Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

3. Violence – a different perspective

gang-youths-fighting

Most of the literature on violence is about everything except violence – the “Long, Slow Story” – and all about the factors surrounding violence. Otherwise it is about fatuous advice of the kind “don’t shout help, shout fire” – gimmicky tricks that, IMHO, have an enormous propensity for getting you into a lot of trouble.

So what do we do? Make it up? No – we take a fresh look, ask new questions and look sideways. For much of my career just one question has troubled me – “when faced with imminent violence, what can we do?” You look at a man who is shouting at their partner. He sees you looking at him, smashes the bottle and bears down on you with it. You want to change the course of events, immediately.

So where should we look? I suggest a new direction and here I will simply suggest some readings that you might find illuminating. I will start with the more populist stuff and then start narrowing it down – but each part will eventually prove to be an essential part of the jigsaw.

I start with “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell (2006). It will only set you back about £7.00 and is an intriguing look at how we make remarkably effective (and sometiems catastrophic) snap judgments. It introduces the concept of “thin-slicing” and challenges the notion that thinking things through is always effective or appropriate. Like all of Gladwell’s books it’s a fascinating read.

Second up is “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman (2012) and again only costing about £7.00. Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner and in a very entertaining way summarises a life-time of research covering the differences between thoughtful and rapid cognition.

Next up is “The Anatomy of Violence: the biological roots of crime” by Adrian Raine (2014) – a bit more expensive at around £9.00. Another very interesting read. I am not a biologist but I do want to make sure that whatever I say makes sense not only psychologically but also with the way our bodies function.

If you are fascinated about the way the brain works there are two other fascinating books. The first is by Debra Nierhoff (1999) “The Biology of Violence:  The Brain, Behavior, Environment and Violence” – brilliant stuff beautifully told. I’ve just seen that you can get it from a well-known online book retailer for as little as £2.00! Seriously buy it instead of that extra latte.

The other is perhaps more seminal, less about violence but more about how we do things fast (like react to a punch) and is by Joseph LeDoux (1999) “The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life.” Here Joseph explains the neuro-science underpinning rapid reactions.

Next will drill down a bit into the psychological processes engaged during critical incidents. So here we should take a close look at a literature review by Andrew Moskowitz (2002) on Violence and Dissociation and here is the link

(http://forensicpsychiatry.stanford.edu/PAU/dissociation%20and%20violence.pdf)

Finally I should draw your attention to a great paper that has largely been overlooked, but is very relevant to us. It is by Artle Dyregov (2000) and called “Mental mobilization processes in critical incident stress situations” and the link is:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11232176

Of course you could just buy the book “Facing danger in the helping professions” or attend one of my courses!

In my next posting I will try to explain the “Instant Aggression Model” providing you with map through moments of terror!

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