Sub-boxing Everywhere

In all highly developed civilizations, we see a trend to more:

  • segmentation: division into segments
  • specialization: made or used for one particular purpose, job, place, etc.
  • differentiation: development from the one to the many, the simple to the complex, or the homogeneous to the heterogeneous
  • classification: a category into which something is put

You could say that products, jobs, scientific disciplines, processes, phenomena, etc are continually divided up into smaller parts or “conceptual boxes”. The consequence is that such societies become more complex: finding the right “box” and making choices are becoming increasingly laborous and burdensome.

Segmentation is one of the eight trends in TRIZ that predicts the future development of a system that could happen. Below some examples:

Sub-specialties of cardiology are developed along electrical properties of the heart, the use of ultrasound, catheters, and nuclear medicine.

In economics and marketing, product differentiation (or simply differentiation) is the process of distinguishing a product or service from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market.

Some hundred years ago sport shoes were invented as an alternative of the rather rigid all-day-shoe of leather. Nowadays for nearly any sport there is a specialized shoe available, specifically designed for that sport.

Sometimes the further segmentation reaches to the point of absurdity:


Market segmentation is a marketing strategy which involves dividing a broad target market into subsets.


Segmentation has been one of the strongest strategies in marketing as it is traditionally practiced. If you enter a new category, you attempt to create a product that is distinct from those already there, by carving out a niche. However, segmentation is a more-of-the-same strategy and could be easily counterproductive because it is based on the existing products and markets. Instead of fighting over an ever decreasing fragment of a market, by transforming a product enough to make it suitable to satisfy new or different needs, it is possible to create a new market. It is called lateral marketing.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.The DSM-I, from 1952, listed 106; the DSM-III, from 1980, listed 265, and the current DSM-IV has 297 mental disorders. It means that over 5o% of all Americans will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes. It seems that “b0xing”and “sub-boxing” provoke their own dynamics, as explained in this interesting article: Abnormal is the New Normal by Robin S. Rosenberg


One Reply to “Sub-boxing Everywhere”

  1. New mental defense mechanism discovered: compartmentalisation

    I would like to add the defence mechanism ‘compartmentalisation’ to the list of defence mechanisms. In our blessed period, it has become gefundenes fressen to, in the face of big problems, “divide everything up into compartments.”

    Once you complete this mental coping process, you create material manifestations of your illusory representation of the world. You start to ‘compartmentalize’. You then set up an endless series of institutions and associated “experts”, in the false assumption that they will solve the major problems.

    A committee on ‘radicalization’, a ‘sustainability officer’, a ‘children’s rights commissioner’, a ‘deradicalisation officer’, a ‘climate adviser’. And so on. Ad infinitum specializations are invented, around which entire compartments are being set up.

    A sustainability officer cannot do without a Federal Institute for Sustainable Development. So the Belgian state founded FIDO a few years ago, which is what I wrote in the previous sentence.

    An expert in deradicalisationology can not exist without an organization around his person. So (for example, there are organizations legion in this regard) something like BOUNCE is being built up, an organization that provides ‘resilience tools to prevent radicalization’ (website

    A policy towards mental health is also impossible, without experts. So the auticoach is sitting next to the ADHD expert next to the neurologist sitting next to the mentor of the centre for learning disabilities (dyspraxia, dyslexia, dysorthography) sitting next to the mental health coach sitting next to the supervisor group dynamics at the multidisciplinary table in the Multifunctional Center ( MFC).

    In all these organizations, in all these compartments, studies are ordered, reports are drawn up, meetings are convened, ‘best practices’ are collected, targets are set, competencies are written out. Things are being done, but especially, as they say at Zaans, “empty sacks are being put over.”

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