Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Revenge-Retaliation cycle

Many, many years ago, I was bullied and humiliated by a superior after informing that person that I intended to resign. Most of my co-workers felt sorry for me but hardly anyone gave me support as that bully was too powerful. After my departure I considered revenge but I decided against it. Some years later this same person was expelled and disgraced. What goes around, comes around. It is the essence of karma.

Until reading some psychology articles (link 1link 2), I had never ever realised that my bully took revenge on me for my resignation, or my breaking of the bondEssentially, I must have breached my bully’s trust in me. My revenge would have been retaliation rather than revenge. This thought is totally new to me and in line with both articles. Revenge is a very complicated emotion.

The 2013 PsychologyToday article states that “revenge and trust are opposite sides of the same coin. Perhaps the idea that people believe revenge restores justice is really about reestablishing trust”.

I have translated most of these two rather difficult articles into one simple diagram which I have labelled the Revenge-Retaliation cycle:

This diagram applies to any situation in which there is human bonding: career, family, relationships, sports and study. Bonding develops trust (eg, oxytocin). Trust can be breached which even explains half of the plots in the HBO TV series Games of Thrones. A breach of trust triggers one out of three possible responses: revenge, moving on with life, or a combination of regret, remorse and retry.

Revenge is a complicated psychological phenomenon. It is said that revenge tastes sweet. Brain studies confirm this saying but only for a brief moment. Afterwards usually regret and remorse take the overhand. For some, this may be a reason to move on with their life. For others, revenge will be repeated as the one who takes revenge is still not happy with its outcome. Retaliation from the receiving end of revenge may create an “eternal” Revenge-Retaliation cycle (eg, feuds between families and nations, and – remarkably – even terrorist attacks).

Confucius once said: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Gandhi seemed to agree with him when he said: “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” (PT)

Gotan Project – Chunga`s Revenge (2001) – artistslyricsWiki-1Wiki-2


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