When ‘Hearts and Minds’ are not ‘Hearts and Minds’
Damasio – The Feeling of What Happens; Descartes Error
Varela – The Embodied Mind
Claxton – Intelligence in the Flesh, The Wayward Mind
Ginot – The Neuropsychology of the Unconscious
Robinson – Out of Our Minds
Norrtranders – The User Illusion
Sloman – The Knowledge illusion
Wilson – Strangers to Ourselves
Ramachandran – A Brief Tour of the Unconscious
And, a host of others show that, the brain doesn’t so much make decisions independently as it hosts conversations between the body’s self operating and interdependent endocrine (physical), nervous (electrical) and immune (chemical) systems.
Damasio also talks about the ‘non-conscious’, ‘core-conscious’ and the ‘extended- consciousness’ bodily systems. Humans are an interconnected mysterious powerhouse of ecological embodiment.
Research (Raaven) demonstrates that your heart is not just a pump and that your digestive system is not just a filter for food. Our heart and gut are not just mechanical organs but very much a part of human personhood and being, what we call our ‘mind’. This is reflected in so much of our language.
‘I’ve had a gutful’
‘You don’t have the guts’
‘Go with your gut’
‘I have butterflies in my stomach’
‘My gut tells me’
‘I went with gut instinct’
‘He spewed his guts out’ (as in confession)
‘You’re a misery guts’
‘That was a kick in the guts’
‘No guts, no glory’
‘They hate my guts’
‘We busted our guts’
‘What a greedy guts’
‘It was gut wrenching’
‘Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy’
‘You don’t have the heart’
‘Cross your heart and hope to die’
‘I had a change of heart’
‘My heart bleeds for you’
‘Be still my beating heart’
‘I love you with all my heart’
‘You were half-hearted’
‘He hardened his heart’
‘Speak heart to heart’
‘My heart is set on it’
‘Their heart is in the right place’
‘Dear to my heart’
‘She tried her heart out’
‘She stole my heart’
‘I’m only being light hearted’
‘A broken heart’
‘Warms the cockles of my heart’
‘The heart of the matter’
‘My hearts desire’
‘Young at heart’
‘Learned by heart’
‘My heart was in my mouth’
‘Mind your own business’
‘Do you mind?’
‘Mind your step’
‘That’s a load off my mind’
‘We’re like minded’
‘He changed his mind’
‘Blew my mind’
‘The mind boggles’
‘Don’t mind me’
‘Frame of mind’
‘She has a good mind’
‘Peace of mind’
‘Back of mind’
‘Make up your mind’
‘Mind over matter’
‘A mind of its own’
‘I have half a mind to …’
‘The mind’s eye’
‘One track mind’
‘Speak your mind’
Our semiotics (symbols), semantics (language) and discourse (embedded power) that we think of humans as an embodied person. Why should this matter to risk and safety people?
I’ve really been appreciating Burns and Novick’s The Vietnam War on Netflix. The documentary makes the point on many occasions of how the US tried to win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Vietnamese people. The trouble was the campaign was in name only. History shows that the US didn’t understand the culture of the Vietnamese and this is why it’s ‘hearts and mind campaign’ actually became a factor in how the Communists could easily recruit people from the South to their cause.
Unless ‘hearts and minds’ is holistic, it has little likelihood of working. An excellent overview of how the hearts and minds idea originated is discussed here: http://www.safetydifferently.com/the-original-hearts-and-minds-campaign-and-the-dereliction-of-behavior-based-safety/
When I review the literature on ‘hearts and minds’ in safety it appears that this is often in name only. The brand often supports a behaviourist campaign rather than a holistic understanding of humans as embodied persons. Yet, behaviourist safety flocks to it:
Many describe ‘hearts and minds’ as a ‘behaviourist toolkit’.
We already know that behaviourism is a curse upon safety (https://safetyrisk.net/the-curse-of-behaviourism/ ). If you treat humans as behaviourist objects the outcome is brutalism, dehumanizing and policing. When your symbols and process are about injury rates and zero, it’s not possible to be holistic or consider the human as an embodied person. When Safety identifies itself as the curator of gloves, glasses, hard hats and boots, what chance is there to focus on the person wearing such PPE?
This is why behaviourism is so popular in safety. Behaviourism fuels the love of zero and the fixation on counting.
Thinking holistically about mental health is going to be a huge challenge for Safety emerging into the future. So, here are some key questions to consider:
How can Safety progress in a focus on mental health and a holistic approach to human personhood when all of the symbols and language of zero dominates the sector?
How can Safety work in a holistic way when its global mantra is zero?
When all organisations foster is TRIFFR and LTIs and the flood of data, how can they shift the emphasis to humans as whole persons.
How can Safety shift a focus to humans as subjects when its discourse and iconography is always about objects?
When will Safety consider the whole mind and, human as persons in the way people are trained?