Monday, March 15, 2010

black and white, good and bad

I like to think I am an intuitive person with keen perceptions about myself and others. I like to think that I can comprehend intricate and involved situations and dilemmas and that many of our life experiences are multi-layered.

You know what really stumps me though? People. Good God, these are some complex creatures.

J. and I have recently started watching "The Wire" on DVD (what a great show - we finished Season 1 last night and are pacing at the mailbox waiting for the first DVD in Season 2 to arrive). I realized, while watching this show, that I want, I need to categorize the characters into either "good" or "bad."

Drug dealers: Bad.
Cops: Good.
Easy, right?
Nope. It's so much more complicated than that - even in a TV show.

I've been thinking that this is true for each of us. We are neither all good nor all bad.

In graduate school I learned the term "schema" which, in psychology, refers to "Mental frameworks centering around a specific theme that helps us to organize social information" and "Structures which organize our knowledge and assumptions about something and are used for interpreting and processing information." (Wikipedia, 3/14/10). I want each situation, experience, person to fit into one of my schema. When I have an experience that does not fit neatly into one of my schema, I'm not sure what to do with it. "[Schema] influence what we look for in a situation. They have a tendency to remain unchanged, even in the face of contradictory information. We are inclined to place people in a 'special or different' category who do not fit our schema rather than look at the problem with our schema." (Wikipedia, 3/14/10).

Often, though not always, I will make determinations about people and experiences in my life using this simplistic black and white thinking. I think (I hope) I'm capable of a more advanced thought process.

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