restraint over one’s impulses, desires and emotions
is called self control.
Often it involves deferring gratification—an ability that many
cite as a sign of emotional maturity or even intelligence. Some
thinkers give self restraint such importance that they say that it is
what most fundamentally distinguishes human beings from animals.
Unlike animals, they argue, people have a conscience: a
1) what is
morally or ethically right or wrong, and 2) which actions a) will
produce more pleasure and happiness vs. more pain and suffering, b) will
be praised vs. blamed, c) potentially promise benefits vs. involve risks
and potential liabilities.
In general, "The Self Restrained Person" is one whose
actual overall behavior is very nearly equal to the behavior his or her
conscience demands. (See
Figure #29b for a negative feed-back system model of how this works with
respect to contemplated actions.) Such a person is psychologically healthy and has a good
sense of self esteem. Not
surprisingly, guilt and associated feelings of remorse may be totally or
very nearly lacking. (Also
see Figure #36a.)
Many beliefs people hold and behaviors they may or may not engage
in involve aspects of self restraint.
Previous discussion centered on freedom vs. restraint (see
Discussion, theme #28A) and provided evidence of self restraint in those
who embrace the "Healthy Orientation" (theme #28B) and lack of
it in those who opt for "Hedonism" (theme #28A).
We find it in other worldview themes as well: "Humbly
Unsure" (theme #1A), "Religious Fundamentalism" (theme
#9A), "Moralistic God" (theme #14A), "Gratitude &
Forgiveness" (theme #17B), "Dispassionate" (theme #18B),
"Enoughness" (theme #23B), "Belonging to
Nature" (theme #27),"Valuing Traditions" (theme #34),
"Ethical Orientation" (theme #42), "Pay As You Go
Approach" (theme #45B), "Pacifism" (theme
#47B),"Ethical Globalization" (theme #51), and perhaps others.
We find it lacking in some way in other themes: "I Know
What's Best For You" (theme #2B), "Bitterness &
Vengeance" (theme #17A), "Passionately Impulsive" (theme
#18A), "Imperialism" (theme #22B),
"Anthropocentrism" (theme #25), "More is Better
Mentality" (theme #26B), "The Threatening Person" (theme
#29B), "Addiction" (theme #33B), "Working for
Change" (theme #35B), "Borrowing Mentality" (theme #45A),
"Militarism" (theme #46B), "Libertarian" (theme
#50A), "Left Anarchism" (theme #50B), and perhaps others.
The former list chiefly flags things people don't do and
behavioral constraints, the latter connects more with what they do and
their exercise of freedom. See
Figure #29a for an analysis of what is being restrained or not being
restrained. Many people
have beliefs and behaviors that exhibit self restraint in certain
aspects of their lives. The Self Restrained Person's overall behavior
warrants this characterization.
#29B: Some emotionally immature people lack a
well-developed conscience. Some
are unable to empathize with others—especially those who, after
experiencing much pain as children, have learned how to block it as
adults. Not surprisingly,
such people often are lacking in self restraint and, unable to feel
compassion for others' pain, have no qualms about hurting or threatening
them. By a threat we mean
gesture or action that intimidates, expresses intention of attacking,
inflicting harm or injury, or communicates evil intent.
Sometimes only the threat—not actually attacking and inflicting
pain—is all that is needed. The
threat produces fear and the intimidated person submits to the demands
of "The Threatening Person."
Much has been written about the use of such methods—including
Robert Ringer's 1977 book Winning Through Intimidation.
But it's Machiavelli's 1513 classic The Prince we turn to
in continuing. Commitments
made out of fear are usually kept for that same reason Machiavelli felt,
adding, "[I]... find
greater security in being feared than in being loved."
For the fear to be genuine and long-lasting, those targeted must
know the threat of attack is real.
Thus they may be forced to
witness acts of cruelty, including torture, or see painful consequences
of reneging on commitments. This
experience instills respect according to Machiavelli.
Dispassionate deliberation doesn't always precede threat or
aggression: much of it is tied to passionate, angry—often senseless,
mindless—violent outbursts. But some people will methodically work to
dehumanize people before killing them.
Themes Related to Restraint
contemplate action ===>
===> proceed with action as
formulate new action <=== modify contemplated action <=== <=== negative feedback <====