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The Pacifier Effect

The Nature of Humans

By our nature, we as humans want life to be easy, and want to have safety and security. This all fine and good, until we are consumed by our desires.

I present to you, the common infant. This simple creature only does a few things, the most annoying of which is cry. So, to stop them, we use a pacifier. The reason this works is because the infant is being tricked by the pacifier, believing it to be their mother. However, quickly they realize it is not, and fight the pacifier. From birth we fight pacifiers, but due to the way we are raised, the pacifiers keep getting put back in place. This leads to what I call the Pacifier Effect.


What is the Pacifier Effect?

Have you ever seen an older child who uses a pacifier? I have. Does the child need the pacifier? Most would argue that they don’t. I challenge that, and say that they do. The reason I say this is because they have been raised to associate the pacifier with comfort and safety, instead of human touch and care. They are psychologically dependent upon a placebo for comfort. Who is to blame? Us, as parents for constantly giving them a reward when they cry.

In one of the most famous experiments in psychology, Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. To the dog, the bell meant a juicy steak was coming. So, the dog would wait in anticipation for their reward, but what would happen when they did not receive their reward? In my own observations and experiments, the dog lashes out, seeking what it feels it deserves. This is classic conditioning, and most people do not consider both sides to it.

A pacifier is a form of classical conditioning, and we are causing our children to become dependent on objects for their happiness. Just like the dogs, what happens when we take away the pacifier? The child has two options. Learn to cope without a pacifier, which is what we hope they will do, or find a new pacifier, which is generally what happens.

As we grow, some of the common pacifiers we use are a favorite toy or blanket, a figurine, and eventually, a cell phone. Often, children, teenagers, and even adults lock themselves in their own digital world to escape from the stresses and pains of their lives, seeking the comfort and safety that come from a world where they control everything. A world where nothing can hurt them.

Because of this, these individuals never gain the experiences needed to understand how to take the pain and let it go. They can’t deal with stress, and oftentimes lash out in anger or confusion. These people end up being depressed and lonely, and can’t seem to understand why the world is so hard to live in. These people are living their lives under the influence of the pacifier effect.

Not too long ago, I myself had a pacifier which I used as a crutch through my life, and it nearly cost me everything. I had become so dependent upon it that soon it consumed nearly all of my time, and I found myself living the life of an addict. Sadly, my story is all too common, but there is a way to get out of the rut. I managed to do so, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I accomplished this feat by reaching out to others, building a support group around me of individuals whom I trusted and loved, as well as others who struggled with the same pacifier I did. Together we managed to get out, so I know that together, all of us can get out of the rut we are in. Be careful and reach out to those whom you trust for help. It might turn out they are struggling with the same thing.

What things in your life are you using as a pacifier? What will you do knowing what they are? Answer these questions in the comments below, and don’t forget to always ask questions, because when we do it helps all of us to be better off.

© 2019 Malaki Ashby

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