reactions to doings at XIIth PCP International Congress

Mancuso, James C. (
Wed, 23 Jul 1997 21:07:11 -0400

Hello to the PCP Networkers:
A number of the net's subscribers had indicated that they had wanted
to hear more about the
Seattle conclave.
I offer some comments.
I found the discussions, papers, etc., to be quite stimulating and
useful. Overall, the discussions impressed me as demonstrating that the
participants have developed -- or are developing -- a broader
appreciation of what one espouses when he/she espouses a
contextualist/constructivist perspective. I judge that this is
happening because PCP has had some useful challenges from outside
discussants. That is; we are being forced to talk with "outsiders"
[narrativists, social constructivists, those who abjure "antirealists,"
etc.] about our perspective, so that more attention is being given to
the basic issues one must confront when adopting a constructivist
Two matters leave me somewhat aroused: [1] Commentators -- both the
"outsiders" and the "insiders" -- repeat, ad nauseam, criticisms of PCP
by citing phrases and propositions which appear in Kelly's original
work, giving the impression that PCP advocates have blindly followed
that seminal work and will continue to do so until a particularly astute
commentator arrives to demonstrate clearly the error of our ways. [2]
Commentators continue to attempt to cut the world into the great
tripartite empire defined by the semi-medieval functionalists —
cognition, volition, emotion. The results of this continued effort is
found in statements such as "PCP is too cognitive [or not sufficiently
cognitive]," or "The person HAD an emotional reaction," or "Kelly's
theory is ‘non motivational."

In this posting I want to take up the matter of the continued
criticism of PCP by referencing Kelly's original work, while ignoring
the work of others who have tried to elaborate that important
constructivist position.
As a general point, I would first reference the publication edited
by Gabriele Chiari, with M. Laura Nuzzo and Vincenzo Alfano as
PSYCHOTHERAPY.. This work appeared in 1990, and I must admit that I am
not completely knowledgeable about its latest version. I am not sure of
which form the electronic version of this work one can now access, but
the 1990 publication indicates that electronic versions were then
This reference work lists thousands of citations to works on PCP.
Obviously, only one of these citations is to G. Kelly's original
explication of his Psychology of Personal Constructs.
The publication has twenty pages of indices.
Thus, anyone who wishes to comment on PCP would have a relatively
easy task if he/she were to look up work related to a PCP perspective on
a matter which he/she would want to address.
Let's say that someone wanted to offer a first rate critique of
Kelly's comments on MOTIVATION. Of course, he/she would need to read
Kelly closely, and would want to understand the
historical/epistemological context in which Kelly offered his
The Chiari, et al work lists eight citations in the index, under
the term motivation. [I pick this example because I am particularly
sensitive to this criticism of PCP — several of the citations in the
Chiari, et al listing are to works which I and my collaborators have
offered. I could have chosen another realm of discourse. I heard a good
deal of discussion of a PCP position on REALITY that was blissfully free
of reference to the many works of PCP adherents relative to this issue.]

It would seem that a critic would want to understand the ways in
which a PCP advocate would try to elaborate PCP by taking into account
the writings and research of the hundreds of psychologists who have
written about motivation. How does PCP regard the work of those who
have discussed INTRINSIC MOTIVATION? What becomes of the work of people
who have followed the track of Berlyne, Hebb, Jenkins, Haber, Fiske &
Maddi, Piaget, J. McV. Hunt, etc.? What might G. Kelly have done with
this work? I know at least one commentator who would conclude that the
chain of work developed from the expectancy/ invalidation/
preparation-for- action model proves entirely compatible with a
constructivist position. [Remember THE CREATIVITY CYCLE!!!!]
But, let's not lose my central point; namely: if one wishes to
comment on PCP, I think, he/she should find his/her role definition
SCHOLAR to be a bit invalidated if he/she ignores the work of those who
have tried to elaborate PCP.
I imagine, however, that everyone should be entitled to a bit of
I offer my invalidation, with alacrity, to those who would critique
PCP by referring only to Kelly's 1955 commentary. Nearly a half
century separates us from that work. Constructivist positions
elaborating Kelly's work have been offered, and psychology does march
In another posting I will hold forth on whether a constructivist should
be allowed to speak of persons HAVING EMOTIONS, or a person BECOMING
DEPRESSED, or of person HOLDING BACK HIS/HER ANGER. [I know, I know —
"it's so much a part of the language, etc., etc." But, doesn't a
constructivist commit to changing the social constructions and their
attendant language??]

Are we having fun??

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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