II Psychological Theories & Philosophies That Support Cognitive Behavior Management
A. Cognitive Theory
01. A person creates a meaning for the world from which to predict and control future events
a. Referred to as an ‘inner logic’ or the Theory of Meaning
b. All behavior is considered to be the most beneficial option available based upon the inner logic
02. Thought influences feelings [emotions] that influence behavior
a. Thoughts are considered to be adaptive if they bring about emotions and behavior that contribute to the well-being of the individual
b. Thoughts consist of meaning and context – i.e., the same thought can have a different meaning in a different context – consider the thought(s) represented by the word ‘spring’
03. Behavior is ‘situation specific’, but not an automatic response to stimuli.
04. Behavior results from decisions the person makes about him/herself and the environment.
a. Goals and standards as the basis for action
b. Self-regulation and perceived self-efficacy
c. Cognitive and behavioral competencies
d. Expected outcomes
e. Self produced consequences
05. The person is, by nature, active, cognitive and social
a. Active includes goals
b. Cognitive includes judgements about cause [attributions] and effect [bias towards utility [more pleasure than pain]
c. Social includes observational learning
06. Appraisals – People constantly appraise and evaluate both what happens to them and what they do.
a. Such appraisals are usually occur as automatic thoughts that often precede and cause emotion – the appraisal process is automatic.
b. After a lifetime of practice, the appraisal occurs habitually and rapidly.
1) Automatic thoughts are nonconscious and hidden, but can be made accessible.
2) When cognizant, they are not vague and ill formed, but are rather specific and discrete sentences.
3) While they may seem implausible to the objective observer, they seem highly reasonable to the person who has them.
4) Such automatic appraisals often contain specific cognitive errors.
c. Human beings can explain almost anything and spend life appraising what is perceived.
d. We see, hear, taste, smell, or feel something and we immediately need to determine what it is.
e. Because people must explain, it opens up some interesting possibilities for influencing behavior. If you can affect how you understand and explain what is going on, you might be able to influence them, too.
f. The appraisal process uses elements such as attribution and expectancy to construct meaning [see below] – and the process creates reality within the context of the ecosystem.
1) We see a person act and immediately reach conclusions that go beyond mere sensory information.
2) The observer will search for an explanation that makes sense to them.
3) We make judgements in order to explain otherwise confusing behavior.
g. In addition to our need for clarity, another reason for making causal inferences from behavior is that we want to know what to expect in the future. Prediction is a survival skill.
h. Attribution is a three-step process through which we perceive others as causal agents.
1) Perception of the action (I saw that!)
a) When we perceive an action we do so through the lens of our own experience.
b) We may not even see the same things as the person standing next to us.
c) To a large extent, we see what we expect to see.
d) All perceptions [or at least their interpretations] are put into a context or frame of reference that provides the meaning.
2) Judgment of intention (You meant to do that!)
a) There are five sliding scale positions of personal causation.
i. Association: Chance proximity is no reason to assign causality. To impute guilt by association would be irrational. Just because the person was close to the action does not mean that s/he implemented the action.
ii. Causality: Assume someone hit someone else with a bat. Perhaps the event took place at a sandlot baseball game. The subject took a mighty swing at a pitch that fooled him, and the bat slipped out of his hands, striking the unlucky fellow standing forty feet away in foul territory. It’s true that the batter’s hand was the ultimate cause of death, but he had no motive or desire to do harm, and that is what a coroner’s jury would probably rule accidental death.
iii. Justifiability: Suppose on the other hand, the event took place in the subject’s apartment. Returning from work, the subject surprised an intruder who came at him with a knife. S/he then grabbed the bat, which was propped in the corner, and swung it to protect himself. Some might wonder about excessive force, but most people would see it as self-defense.
iv. Foreseeability: Picture the subject trying to hit fly balls to a group of friends in a crowded park. Angry at his inability to get the ball in the air, he impulsively flings the bat aside, blindsiding a man playing with his children nearby. That would be reckless homicide. The subject might honestly claim that s/he never meant to hurt anybody, but the law would regard him as responsible for the outcome of his careless act.
v. Intentionality: If none of the scenarios above capture the purposeful nature of the incident. One might then be convinced that the incident was premeditated and intentional. Unfortunately, however, there are some common biases in making such judgements
3) Attribution of disposition (You’re a slob!)
a) The issue transcends accountability before the law. We’re really dealing with moral culpability-perceived responsibility in the court of public opinion.
b) When we judge another’s motives, we enter the realm of values, ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’. It’s easy for bias to shade our judgment.
i. We tend to hold others more responsible for negative results than for positive outcomes. If the student who sits next to us in class flunks a test, s/he’s stupid. If s/he aces it, we’re more likely to think s/he’s lucky.
ii. We tend to hold others more responsible for not trying than for incompetence. It’s worse to be lazy than to lack ability.
iii. We tend to hold others more responsible when they aim to improve their position rather than avoid loss. For example, we judge more harshly a hungry person who steals food than we do a well-fed person who won’t willingly share it.
iv. We tend to hold others more responsible for their outcomes when we fear the same thing may happen to us. A veteran skydiver haughtily claimed that anyone who “bounced’ got what s/he deserved. The skydiver used this defensive attribution as reassurance that death by sudden impact always happens to someone else.
v. We tend to hold others more responsible than we hold ourselves. Apparently, we use a double standard as we decide who should be held accountable for mistakes and errors. When things turn out badly for others, we assume it’s their fault; but for our own failures, we tend to blame circumstances or other people. We see others as causal agents, but we give ourselves an excuse.
vi. All our biased judgments involve a decision between personal and environmental control.
vii. This tension is a crucial ingredient in the third step of attribution.
c) When judging others, our tendency is to discount external factors and put our thumb on the character side of the scale.
d) The key issue is choice.
i. If we see ourselves or others as compelled to act as a result of circumstances beyond their control, we won’t assign their behavior to enduring traits of character.
ii. We judge an actor’s freedom as proportional to the difficulty of performing the act.
e) The “fundamental attribution error” is the tendency for observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences upon behavior.
i. Whether it’s a callous reaction that the rape victim was ‘asking for it’, the football coach’s analysis that a player missed a tackle because he didn’t try hard enough, or parents’ assumption that the crumpled fender on the family car is due to their son’s carelessness, we assume that people are responsible for the things that happen to them.
f) Although these biases are typical for most people, there is a distortion that occurs when the person thinks of themselves as the object [other] as opposed to the subject [self].
i. Some people, for example, think of themselves as having no control over the outcomes of their behavior.
ii. They see themselves as victims or objects of some other force or power.
iii. In this case, the self-serving biases disappear and we mentally operate as though we were the other person.
iv. Thus, we do not give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, but assume the worst, including, perhaps, the character flaws.
i. Causal inferences are usually subconscious snap judgments made whenever we see others in action.
j. Our judgments deal with praise as well as blame.
k. Along with the basic attribution process, appraisal is also concerned with:
1) Affirmation – Confirmation: Appraisal is essentially a comparison of self to others with the intent of being able to affirm oneself as okay and conversely to seek confirmation by others that you are okay.
2) Expectancy effects: the individual creates expectancies about what may happen in the future.
a) These expectances effect the motivation to act – one does not tend to act on something that s/he believes s/he cannot accomplish.
b) The expectancies can also act as Interpersonal Expectancy Effects or Self-fulfilling Prophecies – thus leading to the very outcomes one expects
3) Habituation – conditioning: any process that continues over time can become habituated and automatic.
a) Automatic Thoughts – one outcome is that the thoughts including biases and distortions can become habituated and nonconscious – thus, self-talk – that ongoing mental activity can become rote and rigid, leading to rules [should, oughts] that bias social competence performance.
b) Personal constructs – scalar models – people tend to use personal constructs to make judgements:
i. Scalar constructs [e.g., good, bad; rough, smooth; tall, short; etc. form the basis of judgement.
ii. If one end of the scale is preferred, poor comparisons to the end are generally rejected.
4) Perception is connected to the ‘difference that makes a difference’ – information that arouses interest.
5) In making personal judgments about self, the eight  categories of experience in which shame affect will be triggered are simple and obvious as powerful influences.
a) Matters of size, strength, ability, skill;
d) Sense of self;
e) Personal Attractiveness;
g) Issues of seeing and being seen;
h) Wishes and fears about closeness.
B. Attribution Theory
01. Developed as an approach to social perception
02 is concerned with analyzing the cognitive processes that underlie causal explanations
03. Is a theory of the ways people try to ‘make sense of’ events by setting them in a causal framework.
04. When individuals engage in an activity, they may attribute their outcomes to the operation of one or more causal factors
a. The tendency to ascribe responsibility
1) To personal forces (e.g., ability and effort) or
2) To impersonal forces over which the individual has little control (e.g., situation and bad luck)
b. One personality dimension that would appear to play a major role in influencing the nature of causal attribution is internal-external control of reinforcement (I-E). The I-E variable represents a generalized expectancy that reinforcement is causally related to one’s own behavior.
c. At the one end of the I-E dimension are individuals who believe that reinforcement is contingent upon their behavior (internals), while those at the other extreme believe that reinforcement is independent of their actions and is controlled by luck, chance or powerful others (externals).
d. Some individuals who obtain external scores may have developed this expectancy for defensive reasons. By adopting an external orientation these individuals are able to maintain self-esteem by attributing negative events to forces beyond their control. It is suggested that externals have less need to resort to forgetting and denial as defensive strategies since they can readily account for failures by attributing them to impersonal forces.
e. If an external orientation does serve as a defensive function then it might be expected that the relationship between I-E and attribution of responsibility would be mediated by the nature of the outcome in an activity. Specifically, externals, following failure, would be more inclined to rationalize this outcome by attributing it to forces beyond their control In contrast, successful task performance would engender little or no threat and therefore differences between internals and externals in assigning responsibility to outside forces would be attenuated.
f. Anecdotal and case-study evidence indicates that procedures can be designed to successfully change undesirable attributions and the emotional behavior associated with them. Experimental work lends further support to the feasibility of altering undesirable emotional behavior through attributional change.
C. Expectancy Theory
01. Behavioral scientist have concluded that expectancy theory represents the most comprehensive, valid and useful approach to understanding motivation.
02. Behavior is determined by a combination of forces in the individual and forces in the environment. Neither the individual nor the environment alone determines behavior. Individuals have certain ‘psychological baggage’ – past experiences and a developmental history that has given them a unique set of needs, ways of looking at the world and expectations about how people will treat them.
03. These factors form a personal theory of meaning or inner logic from which the individual makes decision regarding their own behavior. While there are many constraints on behavior, most of the behavior that is observed is the result of the individual’s own conscious decisions.
04. All behaviors are intended to help the individual reach his/her own goals and therefore can be considered to have positive intention. These decisions usually fall into two categories: first, individuals make decisions about membership behavior and second, individuals make decisions about the amount of effort they will direct toward performing.
05. When behaviors seem to the external world to be self destructive, they are usually based on maladaptive thoughts or mental representations – an ‘inner logic’ which conflicts with the general logic of the community of interest.
06. Different people have different types of needs, desires and goals. Individuals differ on what types of outcomes they desire. These differences are not random; they can be examined systematically by an understanding of the differences in the strength of individual thoughts.
07. People make decisions among alternative plans of behavior based on their perceptions [expectations] of the degree to which a given behavior will lead to a desired outcome.
08. The expectancy theory of motivation has become a commonly accepted theory for explaining how individuals make decisions regarding various behavioral alternatives. Expectancy theory offers the following propositions:
a. When deciding among behavioral options, individuals select the option with the greatest motivation forces (MF).
b. The motivational force for a behavior, action, or task is a function of three distinct perceptions: Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valance. The motivational force is the product of the three perceptions:
c. MF = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence
09. Expectancy probability: based on the perceived effort-performance relationship. It is the expectancy that one’s effort will lead to the desired performance and is based on past experience, self-confidence, and the perceived difficulty of the performance goal. Example: If I work harder than everyone else in the plant will I produce more?
10. Instrumentality probability: based on the perceived performance-reward relationship. The instrumentality is the belief that if one does meet performance expectations, he or she will receive a greater reward. Example: If I produce more than anyone else in the plant, will I get a bigger raise or a faster promotion?
11. Valence: refers to the value the individual personally places on the rewards. This is a function of his or her needs, goals, and values. Example: Do I want a bigger raise? Is it worth the extra effort? Do I want a promotion?
12. Because the motivational force is the product of the three perceptions, if any one of their values is zero, the whole equation becomes zero.
13. Expectancy theory generally is supported by empirical evidence and is one of the more widely accepted theories of motivation.
14. Motivation is defined as the force that:
a. Energizes Behavior – What initiates a behavior, behavioral patterns, or changes in behavior? What determines the level of effort and how hard a person works? This aspect of motivation deals with the question of “What motivates people?”
b. Directs Behavior What determines which behaviors an individual chooses? This aspect of motivation deals with the question of choice and conflict among competing behavioral alternatives.
c. Sustains Behavior What determines and individuals level of persistence with respect to behavioral patterns? This aspect of motivation deals with how behavior is sustained and stopped.
D. Constructivist Theory
1. Constructivism is the label given to a set of theories about learning which fall somewhere between cognitive and humanistic views.
2. We can distinguish between
a. ‘cognitive constructivism’ which is about how the individual learner understands things, in terms of developmental stages and learning styles, and
b. ‘social constructivism’ which emphasizes how meanings and understandings grow out of social encounters
3. Xenophanes (6th century B.C.) is credited with the insight that even if someone succeeded in describing exactly how the world really is, s/he would have no way of knowing that it was the ‘ true’ description.
4. This is the major argument the skeptics have repeated for two thousand five hundred years. It is based on the assumption that whatever ideas or knowledge we have must have been derived in some way from our experience, which includes sensing, acting, and thinking.
5. Two requisites have been considered fundamental in any epistemological discussion of knowledge.
a. The first of these requisites demands that whatever we would like to call ‘true knowledge’ has to be independent of the knowing subject.
b. The second requisite is that knowledge is to be taken seriously only if it claims to represent a world of ‘things-in-themselves’ in a way that more or less corresponds to the facts or to reality and therefore is genuine or real.
6. It is tacitly taken for granted that a fully structured and knowable world ‘exists’ and that it is the business of the cognizing human subject to discover what that structure is.
7. The following basic principles of constructivism emerge quite clearly if one tries to comprise as much as possible of constructivist writings in one coherent theory.
a. 1) Knowledge is not passively received either through the senses or by way of communication;
2) knowledge is actively built up by the cognizing subject.
b. 1) The function of cognition is adaptive, in the biological sense of the term, tending towards fit or viability;
2) cognition serves the subject’s organization of the experiential world, not the discovery of an objective ontological reality.
8. These concepts are incompatible with the traditional notions of knowledge, truth, and objectivity, and they require a radical reconstruction of one’s concept of reality.
a. Instead of an inaccessible realm beyond perception and cognition, it now becomes the experiential world we actually live in.
b. This world is not an unchanging independent structure, but the result of distinctions that generate a physical and a social environment to which, in turn, we adapt as best we can.
9. The reality we construct is in many ways remarkably stable because we cannot construct any reality we might like.
a. The living creature, thrives by abstracting regularities and rules from experience that enable it to avoid disagreeable situations and, to some extent, to generate agreeable ones.
1) The abstracting of regularities is always the result of assimilation.
2) No experience is ever the same as another in the absolute sense.
3) Repetition and, consequently, regularity can be obtained only by disregarding certain differences.
b. It is the focus on the result that distinguishes a scheme from a reflex and makes possible the form of learning called accommodation.
1) This takes place when a scheme does not lead to the expected result.
2) This produces a perturbation, and the perturbation may lead either to a modification of the pattern that was abstracted as the ‘triggering situation’ or to a modification of the action.
c. We cannot construct any reality we like – this can be raised only if the concept of viability is misunderstood or ignored.
1) The absurdity of this issue stems from the denial of any relation between knowledge and an experiencer- independent world.
10. All action, be it physical or conceptual, is subject to constraints.
a. One can no more walk through a desk than argue that black is white at one and the same time.
b. The constraints, however, is not quite the same in the two cases.
1) That the desk constitutes an obstacle to one’s physical movement is due to the particular distinctions the sensory system enables one to make and to the particular way in which s/he has come to coordinate them.
a) Indeed, if one could walk through the desk, it would no longer fit the abstract construct made in prior experience.
2) The constraints that preclude my saying that black is white are not physical but conceptual.
a) The way we use symbols to handle abstractions we have made from experience, requires among other things that we exclude contradiction.
b) Consistency, in maintaining semantic links and in avoiding contradictions, is an indispensable condition our ‘rational game’.
11. The changes of thinking and of attitudes one has to make in constructivism are formidable.
a. It is also far from easy to maintain them consequentially.
b. Much like physical habits, old ways of thinking are slow to die out and tend to return surreptitiously.
12. Five basic themes pervade the diversity of theories expressing constructivism.
a. Active agency: human experiencing involves continuous active agency.
1) This distinguishes constructivism from forms of
determinism that cast humans as passive pawns in the play of larger forces
2) Consider comparison of biological or psychodynamic theory
b. Order: human activity is devoted to ordering processes – the organizational patterning of experience by means of tacit, emotional meaning-making processes
c. Self: the organization of personal activity is fundamentally self- referent or recursive.
1) This makes the body a fulcrum of experiencing, and it honors a deep phenomenological sense of selfhood or personal identity.
2) Persons exist and grow in living webs of relationships.
d. Social-symbolic relatedness: individuals cannot be understood apart from their organic embeddedness in social and symbolic systems
e. Lifespan development: All of this active, meaningful, and socially- embedded self-organization reflects an ongoing developmental flow in which dynamic dialectical tensions are essential.
1) Order and disorder co-exist in lifelong quests for a dynamic balance that is never quite achieved.
f. Together, then, these five themes convey a constructive view of human experience as one that emphasizes meaningful action by a developing self in complex and unfolding relationships.
13. Constructivist Learning Theory
a. The constructivist approach to teaching and learning is based on a combination of a subset of research within cognitive psychology and a subset of research within social psychology, just as behavior modification techniques are based on operant conditioning theory within behavioral psychology.
1) all advocates of constructivism agree that it is the individual’s processing of stimuli from the environment and the resulting cognitive structures, that produce adaptive behavior, rather than the stimuli themselves
2) Mental representations such as attitudes, mental models, scripts, and schemas are, of course, related to behavior, but the relationship is often complex and counterintuitive.
3) There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that the mental representations on which decisions and behavior are based can be highly variable depending on subtle aspects of the particular situation or context decision makers are in at any given time making it difficult to generalize results across task and domain differences.
a) Until more is known about the form, content, and function of mental models of systems in a particular research setting, assessments of systems thinking interventions should measure both behavioral and cognitive changes.
b. The basic premise is that an individual learner must actively ‘build’ knowledge and skills and that information exists within these built constructs rather than in the external environment.
1) Constructivism emphasizes the building (i.e., constructing) that occurs in people’s minds when they learn
c. This suggests that learning from our environment (through our senses) is an active, rather than a passive, process.
1) We seem to project onto phenomena what we already know about them.
2) We each construct a unique mental image by combining information in our heads with the information we receive from our sense organs
d. The consequences of this view are twofold;
1) We have to focus on the learner in thinking about learning (not on the subject/lesson to be taught)
a) Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness).
b) Constructivist educators must first consider the knowledge and experiences students bring with them to the learning task
c) Advocates of the behavioral approach, on the other hand, advocate first deciding what knowledge or skills students should acquire and then developing curriculum that will provide for their development.
d) Those advocating a constructivist approach should consider there are a variety of principles from operant conditioning and information processing learning theories that can be utilized within this approach.
• For example, when mediating a student’s learning it is certainly appropriate to teach a specific skill using direct instruction, observe students practicing the skill, and providing corrective feedback
2) There is no knowledge independent of the meaning attributed to experience (constructed) by the learner, or community of learners – there is no such thing as knowledge ‘out there’ independent of the knower
e. Learning is not understanding the ‘true’ nature of things, nor is it (as Plato suggested) remembering dimly perceived perfect ideas, but rather a personal and social construction of meaning out of the bewildering array of sensations which have no order or structure besides the explanations (stress the plural) which we fabricate for them.
f. Principles of learning
1) Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it.
a) The emphasis is on the learner as an active ‘maker of meanings’.
b) The role of the teacher is to enter into a dialogue with the learner, trying to understand the meaning to that learner of the material to be learned, and to help her or him to refine their understanding until it corresponds with that of the world – e.g., provides an ability to be successful with other people in this arena.
2) People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning.
a) If we learn the chronology of dates of a series of historical events, we are simultaneously learning the meaning of a chronology
b) Each meaning we construct makes us better able to give meaning to other sensations that can fit a similar pattern
3) The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind.
a) Physical actions, hands-on experience may be necessary for learning, especially for children, but it is not sufficient
b) we need to provide activities which engage the mind as well as the hands
4) Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning
a) On the empirical level, researchers have noted that people talk to themselves as they learn
b) On a more general level, there is a collection of arguments that language and learning are inextricably intertwined.
5) Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings, family, teachers, peers, as well as casual acquaintances
a) Much of traditional education is directed towards isolating the learner from all social interaction, and towards seeing education as a one-on-one relationship between the learner and the objective material to be learned.
6) Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from the rest of our lives: we learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears.
a) This point is actually a corollary of the idea that learning is active and social.
7. One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on – [emphasized in the psychoeducation component of cognitive behavior management]
a. The more we know the more we can learn
b. Any effort to teach must be connected to the state of the learner, must provide a path into the subject for the learner based on that learner’s previous knowledge
1) The client is the agent for change
2) The clinician must determine where the client is [what meaning s/he gives to the situation] and begin there
8. It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous
a. For significant learning we need to revisit ideas, ponder them try them out, play with them and use them.
b. If you reflect on anything you have learned, you soon realize that it is the product of repeated exposure and thought.
c. Even, or especially, moments of profound insight, can be traced back to longer periods of preparation.
9. Motivation is a key component in learning.
a. Not only is it the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning.
b. The idea of motivation as described here is broadly conceived to include an understanding of ways in which the knowledge can be used.
1) Unless we know ‘the reasons why’, we may not be very involved in the knowledge that may be instilled in us even by the most severe and direct teaching
1. Philosopher Stephen C. Pepper noted that philosophical systems tend to cluster around a few distinct ‘world hypotheses’ or ‘world views’. Each world-view is characterized by a distinctive underlying root metaphor and truth criterion.
a. Root metaphors are based on seemingly well understood, common sense, everyday objects or ideas, and serve as the basic analogy by which an analyst attempts to understand the world.
b. Truth criteria are inextricably linked to their root metaphors, and provide the basis for evaluating the validity of analyses.
2. Pepper identifies only four ‘relatively adequate’ world hypotheses, with adequacy determined by the world-view’s degree of precision and scope.
a. Precision refers to the number of ways a particular phenomenon can be explained by a world-view’s concepts (the fewer, the better).
b. Scope refers to the number of phenomena that can be explained using those concepts (the more, the better). c. World hypotheses strive to achieve complete scope with absolute precision, but none fully reach this ideal.
3. Four world-views, however, come the closest: formism, mechanism, contextualism, and organicism.
4. The vision of psychology represented here is based on contextualism, a world-view that is interpreted as an ongoing act inseparable from its current and historical context and in which a radically functional approach to truth and meaning is adopted.
a. The root metaphor of contextualism is often called the act-in- context or the historic event and refers to the common-sense way in which we experience and understand any life event.
b. Our common-sense understanding of an event also includes a sense of the purpose, meaning, and function of the event, and all of these depend on past events—or the historical context of the present event.
c. Context in contextualism refers to both the current and historical context of an act. Pepper based his use of the term ‘context’ on Dewey’s notion of context as “the historical situatedness of the meaning and function of behavior”.
5. Contextualists analyze all phenomena as acts-in-context.
a. Events and their contexts are separated into different parts by contextualists only to achieve some practical purpose.
b. When a contextualist constructs theories and analyses that divide the world into parts, it is to aid in the achievement of some goal, not to reveal the one ‘true’ organization and structure of the world.
c. Such divisions are utilitarian, not foundational.
6. Truth criterion of contextualism.
a. Contextualists determine the validity or ‘truth’ by looking at the purpose or function of the experience.
b. If the experience includes enough features to successfully achieve the goal, then it is deemed ‘true’.
1) For contextualists the truth and meaning of an idea lies in its function or utility, not in how well it is said to mirror reality.
2) The truth criterion of contextualism is thus dubbed ‘successful working’
3) an action or thought is said to be true or valid insofar as it leads to effective outcome or achievement of some goal.
c. Behavior is intentional and goal directed, but sometimes our intention is not even clear to ourselves without conscious examination.
d. This notion of truth reveals roots in philosophical pragmatism
1) James wrote, “The truth of an idea is not a stagnant property inherent in it. Truth happens to an idea. It becomes true, is made true by events”.
2) Ideas are verified by human experiences, with an idea’s ‘meaning’ essentially defined by its practical consequences, and its ‘truth’ by the degree to which those consequences reflect successful action.
7. Goals are vitally important to the contextualist world-view because the analytic tools – root metaphor and truth criterion – both hinge on the purpose of the analysis, and neither can be mounted effectively without a clearly specified goal.
a. The pragmatic truth criterion of ‘successful working’ is rendered meaningless in an analysis without an explicit goal because ‘success’ can only be measured in relation to the achievement of some objective.
b. “The relation between truth and practice makes truth contingent on the purpose of the practice”
c. When clinical practice attempts to help people with problems in living overcome distress – it is important to know how the client defines [gives meaning to] success.
1) It is only in this way that we can understand whether or not an outcome of an intervention is successful.
2) Goals also define the meaning of the action; it is clearly a different act if the purpose of cutting is to remove a cancer or to kill the subject.
3) Context – taking a knife to an apple or a person – and meaning constitute the manipulable variables in the analysis.
d. It is very difficult for a contextualist without an explicit goal to construct or share knowledge.
e. It is equally very difficult for the person with problems in living to learn and improve performance if they are unclear on the outcome expectation or its meaning.
8. Based on their overarching analytic goals, contextualist theories can be divided into two general categories: descriptive contextualism and functional contextualism.
9. Cognitive behavior management is concerned with functional contextualism
a. Functional contextualists seek to predict and influence events using empirically based concepts and rules.
1) This approach reveals a strong adherence to extremely practical truth criterion and can be likened to the enterprise of science or engineering, in which general rules and principles are used to predict and influence events.
2) Rules or theories that do not contribute to the achievement of one’s practical goals are ignored or rejected.
3) Knowledge constructed by the functional contextualist is general, abstract, and unrestricted in space or time.
4) It is knowledge that is likely to be applicable to all (or many) similar such events, regardless of time or place.
b. In psychology, functional contextualism has been developed explicitly as a philosophy of science.
1) Specifically, it has been offered as the philosophical basis of the field known as behavior analysis.
2) Behavior analysis is a natural science of behavior that seeks “the development of an organized system of empirically- based verbal concepts and rules that allow behavioral phenomena to be predicted and influenced with precision, scope, and depth”.
a) By studying the current and historical context in which behavior evolves, behavior analysts strive to develop analytic concepts and rules that are useful for predicting and changing psychological events in a variety of settings.
b) These same concepts and rules can also be used to describe and interpret psychological phenomena for which prediction and influence are presently impractical or impossible.
c) The behavior-analytic approach to studying psychological events can be described as selectionistic.
d) “Behavior analysts think of the shaping of behavior as working in just the same way as the evolution of species”. Both the evolution of species and the evolution of behavior can be described as selection by consequences, and the same process has also proven useful for interpreting the evolution of cultural practices.
e) Behavior analysts consider human behavior to be the joint product of:
o The contingencies of survival responsible for the natural selection of the species and
o The contingencies of reinforcement responsible for the repertoires acquired by its members, including
o The special contingencies maintained by an evolved social environment [a culture]
10. Implications of Functional Contextualism’s Analytic Goal
a. The analytic goal of the prediction and influence of psychological events leads to several important ramifications for a psychological science.
b. Many of the distinctive characteristics of behavior analysis as a contextual science developed directly from this overarching goal.
c. Behavior analysts’ rejection of mentalistic and cognitive explanations for behavior, emphasis on functional relations between behavior and environmental events, and preference for experimental research methods can all be linked to the field’s ultimate purpose.
d. It is important to recognize that prediction and influence form a single goal, and functional contextualists thus value analyses that allow both the prediction and influence of psychological events.
1) They seek to identify variables that “predict the event in question and would, if manipulated, affect the probability, incidence, or prevalence of the event”.
2) Analyses which only allow the prediction of behavior, or which rely on variables that are not manipulable (at least in principle), are considered inadequate or incomplete.
3) Behavior analysts search for the answers to such questions in an individual’s lifelong history of interacting with his or her environment.
4) Cognition and other internal events are interpreted by appealing to a person’s learning history, assuming these private events are underlying environmental contingencies that can influence overt behavior.
a) The context in which the individual learned the thinking pattern and the meaning that the person gives to the thoughts are the variables that can be manipulated
b) Changing context and/or meaning and habituating such changes opens up psychological flexibility – e.g., new ways to responding
c) These changes correspond to the neural networks in the brain and increase synaptic weights for the alternative methods and result in a reduction of the synaptic weights for the older networks.
d) While either network may be used, it is generally the experience that the more satisfying and gratifying [more successful or utile] will be selected.
e) The outcome can only be adjudicated successful if the goals are known
e. Behavior analysts attempt to identify aspects of the manipulable environment that influence the occurrence, incidence, prevalence, or probability of both private and overt psychological events
1) Behavior analysts often fail to identify the internal environment and its aspects of: thoughts, valued thoughts [beliefs], quirks [‘gut reactions’], etc. as manipulable variables
2) Behavior analysts also tend to fail to understand the interaction of covert and overt messages between significant others
3) Interpersonal stimuli, both verbal and nonverbal, providing information [the difference that makes a difference] to which the recipient attends, are manipulable variables.
4) We can, for example, teach significant others to communicate differently.
5) There is an even greater manipulable variable that we can influence; and that is the individual’s communication with him or herself.
a) Private events take place that influence the behavior of the individual.
b) An individual feels a sensation in his or her stomach and must decide whether it is caused by hunger or illness.
c) This internal communication, when faced with repetitive stimuli, becomes habituated [learned] and automatic.
d) Such private events are often leaked out in self-talk – the automatic thoughts that occur to reinforce an interpretation of an experience.
e) These automatic events have been habituated over time as the individual learns how to interpret and categorize events base on the utility of the outcomes. f. The process can be formatted as:
Stimuli → private event → evaluation → response
1. If we want to influence the response or action, we must find some method to manipulate the private event and the evaluation [emotional content].
2. In this we turn to our concepts of context and meaning.
a) A different response is likely to be selected if the individual can be influenced to reframe the context of the phenomena or to give it new meaning.
b) The response is more likely to be successful [in the context of social competence] if the context and meaning are less distressful.
c) The constructs of balanced [not extreme] and rational [logical, sensible] are used to describe more comforting thoughts, even about difficult circumstances.
g. The most effective strategy for identifying variables that both predict and influence behavior is controlled experimentation: events in the context of the behavior are manipulated in a systematic manner, and the resulting effects on the behavior’s occurrence are observed.
h. This orientation allows researchers to isolate which features of the context are functionally related to changes in the psychological event; purely descriptive or correlative research generally does not provide such knowledge.
11. While functional contextualists favor experimental techniques, they encourage the use of a diverse set of methodologies, provided that value is always measured against pragmatic goals.
a. In clinical investigation, the goal is to identify what it is that the client wants to change.
1. If the client feels distress and wants it to stop, the goal of the cognitive analysis is to identify the context, frequency and intensity of the distress and to enable the client to habituate alternative thoughts to ameliorate the impact of the distress.
2. Such thoughts may be more balanced and rational than the previous thoughts or may provide an acceptance [devaluation] of the previously distressing thoughts – both processes are a reframing of context and/or meaning.
b. However, without clarity of the client’s goals [what does s/he want to change or stop] all analysis and intervention are non- utile.
c. If the outcomes are measured by the client as meeting his or her original goals [outcome expectations], the intervention can be considered successful
F. Affect Theory
01. Tomkins stated that humans are wired or organized with three  primary systems for the management of nonverbal information: the pain system, the drive system, and the affect system.
02. The most primitive of the three systems involves pain, which is both localizing and motivating.
a. What we experience as pain is not tissue damage as such, but a report about that damage made by specialized pain receptors within but unrelated to the actual tissue that has been injured and which therefore transmits the sensation of pain as an analogue of whatever injury has occurred.
b. It is the report that motivates us by drawing our attention to the site of the injury so we may do something to limit the damage. This evolved separation between the bodily systems that handle injury and those that make reports about it allows such disorders as referred pain and chronic pain syndromes, in which little or no tissue damage can be found in the area that hurts.
c. The drives, said Tomkins, are also a system of reports, and they have the following characteristics:
1) They call attention to the fact that some body function needs to be performed (usually transport of a substance into or out of the body as in hunger, the urge to eliminate, or sex);
2) They tell us where required action is to take place (we are hungry only in the mouth, aroused primarily in the genitals, tired in the eyes that must be closed in order for us to sleep); and
3) They initiate the process of consumption (sucking movements, hand to genital, or closure of eyelids).
4) The drive tells an organism what must be done and how to do it when that organism is incapable of making the conscious decision to do so.
• Drives provide precise localization of need and its satisfaction, but are incapable of providing the motivation to make it happen.
• We can ignore hunger, sexual arousal, or the need to excrete when something else seems for the moment more important; sexual arousal is a paper tiger when joined with any affect other than excitement or anger.
03. Just as pain is not tissue damage as such but a report about that damage, affect is neither the stimulus itself nor our appraisal of it, but a report about that stimulus based on the way it is received by the neural apparatus.
a. Our connection to the external and internal world is partly the report of our sense organs and partly our affective response to those and other reports.
b. The mechanisms for the acquisition of data are different from the affect system that assesses such matters as the rate at which this information enters the system.
c. It is for this reason that we can have clinical syndromes that involve disorders of affect (distortions of the reporting mechanism) that are not caused by the information or data of the sort that is the normal trigger for affect but from malfunction of the physiological systems that make up the affect system.
d. Psychological events alone may indeed lead someone to become excited enough to behave in a manner that might be characterized as hypomanic, although the forms of mania seen in bipolar affective disorder may be caused by a quite separate mechanism.
04. It is on the affect system that the organism must rely to provide motivation.
a. The affects are a group of innate mechanisms [epigenetic rules] that respond to certain specific stimulus conditions by contracting and relaxing the muscles of the face into specific patterns of expression, and altering its microcirculation to produce redness or pallor.
b. Associated with these facial patterns are certain vocalizations, alterations of pulse and respiration, and variations in endocrine and exocrine secretion.
c. The newborn child is unable to appraise the world as a vale of tears—it cries because sonic triggering stimulus (like cold, hunger, fatigue, loneliness, or mild pain) is both noxious and steady state. In its noxiousness and steadiness, the sobbing response is analogous to whatever has triggered it.
d. Since the affect of distress now amplifies whatever steady-state stimulus had called it forth by securing the attention of the organism and its mothering caregiver to that steady-state stimulus, we say that the affect acts as an analogic amplifier of its stimulus conditions.
05. Underlying the complex and highly variable emotions we experience , more or less constantly, is a rather small and fixed set of physiological mechanisms.
a. We use the term ‘affect’ to represent any of the nine  types of physiological mechanisms that underlie all emotion.
1) The affects are a group of highly patterned muscular and circulatory actions primarily displayed as ‘facial expressions’ but also as certain odors, postures, and vocalizations.
2) It is the evolved role of the affect system to add meaning to information derived from other systems.
06. When we accept or pay attention to the affect that has been triggered by one of the mechanisms, it becomes what we conventionally call a ‘feeling’.
a. The combination of an affect with our memory of previous experiences of that affect is given the formal name of an ‘emotion’;
b. Affect is always biology, whereas emotion always represents biography.
c. Nothing can be considered an emotion until something happens inside the brain, goes outside the brain to cause a specific pattern of facial expression that is read as such by kinesthetic sensors, and returned to the brain as an affective experience.
d. The affect system converts a quantitative signal into a qualitative experience through a cognitive processing of the experience.
e. We learn through experience to gauge the gravity of a situation from the intensity and duration of our own affective response to it.
07. Each of us has the same nine innate affects, but our life experience makes our emotions quite different.
a. In order for any of us to really know the other person we have to know something about the history of that individual’s affective life.
b. Just as each time an affect is triggered we delve into memory to check our previous experiences of that affect, we can spend a variable amount of time reliving these past experiences brought to consciousness as ‘associations’ to that affect.
c. When we get stuck in those reminiscences, a ‘mood’ is brought into play because rather than the operation of innate affect, which normally lasts only a second or so, we continue to think of situations that trigger only that one affect.
d. Any fresh source of affect can turn off normal mood, but a normal mood can last a long time.
e. There are people who cannot turn off their moods no matter what they do, and if there is no psychological reason for them to remain preoccupied with the history of their affects, it often turns out that there is something wrong with the biology of their affect mechanisms.
f. Each affect is set in motion not by a perception as such, but by the way information enters the central nervous system.
1) In general, affects are expressed on the display board of the face long before they are experienced anywhere else; innate affect is seen clearly on the face of an infant much too young to have ‘perceived’ anything in the way we normally consider necessary for the formation of an adult emotion.
2) The evolved function of each affect is to call our attention to its triggering stimulus.
08. The Innate Affects
a. Surprise-startle affect
1) The range of affective experience characterized by the range from surprise-to-startle is triggered by any stimulus that has a sudden onset and a sudden offset, like a pistol shot, hand clap, or automotive backfire.
2) The function of this particular affect is as a reset button for the affect system; it cancels anything we had been thinking about or concentrating on at the moment and prepares us for what might come next.
3) The affect is expressed by raised eyebrows, a blink, and the lip formation with sudden intake of breath we come to imitate as the vocalization – “OH!”
4) The very sudden and brief character of the affect surprise-startle, each innate affect is both an analogue of its stimulus characteristics and (in that an affect calls attention to its triggering stimulus) an amplifier of that stimulus.
b. Fear-terror affect
1) A stimulus that involves information that comes into the system as “too much, too fast” triggers affect over the range from fear to terror, with blanched cheeks, furrowed brow, stiff body, face and eyes averted from the now frightening stimulus; pulse and respiration will increase to an unpleasant speed.
c. Interest-excitement affect
1) Any stimulus that enters the system at an optimally rising gradient, as in the pleasant situation we call novel, triggers the affect interest-excitement, characterized by the facial display of “track, look, listen” with the characteristic frown of interest (or what we sometimes call ‘deep thought’), slightly open mouth, head tilted a bit to the side (we laugh when we see this in dogs, but it is the same affect even though we don’t have a tail to wag as part of the affect display.)
d. Enjoyment-joy affect
1) Any time a stimulus of any sort decreases in intensity and/or frequency, this decreasing gradient of stimulation triggers the affect enjoyment-joy, with mouth widened, the corners of the lips turned slightly up, eyes shining, and the general look of pleasure.
2) If the decreasing gradient is rather rapid, a laugh is triggered; in general, this is the mechanism responsible for the pleasant feeling of contentment.
e. Distress-anguish affect
1) When a stimulus is relatively constant and above a certain level of density, it triggers the affect distress-anguish, with sobbing (obviously an analogue of constant density stimulation because of its constant characteristic), the corners of the lips characteristically turned down, arched eyebrows, and flailing limbs.
f. Anger-rage affect
1) Any stimulus that is both constant and much higher density than that required to trigger distress becomes a trigger for anger-rage, with the roar of anger, reddened cheeks, flailing limbs, and a characteristic steady state of muscular tension.
09. These six  innate mechanisms are triggered by nothing more than the densities and gradients of neural stimulation. It is only after an affect has been triggered that we are motivated to pay attention to whatever triggered it. We proceed to interpret this experience in light of our memory of prior experiences.
a. These innate affects can be described as something like a bank of spotlights, each of a different ‘color’, each flicked on by a different information processing or sensory mechanism, calling our attention to its triggering stimulus and thus making us use our cognitive [thinking ] apparatus in a style controlled by the memory of that affect.
1) Affect highlights the source, brings it into consciousness, and allows our best attempt for solution of the problem represented.
2) No stimulus can possibly get our attention until and unless it triggers an affect, and affect is the only doorway to arousal and consciousness.
3) Life is a matter of stimulus-affect-response sequences, and any time we need to figure out behavior that seems strange or dangerous to us, we must first learn what affect preceded it, what cognitive process [‘inner logic’ ] was used to select the behavior and what are the limits of the behavior repertoire.
4) Although we tend to say that children model their ‘behavior’ on what they see at home, we should also consider the affect part of the stimulus-affect-response sequence rather than only the response behavior.
10. There are three  other innate mechanisms that have evolved from other sources but have become incorporated into the affect system:
a. dissmell affect
1) bad odors quite naturally trigger an innate mechanism as the result of which the upper lip is raised, the nose wrinkled, the head drawn back and away from the offending odor, and the sound “eeoo” emitted; for this instrument Tomkins coined the name dissmell.
2) Dissmell comes to involve any situation in which we reject something before sampling, and therefore is the affect underlying prejudice; coupled with anger it becomes the sneer of contempt.
b. disgust affect
1) For some chemical substance that affects the taste buds outside a predetermined range of possibilities, the lower lip is automatically pushed out and downward, the tongue and head thrust forward, and the sound “yucch” emitted; this is the affect disgust.
2) Disgust is the affect of rejection after taking something into our system, and when coupled with the affect of anger becomes the predominant emotionality seen in divorce.
c. Shame affect
1) The final innate mechanism involved in the human emotion system is responsible for the shame family of emotions.
2) The physiological mechanism is triggered only when we have been in the throes of one of the two positive affects (the only ones that feel good), interest-excitement or enjoyment-joy.
3) An affect is both analogous to its trigger and calls attention to that trigger.
4) Thus, whenever anything interrupts one of these two pleasant types of feeling, the interruption itself is amplified as an affective reaction through which the head and neck slump, the eyes droop and are turned away, the upper body goes limp, the face (and sometimes neck and upper chest) become red, and all communication with the other person is lost for a moment.
5) The mechanism produces what has been called a “cognitive shock”, honoring comments by sages such as Darwin and Sartre that no one can think clearly in the moment of shame.
6) Almost everything we call “hurt feelings” comes from this affect mechanism.
7) It is the quintessential affect of feeling shorn from the herd, of being alone and rejected.
8) As if that weren’t bad enough, this feeling of rejection comes to join with the affective experiences of self-dissmell and self-disgust to make shame truly awful in some situations.
9) Most likely the experience of shame is toxic in direct relation to the intensity of those latter components.
11. The eight  categories of experience in which shame affect will be triggered is both simple and obvious:
a. Matters of size, strength, ability, skill;
d. Sense of self;
e. Personal Attractiveness;
g. Issues of seeing and being seen;
h. Wishes and fears about closeness.
12. Failure in any of these areas triggers shame, just as success brings on a moment of pride.
13. These matters are significant at the level of the individual, our interpersonal relationships, group, or society.
14. Furthermore, an individual who has felt deep shame at failure in one category is likely to seek success in another so that a moment of pride can (for a moment) eradicate a more chronic sense of shame.
15. It is for this reason that one can view as triggers for shame everything that others have described as structural factors in the normalization or institutionalization of violence.
16. The link between shame and violence or what we call shame rage or humiliation fury.
17. For one reason or another, people vary in their ability or skill to respond effectively to what any affect shows – what Goleman has called emotional literacy.
a. Some have been raised in families that punish children for expressing one or another affect,
b. Others have grown up with depressed parents who can’t react optimally to affective expression in childhood and thus restrict our ability to process affective data, and
c. Still others have some sort of biological glitch that makes it difficult to experience or to stop experiencing one or another affect.
d. The problem with affect recognition and the work of cognitively processing what affect shows us is compounded when
1) Parents are physically or emotionally unavailable,
2) When some affect (like terror) stalks home or neighborhood constantly,
3) When drugs and alcohol interfere with parental ability to help children process affective information,
4) When undereducated parents themselves are too young to understand and carry out their responsibility in these matters.
18. Since the function of all street drugs is to manage affect that is considered unbearable, and since chronic drug use literally prevents one from learning how to handle that affect, the drug epidemic is a self reinforcing system that must addict or habituate a population to drugs as management for what sometimes is no more than a normal range of affect.
19. Everything we do to help young children recognize and process their affects helps them become more competent adults.
20. All of the programs designed and initiated for emotional literacy involve such training in the definition, explication, and management of these innate affects.
G. Reintegrative Shame
01. When we ignore what shame affect is trying to show us, when something happens in one of the eight categories described above but we don’t know how to process the reason for the impediment to the continuation of the positive affect of excitement or joy that had been going on just a moment ago, something happens to our mind that is quite unique and powerful.
02. There are four possible patterns of reaction we may exhibit when we ignore the spotlight of shame affect, and for graphic purposes they are grouped as the four action modes.
a. The scripted actions of withdrawal include hiding from the eyes of those before whom we have felt shamed. 1) The withdrawal mode begets behavior at its most mild like the little kid who hides behind mommy’s leg when a stranger comes to the door, or the way we act ‘depressed’ when we feel defeated.
2) It is this form of shame that can impede the normal excitement that accompanies sexual arousal, resulting often in impotence and frigidity. Withdrawal behavior ranges from mild shyness to terribly debilitating depression.
b. When we withdraw rather than deal forthrightly with shame, we are by definition very much alone. Those who fear abandonment dislike this kind of reaction to shame and often move to the attack self mode, a course of behavior in which by making themselves subservient to a more powerful person they guarantee that they will not be alone.
1) By demeaning themselves, by placing themselves in a dependent relationship with another person, they avoid helplessness at the expense of a variable degree of damage to their self-esteem and often their physical being.
2) The litany of behavior we consider masochistic derives from this kind of decision, although healthy normal deference is a milder form of such action.
c. There are, however, many people who act in neither of these ways, but from the avoidance mode simply try to make the feeling go away without paying attention to the scene illuminated by the spotlight.
1) Many drugs work at this locus, for shame is soluble in alcohol and boiled away by cocaine and the amphetamines.
2) Other actions housed at the avoidance mode include ceaseless competition so as to be better at something than somebody, the constant search for excitement in thrills or danger, the psychology of machismo, the use of sexual activity as a hedge against the feeling of inadequacy, or the purchase of goods and services that literally wrap a shame damaged self in gold.
• Since the biology of adolescence is characterized by rampant increase in the degree and intensity of sexual arousal, and since but a small fraction of an adolescent’s sexual wishes can be granted, this period of development is fraught with more shame than any other.
• The resulting shame crisis is often handled by resort to alcohol for its ability to reduce the toxicity of any moment of shame, despite that the drug also reduces the shame-as-discretion necessary to forestall violent, illegal, or other socially undesirable action.
d. Finally, for those who can do nothing by their own mind or hand to raise their own self esteem when shame hits, there is the attack other mode through which they can work to reduce the self esteem of anyone else who happens to be available.
1) At this pole, anything that brings shame can be defined arbitrarily as insulting disrespect that “must” be handled by compensatory attack lest the individual suffer further shame.
2) Attack other behavior includes insults, verbal or physical attack, bullying of any kind, sexual sadism, or anything that seems to prevent the momentary sense of inferiority by (for the moment) feeling bigger and better than the other guy.
3) Sadly, to the extent that any individual hones the skills associated with attack other behavior, severe limitations are placed on the ability to negotiate, moderate, love, and nurture.
03. Although actions taken through each mode of Shame vary over a range from mild and quite ordinary to severe and quite dangerous, the more skill one develops in any of these defensive behaviors, the more one is limited in emotional growth.
a. In general, people who can’t deal with shame tend to cluster in two loci of Shame: the withdrawal and attack self modes or the avoidance and attack other modes.
b. This defines much of the problem we face in the study of violence.
c. It isn’t the psychodynamic drive called aggression that operates out of control in people or other impulses they haven’t learned to curtail, but shame expressed through the attack other and avoidance modes.
1) Drug and alcohol use is not adolescent carelessness but a defense against unavoidable sequences of acute shame superimposed on chronic shame.
2) Sexual excess or sexual carelessness is a defense against shame, not meaningless play with what feels good.
3) Early pregnancy sometimes reflects the belief of a young girl that she can take pride in her ability to make a baby despite that she has no way to protect or rear that child.
04. This one family of emotions is central to everything that concerns work with children whose behavior is the problem.
05. Use of the psychological instrument called The Internalized Shame Scale (ISS), a 10-minute test through which it can be determined whether any child has developed shame-based modes requiring attention can be a step in risk assessment.
a. If an affect was an analogic amplifier of its stimulus conditions, then the facial and vocal expression of an affect broadcasts that affect both to the observer/listener and to the self of the organism.
b. Each affect tended to trigger more of itself through a process of internal contagion (simply because the affect is a competent analogue of its originating stimulus), and was capable of triggering the same affect in another person who listened to or watched an individual who was experiencing an innate affect.
c. Here was the physiology that underlay the affective resonance Basch described as ‘primitive empathy’.
d. If it is the association of a group of memories with the affect of the moment that produces the formal structure we call an emotion, then might not a similar process take place to produce mature empathy?
1) When you and I experience an affect, we scroll through our own personal memories to find stimulus-affect-response sequences similar enough to match the affect of the moment.
2) Scenes found when the receiver scrolls through memory for a stimulus-affect-response sequence need not be of the actual experience that triggered this affect of the moment in the person whose broadcast we have received.
• Our ability to associate to this sequence consisting of affect resonated from another person, followed by our memory of what might have produced that affect had it been stimulated in us by the normal innate pathways and triggers, has allowed us to determine what might have happened to us to produce such a sequence.
• This is the basis of mature empathy—our ability to figure out a stimulus-affect- response sequence that might have occurred in another person and thereby to know a great deal more about the inner experience of that other.
• The success of our empathic attunement, the accuracy with which we have tuned in to the world of another person, is dependent on the degree to which we have allowed ourselves to resonate with the affect broadcast by that person, and on the quality of fit between our life experience and their own.
3) Directly proportional to the intensity of obsessional traits in a personality is the degree of opacity to the feelings of others
• Shame-ridden people labeled as ‘borderline’ are so preternaturally sensitive to the affective broadcast of others that often we must spend a great deal of time teaching them how to distinguish their own emotions from those of others around them.
• We see a wide range of empathic sensitivity, suggesting at the very least that empathy is neither something to be learned from texts nor a right conferred with the award of a degree or a license.
4) Neonates do not differ widely in their sensitivity to affect broadcast into their environment;
• Distress-anguish seems to spread rapidly and fairly evenly throughout a newborn nursery.
• Although the audience for a comedian or a demagogue is self-selected and therefore possibly more sensitive than the population at large to the affect broadcast by its chosen source, both positive and negative affect are mutualized there to a far greater extent than in normal interpersonal life. An audience is called hostile, tough, or difficult not only when it is antipathetic toward or even visibly angry at the work of its star attraction, but also when it is uninvolved with, unreactive to, or out of synch with its supposed leader
• Lovers demonstrate an exquisite sensitivity to each other’s moods, a sensitivity that is relinquished rapidly when the relationship becomes troubled.
5) Affective mutualization is easy, uncomplicated, and free form in infancy, and subject to wide variation in adult life.
6) It seemed only reasonable, therefore, to suggest that free-floating affective resonance is the norm for early childhood, blocked at some point in normal development, and reestablished by those adults to whom it seems either interesting or unavoidable.
• This block to primitive empathy was learned and demonstrated that it was essential for the formation of an adult personality.
• An adult who walked through life always vulnerable to the affect being broadcast into the local environment would be unable to maintain personal boundaries, just as an adult who admits no information from the affect broadcast by others is truly isolated.
• The empathic wall must be strong when necessary but possess doors and windows that can be opened when necessary and optimal.
7) It is axiomatic that every culture on the planet requires that children mute their display of affect by the time they are three years old
• We teach this every time we ‘shush’ a child and every time we value verbal over affective communication.
• To socialize a child is to teach it how to modulate the display of innate affect; socialization demands that a child yield its ability to take over interpersonal space through the broadcast of each affect at the maximal end of its range.
• Shaming labels like ‘immaturity’, ‘childish’, and ‘infantile’ drive home this message about affective broadcast.
8) Interaffectivity requires the receiver to mimic the affect display of the broadcaster, an action that forces the receiver to experience an analogue of the affect going on in the broadcaster.
9) Dissociation is not intrinsically pathological, for it originates in our learned ability to make conscious decisions as to the source we will allow as a trigger for the affect of the moment.
e. The human emotional blueprint guarantees that we feel best when we
1) Maximize positive affect and
2) Minimize negative affect; we function best when
3) We express all affect (minimize the inhibition of affect) so we can accomplish these two goals; and, finally,
4) Anything that fosters these three goals makes us feel our best, whereas any force that interferes with any one or more of those goals conspires to make us feel worse.
f. The capacity for intimacy is directly proportional to the ability of an individual to accept and manage their own affects as well as the data provided by interaffectivity.
g. A competent adult must be able to identify and express each of the nine innate affects in self and other, for without such ability self-development and interpersonal development must remain incomplete. Much that goes wrong in our shared world may be traced to maldevelopment of the empathic wall in individuals and families.
08. Our moment-to-moment interactions with another person are characterized by relatively equal attention to both cognitive and affective communication.
a. As we hear and process the other person’s statement, we monitor the affect that accompanies it.
b. At the simplest level, we decide whether the affect is ‘appropriate’ to the utterance. The words don’t go with the music, at least in the opinion of the observer”.
c. Our analysis of the match between verbal communication and expressed affect is rapid, habitual, skilled, and performed without conscious attention.
d. The results of this analysis enter consciousness only when mismatch triggers affect that produces attention to its source; the gestalt of these skills forms a major portion of the empathic wall.
09. Even though all innate affects are contagious, anger resonates with peculiar ease.
a. Angry, fighting dyads must be separated lest through contagion of affect they continue to produce more anger in each other and in those who at first were outside their quarrel.
b. One of the most important benefits offered by the legal system is that it grinds exceedingly slowly—by delaying resolution of disputes until the protagonists have had a chance to ‘cool down’, and by preventing the disputants from handling their own cases before the community, affect is unlikely to promote vigilante action or mob levels of discontrol. Eventually, cases are decided by a judge who is accepted as neutral to the process under examination, and lawyers, who alone are allowed to speak with that judge, present the beliefs of each side. The legal system is an important part of the civic empathic wall.
c. When victims are unable to express to an empathic listener their feelings about the experience suffered at the hands of the perpetrator, they tend to feel marginalized, insignificant, unheard.
1) Victim dissatisfaction within the public sphere is a cognate for empathic failure in the interpersonal world.
2) Furthermore, when those accused of a crime are “protected” by their lawyers from the (often reasonable) affect of those they have injured they are thereby encouraged to remain aloof from the effects on the community of their actions. Quite naturally, defense attorneys are far more likely to show their clients how well they were served by this legal representation than to instruct them in matters of civic responsibility.
3) Victim resentment and criminal recidivism may well be linked to this function of the public empathic wall; it is not difficult to understand both as examples of public self-object failure.
10. A scripted version of group conferencing was initially used by police officers as an alternative to referring young people to court, but has been replicated in many places around the world as a response to wrongdoing in schools, work places and communities.
a. The conference facilitator invites offenders, victims, their family and friends to a meeting to see how people had been affected by the offense and how the harm might be repaired.
b. Most notably the conference provides a forum where affect is permitted to resonate within a framework of respect and decorum.
c. Unlike the legal system, the conference provides offenders with an opportunity to gain some empathy for those they have affected with their behavior.
11. John Braithwaite, in his highly influential 1989 book Crime, Shame and Reintegration suggested that contemporary management of criminal behavior failed because it does not produce enough shame in the perpetrator, and that the proper use of shame might motivate criminals to want reconnection with the culture at large.
a. The book was seen as an explanation for the conference process, where members of the community explain the effect of an offense on them and their lives and the perpetrator comes to understand that s/he is a part of this community and has sinned against it.
b. Immediate to this recognition comes an outpouring of profound personal shame, after which the community gathers around and welcomes back the previously unconcerned perpetrator.
12. In a reintegrative group conference, children who admit that they have committed the crime in question are shunted away from the court system and onto another track.
a. Together with the specific victim of their action, and the families and neighbors of both victim and offender, the admitted criminal meets for a group session at which all concerned are encouraged to tell how they felt about the action under examination.
b. Not surprisingly, the initial response of the perpetrator is often indifferent and unconcerned; even children seem unable to commit a crime when concerned about the needs and feelings of others.
c. Yet as the conference runs on and both family groups began to speak about their estrangement from the perpetrator, that individual comes swiftly to learn that the love of the community is a deeply missed and quite important part of his or her world.
d. With such recognition comes an avalanche of shame, after which the individual is likely to express remorse, accept the forgiveness of all concerned, and sign a document pledging to work in some way to repair or undo the damage produced by the antisocial act.
13. The conclusion is that the shame seen in these situations was a secondary phenomenon. Primary, was the change in the civic empathic wall produced by the conference process.
a. A Blueprint for Communities, states that a community is a public group of people linked by scripts for systems of affect modulation. It is formed and maintained by the following rules:
1) Mutualization of and group action to enhance or maximize positive affect.
2) Mutualization of and group action to diminish or minimize negative affect.
3) Communities thrive best when all affect is expressed so these first two goals may be accomplished.
4) Mechanisms that increase the power to accomplish these goals favor the maintenance of community, mechanisms that decrease the power to express and modulate affect threaten the community.
14. Shame is reintegrative only when it takes place in an individual who had lived outside the interaffective life of the community until returned to it through a process like the one described earlier, and then experienced or recognized his/her chronic prior estrangement from empathic connection with the community as a blow that then produced shame.
15. The mutative force is empathy, not shame, and the interaffective processes described in this communication are both ubiquitous and fractal at all levels of human interaction.
G. Schema Theory
1. Fredric Bartlett (1932) in his work, ‘Remembering’, is credited with first proposing the concept of schema (plural: schemata).
a. He arrived at the concept from studies of memory he conducted in which subjects recalled details of stories that were not actually there.
b. He suggested that memory takes the form of schema that provide a mental framework for understanding and remembering information.
c. He defined remembering as an active organization of past reactions or past experiences making use of such schemata.
d. According to contemporary schema theory, perception, comprehension, interpretation and memory are mediated by mental schemata – hierarchical structures [or ‘frames’] for organizing knowledge.
e. Many psychological experiments have shown the importance of our expectations in making sense of new experiences.
f. Schemata embody such expectations.
2. Much language is contextually interpreted, it relates to some integrated and (usually) coherent domain, and only makes sense within that domain.
a. Conceptual schemata help us understand, interpret, and remember incoming information
b. Related to Gestalt theory in that one develops, structures (and restructures) the information.
c. Sometimes called constructivist theory because information is restructured into something that the agent can call his own. Information is often added, subtracted, ignored, or transformed depending on how the agent views the schema and the relation of new information to the schema.
d. Constructivist principles of learning include:
1) Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it.
2) People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing a system of meaning. For example, if we learn the chronology of dates of a series of historical events, we are simultaneously learning the meaning of a chronology.
3) the crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind.
4) Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning. On the empirical level, researchers have noted that people talk to themselves as they learn.
5) Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings – our teachers, our peers, our family as well as casual acquaintances, including the people before us or next to us at the exhibit.
6) Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from the rest of our lives – we learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears.
7) One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. The more we know the more we can learn.
8) It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous – we need to revisit ideas, ponder them and try them out.
9) Motivation is a key component to learning – including an understanding of ways in which the knowledge can be used. Unless we know ‘the reasons why’, we may not be very involved in using the knowledge that may be instilled in us.
e. Schema theory is useful for reasoning, categorization, story interpretation, evaluation, inferences, and much more.
f. There are lots of data that have been interpreted to support a schema analysis.
3. Key concepts of the theory
a. All human beings possess categorical rules or scripts, called schema that they use to interpret the world.
b. New information is processed according to how it fits into these rules.
c. These schema can be used not only to interpret but also to predict situations occurring in the environment. Think, for example, of a situation where you were able to finish another person’s thoughts, or when someone asked you to pass that ‘thingamabob’.
d. Information that does not fit into these schemata may not be comprehended, or may not be comprehended correctly.
1) This is the reason why readers have a difficult time comprehending a text on a subject they are not familiar with even if the person comprehends the meaning of the individual words in the passage.
2) If the waiter in a restaurant, for example, asked you if you would prefer to sing, you may have a difficult time interpreting what he was asking and why, since singing is not something that patrons in a restaurant normally do. However, if you had been to the restaurant in the past and knew that it was frequented by opera students who liked to entertain the crowds, you would have incorporated that information into your schema and not be confused when the waiter asked if you’d prefer to sing.
e. The learner in schema theory actively builds schemata and revises them in light on new information.
1) Each individual’s schemata is unique and dependant on that individual’s experiences and cognitive processes.
2) Knowledge is not necessarily stored hierarchically. In fact, it is meaning-driven and probably represented propositionally, and these networks of propositions are actively constructed by the learner.
• For example, when we are asked to recall a story that we were told, we are able to reconstruct the meaning of the story, but usually not the exact sentences– or even often the exact order– that we were told. We have remembered the story by actively constructing a meaningful representation of the story in our memory.
• Most schema theorists postulate that there is not just one body of knowledge available to learners at any given stage of development, but rather a network on context-specific bodies of knowledge that learners apply to specific situations.
f. Situation-specific schema helps to explain the difference between expert and novice interpretation of knowledge;
1) experts, with more complex developed schema in a particular subject area can function better in any given domain than a novice with no schema or an inadequate schema to help them interpret and react to new information.
2) Since these schemata are context specific, they are dependent on an individual’s experience with and exposure to a subject area rather than simply “raw intelligence.”
g. Schema are important not just in interpreting information, but also in decoding how that information is presented.
h. Schema reflecting how information is presented can also be culturally determined.
4. The way that learners acquire knowledge under schema theory is quite similar to Piaget’s model of the process of development. Schema theorists have enhanced Piaget’s assimilation/accommodation construct to include a middle ground. In essence, there are three different reactions that a person can have to new information: accretation, tuning, and restructuring.
a. In accretation, the individual take the new input and assimilate it into their existing schema without making any changes to the overall schema.
b. Tuning is when a person realizes that his/her existing schema is inadequate for the new knowledge and modify the existing schema accordingly.
c. Restructuring is the process of creating a new schema addressing the inconsistencies between the old schema and the newly acquired information.
5. People are also thought to have mental models, which are dynamic cognitive structures for problem solving based on a person’s existing schema and perceptions of task demand and task performance.
a. this means that people bring to tasks imprecise, partial, and idiosyncratic understandings that evolve with experience.
6. Instructional Strategies: The most important implication of schema theory is the role of prior knowledge in processing. In order for learners to be able to effectively process information, their existing schemata related to the new content need to be activated.
a. Encourages the use of analogies and comparisons in order to draw attention to learner’s existing schema and to help them make connections between existing schemata and the new information.
b. In fostering problem solving ability, instruction should focus more on schema-building strategies, in particular strategies for building appropriate functional problem-solving schema, as a foundation for problem-solving ability.
c. Instruction should use realistic, familiar scenarios in teaching problem-solving rather than more conventional abstract contexts.
d. Instruction should facilitate schema building by providing learner feedback in the form of numerous fully worked out and explained examples or worksheets that explicitly guide learners in building their own schemata.
e. Instructors and instructional designers should assume that problem-solving ability is cumulative not only over time but over numerous experiences
7. Another important implication is the recognition of the role that culture and experience play in creating an individual’s knowledge.
a. Instructors must pay attention to the cultural references in the material presented and avoid potential cultural-biases.
b. Schema theory, unlike some other learning theories such a behaviorism or cognitive dissonance, does not seek to explain the acquisition of only certain types of knowledge such as behaviors or attitudes. Rather instructional strategies based on it can be applied to any learning situation.
1) The ability of the theory to explain how numerous different types of knowledge is learned and to suggest instructional strategies appropriate regardless of the type of knowledge also makes Schema Theory an effective theory for instructional and clinical designers.
2) When people learn, when they build knowledge, they are either creating new schemata, or linking together preexisting schemata in new ways.
3) Many of the schemata which people develop are idiosyncratic. Everybody has different experiences, so everyone develops a somewhat different view of the world.
• However, we also share many common experiences. Most Americans have seen a baseball game, know who the President is, and have eaten at McDonald’s. So, many of the schemata which people develop are shared schemata, ones which others have developed as well. Shared schemata constitute an important part of our shared cultural knowledge.
• The more background knowledge two people share, the less they have to make explicit in their conversations.
8. Key theoretical development of schema theory was made in several fields, including linguistics, anthropology, psychology and artificial intelligence.
a. One of the main engines was artificial intelligence, which was engaged in getting computers to read natural text. It was quickly discovered that most of what is communicated in a newspaper article cannot be understood without reference to a great deal of information that is not included in the article itself.
b. A schema is a set of related place-holders or slots which can be filled in by context or by additional information from the speaker.
1) Often, what is filled in for one slot may affect what can be filled in for other slots. For example, in the writing schema, if the surface being written upon is the sky, then the implement is likely to be an airplane.
2) When no specific information is provided for a particular slot, hearers tend to fill the slots with their normal expectations – “default values”. For example, the default values for the English writing schema probably include a pen as the implement and paper as the surface. A schema filled in with default values is called a prototype.
c. An important aspect of the organization of schemata is that simpler schemata can be “embedded” within more complex schemata. Or, to put it another way, schemata can be hierarchically structured.
d. Some schemata are especially fundamental and productive.
e. Languages often have terms that identify ways in which the full schema fails or is only partially satisfactory. The term scrawl refers to a failure to make one’s writing on something fully legible, the term illiterate refers to someone who is not able to utilize the writing schema because they cannot read or write effectively. Such terms can only be defined and understood through a comprehension of the full schema and what can go wrong within it.
9. Schemata clearly affect our recall of events.
a. About one-half of what informants tell us is wrong.
b. The inaccuracies are not random, but rather systematic and predictable, and come from the schemata we develop based on experience and social networks.
c. Rather than lexical connections per se, the reader or listener puts the information gathered together into a coherent whole.
d. Reasoning about the material is dependent upon the schematic structures created and the use of analytic processes within and on those schemata.
10. Cognitive flexibility focuses on the nature of learning in complex and ill-structured domains.
a. By cognitive flexibility, we mean the ability to spontaneously restructure one’s knowledge, in many ways, in adaptive response to radically changing situational demands…
b. This is a function of both the way knowledge is represented (e.g., along multiple rather single conceptual dimensions) and the processes that operate on those mental representations (e.g., processes of schema assembly rather than intact schema retrieval).”
c. The theory is largely concerned with transfer of knowledge and skills beyond their initial learning situation. For this reason, emphasis is placed upon the presentation of information from multiple perspectives and use of many case studies that present diverse examples.
d. The theory also asserts that effective learning is context-dependent, so instruction needs to be very specific.
e. The theory stresses the importance of constructed knowledge; learners must be given an opportunity to develop their own representations of information in order to properly learn.
11. The contents of long-term memory are “sophisticated” schemata that permit us to perceive, think, and solve problems, rather than a group of rote learned facts.
a. These structures are what permit us to treat multiple elements as a single element.
b. They are the cognitive structures that make up the knowledge base.
c. Schemata are acquired over a lifetime of learning, and may have other schemata contained within themselves.
d. The difference between an expert and a novice is that a novice hasn’t acquired the schemata of an expert.
e. Learning requires a change in the schematic structures of long term memory and is demonstrated by performance that progresses from clumsy, error-prone, slow and difficult to smooth and effortless.
12. George A. Miller has provided two theoretical ideas that are fundamental to cognitive psychology and the information-processing framework.
a. The first concept is “chunking” and the capacity of short-term memory.
1) Miller presented the idea that short-term memory could only hold 5-9 chunks of information (seven plus or minus two) where a chunk is any meaningful unit.
2) A chunk could refer to digits, words, chess positions, or people’s faces. The concept of chunking and the limited capacity of short-term memory became a basic element of all subsequent theories of memory.
3) Information processing theory has become a general theory of human cognition; the phenomenon of chunking has been verified at all levels of cognitive processing.
b. The second concept is Test-Operate-Test-Exit [TOTE].
1) Miller suggested that TOTE should replace the stimulus-response as the basic unit of behavior.
2) In a TOTE unit, a goal is tested to see if it has been achieved and if not an operation is performed to achieve the goal; this cycle of test-operate is repeated until the goal is eventually achieved or abandoned.
3) The TOTE concept provided the basis of many subsequent theories of problem solving and production systems.
13. A Schema Counseling model has been devised that includes:
a. Eighteen Maladaptive Schemata that are self-defeating, core themes or patterns that we keep repeating throughout our lives.
b. These are distributed among Schema Domains that relate to the basic emotional needs of a child. When these needs are not met in childhood, schemata develop that lead to unhealthy life patterns. The schemata are grouped into domains on the basis of which core needs the schema is related to.
c. Coping Styles are the ways the child adapts to schemata and to damaging childhood experiences. For example, some children surrender to their schemata; some find ways to block out or escape from pain; while other children fight back or overcompensate.
d. Schema Modes are the moment-to-moment emotional states and coping responses that we all experience. Often our schema modes are triggered by life situations that we are oversensitive to (our “emotional buttons”). Many schema modes lead us to overreact to situations, or to act in ways that end up hurting us.
e. The goals of Schema counseling are:
1) to help people stop using maladaptive coping styles and get back in touch with their core feelings;
2) to reframe early schemata;
3) to learn how to get out of self-defeating schema modes as quickly as possible; and eventually
4) to get their emotional needs met in everyday life.
14. The Schema Counseling Model
a. Domain: Disconnection & Rejection – Expectation that one’s needs for security, safety, stability, nurture, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner. Typical family origin is detached, cold, rejecting, withholding, lonely, explosive, unpredictable, or abusive. Maladaptive Schemata include:
1) Abandonment / Instability – The perceived instability or unreliability of those available for support and connection. Involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because
• They are emotionally unstable and unpredictable (e.g., angry outbursts), unreliable, or erratically present;
• Because they will die imminently; or because
• They will abandon the person in favor of someone better.
2) Mistrust / Abuse – The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”
3) Emotional Deprivation – Expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
• Deprivation of Nurture: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
• Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure, or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
• Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.
4) Defectiveness / Shame – The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (e.g., selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (e.g., undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).
5) Social Isolation / Alienation – The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community.
b. Domain: Impaired Autonomy & Performance – Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one’s perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully. Typical family origin is enmeshed, undermining of child’s confidence, overprotective, or failing to reinforce child for performing competently outside the family.
1) Dependence / Incompetence – Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (e.g., take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.
2) Vulnerability To Harm Or Illness – Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fears focus on one or more of the following:
• Medical Catastrophes: e.g., heart attacks, AIDS;
• Emotional Catastrophes: e.g., going crazy;
• External Catastrophes: e.g., elevators collapsing, victimized by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.
3) Enmeshment / Undeveloped Self – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents), at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by, or fused with, others OR insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and floundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.
4) Failure – The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers, in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, ignorant, lower in status, less successful than others, etc.
c. Domain: Impaired Limits – Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal-orientation. Leads to difficulty in respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or in setting and meeting realistic personal goals. Typical family origin is characterized by permissiveness, overindulgence, lack of direction, or a sense of superiority — rather than appropriate confrontation, discipline, and limits in relation to taking responsibility, cooperating in a reciprocal manner, and setting goals. In some cases, child may not have been pushed to tolerate normal levels of discomfort, or may not have been given adequate supervision, direction, or guidance.
1) Entitlement / Grandiosity – The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; OR an exaggerated focus on superiority (e.g., being among the most successful, famous, wealthy) — in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward, or domination of, others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires—without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.
2) Insufficient Self-Control / Self-Discipline – Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals, or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, the individual presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort-avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or overexertion—at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.
d. Domain: Other-Directedness – An excessive focus on the desires, feelings, and responses of others, at the expense of one’s own needs — in order to gain love and approval, maintain one’s sense of connection, or avoid retaliation. Usually involves suppression and lack of awareness regarding one’s own anger and natural inclinations. Typical family origin is based on conditional acceptance: children must suppress important aspects of themselves in order to gain love, attention, and approval. In many such families, the parents’ emotional needs and desires — or social acceptance and status — are valued more than the unique needs and feelings of each child.
1) Subjugation – Excessive surrendering of control to others because one feels coerced – – usually to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment. Usually involves the perception that one’s own desires, opinions, and feelings are not valid or important to others. Frequently presents as excessive compliance, combined with hypersensitivity to feeling trapped. Generally leads to a build up of anger, manifested in maladaptive symptoms (e.g., passive-aggressive behavior, uncontrolled outbursts of temper, psychosomatic symptoms, withdrawal of affection, “acting out”, substance abuse. The two major forms of subjugation are:
• Subjugation of Needs: Suppression of one’s preferences, decisions, and desires.
• Subjugation of Emotions: Suppression of emotional expression, especially anger.
2) Self-Sacrifice – Excessive focus on voluntarily meeting the needs of others in daily situations, at the expense of one’s own gratification. The most common reasons are:
• to prevent causing pain to others;
• to avoid guilt from feeling selfish; or
• to maintain the connection with others perceived as needy.
Often results from an acute sensitivity to the pain of others. Sometimes leads to a sense that one’s own needs are not being adequately met and to resentment of those who are taken care of. (Overlaps with concept of codependency.)
3) Approval-Seeking / Recognition-Seeking
Excessive emphasis on gaining approval, recognition, or attention from other people, or fitting in, at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self. One’s sense of esteem is dependent primarily on the reactions of others rather than on one’s own natural inclinations. Sometimes includes an overemphasis on status, appearance, social acceptance, money, or achievement — as means of gaining approval, admiration, or attention (not primarily for power or control). Frequently results in major life decisions that are unauthentic or unsatisfying; or in hypersensitivity to rejection.
e. Domain: Overvigilance & Inhibition – Excessive emphasis on suppressing one’s spontaneous feelings, impulses, and choices OR on meeting rigid, internalized rules and expectations about performance and ethical behavior — often at the expense of happiness, self-expression, relaxation, close relationships, or health. Typical family origin is grim, demanding, and sometimes punitive: performance, duty, perfectionism, following rules, hiding emotions, and avoiding mistakes predominate over pleasure, joy, and relaxation. There is usually an undercurrent of pessimism and worry—that things could fall apart if one fails to be vigilant and careful at all times.
1) Negativity / Pessimism – A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation– in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations — that things will eventually go seriously wrong, or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to: financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because potential negative outcomes are exaggerated, these people are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.
2) Emotional Inhibition – The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication — usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses. The most common areas of inhibition involve:
• inhibition of anger & aggression;
• inhibition of positive impulses (e.g., joy, affection, sexual excitement, play);
• difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating freely about one’s feelings, needs, etc.; or
• excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotions.
3) Unrelenting Standards /Hypercriticalness – The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in: pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships. Unrelenting standards typically present as:
• perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm;
• rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or
• preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.
4) Punitiveness – The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punitive, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others, because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.
f. COPING STYLES
1) Different people cope with their schemata in different ways. This explains why children raised in the same environment can appear to be so different. For example, two children with abusive parents may respond very differently. One becomes a passive, frightened victim, and remains that way throughout life. The other child becomes openly rebellious and defiant, and may even leave home early to survive as a teenager on the streets.
2) Partly this is because we have different temperaments at birth. Temperamentally, we may tend to be more frightened, active, outgoing, or shy. Our temperaments push us in certain directions.
3) Partly this is because we may unconsciously choose different parents to ‘copy’ or model ourselves after. For example, because an ‘abuser’ often marries a ‘victim’, the child in this family could model either the abusive parent, the victimized parent or have elements of both coping styles.
4) We view coping styles as normal attempts on the part of the child to survive in a difficult childhood environment. Unfortunately, we keep repeating our coping styles throughout adulthood, even when we no longer need them to survive.
5) Most of the time, as adults, these coping styles lead us to act in ways that end up blocking our development: for example, we may abuse alcohol, become excessively rigid and stubborn, isolate ourselves from other people, stop feeling emotions, or mistreat other people.
6) According to the model, there are three general ways that we adapt to our schemata:
• Surrender: which means giving in to our schemata and repeating them over and over; – Compliance – Dependence: Relies on others, gives in, seeks affiliation, passive, dependent, submissive, clinging, avoids conflict, people-pleasing.
• Avoidance: which means finding ways to escape or block out our schemata;
– Social withdrawal, Excessive autonomy: Copes through social isolation, disconnection, and withdrawal. May demonstrate an exaggerated focus on independence and self-reliance, rather than involvement with others. Sometimes retreats through private activities such as excessive tv watching, reading, recreational computing, or solitary work.
– Compulsive Stimulation-Seeking: Seeks excitement or distraction through compulsive shopping, sex, gambling, risk-taking, physical activity, novelty, etc.
– Addictive Self-Soothing: Avoids through addictions involving the body, such as alcohol, drugs, overeating, excessive masturbation, etc.
– Psychological Withdrawal: Copes through dissociation, numbness, denial, fantasy, or other internal forms of psychological escape
• Overcompensation: which means doing the opposite of what our schemata makes us feel.
– Aggression – Hostility: Counterattacks through defying, abusing, blaming, attacking, or criticizing others
– Dominance, Excessive Self-Assertion: Controls others through direct means to accomplish goals
– Recognition-seeking, Status-seeking: Overcompensates through impressing, high achievement, status, attention-seeking, etc.
– Manipulation – Exploitation: Meets own needs through covert manipulation, seduction, dishonesty, or conning
– Passive-aggressiveness – Rebellion: Appears overtly compliant while punishing others or rebelling covertly through procrastination, pouting, “backstabbing,” lateness, complaining, rebellion, nonperformance, etc.
– Excessive Orderliness, Obsessionality: Maintains strict order, tight self-control, or high level of predictability through order & planning, excessive adherence to routine or ritual, or undue caution. Devotes inordinate time to finding the best way to accomplish tasks or avoid negative outcomes.
g. Schema Modes
1) The concept of a Schema Mode is probably the most difficult part of schema theory to explain, because it encompasses many elements.
2) Schema modes are the moment-to-moment emotional states and coping responses that we all experience.
3) Often our schema modes are triggered by life situations to which we are oversensitive (our ‘emotional buttons’).
4) At any given point in time, some of our schemata, coping responses, and emotional states are inactive, or dormant, while others have become activated by life events and predominate our current mood and behavior.
5) The predominant state that we are in at a given point in time is called our schema mode. All of us jump from mode to mode over time.
6) A schema mode represents those schemata or coping responses that are currently active for an individual.
7) A schema mode is activated when particular schemata or coping responses have erupted into strong emotions or rigid coping styles that take over and control an individual’s functioning.
8) An individual may shift from one schema mode into another; as that shift occurs, different schemata or coping responses, previously dormant, become active.
9) Modes As Dissociated States
• Viewed in a slightly different way, a schema mode is:
– a facet of the self, involving specific schemata or coping responses, that has not been fully integrated with other facets.
– According to this perspective, schema modes can be characterized by the degree to which a particular schema mode state has become dissociated, or cut off, from an individual’s other modes.
– A schema mode, therefore, is a part of the self that is cut off, to some degree, from other aspects of the self.
– The term Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder) is used to describe individuals who jump into schema modes that are at the extreme end of the dissociative spectrum. People with Dissociative Identity Disorder usually have different names (like John, Susan, or Danny) for each schema mode.
• At the other extreme of dissociation — the mildest form of a schema mode — is a normal mood shift, such as a lonely mood or an angry mood.
10) Identified Schema modes. The modes are grouped into four general categories: the Child modes, the Maladaptive Coping modes, the Maladaptive Parent modes, and the Healthy Adult mode. Some modes are healthy for an individual, while others are maladaptive. One important goal of Schema Counseling is to teach people how to strengthen their Healthy Adult mode, so that they can learn to navigate, negotiate with, nurture, or neutralize their other modes.
• Child Modes
– Vulnerable Child: feels lonely, isolated, sad, misunderstood, unsupported, defective, deprived, overwhelmed, incompetent, doubts self, needy, helpless, hopeless, frightened, anxious, worried, victimized, worthless, unloved, unlovable, lost, directionless, fragile, weak, defeated, oppressed, powerless, left out, excluded, pessimistic
– Angry Child: feels intensely angry, enraged, infuriated, frustrated, impatient because the core emotional (or physical) needs of the vulnerable child are not being met
– Impulsive/Undisciplined Child: acts on non-core desires or impulses in a selfish or uncontrolled manner to get his or her own way and often has difficulty delaying short-term gratification; often feels intensely angry, enraged, infuriated, frustrated, impatient when these non-core desires or impulses cannot be met.; may appear ‘spoiled’.
– Happy Child: feels loved, contented, connected, satisfied, fulfilled, protected, accepted, praised, worthwhile, nurtured, guided, understood, validated, self-confident, competent, appropriately autonomous or self-reliant, safe, resilient, strong, in control, adaptable, included, optimistic, spontaneous
• Maladaptive Coping Modes
– Compliant Surrendered: acts in a passive, subservient, submissive, approval-seeking, or self-deprecating way around others out of fear of conflict or rejection; tolerates abuse and/or bad treatment; does not express healthy needs or desires to others; selects people or engages in other behavior that directly maintains the self-defeating schema-driven pattern
– Detached Protector: cuts off needs and feelings; detaches emotionally from people and rejects their help; feels withdrawn, spacey, distracted, disconnected, depersonalized, empty or bored; pursues distracting, self-soothing, or self-stimulating activities in a compulsive way or to excess; may adopt a cynical, aloof or pessimistic stance to avoid investing in people or activities
– Overcompensator: feels and behaves in an inordinately grandiose, aggressive, dominant, competitive, arrogant, haughty, condescending, devaluing, overcontrolled, controlling, rebellious, manipulative, exploitative, attention-seeking, or status-seeking way. These feelings or behaviors must originally have developed to compensate for or gratify unmet core needs
• Maladaptive Parent Modes
– Punitive Parent: feels that oneself or others deserves punishment or blame and often acts on these feelings by being blaming, punishing, or abusive towards self (e.g., self-mutilation) or others. This mode refers to the style with which rules are enforced rather than the nature of the rules.
– Demanding Parent: feels that the ‘right’ way to be is to be perfect or achieve at a very high level, to keep everything in order, to strive for high status, to be humble, to puts others needs before one’s own or to be efficient or avoid wasting time; or the person feels that it is wrong to express feelings or to act spontaneously. This mode refer to the nature of the internalized high standards and strict rules, rather than the style with which these rules are enforced; these rules are not compensatory in their function.
• Healthy Adult Mode
– Healthy Adult: nurtures, validates and affirms the vulnerable child mode; sets limits for the angry and impulsive child modes; promotes and supports the healthy child mode; combats and eventually replaces the maladaptive coping modes; neutralizes or moderates the maladaptive parent modes. This mode also performs appropriate adult functions such as working, parenting, taking responsibility, and committing; pursues pleasurable adult activities such as sex; intellectual, esthetics, and cultural interests; health maintenance; and athletic activities.
15. It is important to keep in mind that this is not a scientific theory, but is rather a descriptive supposition, albeit one that appears to be sound.
H. Personal Construct Theory
George Kelly’s theory of personality is predicated on one axiom: that, Man is a Scientist. In other words, from the dawn of consciousness each of us tries to make sense of the world as we experience it, and we do this by constantly forming and testing hypotheses about the world. By the time we are adults, we will have developed a very complex model of the world and our place in it: this model is, according to Kelly, our personality. Kelly’s theory of personal constructs develops this principle further – for example, by considering whether and how we modify our constructs when faced with contradictory information, what are our ‘core constructs’ – that is, the deeply-held values and principles which are unlikely to change, etc. The term construct is particularly well chosen, because it reflects the concept’s dual role. On the one hand, your constructs represent the view you have constructed about the world as you experienced it. On the other hand, your constructs indicate how you are likely to construe the world as you continue to experience it. Your construct system is your history and your predisposition to perceive.
1. Constructs are personal ways of making judgements about the world: Because constructs represent some form of judgement or evaluation, by definition they are scalar: that is, the concept good can only exist in contrast to the concept bad, the concept gentle can only exist as a contrast to the concept harsh. Any evaluation we make – when we describe a car as sporty, or a politician as right-wing, or a sore toe as painful – could reasonably be answered with the question ‘Compared with what?’
2. Construct systems make our world more predictable: We use our construct systems to make the world easier to find our way around. Our construct systems reflect our constant efforts to make sense of our world, just as scientists make sense of their subject-matter: we observe, we draw conclusions about patterns of cause and effect, and we behave according to those conclusions.
3. Construct systems can grow and change: Our construct systems are not static. They are confirmed or challenged every moment we are conscious. Whether we adapt or immunize our constructs depends on a number of things: how open we are to new information, how much it matters to us to maintain our belief, how important it is to us to have a lot of information about airlines anyway.
4. Construct systems influence our expectations and perceptions: Because our construct systems reflect our past experience, they also influence our expectations and behavior.
5. Some constructs, and some aspects of our construct systems, are more important than others: We feel, think, and behave according to our construct system; we adapt our constructs, immunize them, or have them confirmed. Some of our constructs – those which represent our core values and concern our key relationships – are complex, quite firmly fixed, wide-ranging, and difficult to change; others, about things which don’t matter so much, or about which we haven’t much experience, are simpler, narrower, and carry less personal commitment.
6. Your construct system is your truth as you understand and experience it – nobody else’s: A person’s construct system represents the ‘truth’ as they understand it. Construct systems cannot be judged in terms of their objective truth – whatever ‘objective’ means in the world of personal feelings and choices. When we meet someone whose construct system is different from our own – especially if we don’t like it, or think it’s wrong – we sometimes use words like prejudice or stereotype to convey our disagreement. We might try confronting them with opposing opinions or evidence, and get frustrated if we see them immunizing their constructs instead of adapting them. But we have to accept that their system has worked, more or less, for them so far, and that if it is different from ours then that is a reflection of the fact that they’ve had different experiences, different reactions, and see different things as important.
7. Construct systems are not always internally consistent: People can and do live with a degree of internal inconsistency within their construct systems. At the simplest level, many of us encounter this as small children when we hear an adult say ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you,’ and wonder why, under those circumstances, they don’t stop doing it. At the more complex level, we observe this when we encounter someone whose self-perception seems to be at odds with reality and who seems to present different faces in different circumstances. Most people live with a certain level of inconsistency that does them no harm; but when the distortions of judgement become too costly or inappropriate the person (and/or those around them) is likely to suffer some form of personal distress.
8. The extent to which one person can understand another’s construct system is a measure of that person’s empathy: You do not have to have the same construct system as another person in order to understand them; but you do have to be able to infer the other person’s construct system.
9. Application: Kelly also searched for a way of getting people to reveal their construct system. Repertory Grid interviewing technique was the answer. The term repertory derives, of course, from repertoire – the repertoire of constructs that the person had developed. The process of taking three elements and asking for two of them to be paired in contrast with the third is the most efficient way in which the two poles of the construct can be elicited. Being a clinician, Kelly mostly concerned himself with his patients’ personal experiences and relationships; so he worked largely with what we would now call ‘significant others’ as elements – parents and relations, friends, colleagues, the self. The distance between two elements such as MYSELF and MYSELF AS MY FATHER WOULD LIKE ME TO BE – can then be discuss concerning whose problem was it, did it matter, what needed to happen to reduce it if it did matter? Reflecting back the person’s self-description can help in working through ways of making it happier, more competent, less compulsive.
I. Dissonance Theory
01. Developed by Leon Festinger (1957), is concerned with the relationships among cognition. A cognition, for the purpose of this theory, may be thought of as a “piece of knowledge.” The knowledge may be about an attitude, an emotion, a behavior, a value, and so on. For example, the knowledge that you like the color red is a cognition; the knowledge that you caught a touchdown pass is a cognition; the knowledge that the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation is a cognition.
02. People hold a multitude of cognition simultaneously, and these cognition form irrelevant, consonant, or dissonant relationships with one another.
03. According to cognitive dissonance theory, there is a tendency for individuals to seek consistency among their cognition (i.e., beliefs, opinions).
04. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes or behaviors (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.
05. In the case of a discrepancy between attitudes and behavior, it is most likely that the attitude will change to accommodate the behavior.
06. Dissonance theory applies to all situations involving attitude formation and change. It is especially relevant to decision-making and problem solving.
a. Dissonance results when an individual must choose between attitudes and behaviors that are contradictory.
b. Dissonance can be eliminated by:
1) reducing the importance of the conflicting beliefs, 2) acquiring new beliefs that change the balance, or 3) removing the conflicting attitude or behavior.
08. Two factors affect the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief.
09. There are three ways to eliminate dissonance:
a. Reduce the importance of the dissonant belief,
b. Add more consonant beliefs that outweigh the dissonant beliefs, or
c. Change the dissonant beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent.
10. Dissonance occurs most often in situations where an individual must choose between two incompatible beliefs or actions.
11 The greatest dissonance is created when the two alternatives are equally attractive.
12. Attitude change is more likely in the direction of less incentive since this results in lower dissonance.
13. In this respect, dissonance theory is contradictory to most behavioral theories that would predict greater attitude change with increased incentive (i.e., reinforcement).
J. Identity Theory
01. Identity – the self’s relationship with the self
02 The theory involves
a. Identity scripts/inner voices
b. How much is good enough
c. Sources of guilt/shame
f. Inner child
h. Sexual orientation
i. Self-affirming identity
03. Tools include
a. Re-scripting identity scripts
b. Transforming scenes through re-parenting imagery
c. Re-scripting identity scripts
04. Universal situations that illuminate self-shaming scripts/inner voices:
a. Looking into the mirror
b. Making mistakes, blunders, failing
c. Success or accomplishment
d. Meeting strangers
e. Receiving compliments
f. Disappointing others
g. Feeling disappointed by others
h. After interactions with a valued friend
i. After interactions with your parents
j. After interactions with authority
k. After becoming angry at someone
l. When you feel young, needy, insecure
05. Consciously observing scripts/voices:
a. Neither agree nor disagree with the voice
b. Simply observe it consciously
c. Journal your inner voices to observe them more clearly
d. Observe your scripts/inner voices in each of the twelve universal situations
e. Be conscious of how you behave toward yourself, feel about yourself, and talk to yourself
06. Naming the script accurately
a. Self-blame: self-accusatory anger
b. Comparison making: differences translated into comparisons
c. Self-contempt: contempt turned against the self
07. Recovering governing scenes:
a. Putting a face to the voice
b. Visualizing the voice
08. Re-scripting by engaging affect, imagery, and language
a. Creating new words
b. Experiencing new feelings
c. Creating a new voice to hear inside
09. Actively imagine someone with whom you have a mutually respecting relationship actually speaking to you inside
10. Consciously replacing self-shaming scripts with self-affirming scripts in the twelve universal situations
11. Actively monitoring those situations for the return of self-shaming scripts
a. Introverted- cycles in and out
b. Extroverted cycles up and down
c. Mixed temperament type
13 Observing your own pattern – identifying situations in which you are introverted or extroverted
14. Affirming your temperament pattern
15. Owning your temperament pattern as inherent
16. Sexual orientation
a. Dimensions of sexual orientation:
1) Erotic/sexual scenes – drive amplified by excitement affect
2) Touching/holding scenes – need amplified by enjoyment affect
3) Identification/facial gazing scenes – need amplified by enjoyment affect
b. Direction of gender focus:
1) Same sex
2) Other sex
3) Both sexes — simultaneously or sequentially
c. Levels of expression:
1) Emotions — transitory or persistent feelings
2) Fantasies — spontaneous or constructed fantasies
3) Behavior — overtly expressed in action
d. Spectrum of self-definition:
1) Sexual behavior
2) Sexual orientation
3) Sexual identity
e. Spectrum of sexual orientation
3) Homosexual — gay/lesbian
f. Level of comfort vs. conflict:
1) Shame vs. self-acceptance
2) Self-contempt vs. self-affirmation
g. Coming out process:
1) Stages in coming out — friends, family, work
2) Positive identification as gay/lesbian
3) Positive identification with other gays
4) Integration of sexual identity into a
5) Coherent life style
6) Involvement in gay/lesbian community
h. It is normal to experience erotic, touching, and facial gazing scenes directed toward persons of the same sex
i. Experiencing periodic same-sex erotic/sexual feelings or fantasies are normal in heterosexual men or women, even desiring to enact them is normal
j. Experiencing same-sex sexual activities, in itself, does not necessarily mean that you are gay or lesbian in sexual orientation
k. Many heterosexuals have occasional sexual experiences with another person of the same sex in specific situations
l. Only socialization by family, culture, and religion forces constriction of the natural flow of sexuality and its direction
m. Observe the pattern of your sexual orientation over time:
1) Be aware of who you are attracted to
2) Allow into consciousness all feelings, all wishes, all fantasies
3) The place to exercise control is at the boundary of expression
4) Decide consciously what you will give expression to, how, and with whom
5) If you deny, suppress, or disown any emotion, need, or drive, then the seeds of disturbance are growing
n. Psychological health depends on the full integration within the personality of all affects, needs, and drives
o. Owning your sexual orientation is the key to psychological health
p. Re-owning disowned parts of the self, including sexual orientation, is the principal path to psychological integration
K. Mindfulness: Method and Process
1. Mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Mindlessness is the state of automatic behavior – overt and covert behavior that has been habituated as discussed earlier.
a. Mindfulness is a term used in some of the Buddhist traditions, particularly Theravada, some Zen, and by some Tibetan teachers. Mindfulness is described as experiencing what mind and body are doing as they are doing it, being present with one’s mind, body, and energy in their ordinary states of occurrence.
b. A related concept from the more bodily oriented practices, such as the martial arts, is integration in which body, energy, mind, intention, awareness, and action come to form one non-fragmented, integrated whole.
2. Mindfulness is closely related to several procedures, including acceptance, cognitive diffusion and exposure.
a. Although each of these procedures seems to target different behavioral processes, they are all interrelated, because ultimately all of them target the domination of the literal and evaluative functions of human language and cognition.
b. Because these methods are constructional, not eliminative, their rise may ultimately have a more profound impact on the field than is currently supposed.
1) These processes build new options rather than attempt to limit options
2) Increased options leads to increased psychological flexibility
c. For a procedure to enter into the repertoire of empirical clinical psychology, two things seem to be currently required:
1) The technology has to be a) reasonably well defined, and b) it has to be shown to be useful when applied appropriately.
2) These requirements are important, but ultimately they are not sufficient.
3) The normal process demands that technologies enter into one or more scientific accounts of psychological distress and its alleviation, and that there be some evidence for the importance of the processes and principles specified in affecting the favorable outcomes obtained.
3. A Key Problem: Domination Of Literal Language
a. Some order can be brought to the area by focusing on a key problem faced by human beings: the domination of literal language.
1) Human verbal abilities have such tremendous utility that they become involved in virtually every type of human activity.
2) In many situations these abilities are helpful, but they can produce a host of problems, as well.
b. Human language is inherently bidirectional and often evaluative. 1) It is bidirectional in the sense that it is referential or relational.
2) If it is specified that an object is called x, then it can be derived that an x is that object—a derivation that human infants as young as 17 months can perform.
3) It is this quality that allows symbols to ‘stand for’ other events.
4) Language and cognition involve a wide variety of such bidirectional relations, including hierarchical class membership, difference, opposition, temporal relations, and so on, but the most clinically important class of relations beyond reference itself is comparative or evaluative relations.
a) Even a small set of relational abilities allows human beings to talk or think about events that are not present in order to compare possible outcomes, and then to have these verbal relations alter how analyzed events function.
b) The process is enormously useful and seems to underlie the tremendous ecological success of human beings, perhaps because of this skill have become the dominant species on the planet despite being relatively weak, slow, and unprepared for physical combat.
5) When human language dominates in a situation, psychological functions that are literal and evaluative also dominate.
a) In dealings with many domains (e.g., physical danger), this is usually helpful, but in more psychological domains often it is not.
• Consider a behavior that (necessarily) evolved long before human language: sexual behavior.
o Human beings have a shockingly difficult time with their sexuality.
o The runaway commercial success of Viagra bears ready testimony to this fact.
o People can worry about their performance; compare themselves or a partner unfavorably to an ideal; compare the present to a conceptualized past, or to a feared or favored future; and so on.
b) Cognitive processes of this kind are known to be involved in human sexual dysfunction and are targeted by empirically supported interventions for sexual dysfunction.
c) The literal and evaluative functions of human language and cognition seem to be a primary culprit in turning a very natural behavior – and one that is not a problem for the vast majority of living creatures other than humans – into a central focus of human suffering.
6) Several behavioral processes seem particularly likely when literal and evaluative language dominates.
a) Experiential avoidance is one good example of a non-arbitrary result of such processes.
• Experiential avoidance is the phenomenon that occurs when a person is unwilling to remain in contact with particular private experiences (e.g., bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, memories, behavioral predispositions) and takes steps to alter the form or frequency of these events and the contexts that occasion them, even when doing so creates life harm.
• There is a substantial body of evidence that experiential avoidance is harmful in a variety of psychological areas.
b) The links between experiential avoidance and literal, evaluative language and cognition are not arbitrary.
• Evaluative verbal processes allow preferred states of affairs to be sought over nonpreferred states of affairs.
• In the external world this is generally desirable. • As language abilities have evolved more and more constructs have been applied to private events, and these events have become enmeshed in evaluative verbal regulatory strategies.
4. Originally these terms were mere metaphors (e.g., being ‘inclined’ to go was metaphorically related to physical objects that were literally ‘leaning toward going’; ‘anxiety’ referred to a difficulty in breathing; and so on), but eventually they became concrete references to internal ‘things’, and the emotional or cognitive states that were related to evaluated situations themselves acquired evaluative connotations.
a. As applied to the external world, language and cognition are used deliberately to help produce evaluatively positive states of affairs and to avoid negative ones.
1) Once thoughts and feelings themselves become evaluatively entangled, it is an obvious step to do the same thing with these private events.
2) The results are often unhelpful, because private events are historically and verbally entangled.
a) Consider a negatively evaluated thought.
• In order to avoid a thought deliberately, a verbal rule must be followed specifying the thought to be avoided. [Don’t think about a white bear!]
• Unfortunately, this rule itself contains the avoided thought, and to check on its success, that rule (and thus the thought) must be re- contacted.
• This well-known paradox of thought suppression shows the problem clearly.
b) Many forms of psychological distress can be thought of as forms of experiential avoidance, yet the processes that give rise to such avoidance are inherent in literal language itself.
c) As experiential avoidance takes hold, more stress and arousal are likely, which in turn occasions more evaluative verbal comparisons, and more self-focused avoidance strategies.
d) This process might eventually be self-correcting were it not that behavior governed by verbal rules tends to be relatively inflexible and rigid. There are several known sources of this effect:
• Verbal rules tend to narrow the range of behavior available to make contact with more direct experiences
• They tend to narrow the impact of contingencies themselves
• They introduce or augment social compliance or resistance in otherwise less social situations; and finally
• They are massively useful in many external situations
e) The end result is that literal, evaluative strategies dominate in the regulation of human behavior, even when less literal and less judgmental strategies would be more effective.
4. Addressing The Language Concern
a. Until recently, empirical clinical psychology either tried to step around the problems of literal, evaluative language and cognition (e.g., in traditional behavior counseling) or challenged them directly (e.g., in traditional cognitive counseling).
b. Said another way, empirical clinical psychology has generally emphasized first-order behavioral or cognitive change, not second-order change.
c. New approaches emphasize such methods as mindfulness, acceptance, interoceptive exposure, cognitive defusion (methods that directly undermine the literal meaning of language, methods such as repeatedly saying a word over and over), and values clarification (situating these other methods in the context of self-chosen life goals and directions).
5. Mindfulness is said to involve “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” and as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally”. Encourage non-evaluative contact with events that are here and now
a. Defined this way, mindfulness is a set of techniques designed to encourage deliberate, non-evaluative contact with events, both public and private, that are here and now.
1) Acceptance and interoceptive exposure focus on increased contact with previously avoided private events. Increase contact with previously avoided private events
2) Cognitive defusion seeks to reduce the literal and evaluative functions of language when these functions occur. Reduce literal and evaluative functions of language
3) Values clarification seeks to bring verbal strategies under better contextual control by channeling verbal-cognitive abilities into the selection of larger purposes, rather than emphasizing them as the exclusive means to accomplishing such purposes. Bring verbal regulatory strategies under better contextual control
b. Any approach that encourages non-evaluative contact with events that are here and now will necessarily also lead to increased contact with previously avoided private events, because these private events will eventually be here and now, and a non- evaluative, nonjudgmental approach to them will inherently increase contact.
1) Such a method will also reduce the literal and evaluative functions of language when they occur, because it is precisely these functions that have discouraged non- evaluative contact with events that are here and now.
2) For example, cognitions that enter into awareness during mindfulness practice are observed but not evaluated as good or bad, true or false.
3) This is a direct attack on literal, evaluative language.
4) In the same way, any method that encourages non- evaluative contact with events that are here and now will also bring verbal regulatory strategies under better contextual control, because it will teach people the times and places to use literal, planned, evaluative skills and the times to use experiential, non-evaluative skills.
c. Whatever the primary focus of mindfulness, it engages the foci of all of these related techniques – making these processes are interrelated.
d. all of the methods ultimately target the excessive impact of human language and cognition itself.
e. The problem with verbal-cognitive functions is not so much that they are bidirectional and evaluative, but that they are so dominant.
f. The problem is not the presence of certain functions; it is their narrowness and inflexibility.
g. This narrowness and inflexibility come as a natural impact of human language and cognition, and it is this core impact that is ultimately targeted by all of these methods.
5. Mindfulness And A Constructional Approach
a. Humans are organisms that keep an historical record, humans do not rid themselves of psychological functions; rather, they add new functions to things and in so doing re-contextualize the existing functions.
1) When one looks at only the earlier function, the language of reduction and elimination seems persuasive only because one’s conceptual focus and one’s measurement systems are themselves so narrow.
2) For example, if the literal, evaluative functions of language dominate over the person with panic disorder, high emotional arousal and escape-focused actions will occur at an extremely high level.
3) After successful intervention these states and actions will no longer occur at the same level or frequency, but this effect is not because arousal is no longer possible or because escape-focused actions are eliminated from the repertoire.
a) What has happened is that the client is now more frequently doing other things
b) The range and flexibility of thought and actions has increased.
c) The old-fashioned wisdom of a constructional approach, the very basis of early functional, behavioral accounts, has been largely forgotten in empirical clinical circles, in part because the language of psychiatric syndromes is a language of illness to be removed.
d) The old-fashioned wisdom is being carried back into empirical clinical psychology as a co-traveler with mindfulness, acceptance, interoceptive exposure, cognitive defusion, and values methods, because none of these methods are eliminative.
e) The implicit message of all of these techniques is that the literal, evaluative, analytical, avoidant functions that dominate in a normal human mind are just a few of many, many functions that could occur.
4) Methods that help establish a more open, psychologically flexible approach will lead to new, more valuable functions in previously problematic contexts.
a) These methods will be selected and maintained on the basis of their life value [utility] to suffering human beings.
b) These new methods are presenting a challenge to empirical clinical psychology, because their larger goal is simply not the same as the more mainstream methods they can replace.
c) The new methods are all constructional.
• They seek to increase the range and flexibility of functions that occur in contexts that previously had only literal, avoidant, or evaluative functions.
• They carry the same message as old-fashioned, functionally oriented behavior counseling, but in a new package that validates and dignifies the importance of human thoughts and feelings and their role in human suffering.
d) Mindfulness, acceptance, and defusion are a different way of addressing traditionally conceptualized problems of depression or anxiety.
e) They imply a redefinition of the problem, the solution, and how both should be measured.
f) The problem is not the presence of particular thoughts, emotions, sensations, or urges: It is the constriction of a successful human life as experienced by the individual client.
g) The solution is not removal of difficult private events: It is the development of life goals, the evaluation of life’s successes and the acceptance or replacement of constricting ideation.
L. Relational Frame Theory
1. Relational frame theory, or RFT, is a psychological theory of human language and cognition, developed largely through the efforts of Steven C. Hayes and Dermot Barnes-Holmes.
a. Based on the philosophical roots of functional contextualism, it focuses on how humans learn language through interactions with the environment.
b. Functional contextualism is an extension of B.F. Skinner’s radical behaviorism, and tries to predict and influence psychological events, such as thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, by focusing on manipulable variables in their context.
2. RFT can be said to be a revisiting of a behavioral approach to language of B.F. Skinner outlined in 1957 in his book Verbal Behavior.
a. Skinner presented his approach as an interpretation, not an experimental research program, and researchers commonly acknowledge that the research products are somewhat limited in scope.
b. The Skinner approach has been useful in some aspects of language training in developmentally disabled children, but it has not led to a robust research program in the range of areas relevant to language and cognition, such as problem-solving, reasoning, metaphor, logic, and so on.
c. RFT advocates are fairly bold in stating that their goal is an experimental behavioral research program in all such areas.
d. In a review of Skinner’s book, linguist Noam Chomsky argued that the generativity of language shows that it can not simply be learned, that there must be some innate ‘language acquisition device’.
3. Many have seen this review as the turning point when cognitivism took the place of behaviorism as the mainstream in psychology.
a. Behavior analysts generally viewed the criticism as unfair and generally wrong, but it is undeniable that psychology turned its attention elsewhere and the review was very influential in helping to produce the rise of cognitive psychology.
b. More recent cognitive trends, such as situated cognition or distributed cognition, have similarities to Relational Frame Theory so it is possible that these fields will eventually move closer.
4. RFT distinguishes itself from Skinner’s work by identifying and defining a particular type of operant conditioning known as derived relational responding.
a. This is a learning process that to date appears to occur only in humans possessing a capacity for language.
b. Derived relational responding is theorized to be a pervasive influence on almost all aspects of human behavior.
c. The theory represents an attempt to provide a more empirically progressive account of complex human behavior while preserving the naturalistic approach of behavior analysis.
5. Supportive data exists in the areas needed to show that an action is ‘operant’ such as the importance of multiple examples in training derived relational responding, the role of context, and the importance of consequences.
a. Derived relational responding has also been shown to alter other behavioral processes such as classical conditioning, an empirical result that RFT theorists point to in explaining why relational operants modify existing behaviorist interpretations of complex human behavior.
b. Empirical advances have also been made by RFT researchers in the analysis and understanding of such topics as metaphor, perspective taking, and reasoning.
6. The theory is still somewhat controversial within behavioral psychology.
a. The controversy is not primarily empirical since RFT studies publish regularly in mainstream behavioral journals and few empirical studies have yet claimed to contradict RFT findings.
b. The controversy seems to revolve around whether RFT is a positive step forward, especially given that its implications seem to go beyond many existing interpretations and extensions from within this intellectual tradition.
7. RFT description
a. The core of human language and cognition is the learned and contextually controlled ability to arbitrarily relate events mutually and in combination, and to change the functions of specific events based on their relations to others.
1) For example, very young children will know that a nickel is larger than a dime by physical size, but not until later will the child understand that a nickel is smaller than a dime by social attribution.
2) In addition to being arbitrarily applicable (a nickel is ‘smaller’ than a dime merely by social convention), this more psychologically complex relation is:
a) Mutual (e.g., if a nickel is smaller than a dime, a dime is bigger than a nickel),
b) Combinatorial (e.g., if a penny is smaller than a nickel and a nickel is smaller than a dime then a penny is smaller than a dime), and
c) Alters the function of related events (e.g., if a nickel has been used to buy candy a dime will now be preferred even if it has never actually been used before).
8. The applied implications of RFT derive from several sources, but three critical features are that:
a. Human cognition is a specific kind of learned behavior. For example, RFT researchers have recently shown that arbitrarily applicable comparative relations (the nickel and dime situation just mentioned) can be trained as an overarching operant in young children
b. Cognition alters the effects of other behavioral processes. For example, a person who has been shocked in the presence of B and who learns that B is smaller than C, will show a greater emotional response to C than to B, even though B was directly paired with shock, and;
c. Cognitive relations and cognitive functions are regulated by different contextual features of a situation.
9. The primary implications of RFT in the area of problems in living and the interventions extend from the three important features just described:
a. Verbal problem solving and reasoning is based on some of the same cognitive processes that can lead to psychological distress, and thus it is not practically viable to eliminate these processes
b. Much as extinction inhibits but does not eliminate learned responding, the common sense idea that cognitive networks can be logically restricted or eliminated is generally not psychologically sound because these networks are the reflection of historical learning processes;
c. Direct change attempts focused on key nodes in cognitive networks creates a context that tends to elaborate the network in that area and increase the functional importance of these nodes, and
d. Since the content and the impact of cognitive networks are controlled by distinct contextual features, it is possible to reduce the impact of negative cognitions whether or not they continue to occur in a particular form.
10. Taken together, these four implications mean that it is often neither wise nor necessary to focus primarily on the content of cognitive networks in clinical intervention.
a. The theory suggests that it is quite possible instead to focus on their functions.
11. RFT has proven itself successful so far in modeling higher cognition in a number of areas.
a. RFT researchers have successfully modeled analogy and metaphor, and shown that relational frames produce semantic priming.
b. Neurobiological measures tell the same story, in that complex RFT tasks generate pre-frontal activation as would be expected based on cognitive research on relational reasoning.
c. Similarly, brain activation patterns show that priming within arbitrary stimulus relations in RFT tasks is relational, not merely associative.
12. RFT is meant to be a comprehensive contextual account of human language and cognition and thus its goals extend far beyond the behavioral and cognitive therapies in general.
a. Because all of the key features of the theory are cast in terms of manipulable contextual variables, it has readily lead to applied clinical and educational interventions
13. TYPES OF RELATIONAL FRAMES
a. To a first approximation, relational frame theory is the extension of the equivalence class paradigm to all other kinds of relations.
b. A sample of the relations discussed in RFT includes the following ’families’:
1) Coordination – Coordination is said to be the most fundamental type of relation.
a) Coordination embraces relations of sameness, identity, and similarity, and therefore includes equivalence relations, “the simplest form of relational response”.
b) Similarity is said to be more complicated than equivalence:
c) Suppose a child is shown a cup and told “this is similar to a bowl”.
• Depending upon what the child already knows, more contextual cues may be needed to relate the term and the object reliably.
• ‘Is similar to’ requires a dimension along which two events are similar – that dimension might be:
– Purely verbal (e.g., “loathing is similar to hate”)
– An abstracted feature of the environment (e.g., “a cup is similar to a bowl because it can hold liquid”).
2) Opposition – Opposition is said to be more complicated than coordination in that classes of coordinated events can be in opposition to one another.
a) In that case, if A is the opposite of B, and B of C, then we might conclude that A and C are coordinated.
3) Distinction – This is a nonspecific relation common to any discrimination.
a) We learn that A is not B, but we learn nothing of the nature of the difference.
4) Comparison – Comparative terms, such as bigger, faster, weaker, less dense, shorter, and so on, apply when events can be arranged along some qualitative or quantitative dimension.
a) The number of such relations is indefinite and can be vague or specific.
• Vague: A is faster than B
• Precise: A is twice as fast as B and B is twice as fast as C’ allows a precise specification of the relation between all three elements of the network”.
5) Hierarchical relations – ‘A is an attribute or member of B’ is the general form of a hierarchical frame.
a) John is a man, is one example
b) Bananas are fruit another
c) Derived relations do not follow a single pattern but depend on the nature of the hierarchy
d) If A is the father of B and also the father of C, then B and C are siblings
6) Temporal and spatial relations -Events occur in time and space and are related in systematic ways.
a) If you are told that house A faces the back of house B, you could order the front and back doors of both houses into a linear sequence (back door of A, front door of A, back door of B, front door of B).
b) This is because front and back doors are relative to each individual house, and knowing the orientation of the two houses implies the more detailed information.
7) Deictic relations – Deictic relations are determined by the perspective of the subject, for example, left– right, here–there, and now–then.
a) These properties appear to be abstracted through learning to talk about one’s own perspective in relation to other perspectives.
b) If Peter is asked, ‘What did you do when you got there?’ he should not simply describe what someone else is doing now’.
c. Relational frame theory extends to embrace numerical relations and logic.
1) Consider the following number series: 1, 7, 13, 19, 25. ..
a) This series is said to exemplify the relation ‘plus six’, which we then apply to get the answer.
b) As for logic, it does not explain relational framing; rather, relational framing explains logic.
14. Because relational frame theory is an expanded paradigm, concepts appropriate to equivalence classes require modification.
a. ‘Symmetry’ becomes ‘mutual entailment’; if A is longer than B, B must be shorter than A (not longer than A, as symmetry would suggest). The relation is constrained, but it is not symmetrical.
b. ‘Transitivity’ becomes ‘combinatorial entailment’; if A is the opposite of B, and B is the opposite of C, then A is plausibly the same as (not the opposite of) C.
c. ‘Transfer’ of stimulus function becomes ‘transformation’ of stimulus function; if A is more than B, and B evokes one response on a key, then A will perhaps evoke more than one response on a key.
1) The point is that if A is related to B, then B must be related to A, but not necessarily in the same way.
2) If C is related to B, then C may also be related to A, but again, the relation may be complex.
3) Thus equivalence can be seen as a special case of a more general phenomenon.
15. WHAT A RELATIONAL FRAME IS
a. Distinguished non-arbitrary relations from arbitrary relations.
b. Arbitrary relations are of special interest, for they arise only from the practices of verbal communities.
c. The term ‘relational frame’ labels a class of such relational responses.
d. A relational frame is a specific class of arbitrarily applicable relational responding that shows the contextually controlled qualities of mutual entailment, combinatorial mutual entailment, and transformation of stimulus functions; is due to a history of relational responding relevant to the contextual cues involved; and is not solely based on direct, non-relational training with regard to the particular stimuli of interest, nor solely to non-arbitrary characteristics of either the stimuli or the relation between them.
1) Thus the term relational frame is not analogous to the term equivalence class; whereas an equivalence class is the term for a set of stimuli that control behavior in characteristic ways, a relational frame, is the term for the various behaviors that are controlled by equivalence and other relations.
2) The frame is not a set of related stimuli or a set of relational contingencies; it is a set of responses that relate classes of stimuli.
3) This distinction is fundamental and creates a wide conceptual divide between relational frame theory and equivalence class theory, as developed by Sidman.
16. In summary
a. Empirical findings indicate that subjects behave in conformity with this account.
b. There is a plausible inference that, given training with other kinds of relations between stimuli, even those that have not yet been thoroughly investigated, subjects outside the laboratory will label untrained relations in systematic ways without explicit training – this is an important phenomenon.
c. Much of what we deem ‘complex’ in human behavior reflects our highly adaptive sensitivity to, and rapid acquisition of, relational stimulus control.
1) In fact, sensitivity to relations is the central dependent variable in aptitude tests.
2) A plausible supposition is that sensitivity to relations accounts for much of the variance among people, as well as between humans and other species, in what we loosely call ‘intelligence’.
3) People with problems in living often arbitrarily relate two concepts in a manner that are not normally socially considered compatible
a) Such relational frames are often distressing
b) Such relational frames are learned
c) Such relational frames can be relearned by changing either the meaning of the relationship or the context – both of which devalue [delimit the emotional content] the belief