Deindividuation refers to a situation whereby an individual loses his/her sense of responsibility and adopts an abnormal behavior in a crowd setting. Normally, individuals under deindividuation have no self-awareness of their actions because they assume a personality that is not synonymous to their original personality. More often than not, such individuals adopt the identity of the group an act as an entity rather than as an individual.
The historical event that can best describe the concept of deindividuation is the Rwanda genocide in East Africa. The Rwanda genocide was a civil war that was surrounded by ethnic abrasion and political differences that resulted to the killing of over half a million people. Ethnic groups arose against each other and slaughtered one another. The war involved the police, rogue militia, soldiers and the citizens of Rwanda. This is a classic example of a historic event where deindividuation was witnessed.
The war was predominantly between the Hutu and the Tutsi. The two factions were engaged in power struggle and the genesis of the war was triggered by the shooting of the Burundian president’s flight on arrival at the Kigali Airport where everybody on that flight died. The soldiers, police and militia took the war with to Tutsi and some Hutu individuals who were to succeed the president in case a power vacuum ensued (Akhavan, 1996). Consequently, Hutu civilians were recruited and advised to use and arm themselves with machetes against the Tutsi. In retaliation, the Tutsi also maimed and killed the Hutu. In essence deindividuation manifested itself in the execution of the Rwanda killings where individuals in groups attacked their rivals and killed without any shred or sense of responsibility and humanity.
Process of deindividuation
Ideally, every individual exhibits a given kind of identity that he/she carries in pursuit of his/her actions. This self-awareness defines how people interact with one another and the extent to which someone’s behavior is normal (Nadler, 2008). Deindividuation can therefore, occur under three circumstances. One is during meditation, two is when someone is deeply focused in an activity such as a hobby and lastly, when one becomes part of a large group with one mentality. The group mentality is guided by two assumptions. The first assumption is that of anonymity, where one feels that he cannot be found out because the group is big. The second assumption lies on the existence of diffused responsibility where an individual feels he/she is not responsible for his/her actions.These two scenarios are what results to deindividuation. Most often, deindividuation is associated with negativities such as mob violence. However, it can sometimes yield positive results depending on what is at stake.
Nevertheless, deindividuation can also manifest itself outside the crowd mentality such as during meditation and when someone is deeply engrossed in an activity. During meditation, the human conscience is drifted to deep imaginations and during such imaginations, individuals find themselves embracing an identity that is different from their original identity. For examples, meditation that involves too much emotion can make an individual to cry while in real sense, the individual had not intent to cry. By the same token, an individual can be so engrossed in activity that he/she loses his sense of identity and loses focus of the need to embrace his normal behavior. For example an individual can carry out an activity to extreme limits maybe to achieve some illusionary ambition or to satisfy his imaginations.
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