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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Mind Games

For some time I have been mentioning the concept of (unconscious) reverse psychology in relation to people who are in denial. In a much broader context, reverse psychology is also a tool in (conscious) mind games. The distinction between unconscious and conscious is quite important. The unconscious reverse psychology is (subconsciously) aimed at the person using it while (consciously) projecting it towards others. Hence, the sheer complexity of this phenomenon. Conscious reverse psychology is both aimed and projected towards others (e.g., parents towards children).

Each and everyone of us plays daily mind games towards others. It's our way of influencing someone’s behaviour without asking. Asking may result in a negative response and also reveal our agenda towards the other person. Any question is much more informative than its answer. A question reveals intentions while an answer may easily avoid the question. Asking questions can also easily backfire on the person who's asking. Mind games avoid that trap.

In my view, women are masters in playing mind games. No doubt this is a key element in the distrust amongst women. Women are always suspicious about the true intentions of other women. And they are often right in being suspicious. It's one of the reasons many women prefer working with men as mind games are more unilateral in such situations. It's easy to fool men as they often lack suspicion.

In my view, the (evolutionary) explanation could well be found in this old Dutch saying: the one who lacks strength must be smart (NL: wie niet sterk is, moet slim zijn). Either you use force to get your way or you outsmart the other person by fooling him and make him think that it was his idea in the first place.

Obviously, men have learned from female behaviour. Yet men have a fundamental problem when it comes to dealing with women as they have two heads and one is tiny. And a lot of male behaviour stems from their dickhead. Many – if not most, or all – female mind games are aimed that men use their dickhead rather than their brain. And usually it works well.

I doubt any mother teaches their sons how to deal with women. I also doubt that any mother does not tell their daughters how to deal with other women – or men. In this entire context, it's easy to see why women think they're mentally superior to men and are the stronger species. And it's probably even true. If only because hardly any man could deal with the pain of giving birth. The words strong and strength are related but not the same. You can be strong without strength and vice versa.

While women have mastered individual mind games, men have mastered collective mind games, mostly as a result of thousands of years of military experience. Collective mind games are required as – for thousands of years - men work in groups (e.g., army, hunting) and to a much lesser extent as individuals. Moreover, evolution taught men to cooperate - and thus trust each other. Basically, you need to convince a group which requires a different skill set.

Whether it's corporate (mind) games, military (mind) games, or psychological mind games, Sun Tzu’s ancient (military) advice still remains valid: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”