I really appreciated Krista Tippett's interview with Nicholas Kristoff this morning. I am a clinical psychologist in Alexandria, Va. In my interest in social justice, I believe that the main psychological contribution comes in the findings of "bystander research." The Kristoff interview was most relevant to this.
The main points I learned in the interview were:
- Psychologist Paul Slovic, has studied "outrage and compassion fatigue". If I understood Mr. Kristoff correctly, Paul Slovic believes that these can begin after we hear 2 stories of great sadness. People can be turned off by unremitting news of despair, ie. genocide in Darfur.
- One alternative is to present a hopeful story or outcome after the story of suffering.
-The brain responds more to emotion than to information, but will respond to information when it follows and is connected to an emotional story.
- People have an amazing capacity for self-delusion, especially when they feel threatened. We have to push back against this tendency.
- Those who hurt, hurt others.
- Words and phrases, vocabulary matters. Words which mean one thing to one person can mean very different things to another, such as political and religious meanings, very different from what we intended.
- Perpetrators of great cruelty can be complex and show kindness, especially within their own communities.
- Victims can exaggerate and can lie.
- Isaiah Berlin was a philosopher who stressed the complexity of truth and countered the search for one true answer.
- We can become paralyzed by complexity and the possibility that we're wrong.
- Are we going to watch change happening around us or are we going to be a part of it?
thanks again, Pete Bloom
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