Publication Year


On Escalation

From: Conflict Is Not Abuse


This chapter explores the reasons why people are compelled to escalate. The centerpiece of this dynamic is the role of “bad” groups in encouraging bullying and shunning instead of peacemaking. Escalation is the key consequence of refusing to problem-solve or negotiate, and it demands our attention as a central obstacle to peace and justice. The chapter examines how Traumatized behavior and Supremacy ideology resemble each other, how both produce distorted thinking that seeks unreasonable levels of control over other people and does not tolerate self-criticism or difference. The author proposes release of the stigma around recognizing mental illness, distorted thinking, and anxiety, and suggest that they be publicly and commonly recognized as contributing sources of this intolerance and control. The author also looks at the cultural denial of these manifestations of distorted thinking as a strategy for the enforcement of dominance.


Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman is the author of eighteen books: the novels The Cosmopolitans, The Mere Future, The Child, Rat Bohemia, Shimmer, Empathy, After Delores, People In Trouble, Girls Visions and Everything, and The Sophie Horowitz Story, the nonfiction works Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness To a Lost Imagination, Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences, Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America and My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years, and the plays Mercy and Carson McCullers. She is co-author with Cheryl Dunye of the movies The Owls and Mommy is Coming, and co-producer with Jim Hubbard of the feature United in Anger: A History of ACT UP. She is co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project. Her awards include the 2009 Kessler Award for "Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies" from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and two American Library Association Book Awards, and she was a Finalist for the Prix de Rome. She lives in New York, where she is Distinguished Professor of English at City University of New York (College of Staten Island) and a Fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.