Jun 8, 2008

A Just World?

Below are the links to two interesting articles related to the idea of justice.
One is about a human phenomonon called cognitive dissonance, don't be put off put by the lofty tone of it, it's a pretty straightforward concept.
Moreover the articles help explain why so many people can be apathetic or even judgemental of others who have been victimized by traumatic events outside of their control. This includes victims of violent crime brutalized first by the crimes committed against them and then, often again injured by an indifferent or even adverserial judicial system. This can include the response from institutuions such as criminal court, law enforcemnt and social services
as well as the response from the community where the presumed support from ones "peers"can fall cruelly short of what a victim or family of the victim-expects.

This profound lack of supoort combined with the dispensation of at times cold hearted judgement- of the victim-for somehow having "brought the tragic events upon themselves'-This can be the fait de compli within the post traumatic stress experience. PTSD. Indeed it can be the final emotional insult which renders a victim unable to heal and thus stuck.

Although this syndrome is common with victims of violent and or sexual crimes, it is not exclusive to traumatic acts of violence caused by other human beings- Although research shows that the worst cases of PTSD do result from life threatening experiences caused by human hands.
We also see it with victims of natural or unnatural disasters such as The hurricane katrina victims. I was horrifed by the amount of seemingly decent folks implying that the people that were caught in the levy flooding somehow deserved what happeneds to them- because after all, they should of left..Sooner ( presumably because thats what anyone with any common sense would have done")

We see the practice of cognitive dissonance most clearlly with crimes that involve domestic or partner violence.Date rape is one of the most notorious situations that elicit this response from the publc. Before reading about cognitive dissonance I had actually given this syndrome my own name- I called it rather aptly, the "pack of hyena effect". As a former survivor of a violent crime myself I couldnt help but notice a disturbing tendency among all kinds of otherwise "good" people, to gang up and somehow find me to blame for having been victimized and even for the subsequent mistreatment at the hands of the judicial system.-
I was also disgusted to note that once a person was victimized in an especially overt way, there seemed to be a free for all for further victimization of that person, As if they were now up for grabs for our very worst behaviors, permanent victims in effect. Somehow Marked.
These were some awful truths about human nature to be encountering after having just survived a violent crime, this I can tell you. I became emotionally and spiritually devastated more by the aftermath of the crime, than by the crime itself, which plainly speaking, was brutal.

As a former victim of this syndrome I was heartened and somewhat vindicated by reading about what turns out to be well known phenomonon in society. I much prefer a rational understanding of how people could behave so badly towards someone who has just been terribly brutalized , as the only other option was a floundering belief that people-and thus the world, must be inherently bad-For someone who is an idealist at heart, this was very nearly a kind of death.

Read these important articles as they will undoubtedly change the way that you think and feel about crime, disasters, victims and humanity.



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