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Economy and Stress Violence

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Economy and Crime/Violence

Below is a blog that I wrote for my MySpace page to warn people about something that they are going to encounter more and more as the economy worsens. Recession or depression, economic hard times bring about stress related violence and people misbehaving.

As was mentioned in the original blog, this particular page can be read in just a few minutes. However, what it is based on goes much deeper than that. That's why we recommend you read it and then follow the links.

The depth of your understanding of what we talk about on those pages will have major influence on how many incidents you find yourself in during the coming years.

Economy and Stress Violence
It is a simple truth that when the economy is bad, crime goes up.

On the surface one would think: Economic hard times = more robberies and burglaries. Except that isn't the whole picture. In fact, that's just a small percentage of bad economy = more crimes. While 'For-Profit Crimes' (what we call criminal violence) do go up, what goes through the roof are behaviors -- that while illegal -- are not necessarily criminal in intent.

In these economic hard times, you're going to see a lot more of what we call 'stress violence.'

Violence become more common as people's stress level go up. Fights, homicides, rapes, drunk driving, road rage, assaults, domestic violence, ALL go up as people with poor coping skills come under more and more stress. And economic hard times are very stressful.

Stress violence -- while it doesn't exactly fit in the four kinds of violence model -- can be over any of the reasons given in that model. (Territorial, behavior correcting, predatorial and Criminal). Those are more external manifestations of violence (how and why violence happens). But that doesn't explain why it is happening.

While 'stress' is a nice catch all phrase, that doesn't cover it all either. To fully understand stress violence you must also understand the types of violence. These four types, Fear, Frenzy, Tantrum and Criminal are more about a person's internal motivations. This is what is internally driving the external manifestations of violence (kinds of violence).

What does all this mean?

Simply stated you're going to see a lot more s**t happening.

By this, we don't mean just on the News. I'm talking about YOU witnessing fights in gas stations, road rage incidents, hearing your neighbors in a screaming fight and other such behaviors. The list of possibilities is endless.

Worse, you'll be finding yourself facing a snarling person over a small issue. Still other times that snarling person is going to be you.

All of this as people unaccustomed to economic hard times start suffering. They're going to start to share their pain by acting out. Even if you don't see screaming incidents in the supermarket check out line or find yourself embroiled in the same, you're going to be seeing a lot more surliness, angry people and conflict.

Welcome to the wonderful world of stress violence.

The roots of stress violence are deep within our psyches and how we define ourselves and the world. By this we mean our egos. But not in the sense of how 'big an ego' someone has, but our core beliefs and how we cope with life. If our coping skills and core beliefs (about life the universe and everything) aren't up to the problems and pressures we face ... well, we tend to misbehave.

Understand that there are those who are just incapable of functioning well in even the best of times (our prisons are full of them). On the other hand, most 'normal' people don't know how to function in extraordinary circumstances. Someone who can function in 'good times' will often find him/herself lost and stressed in hard times. Simply stated they just don't know what to do or how to handle the stresses of changing circumstances. When that happens, they misbehave.

Stress violence tends to be a good news bad news thing. The good news is that with a little patience, understanding and compassion such a person can be de-escalated. Basically that's because most people aren't looking to be violent, what they seek more is validation, understanding and compassion to their problems.

As such if someone starts going off on you, you're more likely to calm the situation down if you try to help the person. In short, if you help reduce his or her stress -- while maintaining your own boundaries.

The bad news, however, is that we humans tend to be emotional animals. Emotions are very much a survival trait that we humans have (along with imagination) that replaces extreme instincts (e.g. migration, hibernation, etc).

As such, we are wired to react to the emotions of others.

Once again this is a great survival trait. In the same way that a flock of bird, will take flight at the warning call of one of its members, even if all the birds haven't seen the exact threat, we humans react to emotions.

You wouldn't be here today if your ancestors didn't react emotionally to the terror and anger of others. For example, if that ancestor of yours didn't -- without question -- join the person he/she saw running in terror. the leopard would have eaten your ancestor.

The downside of that is that when confronted by a strong emotion your limbic system kicks in and you tend to respond in like kind.

A good layman's explanation of this process is found in Peyton Quinn's book  Freedom From Fear and Rory Miller's Meditations on Violence. Rory talks about what he calls the "monkey dance." (His most accurate summation is "You don't control the monkey dance, it controls you). An equally good source is Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence. These three books are MUST reads for anyone whose job it is to confront violence. And they certainly wouldn't hurt for folks who want less stress in their own lives either ... because you never know when you're  causing this same reaction in someone else.

The bottomline is the more you understand your own reactions, emotions and are able to monitor what is going on inside of you, the less likely you are to get caught up in a monkey dance of emotion with someone. Stress violence happens when everyone limbic systems decide to get together and go monkey poo.

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