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贫困也是社会心理问题

布莱顿—贫穷是非常可耻的经历,它吞噬人的尊严和自我价值感。贫穷的表现和根源各异,但其所带来的耻辱则放之四海而皆准。牛津大学的最新研究发现,从中国到英国,面临经济困境的人,即使他只是儿童,也会经历几乎相同的对骄傲和自尊的打击。

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但是,尽管有清楚的证据表明贫困与心理压力有关,但扶贫政策通常并不会考虑到耻辱因素。相反,扶贫措施常常注重无形的形式,如缺少收入或教育。结果,减贫方案常常间接假定只要提高物质财富、改善生活条件,就能自动带来包括精神福利改善在内的无形收益。

对贫困的“社会心理”面——即社会力量和个体态度或行为之间的互动——关注不够起到了误导作用。如果我们想要减少人道痛苦,实现联合国的最重要的可持续发展目标——到2030年消灭“一切形式”的贫困,就必须将解决羞耻在贫困问题上所扮演的内在和积极的角色作为核心。

伴随贫困而生的羞辱感会造成严重后果,阻碍人们采取积极行动改善境况。这种现象全世界随处可见。在印度,因庄稼歉收和财务压力而导致的羞耻感让农民陷入药物滥用,在极端情形甚至可能发生自杀。在坦桑尼亚,双语教育研究者发现,害怕被愚弄让英语较差的学生不愿在上课时全身心投入。在乌干达,贫穷的高中学生表示,付不起学费、买不起校服或得不到学习用品会带来持久的羞辱感

要解决与贫困有关的羞耻,充分考虑羞耻在导致贫困长期化中所起的作用,需要采取一系列措施。

首先,决策者应该承认问题。人类发展计划人员不可将羞耻视为生而贫困的不幸的副产品,而应该思考贫困是如何损害人的尊严的。诺贝尔经济学奖得主、减贫领域最有影响力的人士之一亚马蒂亚·森(Amartya Sen)早就指出,羞耻是“绝对”贫困的推动因素。认真对待羞耻必须成为扶贫战略的一部分。

此外,羞耻、缺乏自信和自尊心不够强会左右人们对自己影响变化的能力的看法,导致无能感难以克服,从而让人变得更弱,陷入贫困。要帮助人们摆脱贫困,人类发展战略必须考虑如何提高人的能动性、志向和自信——即相信自己拥有左右影响自己生活的事件的能力。

最后,决策者必须认识到,以减贫为目标的计划,如果实施不合理,反而可能增加羞耻感。比如,研究者在2005年发现,印度妇女为了逃避医护人员损害她们自身和她们的孩子的福祉的羞耻性治疗而拒绝去卫生所。申请儿童抚养补助的南非妇女也报告了类似的经历,英国的食品银行用户也是如此。事实上,许多英国调查对象说,接受免费食物的耻辱感非常巨大,让他们无不感到“恐惧”和“尴尬”。

羞耻问题,以及在减贫政策中更严肃地对待这个问题的必要性,正在缓慢迎来转机。研究人类痛苦的学者已经承认,“接受者的尊严”是成功的扶贫的关键要素。比如,关于非洲转移支付项目的一份2016年的评估发现,摆脱了压力和羞耻后,接受者信心有所增强,从而带来决策的改善和生产率的提高。基于这一证据,牛津大学正在将其“羞耻-贫困的关系”的研究进行扩张,探讨国际发展部门如何制定“不羞耻”(shame-proof)的扶贫政策。

旨在扶贫的计划在向正确的方向迈进,但在将贫困的社会心理要素纳入政策和规划方面仍有许多工作要做。只有当决策者真正领会到尊严和自尊是减贫斗争不可或缺的先决条件——而不是扶贫的结果,世界才获得了消灭所有形式的贫困的战斗机会。

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