Archive for November 15, 2006

Another cool interview

An article about James Bond in the Baltimore Sun, wherein I am extensively quoted.

I get the closing paragraph, and I really like it. Sometimes you read interviews with yourself and you want to crawl under the rug, but I’m proud of this one.

Learned empowerment

Learned helplessness is an injury to your fight or flight response.

In animal experiments, the researcher Martin Seligman found that an animal could learn it had no power to escape. Cage a dog and shock it. The dog will struggle, snarl, try to get away, but it can’t, it’s in a cage. Do this over and over, until the dog has learned that struggling is futile. It can’t escape. Now shock the dog; it stands there whimpering.

Now take the cage away. Shock the dog. It stands there whimpering.

Learned helplessness has been used as a model to explain depression, to explain patterns of revictimization (why do abused people seek new abusers?), to explain the persistant failure of able people.

But helplessness can be unlearned. I am interested in psychology, in therapy, in inner work. I am interested in behavior. I am also interested in ritual. And I am interested in how these things interact.

The use of affirmations is effective. You look in the mirror every morning and repeat “I am successful.” In time, it becomes true. But affirmations are verbal, not behavioral. What we need to do is step out of the cage.

The first time a victimized person says no to an abuser, it will feel awkward and unnatural. It will cause anxiety. She will feel like something is wrong. She’s imprinting new behaviors. She’s used to standing there and whimpering, and she’s sure there’s going to be a worse shock.

There isn’t.

One thing that Pagans can do is create models, rituals, meditations, that build power and restore self-direction. One thing that everyone can do is support the process of ending victimization.