Re: Insight and recovery

Chris Stevens (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 03:41:49 +1100

Some late responses to Bob Green's questions (I'm just back from Seattle and
some travel around the States)

Bob Green wrote:
> Chris,
> Regarding your comments about Kelly and insight, I tend to agree (without
> having read as much of Kelly as you) that the term insight is probably being
> used in several different ways.
> In the terms you have described, would "new insight/comprehensive
> construction of one's behaviour" be an outcome of "Assisting the client to
> systematically experiment and test new constructions"? Is insight
> therefore necessary for change in PCP therapy (whatever that is)?
> Bob, Kelly seems to draw a distinction between 'new insight' and 'genuine new
insight'. I think the latter is an outcome of experimentation and testing in
the context of action (best understood in the context of the Experience Cycle).
The former merely implies a comprehensive construction of one's behaviour
(regardless of its usefulness or validity). There are many cases in therapy
where new insight is not necessary (for example, controlled elaboration of the
existing system of constructs or changes to the permeability and/or range of
convenience of relevant constructs - neither of which necessarily implies the
invention of new constructs).

Nonetheless, teaching the client how to manage successive creativity cycles
seems to be necessary for significant change and movement and is highly valued
by Kelly. Again, not so much because the client gets an answer which will
serve as a foundation for future ventures, but rather because the client will
be more able to deal with the rush of future events in more creative and
adaptive ways.

> During the discussion on I raised the issue of remorse (akin to regret and
> empathy combined), which is a form of self understanding. The term
> construction and revising construction probably reflects all these
> variations of self understanding, e.g whether I have 'insight' into
> behaviour or have remorse about an offence, the common process is that
> construal is involved. Any thought on how these forms of self understanding
> might differ?
>I think one of the difficulties involved in discussing 'insight' and 'genuine
insight' relates to the question of 'reality contact'. Reactions against the
latter notion seem to be behind most of the discussion so far about denial,
resistance and lack of compliance, and lack of insight. I find this topic
really difficult. On the one hand, Kelly (and I agree with him )clearly opposed
the imposition of one's interpretation of reality on another. On the other
hand, Kelly held stubbornly to the search for truth as based in ceaseless
experimentation and committed experience. Viability and boldness of venture
were indications to Kelly that we were on the path to truth. In this sense,
'genuine' insights were those that stood the test of reality, or at least were
not confronted with disconfirming evidence and took account of as wide a range
of ther 'data' of expereince as possible.

In terms of 'insight' and 'remorse' I think, therefore, that the question is
not so much differentiating them, but rather seeing to what extent they enable
the person to comprehensively anticipate their existence. Thus, if by
'remorse' is meant a comprehensive construction of one's actions and an
empathic understanding of their effects on others, AND this allows the person
to move on in their [mutually viable and rewarding] relations with others, then
this would be a geniune insight in Kelly's terms. But if the remorse introduces
implications which arouse excessive levels of guilt, then the new insight may
lock the person into hostile 'resistances' which do not enable the person to
play effective roles in relation to others.

I'll stop there I think before I dig too deep a hole for myself!

Chris Stevens