We transmit to you the study “Some clues for non-violence” by Philippe Moal, in the form of 12 chapters. The general table of contents is as follows:

1- Where are we going?
2- The difficult transition from violence to nonviolence.
3- Prejudices which perpetuate violence.
4- Is there more or less violence than yesterday?
5- Spirals of violence
6- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (a) Disconnection.
7- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (b- Flight).
8- Disconnection, flight and hyper-connection (c- hyper-connection).
9- The different ways of rejecting violence.
10- The decisive role of consciousness.
11- Transformation or immobilisation.
12- Integrating and overcoming duality and Conclusion.

In the essay dated September 2021, the author expresses his thanks: : Thanks to their accurate vision of the subject, Martine Sicard, Jean-Luc Guérard, Maria del Carmen Gómez Moreno and Alicia Barrachina have given me precious help in the realisation of this work, both in the precision of terms and ideas, and I thank them warmly.

Here is the fifth chapter:

Spirals of Violence

Everyone knows what it means to enter a spiral of violence and also how difficult it is to get out of it. It is like going down a slide. At first, fear and excitement are followed by a brief hesitation and then you are completely carried away. The descent gets faster and faster and seems endless; you’d like to stop it, but you can’t. If you try to slow it down, it’s all over. If you try to slow down, everything goes down the drain; any improvised move is risky. When you get there, the jolt is sometimes brutal, and it takes a few seconds or more to pull yourself together and come back to reality.

Any situation, even the most innocuous, can escalate into violence. Images follow one another and accelerate in an associative way, one word calls to another, one gesture leads to another, making me react strongly, but also being able to inhibit me completely, generating two opposite but equally destructive reactions.

However, before I enter this spiral of violence, I have a brief moment to decide not to enter it. This precise moment is decisive for turning back. If I enter it, I must take every opportunity to get out, but the most appropriate thing to do is not to enter it.

Once in the spiral, my consciousness is progressively taken over by the situation until it totally invades it. It is almost impossible to get out. However, nothing foretold from the beginning that everything would get out of hand. Without realising it, and sometimes as a result of a banal incident – a glance, a word, an extra gesture – I find myself involved in a situation that can become very violent. It is impossible to turn back, the phenomenon has become almost uncontrollable. Damián Szifron’s Argentinian film Los nuevos salvajes, released in 2014, illustrates the phenomenon well.

If I could, before entering it, realise the risk I am taking and the possible consequences that await me, I might decide to stay there. Even if it is very difficult to hear it at the time, an inner voice, barely perceptible, but nevertheless evident, is always there to warn me, to tell me, almost always through a sensation, what I should or should not do.

All techniques are useless as long as there is no contact with consciousness. Often, we realise after the fact what we should have done, only then do we say to ourselves: “I was sorry, I knew I shouldn’t have responded! When I see that I am going into a spiral of violence, the best thing to do is to disconnect as soon as possible, and this is possible if I get in touch with myself.

I can also go into another spiral of violence that is very destructive, perhaps even more so than the previous one; the one in which I go inside myself with this feeling of an inner spiral of violence. The images that go through my head are highly charged: the resentment I feel for someone tortures me, the irrepressible desire for revenge eats away at me, the memory of a contradictory act haunts me, the guilt for the harm done to someone devours me, and so on. The images associated with the situation make me constantly ruminate on the inner conflict and I always end up returning to the starting point, with no real solution, in a perpetual repetition. There is no way out, I am locked up, a prisoner inside myself, a recluse in the void.

If I could, at that moment, become aware of my tensions and the climate that grips me and see the mental chain in which I am dragged and with which I identify, I could modify or stop the continuous flow of images that assail me, and decide to re-examine this inner violence at a more favourable moment, when I would be less trapped by the turmoil of emotions, once the storm has passed. I could decide to do nothing, to improvise nothing, to calm down, to take a deep breath, to let go of the images that hold me back. This is only possible if I get in touch with myself.

The spiral of violence linked to the social world is the third form of spiral I can enter. It can lead me into a fury or rage that is completely beyond me. There are many reasons in today’s world that can make me uncontrollably angry: political decisions, religious stances, economic measures, media manipulations, tragic social outbursts, and even news that also makes me want to destroy, even though I usually hate the idea. If I act, I become the object of my own hatred and in this state, anything can happen, even the worst.

Paris, 7th arrondissement, May 2019; a bus driver and a motorist exchange words, insult each other and then come to blows. For each of them, the other has made the mistake that caused the collision between the two vehicles. The driver gets back on his bus, starts up again and smashes the motorcyclist into another bus, killing him instantly. Neither of them was under the influence of alcohol, but under the influence of the images of the spiral of violence in which they were involved.

If, in this situation in which I no longer recognise myself, I could return precisely to myself, realise the altered state in which I find myself, the hook of the images that are altering me, I could see the disproportion of my images and see how much my reactivity is weakening me. I could understand that it is not in this state that I will be most effective in changing the situation. This would allow me to try to disidentify myself from the phenomenon, to understand the ins and outs of this violence, to let go of my self-esteem, and this would allow me to broaden my views and imagine actions to stop it. This is only possible if I connect with myself.

What prevents me from breaking the stagnation and the vicious circle of violence can be summed up in two opposite phenomena. Either I am disconnected or I am hyper-connected to violence. In one case, violence does not exist because I do not see it (being disconnected); in the other case, I do not see it either because I am trapped in it, I have become violent myself.