What do all these things have in common?
Whenever we form a perception we should be mindful of the fact that there is a lag between our "perception" and our immediate felt experience.
Perception is a "content" of awareness that follows a process which "frames" how we will perceive something. This is basic knowledge nowadays for
cognitive scientists, psychoanalysts and anyone else who works with mind and consciousness.
Living involves process. How we think, the way we respond, how we feel about certain issues, can be described pithily as:
a) past experiences and ideas which you have already developed towards this subject
b) the interpersonal dynamics regulating awareness that are communicated subsymbolically as affective - tone of voice, facial features, etc -
information, taken in by the right hemisphere, so to speak.
I just finished watching an interview on CNN in which the anchor, Don Lemon, discusses the media angle of the Israel-Hamas conflict. He asks Alan
Dershowitz - streaming on skype - what his views are. Dershowitz basically says that Hamas deliberately exploits western media coverage - and how it
generally covers things - by endangering their own citizens. He then reads a statement made by a Hamas official who said that "we" would need to form
human shields between ourselves and the enemy.
Makes sense. Why would you dispute this, right?
Well, Don Lemon briefly disputed it, and then reformulated his views after Dershowitz "corrected" a misperception he had had. And then the next person
to speak, a woman....This is how she handled herself.
After remarking (somewhat pettily) that Dershowitz was going off on a tangent, this woman, who has written a few books on the subect. simply repeated
all the facts that Dershowitz had collected.
First, I noted that this was a highly demagogic response. She merely repeated, in an addled voice, the surreality of the situation - but for the
purpose of shooting the idea down.
"You say it isnt mother and children. So then its fathers. You're saying fathers are coming together and planning to kill their own wives and
children, and you're saying that a society, a human being, could do this. That is unbelievable".
Now, after hearing this complete bull#, obvious example of demagoguery in action, I thought to myself: does she actually believe what shes saying, or
is she complicit?
I'll ignore the latter concept and explain from a interpersonal-relational psychology perspective what happens when someone accepts a perspective that
leaves out important pieces of information. First, why does this happen? Why can people be so stupid - so stubborn - so immured from the truth, or the
reality, that may be conveyed by another person. What sort of process is in play?
Dissociation is a fairly normal and unavoidable fact of being human. We do it all the time. And just as colours or weight or any other sensory
perception can bias consciousness, so can ones personal "self" history. How you feel, for example, about yourself as believing "this" - this is coded
in your brain and plays a formative part in how you perceive what is being said to you. And the catch is: it's complete unconscious. We are not
conscious of it's occurring until after
we see it happening. And then we stop it. If of course were mindful enough.
Although I never got the opportunity to see how that interview was received by Lemon or conversely by what anyone else has known, what I do know is
that one group of people experienced dissociation in hearing the interview.
Dissociation separates "self states" from conscious awareness. For example, rejecting a piece of information which challenges a favored self state -
one which provides positive affect - would be dissociation in action. The dissociation works by shaping attention to focus on particular facets of the
issue. While "screening out" through a process of defense and deficit incompatible information. Our minds are simply torn away from an objective
perception by a lack of awareness to how the information we take can bias and literally cause dissociation from a very relevant piece of knowledge.
In the above example, the very relevant piece of information being excluded is the fact that suicide bombings exist. Hamas terrorists - and Islamists
in general - kill themselves ALL the time. We know this. This isn't a new piece of information.
Just contemplate for a second what this means. For Hamas to act as they do, they must be....different from us
.. Yes, strange. Their minds must
be conditioned by a different body of ideas. The knowledge they value - the Quran, The Hadiths, and theological writings - are nothing like our own.
In dissociating, whats partly happening is that you take a hyper-literal perception of Hamas. Instead of perceiving them as different, and as having
different views, feelings and perceptions - the woman who gave us that florid incredulous response;: "how could any human being do that?", basically
makes a generalization derived from her society and culture and applies it to them as if the conditions and dynamics between the two were the same.
It's really a simple matter. The suicide bomber kills himself because of a profound religious and spiritual experience. Theologically, his mind is
formed by the words of the Quran and major theological writers. Spiritually, he takes the duty of Jihad to be the ultimate expressionof submission -
Islam - to Allah.
Now, when understood within this obviously relevant perceptual framework, the idea that Hamas literally endangers civilians lives for the sake of
winning a propaganda war - the value which comes from winning support from others - should not be taken as implausible. It is merely applying on a
larger scale what we already know is done by individuals.
In the fervor of the moment, an IDF mission in Gaza can be perceived by some Gazan families as an act of Shahid - for example, that they live in a
building where Hamas builds bombs or gathers. Or, conversely, if they don't respond to the pamphlets that Israel leaves, Hamas may encourage families
to stay put as an expression of support and solidarity.
So, it's not like Hamas speaks clearly about it. Perhaps it's just the process - the fervency of their religious conviction - that impels them to act
as this, and not any particular "concept' which they mean to exploit. On the other hand, I am skepitcal that the more sophisticated Hamas officials
aren't aware of the value that a large civilian death toll can give to their international propaganda war against the Israelis.
To be on the wrong side - and many times there really is a wrong side (such as the current Russia/West situation) and not recognize the falseness of
your views implies an unrealistic idea about how our minds work. The unconscious constantly "informs" and shapes consciousness. And when a relevant
piece of information - contextual constraints - aren't being integrated into your perceptual system, you need to really probe deep within yourself,
and ask yourself why that is. Eventually, if you are honest and do not subscribe to a purely subjectivist point of view (which would be extreme:
perception is constructive, i.e outside reality INTERACTING with inside reality. The two together forming a "construction" of whats 'objectively
there) you will allow yourself to accept it without fearing the feeling of "being wrong".
edit on 23-7-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason