Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Private Domain from Psychological View

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Private Domain from Psychological View

“Cut your coat according to your cloth”, this is a famous proverb. One of the concepts of this proverb is regarding personal space. Scores of books and commentaries have been written that how animals, birds, fishes and other species determine and protect their space. It has been discovered not long ago that mankind has also their own space. When one recognizes this fact and its significance, they will not be surprised with anyone’s actions but rather predict the actions. Edward T. Hall, an American anthropologist, was the first who introduced the idea of personal space for mankind. In other words, he talked about proxemics which is the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behavior, communication, and social interaction. According to Hall, the study of proxemics is valuable in evaluating not only the way people interact with others in daily life, but also “the organization of space in houses and buildings, and ultimately the layout of towns”. Proxemics remains a hidden component of interpersonal communication that is uncovered through observation and strongly influenced by culture.
His research leads us to a new phase of interaction with others. For instance, every space is a territory with specific boundaries which are, sometimes, protected by armed soldiers. Within all spaces, there are mini-territories in the form of province and district which are also divided into smaller parts such as villages and urban areas that are again divided to smaller parts for their inhabitants. The inhabitants of all territories are ready to protect them at the cost of their lives. The space that a person claims to own is like part of their bodies and called privacy.
The concept of personal space relates to the culture, custom, beliefs and historical background of a nation and they are diverse. The attitudes which prevail in a certain city, district, province, tribes, etc. will be jaw-dropping in another geographical place or even trigger a sense of rage and hatred for a particular nation. For instance, in Britain, the private domain of individuals is so significant that if one rolls their eyes to another, s/he can sue that person in court and the court will fine them. Therefore, those who travel to other countries are advised not to gaze at others or else they might get into legal or at least moral problem.
Psychologically, the realm of personal privacy or space is into two kinds: (1) physical privacy (2) mental privacy.
The space of physical privacy is equal to the length of a hand. That is to say, if we stretch out our heads or bodies towards others within this length, we have violated their privacy on the condition that they feel uncomfortable.
Mental privacy includes
(1) Personal information regarding one’s private and family life.
(2) Investigating one’s personal beliefs, thoughts and ideas which contain religion, sect, race, nationality, culture and way of life.
Knowing one’s beliefs and ideas regarding any issues, we will have to respect them despite being against them – this reflects one’s respect to the life, rights and privacy of a person.
(3) Feelings: Investigating or interfering regarding one’s feelings and tendencies is also counted violation of one’s privacy. Unluckily, the individuals’ emotional space is violated from their childhood in our society. For example, a child is asked whether it likes better its father or mother. Do you really think that a child has the ability to answer this question? This question is really disturbing.
The next example is the parents’ interference in the feelings and tendencies of their children. Sometimes, parents will not allow their children to make friendship with others just because they do not hold a friendly relation with their families. Generally, a large number of people are not aware of children’s rights which are stated in international instruments. Similar to an adult, a child also bears respectable privacy. However, imposing personal tastes and beliefs on others are common in our country within families. To sum up, one will conclude that investigating and interfering in people’s personal information regarding their life, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and way of their life, when they are not willing to reveal them, are called personal space and we should respect them. However, since the boundaries are not noticeable easily, one simply enters others’ personal space.
People commonly believe that to start a discussion or a relationship, asking personal question will be appropriate. In our country, people first enter one’s personal space, then become sincere; whereas in developed countries, people first become sincere and then learn about their secret.
A question may arise that why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes on personal space in particular and men’s rights and freedoms in general.  
In my idea, one of the reasons behind this issue is considering respect and equality for all people regardless of their personality, race, religion, nationality, etc. and no one is supposed to be disturbed by others. This reflects the high status and dignity of mankind. One will respect people and their personal space when they understand the value and dignity of mankind.
But since a large number of people are not aware of their rights in our country, they deem violating personal space very common as if they are accustomed to such issues. For example, when one gets on a vehicle, they are asked where they go, what far they go, where they work, how much salary they get, how old they are and so on. Within five minutes, they get all secrets about a commuter.

Ali Rezayi is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at the Outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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