Bastian of the University of Queensland, Australia and his colleagues recruited a group of young men and women under the guise they were part of a study of mental and physical acuity. Under this pretense, they asked them to write short essays about a time in their lives when they had ostracized someone; this memory of being unkind was intended to prime their personal sense of immoralityAand make them feel guilty. A control group merely wrote about a routine event in their lives.
Afterward, the scientists told some of the volunteersAboth “immoral” volunteers and controlsAto stick their hand into a bucket of ice water and keep it there as long as they could. Others did the same, only with a soothing bucket of warm water. Finally, all the volunteers rated the pain they had just experiencedAif anyAand they completed an emotional inventory that included feelings of guilt.
The idea was to see if immoral thinking caused the volunteers to subject themselves to more pain, and if this pain did indeed alleviate their resulting feelings of guilt. And that’s exactly what the researchers found. Those who were primed to think of their own unethical nature not only kept their hands in the ice bath longer, they also rated the experience as more painful than did controls. What’s more, experiencing pain did reduce these volunteers’ feelings of guiltAmore than the comparable but painless experience with warm water.
According to the scientists, although we think of pain as purely physical in nature, in fact we imbue the unpleasant sensation with meaning. Humans have been socialized over ages to think of pain in terms of justice. We equate it with punishment, and as the experimental results suggest, the experience has the psychological effect of rebalancing the scales of justiceAand therefore resolving guilt.
Miskien is die werklik waardevolle vrae om te vra:
*waaraan dink ek is ek skuldig? waarvoor word ek verwyt deur ander mense?
*is ek regtig skuldig – is dit regtig my skuld – het ek doelbewus bygedra of was ek toevallig teenwoordig (bv Natalie se ma wat haar verwyt as sy onsuksesvol haar ma se drome najaag, en verder verwyt word dat haar geboorte die einde van haar ma se loopbaan was)
*moet ek anders oor my bydrae dink?
*hoe gaan dit die ander party (my ma, man, kind, vriend) help as ek myself sny, straf, seer maak of verwyt?
*wie het my so verwerp dat ek soos ‘n uitgeworpene voel? Dat ek voel ek verdien hierdie straf?
*was dit geregverdig?
*as ek skade gedoen het: kan ek op ‘n praktiese manier die benadeelde party se lewe beter maak?
*as ek nie die ander party skade aangedoen het nie waarom le die pyn voor my deur? waarom het ek dit as my verdiende loon gevat? Het ek dit maar net aanvaar of het ek daaroor gedink?
*moet hy/sy self sy pyn uitsorteer?
*wat beteken insluiting of aanvaarding vir my? Wat of wie sal my laat voel ek is ‘reg’ en ‘goed’? Gaan ek dit kry uit hierdie bron? Waarskynlik nie – maar kan ek dit vir myself gee?
*kan ek die verlede agter my sit en vorentoe kyk?