Re: crazy people/Re: explination of feminist perspective

Tim A. Connor (
Tue, 8 Apr 1997 14:10:20 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 7 Apr 1997, Gary F. Blanchard wrote:

> That's why I noted that 'I am not sure what you mean by 'construct....'
> Your reply, 'I am referring to a construct in terms of a bipolar
> construct as defined by George Kelly,' left me still unclear. Please
> tell me, in your own words, perhaps with an example or two, what you
> have in mind, so I can share your understanding.


A bipolar construct, in PCP, is simply a distinction. It could be seen
as somewhat akin to Bateson's "difference that makes a difference,"
except that in PCP the distinction is not seen as an attribute of the
thing perceived, but a constructive act by the perceiver.

An example: if I am presented with three grey cards of differing shades,
I may employ the construct light/dark to distinguish among them.
Lightness and darkness are not attributes of the cards--the middle card
may be construed as either light or dark, depending on how I
compare/contrast it with the extreme cards, and the extreme cards might
be construed as light or dark with reference to still more extreme
shades. I can order the cards on a continuum, but the continuum is
derived from the fundamental light/dark construct, which is inherently
dichotomous. PCP theory holds that all construing takes place in terms
of hierarchically ordered systems of such dichotomous constructs.

I may construe the people I meet as "crazy" or as "effective
communicators," if that distinction is a feature of my own construct
system (which it isn't, but that's another issue). It doesn't mean they
"really are" crazy, only that I choose to construe them that way, the
better to make sense of my interactions with them, to predict and control
my experience, and to extend and define my construct system.

I hope this helps. For a more in-depth explanation, I refer you to the
articles I sent you last year, and to the article on The Geometry of
Psychological Space posted at the PCP web site