Our Dark Side - Uggghhh

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EP21 – Our Dark Side…uggghhh

Hello and Welcome to the Way of the Emotional Warrior Podcast. My name is Kai Ehnes and today we will be answering the question of…I thought I was a really good Person, why did I do that horrible deed?

Have you ever thought the following while you were at your job: Its just a post-it note pack, they will never miss it. Or hey I could use a stapler at home, they charge enough money its ok. How about speeding on roads where you know the police don’t patrol. These types of minor acts are still crimes…yes you are stealing from your employer. One thing is for certain, if they shorted your paycheck by even a single dollar you would be all over payroll to fix it. Why the ambiguity in morality?

Quite often when we feel like we are being taken advantage of or we simply feel under, there is a small voice that that tells us we can even the playing field by things like taking a longer lunch, looking up stuff that’s for personal use on company time, or simply slowing down our productivity. I mean seriously, who doesn’t enjoy sticking it to the man!

For our purposes, I would like to investigate what type of people are more prone to do these acts or worse. Numerous researchers in the field of psychology have studied the idea of why seemingly good citizens can do atrocious acts. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the book, When Bad things happened to good people. Various stories in the bible, like the story of Job, to Viktor Frankl and his book Man’s search for meaning. These are just some of the examples of why seemingly normal and good people have to endure tragedy and suffering. Would these people be justified if they acted out atrocious acts on others, animals or the planet? If you look at their stories, they transformed their pain and suffering into successful and helpful lessons and theories.

Kushner wrote the book, on his take on God’s role in life and the tragedy of his son’s illness, to create a platform for how to deal with tragedy and loss. How many people have learned from the story of Job…countless and Viktor Frankl, I remember when I read his book in college. The fact that he physically survived the concentration camps is absolutely remarkable but then to create a new discipline in psychology called logotherapy whereby through a search for meaning and purpose in life people can develop ways to deal with tragedy and hardship, well I believe that qualifies him and the others as Emotional Warriors.

So what does this have to do with our dark side. The classic experiment was carried out by Stanley Milgram in 1963 whereby he studied Obedience to authority. It aimed to test the level of naive subjects’ obedience to authority. The subjects were told that the experiment tested the potency of punishment in improving learning capabilities, and were asked to administer electrical shocks to a “learner” (an accomplice of the experimenter). The subject did not know the shocks were false; measures were taken to convince the subject that the shocks were real. The “learner” was given some pairs of words. Then he was told one word from one of the pairs, and four more words. The “learner” had to choose the word that came in a pair with the first word, and press a respective button, which turned on a respective light that the participant could see. The subject did not see or hear the learner. If the answer was wrong, the subject was to apply an electric shock to the “learner” and continue.

Each time the subject had to increase the voltage of the shock by 15 V. The voltage of electric shocks ranged from 15 V to 450 V, and there were 30 switches. When the participant paused or stopped, four standardized phrases were used to tell them to go on. If, after being told all the phrases, the subject refused to administer more shocks, they were considered as one who defied the experiment. The others, who carried on and administered the highest shock (450 V), were considered obedient.

Importantly, when the subject applied the 300 V shock (the last one in the “Intense Shock” subsection), the “learner” kicked the wall so that the subject could hear it, and stopped giving answers. The “learner” once again kicked the wall at 315 V and then stopped giving any feedback at all. The subject was asked to wait for 5-10 seconds for the answer, and when none was received, to proceed applying shocks.

The subjects were agitated; they perspired, groaned, bit their lips, dug fingernails into their flesh, spoke to themselves, nervously laughed, etc.; 3 subjects experienced uncontrollable seizures of laughter. However, out of 40 subjects, 26 carried out the experiment to the end and administered the 450 V shock. None stopped at a level below 300 V Out of 40 subjects, only 14 defied the experiment, and at very high levels of voltage. 65% of the participants were willing to execute someone else, even when they heard cries for help.

This was taken further by a documentary called the Game of Death(Jeu De La Mort). A French Game show 'La Zone Xtrême' studyA few years ago, 80 Parisians were given the chance to take part in the pilot of a new gameshow, called La Zone Xtrême. The producer greeted each participant at the studio and told them that they would appear in pairs – one as a “questioner”, and one as the “contestant”.

It was only once the participants arrived on stage, and the host explained the rules, that things got decidedly dark. The questioner was told to punish the contestant for any wrong answers with a sharp electric shock. They would have to increase the intensity each time, up to a total of 460 volts – more than twice the voltage of a European power outlet. If the pair made it through 27 rounds, they would win the show. The contestant was then taken into a chamber and strapped into a chair, while the questioner sat center stage, and the game commenced.

Since it was simply a pilot show, the participants were told there was no monetary prize for winning the game – yet the vast majority of the questioners continued to administer the shocks, even after they could hear the screams of pain emanating from the chamber.

participants who scored highest on conscientiousness were willing to administer the greatest electric shocks to their partners

So, here it is…those with the highest level of conscientiousness were willing to administer the greatest electric shocks. How many? 81% of participants took it all the way to 460 volts.

So who are these people that are seemingly normal who can do these things? Well according to behavioral scientist Laurent Begue, its people with high self control. These are people who do better in school. Perform better at work and even adopt healthier lifestyles. These are not really aggressive people.

Israeli researcher Liad Uziel found that people who have high self control tend to be cooperative and often are quite generous. He found that their generosity was often tied to whether or not they thought they could be judged for their generosity. If they could remain anonymous they were much more likely to give less and pursue self interest.

So it seems that those so called nice people may actually have a streak of cooperation that would permit them to act out their dark side much more than people who are bit less disciplined.

Can this help us on our quest of being an Emotional Warrior? Of course. There is as always balance, the middle ground. Our dark side can assist us when we have to face adversity, pain and suffering. It is the basis of resilience. However this can not be unbridled if we suppress too much simply to gain more life points or levels in the game of life, then we can easily be manipulated and travel down the slippery slope where we do not recognizer that we have become exactly that which we despise.

Emotional Warriors can use their dark side for the purpose of raising their own vibration and moving towards growth and fulfilment. You have to know your moral boundaries and if those get approached warning sounds should begin to ring and of course that should start you on your path to action. Manipulators know how to work these types of people to do their bidding. Be strong and know truth. Then you can act and live a good life and master your emotions.

Peace

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