Category Archives: Politics

Common Ground: diplomacy and the human givens

jerusalem

If you are interested in the Middle East conflict, I’ve just put up a fascinating article from a 2006 issue of the Human Givens Journal by John Bell.

He is the Middle East Director for Search for Common Ground and a founding member of the Jerusalem Old City Initiative and suggests that only a ‘radically different, innate needs-based approach to conflict resolution can bring a possibility of peace to the Middle East’.

“DIPLOMATIC intervention seems, in this day and age, to be less and less effective as an instrument of managing frictions and conflicts between states. This is particularly so in the Middle East, where venture after diplomatic venture has failed; indeed, they have possibly even exacerbated the troubles there.

At its core, the Middle East conflict speaks to the ancient human need to protect against outside threat. The irony is that the methods the region has developed to do so now propagate those threats by blurring the need for security with other unidentified essential needs, no longer meeting any of them clearly and, as a result, exacerbating problems with outsiders. If diplomacy is to offer any useful answers, it needs a fresh approach and a clear understanding of human needs, how they manifest and how to meet them…” read more

Posted by: Eleanor

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Waste in the NHS

I’m not quite sure why I haven’t noticed this before but here is an excellent video from the very beginning of this year about wasted money in the NHS, much thanks to Burning Our Money for this.

The other videos are also worth watching – but I can’t sit down to more than one at once because my anger levels rise too much to give them the concentration they deserve!

Posted by: Eleanor

A greater need for therapy to treat gamblers

Adding to the NHS’s mounting ‘to do’ list comes a call for better access to therapy for addicted gamblers.

“Former postman Neil Humphreys checked himself in after amassing debts of £16,000 – the same amount as he earned in a year. His gambling hobby became an addiction when he discovered internet casinos. It nearly destroyed his life.
“It just seemed to get hold of me,” he says.
“I actually tried to get rid of my computer at one point but then I started going to internet cafes and I was doing it there, so I couldn’t get away from it.
“I kept wanting to stop but as soon as I could get hold of some more money, I was back on it.”
Mr Humphreys tried closing his accounts with the online sites he was gambling on. But that did not work. He received emails and phone calls offering him free bets. In the end, he took up an offer of $250 free bets and started gambling again. Having lost everything, he is now surviving on benefits. It will take him 10 years to pay his debts back.”

Addiction occurs when chemical reward systems in the brain activated by whatever you’re addicted to start compensating for a lack of natural, more ‘wholesome’ rewards in your everyday life. Working towards a healthier life in which emotional needs are met is the starting point for addiction therapy.

Creating a society in which these needs can be more easily met should be a priority for the government, considering plans for ‘supercasinos’ that have been bandied about recently.

>> Read more about addiction here

Posted by: Eleanor

MindFields is now a preferred trainer for the Ministry of Defence

Great new developments today, as we’ve just heard from the MOD that we are now one of their preferred educators!

This means that one of the ways in which they can fulfil their pledge for encouraging and funding life-long education of all their staff is by recommending people to attend MindFields College courses.

It will also help many ex-service personnel re-train by taking our Human Givens Post-Graduate Diploma course by making the funding available for them in order to do so.

Posted by: Eleanor

A breeding ground for crime

The crucial question of “how should street crime be tackled?” has risen again after the sentencing of those responsible for killing the young London lawyer Thomas Rhys Pryce.  Donnel Carty (aged 19) and Delano Brown (aged 18) robbed Pryce of his mobile phone before stabbing him in the heart.

It’s very interesting to read on the BBC message boards and Have Your Say page that public opinion seem to support the “hang ’em” solution (implying that these  “scum” are lost causes, naturally doomed to forever commit crimes until the Justice System is well enough equipped to discipline and imprison them effectively) rather than taking the more optimistic view that many young people today are bored and turning to crime only in order to fill a void created by the unhealthy environment around them.

The fact which really needs to be addressed is that everyone is born with innate emotional needs that have to be fulfilled in the world if we are to flourish and be mentally healthy.  (Psychologists call these needs ‘human givens’ because they are programmed into us from our genes.) If families, schools and society generally prevent children from getting their innate needs met in balanced and productive ways, we are, in effect, stopping them maturing well by stunting their mental and emotional life.

The rising levels of violent crime occurs as young people try to meet their innate needs, which nature is driving them to do, by turning to gangs and criminal activity because nothing else more wholesome is on offer.  Delinquent behaviour follows on from a natural effort to fulfil these needs; such as for status, control, being stretched, feeling that life is meaningful and being part of a community. Crime is a destructive path to follow, but it does fulfil many of these emotional needs for these deprived youngsters.

People don’t come into the world as criminals but much of the culture in the UK at the moment provides the perfect conditions for generating mental illness and raising children to be violent and antisocial.  It is our society that is creating young criminals like Carty and Brown.

It will require drastic measures to create a more healthy society and, until there is a deeper understanding of the importance of this backed up by the political will to do something about it, these problems and the tragedies that follow from them will only get worse.

Posted by: Eleanor

Mental Health Bill 2004 still fails to acknowledge or promote the importance of meeting emotional needs

The proposed Mental Health Bill 2004 still has some serious flaws.

The Government needs to go back to the basic principles of primary care: helping people get their innate physical and emotional needs met. These needs, the ‘human givens’, are each individual’s genetic inheritance. (Our biology determines that we cannot avoid needing food, water, attention, status, friends, being stretched in life etc.) How well our needs are met clearly depends on the quality of physical and emotional nourishment provided by the environment.

Human givens are intertwined. That is to say, if we are prevented from getting our physical needs met — by famine, accident, illness or ailments — our emotional life is affected. And when our emotional needs are not met and we suffer emotional distress — such as anxiety, anger, depression or psychosis — it can affect our physical health too.

Primary care with sufficient resources and training to act proactively in the mental health domain is not currently available. Too many people fall through the cracks, and with this Bill, they could be imprisoned and given drug treatments or ineffective psychotherapy against their will.

Compulsion within a resource-constrained mental health service will focus attention on minimising treatment and put pressure upon clinicians to prescribe drug treatments rather than focus on human needs and individualised therapy.

We believe that if society imposes an obligation of treatment on an individual, it should impose a moral obligation on itself to ensure that treatment is appropriate and available.

Posted by: Eleanor

The UK needs more than ‘Supernannies’

A few weeks ago it emerged that the Youth Justice system in the UK has reached a crisis point – with literally only a few beds available.

In response, the Government is targeting parents with their £4 million “super nannies” scheme – which will install 80 child psychologists in high crime areas to teach parents good parenting skills.

I was speaking this week to an array of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other health workers at a MindFields workshop and they were all in agreement that, whilst the intentions of the Government may appear to be good, changing the way children are brought up cannot be done as a short-term, ‘sticking plaster’ task of the kind politicians love so much. No one in the room felt able to trust politicians’ ability to do much to change things for the better. The feeling expressed was that they are floundering on the major issues of parenting, mental health and anti-social and criminal behaviour in just the same way they are over the war in Iraq.

To really make a difference requires long-term – a project lasting decades. That requires a bigger, more ‘true’ organising idea about what makes for a good life if it were to carry the population with it. The work would involve changing the very nature of our culture and its priorities. Just sending in 80 child psychologists to deprived areas to give ‘parenting classes’ only scratches the surface and, ultimately, will fail unless the fundamental needs of people can be met in the environment in much better ways than they are at present.

And it really must be seen as long-term endeavour. The brains of some children are already so damaged by their upbringing that they will remain a burden on the rest of us until they die. To stop this sad state of affairs getting worse will require an almost superhuman effort driven from a clear vision that guides the work over decades.

Until all agencies, education, health, government, media, work in tune with nature – the ‘human givens’ – and start to create a healthier culture by pushing for the kind of changes needed, there will be no meaningful improvements made.

The group I was talking to were unanimous that current government policies, by encouraging the infantilising of the population instead of helping it mature, are incapable of working because the laws and systems are too complex and hopelessly unrealistic. If this is a true reflection of the world we are now living in it’s not surprising then that many children are not growing up to fulfil in healthy ways what they might otherwise be capable of.

However hard parents try, many can’t help the fact that they are bringing up their children in a deeply uninspiring, criminally inclined environment that is culturally shallow. They live in a world where greedy, selfish behaviour is encouraged by strong exhortations to emotional expression that are constantly demonstrated and encouraged through the media (strong emotions, happy or sad, keep us ‘stupid’ and easy to condition) and families are collapsing.

When can we trust politicians?

We talk to a large number of people in the caring professions and education, thousands every year, and it is clear that there is a breakdown of trust between these people and politicians. No one expects politicians to do what is needed any more, yet they all expect politicians to interfere and make things worse. Despite this, changing our corrupting environment does require political leadership of intelligence and perspicacity. Even if only some of the taxpayer’s money that is wasted each year by government (£83 billion pounds according to the European Central Bank) was spent more wisely, much could be done to achieve what is actually needed, as required by the reality of the situation, instead of political ideology.

But on the present showing there seem to be no politicians interested in creating a healthier culture, or, if they do exist, they are so bogged down in power struggles and autistic bureaucratic political and civil service systems that they can’t operate. Whatever the reason, until politicians start to sincerely seek help from people who know how to facilitate making it easier for the innate needs of children and adults to be met more healthily in this country, and back them with money, the situation will deteriorate further. Children will continue to get their innate needs met but do so in ways that diminish them and society at large, as when a child’s need to connect up to larger groups and have status is satisfied by becoming part of the local delinquent criminal gang because they have no alternative.

Working with the givens of human nature should be the touchstone of any Government policy.

Posted by: Ivan