Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathology I: Setting the Social Constructive Stage

Four Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathology I: Setting the Social Constructive Stage

The successful attempts by these marginalized players to apply a new paradigm to the elusive anomaly can be effectively ignored – for awhile. Eventually, however, the message gets out that something “interesting” or even “important” is occurring in this backwater location by this backwater researcher or theorist. Gradually, there is acceptance of the ideas and practices embedded in the new paradigm and successful work with the anomaly. Expansion of the marginalized approach and answers eventually leads to a revolution. The new approach and answers become the new dominant paradigm. Many of the “old-timers” hang on to their precious but outmoded paradigm, but their time in the scientific spotlight has passed. They are now only acknowledged in the history of science textbooks. It is important to recall that Kuhn focused primarily on the physical sciences. He believed that psychology (and most of the other social and behavioral sciences) are “pre-paradigmatic”—meaning that they are operating at the present time without a dominant paradigm or (to be a bit more generous) are operating with paradigms that are frequently overturned or significantly modified.

In recent years, I have tried to expand on the important analysis offered by Thomas Kuhn. I have been aided in this effort by my work during the last decades of the 20th Century with a remarkable collaborator: David Halliburton. David was the member of multiple departments at Stanford University, having made significant contributions in such diverse fields as literary interpretation and philosophy. It is quite unfortunate that David passed away recently. He had much more to contribute to the many disciplines in which he operated. My work with David consisted mostly of consulting as a team with colleges and universities throughout the United States on curricular matters. We often found ourselves at the end of a long day of consultation sitting in a conference room with many sheets of flipchart paper hanging on the walls (I feel guilty about chopping down several trees during my years of working with David.)

During one of these end-of-day reflections in which David and I always engaged, we both noticed that diagrams drawn with magic markers on the flipchart pages were quite similar to the diagrams we had drawn on many other flipcharts working with different disciplinary groups in other educational institutions. We began to realize that there were three fundamental ways in which issues were being addressed by the academics with whom we were working. The first way was viewing their curriculum as a monad (a single theme or issue) from which the total curriculum emerged. The second way was based in dualism: identifying and building on a fundamental tension engaged in the field on which the curriculum was being built. The third way concerns a three-fold analysis (in the form of a triangle or lens) that led from clarify to diffusion and then back to clarity and then back to diffusion and so on.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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