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Patterns, Pathologies and Paradigms  --

Issues and Elements in Human Conflict, Beyond Needs Based Analysis


Needs based analysis is very useful in seeking solutions to conflicts.  However, while there are needs, there are also basic human patterns that exist wherever there is conflict, there are pathologies in human interactions that create conflicts, and there are two paradigms whose clashes create conflicts within otherwise aligned groups.  Understanding these three areas leads to the next step in understanding conflicts. (Defining conflict)


There are standard patterns of human response.  To understand conflict, it is important to understand human response patterns.  For the on-line version of my seminal essay (as used in a graduate level class) -- an essay that covers the basic human response patterns in the context of negotiation, visit .  This essay applies basic human response patterns to the negotiation context in a very accessible fashion.  The same material, looking at the human response pattern in a simplified fashion and from a different perspective is at .  For another look -- in a different context and with some additional detail -- .

The bottom line is that instead of two basic patterns -- used for negotiation and other responses to stress and conflict, there are five relevant coping patterns that are used in situations of trauma -- including the stress of negotiation -- and that the interactions of these five should be understood in order to understand how participants in conflict are approaching the interaction.


There are reoccurring social pathologies that create forces and groups in conflict.  These historical "standard" viewpoints are social pathologies when they go "too far." These are a major source of human conflict.  I have attempted to catagorize the most common social pathologies using an historical metaphor.  For a simple essay on this topic that tries to make the topic approachable -- .


There are two major paradigms that tend to swallow up various political and philosophical movements.  Paradigm conflict is a major element in human conflict that is generally undeveloped and unexplored.  There are two major paradigms that come into conflict over and over again, in various iterations. []

For my recent discussion of this point (providing some context for the theory), .


It is my intent to take these three areas and develop them as they relate to the issues and elements of human conflict.  By doing so, I plan to take analysis of the issues past "needs based" approaches that do not resolve the basic elements of human conflict (though are quite useful in seeking solutions).  These factors are the human elements that go far beyond "needs" and that are founded in the basic patterns that define all that are human.

Copyright 2000 by Stephen R. Marsh [home]

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