Psychological Self-Help

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which is almost one person every minute. As we saw in the last chapter, about half
of all violent deaths are suicides; one person dies this way every 40 seconds. Armed
conflict, during the 20th century, took a tragic 191 million lives (half were civilians),
about 35 deaths an hour. That is appalling, considering that wars are leader or state
dictated events that often do not benefit the people who fight the wars (how much
did you gain from the 110,000+ US soldiers who died in Korea and Vietnam?). Yet,
the world is doing relatively little to reduce arms or to outlaw wars.
Women take the brunt of serious domestic abuse. Half (up to 70% in some
countries) of all women who are victims of homicide are killed by their current or
former husbands or boyfriends. Moreover, in parts of the world, up to one-third of
young girls and teens are forced into their first sexual experience. Sometime during
the course of their lifetime, 25% of women have been treated abusively by their
sexual partner. So, what should be a wonderful loving experience is turned into an
inconsiderate, hateful interaction.
I hope you are disturbed by these statistics. Enough of us need to get upset enough
that we urge and encourage that cultures change. The World Report on Violence and
Health provides impressive data documenting how cruel we humans are to each
other. The experts who compiled this report believe violence can be prevented. They
don’t spell out specific plans yet, but the director, General Gro Harlem Brundtland,
mentions a few causes to be addressed: child abuse, substance abuse, marital
conflict, guns, and inequalities between the sexes and between rich and poor. There
are many other and underlying causes of violence, of course, but each of us must
watch for defeatist attitudes, such as “Oh, violence is way too complicated to do
anything about it,” or “anger is just human nature, you can’t change that,” “these
poor countries can’t even feed their children, so how could they overcome anger?,”
“do you think the wealthier countries will agree to help the poor countries who would
over-run them if they could?” and “religions haven’t been able to build love and
reduce hate in thousands of years, so how could self-serving, power-grabbing
governments do it?” These pessimistic thoughts stop constructive actions.
What can be done to reduce hate, anger, and violence? I hope, as you read this
chapter, that you find several opportunities for you to control your anger and to
contribute to global efforts to avoid violence or war and to be kinder to each other. I
believe parents and schools could teach everyone many things about how to control
their anger. I believe help in resolving parent-child and marital conflicts could be
made readily available. We could, as individuals, encourage other people, our own
government, and other nations to negotiate differences rather than developing a
negative stereotype of each other and fighting with each other. Good conflict
resolution practices could be praised wherever they occur. Teach the benefits of
understanding others and acquire the wisdom of forgiving unkind acts. There are
many things to do that will reduce the level of violence in families and increase the
kindness in the world.
There are two related problems that badly need attention: (1) having self-control
and individually coping with an angry person and (2) conflict resolution within
families, ethnic and religious groups, work organizations, and especially between
armed gangs, political movements or militaristic countries. Self-control is different
from peacefully settling arguments between tribes and countries. Relatively little
science-based efforts are being made in either area, although the world is filled with
people willing to give you or sell you advice about self-discipline. And there are even
more moralistic teachers and preachers holding forth along with lawyers, social
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