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Do we know anything about tribes?
Observations are important but not definitive.
First thing to remember is "pack/clan instincts".
Without our biologically endowed, pack instinctual tendencies, I think tribalism would not be nearly as prevalent. (By the way, the various forms of tribalism are much more "unconscious in the person" than anything Freud explored).
Think about dogs and wolves; all canines work in packs. They group-hunt quite intelligently; in coordinated form, with clear strategies and assigned roles.
You need to see it to believe it. The way to see it up close, is to own several of man's best friends, raised and owned together. Hunting ability need not be taught by owners; witness the superior hunting coordination of wolf packs.
A single domestic dog pet, tells you nothing about how complicated, even domestic, canine packs are.
The behavioral patterns of any pack species come with the house.
They all function in the complicated, multi-step way they do, with no verbalization but incredible coordination and structure.
Does social science know how this works? Does biology? Not to my knowledge. No clue.
Mysterious? I think we are similar.
Now think about tigers, leopards and mountain lions (not African lions).
They also hunt with intelligence and strategy, but they are all solitary (or parent-child) hunters. They have no packs, ever.
No uncles, aunts, cousins or paramours.
They are true loners, independent, like America’s John Wayne mythology. They sometimes compete for hunting territory with other individuals of their species.
Canine packs compete, not with individual canines, but with other canine packs.
Both are 4 footed predators, but they are very different with regard to their need for others, and their involvement with, and dependency on, the pack and clan.
Do you think it's environmental? “Canines must have poor self-esteem from bad parenting, because they need each other so much”; "could it be due to poor mother-child-bonding and incompatibilities between mother and child?" "Maybe it is lack of paternal encouragement or paternal verbal abuse that they can't stand up for themselves and make an independent life of their own, the way my neighbor’s felines do"? "Perhaps they should get their own relationships outside the pack"?
Or do you think it might be a gene/chromosome, biology, inheritance related, inclination?
I think predatory, species-specific behavior, always starts with biology; that is why I think our human and primate clan inclinations reflect a pack biology that is similar, but more complicated than our fellow predators makeup; less obvious in both our inherited, predatory, and our pack dependency, inclinations.
We can modify it, but only with extraordinary effort. (extraordinary when compared to the billions of people on our planet who subsist on less than $200,000 per year.)
Easier to do it in the west; harder in the rest. Why?
I speculate that later in our species’ journey (situation A), tribe development used this biological pack/clan need for pack connection; also, for anxiety reduction through "group belonging" and not (feeling) being "alone".
Individuals needed and benefited (practically, emotionally, and biologically) from the pack; the pack benefitted from the clan; and the clans discovered they could benefit from the tribe.
To have these genes was once life-saving in the prehistoric jungle (Situation A). The pack and its biological “unity” connection, was chosen by evolution to help later societal survival too. This “unity” connection would go on, much later, to be labelled “identity”.
This “unity” connection in its later manifestation, the tribe, was equally anxiety reducing, in a more social context. The insecurity of "being alone" and its associated disadvantages, is quickly recognized by both parts of our brain.
The emotional part felt better when there was a human connection. (Imagine seeing headlights coming toward your disabled car on a lonely road. You don’t know who is in that car, but there is a diminution of fear and anxiety to not feel alone and therefore, vulnerable.)
The logical part of our brain quickly recognized that there was safety in numbers (and in “connectedness”). There was also trade, help for planting, harvesting, defense and “predation effectiveness” in those same numbers.
The tribe got started as it included and by definition, excluded. The tribe became a multi-purpose solution to add security, both emotional and physical.
It also served a more sophisticated, addictive purpose; prosperity. Otherwise known historically and economically as “imperialism”.
Our current perceived need to have an identity that gives us values in common, is prominent in the west.
Perhaps because all prior identities have been blended and homogenized in the cosmopolitan cauldron of “globalization”.
The rest do not experience that need. They have their centuries old identity to keep them warm at night and unconflicted by day.
Our perceived identity situates us in a group (Sunni, Shia, Brit, Zulu, Dutch, democrat, republican) and “identifies” our ways of living. Our pack> tribe> identity need, started biologically; benefitted, and simultaneously, imprisoned us socially.
More on this and authority (governance, dominance/submission) in all tribes, in future posts.
Now let's get back to where we left off in PART 8...
“Perhaps the most important insight that led to the most effective interventions, is the vector of personal boundaries and how we define personal space and personal loyalties.”
I opened Wikipedia and searched for “personal boundaries”.
Here is how the wiki author defined it:
“Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning. This concept or life skill has been widely referenced in self-help books and used in the counseling profession since the mid-1980s.”
“According to some counselors, personal boundaries help to define an individual by outlining likes and dislikes, and setting the distances one allows others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem. Jacques Lacan considered such boundaries to be layered in a hierarchy, reflecting "all the successive envelopes of the biological and social status of the person".”
1 personal boundary definitions were a matter of “mental health”. The moderately firm, flexible, personal boundary “type” was the most desirable. Ask some “rest-erners” about that.
2 that our dependency on others in our group is a skill that can be learned, rather than something in our development as individuals to fit into any family/pack/tribe.
3 that the individual (or his chosen therapist/life counsellor) rather than society, sets our definition of “appropriate boundaries”.
This article mentioned a variety of different definitions and views about this social science term. There is very little overlap, in how it is used by the wiki author, vs, my use of the term; although the first sentence in the first paragraph I quote, is probably better than what I could have come up with on my own.
I don’t believe we form our own personal boundaries as a matter of course.
Yes, extraordinary circumstances and special, focused, personal efforts, can modify boundaries to either loosen or tighten them.
But in my practice, I found that the society of origin, influences personal boundaries within the family. Wiki makes it seem like these boundaries are ours to do with, as we will.
My take is that the family structure on a multi-generational timetable, forms our boundaries as an adult. Yes, a long-term extreme or chaotic family of origin situation, will tend towards either, random, overly tight, or overly loose, boundaries in our western culture.
In more or less stable, middle class households around the world, however, the boundaries we wind up with, can be predicted, more or less, before we are born.
How does that work?
We mentioned differences between the west and the rest (see PART 1 thru PART 8 below).
Personal boundaries in the northwestern parts of Europe and the Anglosphere vs the rest, are very, very, different.
Personal boundaries in the rural, small town, agrarian, areas of any country will be very different than the very large cosmopolitan and suburban areas of that same country. It’s not mathematically predictable but nothing related to deeply human interactions is ever mathematically predictable.
Eastern (for instance, the Muslim countries of Asia and Africa, Orthodox Jews, the majority of families in rural China and other Asian Buddhist countries. In other words, the majority of families on earth) teenagers don’t choose their spouse.
The family usually does. They have a say, maybe a veto, but choosing a spouse is a family, not an individual, enterprise.
It is impossible to have this cultural pattern, simultaneous to (in the same culture) a western definition of personal boundaries.
Western boundary definition, indeed western child development efforts, are all about individuality and “independent of family” choice.
This is not the only area where shared boundaries differentiate east and west.
In the west individuality, privacy, separateness and separation, bureaucratic separation of issues, are all important attitudes and beliefs and are manifest in all society's major institutions.
In the rest, everything is everybody’s business.
What a westerner would consider very private, in the rest, is openly discussed and even evaluated. It’s called “awkward” or “rude” in the west.
In the rest, “it’s just life, why hide it? If you are in my family/clan/tribe/, your business is my business. We have merged boundaries”.
By the way, here is a link to a news article that I came across, that I think illustrates some of the tribalism issues that arise when east meets west: (I can’t vouch for the author or the source organization, but it surely illustrates the point.)
As opposed to a straight linear progression, which is the way most people proceed, picture a circle.
No beginning, no end; a circular or a self-perpetuating spiraling process can have any number of beginnings and endings, depending om where in the spiral one wishes to focus.
A good place to start understanding anything concerning humans, is the history of the subject.
So let's start with the history of the world's largest tribal phenomenon;
East West In History
"Herodotus (484 BC–425 BC), the ‘father of history’ (Cambridge Dictionary, 1999), was possibly the first recorded historian who deliberately portrayed the ‘east’ (Persians) and the ‘west’ (Greeks) as mutual antagonists, thereby proposing the nucleus of all ancient history. Others, Thucydides (460 BC–400 BC), and Xenephone (430 BC–354 BC), similarly, found it natural to employ strong polarities and concentrate on the ‘otherness’ of the East, while accepting the necessity of resistance to external force by defining a Western ‘self’. Thus came into being the first system of the so-called East-West dichotomy.”
Even though his first contrast between east and west involves Greece and Persia, Pattenberg goes on to focus on China as "the east". He seems to ignore the fact that the Roman Empire broke into two separate empires: (around 300 AD): The Eastern Roman Empire and Western Roman Empire. The eastern empire was headquartered in Turkey, not in China.
Because the east includes China, but it also includes much more (the rest)
We have quoted Ferguson about THE WEST AND THE REST. (Amazon.com)
When we compare the west to the rest, philosophers, economists and sociologists somehow mean northwestern Europe, meaning the countries with Germanic and English language histories; Scandinavia, Ireland, Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
The west doesn’t include Iran nor does it include Poland, Hungary, Russia?
Italy, Spain, Portugal are considered not as western as Denmark or Norway. In fact, Greece, Spain and Portugal have their own designation. They are called "peripheral economies".
Peripheral to what exactly? To Europe?
Are they more peripheral then Norway?
Finland which is clearly peripheral and further east, is considered a "western" society.
Some economists call this west “the anglosphere” focusing on Great Britain and its North American and other past colonies.
Can we explain what our macroeconomic labels mean? “Peripheral” is a euphemism to avoid other labels. But which labels? How can we describe differences, if the terms the macroeconomic experts use, don't make sense? Time for a new vocabulary?
And anyway, why do we care?
As parents we might care because 70% of the world's population, (the east) raise their kids in ways very different than the remaining 30% of the world (the west).
They raise them to fit into very different cultures, educational systems, economies, ways of governance, filial and spouse devotion and other foundational components of any society.
Of course, there will always be those in between the extremes of those vectors.
Here are suggestions that have been proposed by other mainly economic historians, to explain the different ways of living called eastern or western:
Here is my take:
In my practice, helping parents cope with children's growth and challenges, I found the vectors highly regarded by the mental health establishment, were less relevant to positive outcome than certain others.
Here's what I found important, where I did overlap with the traditional point of view:
Particular current family, and family of origin vectors, such as sexual abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse, trauma, loss and chronic illness,
Rural vs industrial environment of families of origin. The west is much more industrialized for much longer than the east but both now have some rural and some industrial sectors.
Cosmopolitan vs small town environment of families of origin. Same as above.
Very educated post high school environment of families of origin vs less than full high school. This is important developmentally for children – future citizens.
Educational attitude is one of the major tribal differences in terms of east-west.
West vs non-west social environment, of families of origin. Manners, expectations, etc.
How we come to a diagnosis, its definition, makes a big difference in how we approach treatment. Very often I found tribal issues confusing what might seemed to be "pathology".
My family work did not yield different results based on these factors by themselves. That is, by itself no factor such as "rural economy of family of origin " will predict problems or strengths, or any single treatment approach, but different patterns of family adaptation to different environmental and life situations, were relevant to outcomes.
Equally important, different solutions were also more or less effective based on these factors.
For instance, lets choose a family of origin that was rooted in a "rural way of life". If they now found themselves in an urban and cosmopolitan culture, and were sending their first born to a school servicing that culture, there were inevitable conflicts, confusions, and heightened anxiety all around; for everyone.
However this first born child carried the burden of symptomization.
Here’s where tribal and societal factors come into the picture. There was usually no awareness that an urban and especially a cosmopolitan school environment does not always mesh with rural values (spoken or not) with which the child has been raised.
There is no focus or vocabulary that can alert and refocus the family from symptoms of the child, to the cosmopolitan assault on rural family of origin values, structure and patterns.
Ferguson gives reasons along the east-west continuum, that are interesting geo-politically, but he leaves out the the interface of family systems, ie. the internal and interpersonal sides of this geographic delineation and conflicting cultural-geopolitical factors.
His formal education, like the rest of us, has perhaps, not prepared him to integrate the family systems, multi-generational family/clan principles and patterns, with the concepts of the political economy that he is so good at.
In any case I have concluded that there are many differences, some very modern in origin and appearance, and some thousands of years old.
Perhaps the most important insight that led to the most effective interventions is the vector of “personal boundaries” and how we define, among others, personal space and personal loyalties.
How we define ourselves in the context of others in the couple, the family, the tribe, the society, the economy. All these differ in east vs west.
george jonisch, phd
Published by George Jonisch · September 7 at 9:08am ·
“Assyrians return to Turkey from Europe to save their culture
“Assyrians are one of the oldest communities in the Middle East, where they have lived for millennia. In the last hundred years, successive wars have forced many to leave the region. But now, some are starting to return to their historic villages.”
“Aziz Demir, the mukhtar of Eldegmis (Kafro) village, was instrumental to the Assyrian return there in 2006. He shows TRT World the restored church of the village.
To review our tribal blessings and challenges:
- we underlined our species’ simultaneous denial of the ubiquity of these species' clan/tribal patterns.
- made a beginning towards defining separate elements of a social science whose integration would benefit our understanding of parenting and family life.
Carrying on, (with circular systemic principles and methods in mind):
Effective digestion of this united point of view will, hopefully, produce less alienated citizens and more focused parenting and educational methods and movements.
Unfortunately, as an integrated field of study these meaningful facts and this view, has not been presented nor even significantly investigated, by those whose job it is to know this stuff.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “anxiety “and show its relationship to family and societal life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “currency manipulation” and try to show its relationship to governance, imperialism and societal character development, and family life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “psychotherapy of psychopathology” and try to show its relationship to education and family life.
We will offer a different view of the phenomena usually referred to as “macroeconomic history” and try to show its relationship to current governance, class, and political controversies.
Why do we offer so much good stuff? Why do we think we can influence so much change?
Basically, because it’s not brain surgery and because the relevant components are not new. They have been misunderstood because our system of “scientific knowledge” has been misdirected for human affairs.
The physical sciences need a, particular segmented approach.
And then there is actual tribalism that gets in the way of studying the wide-ranging phenomena of “tribalism”.
My near 50 years of various family experiences both personal and professional, have opened my eyes to certain stuff that is out there but often missed.
Ever-present is the assumption that it only works if it rings a bell for you, the reader. I hope to help open the eyes of others to what I have been able to see and actually use for other’s sakes, as well as for my own.
In general, we will attempt to combine our repetitive history with current events so as to show, that we have been here before, and will probably be here again, unless we find a better more informed view of who we really are, not only as class and national tribes, but as a species.
There are tribes and societies that raise their kids to not only value family (and the clan-tribe) but to be addicted to the idea that only family is worth sacrificing for, only family is worth emotional investments, and extended family (clan-tribe) consensus is always right. Siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and so on, make up most of their social world regardless of geography.
On the other extreme, there are societies who don’t see themselves as tribe participants, but are equally addicted. This group is addicted to the opposite of valuing adult family connections.
In this non-tribal tribe, almost from birth, the children are raised to become independent of family, to confidently think for themselves, and to maintain secure boundaries around their identity and personality; their individuality. Social life is less family focused and they are open to letting new acquaintances into their lives..
In the first tribe, the term “individuality”, is not usually distinguished from the labels "isolation" or “selfishness.” In the second tribe the term “family devotion” is often confused with the labels “overly dependent,”, “uncool”, and “loser”.
(In future posts I hope to describe specific possible explanations for the origin and the differences in the extremes of these two tribal patterns).
These two group descriptions are of the extremes. Of course, there are also sub-tribes who raise citizens with elements of both patterns. Many societies are in the middle; closer to one or the other end of the continuum.
Leaders, political and religious, in these multi-tribal societies are also often confused because tribes, over generations, have developed and “locked-in” different values that cover much of societal/political/religious life, and are often in conflict.
Our tribal/predatory, inherited, inclinations (see parts 1-4 in earlier posts) have a biological side that has not been identified and articulated yet. I believe the self-destructive compulsion to win and dominate; to be the alpha dog at work, at home and in leadership positions; to define, deride and exclude outsiders; and to idealize and follow "charismatic", dumb, tribal and clan leaders, is evident in a history that has repeated itself for times too numerous to ignore.
“Crowd behavior” has been identified, but again I know of no attempts to explain and integrate this obvious phenomenon into a larger human picture.
This basic dimension, inherent in all human functioning, has many implications for the current, 30 year, globalization wave.
(To the extent my point makes sense to you, do you really think “globalization” has a long future if we do not think it through, on a deeper, non-economic basis?)
We have been here before. Ancient Rome tried it (to dominate ,exploit, demean, and conquer the known world.) Ancient Greece tried it. Ancient Babylon tried it. Ancient Persia tried it. 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century Spain, France, England and Germany too; in fact all of Western Europe tried it. Russia too.
Presidents Washington and Jefferson advised against it.
It’s geopolitical version is called “imperialism”.
For my purposes, I define “imperialism” as the exploitation of citizens in a smaller or less powerful tribe, by the organized domination efforts (eg invasions, boycotts, tariffs, currency manipulation, etc.) of a more powerful tribe (usually through technological head-starts). Simultaneously, casting its own citizens as “superior” and their “nobler", “entitled”, way of life, as the only legitimate way to be.
It’s not good guys and bad guys. At the time of dominance, everyone buys into their own superiority (ethnocentrism) and eventually they pay the price over time. The next culture in “the republic becomes empire saga", blames the stupidity of the prior alpha dogs.
The reason we don’t learn this lesson is because it’s a biologically induced pattern that takes place in families, clans, tribes, societies; any human group.
No one seems to acknowledge that the bag of our inherited human endowment, that once was crucial to our survival in small packs and clans, has a hole in it. Wolves can live in the forest just the way they are. How long would a wolf pack society survive in a city with only other wolf packs and no deer?
Why are there literally thousands of tribes and sub-tribe clans, around the globe, each one certain of its virtue and superiority over well-defined, no-members, competitors and/or enemies?
PLANS A, B, AND C
In the 1950’s and 60’s, there was a subset of therapists in America and England ( I was one of them) that saw individual neuroses and self-destructive behavior, as a consequence of individuals’ biologically based, automatic, capacity for adaptation. Faced with a difficult anxiety arousing situation in childhood, they adapted inner voices and traits that lowered the temperature of that anxiety and got them through the day and the years. (PLAN A). Once they were adults, leading their own lives, however, and no longer subject to those difficult situations, they unconsciously stuck to PLAN A, even though they were now in SITUATION B. For instance, in generalized terms, some children found the often-intrusive family intimacy and love to be stifling and smothering. They handled their repeated discomforts by withdrawing from others and from their own feelings, or they used some other dysfunctional characterological procedures. As adults, they and their intimates (SITUATION B) were confused and confounded by their dysfunctional avoidance of sustained, intimate commitment (dysfunctional continuation of PLAN A). They sought individual therapy help, (PLAN B) because their behavior brought down fire and brimstone from their loved ones. Years of individual and group therapy was directed toward understanding SITUATION A (no longer really in play) and PLAN A (no longer necessary). It included defining more of the adult parameters of SITUATION B, and eventually, in formulating PLAN C. Successful individual therapy therefore, used the patients' adaptation or re-adaptation ability to form a better life.
We start with our early biology where the clan represented safety, nurturance, and stability. Those individuals and packs that were chromosomally inclined to clan-like functioning, e.g. group adhesion, group reckoning, early clan indoctrination, constant competition for the male alpha dog position, etc. were selected by evolution to survive. (In this regard, chromosomal similarity to primate packs such as the great apes, and wolves, lions, dogs and other pack/herd animals.)
Having started with biology, we proceed to the nature of our early pack-clan ancestors. They are usually described as “hunter-gatherers”. I (and several other writers) disagree. Their bodies and their brains were those of predators, closer to wolves than domestic dogs. Expanding their hunting grounds, territory, in competition with other clans, defining and attacking non-members, and constantly reacting to the power dimension (hierarchical ladders) both within the group and externally, between the clans.
Have we accepted that at least as an inherited inclination, human beings are actively predatory? Think of non-predatory animals like deer, bison, etc. Are we like them on an “attitude” basis? How close are “ambition”, “greed”, “aggression” to “predatory”?
Religion calls it sin and evil inclinations but the religious leaders are often as predatory as the congregants. This is one of the interfaces where a more wide-ranging social science lens would be useful. If religions' purpose is to tame or at least modify our evolutionary heritage of aggression through "civilization", can we not do it better through deeper understanding character building, spiritual education and civic responsibility training early on when the pack influence is most powerful? Those responsible for secular governance as well as religious institutions can learn from informed educators and therapists how to better do this. We will come back to this later.
The clans became tribes and the tribes became societies. The built-in biology became channeled but never erased. In calm times we all deplore war as a useless, ugly, painful endeavor. And yet...and yet the repetitive pattern of bellicose behavior, underlying. ??? , overt aggression and subsequent imperialism and subjugation for "lebensraum" is part of world history for thousands of years.
What are the tools and mechanisms that will facilitate a more integrative theoretical framework? Each principal described below can be a tool when applied outside its specialty.
George jonisch, phd, 5166924125
The purpose of these essays is to draw attention to the current inadequate level of meaningful, practical, and usable information from what is referred to as 'the social sciences '. "Psychobabble" and other such terms reflect popular recognition of this inadequacy.
We seek to add to a process that will eventually lead to a theoretical framework, useful to lay and professional readers, that favors integration of multi-sourced, fully human, data and theory.
Almost all, of the factors mentioned here from the various disciplines, have been explored individually before in different contexts and times. They have not, to our knowledge, been integrated in theory or through a vocabulary that reflects more human ways of functioning; multidimensional and compatible with non-linear, spiraling, systemically interactive principles
Is there in fact a way to connect psychology/anthropology to current macroeconomic concerns?
Can economists working on the Greek-Eurozone economy benefit from 20th century history or even ancient roman history? Can family therapy systems theory be of help to better understand Eurozone governance?
We expect to bring the following new point of view to the table for your consideration:
1) We know of no attempts to integrate financial, macroeconomic vectors into the clinical psychology and psychopathology body of theory.
2) We know of no attempts to theoretically integrate psychological, cultural and ethnic studies into societal functioning and governance/macroeconomic policy.
2. Explanations utilizing the “multi-generation transmission process” (a most powerful and still mysterious process in families and even societies. See the works of Murray Bowen, MD for more clinical details.)
There is one central theme in our approach.
We think it will be considered the most controversial.
Surely it goes against a three hundred year assumption, started in “the west” by the “enlightenment” and the philosophers of that time. Namely that man’s logical brain is in charge (or can be trained to be in charge) of his behavior both personally in family life and in societal issues such as government and economics.
From all the above we have come to one unifying theme:
The single most important but unpopular dimension in explaining the motivational system in most human beings is a bio/psychological, physiologically induced tribalism.
We believe that human beings’ behavior is a function of many dimensions. We propose that an unexplored area is our primate related tribal nature.
We, unknowingly, are motivated on a pack/tribe basis and rather than from learning, our genes make it so.
We believe to be true, that there is an inherited behavioral pattern that includes:
1) The tendency to affiliate and to feel anxious when the affiliated state is put in jeopardy. Feeling truly isolated or alone in thought, behavior or feelings of identity is most unpleasant for all primates. (Could that be part of why “solitary confinement” is a serious punishment?)
2) The biology based tendency to establish interpersonal and organizational hierarchies within any established human family, clan, or any other primate group.
3) The tendency to reckon, usually unknowingly, on our “group” standing and to take group/pack approval (or internalized identity based group) very much into account. This is most evident during the pre-21 years.
4) The tendency to be unaware of this tribal dimension and motivational system in our lives and in societal functioning.
In order to repair and justify further explorations into a science that seeks to describe the nature of being human...
We propose that the nature of being human must be seen in an integrated and interactive theoretical framework that contains integrated elements from all the non-sciences that are currently called "social".
Of necessity, this new framework would require a "non-PC" vocabulary that is explicitly non-linear, and that lends itself to describing multi-leveled, spiraling and interacting, and constantly evolving, processes.
As stated, a focus on what we call "tribalism" is central to our point of view. Our view of tribalism and it's universal presence is multi-faceted.
please see Part 2 in facebook below: