by Evelin Lindner
Evelin Lindner is a transdisciplinary social scientist, covering the entire range from neuroscience to political science and philosophy. She is an MD and a psychologist with two PhDs, one in medicine and the other in psychology. She is the Founding President of Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies, a global network of academics and practitioners. She lives and teaches globally, affiliated, among others, with Columbia University in New York, the University in Oslo, and the MSH in Paris. Lindner is the author of Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict, which was honored as CHOICE 2007 Outstanding Academic Title and characterized as path-breaking book.
This book identifies as the core culprit of the many crises that humankind currently faces the fact that political, cultural, social and psychological approaches are being used that were suitable in a bygone past but become increasingly destructive in a globally interdependent world. What is lacking, almost everywhere on the globe, in all world cultures, affecting all world citizens, is access to the full range of human emotion and the skills necessary to regulate these emotions in ways that their liberating force can guide "good conflict" and inform new institution building, not just locally, but particularly globally.
The book highlights larger patterns which are usually difficult to detect but can provide constructive guidance. It paints a broad picture that includes historical and transcultural dimensions, accompanying humankind as it proceeded from hunting-gathering to agriculturalism and arrived in the current confusion surrounding globalization and the human rights revolution. The usual approach is inversed: larger cultural contexts as they were shaped throughout human history are used as lenses to understand emotion and conflict and their role for human life. Their potential for creating social and ecological sustainability and decency for the future is gauged in uniquely comprehensive ways.
This is a book about dignity and how realizing its promise can help improve the human condition at all levels - from micro to meso to macro levels. As the book uses a broad historical lens that captures all of human history, from its hunter-gatherer origins to the promise of a globally united knowledge society in the future, it emphasizes the need to recognize and leave behind the malign cultural, social, and psychological effects of the so-called security dilemma which characterized the fragmented world of the past millennia, where communities lived in fear of being conquered and enslaved by their neighbors. The book calls upon the world community, academics and lay people alike, to own up to the opportunities offered by increasing global interdependence. Space opens up for the human rights message that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" as opposed to ranked hierarchical societies with "higher" beings presiding over "lower" beings, where both, masters and underlings, suffer psychological damage. The book describes the path humankind needs to take if it wishes to create a world that is worth living in, a path that heals the damages of the past and prevents them from occurring in the future. The new philosophical foundation that will need to permeate all human activities is the nondualistic principle of Unity in Diversity and the optimization of homeostatic systems rather than the maximization of singular elements, as, for example, profit. The book recommends an action plan for humankind with two core loops to travel, (1) acquiring new awareness for global responsibility, (2) acquiring new personal skills of cooperation, and (3) creating new global institutional frames that enable new forms of global and local cooperation. Institutions (3) have preeminence because decent institutions can drive feedback loops that foster (1) and (2) in systemic rather than haphazard ways. The first loop, the initial realization of new institutions, depends on a few Nelson Mandela-like individuals, who “nudge” the world’s systems into a more constructive frame. The second and subsequent loops will have the advantage of enjoying the support from the system, no longer only depending on a few gifted individuals. A new culture has to emerge, locally and globally, at all societal, social, and psychological levels, a truly humane culture of Unity in Diversity, where people have access to the full range of their emotions and learn to regulate them so that their motivational force can drive the creation of an ecologically and socially sustainable world rather than a world of destruction.
The book is organized in three parts. Part I, How Emotions Can Fuel Conflict, examines the nature of emotion, how our emotions can generate and perpetuate conflict, and how psychosocial contexts affect both emotion and conflict. Part II, How Emotions Can Maximize and Minimize Conflict, examines the nature of humiliation, how the humiliating effects of history and culture maximize conflict, and how the dignifying effects of human rights have the potential to minimize conflict. Part III, How We Can Dignify Emotion and Conflict, explores how we can change our personal attitudes and reactions, as well as our political and cultural contexts, to transcend conflict through dignifying emotions and waging good conflict.
The book draws together a vast spectrum of perspectives and materials. It contends that destructive cultural, social, and psychological scripts from the past permeate all levels of human activity, from macro to micro levels, and that they are being detected, rejected, and transcended much too slowly. Here are some examples meant to pique the readers interest and illustrate the breadth of this book:
- Two important turning points are highlighted in the book. The first turning point is the transition from hunting-gathering to agriculturalism that began roughly 10,000 years ago, marking the end of the first 90 percent of human history. It rang in the past ten millennia of malign culture. The second turning point is the contemporary transition from ranked societies of honor to societies that espouse equality in dignity, a transition that profoundly transforms the ways humiliation is being perceived, felt, and responded to. While humiliation was largely seen as a pro-social instrument to keep hierarchical societies in place in the past, it now transmutes into an anti-social violation of human rights with the potential to set in motion violent cycles of humiliation, if not Mandelas stand up and translate feeling of humiliation into a force for conscientization and constructive social change.
- Practices such as slavery, Apartheid, or the Chinese custom of foot binding have been outlawed. But practices such as female genital cutting or so-called honor killing are only now transmuting from being labeled as cultural traditions to being pinpointed as cultural violence. Also domestic chastisement is in the process of being redefined as domestic violence - the book describes the faring of a couple that seeks counseling for domestic violence and how this couple pulls itself out from their destructive ways of treating each other and even assumes responsibility for reforming the wider world. Other destructive beliefs and practices are still widely accepted and not yet duly rejected and transcended, among them the idea that one can maximize singular elements in a system of homeostasis without risking the collapse of the entire system, an error particularly disastrous when what is at stake is the collapse of the very ecolocical and social context humankind depends on for its survival. When a few risk-takers are allowed to make profit by destroying the overall interdependent system, be it the homeostasis of the global climate, or global social cohesion, humankind sells out its resources and undermines its own life support, thus insulting and humiliating its own humanity.
- The Japanese, at the end of World War II, demonstrated how the culture of honor, which dominated the past millennia of human history almost everywhere on the globe, can produce catastrophe. The Japanese became "prisoners of their own war rhetoric of holy war, death before dishonor, blood debts to their war dead" (John W. Dower, in his book Embracing Defeat). Nearly three million Japanese died. In China, about fifteen million people perished. The Japanese empire was lost. Only humiliating defeat was reaped.
- Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan summarized most succinctly to what extent past definitions of human nature are potentially catastrophic also today and in need of overhaul. He said that he was "in a state of shocked disbelief" and had been wrong in thinking that relying on banks to use their self-interest would be enough to protect shareholders and their equity.
To sum up, the book uses a broad historical bird's eye perspective on all of human history and draws on the voices of and presents materials from many people, ranging from lay people to distinguished scholars from many cultures and philosophical traditions. It also offers a multicultural bibliography of significant materials from the fields of anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology, and helpful indexes for important names of scholars and scientific terminology presented in the book.
A must-read guide to creating an socially and ecologically decent and sustainable future and a world worth living in.
A social scientist with global affiliations, among others with Columbia University in New York, University of Oslo in Norway, and La Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris, Lindner takes us across history and into nations worldwide to show how emotion spurs hierarchies of domination and therefore causes subjugation, human rights violations, abuse, conflict, and fighting. She spotlights results ranging from the binding and subsequent deforming of Chinese women's feet, to periods of slavery, bondage, feudalism, apartheid, and other events across time. Related actions from political domination internationally, to spousal or child abuse on the homefront are addressed. Lindner looks at how widely divergent societies - from the Japan of Samurais, to the Meso America of Aztecs, up to the modern Iraq at war - are driven by hierarchies of emotionally-fueled control with rigid domination.
Combining classic literature with emerging research, Lindner explains how similar dynamics are at work also in contemporary societies of the West, albeit more covert. What is still lacking, almost everywhere, is access to the full range of our emotions, together with the skills to regulate these emotions so that they become a liberating force in our lives, play a constructive role for productive, fair, and so-called "good conflict," and inform our institution building. Lindner concludes her book by laying out a road map for how to reduce domination and increase human dignity, both in our lives and in the world, by using the power of emotion to implement global systemic change."
Foreword by Morton Deutsch
Part I: How Emotions Can Fuel Conflict
Chapter 1: What Are Emotions?
Chapter 2: How Emotions Affect Conflict
Chapter 3: How Contexts Affect Emotion and Conflict
Part II: How Emotions Can Maximize and Minimize Conflict
Chapter 4: What is Humiliation?
Chapter 5: How History and Culture Can Humiliate
Chapter 6: How Human Rights Can Dignify
Part III: How We Can Dignify Emotion and Conflict
Chapter 7: How We Can Regulate Our Emotions
Chapter 8: How We Can Reinvent Our Contexts
Chapter 9: How We Can Dignify Our Emotions and Conflicts
Foreword by Morton Deutsch
I first met Dr. Evelin Lindner in December 2001 when she was the speaker at a Colloquium of the Peace Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. I was attracted to the colloquium by the title of her talk, “Humiliation and the Roots of Violence.” When she spoke, I was impressed by the importance and originality of her ideas. She showed how humiliation—a profound emotion that unfortunately has been little studied by psychologists—often plays a critical role in leading to destructive international and interpersonal conflicts. Her talk was illustrated by fascinating examples drawn from her rich and varied international experiences in such countries as Rwanda, Somalia, Egypt, Germany, and the United States.
As a result of her talk, she was invited to teach a course on the psychology of humiliation in the Program on Conflict Resolution at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her course was extremely well received by the students and faculty. During the summer of 2002, I read many of Dr. Lindner’s papers and had an opportunity to talk with her about her work. I urged her to write a book that would present her ideas to a wider social science audience as well as to policy makers and the lay public.
Her book, Making Enemies: Humiliation and International Conflict, was a very valuable and original contribution to understanding how the experience of humiliation can lead to destructive interaction at the interpersonal and international levels. The book was characterized as "path-breaking" and honored as CHOICE 2007 Outstanding Academic Title. After reading her book, I invited her to write a chapter on emotions and conflict for the 2nd edition of The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. It was a brilliant chapter, but inevitably, a rather condensed presentation of her views. The present book is a much fuller, elaborated presentation of her original, thought-provoking ideas. More than most books on emotions, her writing is both broad and passionate. Broad in that it considers a great many factors that affect emotions; historical, cultural, and social, as well as neurological. For example, in her discussion of humiliation, she develops with great insight the important idea that our awareness of humiliation as a pervasive and powerful experience in human affairs has emerged only recently. She attributes this emergence to two phenomena: egalization and globalization. Egalization (a term coined by Lindner) refers to the development of the political ideal of equal dignity during the eighteenth century, as reflected in the American and French Revolutions. Globalization refers to the increasing interdependence and interconnectedness of peoples throughout the world. A woman in Afghanistan, for example, who has always accepted her husband’s right to beat her, feels humiliated when she learns through television that in other parts of the global village, women are viewed as equal to men and husbands may be imprisoned for beating their wives.
Her book has a very passionate quality. It is a very strong and persuasive advocate for human dignity for all people. It is well grounded not only in science, but also in the highest moral values. It helps the reader transform destructive conflict and dignify his or her personal experiences. Dr. Lindner is a very thoughtful person who has read widely and deeply in the social sciences. She has also had a rich, varied experience in many countries as a psychotherapist, counselor, researcher, and global citizen, immersing herself in and embracing diverse cultures.
The book should interest a wide audience. Psychologists and other social scientists will find new ideas to enrich their understanding of how humiliation and other emotions contribute to destructive conflict and violence at the international as well as interpersonal levels. Policy makers will be exposed not only to these new ideas but also to their policy implications. Beyond the foregoing, all readers—whether they have a professional interest or not—will find much value to their personal lives.
E.L. Thorndike Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education, and Director Emeritus of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR),
Teachers College, Columbia University
More than most books on emotions, Lindner's writing is both broad and passionate. Broad, in that it considers a great many factors that affect emotions; historical, cultural, and social, as well as neurological. For example, in her discussion of humiliation, she develops with great insight the important idea that our awareness of humiliation as a pervasive and powerful experience in human affairs has emerged only recently. Lindner attributes this emergence to two phenomena: egalization and globalization. Egalization (a term coined by Lindner) refers to the development of the political ideal of equal dignity during the eighteenth century, as reflected in the American and French revolutions. Globalization refers to the increasing interdependence and interconnectedness of peoples throughout the world. A woman in Afghanistan, for example, who has always accepted her husband’s right to beat her, feels humiliated when she learns through television that, in other parts of the global village, woman are viewed as equal to men and husbands may be imprisoned for beating their wives. Lindner's book has a very passionate quality. It is a very strong and persuasive advocate for human dignity for all people. It is not only well-grounded in science, but also in the highest moral values. It helps the reader to transform destructive conflict and dignify his or her personal experiences. Dr. Lindner is a very thoughtful person who has read widely and deeply in the social sciences. She has also had a rich, varied experience in many countries as a psychotherapist, counselor, researcher, and global citizen, immersing herself in and embracing diverse cultures. The book should interest a wide audience. Psychologists and other social scientists will find new ideas to enrich their understanding of how humiliation and other emotions contribute to destructive conflict and violence at the international as well as interpersonal levels. Policy makers will not only be exposed to these new ideas, but also to their policy implications. And, beyond the foregoing, all readers whether they have a professional interest or not will find much value to their personal lives.
- Morton Deutsch, Director Emeritus & E.L. Thorndike Professor Emeritus, International Center for Cooperation & Conflict Resolution, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York
This beautifully written book is an education in itself. Every page informs and challenges received modes of thinking and acting in many fields. The penetrating theme of humiliation illuminates the worlds that we think we know and experience. Lindner's command of an extensive literature and practice provides directions for a better life for all humankind.
- S. M. Miller, Senior Fellow, Commonwealth Institute, Cambridge MA, USA; Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Boston University; Co-author of Respect and Rights; Board member of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council; Board Member of United for a Fair Economy; Co-founder and first President of the Research Committee on Poverty, Inequality and Policy, International Sociological Association; Former President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the Eastern Sociological Society; husband of late Jean Baker Miller.
With remarkable clarity and passion, Lindner not only delineates the role of emotions in conflict, but shows a pathway toward a world where positive emotions curb conflict. Lindner shows how shame - a useful emotion in binding people to communities and creating self-motivation to improve - can be abused as a tool of social control, turning into humiliation. The reaction to humiliation can be subservience, but in other conditions can turn to rage and violence. Only by replacing humiliation with dignity can people develop true self-control and build a social order based on human development. Lindner not only has a vision of a better world; she shows us how to get there.
- Jack A. Goldstone, Hazel Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University
In the heavy seas of rational choice perspectives, Evelin Lindner's focus on emotions in conflict can be a lifeline."
- Clark McCauley, Director, Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, University of Pennsylvania
A timely and compelling book! In a world fraught with violence and humiliation, Evelin Lindner shows a positive way out -- and documents the research to back up her claims.
- Daniel L. Shapiro, Ph.D., Director, Harvard International Negotiation Initiative and co-author, Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate
Evelin Lindner, scholar, activist and global citizen has proved, yet again, in this her second book that she is committed to both research and action that helps to foster new public policies to promote egalization and create a peaceful and just world. This book focuses upon what might be called an interdisciplinary analysis of the role of emotions not only in conflict but in promoting dignity and egalization through developing and maintaining relationships of equal dignity. Lindner calls for a Moratorium on Humiliation to be included in new public policy planning; the need for new decent institutions and leadership to heal and prevent the dynamics of humiliation, othering, de-humanization and an examination of emotions at micro, meso and macro levels including governance both nationally and globally.
- Maggie O'Neill, Senior Lecturer, Criminology and Social Policy, Loughborough University, UK
I have read with extreme interest Lindner's book Emotion and Conflict. After reading her previous volume Making Enemies, I find her theories not only fascinating, but truly innovative in a field of research which is often pervaded by a certain rhetoric. Her explanation of phenomena such as terrorism and conflict through the magnifying lens offered by the concept of "humiliation" is definitely most effective. The topic she approaches in her new study, that is the equation conflict=emotion, has been rarely explored so far, or, at least, never in such a wide perspective. Studies on the impact of emotion on social processes and interaction are quite diffused, not to mention the enormous quantity of researches on conflict. Nevertheless, the ambitious challenge, that you dare to face, of exploring emotion and conflict together, especially exploring one in the context of the other and vice versa, is new. I find the structure of the book also quite convincing. The fact that she do not indulge too much in the definition of concepts but goes straight to the point as regards the effects of the use of certain concepts and its consequences, such as the distortion of the original concepts operated by the use itself that is made of them, is very interesting. The chapter on "How history and culture can humiliate" is very relevant, nowadays, and I find it one of the most valuable in the whole study. I appreciated in particular the chapter on the possible transcendence of conflict. Having been carrying out field researches in conflict areas for years, I have always thought about the importance of transcendence in a desolated human conflict. Her analysis in this sense is very illuminating. I must thank her for all the questions she raised, and for all the answers. I wish her and the book all the success they deserve.
- Emanuela C. Del Re, Professor, Faculty of Communication Sciences, University of Rome "La Sapienza," Rome, Italy
The role of emotion in politics is again a growing field of research. Dr. Lindner summarizes much of this research in a clear and concise manner. This book, however, is much more than a review, going far beyond simple description to constructing a compelling argument for humiliation as a precursor to violence and then using this research and argument to point constructive ways out of the crises of violence that we face today. - James W. Jones, Psy.D., Ph.D., Th.D. author of Blood That Cries Out From the Earth: The Psychology of Religious Terrorism. Conflict is integral part of human life. This inevitablity of conflict raises one of the essential questions of our time: how to engage productively with conflict. Evelin Lindner manages to deal with this question in a way that makes her new book a "must-read". Her scholarly, and yet accessible text brings together thinking on human rights, humiliation, emotions and the "good conflict". In 2008 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reaches the age of 60: Lindner's book is a precious contribution to thcelebration of this remarkable anniversary.
- Cees J. Hamelink, Professor of Globalization, Human Rights and Public Health, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam; Professor of Information & Knowledge Management at the University of Aruba
Evelin Lindner's work is ground-breaking and needs to be shared with and integrated into the work of international practitioners working in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. She doesn't just add a new dimension, she provides a brand new lens through which to view conflict, it causes, its manifestations, and its hoped-for transformation toward a world of peace and justice.
- Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, Global Conflict Resolution Expert, New York
It is rare that I pick up a book of this size and this style and can’t put it down. I read it through in seven hours during the night, because it was so exciting, stimulating and refreshing. I felt that this author had been through a lot of thinking and managed to systematize our history when it comes down to emotionality and conflict in such an exciting and vivid manner, that it was easy to follow and at the same time gave me a mirror for my own culture.
Through Part One I got a very good overview over issues that are relevant and some of the examples that were used gave a very down to earth explanation. In Part Two, it was like starting to open up Christmas presents. I had yearned for this but did not believe I could get It. In Part Three it came down to challenges, more like a new year’s eve, where we decide what we shall do with what we know. I think that Evelin Lindner is a Jean d’Arc of our time and that her books are like torches that can ignite our inner flame.
- Ragnhild Nilsen, Norwegian business consultant, lecturer, fair trade activist, author of fourteen books in psychology and self-development, and most recently the creator of ten albums as the artist Arctic Queen
Just when we needed it most, Evelin Lindner’s book charts a new pathway through today’s age of tumultuous global change. Building on transdisciplinary scholarship that cuts across social, cultural, and national boundaries, Lindner vividly describes the emotional geography of conflict that decimates lives, communities, and entire societies. She demystifies the operations of emotions that trigger destructive human behavior, not only offering a new framework for action, but also a vision of sustainable interaction. In a time of uncertainty and insecurity, Lindner’s brilliant book offers a powerful yet practical message of healing and hope.
- Linda Hartling, Ph.D., Director, Human Dignity & Humiliation Studies, Former Associate Director, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute Research Scientist, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
In her book “Emotion and Conflict” Evelin Lindner, deeply committed to equal human dignity, provides a far-sighted vision of how we can regulate emotions and “invent” new ways, attitudes and behaviours. How can we shape our future? We cannot remain anymore as silent spectators. On the contrary, we must be active and participatory citizens, aware that there are no challenges and threats beyond the human creative distinctive capacity. It is not only a matter of correct diagnosis but of timely treatment. The author not only shows the objectives to achieve but how to reach them through a culture of caring and sharing. A culture of peace.
This book is particularly relevant now as the crisis we are living can lead to the radical changes that are indispensable for the great transition from force to word.
- Federico Mayor, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; former Minister of Education and Science of Spain; former Director General of UNESCO and President of Culture of Peace Foundation.
The application of this book will be in seemingly diverse fields such as suicide research and peace negotiations.
As a suicide researcher, I found myself with new thoughts on the relationship of suicidal phenomena to violent stressful events such as bullyism and rape, and hope.
As a clinician, I gained new understanding of the narratives of my patients and as a social worker, it became possible to renew my insight into client choices.''
- Latha Nrugham, Researcher, National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway