Sunday, June 5, 2016

Negativity Kills

When we started writing this book, the first question I asked my grandfather was: "Why did you begin studying what was right with people?" Don answered my question without a moments hesitation - his review of one specific case study had altered the entire focus of his career ad life.
And this study was about as far as possible from positive or inspiring story:

Following the Korean War, Major (Dr.) William E. Mayer, who would later become the U.S. Army's chief psychiatrist, studied 1,000 American prisoners of war who had been detained in a North Korean camp. He was particularly interested in examining one of the most extreme and perversely effective cases of psychological warfare on record - one that had a devastating impact on it's subject.

American soldiers had been detained in camps that were not considered especially cruel or unusual by conventional standards. The captive soldiers had adequate food, water, and shelter. They weren't subjected to common physical torture tactics of the time such as having bamboo shoots driven under their fingernails. In fact, fewer cases of physical abuse were reported in the North Korean POW camps than in prison camps from any other major military conflict throughout history:

Why then, did so many American soldiers die in these camps? They weren't hemmed in the barbed wire. Armed guards didn't surround the camps. Yet no soldier ever tried to escape. Furthermore, these men regularly broke rank and turned against each other, sometimes forming close relationships with their North Korean captors. When the survivors were released to a Red Cross group in Japan, they were given the chance to phone loved ones to let them know they were alive. Very few bothered to make the call.

Upon returning home, the soldiers maintained no friendships or relationships with each other. Mayer described each man as being in a mental "solitary confinement cell...without any steel or concrete."
Mayer had discovered a new disease in the POW camps- a disease of extreme hopelessness. It was not uncommon for a soldier to wander into his hut and look despairingly about, deciding there was no use in trying to participate in his own survival. He would go into a corner alone, sit down, and pull a blanket over his head. And he would be dead within two days.

The soldiers actually called it"give up itis." The doctors labeled it "mirasmus," meaning, in Mayer's words, "a lack of resistance, a passivity." If the soldiers had been hit, spat upon, or slapped, they would have become angry. Their anger would have given them motivation to survive. But in the absence of motivation, they simply died, even though there was no medical justification for their deaths.

Despite relatively minimal physical torture, "mirasmus" raised the overall death rate in the North Korean POW camps to incredible 38%- the highest POW death rate in the U.S. military history. Even more astounding was that half of these soldiers died simply because they had given up. They had completely surrendered, both mentally and physically. How could this have happened? The answers were found in the extreme mental tactics that the North Korean captors used. They employed what Mayer described as the "ultimate weapon" of war.

The "Ultimate Weapon" 
Mayer reported that the North Koreans' objective was to "deny men the emotional support that comes from interpersonal relationships." To do this, the captors used four primary tactics:

*breaking loyalty to leadership and country
*withholding all positive emotional support.

To encourage informing, the North Koreans gave prisoners rewards such as cigarettes when they snitched on one another. But neither the offender nor the soldier reporting the violation was punished - the captors encouraged this practice for a different reason. Their intent was to break relationships and turn the men against each other. The captors understood that the soldiers could actually harm each other if they were encouraged to dip from their comrades' buckets every day.
To promote self-criticism, the captors gathered groups of 10 or 12 soldiers and employed what Mayer described as "a corruption of groups psychotherapy." In these sessions, each man was required to stand up in front of the group and confess all the bad things he had done - as well as all the good things he could have done but failed to do.
The most important part of this tactic was that the soldiers were not "confessing" to the North Korean, but to their peers. By subtly, eroding the caring, trust, respect, and social acceptance among  the American soldiers, the North Korean created an environment in which buckets of goodwill were constantly and ruthlessly drained.

The third major tactic that the captors employed was breaking loyalty to leadership and country. The primary way they did this was by slowly and relentlessly undermining a soldier's allegiance to his superiors.

The consequences were ghastly. In one case, a colonel instructed one of his men not to drink the water from a rice paddy field because he knew the organisms in the water might kill him. The soldier looked at his colonel and remarked,"Buddy, you ain't no colonel anymore, you're just a lousy prisoner like me. You take care of yourself, and I'll take care of me." The soldier died of dysentery a few days later.

In another case, 40 men stood by as three of their extremely ill fellow soldiers were thrown out of their mud hut by a comrade and left to die in the elements. Why did their fellow soldiers do nothing to help them? Because it wasn't their job. The relationships had been broken; the soldiers simply didn't care about each other anymore.

But the tactic of withholding all positive emotional support while inundating soldiers with negative emotions was perhaps bucket dipping in the purest and most malicious form.  If a soldier received a supportive letter from home, the captors withheld it. All negative letters, however - such as those telling of a relative passing away, or ones in which a wife wrote that she had given up on her husband's return and was going to remarry - were delivered to soldiers immediately. The captors would even deliver overdue bills from collection agencies back home - within less than two weeks of the original postmark. The effects were devastating; The soldiers had noting to live for and lost basic belief in themselves and their loved ones, not to mention God and country. Mayer said that the North Koreans had put the American soldiers "into a kind of emotional and psychological isolation, the likes of which had never seen."

Studying Positive Emotions
Moved by this story of psychological torture and deprivation - and perhaps inspired by the hope that these soldiers had not suffered or died in vain - Don Clifton and his colleagues decided to study the flip side of this horrific equation. They wondered: If people can be literally destroyed by unrelenting negative reinforcement, can they be uplifted and inspired to a greater degree by similar levels of positive reinforcement? In essence, they asked:

Can positive emotions have an even stronger impact than negative emotions? --


Friday, June 3, 2016

Air National Guard

We go to meet with the recruiter on the 17th. I'm still putting on the weight, I need about six more lbs. to meet the Air Force standards, it's a process all of it is a process. As long as I continue to pace myself I'll get there in due time. Basic is 2 months, tech school is 4. I'm excited, but I know I'll like be sent somewhere in Texas at least for basic and tech school as well as weekends. You report in on weekends and two weeks in the summer for Air National Guard. Two weeks in the summer you're sent wherever they decide to send you as a flight. I'm also preparing to take out my endowments in July, it's something I've been waiting for a long time to do.


Emily Dickinson

                                              'The Soul Selects Her Own Society'

                                                The soul selects her own society, 

                                                          Then shuts the door;
                                                         On her own majority 
                                                           Obtrude no more.

                                         Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing

                                                              At her low gate;
                                            Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
                                                               Upon her mat.

                                           I've known her from an ample nation

                                                               Choose one;
                                          Then close the valves of her attention
                                                                Like stone. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Promptings from The Spirit and A Bag of Cherry Tomatoes

I went to Eslite a bookstore here looking for some books, etc. When I left I came out and was going to go across the street and then maybe do some more shopping. I have seen this woman so many times selling fruits and vegetables, but I didn't think she was homeless. 

I had my one foot a little further out than the other since I was about to cross the street, then I had promptings from the Spirit just a feeling that I should turn around and buy something. I heard the Spirit then promptly say,” Go back! Go back! Don't leave her! Go back!" I responded to the prompting immediately and turn around. The woman was drifting off to sleep, I came behind her near her left shoulder, and I touched her and said in Chinese,” Excuse me." At first there was no response, so I touched her and again said,” Excuse me." She then responded by waking up and smiling at me. I said in Chinese while pointing at a bag of three bananas,” How much are these?" She said in Chinese,"100 N.T." I thought about it, step back looking at the other fruits and vegetables she had, and then said in Chinese while pointing at a bag of four oranges,” How much are these?" She said,"100 N.T." She was starting to pick up the bag for me, even though I hadn't decided yet. I then thought about it a little longer, then pointed to a bag with cherry tomatoes and said,” How much is this? Is this also 100 N.T.?" She said,"100 N.T." I dug in my pocket getting two 50 N.T. coins, put them in her hand while smiling, she then gave me the bag of cherry tomatoes, and I said thank you.

During the time of me deciding there were two girls near her and one said to the woman in Chinese,” How much is this?" The woman said,"100 N.T." The girl said to her friend in Chinese,” Wow that's so much." However, after I was leaving crossing the street I heard a different voice (I think) asking the woman in Chinese, “How much is this?" I was smirking while hearing that and cross the street...turn into a ripple effect. I thought,” That’s awesome!"

As I was getting on my bike, I didn't want to do more shopping, and decided to just go home. I thought on the way home,” What are we going to do with these. Well, the family does like salsa." By the dad makes some really good homemade salsa. A little while after coming home and inside the house I told her what had happened and I handed her the bag of cherry tomatoes. I was crying while telling her. She said,"I'm proud of you! You know the true meaning of Christmas." She said to my dad,” Do we want to use these for salsa? Is it gonna be enough?" My dad,” Yeah, should be." My mom promptly took one from the bag and put it in her mouth (she loves tomatoes). Yay, I was right gonna use them to make some salsa! 

Christmas is in two day, it felt right for one thing, and for another serving and or giving isn't just for doing on the holiday's. Remember that please. I love serving and giving to others, always have. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Unselfish Service To The Homeless

Yesterday December 21 I got the idea to go out and buy something’s for the homeless, I've been wanting to do so for a long time. Well, me and my friend Julian decide to try it! 

We bought something’s, and then looked around and there weren't any people in sight. We walked around the train station, there were two homeless guys with blankets, coats, clothes, etc. and were smoking so we decided to keep searching. 

We went down into the tunnels near the train station we looked again no one in sight. We were walking when Julian pointed and said,” Look there is someone." Finally, I was hopeful and excited to help! We walked some to not draw so much attention, but got some courage and went for it. We approached a man with not much. Julian looked at me and said,” What should I say?" I grab a pair of gloves from out of the bag and said,” Just say this is for you." 

My Chinese isn't very good so I just watched hopefully waiting. Julian talked with the man he shook his hand showing that he didn't want them. Julian got up and told me that the said he didn't want them. As we were walking away the man said in Chinese "thank you." We started walking up the stairs out of the tunnel when Julian looked at me and said,” Do you know what he said to me?" I said,” No, I tried to understand but couldn't. What did he say?" Julian replied,” He said he doesn't want the gloves and was going to commit suicide." I said,” Wow! That breaks my heart." 

I prayed in my mind for the man and my eyes started to water, no tears came out though. Julian later told me how it's common here for homeless people to not want things from others, how they feel if they don't have a job then they don't deserve it. I was still grateful for the opportunity to go and try to serve.

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Mosiah 2:17

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hello All- Sister Milligan (Shannon)

Hey, everyone!
     I'm doing good right now. Only three days left of my 2 week short-term mission!

    Today, Monday(p-day; preparation day), we're going to watch a movie called "Ephraim's Rescue"....which Sister Boyer has a small role in. :D Also, we're going to have cinnamon rolls while watching it, thanks to Sister White's hard work over the past couple of nights and this morning. (Sister White and Sister Boyer live with us, but are serving in the other ward.)

    Last night was kind of hard. I broke down and cried because of stress, homesickness, and feeling kind of overwhelmed. After talking to my dad on the phone about it, I prayed to have the strength to open up about it to my companion. After that and taking a breather, I finally just told my companion, Sister Gruwell. She was so sweet and helpful. We just sat and talked about what I was feeling until I finally felt better. Then she gave me a copy of a booklet about adjusting to missionary life. Reading it is helping.

    After that, we went contacting (handing out flyers to get people to come to church or English class) at the train station. That also helped me feel better. We handed out 48! The day before we handed out 60 though haha.

   Even though parts of it have been hard, I'm grateful to have been given this oppritunity. I know it is helping me improve in so many things and is teaching me so many things. I know the Lord has truly blessed me thoughout all of this.

   Oh, also, I have also been figuring out how to share the gospel with 3 of my friends! :D I'm excited to get started once I get back.
   I'll be back on Thursday afternoon (Wednesday night for those of you in the U.S.).
   I love y'all and miss y'all! I'll talk to y'all soon.
    Shannon Milligan