Re: laddering

Malcolm C. Cross (
Fri, 23 Apr 1999 11:38:36 +0000

Robin Hill wrote in relation to laddering:

> Lastly, as alluded to by Devi, I have encountered clients who,
> rather than get stuck at one point in the ladder, get stuck in a
> cyclical loop. I've encountered this especially with teenagers.
> Q?: "Why would you prefer this pole to that one?"
> A: "Because it is fun."
> Q?: "And why is that important to you?"
> A: "Because it is interesting."
> Q?: "And why is interesting important to you?
> A: "Because it is fun?"
> and so on.... very frustrating...

I came across an interesting example of this recently where the
ladder started with the word Prayer. My client, amongst other things
wanted to know why, if Prayer was so deeply validating, he did not
engage in it more frequently? This would have been s ewhat less
problematic if his job didn't require a certain amount of prayer and
also the advocating of this pastime.

So in effect the ladder began and ended with the word Prayer. This
would seem to make little sense unless we appreciate that prayer (the
lower order verb) is an activity, whilst Prayer (the noun - or
perhaps metaphor) represents a profound spiritual exp ience. As Tom
Ravenette so passionately insists - words aren't as plain as they


malcolm c. cross
department of psychology
city university
northampton square
london ec1v ohb

telephone +44 (0)171 477 8531
facsimile +44 (0)171 477 8590