Prevention and Healing of Dehumanization Applied to Individual Orientation/Belief System.

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Prevention and Healing of Dehumanization Applied to Individual Orientation/Belief System.

Israel
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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The main focus of this initiative is delivering a scientific psycho-social discovery, with its high-impact strategies and tools, to those who may accept and use it. The discovery is focused on the mental cognitive structures that are the Direct Causes of prejudices, war and conflict. The research questions leading to this Theory of Dehumanization were the obvious: How exactly does it happen that normal people, all endowed with conscience, aware of their personal responsibility for their choices of truth over untruth, reason over irrationality, justice over injustice and morality over sin ? manage to justify in their own eyes even the most inhuman atrocities and acts of self and others destruction? What can be objectively defined as wrong with them? Which of their mental functions of perceiving, thinking and telling right from wrong, is affected? How does it happen? When? The theory of Dehumanization embodies answers for all these questions. Evidence regarding beliefs about war and conflict was collected from public media over 25 years. It was found that war-oriented thinking patterns universally conformed to one basic orientation structure: We Always GoodRight ? Them Always BadWrongGuilty. That fantastic belief system avoids any cognitive dissonance by means of Blind Areas that cover the most basic human realities. The Blind Areas are our major discovery. It has been found, that people and leaders who consistently expressed their views in patterns that conformed to the "We Right Them Guilty" map of orientation practically never (sic!) expressed any awareness of even the most obvious human realities that did not agree with it; mainly, that We may be as wrong and "bad" as any humans and that "Them" are human individuals, each one unique and different, good, bad and suffering as We are. The Theory of Dehumanization organizes the identified Blind Areas (about 30) and the resulting Patterned Beliefs into a Dehumanization Syndrome under ten headings, each an aspect of a conflict reality (We, Them, Bleeding Hearts, Leader, Strategy, Morality, etc.) That is our tool to work with. We bring to people's awareness the specific symptoms of the condition ? Blind Areas and Patterned Beliefs ? they'd be able to identify and by that to humanize their orientation system.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Focus of activity

Dialogue Processes

Start Year

1979

Positioning in the mosaic of solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of empathy

Main principle addressed

Humanize the other

ABSTRACT THINKING: This barrier is a rather new area of scientific interest. My entry for this contest does not include it directly. Essentially, inter-group war and prejudice are not caused by experience in reality but learned by language, with generalized concepts like Them, Enemy, Blacks, Whites, Capitalism, Communism, etc. The "fundamental building blocks for enduring peace" must include building the proper infrastructure in people's cognitive thinking mechanism that operates by linguistic abstract concepts. This requires teaching people to perform sanely basic thought operations that participate in social orientation. It should result in their internalizing of the fact that "Moslem" or "Jew" are abstract concepts in one's head not to be identified with any man, woman, or child in the outer reality. Or that in reality "Arabs are Arabs" is nonsense, because Arab-1 is not Arab-2 etc., and "Arabs"(1996) are NOT "Arabs"(2006) etc.

Innovation
Description of initiative:

The main focus of this initiative is delivering a scientific psycho-social discovery, with its high-impact strategies and tools, to those who may accept and use it. The discovery is focused on the mental cognitive structures that are the Direct Causes of prejudices, war and conflict. The research questions leading to this Theory of Dehumanization were the obvious: How exactly does it happen that normal people, all endowed with conscience, aware of their personal responsibility for their choices of truth over untruth, reason over irrationality, justice over injustice and morality over sin ? manage to justify in their own eyes even the most inhuman atrocities and acts of self and others destruction? What can be objectively defined as wrong with them? Which of their mental functions of perceiving, thinking and telling right from wrong, is affected? How does it happen? When? The theory of Dehumanization embodies answers for all these questions. Evidence regarding beliefs about war and conflict was collected from public media over 25 years. It was found that war-oriented thinking patterns universally conformed to one basic orientation structure: We Always GoodRight ? Them Always BadWrongGuilty. That fantastic belief system avoids any cognitive dissonance by means of Blind Areas that cover the most basic human realities. The Blind Areas are our major discovery. It has been found, that people and leaders who consistently expressed their views in patterns that conformed to the "We Right Them Guilty" map of orientation practically never (sic!) expressed any awareness of even the most obvious human realities that did not agree with it; mainly, that We may be as wrong and "bad" as any humans and that "Them" are human individuals, each one unique and different, good, bad and suffering as We are. The Theory of Dehumanization organizes the identified Blind Areas (about 30) and the resulting Patterned Beliefs into a Dehumanization Syndrome under ten headings, each an aspect of a conflict reality (We, Them, Bleeding Hearts, Leader, Strategy, Morality, etc.) That is our tool to work with. We bring to people's awareness the specific symptoms of the condition ? Blind Areas and Patterned Beliefs ? they'd be able to identify and by that to humanize their orientation system.

Description of innovation:

Your questions lead to the core of my trials and tribulations as an independent researcher trying to "sell" his discovery of a medicine for social diseases to people who could market it and save lives--and to my determination to keep trying. My approach is so different, novel and unique in the field, that it became impossibly difficult for me to get the attention of the community of scholars. To acknowledge my contribution, mainstream academics need to admit their approach has been methodologically inadequate. The impact of this contribution to managing conflict is seen analogous to the impact discovery of germs had on healing contagious epidemics, because only by identifying and interfering with the agents that cause the condition physically-directly is healing made possible. The Theory of Dehumanization was developed following the person-centered Direct Causation approach, and in that it radically challenges conventional frameworks of conflict studies that for the last 70 years follow the multi-causal approach. Thus they touch only indirect causes, either external (political, historical, geo-political, economic, educational, cultural, etc.) or internal (sub-conscious, genetic, "human nature", etc.). Without touching the direct causes, their strategies could only be conceptualized as social hygiene or sanitation, not as healing persons who have already contracted the "virus" of Dehumanization. Analogously, what if researchers took a multi-causal approach to AIDS? It is well known that it has environmental, cultural, sexual, or economic causes as well as causes in genetics, nutrition, climate, etc. Each of these is an indirect cause. What if scientists were not focusing on the DIRECT-Physical causes inside the sick organism, the AIDS corpuscles that connect to T-cells of the immunization system? If that were the case - AIDS research would generate only preventive hygiene and sanitation measures, no medicines and no healing. And we would not know the real cause, in that critical sense. My claim to your attention rests mainly on that critical sense. The Theory of Dehumanization is focused on the DIRECT causes, those "virus" of Blind Areas breeding Patterned Beliefs we identified in the belief-systems of normal people who perform their horrendous acts of war consciously and in good faith.

Delivery model:

I reach out with all I have through all channels open to me. Target Populations: 1. OWN DISCOURSE, POLITICAL CULTURE: Interventions based on Theory of Dehumanization undermine the self-justification system without which politically motivated aggression would not be possible but becomes possible by means of Blind Areas. When persons admit to awareness reality covered in a Blind Area the entire "WeGoodThemBad" mental picture disintegrates. The best helping technique: asking open questions about human realities covered in Blind Areas. It circumvents resistance and helps people to put human reality into their cognitive representations. 2. EDUCATORS: When children are old enough to learn that there are WE and THEM, wars and heroes and villains, they'd be old enough to learn that there has been Dehumanization. They should become able to identify its expressions in themselves and in others lest WE become the wrong-unjust party. The Dehumanization Syndrome can make that danger owned rather than projected on the Out-group, identifiable in own language, applicable to any historical, literary or contemporary text analyzed in a classroom. Analysis is performed first by comparing any expressed idea abut war/conflict to a Patterned Belief. Then, the text is checked for presence of realities covered in Blind Areas. The effectiveness of these techniques is seen in light of the fact, that helping persons to see what is covered by their mental blinders is the cardinal technique in psychological help; and that personal feedback here-and-now is the most effective tool of personal growth and change. 3. POLITICAL SCIENCE:This theory deciphers the political motivation code: our strongest "interest" is the need to maintain our orientation system in working order (feel our beliefs are reasonable and just). Behavior of leaders diagnosed as dehumanized can be predicted with great accuracy to be in conformity with Patterned Beliefs, including Strategy ("Only force"; "THEY interpret peaceful moves as weakness" etc.). Illusions about "peace process" could be thus avoided. However, even a single spontaneous expression by such leader of AWARENESS of reality covered in a Blind Area predicts (with very high probability) a complete turnaround in attitudes about the conflict.

Key operational partnerships:

This subject is for me the most painful to relate. Over the last 10 years my key operational objective was to establish partnerships and affiliate myself with institutions. My best efforts went to that purpose but I did not succeed. Some highly accomplished professionals in the field agreed (consecutively) to collaborate with me on preparing my Hebrew book, "The Virus of Dehumanization", for publication in English (my mastery of English is sub-literary) but aborted the collaboration for their personal reasons ? different priorities. These were people who volunteered to collaborate with me solely for the merit they found in the Theory of Dehumanization, as I had no means to compensate them other then share future royalties if there were any. I offered to teach a course on Psychology of Political Fanaticism to every college in Israel, and so form a kind of partnership with them. All declined for reasons of budget cuts. Two years ago I submitted an application for a Fulbright scholarship, which entailed internship in an American university - I managed to get an invitation from one and hoped for forming a partnership with it. Some friends here told me I was being na?ve: The Fulbright committee in Israel is manned by representatives of the big universities that want their people in, not anyone else. A year or so ago I registered as an ASHOKA Changemaker seeing in it another opening to possible partnerships. Here I stand.

Impact
Financial model:

None. As a social inventor, I am dependent on those who'd acknowledge the potential value of my invention and then use their resources to develop their own schemes and arrangements for reaching out to target populations. Financial Sustainability: The Theory of Dehumanization could be effectively applied in one's political life and in Education FOR NOT ANY COST. With no need for any additional equipment or for institutional approval, a single "entrepreneur" classroom teacher could effectively prevent and arrest the development of prejudiced attitudes in his/her students by analyzing history, political and contemporary texts for the symptoms of Dehumanization. By responding to the students' own dehumanized expressions with asking them open questions about simple human realities that they are blind to see, an educator could be far more effective in healing their prejudices and hate of other groups, than by any other known strategy or technique.

Costs as percentage of income:

100

Financing:

The "operating costs" of my reaching-out (going to academic conferences, addressing groups, writing and publishing) I cover of my earned income (I am retired). This became the mission of my life.

Effectiveness:

<ul><li class="entry-label">Project outcomes: <span class="entry-text">So far, in spite of all my efforts, my project/invention has not been put to practice by schools or other institutions. Evidence of its effectiveness comes from my own experience with individuals and groups in workshops. I also scored "hits" of political prediction and never missed when all known political commentators in my country failed. That would be unthinkable by any other means but analyzing and diagnosing political expression of leaders for Dehumanization by means of the Dehumanization Syndrome. The procedure proved to expose their real motivation in conflict, which proves the validity of the Theory on the basis of which it had been developed. Some highly accomplished professional individuals can attest to the effectiveness of Theory of Dehumanization, the best known is Prof. James Waller, author of Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).</span></li><li class="entry-label">Number of clients in past year: <span class="entry-text">Sadly, the impact of this program could only be observed in the future. This is an invention waiting to be validated by entrepreneurs who'd have the means to use it for the benefit of humankind. How many people will benefit if, beginning at the age of identity-forming, Dehumanization was integrated into the basic coordinates of people's identity and social orientation - to what extent society would be freed from prejudices and ethnic discrimination? To what extent would war be regarded as an option for resolving conflicts in a society well informed and used to detect the characteristic Blind Areas and Patterned Beliefs of dehumanized irrationality? - For now I can only claim, that if my mapping of the organic inner structure and function of Dehumanized orientation is true - bringing it to cultural awareness will make a significant difference whereas other methods have not made it.</span></li></ul>

Scaling up strategy:
Stage of the initiative:

<i>Mature</i> stage.

Expansion plan:

For the next 3 years, if I live that long, I plan to persist in reaching out to you and others while trying to learn from mistakes in my attempts at "marketing" this invention. On the international scene I send messages inviting people to share in the publication and practice of the Theory of Dehumanization to members of, among others: ASHOKA, SPSSI ? Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues, Psychologists for Social Responsibility ? Peace Education Committee, Southern Poverty Law Center, Library of Social Science (NY), Radical Psychologists Network, Nonviolent Change Newsletter, World Citizens Network, Israel-Palestine Conflict Research Institute. I am also working on improving my product, testing it all the time against the terrible events of Dehumanization raging in my region that has not seen one day of peace in the last 80 years or so.

Origin of the initiative:

In July 1970, the army ambulance I rode was hit and I was the only one left alive. Traumatized, I became obsessed by the fear that I could not live without coming to REALLY understand WHY, what is the Cause of it. All my knowledge seemed absolutely irrelevant: history, resources, territory, enemy - all seemed arbitrary, each an effect in an endless chain of earlier causes. My first NEW realization was: the missile came at the end of a chain of causation beginning in Biblical times, through endless links of causes-effects-causes, down to the cause that caused the explosion that caused my companions become bloody splinters in my flesh. I recovered from my trauma when the REAL cause flashed in my mind. It was the obvious one: the Syrian gunner who aimed well and pulled the trigger. REAL - because if there is any link in the chain of causation leading to war that we can not just conceptualize but touch in order to break that chain - the living human link is the only one touchable. That experience caused me to adopt the Direct Causation approach that still makes this work unique.