In the following, some of the language is shocking, but it is meant to help each of you improve some of your worst negative thoughts about other people, from children to romantic partner, to groups such as minorities. In improving this way, you will be improving yourself psychologically. I describe five ways of thinking about other people, and you should be moving toward the upper levels as best you can.

1. In internal WWI, abuse was perpetrated with ease. Children were violated. Partners were raped. Enemies were eviscerated. And the perpetrators felt no remorse. Rather, they felt unburdened and powerful. In their eyes, there were no real victims, because only other humans can be victims, and the violence unleashed against the others in these cases was perfectly justified and not worthy of losing even a moment of reflection or doubt. Those who suffered at their hands were considered of no importance, and were called the worst derogatory names possible. In their eyes, pests and vermin should be treated better. The survivors of their acts had but one option, to accept in silence.

2. In internal WWII, the aggressors dominated the victims. The latter were not abuse or killed without hesitation, but their lives were made very difficult and unacceptable. Children were viewed as objects of suppression or subjugation. Partners who might have wished for some expression of freedom were repressed. Peoples under their sway were opposed and lived under an authoritarian regime. Life was full of impositions and manipulations at the receiving end and the major thing expected was that the sterilized or filtered knowledge that they received was accepted without question.

3. In internal WWIII, people were partially treated without abuse or domination. However, they were channeled and pacified, so that any hint of resistance was bought out. The rewards available to them were aimed at their bodies, not their minds, from money to availability of the basics for survival. They were tantalized or seduced by these offerings, and became docile or quiescent in their lack of freedom. Children followed the rules, and did not make waves, having learned that severe punishments awaited them, or rewards were greatly reduced. Partners suffered in silence, and accepted with glee the pittances given them. Minorities in countries were exposed to discriminatory and assimilatory pressures, and had a hard time to manage.

4. In internal WWIV, great progress was made, but the other was still partially considered a threat who should not be given full freedom and democratic rights. Those in charge worried that their own limitations would be exposed. Parents worried that their children would criticize them for their remaining limitations. Partners expressed a desire for growth with and through the other, but found that their stated goals were subtly undermined or even had them sabotaged outright. Minorities in countries were given much toward living in full freedom and the chance to participate in democracy, but there were subtle pressures limiting them.

5. Most likely, you are growing toward this fourth internal psychological state in the series of five being described, or you are in it already, and hope to reach the next one. In internal WWV, children, partners, and people are all treated as part of a larger community, worth preserving and growing. For example, in the family, members work to empower each other, to bring out the best in the other, and to grow as best as one can. Equality and emancipation are passwords for everyone in these communities, and ideals become reality.

What are the consequences in behaving each of these five ways for other people around you?

1. No one will submit forever to despotism and obliteration, as in internal World War I. This type of attitude will create a chaotic response in the hope of evading and even destroying the source of the oppression.

2. When people live a regime of subjugation and authoritarianism, as in internal WWII, their pent up frustrations can lead to revolution. They seethe in anger, and develop a cognitive filter that could lead to unprovoked explosions.

3. Resistance is the nom de guerre of those who live pacified, crude lives under an assimilatory regime, or at least resistance could develop once the emptiness of their lives become evident. Instead of doing everything that they are told, they could find underhanded ways to resist, and yearn to escape the life that they have had created for them, despite the temptations included in it.

4. People who appreciate a truly free way of living, but still encounter some impediments, will try to advance, but if the barriers are too high, they might turn inward or get confused, only to try again. They do not want their consciousness limited, or their genuine freedoms constrained. They have noble goals, and they try to integrate them into their life at all levels.

5. In the last step in the growth of the internal world, the task is to keep on top of the gains at each moment. A second goal is to assist others to do the same. One danger is from the inside, as the will and ability to keep at the highest levels wanes. Another danger is that there are societal blockages stopping people from living according to this philosophy.

Each of you has these five internal world wars inhabiting your minds, relations, and future. You have it in you to move to the highest levels through the five steps, no matter what you have experienced in the past and no matter what society that you live in. Other people can be your partners in moving toward this internal and external peace, including family, good friends, and even therapists.

Based on the concept of "the cognitive (mis)perception of the other." See my book: Young, G. (2011). Development and Causality. NY: Springer SBM.

About the Author

Gerald Young, Ph.D.

Gerald Young, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at York University.

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