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N O 7

ABSTRAKT

POCK ET LABORATORY FOR THE FUTURE


DEFENCE

Survival strategies in the 21st century

With stories about the power of gecko toes,

anti-snoring bears and every scientist’s dream

EXCERPT


D EFENCE

12 P SYCHOLOGY

Armoured in cheerfulness | By Brigitte Boothe

20

Body army | Interview with Johannes Ring

28

Blow up the barriers! | By Michèle Wannaz & Stephan Sigrist

36

Dependence generates safety | Interview with Philipp Sarasin

44

Import insurance | By the think tank foraus

52

The art of defence starts with attack | Interview with Christoph Metzelder

60

Touch wood | By Gesa Schneider

Why protectionism is harmful | By Burkhard Varnholt

Why we need boundaries | By Gerd Folkers

68

74

76

Self-defence for gentlemen | By Edward W. Barton-Wright

86

Defence culture

88

Metamap

96

B IOLOGY

S OCIETY

H ISTORY

P OLITICS

S PORTS

S OCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY

E CONOMICS

S OCIETY

S OCIETY

I DEAS, FACTS & FICTIONS

Stories about the power of gecko toes,

algorithms to tackle gang crime and the taxonomy of ideas

160

W.I.R.E.


A R M OURED

I N CHEERFULNESS

Positive self-esteem helps us to bear everyday frustrations

more easily. However, the less we accept what is happening

all around us and the more we use psychological escapism to

shut ourselves off from reality, the more absurd our evasions

become. The different facets of self-deception.

By Brigitte Boothe

Day after day we have to master countless challenges, at

school, at work, pursuing hobbies, in personal relationships.

And the demands on us are rising. Global competition, technological

progress and the achievement-oriented society ensure

that we never get to rest on our laurels. It spells destruction

for some people, but not for others. Why?

The crucial factor for our everyday wellbeing is

not necessarily the actual success or failure that accompanies

us in the performance of our tasks. The important

thing is benevolent self-assessment. For example, if we get

bad marks for something we may think of it as bad luck,

good marks are regarded as a sign of our intelligence. These

are unconscious defensive strategies on the part of our psyche,

which contribute significantly to positive self-esteem

by simple manipulations of rationality.


D EFENCE

P SYCHOLOGY

14

A huge repertoire of tricks is used in the defensive strategies

that come into play every day, everywhere. These are

some of the core ones:

DIVERSI ON

A person’s own inappropriate behaviour or unacceptable

emotion - envy or shame, for instance - and the potential

threat it represents are eliminated by shifting the scene of

the action from the centre to another locus which will then

absorb all the attention.

Advantage: the inappropriate behaviour is forgotten

T R IVIALI SATI ON

An action, event, emotion that disadvantages or threatens

the person affected is not denied, but is played down and

presented as harmless or insignificant.

Advantage: less stress due to apparent security

D RAMATI SATI ON

An error of commission or omission, an unacceptable emotion

is eliminated as a contingency for which a person might

have to accept responsibility by banishing all connection

with reality and ensuring that the entire situation blurs into

a tearful stage performance.

Advantage: the person’s own inappropriate behaviour

is diluted by the sympathy of others

R ATI ONALI SATI ON

The true motives of an action with a potential negative impact

remain concealed and are placed in a rosy light by the

semblance of rationally justifiable necessity.

Advantage: the person exonerates himself or herself

by means of rational justification


IDENTI F I CATI ON

In an internal or external conflict of interests, the person

concerned completely and wholeheartedly throws him- or

herself onto one side – the side with the greatest power and

strength.

Advantage: self-reinforcement through the assurance

of the position of strength

IDEALI SATI ON

The individual’s own egocentric advantage is kept concealed

from him- or herself and others, but nevertheless

continues to be strategically pursued by seeking integration

with the power holder. The person succeeds in doing this

by flattery, devotion, glorification, servitude, flexibility and

conformity.

Advantages: a comfortable lack of self-positioning,

saving of effort, rewards

S UBMISSI ON

This is similar to idealisation in that the submissive person

conceals from himself and others the stimulus and motive

for egocentric advantage by an appearance of servitude towards

the other person. However, the tools used here are

not kindness, charm and helpfulness, but diligence, orderliness,

fulfilment of duty, zeal, expertise, competence and

punctuality.

Advantage: silent co-enjoyment of power without

the risks of autonomy


D EFENCE

P SYCHOLOGY

16

Our daily defences do their work in silence and never penetrate

our consciousness - and that is their great advantage.

It is precisely why they make everyday life easy when they

function properly. Defences are helpful in creating favourable

self-esteem, avoiding unpleasant confrontations with

oneself. Some people are totally exposed to the risk of negative

self-esteem because they register too keenly when others

lack goodwill or are indifferent towards them, or because

they are overly suspicious of their own moral failings.

These individuals lose the ability to act as well as the possibility

of regulating their own wellbeing.

However, defences can be either friend or foe: both

a lack and an excess of defensive mechanisms cause harm.

People who avoid self-confrontations too much risk losing

touch with reality and sacrificing the ability to make intelligent

judgements. For example, people who tend towards a

narcissistic overestimation of themselves will fend off confrontation

with criticism by despising the critic and indulging

in fantasies of their own greatness.

TA KIN G REFUG E IN ACTI ON FOR ACTI ON’ S

SAK E AND PASSIVITY

Particularly as a reaction to the constantly mounting challenges

of the global achievement-oriented society, helpful

defences are increasingly doing damage instead, both to individuals

and society. The greater the pressure, the more we

protect our ego from frustration. This is shown firstly by

the general tendency to employ exaggerated action for action’s

sake to divert attention from our own inability to

perform or lack of knowledge. As a consequence, simple

solutions to complex problems are becoming more popular.

For example, scientists are becoming more and more


prone to believe prematurely in breakthroughs. The reason

is simple: action reduces fear, because it gives people a sense

of their own effectiveness, power of control and command.

However, action that becomes an end in itself contains no

careful planning, proper assessment of the situation or intelligent

examination of options. Secondly, the superfluity

of defensive mechanisms expresses itself in collective passivity.

Fear of the challenges of globalised competition in a

person’s own environment and in the major world regions

creates a depressive-dysphoric temptation to capitulate,

withdraw from the field in gloomy surrender, and take refuge

in the role of illness, including burnout.

C OURAG E , CRI T I CAL CAPACI TY

AND CALMNESS

So how do we as individuals and societies arm ourselves for

the challenges of the future? And how do we know whether

we are putting up over-strong or over-weak defences?

Generalisations are impossible. However, one prerequisite

for a healthy level of defence - across all societies and eras -

is to master three fundamental principles:

First: take responsibility for something or someone.

If you are ready to bear responsibility, you will accept

being reminded of your own duties before accusing others

of failure when problems occur. For that, we need courage

and the ability to take a stand.

Second: stand up to testing. If you allow yourself

to be tested and are open to criticism of your own skills and

competences, you have the advantage of being able to learn

and will not withdraw when your feelings are hurt, despise

others or practise self-aggrandisement. To do this, we have

to accept ourselves and other people.


D EFENCE

P SYCHOLOGY

18

Third: practise the art of creating a space of your own, finding

it productive to be alone, designing a living area of your

own that you want to share with others to a greater or lesser

extent. People who can reflect on themselves in silence,

when alone, in transitory self-sufficiency, enjoy the advantage

described by Freud as: “daring to make an expedition

into your own dark continent and developing a critical benevolence

towards your own strengths and weaknesses”.

For that, we need calmness.

Professor Brigitte Boothe has held the Chair of Clinical Psychology,

Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at the Psychological

Institute of the University of Zurich since 1990. She

is a member and currently chief executive of the Psychotherapeutic

Centre at that institute. Her publications include:

“Der Patient als Erzähler in der Psychotherapie.”

(2004), “Psychisches Leben im Spiegel der Erzählung. Eine

narrative Psychotherapiestudie.” (1998), “Zur psychoanalytischen

Konfliktdiagnostik.” (1989), as well as many articles

in scientific journals.


C ONTACT

sia@thewire.ch

E DITORIAL STAFF

Simone Achermann

Editor in chief, Researcher W.I.R.E.

Michèle Wannaz

Editor

Dr Stephan Sigrist

Head of W.I.R.E.

Dr Burkhard Varnholt

CIO, Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd

Prof. Dr Gerd Folkers

Director, Collegium Helveticum

E DITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS

Daniel Bütler, Florian Huber, Claudia Imfeld, Kristiani Lesmono,

Jessica Levy, Yasemin Tutav

D ESIGN

Kristina Milkovic

Head of Graphic Design W.I.R.E.

Patrick Kuhn

Graphic Designer W.I .R.E.

Capucine Matti, www.capucinematti.ch

Illustrations Visual Essay “Defence”

T RANSLATION

Helen E. Robertson

S UBEDITING AND PRINTING

Neidhart + Schön AG

PARTNER

Neue Zürcher Zeitung Publishing

D ISTRIBUTION

Die Gestalten Verlag GmbH & Co. KG

E-mail: sales@gestalten.com

www.gestalten.com

ISBN 978-3-89955-431-1

© 2012

Disclaimer: This publication is for information purposes only. Inasmuch as reference is made

herein to Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd, this constitutes neither an offer nor an inviation by Bank Sarasin & Co. Ltd

to purchase or sell securities. The sole aim of this publication is communication. It should also be

noted that developments occurring in the past are not reliable indicators for developments in the future.

Picture credits: Unless otherwise noted, the rights belong to the authors or their legal successors.

We have endeavoured to find the owners of all rights. Should we nevertheless not have succeeded

in notifying any of the owners, they are requested to contact W.I.R.E. www.thewire.ch

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