Interpersonal Psychological Damage caused by Conflict and the Healing Power of Mediation – Part 1

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight 

Abstract

This article intents to provide a general overview of the perception of different conflicts and the interpersonal psychological damage that these causes to human beings. It is an essential knowledge that will help during these difficult times and the coming years. This work aims to consider the importance of a prevention program to mitigate the escalation of conflicts to avoid violent situations. It also generates a reflection of what are the benefits of mediation when resolving disputes. This paper also mentions some examples where ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Prevention Programs have been successful in order to support the importance of the prevention programs in mediation. 

Introduction

Interpersonal conflict occurs as it is “a cognitive-emotional process in which two persons perceive incompatible goals within their relationship of interdependence and the desire to resolve their differences of power.” (Redorta, 2014). Due to this concept, we can understand that perception, which is guided by our culture, race, gender, previous experiences, and emotions, play a vital role in the conflict and its escalation. 

The interpersonal psychological damage is a deviation to the individual’s health,  potential fit in interaction with the parties, and relational dignity. Interpersonal psychological damage causes poor communication to arise. The mental capacity of cooperation between the individuals disfigures the relationship in different levels. The desire to talk about an added issue is not possible. The degradation of communication is high, and it has already created damage cementing more resentment and hurt. This mental blockage and damage impede the possibility of learning. (Evans, 2006; Renfrewshire Council, n.d.)

History shows that emotions and perceptions have taken people into different wars. People communicate in three different ways which are a. passive communication, where the person: (i) does not state his arguments or feelings, (ii) he obeys what other more assertive people impose, (iii) he avoids conflict because he avoids hurt; b. aggressive communication, where the person: (i) defends his rights without taking into account those of the other person, (ii) doesn’t listen, (iii) does not yield, (iv) imposes his way of doing things, (v) he hardly believes that he has a unique truth, (vi) he lacks  empathy; and c. assertive communication, where a person can: (i) express his arguments and feelings openly, (ii) he protects his own space and is respected, (iii) clearly states his ideas and reasons while respecting the opinions and motivations of the other person.

In the first part of this article, we will explore in a general way what is psychological interpersonal damage. We will then review the perception of conflicts that our societies face nowadays to have a clear idea of the value of  de-escalating  these conflicts to mitigate violence. Then, we will review the importance of the prevention of disputes, and in the end we will mention some examples of successful cases where mediation has worked as part of conflict prevention programs.  Through the mediation process, human relations and understanding benefit from an environment of respect that does not analyze, judge, or sanction. Instead, it makes possible assertive communication to be generated effectively without coercion through pacification. 

What is the Psychological interpersonal damage?

The interpersonal psychological damage is a deviation to the individual’s to a potential fit in interaction with the parties, and the relational dignity. Interpersonal psychological damage can threats, harassment, demand or intimidation. Such damage causes poor communication to arise. The mental capacity of cooperation between the individuals disfigures the relationship in different levels. In many instances, the conversation has entangled through other gaps from diverse topics, and the brain accumulated a history of poor understanding. The desire to talk about an added issue is not possible. The degradation of communication is high, and it has already created damage cementing more resentment and hurt. This mental blockage and damage impede the possibility of learning. (Evans, 2006; Renfrewshire Council, n.d.)

Every day we are encountered with different personalities because of the experiences each individual carries through their lifetime. We have an array of experiences also because of being raised in different cultures. Cultural differences account for different views and values we embed in our minds. Communication in such situations can become difficult because of specific standards taught in each culture. The individual feels the need to fulfill the tradition of his/her own culture to fit such criteria. According to an article identifying the differences in communication between cultures, cross-cultural communication divides into eight types: 1) when to talk; 2) what to say; 3) pacing and pausing; 4) the art of listening; 5) intonation; 6) what is conventional and what is not in a language; 7) degree of indirectness, and 8) cohesion and coherence. (Tannen, 1983) 

If our mind is in a healthy state, we can learn from the other individual to a level of understanding, not to say we must agree. At this moment, we also take in from ourselves. However, only through a healthy mind we can agree to disagree. Nevertheless, when there is interpersonal damage, there is an internalization of symptoms and a lack of interpersonal problem-solving. There is no progression but the regression of our personal development. It is laborious to understand an opposite or different view from our own. Because of the escalated damage, it is not an understanding but a work of “how to defend me” mode. But with a healthy mindset, we can acquire knowledge of other types of strategic communication. (Suldo, Shaunessy & Hardesty 2008). When damage happens, as the vase breaks into pieces, it requires glue to put it back. However, just like that vase, such damage will leave marks that will burst out again when not sealed properly. Using the vase example, when applying glue, that is a Mediation Session, it is essential to investigate the amount of damage.

Concept of psychological damage

Psychological damage is when the individual feels powerless, fearful, humiliated, or threatened and without a way out. The state of mental health is at risk as an accumulation of these feelings, even if it is one or a mix of them, is fogging the view ahead. In return, the emotions can trigger new organs of the body. As the brain signals extreme stress through redundant cortisol release, the chemical release will pressure other body parts to contaminate their order. Consequently, numerous pains will unfold. (Renfrewshire Council, n.d.)

This mind state is an accumulation of stress. It exceeds the body’s capacity to cope, and it can easily precipitate a physical condition of disorder. The traumatic experience can accelerate in weeks, years, and even decades. As the brain is in such a state, it will be an obstacle to cope with everyday stressors. Such stressors create a protective behavior of irritability, among others. Such damage reminders called ‘triggers’ are flashbacks of the damage. (Speake & Lia, 2016)

Consequently, the vulnerability of the body will cause mechanisms of defense. Such tools can be isolation, drugs, alcohol, or sedatives. The capacity to recover from the damage is slim because other body factors are now in consideration.

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