Sequential Problem Solving Part 6

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5. Self actualization -- the need some people feel to become who G.o.d wants them to be.

People must meet their immediate, basic needs for physical safety before they can meet their wishful needs for love or fulfilling a career. While we strive to behave as thinking people, with well thought out plans, sometimes we act purely as animals by instinct alone. If we are suddenly frightened by a snarling dog, we react by running or fighting, instinctively, without conscious thought. Paul MacLean describes what happens in our brains as a stepping down the evolutionary ladder and using those parts of our "Triune" brain that operates on instinct rather than thought.[4]

MacLean divides the Triune brain[5] into three parts that developed over the evolutionary eons. The oldest, which he calls the reptilian brain, controls aggression and pa.s.sionate impulsiveness. The middle region, the limbic system, controls docile, loving emotions. The outer region, the neo-cortex controls thoughtful planning with an awareness of consequences and cause-effect relationships. This phenomenon is important because fear alone can inhibit successful higher level thinking by keeping the brain at the lowest (reptilian) level preparing to meet the threat. The educator Lev Vygotsky stressed the importance of creating and maintaining a risk-free environment that encourages higher level (neo-cortex) thought.[6] The growing recognition of the Triune Brain might very well have influenced world politics in the replacement of the policy of "mutually a.s.sured destruction" with a "kinder and gentler" statesmanship.

Maslow's need and MacLean's brain are both related to animal-like behavioral weaknesses when we react impulsively rather than with thought and planning, and we are more likely to act impulsively when our physical safety or food and shelter needs are threatened.

When we do act like animals, we often are ashamed because we momentarily set aside our conscience. Fear overpowers our desire to be loving because it engages lower brain centers that are not controlled by abstract thought centers in the higher levels of our brain.

How then can we act like we are created in the image of G.o.d instead of selfish, impulsive animals? We can begin by a.n.a.lyzing what characters in literature and drama do. We can recognize when fear, arrogance, laziness, or loneliness drives the hero's actions, and imagine how the hero might overcome his weaknesses. We can project a responsible resolution to the hero's internal conflicts. This exercise of recognizing the source of another's actions is merely an intermediate step in the learning process, however.[7] The final step is when we face our own trails, and face the need to a.n.a.lyze our own reactions to stress, as we have looked at those in dramas. Finally, we can plan our own future and make it happen, just as we did with alternative endings to conflicts in dramas.

Occasionally, people face moral choices that seem to confusing to be solved, and the thinking brain tries to step down a notch. It either takes a pa.s.sive emotional position with MacLean's limbic system, or an impulsive aggressive position with the reptilian system. At these times, a checklist for moral decision making can provide a framework for keeping our actions in the realm of planned activity rather than impulse.

The Steps of Moral Decision Making.

Moral decision making involves several growth steps in reaching maturity.

Stanley Kohlberg[8] provided us with a framework for making moral decisions:

Age Test Question

6 Punishment Will I get caught?

10 Golden Rule How would I like to treated?

13 Everyone Rule What would the world be like if everyone made this same decision?

15 Greater Good Rule Will this decision produce the greatest good for the greatest number?

Adult Higher Authority Rule Is this what G.o.d wants me to do?

Religious people often experience great internal conflict when faced Many religions advocate gentleness and helping others, as well as protecting the weak from harm: a seeming contradiction. Does one have priority over the other? Part of the answer may involve the Triune brain and the absence of thought involved in impulsive aggression.

Sometimes helping others may involve protecting violent people from themselves and that may require the use of force. Often gentle, kind people find the use of force quite foreign, and are especially vulnerable to harm from people that are termed "unattached."[9]

Dealing with the "Unattached" Person.

"Unattached" people refers to people that have a defective conscience.[10] Their actions are motivated by a lifelong distrust of others and a supreme belief in their own ability. They have no need for other people. Their brains seem to function at a very low evolutionary level, but at times they are superficially charming and persuasive. These people are manipulative and often become sociopaths, and their behavior is thought to have been molded before they were six months of age by insufficiently attentive caretakers.

"Unattached" people, people who bonded inadequately with their parents, are frequently very hard to convince with logical arguments due to their deep distrust of other people and the pattern of control battles continue throughout their lifetime. [11] This sad picture is drawn from the experiences of those professionals who deal with them on a regular basis. The sociopath's irreversible behavior patterns seems to be founded, physiologically, in well established repet.i.tive memory pathways. Perhaps modern science will find ways to help such unfortunate people, possibly through more effective chemical intervention that makes a person feel less threatened, so that they can learn more productive ways of treating other people.

Mercifully, some spiritually enlightened people are able to reach older "Unattached" people and to help them to learn to trust others and achieve that measure of "peace that surpa.s.ses all understanding"

spoken of by the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Phillipians in chapter 4, verse 7: "And the peace of G.o.d, which pa.s.seth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

We are all saddened when others fail to respond to logic and the use of force is necessary, but the periodic necessity of using force to protect others is often unavoidable. Our own internal conflicts of loneliness brought on by dealing with sociopaths is perhaps brought on by our own fear of not being loved by others.

The realization of that phenomenon might help us to resolve our own internal conflict in dealing with the manipulative sociopath.

One of the problems with dealing with unattached people or sociopaths is the difficulty of recognition. At one time, they seem friendly, intelligent, well adjusted, and exhibit apparent sincerity in wanting to be a friend to others. At other times, their behavior seems to snap over, instantaneously, to that of a selfish ten year old. In Kohlberg's view of moral decision making, the age of ten is when a person begins to use the Everyone Rule (what would the world be like if everyone did the action in question). Sociopaths often do not consider others, rather seek instantaneous gratification of their own impulsive needs, much like a ten year old.

Sociopaths are often superficially charming, yet frequently exhibit certain adverse character traits. They are:

untrustworthy vs trustworthy disloyal vs. loyal selfish vs. helpful unfriendly vs. friendly discourteous vs. courteous (polite) mean vs. kind rebellious vs. obedient (a team player) wasteful vs. thrifty cowardly vs. brave dirty vs. clean profane vs. reverent

Other peculiar traits include speech pathologies, and primary process (crazy) lying. Speech pathologies include "baby" talk by an older person. Crazy lying includes the child caught with a stolen candy bar in his hand who replies, "What candy."

While often charming, unattached people are basically self-centered and lack values that guide their conduct with other people.

Interpersonal relationships -- values.

Sequential problem solving and dealing with interpersonal relations involves weighing various values and determining what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior. It is, therefore, desirable to have a firm grasp of our own values. What does society expect of us? What do we expect of others? What do we expect of ourselves?

The values of the English speaking countries came largely from Great Britain. The English Common Law system and the Judeo-Christian values expressed in it originated, in part, with King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable.

King Arthur and his knights left us with some simple guidelines:

The Knight's Motto -- Be always ready.

The Knight's Code: On my honor I will do my best -- To do my duty to G.o.d and my King; To obey the Knight's Laws; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally alert, and morally straight.

The Knight's Laws: The Knight is to be: Trustworthy -- I will not lie, cheat, or steal.

Loyal -- I will not tolerate those who lie, cheat, or steal.

Helpful -- I will help other people at all times.

Friendly Courteous Kind Obedient Thrifty Cheerful Brave Clean Reverent

The underlying values of Knighthood and the Bible were eventually pa.s.sed on to the Scouting movement for boys and girls by General Sir Baden-Powell about 1908.[12] The priority expressed in the Knight's Code is G.o.d, country, others, self -- the same sequence as in the Ten Commandments of Moses:

1. Thou shalt have no other G.o.ds before me.

2. Thou shalt not make any graven images.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.

4. Thou shalt remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.

5. Honor thy mother and father (that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord hath given thee).

6. Thou shalt not murder.

7. Thou not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not lie.

10. Thou shalt not covet.

The Ten Commandments and the underlying message of the Bible, of helping one another, provide us with the framework for appropriate interpersonal relationships. When the human factor in problem solving is kept in mind through a list of values and a code of conduct, personal problem solving becomes a matter of a.n.a.lyzing internal conflict (fear, arrogance, laziness, or loneliness). When a problem presents itself and action seems slow, it is helpful to recognize the ways people evade problems.

Problem Solving Evasions.

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Sequential Problem Solving Part 6 summary

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