Thursday, 12 June 2014

Behaviours are wonderful things!

An excerpt from the book Homo Imitans by Leandro Herrero:

Behaviours are wonderful things! They are powerful, they are explicit and they provoke many emotions. However, for many people today behaviours are still ‘secondary citizens’, only understood ‘as a result’ of other things such as values, beliefs or thinking.

These are people who, very often truly genuinely, say that changing behaviours means little unless the mindset or the attitudes have changed. They would say you can change behaviours, but it will be just superficial, not for real, just a game of pretend. Your (real) thinking will not have changed. Mindsets and attitudes... You know how I feel about those!

In many parts of the world, ‘behaviours’ still get bad press. They seem to be mentally associated with ‘forcing people’ to do something. In English, ‘to behave’ means to behave well, to conform to the norm, to stick to the rules. In psychiatry, behavioural therapy has long been labelled as a sort of superficial approach, not comparable with the more ‘serious’ and ‘deep’ therapies such as psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, which are based upon understanding and insights.

These stereotypes won’t go away soon. I don’t have much room to digress here and I know a discussion about this could go on for hours, perhaps even days or months...but I do believe we need to elaborate a bit on this before we move on. People, particularly the ones who associate behaviours with carrots and sticks, have a hard time understanding the potential value and pragmatism of focusing on behaviours.
This view of behaviours as the poor, secondary, visible representation of more noble bodies such as mind, mindset, cognition, value systems, etc. is well-maintained by many Homo Sapiens professions for very good reasons. We all tend to attribute all motivation for our actions to the essence of Sapiens. The opposite would mean accepting that we are less in control than we think we are and that our free will is less free than we think.

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