Death Threat & Community of Selves
Wed, 20 Mar 1996 19:34:04 -0500
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Death Threat and the Community of Selves
One of the main problems with death
threat theory, as expounded by Neimeyer
and Co., is that it advocates a kind of
cognitive simplicity. The Threat
Index is a collection of thirty traits. These
traits are used to rate the living self
and the self at death. To the extent that =

the same traits are used to
describe life and death, the person is
assumed not to be threatened by death.
It is essentially a "nothing ventured,
nothing lost" argument and it
recommends the dedifferentiation of
the community of selves. Implicit in this
argument is the assumption that =

differentiation is threatening. If the person
makes no distinction between life and
death, then no imminent changes (threat)
occur in the core construct system when
death arrives. =

A different approach to threat would be to
see logical inconsistencies at the
core of the system as the source of threat. =

This model would allow the person
to differentiate as much as needed, even to
the point of perfect integrative complexity, =

without precipitating threat. With less logical
inconsistency, i.e with fewer inferential =

incompatibilities, there is less threat.
For Kelly, minimization of inconsistency
was by definition at the core
of the construct system. But when
constructs contradict in the core, then
the person experiences the threat of
fragmentation. Fragmentation is dis-
integration of the core of the system. =

In extreme fragmentation, there are no
permeable constructs to absorb the =

changes and the coherence of the
construct system disintegrates.
The contrasting models can be expressed
as coordinate grids. The bandwagon
grid fits the assumptions of Neimyer,
Epting and Co. well. The Selves to be
entered into the grid are: a:Dead/Dying
Self, b: Living Self, c:Validated self, d:
Fulfilled Self, e: Self at Rest, f:
Challenged Self, g: Fragmented Self, =

h:Threatened Self i,e.:
a.b..c...d....e.....f...... g........h. =

The Bandwagon Grid and Death Threat
a b c d e f g h =

a 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 =

b 2 1 3 4 5 6 7 8
c 2 3 1 4 5 6 7 8
d 2 3 4 1 5 6 7 8
e 2 3 4 5 1 6 7 8
f 2 3 4 5 6 1 7 8
g 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1
In the bandwagon approach to death
threat, death is at the center of the
core, with more unpleasant selves =

shoved progressively to the periphery.
It is a kind of shunning of the unpleasant
selves. Selves that differ from death
are isolated into relative meaninglessness,
towards the periphry. This is the
way the bandwagon handles threat. It
shuns the messenger of their
inconsistency. There is an inherent
mathematical weakness in the bandwagon
mentality. But before we examine it,
lets look at the alternative.
The Circumplex Grid and Death Threat
The circumplex grid is just the
compass grid presented earlier.
We use the same self figures:

a:alive self
d:Fulfilled Self f:Challenged Self
c:Valid Self h:Threat Self
e:Self at Rest g:Frag Self
b:Dead Self

a b c d e f g h =

a 1 2.5 4.5 6.5 8 6.5 4.5 2.5
b 2.5 1 2.5 4.5 6.5 8 6.5 4.5
c 4.5 2.5 1 2.5 4.5 6.5 8 6.5
d 6.5 4.5 2.5 1 2.5 4.5 6.5 8
e 8 6.5 4.5 2.5 1 2.5 4.5 6.5
f 6.5 8 6.5 4.5 2.5 1 2.5 4.5
g 4.5 6.5 8 6.5 4.5 2.5 1 2.5
h 2.5 4.5 6.5 8 6.5 4.5 2.5 1
The circumplex grid is dimensionally
more complex. It could be
generalized to a sphere and to higher
order forms as well. =

Both the bandwagon grid and circumplex
grid are perfectly logical. Only the
circumplex grid is integratively complex.
And only the selves in the circumplex grid
have no causal relationships with one
another (as assessed by corresponding
regressions). That is the circumplex grid
is a logical arrangement of coordinated =

selves- a community of selves.
Now lets subject each grid to an
invalidation. We've done this before by
simulating a contradiction. Reverse the
2nd and 8th ranks on the first row of
each grid. (reverse just one of the 2.5
ranks in the circumplex grid). Use the
free Circumgrids grid analysis package
to assess the consequent logical
inconsistency. With the band wagon
grid the contradiction increases =

inconsistencies from 0 to 76. With the
circumplex grid contradiction raises
inconsistency from 0 to 33. Thus
fragmentation is greater with the
bandwagon grid and lower with the
circumplex (community) grid.
This simulates the ramifications
of invalidation on the
two types of core construct sytems. =

The same amount of invalidation has
greater fragmentation effects on the
bandwagon structure.This is why
bandwagon folks panic so easily
under stress. They lack integrative
complexity- they do not elaborate
the selves as a community of equals.
Their system is essentially one
dimensional. It is perfectly logical =

but the logic is brittle.
When threat occurs they must
close ranks and isolate the threat. =

The circumplex grid, on the other
hand, is perfectly logical and integratively =

complex. It holds up better under
threat. The core is more permeable.
It is a better way to tell the truth and
smell the roses, even in the grave yard.
As I have written this my Georgia woods
have covered with snow. It is quiet now =

and I feel at rest, with my sweet daughter =

Grace. Ya'll have a good night.