I studied Creative Arts Therapies to understand people. Dr. Temple Grandin told Oliver Sacks that she felt like an anthropologist on Mars. Many of the social interactions that are considered normal are strange and make no sense. That is my life on a daily basis. I am empathetic and highly aware that how you are experiencing, and processing difficulty is different than my way. It is easy to suspend bias when you understand that you are different from the person talking. I understand social patterns better and they still seem illogical.
Once I understand what performance is being asked of me generally, I perform it. Role are performance art, small dramas that we act out in with those people at that time and place. This is guesswork and because of MS fatigue I often decline understanding or playing the role.
To take on a role an actor studies either the character’s motivation, why, or how the character would authentically respond to the situation. Why lies at the heart of psychology. Why did they do this, ask that, say that, or think that? Those are background stories. Rationalizations and fiction swirl together to form explanations. The causes and triggers of behaviour are tethered to these stories.
Causes are observable, painful events or traumas. Like crime, often no witness exists. Triggers fire memories and their associated feelings resulting in physical and psychological pain. This pain can be resolved or lessened with therapies.
“How” is the territory of social psychologists and animal behaviourists. Dr. Grandin’s advances in animal handling facilities asked, “How do cows behave?”, and “What in this environment is replicating an environmental situation associated with a negative feeling state that results in undesirable behaviour?” The weighted blanket is directly derived from her observations of how cows behaved in the cattle squeeze. Her early squeeze machine was seen as fulfilling a perverse sexual need and destroyed. The observers thought Grandin’s relaxed composure was too close to sexual bliss to be tolerated. A story was assigned to the behaviour to explain away its novelty. 45 years later and the world is more relaxed thanks to a woman with autism noticing how cattle behaved.