Workshop for Part 2

Workshop Part 2

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.

Learning Objectives:

  • 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?

Concepts:

  • 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:

  1. How would you use the diagram The Ethical Mindset to help the group understand the events in Video Part 2?
  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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

KEYWORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Collective narrative

Collective narrative

As with individuals, groups small and large reconstruct their group experience through stories that may become the official collective narrative of the group. Confronting or changing a collective narrative may be difficult simply because so many are invested in it, emotionally or through the power hierarchy. Individuals attempting to create a new version of the collective narrative may induce anxiety in the group and find themselves the objects of group aggression.

Denial

Denial

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.

Dissociation

Dissociation

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.

Empathy

Empathy

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).

Holocaust

Holocaust

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.

Identity

Identity

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.

Perpetrator identity

Perpetrator identity

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.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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.

Terrorist

Terrorist

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)

Trauma

Trauma

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)

Victim identity

Victim identity

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.

Warrior identity

Warrior identity

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.

Comments are closed