|Are You Cautious or Paranoid?|
|By Joe Bouchard|
The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101: The College Edition", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.
Has someone ever labeled your caution as paranoia? This is likely something that happens to all corrections professionals at one time or another. Of course, our caution keeps us safe on the job. Those outside the profession cannot fully appreciate the distinction unless they are in our vocational shoes.
I teach criminal justice classes for a local college. As a corrections professional, I strive to integrate vocational realism while delivering information about the structure, functions and history of corrections. At times, I see the surprise of those not in the profession about the intense caution that we take for granted.
While explaining the concept of masked actions and ulterior motives, a student asked me, “Are you paranoid?” I assured her that I am just cautious: The job in corrections strengthens that attribute. To buttress this point, I crafted a short classroom exercise.
This classroom exercise can be conducted at all levels of corrections – from pre-professionals in introductory classes to seasoned veterans.
First, the facilitator delivers the definitions.
Caution is an alertness and prudence in a hazardous situation; care; wariness. “Caution – Falling rocks. Drive with care.”
Paranoia is an intense fear or suspicion, especially when unfounded. “Mark was certain that a swarm of carnivorous ants would interrupt the picnic.” Paranoia is no laughing matter. It can be described as a mental disorder characterized by any of several types of delusions.
Then, the instructor presents each of the fifteen scenarios and asks the class: Does this make you feel cautious or paranoid?
In corrections, it is good to know how you may react to certain situations. An exercise like this is helpful in that manner. It is useful to ask oneself, Am I cautious or am I paranoid?
Thanks to Brooke Mleko for asking me “Are you paranoid?” That was the catalyst for this exercise.
Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.
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