What Quark the Ferrengi taught me about coping mechanisms and PTSD

This won’t make much sense to non-Trekkies. In the Star Trek Series of TV shows, particularly ‘Deep Space Nine’, there is a species called Ferrengi, who are avaricious and focussed on accumulating wealth. Their central philosophy is rooted in the ‘Rules of Acquisition‘ .

I was struck by a unique application of rule #3 in the Deep Space 9 episode “The Maquis, part 2“.

Rule of Aquisition #3 Never Spend More for An Acquisition Than You Have To.

In the story, a Ferrengi is locked up in prison with a Vulcan. Ferrengi are ruled by the ‘rules’ and Vulcans are governed by logic. The vulcan is a member of a group called the Maqui, who were trying to defend their home territory from a nearby empire, and were cut off from help by the Federation of Planets by a treaty ceding that land as a buffer zone between the two empires.

Here’s a link to the conversation between Quark and the vulcan Saconna. He calls her position with the Maquis illogical and uses the Rules of Acquisition to explain that, “peace can be bought at a bargain price.” He explains she doesn’t have to fight or die to protect her home, but can get peace in a less costly way. The conversation is right at the end of the video so it gets cut off and continued in the next video.

I have adapted this rule and the logic behind it, as interpreted by my guru Quark, into:

Sworddancewarriors rule #3 of being a survivor

(I’ll come up with #1 and #2 later)

Never use a self-destructive coping strategy, when a less harmful one will get you what you need instead.

Some examples:

  • Why cut your body to convert unbearable emotional pain into physical pain and banish dissociation when holding onto cubes of ice will do the same job without injuring your body permanently?
  • Why stay in a relationship with an abusive partner in order to feel safe sleeping at night, when a big dog will do the same job?
  • Why drink to numb overwhelming feelings when expressing them in a safe place will get you to a calm place without the hangover and liver damage?
  • Why over-function to make critical people like you, to deal with hating yourself, when you can learn to like yourself and find people who like you without being bribed?

Anyone got any other examples of substitutions of cheaper coping strategies for expensive ones?

0 thoughts on “What Quark the Ferrengi taught me about coping mechanisms and PTSD”

  1. Hi Warrior,

    I really like the principles here – it’s almost like the least common denominator of self-harm, in a way. I like the idea of doing the least harmful thing to yourself.

    Here is my coping suggestion: Why cut yourself when you can talk it out (with the right person) and erase the need to cut? This actually worked for me one time. I wanted to cut so badly, but I kept my therapy appointment anyway and figured I would cut when I got home. After therapy though, I didn’t feel like it anymore. All survivors who cut, like you said, are just working through unbearable emotion. Why not work out that emotion with someone who is worthy of sharing it with you?

    – Butterfly

    1. That’s a good coping suggestion, and definitely better than the ice thing if available. I think a coping suggestion coming from someone who has been there is always the best quality.

      I’ve never been a cutter, although I had a roommate who did it, and some friends in support groups. I think I get from a non-cutters perspective why people do it, and why it can be necessary. The ice trick was one I read on a survivor forum once and it seemed like a good idea if other options (like seeing a therapist) weren’t immediately available. Harm reduction seems to me to be a good idea, and then begin finding options that meets the needs even better and with a ‘lower cost’.


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