Re: Schizophrenia

Tim A. Connor (
Thu, 3 Dec 1998 09:45:11 -0800 (PST)

Kelly pointed out that the psychological/physiological distinction is a
construct as much as any other. He also observed that "each of us
represents a rather large chunk of his own environment." It seems to me
that these points acquire special force in the light of recent findings
that the CNS comprises an array of intricately interrelated but somewhat
independent subsystems, and that the greater part of brain activity
involves communication among these subsystems. So we need to think in
terms of brain subsystems construing messages from other subsystems, and
integrating these in some fashion. Tony's excellent example of Capgras
Syndrome (which I had never heard of before, but now realize was part of
the presentation of a former client) might be viewed (simplistically) as
the prefrontal cortex attempting to construe confusing messages from other
parts of the brain (which have been construing within their own more
limited domains), and coming up with a coherent construction that just
happens to be wrong. I think PCP needs to deal with this kind of
reflexive construing, remembering that construing occurs at multiple
levels, not just at the level of verbalizable constructs. And note that
if you are seasick because your vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual
systems have come up with differing constructions of "down," simply having
a superordinate construct system that explains the phenomenon will not
relieve your distress!

I agree with Esteban that there is often a failure of sociality on the
part of therapists working with "schizophrenics." However, this is not
really the issue I was addressing. The "schizophrenic" is using
constructs that are relatively impermeable and very resistant to social
invalidation, while the therapist (I hope) does not have a pervasive
difficulty in this area, and is able to participate in role relationships
within some reference group (from which, unfortunately, "schizophrenics"
may be preemptively excluded). A Euro-American "schizophrenic" who
believes the CIA is broadcasting signals that make him ill is quite
different from a Navaho who believes that his illness is caused by
witchcraft, even though the beliefs are analogous in some respects and
from the perspective of my construct system I would say that both are
mistaken. The Navaho shares a socially constructed belief system with
others, while the "schizophrenic" does not, and seems unable to negotiate
a common construct system, at least in the range of convenience of the
"delusional" beliefs.

As I've said, I think recent work in neuroscience tends to validate PCP,
not undermine it. Certainly, as Massimo pointed out, our experience of
brain activity is not the same thing as the activity itself, but to say
that there can be no connection between the two, no way of construing both
within one system, seems to underestimate the human capacity for creative



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