Daydreaming and Safety
I can remember when the song Daydream was released (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnlCtPh25jk), I was 13 years of age and the music of the time was astounding even revolutionary. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s version of this song raced to the top of the charts in 1966. It captured the times as well as California Dreaming by The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones, Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five and Nowhere Man by the Beatles. All these hits are about lucid dreaming, that mysterious state between being conscious and fully unconscious.
The semi-conscious state is so interesting to observe when you look after little kids. I’m often playing with the grand kids and then all of a sudden they are not with me, their Mind is somewhere else. Sometimes we use the language of ‘being spaced out’, have ‘drifted off with the fairies’ or in a ‘trance’. We see signs of the roads warning us about ‘microsleep’. This is the state of semiconsciousness.
We have all experienced lucid dreaming, we know exactly what it is but we can’t explain it, unless of course your name is Safety. It’s easy, just get your alertness package from your regular snake oil safety spruiker and its: eyes on the task, change habits, turn off fatigue, mind on the task and host of simplistic phrases for being alert, concentration and try harder that have absolutely no connection to the complexity of seeking to understand the human unconscious.
The next step is to label a complete lack of expertise and knowledge as ‘neuroscience’ as a mask for behaviorism:
and job done.
Of course those with even the slightest bit of expertise know that behaviourism has no interest in studying consciousness. You won’t find a safety behaviourist discussion anywhere across the globe that discusses the nature of lucid dreaming or semiconsciousness. Those in the know with remarkable expertise still have no idea what semiconsciousness is.
What we do know is that the brain-as-computer metaphor doesn’t help in understanding semiconsciousness. Consciousness is about embodiment not just the brain. If you go to the brain looking for the source of concentration as if it can be switched on and off, you might sell lots of safety programs but you will find no help with understanding what semiconsciousness is. Even the slightest chemical imbalance in the body can have dramatic influence on decision making and consciousness. This is what anaesthetists study.
If you are interested in the nature of semiconsciousness then these are a start:
Turcke, Philosophy of Dreams
Windt, Dreaming, A Conceptual Framework for Philosophy of Mind and Empirical Research
Hill, Confrontation with the Unconscious
Wegner, The Illusion of Conscious Will
Farady, Dream Power
Varela, The Embodied Mind
Ginot, The Neuropsychology of the Unconscious
Fuchs, Ecology of the Brain
Unfortunately, you are not likely to find such research or reading in any safety text or the AIHS BoK, yet Safety wants to know why people ‘drift off’, lose concentration and drift out of heuristics. How convenient for BBS to fall on the language of errors and violations without a skerrick of definition, research or competence in seeking to understand semiconsciousness. Lets make it all simple, black and white and completely delusional. Ah, controls that’s it, only BBS thinks it can control the unconscious.
Just do a search for understanding consciousness and safety and see what you end up with. Whilst Safety loves to talk about ‘safety consciousness’ what it really means is being aware of safety whilst at the same time having no discussion about the psychology of awareness. Similarly, the psychology of goals, motivation and perception are not things of interest to BBS (https://safetyrisk.net/the-bs-of-bs/ ).
The criticisms of Safety made in this blog are not about ‘hating safety’ but rather the opposite. If you care about safety then why would you not try to at least understand another view, an approach that at least tackles the challenges of consciousness?
If you are interested in starting a journey into studying the unconscious then there is a free Introductory Module in SPoR starting in November . I will finish with some comments from the previous group that undertook the course.
I used to follow your publications and posts (safetyrisk.net) and they express in a didactic way what in caused me discomfort in the Safety área….But i could not express it in words.
My background is in engineering but I have always enjoyed reading and when we read… More we make correlations of the most varied themes (holistic view) and “more humble we become… socratic paradox… I know that I know nothing”
And the problem, in my opinion, in the safety industry are the “certainties” as well as the understanding that legal obligations are written on a sacred stone.
Thank you very much for having had the opportunity to attend the introductory SPoR course.
Specialist Engineer in Health and Safety in Duratex
Not sure where to start – The art of listening such as easy concept, however keeping quiet is not as easy as it sounds! Theory behind active listening is complex, however working through using your simple iCue Listening tools that listening skills can be developed with deliberate effort and practice. It’s amazing how language that people use really jumps out at you once your made aware of this, one thing I’ve learnt listen to words without judgement.
Thoroughly enjoyed working through semiotics, visual meaning of symbols and the importance of dialectic, so much more to learn, I found this topic fascinating.
Finally I had an interesting conversation with our State Manager that I want to share with you. It was about our Commercial Manager who always seems to be under constant work pressure, State Manager (Michael) made a comments to say he would like to get a better understanding on what he does (most of us don’t really know). Michael’s gut feel is that he’s a perfectionist, couldn’t help but mention what we discussed the other day that perfectionism is linked to a mental health disorder. Michael is somewhat a little curious where “Zero Harm” is leading us as an organisation and I’m well aware subconsciously not in a good way. It’s interesting Rob, where there is a sense of trust, people will often comment that “Zero Harm” is not achievable, but would never openly say without the fear of retribution.
The good news is Michael is really interested in what I’ve just learnt!
For now lots of reading – Wicked Problems, from my experience it’s become evident that conventional methods don’t work and feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall!
Health Safety & Environment Professional- Building Components
What I learned from the Introductory Social Psychology of Risk class is a lot what you cover in many of your blog posts related to the toxicity and cult-like beliefs held by those in the safety and risk industry in the achievement of zero and focus on numerics (equating low injury counts as success or a measure of safety performance); the denial of human fallibility, the unconscious, and no comprehension of the a-rational; the obsession of safety and health
professionals crusaders with the small stuff (how everything has to be measured/quantified) and reported upwards to show someone how good safety is; it’s all about unsafe acts and changing one’s behavior; blame and control culture (trajectory->) resulting in simplistic thinking “anything that goes wrong needs a root cause and corrective action because we can fix everything”. The zoom sessions, the homework, videos and discussions really open your senses to a whole new way of thinking about safety and risk. If you really want to mature in risk and safety, the safety and risk industry needs to understand that we are social beings and connecting with people (Socialitie) is what’s sorely needed, e.g. the importance of language/dialogue, semiotics and how social arrangements affect decision making and judgements, having better conversations with people, building better relationships through listening, being a helping profession, focus on LEARNING and UNLEARNING, understanding why?, questioning why? (discernment), understanding and recognizing cognitive biases in people and organizations, focus on the things you can’t measure (trust, getting know each other, happiness); a lot of new words; and understanding how to “tackle” complex wicked problems. I now have a better (realizing only a fraction of Social Psychology of Risk) understanding of the concepts covered in the numerous books you’ve written on (risk, fallibility, leading , effective conversations) and recommended (not safety and health books) social psychology books to learn more, the videos you offer for free viewing and blog posts. I plan use what I’ve learned to improve the role we play in the organization and convince others (who really want to learn) to take you up on your free introductory course so others can understand what it takes to get to the next level of maturity in safety, health and risk culture improvement, that is taking a leap of faith. THANKS for giving us this opportunity!
Lee Anderson, CIH CSP
Staff Industrial Hygienist
Wow, what a learning experience! In these short but intense on-line sessions I have learnt about many concepts and tools that I feel will help me to be a wiser professional. Some sessions have clarified what I had partially known before and had trouble properly applying. One example of this relates to the concept of ‘Drift to Failure’. I have in the past used this concept to explain how an organization’s risk management effectiveness decreased over time but my understanding of why this occurred was not complete. Now with the concepts that all humans are fallible, that we are always in a state of some failure, and that individuals are constantly emerging, I feel I better understand how an organization of people can learn from each other to fulfill their goals. Also, impactful for me was the clarification that people are always in a state of tension trying to balance their experiential dialectics. They act with faith and hope clearly not knowing what the current uncertainties may bring. In the incident analysis method I use, the principles described in Robert Long’s Telos model combined with the idea of dialectic tension are hugely valuable in understanding an individual’s perceptions, beliefs, and psychological preconditions when they are deciding how to do or not do something. Thank you so much Robert!
John Sherban, P.Eng., FS Eng (TÜV Rheinland)
Systemic Risk Management Inc.