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Capture-bonding is a psychological phenomenon described in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

The captives in that 1973 hostage crisis not only accepted their role are prey of their captors, they came to identify with and actually admire them. Perhaps the residents of Elkhart have accepted that they and their children are appropriately the victims of the Republican party and are determined to play their role even at the expense of their well being and the future of their children. That they are eunuchs in the elephant’s harem.

Hierarchy of Needs: In 1943 a professor named Abraham Maslow published A Theory of Human Motivation. In it he outlined a hierarchy of needs that defined human reactions to the situation they found themselves in. The bottom of his pyramid – the very basic of human needs – was physiological. Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements.

But the voters of Michigan apparently prefer to be governed by a cabal that provides some citizens lead poisoned water. In other areas, they support organizations that seem to be dedicated to making it as easy as possible for terrorists to get assault weapons. They back a political party whose policies drove millions of their fellow Americans out of their homes. Gas prices go up, food prices go up, trade deals are structured to benefit corporations at the expense of workers, unions are busted, the right to bargain eliminated, taxes go down on the wealthy and the very needs that Maslow saw as fundamental to the human condition go unmet.

Next up the pyramid comes Safety – according to Maslow this includes personal security, financial security, health and well-being and a safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts. Again the people of Elkhart find themselves under attack by the policies of the very party they swear allegiance to. As a client of the NRA, the Republicans are doing everything possible to make sure that terrorists have no trouble getting their hands on assault weapons. As a client of big pharma, they are making sure that no company is held accountable for producing the equivalent of commercial heroin. (The don’t want a repeat of the sucessful campaign against the tobacco companies you know) As a client of Wall Street, they make sure that no one is held accountable for almost destroying the world financial system – in fact, they support most of them in keeping their jobs.

Enter the Mirror: It’s time to turn inward. I have seen such behavior in lots of people and you probably have tendencies that sabotage your own interests. How about it? Got the guts to be honest with yourself. One of my most read articles is Eleven Habits of Self-Sabotaging People. It was written after I interviewed over a hundred people about their tendency to self-sabotage. Go ahead, read it and then let me know how many of those behaviors you engage in on a regular basis. How many ways are you limiting your potential? It was Socrates who observed that “a life unexamined is not worth living.”

Self-reflection leads to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the foundation for self-awareness. Self-awareness reduces self-sabotaging behaviors and opens up the possibility of a more fulfilling and considerably less frustrating life. It’s easy to discuss such behaviors in terms of politics. But your life doesn’t turn on those discussions. It turns on the depth of your self-knowledge and your ability to cease making it more difficult unnecessarily.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD

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