Can emotions truly be a catalyst for violence?
While some use emotions as excuses for violence, let us never dismiss that violence does occur as a result of emotional reactions.
In the first three parts of this blog, we looked at understanding the different perspectives pertaining to violence prevention, and although there may be a divide in the approaches taken, we must include both Euphoric and Reality-based approaches in order to reduce the number of victims to violence. Although this blog can act as a stand-alone, I do recommend reading or listening to the 3 previous parts.
Throughout these blogs, my intention has and continues to help others better understand the realities of violence. As previously indicated, if people simply stopped the aggression, then violence could be eliminated, but life isn’t that clear cut. We can all hope that the euphoric approach to preventing violence will happen one day, but until then, it is important that we understand the reality of violence versus euphoria.
I state yet again, “I am not taking away responsibility from those that commit violence or providing anyone with excuses.” – I am simply facing reality!
So let us take a look at some of the most common emotional stressors. Mental illness is without question a huge emotional stressor that can lead to violence. Some of the most commonly known include ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). Although this is typically associated with children toward adults, violent outbursts can be extreme. ADD or ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). This results in a lack of focusing on tasks and acting without thinking. Then there is BPD (Bipolar Disorder). This is also known as manic depression that includes abnormally elevated moods. We also have NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). This is a display of exaggerated feelings toward self-importance, the excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy toward others. IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder describes a lack of control resulting in sudden unwarranted hostility. Those with IED are prone to explosive rage outburst at what many may perceive as minor incidents. There are certainly more, but hopefully, you get the idea that this is a very real concern when it comes to violence. Mental illness can also at times, be classified as unintentional violence due to the functionality of the brain as a result of disorders such as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and more. We cannot ignore the potential for violence in moments of personal crisis. This doesn’t mean that violence is a given and that those with these disorders have not learned how to manage their impulses, it simply indicates that there is a real potential for violence.
We cannot wish these disorders away, and they should never be dismissed or ignored as real reasons for violence. It is extremely difficult to educate many suffering from extreme cases of mental illness about resolving their violent tendencies without the use of violence. When we are calm, all is good. When stressors are engaged, there is a risk. No excuses, just simple reality in moments of personal crisis.
What about emotional conditions such as grief or other emotional pain? Grief plays a huge part in temporarily changing our brain functions. It shortens our self-regulation and our emotions are heightened. Sure, some can handle grief better than others and of course, we manage grief in our own way and in our own time, but let us not ignore the potential for violence. This could be a one-off release, but it still has the potential to do a lot of harm. Simply learning how to protect our self in this time of crisis prevents injury to you and also places you in a position to hopefully de-escalate and help the other person in that time of need.
And the list goes on. So what about neglect and abuse? Can you say that these are not genuine concerns for potential violence? You cannot, simply because they are. Any criminal psychologist will educate you on the reality of long-term neglect and or abuse, especially from childhood. Again, I am not making excuses for anyone, but looking to help people understand the realities of violence and that if we like it or not there is a potential for violence in almost everybody’s life.
The last one I’m going to cover here is a little less intense but still acts as stressors to violence. Think of unmet needs such as thirst, hunger or even lack of sleep and tell me that you have never felt in lesser control of your emotions. That’s right, under the right conditions even simple things such as dehydration or an empty stomach can cause someone to have a lack of clarity or peace of mind. This sudden lash-out may not be directed at any particular individual, but it happens and therefore similar to grief, there is the potential for harm. Intentional or not, doesn’t it make more sense to first protect yourself, then help, than be harmed?
You see; learning self-protection is simply that, the protection of self. It isn’t about learning how to kick the crap out of another human being or training in the martial arts. It means to gain practical knowledge and skills to better protect your self from harm. In the case of emotional stressors, for example, our focus should be on watching, listening, understanding and de-escalating whenever possible. Even when the physical defence of self is required, it still doesn’t mean defence through aggression, or “violence to prevent violence” as it was once described to me. It should always be the defence for the sake of personal safety, them and us! When dealing with emotional stressors, there are in many cases opportunities to de-escalate, but we need to get to that point safely. From positive body language to effective verbal de-escalation and awareness to the physical defence of self, learning to protect your self from harm is proactive and positive. Learning to manage violence is not promoting violence, but learning to face the realities of life by keeping one’s self, safe.
Hopefully, you read or listened to the first three parts, and now this. What are your thoughts so far?
Please remember to keep your interaction positive in thought and in response. The purpose of this continuing blog is to bring us together in understanding the roles we all play and the importance of facing reality when it comes to violence.
In part five and beyond we shall continue to look at Contributing Factors toward violence by focusing next of the Environmental Stressors.
Thank you for following and sharing this blog. Until next time!