Flipping out – Flipping back

Would you like to know why the world is such a bad place, why women become prostitutes? There is a simple, direct, even easy answer. Just listen to the following lecture, the speaker explains it all very concisely. Apparently, exercise can cause people to lose their minds and their moral bearing. Never mind the benefits of exercise, never mind that exercise can help alleviate depression and prevent illness. Apparently, exercise can be harmful unless you choose the correct type. There is no reason to spend a full hour on the video just pick it up at about 39 minutes in. It is quite informative particularly if you are naïve and seeking a simple belief system that negates others who are not like you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yTtAxgRJRM

So, to be a good person you should not allow the women of the community to exercise with Zumba, or anything that remotely uses music that might get them a little too excited. Sorry, but I thought the point of exercise is to raise your heart rate which is a form of excitement. Guess I am ill informed.

There is another lecture like this one, of course. If you want to know what causes cancer and other tragedies, try listening to the following brief explanation. This too is very enlightening.


So Zumba, DJ’s at parties that are mixed co-ed, Facebook, the way women dress, etc. are all contributory for cancer. I thought smoking, poor diet, insufficient exercise; radiation exposure and exposure to carcinogens are root causes. Silly me!

There are many such videos available providing distracting, meaningless, and just plain silly direction for believers and followers. Never mind that there is no proof for these types of bigoted rants and no religious basis for them either. Some people need easy answers. Others, however, want to understand reality.

At this moment I have not yet come across a video or lecture that negates Newton’s Laws of Motion, particularly the Third Law which states:  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think to a very real degree this Law of Physics also applies to human behavior. If you push too hard in one direction, you will get a significant push back against that force. Perhaps the speakers in these two videos and others like them overlooked this basic Newtonian fact.

A few years ago there was some research concerning the phenomenon referred to as Flipping Out. This experience occurs among teens in their year between high school and college. The gap year, spent full time in seminary or yeshiva, has caused some parents to be concerned that their child will flip out of the family style of religious belief and be brainwashed to a significantly more right wing form of religiosity, in some cases to the point that the child actually rejects his or her parents. There are extreme examples of this, the child who “will not eat American food” – meaning foods like pizza or hot dogs, and will only eat Eastern European style kosher foods – gefilta fish, latkes, chulent, etc. Other examples include the child who will not allow a specific band to play at his wedding because he heard that the musicians have played “English music” at other affairs.

You can make the argument that the child that flips out has a predisposing psychological or emotional disorder, or offer a more global explanation that the world has, in recent years, shifted to the right and naturally, the child is following a trend. Parents tend to blame the teachers for the indoctrination that these religious instructors do on their students. The kind of brainwashing we see in the videos above. In is not clear the exact percentage of students that flip out but both the child that flips out and his or her family pay a steep emotional price for this belief and behavioral shift. The benefit accrued to the school or teachers that do the persuading is also not completely understood beyond creating a devoted following.

I have recently seen a relatively new phenomenon. Some of those youngsters who flipped out just a few years ago are now flipping back, proving Newton’s Third Law of Motion as applied to human behavior. Perhaps that is a good thing. These young people had their form of rebellion, a not atypical experience, and are now returning to the fold. The problem, however, is not just the years lost, but also the years lost to avoiding a proper well-rounded education, by marrying at too young an age and having responsibilities beyond their capabilities and by starting a life in one direction and then shifting focus – confusing a spouse and young children.

I have a few questions for the speakers in the videos above and others like them – Do they truly believe what they are saying? Is it just a form of hyperbole designed for some other purpose? If so, what is that purpose? Do they even realize that they may be causing people to become unbelievers or non-believers? Humans strive for homeostasis. The balance that we seek can be severely disrupted by pronouncements which are not accurate, and the reverberations of these false statements cause real harm to many.

About the Author
Dr Michael Salamon, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and a 2018 APA Presidential Citation Awardee. He is the founder and director of ADC Psychological Services in New York and the author of numerous articles, several psychological tests and books including "The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures" (Urim Publications) and "Every Pot Has a Cover" (University Press of America). His newest book is called "Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims."