Promoting Dumb, Anxiety and Harm in the Name of Good
The by-products of not being educated in the challenges of ethics and ideology in safety training are many (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/). The first by-product is the development of policy by naivety and ignorance. This is where we find language that hides a dehumanizing trajectory in the name of good. Someone gets some admirable idea such as they don’t want anyone harmed then turns that single idea into a policy without any thought of long term consequences or cultural outcomes. Then out comes some slick marketing campaign based upon a short term focus, masked in the name of good. Then it doesn’t take long and soon people discover that the by-products of that campaign create toxic outcomes as the hidden ideology becomes known, especially to those who generate the campaign. Then with so much sunk cost, the campaign deepens under the stress of cognitive dissonance.
We see this in the Dumb Ways to Die (DWTD) campaign, where suicide is promoted in the name of good (http://www.dumbwaystodie.com/). Where values are masked by number of ‘hits’ rather than safety in the rail corridor. Where games based on self harm (all characters self harm) are used to promote good. Just read the discourse (http://mccann.com.au/project/dumb-ways-to-die/) and it’s all about blame and denial. Yet, that’s what Dumb Ways to Die is all about. See:
The real test of this DWTD campaign is not the number of ‘hits’ on the Internet but rather an answer to this question: has the rate of suicide in the rail corridor decreased over the life of this campaign? Answer no! Such a huge investment over such a long time with no result except ‘noise’ and ‘hits’ on the Internet.
The DWTD mindset is what Safety does when it disconnects its brain from critical thinking and any understanding of ethics. All despotic actions and tyranny are masked in such a way, long term unethical practice packaged in the name of good. There has never been a greater need in safety than now for the teaching of ethics, critical thinking, wisdom and discernment (http://cart.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/ ).
Recently research by Erozkan (2016, Understanding the Role of Dimensions of Perfectionism on Anxiety Sensitivity Universal Journal of Educational Research 4(7): 1652-1659, 2016 – http://www.hrpub.org/download/20160630/UJER17-19506801.pdf) showed that Perfectionism increases anxiety sensitivity. The research showed that setting very high standards and feeling highly concerned with meeting those standards does the following:
· Heightened negativity when mistakes occur
· Increased neurotic self doubt
· Amplifying all things trivial
· Exaggeration of criticism
· Distortion of organizing dynamics
· Exciting maladaptive and pathological perfectionism
· Driving associated personality disorders and irrational beliefs (dual diagnosis)
· Entrenches fear
· Cultivates avoidance and under-reporting
· Facilitates panic under pressure/stress
· Drives a binary either/or way of thinking
· Creates a circular effect so that anxiety fosters more perfectionism
So, whilst it’s good to set standards and expectations, the setting of unreal expectations and goals creates ‘maladaptive anxiety’ as driven by perfectionism. We see that the promotion of Perfectionism evidenced in zero absolutist language, has very significant and harming outcomes. All the outcomes of Perfectionism are harming. This means that Perfectionist philosophies such as Zero Accident Vision (https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/Zero_accident_vision) are philosophies with harming by-products. There is no ethical trajectory in ZAV. (http://www.zeroaccidents.nl/over-het-netwerk/about/).
Indeed, ZAV is a religious discourse like all other religious discourse, anchored in salvation and Perfectionism (https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:398943). Its claims are faith claims, its language is faith language and its ethic denies human reality and fallibility. It’s philosophy is binary just like all religious philosophy is binary, one is saved by faith in X or one is damned.
We also know that the stimulation of ‘maladaptive anxiety’ creates a different worldview. In the end the fear and associated anxiety coupled to failure becomes cyclic (http://www.spring.org.uk/2016/03/people-experiencing-anxiety-see-the-world-differently.php ). Imagine telling your child that no mistakes were acceptable, then chastising your child when they made mistakes because they were anxious about making mistakes.
Prof. Rony Paz who conducted the research (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(16)00073-7?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0960982216000737%3Fshowall%3Dtrue) demonstrates how the brain adapts (via plasticity) so that the brain re-routes its circuits in response to fear, anxiety and Perfectionism. A heightened focus on loss and mistakes in the end, promotes mistakes via anxiety. This is the long-term cultural and psychological effect of zero. Without an holistic understanding of ethics over time, short-term naïve and narrow policy on zero will continue to implode on itself.