19 July 2008

Antidotes to Groupthink: Detachment [Teaser]

With the best intentions in the world, I logged on today intending to post about detachment as an antidote to groupthink.

But then...

I found a comment from another blogger, TH in SoC, and wandered off to read his writings. Which I heartily recommend doing, by the way.

As a result, I spent my blogging time reading. So let me at least begin the train of thought, and I'll come back and expound on it tomorrow, God willing.

I mentioned inner-directedness as the first antidote to groupthink for a very good reason. The subsequent antidotes are all either related to it, or strengthened by it; you'll see what I mean as I continue developing the concept.

Detachment, I think, is the next most crucial quality to cultivate in order to be groupthink-resistant.

I mean detachment both in the commonly used 'clinical' sense, the sense in which an ER doctor is able to stand aside from suffering in order to deal quickly and effectively with it, and in the commonly used 'recovery' sense, the sense in which a person in recovery detaches emotionally from people with whom he has previously been enmeshed. And, as well, in the mystic sense, the sense in which we relinquish our desire for a particular outcome to occur...

... in all of these senses, there is a separateness established. The surgeon holds herself separate from the traumatic injury victim, not because she does not care, but because she does care, and she must remain separate in order to use her skills most effectively in the service of that victim. The recovering individual, similarly, does not detach from indifference, but from necessity, because in his case, the degree of attachment that existed previously was excessive. Unhealthy. Making it difficult to establish boundaries where they were needed. And the mystic is separating himself or herself from the attachments and desires that hinder spiritual growth.

Boundaries - separateness - allow us to observe with awareness, which is essential if we are to recognize groupthink when it arises.

More on this in the next post. But for now, consider: you can't detach successfully without being inner-directed. It's too frightening, too painful, too difficult, otherwise. [And, of course, this inner-directedness is not to be confused with the solipsism and self-centeredness of the narcissist/abuser. I'll have more to say about this later, as well.]

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