Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Drug that Treats Anti-Semitism?

Supposedly, coworkers were afraid of me at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld where I worked as a paralegal from March 1988 until I was fired in late October 1991.

After I left the firm, my direct supervisor told her employees that she was afraid I might return to the firm to carry out a homicidal assault.

Earlier, in August 1989, a coworker said to me: "We're all afraid of you.  We're all afraid you're going to buy a gun, bring it in and shoot everybody."

Reportedly, the legal assistant administrator and legal assistant coordinator told a senior firm partner that I was difficult to work with, that they were afraid of me, and that they couldn't work with me.

In response to an unlawful job termination complaint I filed against the firm the employer alleged that coworkers reported that they were afraid to work near me.

I believe that coworkers' reactions to me were the product of anti-Semitic animus and groupthink.

Oddly enough, recent research has shown that the affect that underlies racism (and apparently other forms of ethnic prejudice) is fear.

Oxford researcher Sylvia Terbeck gave volunteers the beta-blocker propranolol. The volunteers scored lower on a range of psychological tests designed to reveal any racist attitudes than a group who took a placebo. The region of the brain called the amygdala is involved in processing emotion, including fear, and many psychologists think racist feelings are driven by the fear center. Propranolol inhibits the amygdala.

Arguably, statements by coworkers that they were afraid of me at Akin Gump may have constituted an unwitting admission that their feelings were motivated by anti-Semitism!

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