Re: pcp and fun

Tim A. Connor (
Mon, 18 Sep 1995 23:03:13 -0700 (PDT)

As someone who is relatively new to PCP, what I find most delightful
about the theory (apart from GAK's sense of humor) is the ease with which
it can subsume and transform constructs from other theoretical systems
without completely preempting them or trivializing them. I came to
psychology from an undergraduate background in anthropology (symbolic
interactionist/social constructionist) and some training in structural
family therapy. Until I discovered PCP, I had a lot of difficulty
finding a psychological language to express ideas I had derived from
these and other frameworks. PCP did not so much change the way I thought
about people as provide a consistent theory/metatheory within which to
conceptualize them. No more trying to straddle systems theory, object
relations, and cognitive psychology in one sentence (which can be like a
game of intellectual Twister--it can be done, but not comfortably or
gracefully). I don't mean that PCP can or should magically remove
disagreements by reconstruing them--try explaining to an object relations
person that you construe "internal object" to mean a set of constellatory
constructs regarding a particular role relationship and see how far it
gets you. But it allows me to make use of insights from others, even if
not in quite the way they would have expected.

Kelly always purported in his writings to be perplexed by the fact that
PCP was claimed as kin by adherents of so many different theories. I
assume he was, at least in part, being disingenuous for rhetorical effect.
He can't have been completely unaware of his theory's partial family
resemblances (if not actual connections) to Adlerian, Rogerian,
Sullivanian, existentialist, cognitive, and other theories. But to
acknowledge one or a few would ahve been a distortion, and to acknowledge
them all would have been no help to anyone. But that doesn't mean it's
not appropriate now for us to draw connections, not just to other
psychological frames but to other disciplines altogether.

Purity has a kind of aesthetic appeal, but it has a way of killing or
reducing to idiocy the thing purified (witness the murder of Latin by
Renaissance grammarians or the inbreeding of Irish setters). If PCP,
like its creator, is "a form of motion", then the whole notion of purity
or essentialism seems misplaced. Didn't GAK say that the object of PCP
was to make itself obsolete?

Tim Connor