1st Edition

Embodied Conflict The Neural Basis of Conflict and Communication

By Tim Hicks Copyright 2018
    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    Our abilities to learn and remember are at the core of consciousness, cognition, and identity, and are based on the fundamental brain capacity to encode and store perceptual experience in abiding neural structures. These neural structures are the mechanisms by which we know, think about, create beliefs about, and understand the world in which we live. This includes the social world in which we experience conflict with others; our conflicts are largely about differences in what we know, think, believe, and understand. A number of characteristics of the neural encoding function are at the root of and help to explain conflict in our social relations and why some conflicts are difficult to prevent and resolve.

    Embodied Conflict presents the neural encoding function in layman’s terms, outlining seven key characteristics and exploring their implications for communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. In doing so, Embodied Conflict situates the field of conflict resolution within the long arc of human history and asks whether and how conflict resolution practice can take another step forward by considering the neural experience of parties in conflict. The book includes many case examples and offers some suggestions for how conflict resolution practitioner training might be expanded to include this theoretical framework and its implications for practice.

    Embodied Conflict: Perspectives on the Neural Basis of Conflict

    Table of Contents



    Chapter I. Some basics about humans as living organisms

    1.     At birth no knowing

    2.     We navigate to survive

    3.     Only our five senses

    4.     Three levels of survival

    a.     Physical

    b.     Psychological

    c.      Social

    5.     Constant process of environmental assessment

    a.     Always assigning meaning

    b.     Dislike of unknowns and uncertainty

    c.     Familiar can be ignored

    d.     Mixed relationship to learning

    Chapter II. The Neural Encoding Function

    1. Prenatal beginnings
    2. Birth and the beginning of meaning making

    Chapter III. Some key characteristics of the neural encoding system

    1.     Connectivity, coherence, and consistency

    2.     Neural stability and plasticity

    3.     Neural activation

    4.     Delay between stimulus and response

    5.     Expectancy

    6.     The dorsal and ventral systems and their balance

    7.     Memory

    Chapter IV. Implications for conflict and its resolution

    1.     Communication

    2.     Perception

    3.     Identity

    4.     Relationship

    5.     Trust, betrayal, and trauma

    6.     Priming, Mirroring, and Affect Contagion

    7.     Knowing and certainty, learning and change

    Chapter V. What can we do with this information? Applications to Practice

    A. Theoretical Issues

      1. Neutrality
      2. Mediator influence
      3. Impasse
      4. Issues
      5. Positions and Interests
      6. Recovery from Betrayal or Injury
      7. Settlement
      8. Educating the Parties and the Public
      9. Reflective practice

    B. Stages of a Process

    1. First Contact with Parties
    2. First Phase of Joint Session with the Parties
    3. Party Story-Telling
    4. Joint Reality Construction
    5. Options Generation
    6. Agreement-Building
    7. Between Sessions and Post-Mediation

    C. Practice Issues

      1. Location and setting
      2. Trust-Building
      3. Beyond Active Listening: Mutual Understanding and Acceptance of the Other
      4. Activations, Reactivity, Projections, and Attributions
      5. Emotions
      6. Expectancies Management
      7. Priming
      8. Dealing with Values Conflicts
      9. Somatic interventions

    D. Process Design Considerations

      1. Caucusing
      2. Online Asynchronous Mediation
      3. Site Visits
      4. Including an Educational Phase
      5. Linking Progress at the Negotiating Table to Represented Constituencies

    Chapter VI. Implications for Training

    Chapter VII. Conclusion



    Tim Hicks has been a conflict resolution practitioner and teacher for 25 years. From 2006 to 2014, he was the first director of the conflict resolution Master’s degree program at the University of Oregon.

    "Practical, accessible, easy to read, and yet deeply rooted in science, Tim Hicks has written an extremely valuable book for conflict specialists or for anyone struggling to understand the conflicts they face in life. Starting from the premise that ‘an understanding of the neural workings of the brain’ will help us to better understand and intervene in conflict, Hicks walks us carefully through an understanding of essential concepts of neural science and then applies these both broadly and specifically to how we can understand what happens in conflict and how we can use this understanding in very practical ways. This is a very valuable addition to our understanding of conflict." - Bernie Mayer, conflict specialist and author

    "Embodied Conflict: The Neural Basis of Conflict and Communication by Tim Hicks is a well-written and thoroughly researched explanation of this new and vital area of thought for mediators and dispute resolution professionals, the best compilation of this knowledge base that I have seen." - Jim Melamed, mediator and CEO of Mediate.com

    "Addressing one of the important issues of our times, Tim Hicks provides a clear and readable analysis of the scientific basis of human conflict. At a basic level, he explains the mind’s embodied basis in the neurobiology of personal development. At the same time, he also recognizes the psychological reality of conflict. We must realize that what are negotiating in our most intense conflicts is not just some material self-interest, but the very foundations of our identities." - Don Tucker, neuroscientist and psychologist