A study by Kansas University has shown that childrens perception of a peers ability to control an undesirable characteristic – such as obesity – will affect their attitude toward them. One of the researchers, Jennifer Livengood said “This study provides some evidence that if a child feels that an undesirable characteristic is under some sort of personal control, they are less likely to respond favorably to someone who displays that characteristic.”
This doesn’t sound that surprising, and that’s probably because we take such prejudice for granted. As adults, the degree of sympathy we tend to feel for someone in an unfortunate situation will depend on the degree to which we feel it is their ‘fault’; that they are responsible for their position. Think about some people’s reactions to rape victims, aids sufferers and alcoholics with liver disease.
I think that our mirror neurons are likely to be a factor in this perceptual position. When we see – or even just hear or read – about anothers experience we cannot help but run a simulation of it; how would that situation be for me? And from that will come a range of possible behavioural options. It’s why common advice to alcoholics is to ‘just stop drinking’, and for people with anorexia to ‘eat more’.
Because when we run a simulation of their issue through our eyes we do so with our resources, not theirs – so stopping drinking or eating more wouldn’t be a problem for us so- why would it be for them? And from there we have the root of it’s your fault’ thinking.
In Cognitive Hypnotherapy we train our therapists to avoid the consequences of running our clients problems through our mirror neurons. If I listen to a client’ issue and find myself coming up with a solution I have to recognise that, not as an insight to their problem, but an outsight; I’m using my model of the world, and its resources, not theirs. An insight can only truly come from them.
So the work of a Cognitive Hypnotherapist is to help the client using the client’s model of the world, because our basic position is that they have everything they need to solve the problem, they just haven’t realised it yet.
You can read the full article here.