Fight to the death

In this week’s Torah portion (Korach), we witness one of the most famous biblical arguments. Korach gathered a group of people to contest the power of Moshe and Aharon. Moshe and Aharon attempted to discuss the matter with those who felt slighted. However, their opponents stayed firm refusing to enter into conversation and ultimately greater than 250 of them died by the hand of God.

 

Why are we self destructive?

What is it about fighting that causes us to engage in it even at great personal risk? Most fights begin when one party feels angry about something. Unfortunately, once we are angry our prefrontal cortex, the area of our brains responsible for judgment, reasoning and logic, is literally¬†handicapped and shuts down. The natural consequence of getting angry is that we lose our ability to make calculated decisions. Rather, we rely on the same primitive brain structures as lower level animals. Further, once a conflict is started, even when the parties calm down it is hard for them to resolve the issue due to fear of cognitive dissonance. When someone makes a threat or says something when they are angry they have a hard time retracting that statement because people inherently don’t want to contradict themselves. Essentially, people stick to their decisions even if they were poor ones.

 

The takeaway

 

The fact that anger leads to inferior, long lasting decisions should motivate us to not make decisions or take actionwhen we are angry. If we take the time to calm down and think about the situation we will ultimately respond in a more productive and beneficial way. Let’s learn from Korach’s mistake and not lead ourselves down a path of destruction.

 

Have you ever gotten into a conflict you regretted? Did you ever look back at decisions you made while angry and wonder what you were thinking? Share your questions comments and advice below.

Ariel Mintz, MD
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