Monday Miyagi 111609

This week’s Monday Miyagi comes from Dr. Terrence Webster Doyle, author of Why is Everybody Always Picking on Me. Dr. Webster-Doyle was the Founder and Director of Martial Arts for Peace Association, Director of the Atrium Society, and Co-director of the Atrium School whose intent is to explore psychological conditioning. The following is from the Atrium Society’s Youth Peace Literacy website. The fundamental intent of Youth Peace Literacy is to address what prevents peace, that is, what creates conflict, individually and globally. Enjoy!

BioCognetic Peace Education™

The Scientific Study of Human Conflict created by Conditioned Thinking

What is BioCognetic Peace Education?

BioCognetic Peace Education™ is a completely original approach to understanding the nature and structure of human conflict at all levels – by avoiding, resolving and managing it. BioCognetic Peace Education™ has been expressly designed to reflect the nature and structure of bullying that creates conflict – from the playground to the battlefield – in the way we have been conditioned to think and act.

Our pioneering program benefits society in two ways.

  1. It helps young people cope with a growing social problem – the bullying/victim cycle.
  2. As these young people grow up, it helps them avoid and reduce adult violence.

Dispelling Cognitive Distortions

When an event occurs that disturbs us, automatic thoughts enter our brain so fast and so mechanically that we don’t notice them. And if we don’t notice them, we certainly won’t question them. Still, they affect our attitude, our mood, our body and our ability to function clearly. These thoughts, based on either false information or a misperception of reality, are often referred to as “cognitive distortions.”

When a conditioned thought/emotion triggers one of these distortions, it typically stimulates the bio-reactive survival system in the old brain. This situation occurs when we can’t see through the falsehood, and the old brain is reacting to the image as if it were true. But if we can counteract this with an observational viewpoint, we can see how a conditioned, prejudicial image (say, of a bully) can jump in and lie to us about a need to protect ourselves.

Looping or Biocognosis™

However, the problem occurs when we can’t see through the falsehood and the old brain is reacting to it as if it were true. Whether in bullying situations or in regular daily life, recurring cognitive distortions cause us unnecessary conflict. Even when the outer stimulus of a bully, for example, is removed, this triggering process can get internalized. In BioCognetic Peace Education™ this is called “looping” or “biocognosis™”, as the stimulus spins around and around, with the old bio-reactive brain constantly sending messages of a “threat” to the cognitive and emotive parts of the system, when, in fact, there is none at all.

Fight or Flight System Triggered by an Imaginary Threat

It is most significant that this biological flight or flight system can be triggered inappropriately by an image of a threat when the actual threat is not there. This part of the brain cannot differentiate between an actual threat and a supposed one. Behind the psycho–emotive conditioning, this deeper biological (“bio-reactive”) conditioning holds or locks the initial psychological image of a threat in place. No amount of rationalization can reach that deeper place. We have to get to it by the back door: that is, by going through the body to give the deeper, biological/bio-reactive conditioning what it wants – to feel confident that it can fight, that this more primitive part of the brain can deal with the threat by preparing the body to defend itself. This part of the brain only “knows” that there is a “threat” created by an image and to it, it is “real.” This is very evident in young people we call Youth-At-Risk who have been continuously abused and therefore perceive the world as a threat, even though they may be in a non-threatening situation. In other words, the biological fight or flight system—the bio-reactive part of the old brain survival system— is stuck in the “on” position.

Disrupting the Biocognosis™ Looping Pattern

To disrupt this biocognosis™ looping pattern, young people are taken into a safe, controlled environment where they are taught the MAP S.T.A.R.S. ™ set of self-defence techniques. This purposely triggers the flight or fight mechanism while simultaneously instilling the confidence to be able to “fight”. All the old brain really desires is to feel able to protect itself from harm, whether real or imaginary. Remarkably, even a little physical training goes a long way. This process has worked especially well with youth-at-risk as a therapeutic process, although it is applicable to everyone, whether they have been a victim of serious bullying or not. As the participants integrate their newfound insights with the newly acquired physical ability to handle hostile situations, prejudicial, conditioned ideas of imagined enemies fade and automatic triggers are extinguished.