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The Stages Loss

Fatima Hafiz Muid

 

 

 

The Stages Loss 

EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSE 

 

DENIAL:    “This can’t be happening to me.”

                    “My parents aren’t going to get a divorce.” 

“He will still call me.” 

“No, we’re not moving. I don’t want to.” 

* The individual chooses not to accept object reality and then builds a system that is more in keeping with the desired rather than the real world. In order to live with reality, a person must block any stimuli that might threaten to disturb his/her fantasies. 

EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES:   (denial stage)

 – Does not want to discuss the loss. Does not want to think about the loss.

 – Keeps busy – hyperactivity – hyper-maturity – an achiever.

 – Does not feel sad or confused on the surface.

 – Refuses to have fun – refuses to become involved with others.

 – Withdraws from friends – shame–embarrassment (divorce, alcoholism, etc.).

 – Depresses intellectual functioning.

 – Makes less eye contact.

 – Idealizes lost object.

 – Starts arguments with peers and teachers.

 – Feels fear – “What is going to happen to me?”

 –  Feels relief – no more fighting – it’s over – they’ll work it out.

 Coping With Grief and Loss in the School © 2009 Northwest Area Education Agency

 

ANGER:   “This isn’t fair.”

                             "I hate my parents.”

                             “I don’t even want to see him/her again.”

                             “He/she is the worst teacher in the world.”

                             “Leave me along.”

 * During the anger state, he/she frequently attempts to strike out at those who are involved in the situation. Anger is commonly recognized as an emotional reaction that often results when one is interfered with, injured, or threatened. Activities of overt or concealed attack usually accompany this emotion.

 EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES:   (anger stage)

 – Blames others unreasonably for own difficulties.

 – Becomes sullen and withdrawn.

 – Feels resentment to others – especially towards people who have left him/her.

 – Projects emotions for lost person/object on to the teacher.

 – Displays irritability – very little patience – can’t sleep – wets the bed.

 – Experiences fear – I need to be loved – No one loves me.

 – Lowers self-concept.

 Important: ANGER is a way of calling out for help – yet behavior is pushing people away.

 BARGAINING:

“If I do the best I can at this activity, maybe this loss won’t be really true or irreversible.”

                                                                                                                                                                          “I know what I will do to get my way.”

 * When denial and anger have not been productive in achieving desired results, individuals may enter into the bargaining state.

Coping With Grief and Loss in the School © 2009 Northwest Area Education Agency

EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES: (bargaining state)

 – Thinking and behaving as if. . . .”

     If I act the worst way I can, it will take two to handle me ––– that will get them back together.

– Being sick – can move from faking to real sickness.

 – Acting as the absent adult.

 – Using guilt– How could you do this to me?

                              You are not a fair person.

                              You always pick on me.

                               I do the best I can, and it is still not good enough.

– Doing “A” work.

– Causing trouble in school.

 – Crying – tantrums.

 – Overeating – not talking.

 – Talking – not talking.

 – Doing anything to get attention.

 

DEPRESSION:     “No one loves me!”

                                      “They don’t care about me!”

                               “I’m just dumb and stupid.”

                               “Why try?”

 * Depression may occur when the individual discovers that he/she cannot control or even have a measurable impact on the loss situation that affects his or her life. A type of mourning about the loss sets in. The person begins the grieving process. There are two basic alternatives to open expresses genuine grief: 

1) Internalized – may continue indefinitely; person becomes miserable, blames or feels sorry for self; does not express sadness.

 2) Externalized – strikes out at others (less powerful); verbal lashing out, lying, cheating, stealing.

 EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES:   (depression stage)

 – Feels isolated – sad, empty.

 – Feels worthless – self-concept is very low.

 – Regresses to immature behaviors.

 – Fears of loving/being loved.

 – Cries frequently.

 Coping With Grief and Loss in the School © 2009 Northwest Area Education Agency

– Fears abandonment.

– Becomes passive, listless, silent, withdrawn.

– Regrets past behaviors.

– Feels guilt over lost opportunities.

ACCEPTANCE:

“I don’t like it, but this is the way it is.”

                  “What can I do to make the best of it?”

               “It was a rough thing to happen, but I really learned a lot about myself.”

 *Acceptance comes when the individual learns that there is an objective reality that exists. Although he/she doesn’t like that reality, it is still a reality. The person does not forget the lost person or relationship or hurt but is no longer angry, depressed or preoccupied with it.

 EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSES:         (acceptance stage)

 – Realizes can’t blame self for all unpleasant situations.

 – Realizes the cause or the outcome of these situations may not be in his/her control.

– Tries copying behaviors.

– Improves self-concept.

– Feels a sense of relief.

– Accepts self-responsibility – I am responsible for my behaviors and feelings.

– Begins to trust others again.

– Develops new identity.

From Losing, Learning, Living by Barbara A. Bebensee and Jane R. Pequette.

 Coping With Grief and Loss in the School © 2009 Northwest Area Education Agency

Touching our Emotions

Fatima Hafiz Muid

SURPRISE

Will extract and revise language to reflect a series of 5 blogs and link to the article

Posted to: Web Psychology

Surprise is totally underrated in today’s e-commerce world. In much of my research, investigation and trolling of my industry’s newsletters, pundits, blog articles and expert advice, I have seldom seen anyone talk about the psychology of surprise.

It’s rather surprising, really.

I wrote this article to help fill that void, and to introduce a fascinating component of online sales and customer service that can turn a mediocre company into an amazing force.

First, I’m going to explain how surprise works. It’s a psychological phenomenon that you can harness for good. Second, I’m going to explain how surprise connects so integrally to the online experience today.

Finally, I’m going to give you a smorgasbord of ideas to put surprise into your business, including a variety of offline tips for surprise and delight marketing.

 

https://www.jeremysaid.com/blog/psychology-of-surprise/

(Google image)

How The Psychology of Surprise Works

Surprise is an individual’s psychological and emotional response to experience that does not align with that individual’s paradigm and expectations.

Jargony mumbo.

Basically, we get surprised when something happens that we don’t expect.

I think that understanding the functionality of surprise is important for realizing its importance in consumer behavior, so let me explain it in a little more depth.

Give a man a how-to list and they’ll re-create a product; give them understanding of how it works, and they will build a successful campaign.

Why Surprise Happens

Every one of us has a matrix through which we view life. We hold rules, whether consciously or not, as to how life should work.

Sometimes, though, life doesn’t work according to these rules. When we come face-to-face with such a phenomenon, our response is to be surprised.

According to the Expectancy Violation Theory (EVT) of surprise, “violation” happens when an individual’s person’s normative schema are breached, infringed, or transgressed. The response to such violations is surprise, and a potpourri of other possible emotional responses — arousal, distraction, pleasure, etc.

Surprise has a range of possible durations, intensities, and responses.

There are three main categories of things that influences a person’s response to surprise.

  • Interactant variables — issues like race, sex, socioeconomic status, age and appearance.
  •  Environmental variables — time, surroundings, proxemics, setting, etc.
  • Social norm variables — biological influences, behavioral patterns, social norms, cultural mores.

Your brain loves surprises.

Psychologically, surprise appeals to us. The human brain is wired in such a way that it turns its attention to things that are new or changing. That’s why you incessantly check your email. Your brain likes the dopamine drip that takes place every time you check for and receive a new message.

I want more. It doesn’t matter that you hate your email and what it requires of you. You’re still addicted to checking it. It’s not necessarily that you’re surprised, but you like the sensation of newness that email provides. Surprise works in much the same way. We are wired to notice things that are new or different. Many jokes work to satisfy our love for surprise. “Why did the chicken cross the road,” is the familiar start to a joke that ends with a surprising twist. We like that. We might even laugh. Jokes with a storyline do the same thing. “Three guys walked into a bar …” and we are surprised and humored by the different results we hear every time. Sure, sure, humans like routine — the same vacation spots, the same car brands, the same venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, Peppermint White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha with light whip, upside-down, 1 pump of peppermint, 1 and 3/8 pumps vanilla, heavy whip-cream, 3 ice cubes, 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg sprinkled on top, with green sprinkles, light cinnamon dusted on, stirred, with no lid, double cupped, and a straw. By the way, if you ordered that at Starbucks — in one breath — at least you’d be giving the barista a little surprise. But routine does not mean that we each have a psychological penchant for surprise. Surprise is connected to the brain’s pleasure center, meaning that we get a kick out of being surprised. To put it as perfectly as a PsychologyToday article on the subject:  “We are designed to be delighted by novelty.”

I want more.

It doesn’t matter that you hate your email and what it requires of you. You’re still addicted to checking it. It’s not necessarily that you’re surprised, but you like the sensation of newness that email provides.

Surprise works in much the same way.

We are wired to notice things that are new or different.

Many jokes work to satisfy our love for surprise. “Why did the chicken cross the road,” is the familiar start to a joke that ends with a surprising twist. We like that. We might even laugh.

Jokes with a storyline do the same thing. “Three guys walked into a bar …” and we are surprised and humored by the different results we hear every time.

Sure, sure, humans like routine — the same vacation spots, the same car brands, the same venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, no foam, extra hot, Peppermint White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha with light whip, upside-down, 1 pump of peppermint, 1 and 3/8 pumps vanilla, heavy whip-cream, 3 ice cubes, 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg sprinkled on top, with green sprinkles, light cinnamon dusted on, stirred, with no lid, double cupped, and a straw.

By the way, if you ordered that at Starbucks — in one breath — at least you’d be giving the barista a little surprise.

But routine does not mean that we each have a psychological penchant for surprise. Surprise is connected to the brain’s pleasure center, meaning that we get a kick out of being surprised.

To put it as perfectly as a PsychologyToday article on the subject:  “We are designed to be delighted by novelty.”

I really wasn’t expecting that. (Image source Laurence Griffiths / Getty) Your brain hates boredom. Even though you like routine, you don’t like boredom. Boredom is the opposite of surprise. When life becomes a predictable, intractable experience of ennui, your brain gets sick of it.  

I really wasn’t expecting that. (Image source Laurence Griffiths / Getty)

Your brain hates boredom.

Even though you like routine, you don’t like boredom. Boredom is the opposite of surprise. When life becomes a predictable, intractable experience of ennui, your brain gets sick of it.

 

Now what?

Boredom happens with the brain lacks stimulation. It’s craving that dopamine — the dash of unexpected, the dosage of challenge, the difference of setting, the need for curiosity, and the interruption of patterns.

What Surprise Does

Surprise can overcome reluctance, and make people want to buy.

Because surprise creates an emotional fluctuation in a person’s experience, they become more likely to do (or not to do) certain things.

Emotional uprisings create cognitive imbalance.

When some people get angry, for example, they do things that they know they shouldn’t do. When others become grief-stricken, they act in ways that defy common sense.

And when people get surprised, they respond in a way that may differ from how they would normally respond, based on life paradigms and constructs.

In other words, if you can effectively and positively surprise someone, you can influence them. How you influence them depends on how you surprise them. 

Bringing surprise to sales. More and more retailers are realizing the power the psychology of surprise has on consumers across all industries.

Bringing surprise to sales.

More and more retailers are realizing the power the psychology of surprise has on consumers across all industries.

It’s always about our individual expectations.

The Epic Effects of a Shocking Experience

To sum up, here’s what surprise does to your users:

It makes customers happy.

Customers who are pleasantly surprised, are a powerful force for a successful business. Pleasing customers is a chief goal of your business. When you achieve positive surprise, you have given your customers the very thing that your business is supposed to give them — satisfaction.

(Image source) Now I want it. It makes skeptics curious. Surprise pleases people. And people like to be pleased. A person who hasn’t experienced the surprises of your business, but has heard of them is more likely to become a customer. The only people who can have an experience with your company are those who have purchased. Everyone else is skeptical. But if you have delivered surprising results to other customers, the skepticism of non-customers morphs into a powerful sense of curiosity.

(Image source)

Now I want it.

It makes skeptics curious.

Surprise pleases people. And people like to be pleased. A person who hasn’t experienced the surprises of your business, but has heard of them is more likely to become a customer.

The only people who can have an experience with your company are those who have purchased. Everyone else is skeptical. But if you have delivered surprising results to other customers, the skepticism of non-customers morphs into a powerful sense of curiosity.

I just might want to try that.

And you know what curiosity can do.

It makes leads and customers remember you.

One of the great advantages to surprise is that it creates a memorable experience. In the mess of advertisers vying for a customer’s attention, it’s the surprising ones that will win.

People don’t easily forget their surprising experiences. You can make your company stick in people’s minds if you surprise them.

It makes reluctant ready.

The possibility of surprise can tip people over the edge into a purchase. The expectancy of surprise is a powerful catalyst for motion.

If you love hiking or climbing, you may have had the experience of encountering a hill or a bend in the trail. You are expecting a surprise when you crest the hill or round the bend. Although you are reluctant due to fatigue, you are nonetheless ready to go farther to experience the surprise.

Business and commerce leads can respond in much the same way. The potential of surprise can counter their reluctance, and push them to a conversion. As long as you are known to be a business that surprises people, others will come.

(Image from Erik Hajer)

Ok, I can do this.

It turns buyers into evangelists.

Surprise has a ripple effect that goes far beyond the single person being surprised. That’s one of the reasons why surprise is so powerful. Surprised people like to share their surprises with others. Others like to hear about those surprises, and, in turn, share them with others.

If you’ve never actually bought a pair of shoes or clothing from Zappos, then perhaps you know someone else who did. Perhaps they were pleasantly surprised by the rapid shipping times and friendly customer service.

The surprise value that Zappos is so famous for has an effect that has spread way beyond its pool of buyers. Your customers become evangelists.

Keep in mind, though, that surprise can be negative, too. If you provide an unpleasant surprise, it provides all those benefits, in reverse. It makes customers angry, it makes skeptics negatively biased, it keeps reluctant away, and it turns buyers into boycotters.

If you keep the focus on positive surprise, you’ll win. Let it slip, and you’ll have a huge problem on your hands.

How to Surprise Your Customers

I’m going to share some specific tips for surprising your customers in a little bit, but I want to first help you prepare for the project of surprise.

Set the stage.

To prepare for surprise, you must avoid any and all negativity. First impressions are crucial; so don’t botch it up before you have a chance to pleasantly surprise.

Under-promise.

Your promises as a company set the customer’s expectation. If you make promises, those promises set the baseline expectation for the customer.

Most of us want to over-promise. It’s far easier to say that we can do something rather than to actually do that thing. Experience should tell us, however, that it’s safer to under-promise.

The real power is in the delivery. That’s where the surprise happens. Remember in the beginning of this article, when I sketched out the psychology of surprise? Surprise is a response to something unexpected.

If you make a promise, commitment or statement, and then meet it, you haven’t done anything remarkable. If you make a promise, commitment, or statement, however, that is less than what you know you can deliver, and then you deliver beyond that, then you can surprise your customer.

Over-deliver.

The logical next step of under-promising, as I’ve just explained, is over-delivering.

This is where true surprise happens. When we give a service that disrupts an individual’s set of expectations, we’ve been able to create surprise.

Making consumer behavior part of your sales strategy could improve conversions and retention.

Online Surprise I’ve been discussing surprise in largely theoretical terms. I want to narrow in on the specifics of surprise in an online or e-commerce context. Many of the specifics that I outline below will have online applications. However, I’d like to address some of the specifics of a surprisingly good online presence. Standout design. Awesome design generates a surprise response. If you come across a website with a design that is cooler than most, you’ll be pleasantly surprise.  

Online Surprise

I’ve been discussing surprise in largely theoretical terms. I want to narrow in on the specifics of surprise in an online or e-commerce context. Many of the specifics that I outline below will have online applications. However, I’d like to address some of the specifics of a surprisingly good online presence.

Standout design.

Awesome design generates a surprise response. If you come across a website with a design that is cooler than most, you’ll be pleasantly surprise.

 

Great Content As common as “content” is online today, there are few places to go for actually really good content. If you produce outstanding content, you can effectively unleash surprise, and create a positive experience.

Great Content

As common as “content” is online today, there are few places to go for actually really good content. If you produce outstanding content, you can effectively unleash surprise, and create a positive experience.

Free Resources Even though there are tons of free resources, there is always appeal for products with a price tag of zero. Go ahead and be free with some things.

Free Resources

Even though there are tons of free resources, there is always appeal for products with a price tag of zero. Go ahead and be free with some things.

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Personal Interaction

The downside of online interaction is, well, that it’s online. It’s inherently impersonal. If you can overcome the impersonality of online experiences, then you can effectively create a more positive experience for your users. You can do this by personally reaching out — maybe even offline — to thank them for their business and to establish a relationship.

What are the areas in which you can surprise your customers?

Here are some ideas to get you started in the business of surprise:

·         Offer surprising levels of service instead of jaw-dropping prices. You might not be able to beat your competitor’s price. It’s a numbers thing. But maybe you can outdo their service level. Give it a try.

·         Overcome a common barrier. If there’s a common challenge that people face, you can surprise them by completely destroying it. For example, consider the company that provides mortgage loans to self-employed entrepreneurs. Let’s say a successful self-employed entrepreneur wants to buy a house. But he doesn’t have two years of tax returns with W-2 income to qualify him. He’s got plenty of money coming in, but he’s also writing it off on his taxes. Thus, he’s not qualifying for a loan. But if there is a company that says, “We will crush those obstacles and give you a loan,” then the entrepreneur will be surprised, and grateful. Surprise is service.

·         Be incredibly available. People don’t care what time it is, they just want to get in touch when they want to get in touch. “Normal business hours” — when your online chat is disabled or your hotline isn’t open — just don’t work for some people. If, however, you have live service 24-7, you’ll deliver surprise.

·         Create a perk for every group. Many stores have loyalty rewards. They give little incremental upsides for those who spend more, buy more, and come more. From hotels to coffee shops, this is a strategic model for retaining customers. But go beyond rewarding the loyal customers, and reward those who are new, or just in between. Maybe you can give first-time customers a reward. Will they turn into loyal customers? Maybe. What about second-time customers? Third? Might the third time be the charm? Surprising rewards will generate repeat customers.

·         Call them by name. After walking into my local branch bank a few times, I was surprised when I drove up to the drive-through and was greeted by name. The teller recognized me, knew me, and didn’t just wait to read my name on my deposit slip. I was surprised and pleased. If you can learn names, you can gain friends.

·         Do the overnight shipping thing. People love to get their orders fast. Can you afford overnight shipping instead of the typical can’t-believe-I-have-to-wait-for-four-to-six-weeks delivery time?

  • Be funny. People are pleasantly surprised by humor in unexpected places. Like this flight attendant who surprised flyers with a great safety speech:

·         Nail it with the details. Greg Ciotti of Help Scout described how he was surprised when a company sent him beef jerky. It was the classic surprise freebie, but with a twist. In some social media thread, he had extolled his love for Big John’s Teriyaki Beef Jerky. Some detail-oriented awesome person at www.UserTesting.com, dug it up and doled it out. Details for the win.

·         Send a personal thank you note. Handwritten thank you notes haven’t gone out of style. And they are a surprise winner for many businesses. Handwritten thank you notes work, regardless of your industry.

·         Give them an unannounced discount. Don’t you love the surprise that happens when you bring your bundle of merchandise to the checkout, and watch unexpected discounts start rolling off? Make this part of your sales strategy. Automatically apply discounts. You’ll have surprised customers.

·         Celebrate holidays. I’ve known companies that sent their clients a massive snack platter around Christmas or New Year’s. They didn’t announce it. They just did it. The clients loved it! Besides the surprise spread on social media, their happy surprise entrenched their loyalty.

·         Send them a small gift. Add an extra month’s subscription, send them a Starbucks card, give them a pen, do whatever. Just give them something for free.

  • Follow them on social media. People love to feel validated by being followed on social media. Make an effort to give some surprise social love to your customers.

 

Conclusion Surprising your customers requires intentionality, effort and thoughtfulness. But it’s possible. And when you succeed, it’s amazing! Get involved in the surprising psychology of surprise for marketing, and I think you’ll surprise yourself with surprising others.

Conclusion

Surprising your customers requires intentionality, effort and thoughtfulness. But it’s possible. And when you succeed, it’s amazing!

Get involved in the surprising psychology of surprise for marketing, and I think you’ll surprise yourself with surprising others.

psy18.png

Touching our Emotions

Fatima Hafiz Muid

DISGUST

Will extract and revise language to reflect a series of 5 blogs and link to the article

Disgust is an adaptive system whereby individual responses vary according to an individual's personality and learning experience, as well as by local cultural effects such as norms about manners and the symbolism of pollution and purity [7].

First, as one of our principal defenses against infection, disgust can be harnessed to efforts at improving health. It can be employed in programmers to prevent diarrheal diseases, pandemic flu and to aid smoking cessation, for example. Second, disgust has important implications for psychological welfare. It plays a role in obsessive compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders (OCD and PTSD) and it is part of the emotional cost of caring for the sick, elderly and infirm. Stigmatization and self-directed disgust cause suffering in conditions such as obesity and fistula. Thirdly, disgust is a moral emotion that influences social behaviors. Its role in religion, justice, technological progress, caste, class, xenophobia and the politics of exclusion needs to be better understood if we are to create healthier and more humane societies.

4. THE SOCIAL USES AND ABUSES OF DISGUST

While disgust is the primary means by which individual humans detect and avoid infectious pathogens, the problem is not just an individual one. Parasites tend to specialize in exploiting the particular biochemical and morphological features of their hosts, making parasite transmission most likely between biologically similar organisms. Social animals thus face a conundrum; sociality brings fitness benefits, but at the same time it carries an elevated risk of infectious disease. For an ultrasocial species, such as humans, the problem is more acute, as parasites adapt to take advantage of sustained social proximity and interaction. Individuals have to protect themselves and their kin from parasites that have evolved to take every transmission opportunity. Appropriate disease-avoidance strategies thus include preferring to mix with insiders (ethnocentrism), avoiding outsiders (xenophobia), excluding any individuals that show signs of infection (shunning) or punishing those that behave in ways that may threaten others with disease, by displaying poor hygiene, for example. So as not to be punished or excluded, individuals self-police their own hygiene and social contact behavior, sometimes turning disgust on themselves (shame). Group norms of hygiene behavior (manners) may emerge and groups may agree to cooperate on activities that protect the group (public health). Because disgust is ‘strong magic’ that recognizes an ability to contaminate by association, it is used to marginalize outsiders to groups (stigmatization) and is employed in ritual and religion to demarcate what is pure and what is polluted. There is some evidence that disgust plays a role in morality, as much anti-social behavior, as a form of social parasitism, is met with disgust. The workings of disgust as an adaptive system for disease avoidance in social groups have been discussed at length in a recent paper [7]. Here, I am concerned with the practical implications.

There is much evidence that humans tend to shun other individuals that display signs of disease, as do ants, fish [90,91], bullfrogs [92], mice [93], lobsters [94] and chimps [95]. Human faces made up to look sick are found to be more disgusting than healthy counterparts [2]. Individuals perceived to have disabilities or disfigurements automatically activate disease-relevant cognitions, even when perceivers are explicitly aware that these individuals do not harbor contagious diseases [96,97]. A hypervigilant disgust may be triggered implicitly by a range of conditions that may, or may not, be associated with risk of infection, such as epilepsy, mental illness, mental retardation, obesity, skin conditions such as psoriasis, cancer and HIV [98]. People who are more concerned with disease are less likely to have friends with disabilities [99], to dislike obese individuals more [75] and to display implicit ageism [100]. Having a psychology that is hypervigilant to cues as to who might be carrying an infectious illness means that we are particularly sensitive to socially acquired information about who is sick. Power-seeking individuals can exploit this fact. A common tactic for the playground bully, for example, is to label another child as infected or as having ‘cooties’; the victim then suffers shunning by their peer group.

Damaging as this can be to the individuals who are the subject of suspicion, stigmatization extends the problem of the labelling of individuals as diseased to whole groups. Out-groups, already a subject of suspicion because they could be carrying novel infections to which the in-group has not previously been exposed [1], can be especially easily labelled as disease carriers. A body of work has recently emerged that links parasite stress to assortative sociality (reviewed by Fincher & Thornhill [101]). Cultural groups that have historically faced high rates of parasite stress tend to be more xenophobic, have stronger family ties, and have more languages, ethnic groups and religions. There are a number of possible explanations for why this may be the case and confounding factors cannot be ruled out. However, it is clear that, throughout history, in-groups have been able to bolster ghoulishness by labelling members of out-groups as polluting, dirty, unhygienic, disease-carriers, so justifying caste and class divisions, cruelty, exploitation, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, genocide and war [102]. Such problems persist globally because the old tricks still work. The powerful continue to exploit our inherent tendencies to cleave to the in-group in the face of a disease threat from the outside. Intercommunal violence and discussion of immigration hence peak at election times [103,104].

Because access to social life is so fundamental to our species, we are predisposed to learn not to inflict our own infectious emanations on others. We learn ‘good manners’ early; covering our mouths when we cough and respecting designated defecation locations, for example [7]. Failures in this department lead to a feeling of shame. Shame also leads those with conditions that they perceive as possibly infecting and hence repulsive to others to sequester themselves. Acne can cause shame and poor self-image [105], and fistula can lead sufferers to remove themselves from the society for fear of causing offence [106]. Incontinence sufferers feel humiliated, as one doctor recounted from his own experience:

To lay in bed, and against all physical rules, and I may say psychological rules as well, and do what you normally do at the toilet was a humiliating experience of the helplessness patients feel when help with basic functions is needed. Why did I never question this part of caring when I worked as a doctor? For us, defecation was only an abstract category in the patient's medical record [107].

A common fear among terminally ill people is that of losing control over their physical functions. Isaksen [108] suggests that this fear is based on becoming ‘dirty’ and hence ‘untouchable’ because of the fears that bodily fluids evoke in others. While the old, the frail, the sick and the disabled, who must hand their body care to others, fear the disgust that they may occasion, overcoming revulsion of body products is one of the issues faced by careers. When the career is a partner, this can put an extreme stress on the relationship [109] and is part of the, often unrecognized, emotional cost of caring [110].

Like the sick, careers face a double whammy, in having not just to deal with the products of sickness but with social stigmatization. Individuals whose work involves contact with body products, hair, feet, sewage, used clothes, wastes and dead bodies tend to be poorly rewarded and suffer low status, perhaps because the nature of the work is perceived to contaminate the individual. Though common throughout the world, it is in the Hindu caste system where such occupational pollution is most visible—and damaging—despite recurrent efforts at reform [111]. Those that campaign against abortion, homosexuality and genetically modified foods exploit the imagery and language of disgust and its ability to contaminate; they employ pictures of aborted fetuses, talk of ‘dirty’ sexual practices and raise the spectra of ‘Frankenfoods’. By labelling the outsider as dirty and diseased, racists and nationalists find that they can also, to some extent, recruit morality to their side [112]. The best defense against such manipulative tactics is first, to understand what is happening, and second, to expose such strategies to the light of public revulsion.

Although disgust plays a key role in protecting us from disease, it is also responsible for much human suffering. Our evolved psychological defenses against parasites are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they provide the first line of defense against infection in social interaction. But at the same time they prevent social interaction, often at a time when it is most needed. Individuals who are sick or who have become contaminated by association, real or imagined, find themselves the subject of involuntary disgust reactions from others, facing disdain, suspicion and sometimes exclusion. Unscrupulous individuals make political capital from blaming and stigmatizing victims and the groups to which they belong, and the victims often turn blame and disgust on themselves.

What can be done to prevent or reverse this unhappy cycle? The recent story of the response to the HIV pandemic holds lessons that give some cause for optimism. First, irrational fears of contamination were, in early days, recognized as a factor in the social response to the disease and the public was educated that victims were not contagious and did not pose a threat to the general population [113]. Groups that were particularly affected, such as homosexuals and sex workers, recognized that a process of stigmatization was underway and organized attempts to combat it. They refused collective stigma by declaring their individuality, for example through artistic productions such as plays, films, literature and events [114]. They supported one another to publicly refuse to accept shame and self-blame. Political activists, patients, academics and health professionals worked together to change public opinion about HIV and AIDS [115]. While the problem has not been fully solved—those living with HIV still suffer from stigma, exclusion and sometimes violence—the public debate and the political response did much to reduce the suffering of the affected and, beyond this, to raise general awareness of the social effects of infectious disease.

Damaging as this can be to the individuals who are the subject of suspicion, stigmatization extends the problem of the labelling of individuals as diseased to whole groups. Out-groups, already a subject of suspicion because they could be carrying novel infections to which the in-group has not previously been exposed [1], can be especially easily labelled as disease carriers. A body of work has recently emerged that links parasite stress to assortative sociality (reviewed by Fincher & Thornhill [101]). Cultural groups that have historically faced high rates of parasite stress tend to be more xenophobic, have stronger family ties, and have more languages, ethnic groups and religions. There are a number of possible explanations for why this may be the case and confounding factors cannot be ruled out. However, it is clear that, throughout history, in-groups have been able to bolster ghoulishness by labelling members of out-groups as polluting, dirty, unhygienic, disease-carriers, so justifying caste and class divisions, cruelty, exploitation, pogroms, ethnic cleansing, genocide and war [102]. Such problems persist globally because the old tricks still work. The powerful continue to exploit our inherent tendencies to cleave to the in-group in the face of a disease threat from the outside. Intercommunal violence and discussion of immigration hence peak at election times [103,104].

 

Courtesy Of: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3189359/