Re: cognitive awareness

Tim A. Connor (
Sun, 13 Sep 1998 10:42:55 -0700 (PDT)

On Sat, 12 Sep 1998, Josh Soffer wrote:

> Kelly explains that items
> that were remembered at one point may not be remembered at a later time
> due to the fact that the larger structure of understanding within which
> those items are framed may be impermeable. He calls this suspension.
> When there is no overall stucture within which to make sense out of a
> detail of experience, it sits in limbo, later to be remembered at such
> time as a more effective overall framework is articulated. Of course,
> the sort of meaning structure which is impermeable is that which is felt
> to be threatening, but it is not the threat which 'causes' the
> suspension. It is the absense of a coherent way of making sense of an
> event. Kelly emphasized that this notion differs from Freudian notions
> of repression in that "Our theory does not place the emphasis on
> remembering what is pleasant or forgetting what is unpleasant; rather,
> it emphasizes that one remembers what is structured and forgets what is
> unstructured." This is an important point, because it also means that
> unlike repressed material for Freudians, suspended elements don't
> dictate or exert power over one's present ocncerns, but are instead at
> the mercy of those superordinate issues. I don't think that Kelly's
> notion of submergence of one pole of a construct serves the purpose of a
> Freudian defense mechanism either....

> The person is not a panoply of intentions in
> conflict with each other but an intergral process of meaning-making
> which varies in its success across its developmental path. It certainly
> makes sense that if access to understanding of the present is impeded,
> impoverished , interrrupted during periods of unraveling superordinate
> structure, that is , during moments of emotional crisis, then certainly
> events form the past which continue to be ineffectively construed will
> also fall victim to a failure of access. ...

I think the fragmentation corollary is also critical here--"unconscious"
material may be so because it can only be construed within a particular
construct subsystem that is inferentially incompatible with that employed
for events in the usual range of convenience. As anthropologist Charles
Hockett once said, "It is possible to believe both that the world is flat
and that it is round, as long as you don't have to act on both beliefs at
once." If an event does fall in the range of convenience of two
incompatible subsystems, it seems to me that something like intrapsychic
conflict and active repression would be likely to occur in order for the
system to maintain coherence. This wouldn't require an active unconscious
in the Freudian sense, nor that the forgotten material be traumatic (I had
one client who remembered all her childhood traumas in excruciating
detail; after several months of therapy she began having "recovered
memories" of her mother being kind to her, which she found distressing
because it was so unfamiliar and didn't fit her construction of her



Tim Connor, M.S. "Psychotherapy is not
Pacific University an applied science, it
School of Professional Psychology is a basic science in
2004 Pacific Avenue which the scientists
Forest Grove, OR 97116 USA are the client and his
<> therapist"
--George Kelly