The Number 1 Cause of Violence – Shame

The number 1 cause of violence - shame

The number 1 cause of violence – shame

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the number 1 cause of violence – shame.

First a quick update:

“You have to be honest”
Read my insights about the things you should always be honest (i.e. forthcoming) in your relationship and marriage

“Coaches, counselors and therapists”
Learn my unique therapeutic tool which helps clients to make radically fast behavioral and emotional changes without reliving trauma and without months or years of talk or emotional or psychological dependence upon the therapist.

Follow me on Twitter– You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert.

“5 Reasons police lose control and kill”
Why do police lose control and kill as made evident by a spate of police brutality – beatings, punchings and killings? Are police simply bigoted, prejudicial and power hungry? Watch my video here.

Now, let’s talk about the number 1 cause of violence and reveal the power of respect by exposing the link between disrespect, shame and violence.

Why does someone become violent?

Well, he/she becomes angry first before becoming violent.

What triggers the anger?

You might say, ‘all sorts of things make someone angry.’

However, as I have explained in various articles and videos, anger is the first response to feeling hurt, injured or wronged.

Thus, beneath that anger is another emotion that triggers the anger: shame.

“violations to self-esteem through insult, humiliation or coercion are . . . probably the most important source of anger and aggressive drive in humans.” – Psychologist Seymour Feshhach (1971)

Is this claim true?

Does insult lead to violence? If you insult someone does that automatically trigger violence?

I have been struck by the frequency with which I received the same answer when I asked prisoners, or mental patients [over 35 years of research], why they assaulted or even killed someone. Time after time, they would reply “because he disrespected me” or “he disrespected my visitor [or wife, mother, sister, girl-friend, daughter, etc.].” – “Shame, Guilt, and Violence” – Psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan

Simply put, when someone feels ‘disrespected’, it triggers feelings of shame, and to eliminate that painful feeling of shame, he/she will try to replace it with its opposite – the feeling of pride.

How does the shamed person attempt to create the feeling of pride?

By seeking revenge and trying to shame the other person using anger to act out violence.

I use the word ‘disrespected’ above (“dissed” – slang word) as a collective term that leads to feelings of shame:

“feelings of being slighted, insulted, disrespected, dishonored, disgraced, disdained, demeaned, slandered, treated with contempt, ridiculed, teased, taunted, mocked, rejected, defeated, subjected to indignity or ignominy; feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, incompetence; feelings of being weak, ugly, ignorant, or poor; of being a failure, “losing face,” and being treated as if you were insignificant, unimportant, or worthless…” – Shame, Guilt, and Violence” – Psychiatrist Dr. James Gilligan

The concept that shame is the psychological cause of violence is not new.

Aristotle in the “Rhetoric” revealed that the perception that one has been slighted leads to anger, and in turn, leads to a desire for revenge via violence.

The Biblical story of Cain and Abel reveals the same:

“The Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain … he had not respect. Cain was furious, and he was downcast.”

Cain kills Abel because he feels it is Abel’s fault that Cain has lost the respect of God. (Genesis 4:1-8)

In Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi massacre all of the men of the city of Shechem, because one man raped their sister, and thus dishonored them. When Jacob warns that there will be repercussions throughout the land and other tribes will try to destroy  them, the brothers respond that pride and honor come first: “Was it right to let our own sister be treated that way?”

Adolf Hitler was elected to power on the campaign promise that he would wipe out the “shame of Versailles” – referring to the WW1 peace Treaty of Versailles which he believed dishonored Germany.

Hitler and others like him tried to gain recognition and thus pride and power by using violence on a grand scale – Alexander The Great, Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Stalin, Mao, and so forth.

“It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” – Emiliano Zapata, a leading figure in the 1910 Mexican Revolution

Today, gangs and individuals who feel alienated or desperate try to gain recognition, pride and respect by wielding a gun. Some men who repeatedly committed armed robberies would reveal their motivation as “I never got so much respect before in my life as I did when I pointed a gun at some dude’s face.” Read more.

Bullying creates the same result – the person bullied either gives up and takes his or her own life or, seeks revenge as a response to the shame and humiliation and thus takes other people’s lives.

Tim Kretschmer, the German teen killer wrote in an email: “I am fed up with this bloody life…Everyone laughs at me.” Read more here.

Accordingly, if slighting, dissing or insulting someone is the most effective way to provoke someone to become violent, what can we learn from this?

The antidote to violence is respect.

The rates of violence can be reduced by respect.

Respect is an extremely powerful tool.

When you give, show or demonstrate respect to a fellow human being, you are empowering that person. You give them a sense of dignity. You reinforce their sense of self-esteem. You lower their feelings of inadequacy or lack of self-worth.

You might have heard the golden rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.

Think now of the ways you want to be treated:

As if you are significant, important, valuable, strong, worthy, special, good enough, intelligent, smart, successful. You probably want to be treated as if your opinion counts, your feelings, emotions & thoughts are significant and they matter. You probably want to feel accepted, included, welcomed, loved and embraced. You probably want people to show they care by being patient, tolerant and understanding.  You probably want to be treated as being equal!

All of the above can be grouped under the word respect.

Respect yourself, show respect to others and notice the difference!

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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    vic says:

    Thanks Patrick for this newsletter! It completely explained what is happening to me. I am being ignored, ridiculed, bullied and disrespected. I know the offenders are exerting their control with malicious intent. I resorted to neither violence nor revenge but am using the justice system by case building and practicing law when no lawyer would represent me. I went through trial in one instance and won what I was seeking. My situation is far from over but because I choose to handle things this way I felt somewhat better about myself. When I attain my goal I am sure I will feel self-respect and satisfaction. Thanks so much for enlightening me the with words I could not previously find.

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