The Cult of Behaviourism

July 4, 2024



This podcast questions the centrality of Behaviourism in our lives, and how in our quest for simplifying human behaviour into a particular trait, we can (unknowingly) do so much harm to the others. The podcast is based on a collection of stories from my personal lives. A lot of these stories are reflections from everyday life when we learn to live in awareness. I call them moments in Synchronicity.

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Nippin  00:01

Welcome to another episode of embracing differences with me. Nippin Anand. Anand a podcast aimed at understanding and promoting transdisciplinary ways of living and thinking, meaning, assimilating different viewpoints, different subjects, different disciplines, but focused on a very simple question, how do we human beings, learn, unlearn, relearn and make decisions, and how can we tackle risks in an uncertain world today, I feel like discussing the cult of behaviorism and it’s it’s one of those moments in synchronicity when you walk in awareness and something in the outer world appears to you that makes so much sense in The inner world. Carl Jung would call it synchronicity, and I had a moment of synchronicity once again, just day before yesterday, as I was returning home from a walk and a friend of mine, I met him on the road, and we started to have a conversation, and I didn’t realize that he was with his son. Of course, I saw him with his son, but I didn’t realize the father and son relationship. And the son was on a bike, and he was so eager that I leave his father, leave him alone, and they can have their time together. And I was so engrossed in that conversation that I totally didn’t see it, and by the time I realized it, it was about 10 minutes gone and and I felt a little bit guilty about it, and I said, I’m sorry I took your father away from you for a good amount of time. And and then I said something really silly to him. I said, By the way, I see you become so obese, and the next time I see you, I would like you to be at least two kilos less. And the more I think about it, the more I feel stupid about what I said. This is behaviorism, the tendency, or one, one way of understanding behaviorism, the tendency to reduce human behavior or simplify it to one particular trait, and often that trait is no more than part of your own self that you have not really come to terms with. So as I’m rejecting somebody, as I am projecting on them, and as I’m seeing something negative in them, it’s nothing more than part of my own self that I have not come to terms with something that Jung was very, very good at understanding and articulating projection. But coming back to that experience, now, what is important to understand in this experience is that that all that I could see in that beautiful little soul was his obesity, was his his weight. And in that moment, I didn’t see the beauty in that child. I couldn’t recall how beautifully he plays football with my son almost every week, what a wonderful child he is, how happy his father was with him around him, and how happy he was to be with his father. I didn’t see any of that. All I saw was his obesity, and it’s a problem. And it’s a problem because when you reduce somebody to one particular trait or a behavior that you don’t like about them, you unknowingly destroy their confidence, and it can have a very long lasting impact on people. You interestingly, I I had a realization about it when I and I wrote to his father just yesterday to say I did something really silly. I shouldn’t have said that to him, and I can. Hope that it does not make him sad. And to my surprise, and not to my surprise, his father wrote back to me to say, Ah, no, don’t worry. He was quite, he was very, he was very positive about whatever you said, and he took it seriously. And he came back home, and he started to exercise, which made me feel even more miserable and sad that I must have done something and said something which, which has really hurt this boy. Affected him in in in very literal words. And here is a very important lesson that sometimes it’s not even what you say, it’s how you make other people feel about it, and that’s important to understand. And certainly I from the feedback from the Father, I sense that he was affected. He felt he felt it. He felt my words. And it relates to another story in my life, which is which has a very, had a very profound impact on me. My brother, actually, he was about eight years old, and he was, he was raped by a neighbor who happened to be a shopkeeper at that very fragile age in life. And the only time he told us about it, or told me about it, was about 30 years later when I met him in India about a couple of years ago, and he said that he never had the courage, he never had the courage to share it with any one of us. He said mum would constantly make a comparison between him and me reminding him from a very early stage in life that he wasn’t good enough. He was not good enough because he wasn’t good in his studies. He was not as academic that constant sense of comparison between one child and the other. He was in studious like nippin Anand was. He was an intelligent he didn’t score as many marks in the schools. He didn’t score high grades. And it goes back to the same thing that although he was a beautiful child, he was all rounder in many ways. He was such a good singer. He used to dance so well. He used to take part in so many social events in the school. He used to be the first one in fancy dress competitions in the school, but all that my parents could see was that he was not good enough, because he was not like me. And I think that’s that’s the problem of behaviorism, which is that we strip that person down to one particular trait, and often the trait that we have not accepted about our own selves, and we project our own failures, our own frustrations, onto the other person. And not knowing that it actually destroys their confidence to the extent that when things go wrong in their lives, they never have the courage to come and talk to you. They feel it much safer to keep it to themselves and never to disclose it to anyone in the family. They transform their lives. They become what they want to be. They live their dreams and ambitions, but they never share their pain, and it’s soul destroying all because you fail to understand that full person, all because of this cult of behaviorism. I think it’s such an important thing to understand that we must, we must embrace our children as they are, and we must embrace every life as it is, not trying to control them, not wanting to them to be like us, my daughter, she, she has, she has developed a liking for swear words, and she’s 12 years old, and she loves using swear words, and there are times when I feel very negative about it, but she’s a wonderful child, and if she is trying to develop


Nippin  09:57

a speech. If she is venting out her frustrations and need, those needs, those swear words. I think it’s important for me to recognize that a lot of speech expression, a lot of speech formation, comes from the ability to turn emotions into feelings and feelings into language, and who am I to control which aspect of language is good for her and which one is not? Because there might come a moment in life when when she is faced with a problem, and if she does not have that ability to turn emotions into feelings and feelings into speech. How is she going to talk to me? And if all that I see in her is a 12 years old child who doesn’t know how to behave herself simply because she uses swear words, I have failed to appreciate the beauty of that child, and it’s back to behaviorism again. I will end with one last one, because I think it’s it’s very related to this whole idea of behaviorism. I was in Athens a couple of weeks ago, and I had a conversation with the ship manager, and he was facing the same problem. He has a four years old child, or a five years old child, who he expects to achieve success in life, and who he is deeply concerned about because he shows the traits of his father, who realized his potential too late in life. So he’s projecting his fear on this child now, and he’s concerned that he might not achieve his potential, and that is what this whole idea of perfection does to us that we create this very, very narrow sense of what perfection means, how people should behave, how our children should behave, often based on parts of our own psyche, parts of our own wholeness that we have not accepted. And we destroy that being. We destroy their existence, we destroy their nature and be we think that we are trying to help them achieve their potential, but we do just the opposite. It is very, very important that we see every human person as a whole person, and we embrace their fallibility. We embrace their imperfection, because human beings are on a very different path when it comes to developing and realizing their potential, then how everything in the material world works. We are beings of consciousness and our behavior, our wholeness is driven by imperfection and it thrives through imperfection, as against technology, as against artificial intelligence, which is designed to be perfect. And the two can lead to two different, very different parts. So forget about this idea of pushing children, pushing your colleagues, wanting your colleagues and children to be perfect, because in their imperfection lies immense potential and start to rise beyond this whole idea of stripping people down to one particular trait, because People are much, much more than that one trade. We are whole persons. We are full people, and the sooner we realize that, the better it is, both for them and for us. I leave you with those thoughts. Thank you. If you have enjoyed listening to this podcast, many more podcasts are available on our website, novellas, dot solutions, forward stroke knowledge space. The podcast embracing differences is available on Spotify, podbean, Apple podcasts and anchor. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel, Team novellus, that way, every time we publish a new podcast, you will get to know you want to find out more about our work, visit us at novellus.solutions, or simply write to us at support@novellus.solutions do. Thank you for wanting to learn more than you knew yesterday and until we meet again. Goodbye and have fun.