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Some people mistake the symptom for the problem; a symptom can be an effect that signals something, and the the effect is not the same as the cause.

Take the story of the man who heard his neighbour’s dog barking late one night. It disturbed him and he was annoyed by it. Knowing his neighbour to be away for the evening he was even more irritated “How irresponsible!” he thought, “He might have known that the dog doesn’t like being left alone”.

The barking continued. “Maybe if I go and shout at the dog through the front door”, he thought, “it will shut up for a bit.”

As he approached the neighbour’s front door two men rushed out. They too had known the neighbour was away for the evening, and had used the opportunity to burgle the house, shutting the dog away where in the kitchen as they carried out their thievery.

Before the man could retreat or raise the alarm the two villains laid into him with stout implements they’d brought along, ‘just in case’.

Recovering later in hospital the man had time to reflect on how he might have interpreted the sign of the dog barking differently.

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