The Commitment to Democracy in the Sanctuary Model is about recognizing the fundamental desire for power and the potential for abusive power in all human relationships and human groups. Everybody wants to be powerful – after all what is the choice other than being powerless? But power can be expressed in ways that create and in ways that destroy. One can use power to do something, to prevent or to delay something from being done. Power can be directed inwardly towards oneself or outwardly towards other. Power can be exerted against, over, or with someone else. Inward power can influence people outside oneself. Outwardly expressed power can change people on the inside. Power can be used to exert control or to give over control. Power can be used to coerce and force or power can be used to free people from coercion. There are overt displays of power and there is the subtle use of power . Power can be enforced or it can simply be assumed. The following story of Brian’s is an example of the exercise of assumed power.
The Exercise of Power
However successful institutions may be in coming close to it, democracy itself – like justice, equality, and liberty – remains a critical standard against which all institutions may be measured.
C. Douglas Lummis, Radical Democracy, (p.22-23) 
As a method of governing, democracy was created – or perhaps more accurately we should say – is being created - in order to minimize the abuse of power. Throughout history, it has been clearly demonstrated that the concentration of power in the hands of the few, when the few have little or no accountability to the many, is a prescription for tyranny. At the same time, the human desire for freedom of action, thought and speech has drawn increasing numbers of people into the struggle for human rights. The vast tyrannies of the twentieth century were unmatched in their capacity to create destruction and the possibility of total annihilation. But never before have so many people around the world been aware of each other’s existence and honor the desire for basic human rights.
As human beings, we live our lives within the background noise of "existential terror" – the recognition of our own mortality. As a result, we have adopted ways of managing terror that do not always serve our long-term survival, although useful in a crisis. The most problematic social aspect of terror management is our powerful tendency to seek increasingly authoritarian solutions to complex problems under conditions of stress.
Under conditions of chronic organizational stress, as communication breaks down, errors compound and the situation feels increasingly out of control, organizational leaders become more controlling and authoritarian, instituting ever more punitive measures in an attempt to forestall what they perceive as impending chaos.
Under these circumstances, workplace bullying is likely to increase at all levels and organizations may become vulnerable to petty tyrants. As the organization becomes more hierarchical and autocratic there is a progressive and simultaneous isolation of leaders and a "dumbing down" of staff, with an accompanying "learned helplessness" and loss of critical thinking skills. The organization and the individuals in it become highly risk-avoidant. As decision-making becomes increasingly non-participatory and problem solving more reactive an increasing number of short-sighted policy decisions are made that appear to compound existing problems.
Organizational democratic processes are eroded and accompanying this loss is an escalating inability to deal with complexity. Dissent is silenced leading to simplification of decisions and lowered morale. The cure for this ever-diminishing spiral is not less democracy but more, deeper democracy, necessitating an increase in participatory structures, the honoring of dissent, true empowerment of workers, and leaders who have the skills necessary to promote democratic workplaces.
An Adaptive Evolutionary Response to Crisis
At present, most organizations and institutions in our society are more hierarchical and bureaucratic than democratic. Investigators in the field have pointed out the strong tendency within organizations to gravitate toward hierarchical modes of structuring themselves . In the early part of the twentieth century, Michels described “the iron law of oligarchy” saying that as organizations grow larger and become more complex, increased specialization occurs along with the need for more expert leadership and when this happens, participation in organizational decision making declines. He was pessimistic about the possibility of success for any democratic experiment .
A strong tendency toward hierarchical control has been noticed, even in organizations that claim to be democratic. It has even been argued that management resists free speech more stubbornly than any other concession to employees  and this has been substantiated by a review of court decisions pertaining to freedom of speech in the workplace revealing a general assumption "that conflict and dissent are always bad and no good can come from them; a concept that flies in the face of modern thought on organizational conflict and free speech" (p.260) .
Chronic crisis results in organizational climates that promote authoritarian behavior and this behavior serves to reinforce existing hierarchies and create new ones. Under stress, leaders are likely to feel less comfortable in delegating responsibility to others and in trusting their subordinates with tough assignments when there is a great deal at stake. Instead, they are likely to make more decisions for people and become central to more approvals; this in turn builds a more expensive hierarchy and bureaucracy . Communication exchanges change and become more formalized and top-down. Command hierarchies becomes less flexible, power becomes more centralized, people below stop communicating openly and as a result, important information is lost from the system. "It is the increased salience of formal structure that transforms open communication among equals into stylized communications between unequals. Communication dominated by hierarchy activates a different mindset regarding what is and is not communicated and different dynamics regarding who initiates on whom. In situations where there is a clear hierarchy, it is likely that attempts to create interaction among equals is more complex, less well learned, and dropped more quickly in favor of hierarchical communication when stress increases", p. 138 .
Deep Democracy and The Sanctuary Model
As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.
Abraham Lincoln, August 1, 1858
For us, Lincoln's words express the sentiment that is at the heart of democratic practice – a desire to be neither master nor slave to anyone, anywhere. For most people, the word "democracy" inspires thoughts of voting and of political systems that may seem odd within the context of a book aimed at human service delivery administrators and clinicians. At the end of the 20th century, more people lived in political democracies than under any other governmental system . As the feminist slogan goes, "the personal is political" and in using such a provocative term as applied to a clinical model, the aim in Sanctuary is to bring the two separated worlds of politics and personal practice together because regardless of how much we would like to keep human dysfunction neatly contained in diagnostic boxes, personal disarray always has a political context. We know now that most psychiatric and social dysfunction is related to a past history of adversity and trauma that occur within a complicated social, economic and political context. To heal the divisions that endanger the world around us, we must simultaneously heal the divisions inside of us. The Commitment to Democracy in the Sanctuary Model is not about voting, although it does require that everyone have a voice. Instead it is about what has been described as "Deep Democracy".
In 1950, with memories of World War II very fresh, and the need for democratic governments never more urgent, psychiatrist and attachment theorist, David Winnicott, probed the psychological aspects of democracy when he defined a democratic society as a "society well-adjusted to its healthy individual members" (p.547), implying in that definition a standard of individual maturity including an appropriate degree of emotional development as vital for democratic groups. He believed that democratic machinery ensures the freedom of the people to express deep feelings, even ones that are not always conscious. He made it clear that it is not the machinery of democracy but the process of democratic deliberation that is at the heart of a mature democracy. He recognized the inevitable connection between the personal and the political and knew that the roots of democracy were to be found in the homes of the children who grew up to participate as more-or-less mature members of society .
Important for the work of many Sanctuary organizations is a question that Winnicott raised: What proportion of members of a group can be antisocial individuals without submerging democratic processes? Winnicott wrote that in any group, at any point in time, there are people who show their lack of a sense of society by developing antisocial tendencies (X), others who react to inner insecurity by identifying with authority and therefore are pro-social but anti-individual or what he termed “hidden anti-socials” (Y), and then people who he termed "indeterminates" (Z) who can go in either a democratic or non-democratic direction, depending on existing circumstances. The result is that the entire burden of any democratic group falls on the percentage of people who are maturing as individuals and in any group they represent 100% - (X+Y+Z). Since the people who are "indeterminates" are swayed by the largest group, the greater the number of antisocial individuals – overt and hidden – the greater the number of indeterminates who swing in that direction as well and when this occurs, submergence of democratic processes is likely to occur.
We have previously pointed out the dangers of an increase in authoritarianism under conditions of chronic stress. There are antisocial and hidden antisocial people in any group. Under conditions of chronic stress, their voices are likely to push for problem solutions that are attacking and even paranoid, requiring coercion, force and ultimately violent means for achieving ends. Indeterminates are likely to be persuaded by this voice that so fervently supports fear and insecurity. Winnicott went on to say: "there follows an anti-democratic tendency, a tendency towards dictatorship…. One sign of this is the corrective institution, the localized dictatorship, the practicing ground for the personally-immature leaders…. For this reason the doctors of criminals and of the insane have to be constantly on guard lest they find themselves being used, without at first knowing it, as agents of the anti-democratic tendency" (p.550).
Winnicott believed that democracy and war cannot co-exist, that in wartime there should be an announcement of a temporary suspension of democracy because of war and that as time unfolds, those who care about democracy will have to struggle within the group for the re-establishment of democratic machinery at the end of the external conflict. In practical group terms, within an institution under severe stress, it is far better to formally suspend the rules of democratic practice under specific conditions that do not permit it, than to pretend that democratic practice is being fulfilled when it is not. As one scholar of democratic process writes, “authoritarian patriotism is a resigning of one’s will, right of choice, and need to understand to the authority; its emotional basis is gratitude for having been liberated from the burden of democratic responsibility (p.37) .
Psychologist Arnold Mindell, who first trained as a theoretical physicist at MIT and then as a Jungian analyst, has pointed out the inherent difficulties in practicing democratically and in doing so has elaborated on the deep connection between the political and the personal. The word itself, democracy, derives from the Greek word demo, meaning citizen and kratie meaning power – it literally means "citizen power". He points out two reasons why practicing democratically is so difficult. In the first place democracy as it is usually construed, addresses social issues not inner and personal ones. As he writes, "truly democratic human beings are that way only very briefly. I have never met even one person who is able to sustain an egalitarian, democratic form of consciousness toward self or others for more than moments. Without some form of awareness training, within the privacy of our inner autonomy, most of us behave like tyrants. When it comes to recognizing different aspects of ourselves, we become dictators who simply refuse to do so. If we are strong, we ignore our shyness. If we are harmonious, we repress and/or deny our anger" (p.9). .
The study of people with severe dissociative disorders has clearly demonstrated the truth to Mindel’s observations with the most clarity. In highly traumatized clients who frequently suffer from continuing dissociation of major components of the self – emotions, cognitions, memories – it is possible to recognize the ways in which this “internal tyrant” can take over an individual’s life and therefore determine their reality. Healing for dissociative clients requires helping them to become internally democratic, learning to blend internal voices, integrate points of view, and resolve internal conflicts that without resolution may to lead to premature death.
In a parallel process way, this is the task of all individuals and organizations if we are to contend with the enormous complexity of our current species problems. As we have pointed out in earlier chapters, we believe that our organizations and the mental health and social service systems as wholes are dissociated from their own history and are presently incapable of resolving deep and long-standing conflicts. It is not surprising then that there continues to be so much denial about severe dissociative disorders, particularly the reality of dissociative identity disorder. These individual disorders point to fundamental universal forms of amnesia and the healing for social dissociation is as arduous and demanding as the therapeutic process for dissociative clients. As we have discussed, "the shadow self" and the “shadow group” are always active and for an individual or a group to obtain any level of sustained health, it is necessary to have a practice that allows us to shine a light into our shadow worlds.
As Mindell discusses, democracy today too often refers to behavior, rather than the more fundamental awareness, that is necessary if abuses of power are to be checked. Power without awareness is likely to lead to abuse as we see every day in the clients who come to seek services as a result of their own experiences with abusive parents, abusive colleagues, and abusive systems. When the word "democracy" is used, people usually focus on the behavior of voting and majority rule. But this behavior alone can lead to the tyranny of the majority instead of the integration of various points of view that is so necessary for complex problem solving.
True democratic practice – "Deep Democracy" - requires awareness that all people, parts, ideas, and feelings are necessary in moment-to-moment interactions and institutional practices. Similar to the revelations we have gained about the functioning of the healthy and dissociated human mind, Deep Democracy suggests that the information carried within these various voices, points of view, and frameworks are all needed to understand the complete process of the system and to create the opportunity for the emergence of new and creative ideas. Deep Democracy is an attitude that focuses on the awareness of voices that are both central and marginal. Deep Democracy is the practice associated with a scientific world view that recognizes the basic ecological fact that everything is interconnected, that all life is embraced in a complex web of interdependency. AS Mindell wrote,
“Democracy as an outer form has great value, but without precise awareness of our inner states, it can unwittingly propagate abuse and denigration by supporting power over people. Deep Democracy requires educating ourselves to notice all our inner experiences while dealing with the outer world, holding an awareness in a given moment of feelings, dreaming, and social power (p.14)” .
We believe that practicing Deep Democracy is a fundamental commitment of the Sanctuary Model that enables the fulfillment of the other six commitments. Without democratic participation, the Commitment to Nonviolence, Emotional Intelligence, Social Learning, Open Communication, Social Responsibility, as well as Growth and Change become impossible. But participatory, deeply democratic processes must be experienced and the skills required must be learned. It is evident that in the United States we talk a great deal more about democracy than it is truly practiced. Few people have actually grown up in democratic homes, attended democratic schools, or have had the opportunity to work in democratic workplaces led by democratic leaders. Organizations and the people that manage and lead them are likely to have no less expertise in creating and sustaining participatory environments than the people they are leading, so the learning must be universal and experimental. We are all still discovering individually and collectively, what democracy actually means. Although globalization and global democratic movements may be changing that situation in the business community a little bit at a time, the social service and mental health delivery systems remain fundamentally hierarchical, intensely bureaucratic, and frequently authoritarian.
Democracy and Science
Trauma and attachment studies have opened up a whole new way of understanding human nature and what goes dreadfully wrong when people are injured physically, psychologically, socially and/or morally. It is vital that we take a more scientific approach to recovery because we are beginning to recognize that injured people can make more improvement in their lives then we previously understood. As Timothy Ferris has recently pointed out in his book, The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason and the Laws of Nature, the pursuit of science and democratic processes go hand in hand .
Disempowerment and Learned Helplessness
Bloom, S. L. (2004) The Importance of Dissent
Terror Management Theory
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