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Violence as a Defense Against Intimacy Part Four

Rioting and Civil Rights Movements

The murders of civil rights workers and leaders, most especially those of Medger Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, further illustrate this thesis explored in part three, Dr. Kings fervent policy of non-violence is dangerous to both black and white society because what is emotionally perceived is not non-violence, but non-alienation. And frightened segregationists mobilized their resistance. Covertly within the non-violent movement there also develops a thinly veiled espousal of violence and alienation for exactly the same reasons. During the early years of the civil rights movement, people bonded together regardless of ethnic heritage. Many participants were shocked when some African-American leaders severed bonds with those other ethnic groups as the movement became more successful.

Significantly, this is a phenomenon that only occurs if progress is being made toward the sought after goals. The assassination of Malcolm X was not while he was an ardent supporter of Black Muslim separateness. It was when he began to speak out convincingly and fervently for the brotherhood of man, regardless of color, that he was shotby a black man.

This central theme can be followed through many examples of assassinations regardless of the overt content the issue may represent, be it political, ethnic, or religious. There emerges a commonality as well among the assassins as evidenced by the life histories of Booth, Oswald, Ray, Sirhan, Roeder, and all the others. They are alienated, withdrawn, rigidly dogmatic, frightened, and insecure people threatened by any movement daring to bring about closeness, equality, and meaningful involvement with others who differ from their own beliefs.

No matter how completely an individual may want to move in a direction of health, clinical experience demonstrates a counter-position, termed resistance, which reflects that persons need to cling to the, even miserable, status quo. This is certainly not because a person prefers misery, but rather because he or she perceives the known state to be more secure than the threatening change potentially created by altering long-established emotions that limit growth.

Violent acts are not erratic, random occurrences devoid of essential psychological meaning nor are they simply capricious manifestations of human nature, but rather are vital, even treasured though extreme, representations of defensive societal behavior. These acts become the ultimate expression of resistance to the misperceived threat that equality, intimacy, acceptance of differences, and authentic human involvement present.

The feared expectation that an intimate encounter with another will result in self-harm is a mythology society perpetuates through its institutions which then act to support alienation. An illustration is the U. S. Supreme Court supporting the internment in concentration camps of loyal Americans of Japanese heritage during World War II. It is especially manifested in times, not of war per se, but when there are increased economic fears, insecurities, and uncertainty. The other serves to represent danger and is then attacked, initially by words, then by dangerous acts influenced by those words. Those promoting violence serve as the ultimate minions of alienation.

When violence is viewed as a defense against intimacy, humankinds fascination with and striving for mastery of ever greater destructive potential becomes understandable. Wars, terrorism, riots, and the assassinations of leaders who threaten to take us in the direction of real involvement with one another, are essential to the maintenance of protective alienation no matter how consciously deplored.

By these criteria, manifestations of resistance to meaningful change occur only in a society struggling to be healthy. It is a sick society, stagnant in its status quo that does not experience these growth pains. Continued growth depends not upon violent acts being met in kind, but rather stripping away the sheep clothing of violence to expose the wolf of alienation that devours from within.

About Author Sheldon Kardener :

Sheldon H. Kardener, MD, has written, lectured and taught extensively while practicing psychodynamic psychotherapy for over 40 years. Always on the cutting-edge, he is often called father of Focused Dynamic Therapy. His book, Breaking Free: How Chains From Childhood Keep Us From What We Want, is a breakthrough book, the biggest breakthrough in psychotherapy since the 60s. Learn more at <a href="" target="_blank"></a> or call 310.399.8727

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Article Added on Monday, August 9, 2010
Other Articles by Sheldon Kardener

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History is replete with evidence that aggression, leading to acts of violence and assassinations, has always been part of the human experience. As weaponry becomes ever more destructive to even larger populations than possible in the past, there is an urgency to better understand and modify our propensity toward violence. Early Freudian concepts focused on two human drives: aggression and sexuality. A sophisticated psychology of sexuality was developed but one for aggression was left wanting....

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