The Premise

“The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments. Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some of my colleagues, I shall have to take account of this clash and explain a good many of the divergences of philosophers by it. Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries, when philosophizing, to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions. Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him one way or the other, making for a more sentimental or hard-hearted view of the universe, just as this fact or that principle would. He trusts his temperament. Wanting a universe that suits it, he believes in any representation of the universe that does suit it. He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key with the world’s character, and in his heart considers them incompetent and ‘not in it,’ in the philosophic business even though they may far excel him in dialectical ability.” — William James

Like William James and his colleagues “in the philosophic business,” we “trust our temperament,” and “want a universe that suits it.” But also like his philosophic colleagues, when we interact with our colleagues, we try “to sink the fact” of our temperament. But, alas, and again like James’ colleagues, our temperament gives us “a stronger bias” than our “objective premises.” Yet more, we are prone to look upon those differing from us in being “of opposite temper” as “out of key.”

Though we may prefer to be seen as “objective” by pointing to “this fact or that principle” as our reason for pursuing a particular agenda, our temperament inexorably inclines us toward using particular methods to achieve particular results.

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Rational Maverick

Originally posted on Please Understand Me:

In Memoriam

It is the first anniversary of my father’s death.

david_keirsey_in_libraryProfessor David West Keirsey
(August 31, 1921 – July 30, 2013)

I always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library — Luis Jorge Borges

I was born into even a better paradise.  My father was wordmeister (a studier of words) and a personologist (a studier of persons), and a book reader: A Rational Maverick.  And I was just like him — well sorta’.  He was born in the 20’s and I was born in the 50’s.  Two ages of innocence:  he after WWI and me after WWII.

He had different upbringing than me, but we were of the same Temperament (Rational), Role (Engineer) and Type (Architect).  A kind of a natural science and engineering type of person: a nerd, in modern argot. I naturally graviated towards being a scholar in quantitative reasoning and the use of words

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The Revolution of Corrective Counseling

[Editor: This is one of the last pieces of my father’s writings]
[Editor: HyperLinks added]
[Pillars of Madness]

This revolution revealed to those who cared to look that every successful method of corrective counseling owed its success, not to the factor guessed at by its inventor, but to the unintentional “prescription of the symptom.” Logical investigation of successful methods invariably led to the same conclusion: each useful method in its own way entails “symptom prescription” as practiced by Milton Erickson. It was clear to those who studied Erickson’s method of encouraging clients to practice their symptoms under his supervision that Rogers’s reflection, Kelly’s role assignment, Stampfl’s implosion, Wolpe’s reciprocal inhibition, Ellis’s insane sentencing, Moreno’s role directing, Adler’s logical consequences, Berne’s permission, Glasser’s bite-sized assignments, Skinner’s rewards, Eglash’s restitution, and even Freud’s free association, each contained an inadvertent ingredient of symptom prescription.

The word ‘symptom’ takes on a special meaning in the context of social field theory. Physical disabilities are said to be “diagnosed” if and when their physical “symptoms” are detected. Distracting tactics are “diagnosed,” which is to say inferred, when their disconcerting symptoms are detected, the diagnostic task being that of determining what distracting tactics an “identified patient”—a client—is deploying when under threat of being found out as unworthy of care. Each client has a repertoire of distracting tactics for self defense—

▪ Idealists depersonalize self [flutter, swoon, sunder, sacrifice] to gain alienation
▪ Guardians demobilize self [complain, dawdle, moan, sigh] to gain exemption
▪ Artisans beguile self [defile, deprive, risk, disgrace] to gain deception
▪ Rationals besiege self [repeat, horrify, avoid, blank] to gain cancellation

It’s not too difficult to tell the difference between these tactics. Once we determine which is being deployed, then we can take over that tactic by prescribing it. So instead of prescribing the symptom prescribe the tactic.

But with a twist. Just as our clients must continue to twist family conventions, so must we encourage them to do so, not for their covert objective, but for our overt objective. Also, and equally imperative, not involuntarily. but deliberately.

The crux of the matter, then, is to take over purposeless-spontaneous behavior and reframe it into purposeful-deliberate behavior. But why? What is gained by this takeover and reframing of our client’s distracting tactics? The reason is that deploying tactics deliberately and purposefully cannot be in the service of the hidden aim of shame concealment, cannot, that is, serve as a defense. Nor can our clients’ claim that they can’t help doing what we told them to do. After all they agreed to and were therefore obligated to continue twisting whatever family convention they were in the habit of twisting. When a distracting tactic doesn’t work it is simply forgotten. That is, if it does not provoke a negative response on the part of family members, then it is of no further use. If using the label affixed to them by an official as a substitute for a confession to their hidden offense—unworthiness—no longer affords them an excuse to put off facing the tasks of living (no excuse needed since they’re required to act that way), then repeating the confession is no longer of any use to them. Both tactics, provocative twisting and substitute confessing, have been co-opted and thereby rendered useless.

Now, this is not to say that tactical takeovers and reframing are easy to do. They are not, even after long practice and careful redesign of takeover and reframing procedures. Moreover, we cannot rest our case with having taken over our client’s distracting tactics. Something else must be done, especially in severe and enduring cases. What that is, is that we must arrange for our clients to make a positive contribution somewhere in their own social field, a contribution that can serve as a platform, however narrow, from whence to start building positive self-regard, remembering as we should that it is negative self-regard that got our clients into a demoralized state in the first place.

Milton Erickson, William Glasser, and George Kelly, each in his own way, developed methods for encouraging clients to take small steps toward doing something worthwhile, such as to gradually make them worthwhile in their own eyes. To acquire this sort of technology the reader is advised to study the methods these men have devised, especially those found in the case reports of Milton Erickson.

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Defending One’s Self

DEFENDING SELF

EACH PERSON WANTS HIS OR HER WORTHINESS VALUED

IF IT IS NOT VALUED, THEN THE PERSON FEELS SHAME

WHEN A PERSON FEELS SHAME, THAT PERSON DEFENDS SELF

BY EMPLOYING A SAFEGUARDING ROLE AND A DISTRACTING RITUAL AND, IF LABELED MAD, THEN A DISARMING CONFESSION

1) Safeguarding Role

2) Distracting Ritual

3) Disarming Confession

SAFEGUARDING ROLES ARE ENACTED

DISTRACTING RITUALS ARE ENTRANCED

DISARMING CONFESSIONS ARE CONCEDED

ROLE ENACTING

TO ENACT A ROLE ONE PUTS ON A SHOW. ONE ACTS-AS-IF ONE IS NOT ONESELF, BUT SOMEONE ELSE, PRETENDING TO BE OTHER THAN ONESELF. ONE IS AN ACTOR, ON-STAGE, A SPECTACLE, SEEN AS AN IMAGINARY BEING, A SUBJECT OF INTEREST RATHER THAN AN OBJECT OF CONCERN. UNREAL, PUZZLING, MYSTERIOUS.

PRETENDING, ONE IS RELIEVED OF RESPONSIBILITY

RITUAL ENTRANCING

TO DEPLOY A DISTRACTING RITUAL ONE ENTERS A TRANCE STATE OF CONSCIOUNESS, AND REMAINS ENTRANCED UNTIL THE RITUAL IS COMPLETED. IF THE RITUAL IS INTERUPTED IN MID-COURSE, THE RITUAL IS STARTED OVER AT ITS BEGINNING, AS IF IT WERE NOT BEING OBSERVED. NOTE THAT THE ENTRANCED PERSON IS NOT PLAYING A ROLE AND IS NOT CONCEDING A CONFESSION, BUT, LIKE A MARIONETTE, IS MOTIONING IN OBEDIENCE TO ALIEN STRINGS.

ENTRANCED, ONE AVOIDS ABANDONMENT

CONFESSION CONCEDING

TO CONCEDE A DISARMING CONFESSION ONE SURRENDERS TO AUTHORITY. IN SO DOING ONE ADMITS THAT ONE IS PLAGUED BY WHATEVER SICKNESS AUTHORITY NAMES. ONE IS HELPLESS IN THE GRIP OF AN IMPLACABLE ILLNESS. ONE IS THE VICTIM OF A STRANGE DISEASE. THEREFORE NOTHING CAN BE EXPECTED OF ONE HENCEFORTH.

HELPLESS, ONE ESCAPES FREEDOM

RELIEF FROM RESPONSIBILITY, AVOIDANCE OF ABANDONMENT, AND ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM─THESE ARE THE HIDDEN GAINS OF SAFEGUARDING ROLES, DISTRACTING RITUALS, AND DISARMING CONFESSIONS.

FOR HIDDEN GAINS, DEFENSE IS UNDERTAKEN

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The Myth of Mental Illness, revisited

Excerpted from Dark Escape

The Myth of “Mental Illness”

Many medics and psychologists still claim that there are “mental illnesses” as well as physical illnesses. In the early 1960s Thomas Szasz unmasked the belief as the myth, and was promptly ostracized for his revelation, the doctrine surviving all attacks since that time. Hidden in the doctrine is the assumption that something is wrong with the brain of any person who is labeled “mentally ill.” If the brain defect is the culprit then all parties involved are relieved of responsibility—the identified patients, their parents, and the labeling authorities. If, on the other hand, there are no “mental illnesses,” as Szasz averred, then none of the parties escapes responsibility. Neither the identified patients, nor their parents, nor their labelers wish to be held responsible, so the doctrine of “mental illness” survives. All parties, including the identified patients, assume that the underlying brain defect is incurable, and so advocate the use of brain disabling drugs to limit the frequency and severity of the identified patient’s absurd habits.

Those with training and experience in corrective counseling know better. They understand, some more than others of course, that the so-called “mental illnesses” are social arrangements used to escape responsibility. So what they do is designed to encourage actions on the part of their clients, which will make them feel better about themselves. Demonstrating to their clients that they, the counselors, deem them worthwhile, is the first step, and a necessary step, to dispelling their feeling of worthlessness and the abiding dread of being found out. Valuing their clients as worthwhile individuals is implied in each of several powerful methods of corrective counseling that have been developed, most of them during the last half of the 20th century. Unfortunately the true believers in the doctrine of “mental illness” remain ignorant of these methods.

Hippocrates said to healers that if they cannot help their clients they can at least “do no harm.” Too bad that most would-be healers have no training in corrective counseling. To prescribe brain disabling drugs for their clients is to harm them, often irreparably. Best, then, that they put down their pretense that they can help people who use absurd habits in self defense, and pick up the practice of healing the body. Best also that they leave the correction of absurd habits to those who know how to do it. “Psychiatry” is dead, as it should be.

The Myth of Mental Illness

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The Premise of Madness

The Premise of Madness

The following is one of Dr. David West Keirsey’s last distillations of his work on “Madness”.  Even I forget that he even included the method of intervention.

“Though this is madness, yet there’s method in it” — Shakespeare

The Factors of Madness

Methodic — mad action is a means of defining interpersonal relations
Entranced — mad action occurs only when one is socially unaware
Nonsensical — mad action makes no sense to those present
Designed — mad action is precisely relevant to those present
Habitual — mad action is repeated often from time to time
Disguised — mad action is exclusively role playing
Staged — mad action occurs only on circumscribed occasions
Defensive — mad action protects the player from being found unworthy

A person who fails to live up to expectations can be demoralized, that is either depersonalized or demobilized or beguiled or besieged. Which one of these kinds of demoralization befalls a person is pre-determined by that person’s temperament. Born that way and a failure, the person’s own kind of madness follows.

Managing Symptoms

Just as are the symptoms of physical disease managed by prescribing surgery or drugs, so too are the symptoms of social conflict managed by prescribing role practice.

Since playing a defensive role is done automatically in a social context, supervised symptom practice in the absence of that context renders the symptom useless. The symptom practitioner is cooperating with a symptom manager, not defending against critics. Cooperative symptom roleplaying differs from defensive symptom roleplaying. Defense is entranced concealment of shame, while cooperative is entranced display of trust.

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My Father, The Greatest, and Of the Greatest Generation

David Keirsey:

My father is no longer with us, but I will blog some MORE of his material on his unfinished and unpublished work on madness.  He can’t tinker anymore, trying to get it more right.  It was the best he could do.  He was singular human: brilliant and flawed.   A Maverick.  Sui generis.

Originally posted on Please Understand Me:

He was My Father.

He died July 30th,2013 at 91.

I have many memories of him, some early memories have that misty, but warm quality, of the fifties, an age of innocence.

You kinda of realize things slowly.  Kids must learn.  Things emerge into your conscience.

I remember when I realized he was just a man around the time I was a young teenager, he wasn’t all powerful, he was human.  And later I realized what a man.  A Rational Man,  just like me.  And his ideas have changed many lives for the better.

And of course, he is of the Greatest Generation.  An American marine fighter pilot, who at one time was sitting on a carrier off the coast of Japan, ready to invade their homeland.  Not thinking of a future.  Then there was the news.. Atomic Bomb.  He now had a future, he could go…

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