Goldbricking, in today’s terms, generally refers to staff who use their work internet access for personal reasons while maintaining the appearance of working, which can lead to inefficiency. The term originates from the confidence trick of applying a gold coating to a brick of worthless metal. Some employees do two non-work activities at once, a practice known as multishirking. In modern usage, the practice is also known as cyberslacking, cyberloafing or cyberbludging. Instances of goldbricking have increased markedly since broadband Internet connections became commonplace in workplaces. Before that the slow speed of dial-up connections meant that the practice was rarely worthwhile. Many firms employ surveillance software to track employees’ Internet activity in an effort to limit liability and improve productivity. Other methods used to reduce goldbricking include installation of proxy servers to prevent programs from accessing resources like Internet Relay Chat, AOL Instant Messenger, or some online gambling services, strict disciplinary measures for employees found goldbricking, and carrot and stick measures like providing free or subsidized Internet access for employees outside of working hours.
In October 1879, N. D. Clark, the president of the First National Bank of Ravenna, Ohio, was visiting one of his mines in Colorado. A group of miners approached Mr. Clark and asked for a $10,000 cash advance on a brick of gold that they for some reason were not able to ship at the time. The head miner had told Clark that he had run into financial woes and had lost all of his property and desperately needed the money. Clark accepted the offer on the condition that the brick and the miner return with him to Chicago, and took the brick to a blacksmith for analysis. The blacksmith cut off a corner of the brick and determined that the brick was pure gold. On the trip to Chicago, the miner vanished and further analysis of the brick found that the sides and corners were indeed gold but the main body of the brick was worthless. This act was copied and soon the phrase “to sell someone a gold brick” came to describe a swindle and to “gold brick” someone came to mean defrauding them. In the First World War, civilians were quickly promoted to the rank of lieutenant with minimal training, resulting in incompetency. They came to be known as ‘gold bricks’ by the enlisted corps due to the idea of gold bricks being frauds and the rank insignia resembling a gold bar. Eventually, the term became synonymous with anyone loafing and not doing a fair share of work.
Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988) was an American physicist known for his work in quantum mechanics. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman, jointly with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. He developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as Feynman diagrams.
During his lifetime, Feynman became one of the best-known scientists in the world. He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and was a member of the panel that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In addition to his work in theoretical physics, Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing, and introducing the concept of nanotechnology.
Steve McQueen (1930 – 1980) was an American movie actor. He was nicknamed ‘The King of Cool.’ His ‘anti-hero’ persona, which he developed at the height of the Vietnam counterculture, made him one of the top box-office draws of the 1960s and 1970s. His popular films include ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ ‘The Great Escape,’ ‘The Thomas Crown Affair,’ ‘Bullitt,’ ‘The Getaway,’ ‘Papillon,’ and ‘The Towering Inferno.’ In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Although McQueen was combative with directors and producers, his popularity put him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.
Charles Bronson (1921 – 2003), born Charles Dennis Buchinsky was an American actor, best-known for such films as ‘Once Upon a Time in the West,’ ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ ‘The Great Escape,’ ‘Rider on the Rain,’ ‘The Mechanic,’ and the popular ‘Death Wish’ series.
He often cast in the role of a police officer or gunfighter, often in revenge-oriented plot lines.
The Celestine Prophecy is a 1993 novel by James Redfield that discusses various psychological and spiritual ideas which are rooted in many ancient Eastern Traditions and New Age spirituality. The main character of the novel undertakes a journey to find and understand a series of nine spiritual insights on an ancient manuscript in Peru. The book is a first-person narrative of the narrator’s spiritual awakening as he goes through a transitional period of his life and begins to notice instances of synchronicity, which is the realization that coincidences may have deep meaning. Redfield has acknowledged that the work of Dr. Eric Berne, the developer of Transactional Analysis, and his 1964 bestseller ‘Games People Play’ as a major influence on his work. Specifically, the ‘games’ which Berne refers in his theories are tools used in an individual’s quest for energetic independence.
The novel has received some criticism, mostly from the literary community, who point out that the plot of the story is not well developed and serves only as a delivery tool for the author’s ideas about spirituality. Redfield has admitted that, even though he considers the book to be a novel, his intention was to write a story in the shape of a parable, a story meant to illustrate a point or teach a lesson. Critics point to Redfield’s heavy usage of subjective validation (a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a piece of information to be correct if it has any personal significance to them) and reification (making something real). Another point of criticism has been directed at the book’s attempt to explain important questions about life and human existence in an overly simplified fashion.
Emotional blackmail is a term used to cover a central form of psychological manipulation – ‘the use of a system of threats and punishment on a person by someone close to them in an attempt to control their behavior.’ ‘Emotional blackmail… typically involves two people who have established a close personal or intimate relationship (mother and daughter, husband and wife, sister and sister, two close friends).’ When subjected to emotional blackmail, ‘we become the other’s emotional hostage.’ As French sociologist Jean Baurdrillard puts it, emotional blackmail is telling someone: ‘If you don’t give me that, you will be responsible for my breakdown.’
According to psychotherapist Susan Forward, who did much to popularize the term, ’emotional blackmail’ is a powerful form of manipulation in which blackmailers who are close to the victim threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish them to get what they want. They may know the victim’s vulnerabilities and their deepest secrets. ‘Many of the people who use emotional blackmail are friends, colleagues and family members with whom we have close ties that we want to strengthen and salvage’ – parents, partners, bosses or lovers. No matter how much the blackmailer cares about the victim, they use their intimate knowledge to win compliance.
One-upmanship is the art or practice of successively outdoing a competitor. The term originated as the title of a book by Stephen Potter, published in 1952 as a follow-up to ‘The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship (or the Art of Winning Games without Actually Cheating)’ (1947) and ‘Lifemanship’ titles in his series of tongue-in-cheek self-help books, and film and television derivatives, that teach various ‘ploys’ to achieve this. In that context, the term refers to a satiric course in the gambits required for the systematic and conscious practice of ‘creative intimidation,’ making one’s associates feel inferior and thereby gaining the status of being ‘one-up’ on them.
This satire of self-help style guides manipulates traditional stuffy British conventions for the gamester, all life being a game, who understands that if you’re not one-up, you’re one-down. Potter’s unprincipled principles apply to almost any possession, experience or situation, deriving maximum undeserved rewards and discomforting the opposition. Viewed seriously, it is a phenomenon of group dynamics that can have significant effects in the management field: for instance, manifesting in office politics. The term has been extended to a generic, often punning, extension upmanship used for any assertion of superiority: for instance, Native Upmanship.
The term mind games refers to three main categories: 1) A largely conscious struggle for psychological one-upmanship, often employing passive–aggressive behavior to specifically demoralize or empower the thinking subject, making the aggressor look superior – ‘mind games or power games’. 2) ‘The unconscious games played by innocent people engaged in duplex transactions (sending and receiving both explicit and unspoken messages ) of which they are not fully aware, and which form the most important aspect of social life all over the world.’ And 3) Mental exercises designed to improve the functioning of mind and/or personality.
Transactional analysis, commonly known as TA to its adherents, is an integrative approach to the theory of psychology and psychotherapy. It is described as integrative because it has elements of psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches. TA was first developed by Canadian-born U.S. psychiatrist, Eric Berne, in the late 1950s.
As a theory of personality, TA describes how people are structured psychologically. It uses what is perhaps its best known model, the ego-state (Parent-Adult-Child) model, to do this. The same model helps explain how people function and express their personality in their behavior. It offers a theory for child development by explaining how adult patterns of life originated in childhood. This explanation is based on the idea of a ‘Life (or Childhood) Script’: the assumption that we continue to re-play childhood strategies, even when this results in pain or defeat. Thus it claims to offer a theory of psychopathology.
‘Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships’ is a 1964 bestselling book by psychiatrist Eric Berne. Since its publication it has sold more than five million copies. The book describes both functional and dysfunctional social interactions. In the first half of the book, Berne introduces transactional analysis as a way of interpreting social interactions. He describes three roles or ego states, known as the Parent, the Adult, and the Child, and postulates that many negative behaviors can be traced to switching or confusion of these roles. He discusses procedures, rituals, and pastimes in social behavior, in light of this method of analysis. For example, a boss who talks to his staff as a controlling ‘parent’ will often engender self-abased obedience, tantrums, or other childlike responses from his employees. The second half of the book catalogues a series of ‘mind games’ in which people interact through a patterned and predictable series of ‘transactions’ which are superficially plausible (that is, they may appear normal to bystanders or even to the people involved), but which actually conceal motivations, include private significance to the parties involved, and lead to a well-defined predictable outcome, usually counterproductive. The book uses casual, often humorous phrases such as ‘See What You Made Me Do,’ ‘Why Don’t You — Yes But,’ and ‘Ain’t It Awful’ as a way of briefly describing each game. In reality, the ‘winner’ of a mind game is the person that returns to the Adult ego-state first.
One example of these games is called ‘Now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch,’ in which A is dealing with B, and A discovers B has made a minor mistake, and holds up a much larger and more serious issue until the mistake is fixed, basically holding the entire issue hostage to the minor mistake. For example, say a plumber makes a mistake on a $300 job and underestimates the price of a part as $1 when it should be $3. The customer won’t pay the entire $300 unless the plumber eats the $2 error instead of just paying the bill of $302. Not all interactions or transactions are part of a game. Specifically, if both parties in a one-on-one conversation remain in an Adult-to-Adult ego-state, it is unlikely that a game is being played. In the 1950s, Berne synthesized his theory of ‘human gaming’ and built on Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic model, particularly the ego states to develop transactional analysis, which according to physician James R. Allen, is a ‘cognitive behavioral approach to treatment and … a very effective way of dealing with internal models of self and others as well as other psychodynamic issues.’ In 1993, American therapist-turned-author James Redfield self-published a New Age book, ‘The Celestine Prophecy,’ influenced by the theory of Berne’s human gaming. Specifically, the life games to which Berne refers in his book is a tool used in an individual’s quest for energetic independence.