Don’t Be Emotional! Another Safety Myth

avatar-1300331_1280As our society (and safety industry) continues to suffer under the burden of Scientism (Positivism), we still here this terrible accusation ‘don’t be emotional’. More so, even most awfully directed at women.

This kind of language promotes ignorance from assumptions about personhood developed 300 years ago and also sustained by the dumb down of binary BS of behaviourism ( ). I guess this is why safety has no interest in tackling the challenges of personhood. Head in the sand safety.

In the risk and safety world any talk of the emotions or feelings has been dutifully regulated to non-importance. Just look for any discourse across the sector for such discussion.

The perspective that relegates the emotions and feelings to the irrational, comes from a history that views the emotions as the opposite to reason and logic. Such is NOT the case.

Fear and demonising the emotions is an overhang from Cartesian thinking and the ideology of Scientism. Unfortunately, both ideologies dominate safety and are infused in its DNA from its history in engineering.

In risk and safety, any talk of emotions or feelings is quickly relegated to the too hard basket or irrational basket, because Safety only talks about things that can be measured. Such is the shadow of engineering that prowls over the industry.

What emerges is a profound ignorance of emotions and feelings, the subject we never talk about, unless spoken as an insult.

Even when there is discussion of emotion you see ‘goop’ like this ( that remains locked into the binary Scientism assumption that emotions are the enemy of safety.

Indeed, this kind of stuff shows that the writer has no idea about the emotions, feelings or the embodiment of learning/knowing. When you read this stuff under the banner of ‘safety culture’ you can be sure it’s NOT about culture. Such is the safety code that describes things by what they are not ( Eg. Describing something as ‘different’ when it is not.

Even when it comes to ‘emotional safety’, the industry pushes discussion of emotions into psychosocial safety where it gets assimilated with mental health disorder.

What is needed if Safety is ever to become professional, is a serious approach to trying to tackle the challenge of understanding the emotions and feelings without the baggage of demonising, devaluing or pushing the emotions into the same binary chasms Safety creates for itself. For example: zero, non-ethics, politics, consciousness and privileging the brain over the body.

One thing you can be sure of, if Safety presents anything as a binary option, it will be attractive and wrong.

The best place to start is with research on the emotions and feeling is the following:

  • Damasio, A., (1999) The Feeling of What Happens, Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. Harvest. New York.
  • Slovic, P., (2010) The Feeling of Risk, New Perspectives on Risk Perception. Earthscan. London.

Of course, there are many more sources but these are a start.

There is nothing in the risk and safety industry that even seeks to start a conversation in understanding emotions and feelings.

In most safety literature the same old tired ‘goop’ is trotted out that deems the emotions the enemy of rationality.

Emotions and feelings are NOT the enemy of safety. This assertion is both an attribution and projection based on ignorance.

The best way to move forward is to unlearn the binary indoctrination of Safety regarding emotions and feelings.

This is one of many things we do in SPoR is, unlearning.

How amazing to study all the stuff in the safety curriculum ( and have no understanding of human emotions and feelings, the foundation of consciousness! Similarly, to have little understanding of the human unconscious and collective unconscious.

How on earth can one understand human judgment and decision making in risk by ignoring understanding the emotions, feelings and the human unconscious?

What is the point of putting 100 controls in place to manage risk and hazards if you can’t understand why people don’t obey controls?

So, let’s conclude from a quote from Damasio.

‘I propose that, just like emotion, consciousness is aimed at the organism’s survival, and that, just like emotion, consciousness is rooted in the representation of the body.’

Without an understanding of how human emotions and feelings drive homeostasis or how learning and memory are embodied, one is never likely to understand why humans risk, nor why they don’t follow controls, developed by engineers.

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