Studies in human behavior show that we can become strongly influenced by others demonstrating our need to belong. This may seem acceptable depending on the modeled behaviors or attitudes we observe, but on closer inspection, deeper implications on the kinds of messages and perspectives we pick up and internalize from others are evident.
Do we subconsciously conceal our true natures with the incentive for acceptance into other groups? And if the values differ, did we subdue our previously learned values because of societal pressures, or because our current psychological and/or physical needs are not being met? Was it a process of subjugating our once valued ideals to align with the pressures of the social contexts we placed upon ourselves if indeed the values are not in alignment? If we turn to the finding in the Stanford Prison Experiment, it may shed some light onto these questions.
Stanford University psychology professor Philip Zimbardo in 1971 conducts a psychological experiment to test the hypothesis that the personality traits of prisoners and guards are the chief cause of abusive behavior between them. In the experiment, Zimbardo selects twenty-four male students to participate in a 7–14 day prison simulation to take roles as prisoners or guards. They receive $15 per day. The experiment is conducted in a mock prison located in the basement of Jordan Hall, the University Psychology building. The students who are guards become abusive, as does Zimbardo himself. Two students who play the role of prisoners quit the experiment early, and the entire experiment is abruptly stopped after only six days. The U.S. Office of Naval Research provides the funding for the experiment and U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps both show interest in this investigation into the causes of conflict between military guards and prisoners. The implications of these experiments show how multitudes of human interactions can impose and influence peoples behavior given specific sets of circumstances established in social settings.
If we look at the countless examples of how children rebel against their family mores and go off on another direction when they become teens, or if we look at the cultural phenomena of how the rise of punk rock was reactionary to the classic rock era, then we may draw conclusions upon the underlying psychological factors that impel the changes in the newer generations?
The question I often ask is when these changes of expression occur, are people consciously aware of their motivation? Is it because there is something missing and not fulfilling the people willing to change the course of their psychological values? This is of course a very broad stroke to make in assuming that these values are different. Perhaps it is in the expressions of the person that differ, but not the underlying values of those expressions? Perhaps they can be mutually exclusive and co-exist? The point of contention is really the cases of people who are not artistically seeking new directions, but rather those who change their values to become a part of a divergent group. The direction is clearly different and easily distinguishable for others to see in many cases that involve dramatic physical changes.
This scenario would include someone who dramatically changes their appearance to fit into another group of newly formed friendships. Tattoo’s, implants and piercings for those who are decorating their bodies with ornamentation that in many instances their parents would not approve if done in extreme measures might be the example to study.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), also termed body dysmorphia or dysmorphic syndrome, is a mental disorder via obsessive preoccupation with a perceived defect in one’s own appearance, viewed as so severe as to warrant exceptional measures to hide or fix it. If the flaw is actual, its importance is severely exaggerated. BDD is categorized in the obsessive–compulsive spectrum.
Usually starting during adolescence, BDD is a fairly common mental disorder, affects men and women roughly equally, and may occur in some 1% to 2% of the population. In fear of being thought vain, persons experiencing BDD tend to keep the preoccupation secret, and BDD is severely underdiagnosed. Severely impairing quality of life, BDD can lead to social isolation and involves especially high rates of suicidal ideation. Clearly the cases below would indicate that these people have no secrets to the expression of their selves.
But more interesting still are those who do not consciously know they are changing their values. Those who form new friendships, become involved with new organizations of people personally and professionally sharing something maybe familiar, yet some forms of differentiation are not openly shared. The individual in them withholds overtly shown behaviors and personal information as to not disrupt the status quo from within a group. For the average person, this may seem to be subtle and is the primary purpose for this post. Questioning the very natures of those that are seeking some kind of alternative experience begs the question about wanting to belong. The changing process they undergo during this transition is something worth investigating. Do their values change during this transition?
But of course there is a pendulum swing that goes all the way to the other vantage points; those that are out of the ordinary. Like those seeking alternative lifestyles as depicted in the Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 film Eyes Wide Shut. This film goes deeper than just those just looking out for new ways to spice up their relationships, or new ways to express themselves sexually.
Not only is this film about a mysterious, perhaps murderous, secret society, it is drenched in allusions to the New World Order cabal. Occult symbols like the pentagram can be found throughout the film, as well as multiple references to rainbows and looking glasses… Eyes Wide Shut, the phrase itself, is a calling card among secret societies, meaning ‘my eyes are shut to your misdeeds, brother.’ This anonymity is required of the participants, otherwise the society’s wealthy elite would be revealed. For as one character in the film says, “If I told you their names I don’t think you’d sleep so well.”
[Kubrick] died only days after submitting the first cut of the film to Warner Brothers. At this point, the film was commandeered by Warner Brothers and heavily edited… Is it possible that this scene and others originally contained images and/or dialogue that illuminated the New World Order in a way that was dangerous to their privacy? Was Kubrick trying to out the secret society, or at least toy with their heads?
It’s clear that Eyes Wide Shut is about a secret society, though the film is up for interpretation about whether they are truly dangerous or simply wealthy, bored New Yorker’s looking for a good time. Whatever the true nature of this film expresses, it is only another expression of how we humans organize and sometimes put ourselves at risk when we pursue choices outside of our comfort zones. Choices that sometimes lead us down a path that will challenge our values, and possibly change the way we see ourselves. We may indeed compromise some trusted values only to replace them with a result that we may not have bargained for, or we may discover something that provided us with new insights on just who we really are.
But to know just who we really are, one must first ask those questions like…”What am I willing to stand for? What is it that I value?” When our friendships have lasted for many years with some people, I think the answer for the sustainability in the friendship is because we identify with them despite the years that have gone by. But we can also see that some of our friendships do not stand this test of time. Does this mean we have somehow become disenchanted from them because we either lack a frequency in contact, or maybe it is the distance between us, or possibly it is because of a difference in our values expressed? For me the interest lies in knowing if people indeed are aware of when these changes occur and how they represent them to other people in their lives.
Thus the seeds of charade begins to play out in their lives if they find that they still want to associate with some people, but find that the similarities become less and less as time goes by. The painful examples are evident in all the unhappily married couples that have grown apart, but co-exist to maintain the illusion of a family whether it be for the children’s sake, or for a financial decision that takes precedent over their happiness. To give the facade any legitimacy they must express charades of candor to others in their lives, and tragically they must express this quietly to themselves; a constant reminder of the state of being they find themselves attached and enslaved to.
How well our politicians subvert the populace and play this charade is all to evident in human history when they promise one thing publicly, but silently act differently with their powers. The reason politics has earned a bad name is precisely due to the secretive behaviors our elected public figures enact. But to me the tragedy is still in the realm of our friendships, and relationships on the interpersonal level of communication we see in day-to-day life. When was the last time you gave yourself a mirror check? What say you?
Are we authentic? Or are we acting? Do we see the world as a stage?
Acting for all the world is a stage!