Friday, July 20, 2007

Autumn and expectations

A doctor from a Chicago ER was sent to the front lines during world war two to treat soldiers. He'd seen people get shot before, but noticed something different on the front lines. When Soldiers were shot in a war, they didn't really feel a lot of pain in comparison to people who were shot in Chicago. And the theory is that it's the 'narrative' around the event that translates the pain. Consider:

A soldier has an expectation of getting shot. And thus, if they do, their first thought is, "Cool, I'm alive." The first thought is good news. Next, they consider the other good things: they can go home. They get a medal. They are war heroes. They get to eat better food. They still get paid. The list of 'good things' far outweigh the list of bad ones.

Now think about the narrative around a person in Chicago getting shot. It's unexpected. They can't work. They can't feed their family. They have to pay for the care to get fixed (this hypothetical takes place in America). All bad parts.

Thus, in the second narrative, the brain hurts more. Or so, that's the theory. I think it's about expectations. And Autumn is currently testing them. We all know this scenario: a baby falls, looks around, sees that no one is watching, and gets up. Same baby, same fall, sees someone watching and cries. I think this is about expectations. You can call it attention seeking as well.

These days, Autumn is really into hugging. When mom and dad hug, it makes her laugh. When we include her, it makes her day. So we try to have family hugs a lot. But those are a little different to hugs on falls. Those are about setting up expectations. The expectation that every time she falls, one of us will come running with a hug. But if we always come running, she'll expect it. And, so the theory goes, it will 'hurt' more.

Now, before you think we're gonna abandon her, there's no set rule. Obviously if the fall is big, we'll run. But if it's merely a fall on her bum, something that happens often, then it's best we don't set the expectation that we're coming. That way, she'll realize it doesn't hurt.

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