Re: Query re construct systems & hope/insight

Rue L. Cromwell (cromwell@KUHUB.CC.UKANS.EDU)
Fri, 04 Aug 1995 15:13:33 -0400 (EDT)

Dear Ellen:

I predict you will get many useful responses to your query. This is just a
note to suggest that you might look at Kelly's comments on the cycle of
loosening and tightening. Loosening implied that a person is amenable to
new constructions and reconstructions. Various factors provide the impetus
for this. Following from the theory, optimal functioning calls for a
tightening of construct system following each epoch of loosening; that is,
the person must test out the validity of his new anticipations once the new
construction has taken place. Once validated, the person is more likely to
move into a loosening phase again and become susceptible to still more new

Approaching from a slightly different direction, Kelly used to talk about
understanding susceptibility to change from the vantage point of each
personal construct factor--not for the person as a whole. The object here
was to lay out a plan for approaching an individual therapeutically, as
based upon the understanding of his rep grid factor analysis and other
diagnostic tools. A short version of all this is to describe three
different categories of construct factors: (a) conceptual areas where good
congruity exists among self, pole assignment of self, and pole assignment of
construct valence, and the construct factor is predicting well and is useful
to the person in life situations. These particular constructs should be
identified and supported (kept validated by the therapist) so that the
person can then securely explore and change other areas which are not
working. (b) conceptual areas which are also highly congruent (among self,
factor pole, and valence) but which are rigid, constricted, and in other
ways resistent to change, even though they are not providing valid
predictions for the individual. These areas are the ones important for the
therapist to know about, for the purpose of staying away from them until
later in therapy because of the great liklihood of resistance, threat,
defensiveness which would slow downs the progress of therapy early on. (c)
conceptual areas where incongruence (inconsistency) exists among the various
members of a construct factor (e.g., self-factor inconsistency, self-valence
inconsistency, and (in redundance) factor-valence inconsistency. Such
incongruities were viewed as resulting either from (i) conceptual areas
which are not working well (for prediction of one's destiny) and are
susceptible to reconstruction (with the therapist or with the individual
independently), or from (ii) a person who is indeed already in the course of
change (i.e., in transition). The transition may result from therapy or it
may well result from major life event (death, marriage, divorce, new job,
getting fired, etc.) In other words, the person who is in a state of growth
and change in construct system goes through a period where their conceptual
structure "looks like" some one who is disturbed, in terms of the
intrafactor incongruities. The important difference is that it does not
stay that way but keeps improving (in prediction) and becoming more
internally coherent.



>I am a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Temple University in
>Philadelphia and am new to the list. I am currently doing some preliminary
>research on suggestibility, persuasion, and so-called placebo responses.
>I've been reading a lot of Kelly lately and have found personal construct
>psychology relevant & helpful for thinking about these issues. What I
>*haven't* found is whether & how PC theory specifically addresses the
>relationship between particular features of a person's construct system and
>what I've come to think of as "mobilization of hope"--that moment when a
>person is able to use a given situation or interaction as a solution, an
>insight, an occasion for growth or healing. Does Kelly address this issue
>specifically anywhere? Has anyone else in PCP taken it up? Another way to
>phrase my question is: is it possible to characterize someone who is ready to
>"buy" a new idea--or ready to change--in terms of what I would call structural
>features of his or her construct system? I realize this is a pretty basic
>question--I'm new at this--but if anyone has the patience to steer me in the
>right direction with a citation or a few words of wisdom, I'd be much obliged.
>Ellen Balze
>Temple University

Rue L. Cromwell