate trauma while denial perpetuates it.
- Help group members identify what support they would seek if stepping out of previous denial of an unethical set of beliefs in their community were to invoke anger or violence.
the discussion about the Historical Background to the Current Crisis???
The nationalist movement for the Jewish National Homeland, Israel, in Palestine. Messianic Zionists claim biblical Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile. Political Zionists claim Israel as a Jewish National Homeland, some within the UN 1948 181 Partition Plan while others claim the occupied territories of Palestine as Israel.
Holocaust Memorial Museum, West Jerusalem, Israel.
A first hand account of something seen, heard, or experienced. ‘Witnessing’ by listening to a person’s story of trauma or sadness offers comfort and an opportunity to reconnect with others; like recognition witnessing helps the victim to overcome helplessness and regain trust and sense of agency.
A hero displaying bravery and vigour, and courage; the belief that being a warrior serves a higher moral purpose of protecting your family and country. A warrior is prepared to die, to sacrifice her/himself, to protect the country.
Victimhood refers to the identity process or state of mind developed in violent and long conflicts, in which at least one party (sometimes both) reconstructs its identity around its victimization by the other side; it describes and defines the situation of conflict the parties live with. Victimhood becomes an integral part of personal and collective identity.... The sense of helplessness can be overcome by impact on the other and the other's recognition of you. (Wikipedia)
Occurs when one’s identity is perceived primarily as having been oppressed, abused or subjected to violence and continuing to see this condition or threat as defining and ongoing. In these circumstances one’s own sense of responsibility or ability to take action are compromised. The identity of victim causes a sense of loss of personal power, or ever having the suffering and abuse recognized.
A term used to define a single or repeated overwhelming stressful event, such as emotional or physical abuse, violence, loss, severe accidents, environmental events, which alter a person’s psychological condition and in all probability the brain. Such events are not only terrifying and painful, but may lead to ongoing fear of a repetition of the experience. The fear of repetition of the past feelings or events, triggered perhaps by a smell or sound, then “activates” an involuntary response. Trauma often leaves people mentally disorganized and anxious, suffering loss of cognitive functions and normal emotional responses. This is referred to by psychiatry as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), a term now used colloquially as well. In PTSD people can be numb or agitated, masking their symptoms or dysfunctional, but any heightened emotional or physical stress will bring about definite symptoms of fear.
It might be useful and specifically relevant to this discussion to include Freud’s statement that the effect of trauma on a person “shatters the foundations of his (sic) life (as a result of which) he abandons all interest in the present and future and remains permanently absorbed in mental concentration on the past” (1917, Introductory Lectures)
Acting against the conventional, or conventional morality.
An event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another.
The idea of the third refers to a position in which we transcend opposites or hold them in mind without cancelling out one side. Regarding differences with others or enemies, it means a viewpoint from which it is possible to see the validity of more than one side, to see the injuries inflicted and suffering endured by both. The third position, like the third point on a triangle, allows us to relate to both points at the end of the straight line and to create a space. To occupy that space in a psychological sense would mean, as Benjamin suggests, holding to a basic principle of recognition, for instance, that all human beings deserve recognition of their common humanity. We might think of the third as a space of recognition and dialogue, beyond simple oppositions.
(Tertium quid refers to an unidentified third element that is in combination with two known ones. The phrase is associated with alchemy.It is Latin for "third thing")
There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the definition of the term terrorism. Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions. Moreover, governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed upon, legally binding definition. These difficulties arise from the fact that the term is politically and emotionally charged.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the United Nations attempts to define the term foundered mainly due to differences of opinion between various members about the use of violence in the context of conflicts over national liberation and self-determination. Since 1994, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned terrorist acts using the following political description of terrorism: "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them. (Wikipedia)
Stepping out of denial
The psychological process of allowing cut off or hidden shameful, or traumatic events, seen or experienced, to re-emerge and become integrated with the core self.
Nascent self-states become part of an emerging self that will be comprised of a compliment of dissociated self-states that in healthy development become integrated, harmonious, flexible, and continuous. In children, developing this harmonious compliment of self-states depends on a number of things including a secure base and attuned interaction with caregivers. In adulthood, secure, validating relationships afford the opportunity to find, in Robert Stolorow's words, a "relational home" for our feelings, especially the painful and disturbing ones.
An environment where a person has a feeling of safety provided by an attachment figure who is sought out in times of danger, illness, exhaustion or following a separation , the availability of which can be trusted.
Schindler’s List 1993
A film about a German businessman Oskar Schindler who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally. The film received seven Academy Awards).
The offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship.
Rupture and repair
Recreation of a relationship after a misunderstanding or breakdown -( Jessica Benjamin)
The capacity to live and develop in a positive way despite the stress and adversity created by risk factors such as poverty, trauma, abuse and catastrophic life events which ‘stack the odds’ against individuals. Vulnerability to these risk factors is primarily a factor of the social and physical environment. Childhood experience and the social context fundamentally influences the capacity for resilience both because our sense of security or insecurity is formed by it and because insecurity in childhood is likely to lead to emotional difficulties in later life. Thus relationships which provide love, trust and encouragement are primary in modifying the effects of adverse life conditions.
Cyrulnik Boris. Resilience (2009) Penguin Books. London. p.
Goldberg S, Muir R and Kerr J (eds) Attachment Theory: Social, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives.(1995) The Analytic Press. London.
In dialogue we engage the self-aware part of the brain and become intentional. There is a relational paradigm where we listen to the other and talk from ourselves. Leads to increased safety, connection and differentiation…. Finally there is an expression of empathy, very much focusing on the present moment” Anderson J. Bridging the Gap: Seeing the Other and Discovering Self. (In Transformations the Journal for Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility Summer 2012.)
Recognition that response (from or to) the other which makes one’s own or the other’s feelings, intentions and actions meaningful. It shows that we have had an impact on the other. . It allows the self to realise its agency and authorship in a tangible way. But such recognition can only come from an other whom we, in turn, recognise as person in his or her own right. Recognition is integral to…”differentiation” – the individual’s development as a self that is aware of its distinctness from others. Lack of recognition is associated with victimhood and loss of agency; or dependency on recognition, as Benjamin has discussed, may lead to people engaging in power struggles; ie when people feel their suffering, their point of view, their needs, their value and dignity, or their actions are being denied recognition. Social traumas require social recognition so that people feel their suffering is known, has meaning, and their need for dignity and value is respected. ( Benjamin J.The Bonds of Love: (1988) Pantheon Books. NY.)
Psychological trauma results from overwhelming stressful events, and may result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder depending on the individual’s previous history and resilience.
An activity that is ongoing and takes place in relation to the person involving joint contribution of mental, physiological, physical and social activities. Key psychological processes are thinking, motivation learning, memory, sensation, perception and emotion. They are emergent as they unfold in the daily life of human beings in their interactions.
Projection or projective identification
Projection or projective identification is an unconscious process, a phantasy in which aspects of the self or an internal object are split off and projected onto the other. .
Withdrawing projection – through recognition of the other’s similarities and differences to the self the split off good or bad projected attribute is reclaimed and owned as part of the self. The self is then able to integrate the good and bad attributes into an authentic self, and likewise the other is recognised fors the person they are, with their good and bad attributes. Acquisitive projective identification, where the person being projected onto takes on the split off projected attributes, feelings and role of the person projecting. Projective counter-identification (Grinberg, 1962), where the therapist unwittingly assumes the feelings and role of the patient
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
An emotional disorder resulting from an individual’s inability to process and integrate the stressful experience. It is characterised by symptoms on a continuum of multiple reactions ranging from alternating intense hyperarousal to psychic numbing/ dissociation to specific stimuli or memories of the trauma to create resilience.
Someone who perpetrates wrongdoing; a culprit, offender, wrongdoer - a person who transgresses moral or civil law, or perceives themselves as having done so. The moral or ethic spectrum may be personal, cultural, or universal. When transgressed it may result in shame, guilt, helplessness, loss of agency and even suicide. Repair may be acknowledging the wrongdoing as a personal, or public act; the act being ‘witnessed’ and forgiven.
A term describing interventions that are designed to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict by creating a sustainable peace. Peacebuilding activities address the root causes or potential causes of violence, create a societal expectation for peaceful conflict resolution and stabilize society politically and socioeconomically. The exact definition varies depending on the actor, with some definitions specifying what activities fall within the scope of peacebuilding or restricting peacebuilding to post-conflict interventions.
A tendency to project all badness outside the self, all angry or harmful tendencies, and then to feel frightened or persecuted by their appearance in others. it's the opposite of being able to see that one has both good and bad within oneself, and that most others do as well.
Shame is at the core of all emotional wounds. Emotional pain is a gateway into an energy wound. So-called “negative” emotions are flags to let us know when something needs to be healed and/or released from within. Our feelings give us our most direct access into the centre of an energy constriction. Zeroing in on our feelings help we consciously get right to the core, the root cause of all pains/wounds – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or psychic.
Occupation (of Palestinian Territories):
Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories through the military and civil administration which maintains the imbalance of power and control of Palestine.
Nation carries varying meanings, and the connotation of the term has changed over time. Nation can refer to a people, race, or tribe; those having the same descent, language, and history. Or “a community of people composed of one or more nationalities with its own territory and government” and also as “a tribe or federation of tribes” (as of American Indians) or the United States of America.
Stories people tell themselves and each other to make sense of their experience. Narratives can serve the positive function of making people feel cohesive or united with others. But often/sometimes narratives are created or transmitted that define experience in a way that excludes new experiencing or the experience of another point of view. Some narratives are so rigid that when confronted with contrary experience or ideas people become anxious or defensively aggressive.
The Moral Third is a specific form of the Third; the Third being a function that helps to resolve or transcend binary oppositions and polarities e.g. ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’.
The Moral Third is based in the desire to repair and restore the world, to make it “lawful” based on dignity and respect for each other’s rights and needs. It conceives of a way out of "kill or be killed" impasses where only one can live. This capacity for holding in mind the other develops in the child through the experience that others recognize our needs in a reliable way, or they acknowledge failures and violations of expectation. (see Secure Attachment-Glossary).
That sense of a “lawful world” then extends to the larger world where we expect to give and receive certain kinds of respect and acknowledgment of each other’s humanity. When two people, or a community, are in conflict or get stuck within violent reactivity they need a third position to help them into a space of negotiation or reflection or understanding. The principled basis for that position comes from the recognition of the commonality of all humans despite differences. The psychological basis is the empathic connection to other's suffering that arises when dissociation, fear of the other or repudiation of their humanity does not interfere. This recognition of suffering or violation of lawfulness becomes the basis for the social position of witnessing, as when the world acknowledges wrongdoing or injuries. Orienting to the Moral Third supports action to negotiate differences and respect the other, the stranger, the opponent. Violations of other's humanity are acknowledged. Ultimately the orientation to the Moral Third describes a position in which the gap between beliefs and actions grows smaller.
Avoidant, ambivalent disorganised attachments resulting from unpredictable, rejecting or abusive attachment patterns.
Systematic persecution and murder by the Nazi regime and collaborators of six million Jews and six million left-wing activists, Roma, disabled people, lesbian and gays and others considered sub-human or subversive.
These social categories. Political or national identities may feel threatening to or by others even though at a personal level they accept the people carrying those identities.
Bowlby's four stages of Loss observed through studies of attachment; Klein’s integration of loss in the Depressive Position (see above) and Bowlby’s Loss are seen as essential process for integration and healthy emotional development. .
- numbing that usually lasts from a few hours to a week and may be interrupted by outbursts of extremely intense distress and/or anger.
- yearning and searching for the lost figure lasting some months or sometimes for years.
- disorganization and despair.
- greater or less degree of organization
(Bowlby’s original 3-phase process of Loss was published in "Processes Of Mourning" Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 42:317-40.
A term used to describe a person's conception and expression of their subjectivity within a given social milieu. Contemporary relational theory understands social categories such as race, gender, nationality, culture and class to be core constituents of identity. These are considered to be mandated by the dominant culture. Nevertheless, identity is inevitably personal. It is the emotional self formed within a familial and interpersonal context which gives meaning and significance to.
Guilt is an emotion that occurs when a person believes that they have violated a moral standard that they themselves believe in.
An intentional cognitive technique to dissociate from a present physical or emotional discomfort by reproducing and focussing on a positive image associated with a feeling of safety thus reducing anxiety and pain (see scene : Bassam in prison employs guided imagery takes him outside the prison
A freedom fighter is a person engaged in a resistance movement against what they believe to be an oppressive and illegitimate government. (Wikipedia)
When the world fails to recognise and stop the pain and trauma caused by conflict by either ignoring it, or supporting either side to continue the conflict. (Jessica Benjamin)
The Ethical Mindset with Congruent Behaviours is a concept developed by the Moving Beyond Violence team. The Ethical Mindset facilitates stepping out of denial of destructive collective narratives, and out of violence. This denial refers to the mental roadblocks that prevent us from acknowledging the irreducible humanity of others, overcoming whatever resistance we may have to disqualify difference and thus engaging an Ethical Mindset, accompanied by congruent behaviours.
The MBV multi-stage guided process is designed to explore stepping out of denial and into an Ethical Mindset. The congruent behaviours are those that engage fundamental hospitality and care. They maybe dictates of familial, cultural, religious, or political cultures; the hospitality, protection and care are prerequisites for a safe and just society. Our protagonists’ stories help us identify the internal and external processes which led to their Ethical Mindset. At times of failure the Ethical Mindset may be repaired through Jessica Benjamin’s Moral Third which engages recognition, empathy and a willingness to dialogue in a search for an alternative way.
Baron-Cohen describes the first stage of empathy as recognition: “empathy occurs when we switch from a single-minded focus of attention to a double-minded focus of attention”. He says we are not only thinking about our own mind, thoughts and perception, but we are keeping in mind someone else’s mind at the very same time. The second stage is to respond to the other’s thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion. Baron-Cohen continues:” Empathy makes the other person feel valued, they feel that their thoughts and feelings have been heard, acknowledged and respected” .Baron Cohen explains dehumanisation and evil as the result of ‘zero degrees of empathy’
(Baron -Cohen S: Zero Degrees of Empathy).
Dissociative reaction is somewhat different--it can refer to a state of mind wherein one knows something to be true or have happened, or may be happening in front of us, such as hearing about or witnessing terrible things, but we react emotionally or intellectually as though what happened was unreal or had not occurred. Dissociative reactions occur when people are threatened in some way by knowing about what has or is occurring. We often refer to these reactions as denial. In relation to collective trauma we often see collective dissociation. However knowledge or emotions that have been denied, repressed, split off, or dissociated can be retrieved, acknowledged and integrated into consciousness and the self.
Davies J M and Frawley MG. Treating the Adult Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse (1994) Basic Books.
New York Herman J. Trauma and Recovery (1992) Basic Books. New York
Renn P. The Silent Past and the Invisible Present (2012) Routledge. London
Dissociation involves a vertical splitting of the ego that results in two or more self states that are more or less organised and independently functioning. they alternate in consciousness ..and emerge separately to think, behave, remember and feel. Such dissociated states are unavailable to the rest of the personality….., creating what are known familiarly as “Jekyll and Hyde” alternations in states of mind, behaviour, and consciousness which cannot be brought together (at that time). Or a person may have less dramatic and hard to identify separations between parts of themselves that were acceptable and unacceptable to their early caregivers. The dissociated self state’s presence is felt through inexplicable or recurrent intrusive images, symptoms and actions, psychosomatic conditions or recurrent nightmares, anxiety reactions, or triggered memories. This also happens in what we call post-traumatic stress disorder.
Its severe form is induced by trauma involving pain, terror or danger and helplessness. When a person’s system of self protection is overwhelmed and disorganized, the traumatic experience is dissociated and encapsulated within the person as a separate self state, disconnected from a person’s ordinary self experience. While dissociation may provide a temporarily effective defense mechanism, this kind of fragmentation produces the severance of normally integrated mind and body functions. Its consequences can be seen in debilitating symptoms produced by post traumatic stress disorder.
Dialogue enables people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences about difficult issues. It is used to help people resolve long-standing conflicts and to build deeper understanding of contentious issues. Dialogue is not about judging, weighing, or making decisions, but about understanding and learning. Dialogue dispels stereotypes, builds trust, and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own.