Friday, March 22, 2013

'Rapists are to blame for rape.'

'Rapists are to blame for rape' is the title of an article by Kasey Edwards published on a news site today. What I found fascinating about this article is how my work on injury science and the survival process informed this article and provided opportunities for preventing and controlling 'injury' associated with these types of events. A number of chapters in my book are dedicated to these subjects.

William Haddon developed the Haddon Matrix to analyse injury events and to develop interventions to prevent and control injury. Firstly, it has been used to study and develop interventions not only for physical injuries, but also other types of injuries such as those arising from sexual assault, as well as damage generally. Secondly, prevention and control replaces the old paradigm of simply prevention. Under the old prevention paradigm, you were on your own should prevention measures fail.

The Haddon matrix juxtaposes all the factors that contribute to an injury with the time frame over which injury occurs. The factors are: host - person at risk of being injured; vector - person responsible for injury, or vehicle - inanimate object responsible for injury; and environment - cultural and physical. The time frame is pre-, during, and post injury event.

The shame and guilt Edwards refers to the host-post injury cell. She survived her abuse but now suffers post-abuse because of her own judgements about herself. What intervention can be developed to mitigate the suffering post-event/abuse. Knowledge. An understanding of our evolved survival mechanism is one such way. 'Why didn't I fight back,' she asks. She then judges herself for not fighting back.

How corrosive are judgements? Edwards survived. Isn't that something she should be thankful for. Unfortunately, nature provided us with cognition as well as instincts. They are distinct. Edwards writes about intellectual understanding and emotion, and insightful finds they are at odds with one another. Cognition developed after emotion. We use cognition to manage emotion, but, we humans, uniquely, use cognition to inflict pain on suffering on ourselves and others. What put us on top of the food chain also causes us pain and suffering.

Those who refer to mind and body as one are simplistic. Nature provided emotion before it did cognition. Emotion is designed to be used to promote survival when thinking is too slow. It gets a little more complicated as emotion is elicited via appraisal, which is a cognitive process albeit unconscious in the case of emotion.

Why didn't I fight back? My survival process concept goes far beyond the limited fight-or-flight model (and stress). Fight and flight behaviours are severely limited. We have been provided with a vast array of instinctive survival behaviours. Nature does not judge! Nature is only interested in our survival. Nature truly cares about our survival. Fair enough, nature also messed up a bit by providing cognition that then judges nature's handiwork.

Submission is an instinctive survival behaviour. Tonic immobility is an instinctive survival behaviour. TI is an involuntary catatonic-like state that is enacted when fight and flight fail. It resembles a dead animal as the person is unable to move or vocalise. Research suggests that up to 2/3 of sexual assault survivors experience TI during their attacks. Research also suggests that understanding that TI is an instinctive, involuntary survival behaviour lessens the corrosive effects of questioning the lack of action during an assault.

Edwards article is aimed at the pre- and post-event-environment cells. To change society's views on rape in order to reduce its incidence and reduce the psychological effects due to judgements. She is doing this through knowledge.

What this model and this information does is enable one to objectively analyse an injury event and understand all the factors that interact over time to produce an injury of any description. It then provides a means where interventions in multiple areas can prevent or control injuries that can arise from these events.

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