re: the nature of "construct"
Wed, 12 Jun 1996 23:59:07 +0000

I wrote:

>What I was doing in my last posting was to suggest that construing isn't
>necessarily a function of deliberate choice. I'm not too clear about that,
>which is why I dressed it all up in moggy-lover sensibility; but I'm
>attracted to the idea, first pointed out to me by Helen Jones and, if I
>remember correctly, Beverly Walker, that it makes sense to apply the notion
>of construing to pre-verbal, nondeliberate, preconscious processes as well
>as to the situations of more conscious and deliberate choosing, symbolised
>by verbal label, in which we're used to applying the term.

Bill Ramsay lit a whole load of fireworks under my bum and said, inter al.:

>Makes sense in what terms? What kind of 'sense'? With due respect to Helen
>Jones and Beverly Walker, this doesn't pass what I've come to call the
>'Winnie-the-Pooh' test, i.e. you can add the negative without making a
>contradiction, as in "They might, and then again they might not" (A.A.
>Milne, passim). It might make sense, and then again it might not.

Okay. "Makes sense" in that it accounts _to me_ for a variety of things
that have puzzled me about the extent to which construing can be
unconscious; for the ways in which Kelly dealt with agency in construing
while having almost no use for the concept of "unconscious"; while being
open to _public_ verifiability and debate to the degree that other people
whose understanding of pcp is better developed and better-read than mine
seem to be saying much the same thing.

Sure, I'm confused about the whole thing (maybe since, not being a
clinician, I've never had to confront phenomena like "unconscious
construing" or even decide if that term makes sense). But if I ever get to
grips with the issue (and the comments of Bill and colleagues will of
course be a part of it: what's wrong with acknowledging that other peoples'
ideas influence one's own position Bill? Yours do mine!), I feel that it'll
be in terms of such constructs as:
"awareness": is it necessary to be so in order to construe? No.
"agency": is it necessary to be capable of acting in order to construe? Er...
"person": (aha! a useful key in Kelly's vocabulary) is it necessary to be a
person in order to construe? Yes.

And though I grant you that behaviour can result in a selection among
alternatives, I can't for the life of me see how behaviour has awareness,
agency, or personhood. Cobblers!

As for:
> It seems to me that behaviour is
>less in danger of reification than constructs, but more than a brick.

The identification of constructs with their verbal labels is the first step
towards their reification. The identification of constructs with something
as bereft of awareness, agency and personhood as behaviour is the last,
which is what Bill's argument seems to amount to.

>Keep 'em coming. You're keeping the juices flowing.

And the same to you. (Thoroughly enjoyable and, I trust, with a fizz and
energy in which my responses never step beyond the bounds of politeness and
respect for your position despite the robustness with which I express them.
Pull me up if I misjudge this.)

Kindest regards,

Devi Jankowicz