Pure Motivation

A weblog about the importance of a Sense of
Self for Health, Happiness and World Peace!

Self-Knowledge as a tool against war

Have you ever noticed that you enjoy having power over others?

Good willing people are doing their very best to ban from the earth cruel behavior by political decision making and setting up legislations that ensure that Human Rights aren’t being infringed.  We are all horrified by the stories of atrocities. But is being horrified enough? I don’t think so. Something is clearly not being addressed that needs our immediate attention!

Have you ever deeply wondered what that thing might be?

If each individual doesn’t engage in effectively doing something to prevent war crimes, actually war in general, our expression of terror could be looked upon as hypocritical. What is the use of expressing our utmost disgust and disbelief, if at crucial moments the same thing happens all over again?

Two experiments have led to dramatic revelations about how people change when put in different situations and functions. These experiments prove that in times of war, ordinary family men and women can turn into sadistic killers. Note that I say CAN turn into sadistic killers. That means not all do! Why is that?

What is the difference between one person and another?

I will tell you that right now: some people have rage, anger and frustration inside that hasn’t been dealt with. Others don’t. Some people are scared to disobey any kind of order, because they have been told so from the very beginning.

  • Have you ever experienced rage , greed, jealousy?

  • Have you ever felt so violent that you had to walk away in order to not cause regrettable damage?

You only know the answer to that question. But if you are like most people, chances are that you know what I am talking about.

Keeping that in mind, listen carefully to what you can do yourself to lower the risk of falling into the trap of involuntary becoming a war criminal, praised by one nation, despised by another. Why would you want to hear that from me? Because I have been working on myself for 20 years and I have changed considerably. And also because I am a Psychology student.

Have you ever noticed sadistic tendencies in your character?

The two experiments I mentioned earlier tested people’s behavior in situations that are overpowering.

Professor Zimbardo of



, set up the so called Stanford Prison Experiment. This was a study and I quote: “of the competition between institutional power versus the individual will to resist.

A prison was simulated, in which a number of paid participants, took on roles of prisoners or prison guards. The experiment was planned to last 2 weeks, but had to be cancelled after six days, because of the sadistic and brutal behaviors of the guards and the life threatening distress the prisoners experienced.

Have you ever felt so scared and fearful you would like to hide and that your heartbeat was audible in the adjacent room?

The Milgram Experiment, largely described in this book, was a study on obedience. Milgram puts the participants in the dilemma, of obeying the stern looking leader of the experiment in the white lab coat, and administer electric shocks to their co-participants, every time they give a wrong answer. Each time the voltage is increased and loud screams of suffering are being heard. Roughly 60 to 80 % of the participants obviously stop thinking for themselves, and although under great stress, do what they were told to do.

What is the psychology behind this behavior? How can we make sense of it?

Every child is born a blank slate and hasn’t drawn any conclusions yet. In the course of life however, we build up a pile of unexpressed emotions. Some of us more, some of us less. Especially violent emotions such as rage, jealousy and greed because society teaches us to dominate those feelings. However when we are in a different setting, especially for a longer period of time and nobody we know watches us, the suppressed feelings come out and hurt people that trigger them. We are like a tire that is pumped up to hard and when it cracks there is no way of holding the air inside.

Do you recognize that feeling?

In order to eliminate atrocities in times of war, and war in general, I propose that every child in school is being taught the skill of getting to know itself on a deeper level.

This way, when people grow up, we are used to validate our own behavior and are we familiar with who we are, so that we achieve a greater skill in shaping our personalities and building our characters.

It is a challenge to register your own feelings of anger, rage or jealousy, and trying to uncover their roots. Based on psychological thinking I have for you a couple of questions you will have to ask yourself. I would urge you to remember those. So please write them down!

1.    Which basic need has been denied to me?

2.    In what time of my life was that?

3.    What am I  using as a substitute to fulfill this need at this moment of my life?

4.    Why does it provoke such strong feelings in me when it isn’t working out the way I want it to.

5.    What does this thing I want to achieve, actually represent to me?

6.    What do I want to prove with that?

Don’t you feel you would do anything to help prevent the cruelties of war?

Working on these questions helps you to create your personality. Who and what you are is what decides on crucial moments how you are going to react.

Whether this solution to the problem of war is easy to implement or not, I honestly can’t say. People might think it is based too much on an ivory-tower idealism. I would refute that, pointing out that since everything else is clearly failing, we should give it an honest chance.

Assessment of this operation is done in our hearts.

We know whether we have done what we can to make ourselves a more responsible and fairer person. A million of daily happenings tell us how we are doing, whether we are actively involved in helping to prevent war by looking at our own emotions and behavior.