Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Deflection as a Tactic: in Mental Health & politics

Working in the mental health field, working with criminals, and raising children, has given me plenty of opportunity to watch different tactics for moving from a discussion point, or point of focus, to a point that has nothing to do with the beginning topic. I am interested in sharing my thoughts about the tactic of deflection because it seems so prevalent in my work, in politics and in the news.


I prefer the smooth deflection over the blatant use of the tactic. It tends to leave a person either wondering what just happened, or moves one to another subject, without realizing that they have been taken for a ride. There are some in the political field that are good at the use of this tool while others appear to stumble over themselves and can't figure out how to get out of the bind they have created for themselves. If a person wants to truly become good at deflection I would suggest following an antisocial, used care dealer, drug addict, thief or longtime politician in mannerism, inflection and general nonchalance.

My interest in this came about quite accidentally when I noticed that I would ask a patient a question, or intervene when I noticed a problematic behavior, and the patient would make a statement that had nothing to do with what I had asked. The best deflections actually blame somebody else for a totally different behavior, hopefully of more consequence, so people will deal with that accusation rather than the current behavior. Example:

Me: "Jimmy, I noticed that you were telling Danny to give his money to you. That is not appropriate behavior and I would ask that you stop doing that"

Jimmy:"I just saw Billy trying to sell his radio to Marvin"

Notice that Jimmy moved very quickly to an offense that someone else was possibly committing in order to deflect the focus from himself. Another possible response would have been to say that another person was strong arming him and making him tell Danny to give him the money. The more that the person can defuse the 'blame" for what is going on the, less likely that person is to have any repercussions for the behavior because, quite honestly, it muddies the waters, confuses the situation and leaves the people dealing with the situation unsure of what the truth is.

Now, let's use a political example of deflection:

Nancy Pelosi was being focused on because she appeared to be lying about whether she had, or had not, been briefed by the CIA about the use of water boarding as technique for getting information from prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The first thing she did was read (she needs some practice) a statement about what had, or had not, been said to her. Secondly, she insisted that she had never been briefed on the subject (Usually a patient, or criminal, would just say "huh?", "Whaaa?" or "I don't know"). Then, in an amazing show of deflection prowess, Pelosi, the left media and the administration, pointed out how Cheney had not informed them of an assassination program that was never moved into an active phase and that the CIA was not required to report about.

Notice how the fact that Pelosi is lying about the briefings is no longer the focus but, instead, the media is talking about charges against Cheney. luckily, even though Nancy stumbled, she had some help from left-media and the adminstration to deflect her outright lies and make it about Cheney and the previous administration. Though it was not a smooth transition of focus from Nancy to Cheney you can still see that it did, indeed, change the focus and deflect the blame.

Kudos to Nancy Pelosi, the left wing media and the Obama administration for being able to pull the wool over the sheeples eyes. If you need further instruction about how to do a better job at it please feel free to come by a mental hospital, or a prison, near you to learn the true art of deflection. With that you can get a full lesson on 'blaming others' and 'it's not my fault', as well.

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