Re: The Missing Self

Devi Jankowicz (
Wed, 16 Apr 97 22:26:00 +0100

In his contribution to this thread, Jim Mancuso wrote

> "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

Yes. The 64k dollar question; the Great Mystery; the Ultimate Unknown (of
this mortal coil, at any rate).

And it's not just the psychological constituency: the social
constrictivists (with just a few exceptions) seem equally unable to make
the connection; though I guess they have a somewhat different agenda to
the psychologists.

Bob Neimeyer addressed this issue some time ago (Neimeyer, 1983; 1985); I
had a go at it myself at around the same time (Jankowicz, 1987); and I
remember another colleague addressing the same question in the 1970s,
whom I mentioned in my paper but whom I can't reference here and now as I
don't have my own paper on disc to jog my memory.

Maybe we ought to return to this topic (why is Kelly's theory as an
integrating device, and as _the_ psychological theory underlying
constructivist epistemology- see Fransella 1994- so relatively
uninfluential?) and discuss it a little in the light of the 1990s growth
in constructivist/postmodern etc. thinking?

Me, I blame the tight-assed positivist tradition underlying experimental
psychology, which tends to be the strongest influence in undergrad
psychology even unto this day, and which sees even social and personality
approaches as, in some sense, not quite solid and reputable. Thus the
clinicians, occupationals, and educationals think "positivism' when they
search for a touchstone in their complex worlds of application; when they
look back towards "core psychological respectability".

Of course, having such a simplistic explanation, I have an equally
simplistic solution (fools rush in, etc., but, go on, just give the
following a moment's serious thought).

Ban all study of perception, "cognition" as it's conventionally taught,
and perception, in the first year of every psychology undergraduate
degree. Banish them into second or even third year, and replace them by
a) History of Science
b) History of Ideas
c) Personal Construct Psychology
d) A work placement in a school, clinical post, factory shopfloor, or
retail outlet, each student to wear a prominent hat labelled "Psychology
Intern" _at all times_, and committed to justifying his/her relevance to
his/her work colleagues, and to writing a term paper entitled "The
theories held by my co-workers concerning my relevance as an employee,
which I encountered during the placement".

A bas Wundt! Throw away the keys to the psychology lab throughout the
entire first year!

(Actually, it might make for better experimental psychology too, when
that discipline is finally encountered in second year. Just think of the
difference it would make to one's appreciation of psychophysics.... )

Kind regards,

Devi Jankowicz

Fransella, F. (1994) "Where will Europe take PCP? Keynote Address" at the
3rd. Conference of the
European Personal Construct Association, St. Andreasberg, Harz,
Germany and see also Proceedings
co-edited by Joern Scheer.
Jankowicz, A.D. (1987) "Whatever became of George Kelly? Applications
and implications"
_American Psychologist_ 42, 5, 481-487.
Neimeyer R.A. (1983) "The development of personal construct psychology"
in Adams-Webber, J.R. &
Mancuso, J. (eds.) _Applications of Personal Construct Theory_ New
York: Academic Press.
Neimeyer R.A. (1985) _The Development of Personal Construct Psychology_
Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press.