About that... D in the D-I-V

January 22, 2017

Dignitas. Integritas. Veritas.


When last I left you, I had been making a keyword map. There were many more words than the ones listed in the last blog, but they all led to these three: Dignity, Integrity, and Verity (Truth). The suggestibility of this acronym notwithstanding, in the face of familial or intimate conflict, or worse, impending divorce, these three characteristics are needed more than anything else.


This is the work of a mediator and a family advocate: to both see each person in their own worthiness and to model compassion and humanity that each person possesses. It comes down to treating each person with Dignity, especially when they may not be at their very best. By approaching one another in each person’s own esteemed value, to believe unequivocally, in their worthiness, raises the bar in their own belief that they are worthy and of value, and in turn, opens up the possibility that they will, in fact, move toward treating others with dignity.


This has been a cornerstone of my research into family systems, adverse childhood experiences, and adult-related trauma carried in the body. The social science principles key to my research and work are:


  • Psychology (how the brain works and processes information);

  • Sociology of the Family (how do families form, what is their basis, why do they thrive, survive, or end);

  • Social Psychology (a continuation of the discussion of how the individual creates the collective and how the culture of the collective then imposes itself on the individual);

  • Political Science (law and policy in issues of family systems, social support, law and equity, race and bias); 

  • Economics (currency is everything, on a global scale right down to the microcosm of the family, assuming we have rational players; what motivates behavior is a cornerstone of nearly every choice and decision made, from infancy to adulthood, from the id to the super-ego); 

  • Ethics (in policy and laws on poverty and social support for families, domestically and worldwide);

  • Religion (how does humankind create culture and how does culture necessarily impose its will on humankind?); 

  • Philosophy of Science (research methodologies, logic, ethics); and

  • Gender Politics (how is gender socially constructed and is there evidence to support that we are always "doing" gender, or is there actually brain chemistry that demonstrates causality of the homemaker model in that the breadwinner could never be tamed and needed a deal so dubiously beneficial that the exchange was agreed upon--not by her, but by him (in the dominant heterosexual paradigm).


Undercurrents to these keywords are themes of Dignity, Ethics/Morality, Mental Health, Education, and Self-Value. 


So here's a broad take on Dignity.


Dignity is derived from the Latin word dignitas, or worthiness, and embodies the idea of a human being’s innate right to be valued and receive ethical treatment. Philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that there were things that should not be treated in terms of value, as value is subjective, and these things that we do not discuss in terms of value have dignity. Arthur Schopenhauer, on the other hand, believed that dignity is the opinion of others about our worth and the subjective definition of dignity is our fear of this opinion from others. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides cautioned judges to preserve the self-respect of all who came before them, inferring that even criminals deserve to be treated ethically and respectfully.


Hmmm. One would not have to concern themselves with the fear of opinion of others if the world afforded all people dignity all the time. And criminals deserve to have their self-respect preserved. What does that mean to someone in the field of family advocacy and dispute resolution?


Violations of human dignity are through humiliation, objectification, degradation, and dehumanization. Poverty, for instance, is an example of a violation of human dignity as being dependent on others is degrading and in the case of relative poverty, diminished self-respect results in humiliation and shame.


We see these violations occur within intimate relationships frequently. We become conditioned to or calloused by our partners, children, parents, and intimates, which is in opposition to how we are wired (for social and loving connection) and in opposition to getting our own higher needs for connection and belonging met. If a child goes to his or her parent with an expressed need and the parent does not satisfactorily sate the need, there becomes a long-term double-bind in the child's self-value mechanism. That child grows into the adult who questions the value of his or her own worthiness--worthiness to be cared for, to be reinforced consistently, to know what to expect of others, and to develop defenses that were wired in the brain from early on that will help him or her to navigate how to be safe.


Dignity involves itself in the areas of social justice, social sciences, medicine law, and religion. It involves parenting, relationship, marriage, divorce, business, and absolutely Family life. Because of this, my raison d'être in my professional and intellectual lives is to educate individuals and families in acknowledging their own worth, the worth of their intimates, and to resolve disputes through communication that acknowledges those larger facts. 




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