Fwd: Re: cognitive awareness

Josh Soffer (joshsoffer@webtv.net)
Mon, 14 Sep 1998 00:55:37 -0500 (CDT)

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From: joshsoffer@webtv.net (Josh Soffer)
Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 20:27:11 -0500 (CDT)
To: connort@pacificu.edu (Tim A. Connor)
Subject: Re: cognitive awareness
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I sense that Tim Connor's position concerning a Kellian
'unconscious' is consonant with neo-Freudian notions of a dynamic
unconscious, or perhaps a social constructionism ala Gergen and Efran.
My preference is for more radically self-dierectional interpretation
of Kellyian constructivism , like that of Mascolo and Neimeyer. A key
difference between these camps centers around the question of how much
incompatibility between succssive constructs a person can allow. Kelly
argued that the Fragmentation corollary was in part a derivative of the
Modulation corollary. The amount of inferrential incompatibility
allowable within a system of constructs is limited by the requirements
of superordinate consistency, that is, overall coherence at the more
global levels of ones outlook.
Tim argues "If an event does fall in the range of convenience of two
incompatible subsystems, intrapsychic conflict and active repression
would be required to maintain coherence." First of all, the event would
be construed under one or the other of the subsystems but not both
unless they were identical, which would be impossible given that the
flow of experience does not dupicate itself. But let's say that the
subsystem wihich frames the event is itself incompatible with another
subsystem. But this is no unique situation. We construe ALL events in
ways which are to at least a minimal extent inferentially incompatible
with other subordinate constructions. This does not mean that our psyche
is in an interminable state of crisis. This fragmentation is allowable
because at a higher level of construction consistency is the rule (not
of course a linear or classical logical consistency). For Kelly, it
seems to me, there is no meaning to be located in the encounter of that
which is profoundly incompatible with our superordinate construing.
Incompatiblilty is not a substantive trait of an event but an absense, a
meaningless, a void, an interruption of construing. An event
incompatible with our functioning is that event which is either entirely
inisible to us or else only vaguely glimpsed and not assimlated in the
first place. It thus cannot wield some sort of power to cause conflict
in the system.
Thus it is not a matter of repressing that which has already been
incorporated as a 'meaning' at some level but of failing to incorporate
adequately that for which one had no structure. For Kelly a system is
not driven to reduce dissonance among Festinger-like contents, any more
than a relation betweentwo people is a jostling of Geregenesque powers.
It is less than this.
The imlications for sychotherapy are important. The therapist who
sees intrapsychic conflict in his patients takes a more directivist
approach, believing in the power of incorporated meanings to subvert,
distort, dominate or condition aperson's way of thinking.The goal of
this approach to therapy is limited in comparison with Kelly's notion of
optimal therapeutic outcome, by giving too much authority to an inhernet
content of meanings we assimilate.
Kelly's way, as I interpret it, does not give events the power to
condition, distort, conflict, but instead emphasizes the critical
dimension of the process of organization. The meaningfulness of meaning
lies not in its 'content' but in its gentle integration within a system
of understanding. We dont suffer because we incorporate a rogue content
in conflict with another aspect of our psychological functioning. We
suffer when we FAIL to adequately incorporate new events due to a
dynamic limitation of our superordinate axes of understanding. It is not
a matter of being torn between two clearly understood directions but of
not being able to move in any coherently meaningful direction until we
enrich our assimilative capacities.