Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Beware of vicious circles
The term ‘vicious circle’ is one that is often used, but its significance is not always appreciated or fully understood. This is a pity, as it is an important and useful concept, and vicious circles are far more common than people generally realise.
So, what exactly is a vicious circle? Basically, it is when one thing (let’s call it A) has a negative effect on another (B), and then B has a similar negative effect on A, leading to an exacerbation of A and its negative effect on B. And so it goes on, from bad to worse, the negatives of A and B reinforcing each other. The technical way of putting this is that a ‘feedback loop’ has been set up. Some feedback loops are fairly minor and trivial and do relatively little harm. However, some can be very serious and highly destructive.