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

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

Practices, which are the third element in our tri-partite categorization, are clearly not social constructions. They are explicit and readily discussed. Alternative practices are always available, though the number of viable options might be quite limited if the underlying models and paradigm(s) are particularly powerful and compelling. The story is a bit bigger than this. The options are often limited, constrained and strictly enforced under conditions of pervasive and sustained anxiety–especially when there is pervasive uncertainty, unpredictability and turbulence. These conditions are common in our postmodern world (Bergquist, 1993).


In turning specifically to our analysis of the assumptive worlds of psychopathology, I suggest that the practice of categorizing and treating psychopathy is strongly influenced by several dominant models and paradigms operating in any society where the categorization and treatment of psychopathy is taking place. Furthermore, this categorization and treatment is taking place under conditions that are inevitably saturated with anxiety (psychopathy is disturbing and frightening for all involved). And the domain of psychopathy has always been filled with uncertainty, unpredictability and turbulence—long before we entered the postmodern era. We enter this domain in the next four essays and bring with us the tools of social construction identified in this first essay.


Argyris, C. and D. Schon (1974) Theory in Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bergquist, W. (1993) The Postmodern Organization. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Berger, P. and T. Luckmann (1967) The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Anchor Press.

Greenberg, G. (2019) “Psychiatry’s Incurable Hubris,” The Atlantic, April, pp. 30-32.

Kuhn, T. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Searle, J. (1997) The Construction of Social Reality. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Whorf, B. (2012) Language, Thought and Reality, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


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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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