Sunday, September 13, 2009

The psychology of "Road Rage"

The Psychology of "Road Rage"

“The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell of urban and suburban man,” Marshall McLuhan.
               The driver, because of parking lot conditions in our major and not so major cities, is already in a stressful situation, having to manoeuvre in rush hour traffic, which no longer runs 2 or 3 hours, but seems to run 24/7. Police suggest we follow the rules of the road, and be patient, but in an impatient fast-paced world, we have little choice, as some of us spend up to 3 or 4 hours commuting to and from work.
               Even considering the stress associated with heavy traffic, people still love to drive their cars, because of the privacy afforded and the illusion of being in control, thus making car-pooling unpopular for most of us.
                We feel empowered to criticize other drivers for a whole host of reasons, like any errors they make, especially if there slow to move after a light change, cut us off, or whatever we can blame them for. We can move from relaxation to road rage in an instant, or at least to anger and in heavy traffic to impatience and frustation.

                The cyclist feels because, he is trying to reduce his carbon footprint, which is a worthy ideal, adding currency to his/her self image and identity; he rightly feels empowered for doing the right thing. A constant polarity between car and cyclist is the result; each believes he/she is in the right. And whenever either makes a mistake, and interferes with the other in some way, road rage can be the result.
Whether it’s intentional or a mistaken manoeuvre makes little difference, and whichever one is  at fault,  in most cases, they will immediately rationalize their error to maintain a positive self image. The mature person will apologize, or indicate his fault by a hand gesture and carry on.
So if the guilty one, will swallow his pride, turn the other fender and get out of the kill zone, all praise is due him, having realized that anger will do no good in this volatile situation. But because this automatic and archaic reflex, -the fight or flight response- is buried and hidden in the pre-conscious part of consciousness, and is coaxed to trigger, by any, of a host of negative feelings in there, unless we understand it--whether we like it or not-- the same response will again arise and in many other situations; having nothing to do with cars and bikes. Tighter controls by enforcing rules of the road and improving or building more bicycle lanes, will only marginally improve the situation.
Another example, that is a precursor to conflict, but rarely results in violence, because of the social situation involved, is when standing in a long slow moving line at the bank or supermarket, and someone is holding up the line for whatever reason. People begin making eye contact and getting restless, and needing to relieve this stress, look for someone to blame, who they think is at fault. Impatience may be blamed—even though we live in an impatient world—the real culprit though is the secret reservoir all destructive division and violence, the Satanic Constellation™. 
This repository is--what triggers the flight or fight response, most often unnecessarily--home to a constellation of painful feelings and experience, automatically made unconscious by our minds for protective reasons. Also contains results of our own conditioning, and feelings like improper envy, jealousy, vindictive rivalry and on and on, in other words any feeling or emotion that gives rise un-necessarily to conflict, division and violence.
To facilitate understanding we call this unconscious repository the Satanic Constellation™, not for Religious reasons but to put all negative causes of conflict and violence in a logical framework, enabling it to become knowledge, thus more easily understood, and with persistence transcended. This constellation and its effects should be taught in schools, where it would shed light on bullying, and violence in general.
All thanks is due to the influence of Rene Girard, and his theories, in many books, including “I see Satan Fall like Lightening”, amongst many more, a man without peer!
For a more detailed account of the Satanic Constellation, and more about the origin of conflict and violence, and the search for  meaningful Truth in a variety of issues visit my blog or don,t at the following net address.