Lesson No. 7: Watch Your Back

During my graduate studies in Psychology, I learned that murdered people are most often killed by someone they know (this still holds true, even considering the sad mass-shootings we’ve sustained recently). Husbands and wives kill and maim each other regularly.

A few years ago, several studies were done in which pairs of friends were recruited to participate in what researchers assured them was a gravely important experiment. One friend was told to press a button that would give a shock to the other when specific questions were asked. The other friend/partner sat behind a screen and was told to scream horrifically when given the signal. Of course, the researchers repeated several times to the Shocker that sending an electrical charge into their friend’s body was for the greater good. And even though some Shockers expressed agitation at hurting their friends, they still allowed themselves to be talked into giving that friend what they assumed to be painful shocks when told it would offer important information to the world. Even though their friends screamed in what the Shocker believed to be great pain, they still flipped that little switch. (The good news is that the wires attached to their friends weren’t actually electrified.) An interesting bit of information was that the researchers measured the levels of electrification the Shockee would have received had the electrodes been connected to electricity, and while some Shockers only gave what they thought to be gentle jolts, others gave levels that would have resulted in injury.

My takeaway? Think long and hard before making yourself completely vulnerable to another human. Human nature being what it is, that person will most likely at some point let you down. Because you never know when your friend will take it into his head that doing or saying something that hurts you is okay. And sometimes people cannot resist throwing your vulnerabilities back in your face.

Of course, some fortunate few will find a life-partner who will keep their secrets, who will refuse to torment them with past failures. They exist. They are that rare thing – a human who can be trusted.

One thought on “Lesson No. 7: Watch Your Back”

  1. Olive,
    Thought provoking series…this last one particularly. As much as I hate to say it I generally agree with you. Outside of a few extreme cases human nature being what it is, we can only rarely be trusted. I think it must have something to do with the innate desire we have to protect ourselves and our position in life even as un-remarkable as we sometimes are…

    Hope you had a great Christmas…I was just through Albuquerque (staying with my Mom while my brother is away for a week or so). Thought about you two as I flew through. Take care

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