Over the last two months some Web-browsing moments happened that revealed very useful terms that all relate to oppression here in the rasx() context. As a poet, it seems to me that it is not enough to say that a person is âoppressedââor âI am oppressed.â What is useful is to be more precise and express more detail. The following terms help me be more detailed and focused:
Cognitive dissonance: âIn psychology, cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.â These are my personal memorable moments of cognitive dissonance in the form of questions: How can one friend disappoint another friend with oneâs success? How can one friend cause another to reject her when both agree she is helpful toward the friendâs specific needs? When two friends pass each other in the streetâclearly in view of each otherâwhy do they not recognize each other? With these questions, I could only see two responses: (i) redefine what a âfriendâ is or (ii) pretend this dissonance did not occur and continue with the old definition of friendship. Of course you know that I wonât like you when you choose the second optionâwith yoâ punk ass (and your 3,000 FaceBook âfriendsâ).
Misattribution: âThis paper focuses on one memory sin, misattribution, that is implicated in false or illusory recognition of episodes that never occurred.â No better example from my life of misattribution is recorded for your benefit in âLisa Spiro Protects âPostmodern Blackness.ââ I could not have been more wrong about what actually occurred between Lisa Spiro and me. Read the comments below the article to see how this error on my part worked outâbut I can guarantee you that these errors donât always end so amicably. I know you know a friend or three that to this day will not speak another person based entirely on misattribution. When we mix misattribution with the next term (below) we have some serious hell to burnâŠ
Learned helplessness: âLearned helplessness is a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helpless in a particular situation, even when it has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance. Learned helplessness theory is the view that clinical depression and related mental illnesses result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation (Seligman, 1975).â When we hear the term âlearned helplessnessâ we often have visions of people slumped over with lips hanging, scraping their shoes over the ground moaning like a cartoon ghost. We forget that people can âproudâ and helplessââarrogantâ and helplessâloud and helpless. Chris Rock made a fortune making fun of these people. But this shit really isnât funny and thatâs why so little gets done in âthe ghetto.â The World is a ghetto.
Locus of control
Locus of control: ââŠis a term in psychology which refers to a personâs belief about what causes the good or bad results in their life, either in general or in a specific area such as health or academics. It can either be internal âŠor external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life).â It is way too easy to relate this term with subject of oppression. But it is important to reinforce the âobviousâ that we often forget. Whenever you hear a member of a traditionally oppressed group giving advice about how to handle âthe real world,â just pay attention to where the locus of control goes. What is really slick is when a mufukka will give up their internal locus of control based on a get-rich-quick-scheme that requires religious ass kissing. This desire to get rich quick leads to the next psychological disorderâŠ
Impulse control disorder
Impulse control disorder: ââŠa set of psychiatric disorders including intermittent explosive disorder (hot-headedness), kleptomania (stealing), pathological gambling, pyromania (fire-starting), trichotillomania (pulling oneâs hair out) and dermatillomania (skin picking)âŠ Impulsivity, the key feature of these disorders, can be thought of as seeking a small, short term gain at the expense of a large, long term loss.â The LAPD depends heavily on impulse control disorders in teens and young adults of color in order to justify excessive force. The disorder of choice is intermittent explosive disorder. When you try to see the world from the view of a child in Afghanistan or Iraq you could say that intermittent explosive disorder is the American wayâso it should be no accident that a brother without proper Old School Africa training has quite a temper. Some kind of meditation practice (with a diet that stabilizes the âblood moodâ) is not an option. It is a requirement.
Absence of Formal operational function
Absence of Formal operational function: âThe formal operational period is the fourth and final of the periods of cognitive development in Piagetâs theory. This stage, which follows the Concrete Operational stage, commences at around 12 years of age (puberty) and continues into adulthood. It is characterized by acquisition of the ability to think abstractly, reason logically and draw conclusions from the information available. âŠSome two-thirds of people do not develop this form of reasoning fully enough that it becomes their normal mode for cognition, and so they remain, even as adults, concrete operational thinkers.â Black psychologists, like the late, great Dr. Amos Wilson, argue quite successfully that this advanced stage of cognitive development is systematically suppressed in Black children in particular and all traditionally oppressed social groups in general. I call this âkeeping it realâ because being stuck in a meat-and-potatoes diet of the Concrete Operational stage makes the ability to think in abstractions impossibleâthis is very helpful when you are a member of small elite trying to control a large population.
Neuro-linguistic programming: âNLP began with the studies of three successful psychotherapists, Fritz Perls, Virginia Satir, and Milton Erickson. Grinder and Bandler reviewed many hours of audio and video of the three therapists and spent months imitating how they worked with clients, in order to replicate or âmodelâ the communication patterns which supposedly made these individuals more successful than their peers.â This term is listed here for three personal reasons: (i) I think all living poets should at least know of the existence of NLP; (ii) I grew up with memories of my elder Black people being âoversensitiveâ to what they say (like calling someone âout of their nameâ); (iii) I assert that a subset (or ancestor) of NLP is Eriksonian Hypnosis and this form of hypnosis is recognized by the Ausar Auset Society (the mother of my third child was deeply involved with this group).
Consider the following article excerpt about Eriksonian Hypnosis:
Think about the following scenario: A child of say four or five years of age is carefully carrying a full glass of milk to the dinner table. The amateur parent of the child warns in a stern voice, âdonât drop that!â The child looks up at the parent, stumbles a bit, drop the glass, and spills milk everywhere. The now angry parent yells, âI told you not to drop that! Youâre so clumsy. Youâll never learn!â
As unintentional as it may be, this scenario is an example of hypnosis, complete with induction, suggestion, and post hypnotic suggestion. The powerful authoritative voice (the parent), having created and utilized through indirect suggestion (âdonât drop that!), an altered state (trance), has issued a direct post-hypnotic suggestion (âYouâre so clumsy. Youâll never learnâ). âPost-hypnoticâ because, if the child accepts the suggestion (and children often do), he or she will always see him/herself as clumsy. This post-hypnotic suggestion by the parent may well adhere to the directive in the future, sabotaging the childâs success.
We would do well to realize that in a sense we are all hypnotists, and that if we are parents we have very suggestible subjects in our care on whom our language may have great effects. We must learn to give our children positive suggestions.
The phrase âin a sense we are all hypnotistsâ reminds me that we know this âhypnotismâ through memories of psychological abuse. In my very biased view, this âhypnotismâ is what holds so many of my Black women in these lifelong struggles with self-image and self-identity. My brothers might have the same (or worse) but the sisters stuck with this means that we as an African people are going nowhere until this stalemate is over. In my terrible little alien world, it seems like every attractive woman ship passing through my night has this boyfriend/father they have been trying to defeat through relationships with people that are not this old boyfriend/father. I hate this shit so much I wrote a poem about it called âvoid this misogyny.â
Poisonous pedagogy: ââŠa concept by which present-day psychologists and educators distance themselves from child-raising methods that were propagated in previous centuries. Poisonous pedagogy is therefore meant as an unequivocally negative term. It is an umbrella concept encompassing behaviors and communications that have a strongly manipulative or violent character, such as corporal punishmentâŠ The term poisonous pedagogy corresponds to the German Schwarze PĂ€dagogik (literally, black pedagogy) introduced by Katharina Rutschky in her 1977 work Schwarze PĂ€dagogik. Quellen zur Naturgeschichte der bĂŒrgerlichen Erziehung.â Through the power of misattribution (and other jokes from comedians) we as Black people can be led to assume that corporal punishment for children was a Black-only thing with some kind of Biblical reference to sparing the rod and spoiling the childâand when we see a man on the very soil of Africa beating his children (and his wife) with a stick we can assume that this is African tradition and not colonial, locus-of-control skills. Commemorating the very German Schwarze PĂ€dagogik should prevent this.
Listen to what Amos Wilson has to say about âRational Racismâ in the streaming audio presentation âDoctoral Warriors for the African Mind.â He strongly suggests that formal study of psychology helps to hurt as well as heal. It helps Madison Avenue sell as well as solve problems on Main Street.