Workshop Part 5:
Being Invisible and Not Seeing the Other
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.
KEYWORDS YOU SHOULD KNOW:
To perceive an individual or a human group as devoid of human characteristics and qualities perceiving them instead with animalistic or mechanistic characteristics. Baron-Cohen suggests dehumanization is the result of low or no empathy so that the pain of others is not felt; moral and ethical thought and behavior is likewise suspended. (Baron-Cohen S: Zero Degrees of Empathy. Allen Lane Publishing. 2011). However, Baron-Cohen’s critique does not include cultural, hierarchical, or personal interest or survival as components in dehumanization.
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)
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.
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
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.)