G’day all!! I hope you had a pleasant weekend? I’ll be gone on a foreign consult for a few days and I wanted to leave you with something fresh to “kick start” that cognitive stimulation. Maybe something a little different, yet related? In my clinical practice I am fond of doing dream work, when the opportunity presents itself. There are two major approaches to dream work; one is reflective of the common perception of dream work that involves the interpretation of dream elements by the therapist e.g. the therapist might interpret a dream that is washed in the colour red as being reflective of the patient’s all consuming anger. The other approach is more integrative viewing the dream as an “existential message” and not “wish fulfillment” as in the interpretive approach. In integrative dream work the dream is regarded as a message revealing how the patient views his\her life at the time. It will be used (i.e. the product of the dream work) to increase the patient’s awareness of self and how to regain agency. In lieu of interpretation, the therapist uses the method to act as the patient’s guide and assists the patient in acting out (safely) the various parts of the dream. Each part of the dream (e.g. people, animals, inanimate objects, locations, etc.) is considered a projection of the patient; so each person, prop, animal, etc., is regarded as a part of the patient; as an alienated part of the whole individual.
So whereas a more psycho-dynamically oriented therapist (e.g. a Freudian), in response to a patient describing a dream about sharks might “interpret” that as the patient’s vicious, bloodthirsty, “take no prisoners” nature; a more integrative therapist might have the patient play the role of the shark, and enter into a dialogue in an attempt to have the patient integrate (and eventually accept) that competitive and aggressive aspect of his nature. Perhaps even coming to realize the part played by aggression can contribute to balance.
OK so there it is; an introduction to dream work, an outline of the two major approaches, and a couple of sample responses, based upon the same fictitious “shark dream”. Would you like to have some fun? I will dub you as the psychologist; it isn’t important whether you are more comfortable with an interpretive style (more Freudian) or with a more integrative style (more Perlsian). Whatever you are most comfortable with will be fine. Your patient is the Commissioner of a large (to be left unnamed) National Police Service. The Commissioner’s complaint is that he suffers from a chronic depressive mood and a recurring nightmare. You decide to begin your work by having a session of dream work with your patient. Now, in this session you will hear a lot of reference to “walls”, “guns”, “honour”, “codes”, “loyalty”, “the blanket of freedom”, etc. It is not important whether you interpret this dream (a la Freud) or you work to integrate these dream fragments (a la Perls) into his personality. And remember the “depression” is bound to be related to some kind of “loss”.
The Commissioner begins to relate his dream as if he is an observer in a court room like this (you may recognize this dialogue from another context, involving a military court proceeding):
Colonel J: “You want answers?”
Kaffee: ” I think I’m entitled”.
Colonel J: “You want answers?” (He asks again with incredulity)
Kaffee: “I want the truth”.
Colonel J: “You can’t handle the truth…….Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna’ do it? You? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago (a Marine who was beaten to death by his own) and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury of not knowing what I know; that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honour, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of freedom I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just say thank you and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to………..”
Well, what do think? All the provisos are in place. Yes, you’d like more information (watch the movie). Putting all that aside, what is going on with your patient? What is your diagnosis? Don’t worry about fancy psychological words…..in layman’s terms what is your patient struggling with? Why does the dream recur? Remember the mood disorder (the depression)? What has your patient lost?
If you want to interpret the dream (a la Freud)……do it! If you feel more comfortable integrating all these projected parts back into a complete personality……do it! The latter would entail you allowing the rest of us to watch you in session as you got your patient to “role play” e.g. “the wall”, or “Santiago”. OK, that’s enough, you’re getting too much out of me!
Remember, you should be pretty good at this, as you are exploring, in the Colonel, a personality type not entirely unfamiliar to you. In your case possibly a minor league mixture of dogmatism, conservatism, authoritarianism, a wee bit of rigidity, a tendency toward unforgiving, high expectations of others and…..OK, now don’t go getting all “pissy” on me! How is it you think I know you so well?
So remember your posts may not appear until I return; unless I can get to the blog from where I’m going? This should be not only fun but illuminating as well. See you soon! And don’t forget this……..
“What is, is!”……..and………”One thing follows another”.
Dr. Mike Webster
You’ve likely noticed the increase in CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras in your community. Moreover, the government engages in some type of surveillance of our emails, telephone calls, text messages, and our activity on the “web”. Recently, Toronto PD announced that a number of its’ members would be “on duty” carrying CCTV cameras as part of a “research” project. Is it unusual that so many of us feel that there is so little private space in our lives anymore? Have you ever wondered whether the increase in surveillance actually makes you more safe? Is the loss of privacy actually rewarded with an increase in safety? How do we balance the two?
Closed circuit television has two objectives; deterrence and detection. The cameras record activity in a particular location to gather evidence that may be used by police investigators should a crime be committed. The deterrent effect has more to do with preventing crime. The thinking being, why would anyone commit a crime if he\she knew it would be captured on CCTV. The very attractive notion that CCTV is an effective deterrent of crime is not well established in the literature. (Didn’t we just watch, on the evening news, a woman stuffing racquet ball racquets down her pants while staring directly into a CCTV camera?) Dissenters suggest that bright street lights are equally effective; but isn’t that just another way of increasing visibility, and similar to CCTV.
Think about it for a moment. You likely have committed “crimes” because you thought you could get away with it. They might not have been the equivalent of a “Brinks Job”, but haven’t you parked in a “disabled zone” or used an “access road” on the highway as a short cut to get yourself turned around? If there was a police person standing in the handicapped spot would you still have parked there? Probably not. However police services don’t have enough money in their budgets to put a member in every parking spot and at every access road; and as soon as there is no member there, guess what? However, just the thought that there might be a police presence in the area is enough to deter most motorists. The bottom line is fascinating!! The possible presence of a police person is, at the very least, as good a deterrent, and in some cases even better, than the actual presence of a police member. This makes sense, as if there is always a police presence at the scene and on one occasion there isn’t, it will have no deterrent effect. A “money-strapped” city hall might use a “beat-cop” to act as a deterrent in several spots as the police person doesn’t have to be seen at any one of the locations to still have an effect. Catch this!! The work of philosopher Jeremy Bentham is absolutely fascinating. Have you ever heard of the “panopticon”? It’s a prison designed as a circle, with all the cells facing inward toward a central observation point. The guards sit in the centre of the panopticon with a view of the interior of each cell facing them (through a one way glass); and the inmates are unable to see if there are any staff in the observation tower. Bentham’s thinking was that the inmates could never be sure whether they were being observed or not, so would always be on their best behaviour; just in case! The take away being the effect of a potential guard can be as powerful as if there was a real guard present.
I’ve never forgotten Bentham’s words in describing the panopticon as a way of “obtaining mind over mind”. Now don’t get the wrong idea about J.B; he was not likely to be a supporter of our Conservatives. He was more like a 1700’s version of a Tom Mulcair supporter. He was all about individualism, freedom of expression, abolition of slavery and the death penalty, the right to divorce, and the decriminalization of homosexuality……light years ahead of our Steve, no? He simply viewed his panopticon as a tool for “grinding rogues honest”. The structure was an early form of behaviour modification (therapy?).
So the question begs to be asked (in regard to “esteemed leader” and his evil twin), can you grind a rogue honest? Think about it, the rogues incarcerated in the panopticon might behave better, but is it “real change”? Could it be that they know they are under scrutiny and fear being punished if observed misbehaving? This isn’t really as much about changing morals as it is commanding obedience. Yes I know there are some who would argue that if a person always does the right thing, that behaviour becomes the new norm; it becomes rooted and automatic.
I suppose if you were content with a nation of robotic law abiding citizens this sort of automatic behaviour would make you happy. But in contrast to obeying the law, just because it is the law, what about the merits of wanting to obey the law; the idea of wanting to be a good and moral person.
Thoughtless moral obedience does not make a moral person. Nor does thoughtless compliant behaviour (under the gaze of CCTV) make a moral RCMP member. It might be that constant unthinking obedience and fear of consequences could be a bad thing? It could stunt your moral growth; you could become “morally flabby” as you miss the opportunity to exercise your own judgement, reflect on your own behaviour, challenge your own actions, and the norms of the community you live in. There are limited ways for you to do this in a legal and safe fashion. This is one of the places of the labour union. Here’s where the MPPAC could actually play a role in your moral development.
Do you remember the name Edward Snowden? OK, OK, breathe deeply you’ll be alright. In and around 2013 he revealed wide range government surveillance of ordinary people in places like the USA, the UK, and Israel. His revelations snowballed and reached unprecedented levels that soon included his own country (US) spying on major world political figures from the Pope to the German Chancellor.
The case of Edward Snowden brought a long simmering issue to a boil. In the business of increased surveillance, who holds the trump cards, privacy or security? On the security side, for example, the present day Canadian Government, who seems to enjoy the ever increasing observation of us, argues that if we have nothing to hide we should have no objection to being observed. On the other side of the of the issue, those who object to being observed assert their right to privacy.
So can increased surveillance be justified; even the increase of RCMP members on “the hill” and Toronto’s roll out of CCTV cameras? There is always going to be the worry of the security and accuracy of the information as the data accumulates from these sources. Logic would suggest that the more there is of it, the more susceptible it will be to misuse. It seems that our Prime Minister and his various agencies hold all the cards. But is that true? Are we not still a democracy? Doesn’t the Prime Minister, his Chief of Police, and all elected officials, serve at the pleasure of the public? Don’t the authorities still have to retain our trust to remain in power? Yet another place for a police association.
When “the people” examine the government’s push for more and more powers of surveillance, they will question who is being protected. The people will tolerate more surveillance only if they believe it is for their own protection. Did you hear this from Mr. Harper and his minions around Bill C-42? Were we not all of a sudden surrounded by “Jihadists”? The citizens of the USA and the UK also gave up increased individual freedoms (which they are now questioning) believing that their investment in increased levels of security would profit the general public. Did you ever fantasize a wee bit and consider all these increases in power and security were really intended to protect the government? I know, I know it’s way out there…..but I’m just saying? Now you’re going to think I’m a complete “whack job”…..or, to protect certain individuals in the government?
Have you ever wondered when or if that time comes, what you would do? Will you object to the invasion of your privacy then? Will it be too late? How far are you willing to go? Where will you draw the line between benefit and the loss of privacy?
In this brief piece, we haven’t even looked at the interface between security and the role of technology in the surveillance of private communications. Have you ever attended a “private security” trade show? If you have, did it ever cross your mind how the line between private “police” and professional (government) police has become blurred? Have you ever taken the time to inform yourself on the speed with which private policing is overtaking professional policing in Europe and the US? Can Canada be far behind?
I hope this brief and inadequate offering has served to stimulate questions. Even more so, to cause you to see yet another way that the MPPAC could serve you and the public you protect. I may be a dreamer but there was a time (I grew up on the East Side of Vancouver) when a particular VPD member impressed me as being able to care more about my future than his own……in part, because the latter was secured by a union). Later on in life we met again. He was refereeing the wrestling matches that “Iron Mike” was using to pay for a Doctorate in Psychology. I made it R.M., thanks for the chance, R.I.P. buddy!
“The Secret Is, There Is No Secret!”
Dr. Mike Webster
My brothers and sisters,
First, I hope you don’t object to the way I address you. It’s simply the way I feel about you, however if I offend I will cease and find some other way. I want to open this brief piece by letting you know I am aware of the effect Bill C-42 has had on the volume of your responses to your blog. I hope this brief piece does something to allay your fears and light the “fire in your belly”. Just yesterday I was present at a meeting, organized by the Mounted Police Professional Association, held at a medium sized Detachment on Vancouver Island. There were two meetings one in the am and one in the pm to accommodate shifts. Both were poorly attended; although I will say that those who did come, impressed me with their desire to look after themselves and their families. Even though not “union people” they had realized that a union is not a union, is not a union. etc., etc. Moreover, they seemed to understand that if they don’t show some autonomy and begin to look after themselves and their families, who will? The RCMP?
I wish I could have seen you all there in that fire hall. You ask why are your MPPAC Executive forced to meet you in a fire hall? Because your management is afraid of you in a group (e.g. MPPAC). They refuse to let your MPPAC meet you in the Detachment. They like it when you are stumbling around the Detachment, sleep deprived, “in shit”, and without time to talk to each other. At the morning presentation (I was unable to attend in the evening), I was given a couple of minutes after the MPPAC Executive had spoken, to address the “turn away” crowd. I am envisioning all of you sitting before me and listening to what I said to them. Here we go…..
“It is common knowledge that the RCMP is a dysfunctional organization. I’m not just blowing this information out my ass. Take the time to check out those far more knowledgeable than I (e.g. Prof. Linda Duxbury, Management Scholar and author of the Duxbury Report on the RCMP). The RCMP is in big trouble and not by any measure a “change ready” organization. The RCMP culture, since its’ inception, and more so today does not support change. It does not support workplace health or provide a competitive advantage for its’ membership.
The RCMP is a victim of a downward “success spiral”. That is, it has held on too long to the belief that what worked well in the past, works well today, and will continue to work well in the future. This is comparable to a football coach using the same game plan for every team he plays, because it once worked to defeat an opponent several years ago.
The RCMP is in need of “Transformational Change”. That doesn’t mean hiring 30 new members for security on Parliament Hill; or moving 30 members there from some other ERT-like Units who were already strapped. It doesn’t mean shifting personnel around, it doesn’t mean “robbing from Peter to pay Paul”, it doesn’t mean re-ordering priorities, and it certainly doesn’t mean sitting and “whining” to government about how difficult your job is. What it does mean is a change in Core Values, a change in Culture, a change in size, and a change in focus! We go to bed tonight, and when we wake up in the morning, the RCMP looks nothing like last night when we went to bed. For example, its’ size has been drastically reduced, it is focused on Federal Statutes, general duty policing has been put in the hands of municipal and provincial police agencies. And the “outfit” is on its’ way to restoring its’ former greatness and your health!!!
This type of change typically triggers “change resistance”; from individual members who are ill-informed and used to being spoon fed, and from the top where all the power is. Those at the top have the most to lose and often will engage in heightened political behaviour. Can you recall a past Commissioner mentioned as frequently in the news in tandem with his political masters, as “what’s his name”?
I’ll apologize ahead of time if what I am about to say hurts or angers someone. What world are you living in Cst. D. Doright? What makes you think you are so special? I guarantee you there is someone bigger, tougher, smarter, and more suited to your job than you are, standing right behind you waiting to “engage” with the Force. The Senior Management of the RCMP doesn’t give a “flying f–k” about you as a person…or your partner or children, if you have some. You could go down tomorrow and no one would miss you two days later. How many of the 30 some odd members who have committed suicide since 2005 or 2007 can you name for me?? How many killed on duty over the last 12 to 15 years can you name for me? Get your head out of your ass and start looking after you and yours!!! If you don’t, who will?? Become a member of MPPAC and take responsibility for yourself and those who depend on you before you become worked to the bone and/or have more of your benefits taken from you. You are not as special as you think you are and if you don’t protect yourself (and family), who will??”
Sed Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodies? (Who Watches the Watchmen?)
Dr. Mike Webster
Here’s an age old question; how much of your individuality, autonomy, privacy, or rights as a worker are you willing to give up to preserve the “status quo”? You are often advised to “go with the flow” or “don’t rock the boat”, after all there are approximately 19,000 regular members in the RCMP and it doesn’t seem to be an issue with them. That many members can’t be wrong! Really? Why can’t they?
Isn’t that you who counsels your child to think for him\herself after unthinkingly following the crowd on some issue that resulted in havoc? Where do you figure new ideas, theories, and policies come from? How are better, more effective and efficient ways of doing things developed? A few centuries ago everybody believed that the Sun was in orbit around the Earth. The entire medical community believed that a horribly toxic chemical (mercury) was the cure of choice for syphilis. The number of people who hold a belief doesn’t seem to be a “sure fire” guarantee of its’ veracity.
Science itself can go for decades without having its’ prevailing models challenged. And then all of a sudden there is a period of paradigm shift; and those who catalyzed these deviations from the norm were initially derided. A good example might be Copernicus, who first suggested that actually upon closer inspection it seemed that it was the Earth that was orbiting around the sun, rather than the other way ’round. The Catholic Church objected strongly to the Earth not being the centre of the universe. The prevailing geocentric model had held sway due to what is known as “consensus reality” i.e. it was valid because it was believed by so many. Do you think that “consensus reality” could be playing a role in why more RCMP members and the general public are unable to recognize just how dysfunctional the Force is today?
As employees working for an “outfit” with such a long history, you have come to embrace certain cultural beliefs (e.g. the RCMP is a policing model for democracies around the world). If in the course of your career you experience a flash of doubt you are likely to quickly put it out of mind; as you have a tendency to think that so many others think differently, you must be wrong. Moreover, as you are like most human beings motivated by the desire to be accepted, you want to avoid appearing contrary; you would prefer to be liked by others than not, and so you “go along to get along”. Like most, you ignore the advice of Socrates who suggested that to hold and defend an opinion, after thoroughly exploring it, is what makes you human. He was very big on the “thoroughly exploring” part; reflected in his statement, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.
On the other hand when one has examined thoroughly an issue, and disagrees with the prevailing opinion, what is that individual to do? If it was you where would you fall along the continuum of “self interest” at one end and “community interest” at the other, on this issue? If you fall square on the community interest end of our continuum, you’re likely to be labelled a “whistle blower” and pay a great price (as some of your membership have). However, self interest ( usually related to your responsibility to family) enters the equation here and modulates your answer to the question.
Present day RCMP Executives are depending upon your self interest to keep their questionable and archaic practices hidden. If you were a full blown “whistle blower” you could pay a stiff price, especially under now existing legislation. You could lose your job, or perhaps have your work life made miserable; or forfeit friendships, status, home, family or health. In addition there could be a stream of lawsuits and the creation of an adversarial relationship between you and your employer. Even though to “blow the whistle” is the morally genuine thing to do, it may not result in your objective; rather with you discredited and financially bereft, unable to take on the massive resources of the “outfit”.
You don’t need to make such a sacrifice to make a difference. Allow me to explain. I will outline, in brief, three critical concepts, and then I will ask you to make a decision. Are you with me so far? OK here we go…..first concept is that the RCMP is not a “change ready” organization, by any measure you apply to it. And I’m not just pulling this stuff out of my “you know what”! If you want someone more credible that I, who will confirm these opinions, check out the work of Carleton University management scholar Professor Linda Duxbury. She will outline for you how RCMP culture does not support only change but also workplace health, and a competitive advantage with other police services around the globe.
Next point: The RCMP is caught in a downward “success spiral”. The organization has held on too long to the belief that what worked well in the past, works well today, and will continue to do so tomorrow. With no doubt, those at the helm of the RCMP are having a bout of “consensus reality” (remember this from earlier?).
Final point: The RCMP is in need of “Transformational Change”. This kind of change does not involve itself with “tinkering”. It doesn’t mean making alterations to personnel, adjusting existing budgets, or creating/eliminating new sections; this type of change involves sweeping change in culture, size, focus, and perhaps even core values. The RCMP has “too much to do with too little” and it is the rank and file that suffer for it. The “fly in the ointment” however is that this type of change typically triggers resistance from the top(where the power lives) and heightened political behaviour (isn’t the RCMP Commissioner a Deputy Minister in the government of the day?).
OK, now the pitch; if you have thoroughly examined the issue (recall what Socrates said about “the unexamined life”) and you agree with the points I have tried to make in the previous three paragraphs, you have a limited number of options to consider. One, you could do nothing, continuing to “bitch” as if it had a chance of bringing about change. Two, you could go “all radical” and become a “whistle blower” at yours’ and your families’ expense, or three; you could come out and support the union movement. The only cost here is your time and energy. It is your right to belong to The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC). You could join your “brothers and sisters” who have seen that it is on the “middle road” where you have the potential for the most gain with the least pain.
Here it is “brothers and sisters”; an all in one solution. Join the MPPAC and begin to pitch and sign others up; you will not only feel alive again, you’ll have a sense of a bigger picture than just your own situation. Your family will have Mom\Dad back again, and best of all you won’t be spinnin’ your wheels and goin’ nowhere!
“Be the changes you want in the world!!!!”
Dr. Mike Webster
G’day all!! I know this introduction will make me sound like a complete “mush-head” but I worry about the guy!! The “esteemed leader” is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and I’m concerned about his legacy after he goes “walk about, down under”. I think we could all agree that he hasn’t exactly exceeded his potential. Did you catch Global’s Parliamentary Correspondent, Vassy Kapelos, “rip him a new one” as he stumbled out of a committee meeting where former Solicitor General Wayne Easter had grilled him on his knowledge of Global’s “16×9″ piece? He remained pretty much on mark and showed promise of continuing to underwhelm us prior to his departure. Please don’t hold this against me, but the following little piece is designed to assist him in raising his stock in the eyes of the membership, and possibly even the Canadian public before he bids us “ta-ra”.
So, where to begin? Perhaps I could introduce what I am about to write by saying that I used to teach this type of material to the “recruiters of human sources” at the Canadian Police College. A source recruiter (or “agent of influence”) has a tough job. His/her message to a potential source will be under constant scrutiny and analysis by the “target” to assess its’ potential for self interest and bias. This kind of skepticism serves a target well, in that if the agent’s message is found to be biased, the former can prepare to defend and/or scrutinize further. You can get a sense of what “esteemed leader” is up against with the membership and the general public. Most importantly he does not want to appear untruthful.
I would like to offer a couple of strategies that are often taught to “agents of influence” and used to assist in transforming the unbelievable, the untrustworthy, and the disliked into something resembling their opposites. Do you recall the story of the Chinese Emperor who wanted to invade the neighbouring kingdom? He enlisted his most trusted advisor to deliver a passionate speech in the town square suggesting that the Emperor should attack his neighbour. The Emperor immediately had his advisor put to death; impressing upon the neighbouring kingdom that he had no intention of attacking; which caused the neighbouring kingdom to disarm. Our hero then immediately carried out a surprise attack and captured the neighbouring kingdom.
The teaching point here is that untrustworthy types (“esteemed leader”?) can make themselves seem trustworthy by behaving in a way that seems to be against their own self-interest. If “esteemed leader” could convince his audience that he has nothing to gain (maybe even something to lose) by convincing us of his sincerity, theoretically we could come to trust him more and he could become more effective. In the above told story of the Emperor, when he killed his trusted advisor he appeared to be acting against his own self-interest. The problem for his target audience was that what he did was an illusion. He had choreographed the whole thing so it would appear that he was acting in opposition to his own needs. Are you following, “esteemed leader”, as we are about to introduce the second point in the story; that is when it comes to influencing others “what they see ain’t always what they get”.
It’s not really necessary to put a trusted advisor to death to increase the perception of your trustworthiness. (Did I just hear the rest of the Senior Executives at NHQ breathe a sigh of relief?). Allow me “esteemed leader” to paint a picture; let’s imagine that a recently captured and convicted member of ISIS was ranting to the media about the legitimacy of his cause, the unfairness of the Canadian Judicial System, and the bias of the judge who sentenced him to “life without parole”. Do you think you would be persuaded? Most people would expect him to take such a position and view him as a biased and untrustworthy zealot. On the other hand, imagine if he was ranting about the illegitimacy of his cause, how lenient the justice system was, and how all you needed was money to buy a good defense. Would you listen now? Do you think you might be more easily influenced?
There’s a body of research that suggests there is a very good chance that the second approach will have more influence over us. Why? In the case of RCMP members and the general public, they could conclude that “esteemed leader” has undergone a transformational experience and reformed his insensitive and errant ways (or maybe he was under some pressure to reform). In the absence of any evidence to support the foregoing, it’s more likely we had found him to be so compelling, even though in opposition to the position he had previously occupied, that we come to believe he has changed. I know it sounds crazy but there is a tonne of research to support what I’m telling you!
Remember the Chinese philosopher Mencius (it’s OK “esteemed leader”, just follow along)? He outlined another potent technique for increasing our trustworthiness in the eyes of others. The story is told that on one occasion the King summoned Mencius to attend the Royal Chambers and advise the Monarch on a very puzzling issue. Rather than attending immediately, Mencius played “hard to get” for several days. The King in his anger finally reached his boiling point and accused Mencius of being disrespectful. Mencius responded by saying that he was far from being disrespectful. He explained that he could only be of use to the King if the latter trusted fully his integrity and independence of mind. Even if there was the smallest chance that the King thought Mencius consulted with him only to curry favour, or provide answers merely to please, his valuable advice would not be heeded.
The teaching point here, “esteemed leader” is that your trustworthiness can be increased and the bias of your message decreased if your target is genuinely convinced that you are not attempting to engage in a “snow job”. An example: let’s say I called you and apologized for all the “ribbing” I have been giving you, and ended by telling you I actually had great respect for you. Would you buy it? On the flipside, let’s say you were on “the hill” and you overheard a group of respected journalists talking about how they were all surprised to discover during independent interviews that Mike Webster actually had great respect for Bob Paulson! Would you be more likely to want to listen to more? Would you be more likely to change your opinion of me? Remember, there is a plethora (it means a lot) of research that suggests you would, as I wasn’t attempting to influence you directly; you would be more persuaded of my genuineness.
So there it is. And by sharing these techniques of social influence with you I’m suggesting there is still time to salvage your legacy to the “outfit”. In the form of a summary I’ll offer you a couple of examples. Maybe in what appears to be “acting against your own self-interest” (remember the killing of the trusted advisor?) you could “can” one of your senior execs (who of course you have set up a la Mencius) for speaking against unionizing the RCMP. Or you could present a cogent (it means well thought out) argument in favour of MPPAC and ensuring the rights of RCMP members. Finally, you might orchestrate one of those “media gaffs” you have become so famous for and have the cameras catch you touting the advantages of downsizing and unionizing to some of your Senior Executive over coffee at Starbucks (that you, in a rare move, paid for).
There it is, I hope you take it in the right spirit and are able to put it to use. Or am I just using my own stuff on ya’?
Dr. Mike Webster
Please take a few moments to rest your thoughts on Neil and scores of others who were unable to cope with the toxic work environment that is the RCMP. You can refresh your memory by watching Natalie Clancy’s piece on CBC News 04/05/15.
Dr. Mike Webster
G’day all! You’ve either heard me use, or maybe have read the term “resilience”, in your related research. The most frequently asked question I receive from readers of the blog is, “what is it?” I thought I might attempt a brief explanation; of course leaving room at the end of the piece to address your “esteemed leader”.
I’d like you to keep in mind that since “esteemed leader” gave his seal of approval to “E” Division’s failed attempt to discredit me with the College of Psychologists, I have been employed as the psychologist at a Canadian Forces Base on Vancouver Island. In my capacity there I ran a group entitled “Resilience:You’re tougher than you think!” I thought I might provide you with an outline of the group process in an effort to give you a better idea of what the term means to me.
Please keep in mind the group that I run is an educational\therapy group. The group members can span those struggling with everything from the stress associated with meeting our everyday obligations to self and others, to coping with post traumatic issues related to military service; with that in mind our objective is always to enhance our effectiveness as military persons, citizens, parents, partners, and/or professionals; in addition to increasing our well being and developing our potential.
The initial focus is on the phenomenon of “resilience” and the competencies that contribute to it, these are; I) self awareness, ii) self regulation, iii) optimism, iv) mental agility, v) strength of character, and vi) connection. The group is designed to meet once a week for 24 weeks; with the participants building their resilience by making these competencies part of themselves. They are encouraged to apply themselves to, and incorporate within themselves the skills that contribute to resilience.
As part of the initial focus the group members are assisted in defining resilience as “the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenge and to rebound from adversity. They are aided in understanding that resilience can be built through a set of core competencies that produce mental toughness, optimal performance, strong leadership, (keep in mind, this is a military application of the skills) and goal achievement.
The bottom line at this stage for the group participants is to grasp firmly the idea that “resilient people bounce or bend but never break!” It is considered a demonstration of resilience when, in any setting a person, even though under a great deal of personal stress can reach out and assist someone else.
Each group session has an educational component (that serves as a stimulus to discussion) and is often difficult to separate from the therapeutic component. Early therapy interventions are used to assist group members in feeling comfortable with self disclosure; an example of such a topic is “how resilience facts contrast with resilience myths in your life”. Some of the more common myths that arise include: “I must never show emotion”; I should be able to handle it on my own”; “I either have it or I don’t”; and, “life is a destination not a journey”.
The second phase of the group’s development introduces the six core competencies; they are discussed, learned, and applied.
The military members learn to identify their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and the relationship between them; special attention is paid to counterproductive patterns. The group members learn to be open and curious; especially with regard to their own process.
The military members learn how to gain control over and regulate their own impulses, feelings, and behaviours in an effort to achieve goals. They learn how to appropriately express emotions that they previously attempted to block. They learn how to recognize, stop, and change counterproductive thinking.
The group members are shown how, and encouraged, to “hunt the good stuff” in their lives; while remaining realistic and optimistic about their ability to deal with problems. They learn what they can control and what they can’t. They come to recognize what they have control over and what is beyond their control. The participants are coached on how to maintain hope, have confidence in themselves and in their teammates (in a military setting).
The members of the group are taught how to think accurately (logically) and flexibly. They are taught how to adopt other perspectives. They are shown how to identify, analyze, and understand problems. Through participating in the therapy sessions they come to appreciate the benefits of flexibility and the willingness to apply new strategies to old problems.
Strength of Character:
Through the course of their involvement the military members learn to identify their top strengths and how to use them to “meet and defeat” problems” in the attainment of objectives. They are encouraged to adopt a “winner’s attitude” and to kindle faith in their own strengths, talents, and abilities.
At this point I will remind you that this intervention is conducted in a group setting. Over the course of the 6 months together the group members come to know each other on a very personal level; they build strong relationships with each other. Through trial and error they have developed an ability to communicate with each other both positively and effectively. They have increased their ability to take different perspectives on a problem; to enable them to empathize. They have each been humbled in front of their peers, learned to ask for help and how to offer it to others.
In sum, after spending 24 sessions together, the members have increased their ability to deal with stress, to overcome setbacks, to solve problems, to remain task focused, and to perform under pressure; they have increased their confidence and decreased the tendency to view themselves as helpless (thus reducing the potential for increased anxiety or depression).
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.
Dr. Mike Webster
P.S. G’day Mr. Paulson (sorry, but I just can’t muster up the “C” word). I’m writing this postscript today, as my last for now. I won’t tell you that the persona (“Iron Mike”) that often inhabits me won’t be back; as he comes and goes when he feels the need. I was possessed by him recently for a number of reasons, chief among them my desire to illustrate something to you. I’ve been told that allowing him to enter me and to say the things I said to you, is “beneath” me. Mission accomplished!!!
My objective throughout the exercise has been to get the attention of the membership; most importantly yours!! My reputation isn’t mine. It was given to me by the working members. It’s on loan to me from those I respect. I wanted you to know that I would even squander that to make a point with you; more accurately to get you to pay attention to the archaic way in which they are treated. I would sacrifice all that they have given me just to make them whole again.
I haven’t given up on you entirely, however for the time being, it looks as if I have failed to get your attention. Likely a case of “Iron Mike” starting to believe his own press clippings! Dontcha’ think? As a closer, never forget this……”The paradox of the ego is that first you must have one, to know it doesn’t exist”.
The purpose of this theoretical article is to provide another perspective on a phenomenon that some of you have become familiar with: the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (I do not write this piece as your therapist, and am not suggesting that you abandon any more traditional treatment you are receiving to embrace my approach). By now, most of you are familiar with the complaint against me, made by RCMP “E” Division Executives with the “blessing” of the Commissioner. And with the fact that the College of Psychologists of British Columbia following a very thorough investigation of the complaint, “turfed” it and found me innocent. In the RCMP’s complaint, the Human Resources Officer of the day (2012) complained to the investigative committee that at times I referred to myself as a “radical psychologist”. While this is true, I’m one of the most conservative “radicals” I know. I’m sure some of my truly “radical” colleagues would scoff at me being viewed as one of them.
The present article is grounded in my life experiences and various places of employment and study; including professional sport, psychotherapist, long supporter of unions, tendency toward socialist politics, a white man with a modicum of privilege, and a Buddhist “poser”. My conceptual foundation is made of a doctoral degree in Counselling Psychology (where I was introduced to community/radical psychology, an anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-religious denomination perspective and, a certain anti-psychiatric skepticism).
My approach to my patients (a very successful one I might add) is based on a fundamental philosophical/theoretical criticism of the diagnosis of “PTSD”. Upon close examination it appears to be a grab bag of context-less symptoms separate from the complex nature of people’s lives and the social variables that influence them. Consequently, a diagnosis of PTSD individualizes a variety of problems best seen (in my opinion) as social in nature, and pathologizes traumatized individuals. Moreover, traumatic responses can be experienced by virtue of simply belonging to a particular social group (e.g. Women, Blacks, Aboriginals, the Physically Disabled, the Mentally Disadvantaged) or by being related to a particular family or group (e.g. Holocaust Survivors’ children, the children of the victims of Mt. Cashel, or the survivors of a fire, plane crash, or ship sinking at sea). The significance of occupying such a role is not covered by the present diagnostic system. Most clinicians have encountered patients who have not “first hand”, been confronted with a traumatic stressor but are affected due to the way they have witnessed the manner in which someone close to them is reacting to a specific traumatic exposure.
With regard to contemporary psychiatry, once referred to by a well known sociologist (Smith, D., 1990), as a “regime of ruling”. This branch of medicine invented the concept of a “mental disorder” and divided it up into convenient diagnostic categories that are imposed upon others by members of the exclusive club; and then, using these vulnerable individuals for objects of study and terming what is derived from the exercise as “knowledge”. Then using this “knowledge”, they have wangled permission from us for the right to incarcerate and impose chemical substances upon us. The bottom line appears to be that psychiatry created, in essence, “mental disorders” and sold them to us, we then gave them the right to police (diagnose and treat) them. Based upon this chain of events, we might be able to hypothesize that psychiatry created “mental disorders” and that the notion pushed by it, regarding how a person “develops” a particular mental disorder, can at the very least be viewed as questionable. The chain of events isn’t so much that we experience an oppressive stimulus that creates stress, and then the chronic accumulation of stress leads to a disorder. It might just be, as noted by Smith (1990), that we experience an oppressive situation, that leads to stress (sometimes called depression, sometimes called anxiety, sometimes called obssessive/compulsive behaviour). There really is no “psychiatric disorder” at this early stage, nor does there have to be unless someone with an M.D. and a specialty in psychiatry comes along and overlays a psychiatric label on it, backed by the DSM; and now a mental disorder is created. So we might, just might, be able to put forward a somewhat reasoned argument that “mental disorders” are really a function of the power psychiatry holds in society, and are mediated by the psychiatric text book (presently the DSM-5; exclusive of those disorders with a demonstrated bio-behavioural component of course). So again, just maybe, psychiatric diagnoses might be a grab bag of context-less symptoms rather than the naturalistic categories they are presented to be. In other words, not naturalistic categories, but definitional categories created by committee? What are we to do then?
It has been suggested, yes by those who take a more “radical” (“critical, “community”) view that patients’ problems not be framed in terms of diagnostic categories; but that, we very vigorously “de-medicalize” psychological problems, and entertain a more psychological perspective that recognizes the patient’s social context, e.g. employment, relationships, living situation, fitness, diet, etc. It might serve us (psychologists and their patients) well to recognize that social structures can be “toxic” and result in individual trauma very similar to a physical wound.
Another way of framing this is to suggest that trauma is not a disorder but a response to a psychological assault. The diagnosis has been traditionally applied to individuals, but as we have seen it can be applied to entire communities. Of course, there is a certain physicality to trauma; it can become embodied in an individual, and it can as another well known theorist pointed out (Erikson, 1995), befall or “tear asunder” an entire community. What seems to me (and others who share my view) is to consider that trauma does not appear to be a “free floating” feeling, or a set of feelings, or an orientation. It is more a concrete physical, cognitive, affective, spiritual response by people and/or communities to events that have the potential to be objectively traumatizing. To put it simply (not often found in psychiatry) traumatized individuals feel that way because they have been traumatized! What it really boils down to is traumatized people viewing the world as a dangerous place because their “illusion of invulnerability” has been shattered; and consequently, they have a distorted view of the world as a wholly threatening place. The remedy involves, in general, assisting them in telling the difference between what is a threat and what isn’t. To be clear, perhaps pre-trauma, their world view was illogical in a somewhat “Mary Poppins” direction. In this case then, the remedy would involve cutting back on the “Mary Poppins” attitude and creating more of a balance that included a heightened awareness by virtue of the present experience, i.e. the development of some coping skills.
In conclusion, the meaning of all of this for a practitioner who wishes to adopt a more “radical”, (“community”, “critical”) approach (or for the patient out shopping for a practitioner that fits) is this…… it is in general advantageous to conceptualize the patient’s response as falling somewhere along a continuum upon which we are all located, rather than an “all or nothing” kind of thing. I am not suggesting that the continuum conceptualization is used in any way to equate what is quite obviously not included, or to accommodate a totally subjective perspective. So we could say, we are not traumatized by an event just because we have dragged around related distress for our entire life since the event; or just because we (or a physician) applies the term trauma.
It follows then, that first line counsellors, and therapists, who will likely encounter the above noted groups be trained to go beyond problem solving, counselling, advising, and mentoring. They should be prepared and trained to intervene in the patient’s toxic life systems (e.g. employment, community, family). The most obvious implication of a more “critical trauma theory” is that advocacy is not inconsistent with therapy; whether it is individual or systemic.
“There is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
Dr. Mike Webster, R. Psych. (#0655)
P.S. Soooooo “Brutal Bobby”…….I’m near run out of options to interest you in climbing down from your Ivory Tower and joining us “common folk”. Let’s see now……I started with a Chain Match with me (that by the way, would have sent your stock through the roof!!!). You showed a great deal of what I viewed as “hesitancy” (and my ‘rasslin’ buddies saw as a mix of poultry and fecal matter), remember? Then I magnanimously adjusted and offered to substitute a Tag Team match between my NWF World Heavyweight Tag Team Champion partner (The Professional) and myself; all the while attempting to show some empathy and making it less threatening for you. No luck……you didn’t call me “Bobby”? So I then went to a great deal of trouble to find you a “ little person” to assist with your “jitters”, or as my ‘rasslin’ buddies prefer to label it……well I don’t need to go there again. Remember “Mascarita Segrada”? He was very excited to have the opportunity to kick your…….oh shit!!! Is that off limits? Would your Puppet Master consider that “threatening”? Or would you and the “boys and girls” have to resort to orchestrating another fiasco like we have going on in Victoria right now? Back to business, I have taken it due to your non-communication with me, (not the case at NHQ though is it? I am informed that you have even convened meetings with me on the agenda. Wow “Bobby”, I’m honoured!!), you are just not interested in raising your stock in the membership’s eyes. “Bobby” I assure you I would be very generous in the ring with you. I would make you look good!! To finish my attempts to gain your cooperation in this very sophisticated PR campaign, I even offered to drop the “chain” and enter the “cage” with you. Some may interpret this as me trying to appease your “candy ass”, but I assure you there are far more “angles” we could work in the “cage” that would make you look like a real Commissioner rather than a “Commissionaire” of the RCMP.
OK here’s my next option; as I’ve indicated, it is not uncommon knowledge that you are going “down under” on some “money-grubbing scam”. This is a perfect opportunity for you to put a somewhat positive spin on your time as Commissioner. You could put yourself right up there with the likes of Phil Murray and Norm Inkster…well maybe not quite, but a helluva’ lot better than the way you will be remembered, if you don’t do some damage repair. So what I’m proposing is this…..you distinguish yourself as the Commissioner who had the foresight, intuition, and genius (I know, this is a bit of a stretch but stay with me) to really understand that the “outfit” is only as good as the members who do the actual day-to-day police work; and that they, in order to stay healthy, and have complete and rewarding lives, are in need of labour representation, and the RCMP needs to be downsized! OK get up off the floor, I know this is an entirely new way for you to think, but I believe if you take some time to think about it, even you will see the merit in it. This would mean that you “come out”…….no not that way silly!!! You come out in favour of the MPPAC. You separate yourself from your “evil twin” and show the membership that you are human and can think for yourself. What can he do to you “Bobby”? He spends most of his time in the closet, and has no idea what’s going on in the lives of the “common folk”. Invite me out to NHQ (what’s that?…….you have a pain in your chest……sit down it’ll pass) and I will orchestrate a meeting with the MPPAC and you can strategize (yes, yes it can be done without him, leave that part to us, it’s a bit beyond your ability to comprehend anyway) the downsizing and unionizing of Canada’s beloved RCMP. Just think of it m’boy you’ll be a hero, if not an enigma (…..look it up in the dictionary).
Anyhooooo “Brutal Bobby”, enough for now, just know I’m your “patch” to a hero’s place in history. Gimme a call…..I’m waitin’?
I’m going to take a shot at this topic with all assumptions in place, i.e. the Canadian public has arisen and elected a federal government who is interested in saving our national police service and the membership of the RCMP has become unionized and “sick to death” of being oppressed by a group of DHQ and NHQ sycophants. Please remember that these comments are being made by a psychologist trained in the application of Systems Theory (e.g. Sluzki, 1983; Wilden 1980). I do not claim to be an expert in organizational management; moreover, in this case I view that as an advantage.
I have often shared my opinion on this blog as to how the RCMP would be better off if drastically downsized; however in doing so we must be careful not to put strategy before people. This means that I would consider doing the following:
1) I would need to sift through the Senior Executive and decide who I could trust, and what value that person could bring to the metamorphosis and the “new look” RCMP. (I would rely heavily on the MPPAC , responsible, and trusted senior members for this). I would need to ask those who I have identified as having a future in the organization, for a commitment, be straight with them, and communicate my vision of the RCMP in the future.
2) I would need to appoint a “rescue team”. I would not be able to undertake such a mission on my own. I would require 2-3 Senior Executives from either DHQs or NHQ that have managed to maintain the respect of the majority of the membership, and are willing to work to gain the trust of the rest.
3) I would need to draft a clear “change message”; looking to the “rescue team” for guidance, yet maintaining the final decision option. The message would need to be brief and compelling; it would contain three elements 1) the case for change, 2) the view of the organization in the future and 3), a strong commitment to what will be preserved. Those who figure in the RCMP’s future should understand the case for change. The view of the future will enhance and flesh out the case for change. Finally, I will need to find something about the organization’s recent past that I can genuinely appreciate and would not feel uncomfortable publically supporting. Those members who decide to remain will need to know that I as the (temporary) Commissioner value their efforts in contrast to most of those who preceded them in the commissioned ranks.
4) I would need to adopt a policy of communication that is constant, candid, and two-way; something that was non-existent in the past! I will need to develop a “trap-line” to assist me in staying in touch with all concerns of the membership. This is where I see the cobbling of a working relationship with MPPAC. I could begin the scheduling of quarterly meetings with MPPAC “reps” who could bring forward the issues raised in their regular section meetings (while maintaining an “open door” policy….much easier to do with a downsized organization).
5) I believe that with a different mandate (i.e. the exclusive responsibility for enforcing federal statutes), I would need to invest in my investigators and provide them with regular and contemporary training. I would need to be clear about new performance expectations. Perhaps I could show my trust in my remaining personnel by allowing them to identify “best practices”. During my temporary time at the helm, I would take advantage of competent police persons (exclusive of rank or section) and request that they assist in establishing competencies for the (reduced) tasks of the “new look” RCMP. I would like to enlist them as “trainer-coaches” to assist in the development of their peers.
6) Any major changes in the organizational structure would be preceded by clear and straightforward information related to how decisions will be made that affect the structure of the RCMP and individuals working within it. I would make every effort to explain that the downsizing of the RCMP is not a random act and that strong performance and support for the new direction is a sure way to increase personal satisfaction and reduce work related stress.
7) My communication with the membership would not resemble “Pope-like” appearances on the NHQ “balcony”. I will make an effort to show my respect for the “new” look RCMP by frequently and personally selling criticism of the “old” RCMP. Those who wish to stay must be given frequent opportunities to present and vent their feelings (as representatives of the membership the MPPAC could play a critical role here). Members should be in constant receipt of status updates on the new direction. Once again, these meetings may be best handled by the MPPAC and focused on measureable goals, clear milestones, with questions and criticism welcomed. The new RCMP will not be “my” RCMP; it will be in the care of the current membership who represents the public they serve. We as a family, and those we serve, will take every opportunity to celebrate small wins, progress, and successfully completed new tasks.
To conclude, when undertaking a task of this nature I firmly believe that two process variables must be kept in mind; first, when carrying out a change (on a massive, rigid organization like the RCMP) it is central that the effect on survivors is constantly monitored; and second, those coaching the change must remain ever flexible. In this way the chances of morale sinking unnoticed, losing our best people, and obtaining “minimal buy-in” from those remaining will be reduced.
Well there it is! Even as I read it over, I am not satisfied! There is something missing………it’s YOU!! I could not do this without your skill, experience, and dedication. I would ride on your shoulders; I would be nothing without you; for it is you who are the RCMP!!!! Rest assured, we will be in a battle to save a once National icon; and as your temporary Commissioner, I pledge this to you, I will not eat until you have eaten and I will not sleep until you have slept.
At your service,
Dr. Mike Webster
Reg’d Psych. (#0655)
P. S. G’day “Brutal Bob”………well after some calling in of favours I have a lead on a “little person” who might be interested in “kicking your……..” Well, to that later, right now tell me what you think of this? It wasn’t easy to make this contact, as I’ve indicated I had to call in some old favours. The sport of “midget wrestling” (not a popular term with “The Little People of America” [LPA]) has fallen out of favour as it tends to portray little people in a negative light. However, I located a contemporary Mexican Star working for “Consejo Mundial Lucha Libre” whose ring name is “Mascarita Sagrada”. He could be persuaded for a price to put a damper on his red hot temper. He is likely to go off “like a cut snake”, if he doesn’t “go over” the likes of you, but he’ll make you look good before he” finishes you off”………oh shit I’ve done it again!!! You know I’m really having trouble with this “what’s a threat and what isn’t”. This new Conservative scare mongering you are buying from your “evil twin” (shit!!!!!…….is that considered off-side as well?), doesn’t look good on ya’ mate. “Down under” they favour “blokes” who can think for themselves. Think it over, and let me know where you are on this. You might build your confidence with “Mascarita Sagrada” and find the “cajones” to either agree to the Tag Team with “The Pro” and I or maybe even the Chain (or Cage) Match with me. Who knows……miracles still happen! And look what you are learning about Professional Wrestling! Good thing you became a cop, I think you are too much of a “tight ass” to enjoy an hour in the ring entertaining people! Anyhooooo “Brutal Bobby”…….. loosen up that “anal pore”, you did not look comfortable in front of the Committee the other day. Let’s have some fun?
P.P.S. My apologies once again to the LPA. I am in complete agreement with you, with regard to the use of the term “midget”. It is entirely degrading. I used it in this case as the “bloke” I’m talking to wouldn’t understand anything else.
There is a Toronto Star article dated today that reports:
– Since 2003 the RCMP’s funding to INSET has been static at $10 Million/year
– the RCMP’s estimated budget for 2014 was $2.63 billion, a 5-per-cent decrease from 2013 and a 15-per-cent drop from four years earlier
-Since 2007 the RCMP has handed back $1.7 billion.
-In 2014 alone, the RCMP handed back $158.7 million
Do you think this reflects Senior Management’s commitment to the well-being of the membership (training, equipment, manpower, etc.)? Or rather, they want to look good to the Gov’t on the backs of the members for their own self-serving needs.