The Age of Rage: Psychology of Rage in Public Places-Driving
Horsepower or Horse's Behind?
April 30, 2001, pp 236-38, 268
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, by Dr. Leon James & Dr. Diane Nahl, New York: Prometheus Books. 2000.
Self-image has become extremely important to Americans. Our vehicle has been advertised into our life as a reflection of that image. Like a portrait of Dorian Grey we have begun to reflect a truer image of ourselves and we are astonished to see what is reflected there. Mirrors are much like dreams. According to Freud, dreams reflect our unconscious wishes. Every fantasy contains the fulfillment of a wish. We drive, clothed in a fantasy world created for us by advertising. It is not just a male fantasy. Women have bought into the fantasy world as well. We act out a living "halo effect" hoping to impress those who see us with an air of success, competence, value, and importance. These external images do not reflect who and what we are, however, living inside these images is distorting who we think we are. We have exaggerated our image of ourselves to larger than life. We resist being normal, pedestrian, mundane, ordinary, one of the crowd, everyday people. Why might this be? Are we fearful that we won't be noticed, get a job, get a raise, get a boy/girl-friend, or success. We have lost the balance between looking like we do a job and doing a job well. Its like trekking. You can load yourself up with all kinds of gadgets and find your pack is to heavy to carry.
Bigger, better, faster: but at what cost? We can do without a lot of this stuff and find out we have a life and thoughts that are our own and we are not just a commercial jingle caricature that looks like we have it all and really have an emptiness on the other side of our mirror.
Learning to be a part of a larger group, a society, a culture, a community is very difficult for us as Americans just now. We have been so blessed with resources and elbow room we have not yet had to learn to live densely and share our space. We can do it-but it takes planning and constant regard for each of us to have as important a place as any of us.
We are slowly learning how this accelerated life pace is harming us every much as war, tobacco, or drugs. We have not figured out just how to slow things down. But we will. Building a community that shares the road, leaves work at the office, embraces our differences and finds pleasure in the simple things that cost nothing but being awake and sober is possible. Driving is a privilege. Drive like you are precious-today.
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