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Coronavirus Pandemic

The anatomy of a rule-breaker's mind

Bikram Vohra/Dubai
Filed on July 6, 2020 | Last updated on July 6, 2020 at 04.38 pm
covid-19, coronavirus, breaking rules, social distancing


Psychiatrists says it is intrinsic to human nature to defy authority and it makes folks feel brave and heroic.

So much has been written about those who care to stay safe and go to great lengths to ensure minimum risk from the Covid-19 fallout. There are some who have literally barricaded themselves against the outside world and if that is what floats their boat so be it. Nothing wrong.

But not much is written on the mindset of those who seem to think the rules are not for them and they can cheerfully defy the advice or orders and do their own thing. This includes making a mash of social distancing at pools and on beaches, dropping the mask at every opportunity, getting together with friends surreptitiously and thinking they are achieving some medal of honour for outsmarting the system, taking chances because what the heck you only live once, so enough already, let's party. There are even those who jeopardise their kids by taking them along otherwise it ruins their fun.

It is pretty much the same mental reasoning (or lack of it) that stops people wearing a seatbelt or lets them drive rashly and under the influence. Psychiatrists says it is intrinsic to human nature to defy authority and it makes folks feel brave and heroic. It is a kind of high and "researchers from the University of Washington, Harvard University and other institutions found rule-breakers feel smarter and more capable along with being in an unexpectedly good mood after breaking a rule".

If freedom is a place where there is nothing left to do then that freedom finds expression in being a maverick. It works in the mind as a strike for the individuality, see I do not care, I am doing my own thing. There is something romantic about being the lone wolf, the class cheat, the free spirit. That it amounts to foolishness is swiftly ignored.

Another factor that drives the rule breaker is laziness. Such people cannot abide inconvenience to themselves and any rules that increase their effort line is met with resistance. Whatever the level of danger the discomfort of staying home is trumped by the need for self gratification. In much the same way many of us are afraid of being left out, left behind, left on the sidelines of life as we see it so we need to give presence even if goes against plain common sense.

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