Re: The Missing Self

Mancuso, James C. (
Wed, 16 Apr 1997 10:13:27 -0400

Chad L. Hagans wrote:
> Mr. or Ms. Jacobson:
> I hope I am understanding your concern correctly. Let me try to address
> what I perceive it is. According to Kelly's Organization Corollary, our
> constructs are arranged hierarchically, such that superordinate constructs
> are defined by their subordinate constructs. For example, my superordinate
> construction of myself as "intelligent" may be undergirded by subordinate
> notions of myself as "having a good memory" or "performing well on tests."
> Superordinate constructs are particularly resistant to change, and can
> therefore be said to define relatively stable aspects of a person (i.e.,
> the "self").
> These superordinate constructs may also inform what we experience in our
> daily lives. For example, I may gather evidence daily to support my
> superordinate construction of myself as "intelligent," and ignore evidence
> that invalidates that view of myself (Kelly's notion of hostility).
> Therefore, I may experience an "A" or an "F" on a test differently from
> someone whose superordinate constructions do not involve "intelligence," or
> whose subordinate constructions of "intelligence" do not involve test
> performance.
> This is my first somewhat scholarly entry on the mailbase; so I'd like the
> more learned PCP people out there to step in if you feel I've misinformed
> Mr. or Ms. Jacobson.
> Chad Hagans
> At 07:29 AM 4/14/97 -0700, you wrote:
> >after reviewing kelly`s approche to human behavior we came across few
> >questions regarding the cons of the theory . in most of the theorys that
> >are common among modern psychology there is a significant "room"to the
> >"self" concept . kelly`s assumpsions of the human cognitive structures
> >is left without this integrative asspect and hence my question is how
> >can we accept kelly`s whole view while the last seem to fail to explain
> >what we can expirience in our every day life`s ? (i.e a workink system
> >that intergate`s our belifes or constructs etc. )
> >regards /
> >tomer jacobson .
> Chad L. Hagans
> Department of Psychology
> University of Florida
> Gainesville, FL 32611
> <>

Chad Hagans, Tomer Jacobson, et al

I'll leave all of the text of your recent postings in the message, so
that others interested in the thread can follow what is happening.

One of the problems I have with commentary on Personal Construct Theory
occurs when interested persons reference ONLY Kelly's work as the basis
for making a decision about how to approach one or another issue from a
PCP perspective. This kind of occurrence is particularly troubling in
text books which are aimed at introducing novices to PCP, along with
other approaches -- that is, in the books which take the "Smith said
this, Jones said that, and Peppenheimer contests them both" approach.

Kelly deserves immense credit for boldly taking a constructivist
approach -- long before the term CONSTRUCTIVIST had any cachet, in a
world which was dominated by logical positivist, formist/mechanist (See
Stephen Pepper, _World Hypotheses_) epistemological/ontological
After that, however, do we write off our interest in PCP because Kelly
did not answer questions that one might have? Has anyone, besides
Kelly, tried to extend Kelly's position to respond to the questions that
one might have?
The first consideration, I would guess, might be: Do I, as a scholar,
find the ontological/epistemological base of PCP to be compatible with
my overall world view? Are the ontological/ epistemolgical bases of PCP
more adequate -- relative to my own construction system -- than are
those which underlie other approaches to explaining persons???
If one answers these questions in the affirmative, then the field is
wide open.
Why not do what Chad is trying to do -- explore extensions of PCP to
cover gaps which one might detect as gaps in the theory as set down by
I continue to find that PCP allows a wide range for roving over issues,
while yet remaining witbin the boundaries of the basic underlying
assumptions of the theory.

It happens, for example, that I tuned in to this thread because over
the last few days I have been reviewing papers, etc., that would allow
me to think about the psychological processes involved in the process
which sociologists reference by the term ASSIMILATION (acculturation,
integration?????). I have found several of Bill McGuire's papers on
SELF to be highly useful. In reading them, I could conclude (perhaps by
deluding myself) that his work is entirely compatible with the position
on self which I (with Seth Ceely) wrote into an article which Mike
Mahoney accepted for publication (when he was editor of that journal) in
the journal COGNITIVE THERAPY AND RESEARCH (1980, vol 4, pp. 1-25).
McGuire -- who tries to work within the framework of "big name
dominated" social psychology -- never mentions George Kelly. Nor do the
other "big names" (See, for example, the very recently published, very
extensive review of constructions of SELF CONCEPT -- Neidenthal, P. M. &
Beike, D. R. (1997). Interrelated abd isolated self-concepts. In M. B.
Brewer (Ed). (pp. 106-128) _Personality and Social Psychology Review_.
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates). Nevertheless, I can read these article
and can carry on this internal discourse, "What's with these people?
Why can't they commit to an overarching theory -- a theory that would
pull their work together so that these articles don't go on and on to
support the idea that each little study is a jewel in the crown of TRUTH
-- so that some day, this huge pile of reasearch will acquire the
ability to speak and will pronounce the ULTIMATE TRUTH which all of us
So, how about another couple articles on SELF -- by thinkers who can
see PCP as a sound theoretical frame for all these orphaned journal

Happy writing to you, Chad Hagans -- and to you Tomer Jacobson.

Jim Mancuso

James C. Mancuso        Dept. of Psychology
15 Oakwood Place        University at Albany    
Delmar, NY 12054        1400 Washington Ave.
Tel: (518)439-4416      Albany, NY 12222
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