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

Founder and President at Refuat Hanefesh
Dr. Ariel Mintz grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After spending two years learning in Israel, at Derech Eitz Chaim and Shaalivim, he earned his BA in Psychology at Yeshiva Univesity in New York. He went on to obtain his MD at Oakland University William Beaumont School of medicine. He is currently a licensed physician working to complete his training in General Psychiatry at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. After that, he hopes to subspecialize in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has a supportive and talented wife and two wonderful children. He is very passionate about destigmatizing mental illness in the Jewish community and bringing comfort to those who are suffering. Ariel can be reached at [email protected].

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