7th MOL example

Tonight I had a chat with a person named mydoor. We started talking
about the subject of pole vaulting. He described his experience taking
photos of his son pole vaulting. I asked him to imagine a disturbance
to this activity. I then asked him to describe the kind of person he
was based on his handling of the disturbance. We then got into a
discussion of the how person characteristics are formed. I then asked
him to go back to the original topic of taking photos of his son. His
discussion of this seemed more self-aware than it did in the beginning.
Perhaps this is a way to evaluate the exercise.

The chat is attached.

···

From: David Goldstein
Subject: 7th MOL example
Date: 1/21/98

--------------------------------------
       ICQ Chat Save file
Started on Wed Jan 21 20:37:16 1998

--------------------------------------
<mydoor> Hello
<David> Hello.
<mydoor> David
<David> Hello mydoor.
<mydoor> What can I do for you today?
<David> The exercise takes at least 15 minutes and requires your full attention. Is this a good time?
<mydoor> Yes but tell me what the exercise is for are you doing a paper or ???
<David> No, no paper. I am testing out the exercise on a random sample of people. I do it in my practice and on volunteers who I know. I want to see how well it works for a random sample.
<mydoor> validation purposes???
<David> yes.
<mydoor> ok
<mydoor> go for it if it gets too hot I'll let you know :o)
<David> Understood and agreed.
<David> We can start with any topic or subject or incident which you care to choose.
<mydoor> Pole Vaulting.
<David> OK. First I will ask you to tell me what you experience when you focus on pole vaulting. As you discuss it, a little, I will ask you to become aware of thoughts or feelings at the edge of your awareness.
<mydoor> Ok I feel Pride, exhiliration, tension and focus.
<David> OK. Can you describe a specific incident in which these experiences may have taken place recently or in the past.
<mydoor> Yes, our 21 yo son is a pole vaulter and I photograph him in competitions. All of the feelings come everytime I do this...
<David> Do you participate in pole vaulting yourself now or in the past?
<mydoor> Nope I am 6'3" 270 and they probably don't make a pole that could hold me...played a bit of baseball in highschool and in my younger days did some long distance running...eg 1/2 marathon...
<David> OK. As you watch your son and experience these feelings, what attitude or thoughts or opinions do you become aware of which are behind what you expressed?
<mydoor> thinking...That this kid is good really good(pride), physical flush of increased heartrate as he runs(exhiliration) tension as he plants, inverts and extends and focus at plant, inversion and/or extension because that is when I need to take the photos(execute my part of the activity)...
<mydoor> Is that what you're looking for?
<David> Yes very nice description.
<David> Would you have the same experience watching another pole vaulter doing this?
<mydoor> Not as much after all it's my kid...but do get some thrill mainly with the other kids when they do well...I really enjoy taking their pics too because their parents usually don't take pics or many times don't come to meets and they get very few or rarely do they get still pics of their jumps...
<mydoor> my feeling there is more of getting the pics and seeing their joy when they succeed...more distant?maybe...
<David> OK
<David> As we do this exericise, if I think that at the edge of your awareness is a background issue, I will call your attention to it and ask if it is OK to switch topics.
<mydoor> ok
<mydoor> don't sweat the spelling
<David> What is it like to take pictures of your son and the other boys, when you are in this role?
<mydoor> It is an exercise, it is focused because you (I) don't want to get blurry pics if possible, it is physical (diff contortions to get good pics), it is mechanical in maintaining position, and executing to get the best shot....it is a form of participation because I can not participate in the vaulting but can in the total experience and have a positive result that people enjoy.
<David> OK, very good descriptions.
<David> Suppose that someone said, mydoor, sorry, you are not allowed to take the pictures. What are your reactions?
<mydoor> feelings or reactions?
<David> More experience of this restriction? but also actions.
<mydoor> I'd probably consider what they said(literally) and if I was out of line say getting in the way I would back off...if not eg: I had the right to be where I was doing what I was doing I would challenge them...
<mydoor> I would probably feel a flush of anger if they were being unreasonable and understanding and possibly embarrassed if I were in the wrong place...
<David> Stepping back and looking at your answer, what do you think this says about you as a person?
<mydoor> thinking...
<mydoor> I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do unless there is a valid reason for stopping what I'm doing.
<mydoor> and I would stand up for what is right...and ?be embarrassed if I was wrong.
<David>
<David> Is this description of you one that you have always been aware of?
<mydoor> I would say to reverse the 3 points embarrassed, stand up and gonna do's and that would pattern my life/growth cycle.
<mydoor> is that clear enough for you?
<David> Yes.
<mydoor> some learned behaviors I am sure.
<David> OK. This last comment may be an example of a metacomment which peoople often make and which signals a possible higher level of awareness.
<mydoor> interesting
<David> Following the method of levels as the exercise is called, I would ask you something like: what is it like to realize that the way you are is learned behaviors rather than something else?
<mydoor> thinking...
<mydoor> That's a tough one...it feels like a pattern development and use of skills plus much life experience vs simply an innate sense...the realization comes from viewing my past when you asked the question you asked...
<mydoor> does that make sense?
<David> A little bit unclear. Can you say more or help me understand a little better.
<mydoor> I am struglling with the word realize...I just see it feel it and know it...I do believe there is an overall innerconnectedness to all living things and certain choices we make lead us down certain paths...but patterns are learned from experiences, I feel, and as you experience so you develop...
<David> OK, let me see if I understand. The way you are as a person is determined by the experiences you have had in growing up. If you had different experiences than the way you are today would be very different.
<mydoor> I would say may be vs would be...it is very amorphic
<David> OK. Given this belief of how your person characteristics came about, does this mean that you are a product of your experiences, like a piece of clay which is molded by life experiences and could become any way these experiences push you?
<mydoor> That is too definite...I would say that is one component...we all have self direction and responsibility for our actions...we participate in the"molding of the clay" and therefore are responsible for our form as much as the external forces pressing to mold us...not a abdication of I am the result of others and therefore not responsible for my actions, character or life and I have a responsibility to others to act and treat them well so as to help them in their development as they have helped (i guess harmed in some cases) me.
<David> OK, can we go back to the original topic of taking photos and relate it to where we are now?
<mydoor> sure
<mydoor> you want me to go?
<David> No. I just want you to mentally scan the distance we have covered from the original topic and where we are now.
<mydoor> I ment go as in go ahead?
<David> yes.
<mydoor> sorry bout that...
<David> yes, go ahead.
<mydoor> I am smiling to myself because at this point in time I am actively participating in a young man's (now there are female vaulters too) sport. and living vicariously through my son in enacting what he is experiencing and I never did...plus in thinking of the Pride part of it I know that I played a big role in where he is today...he is a scholar athlete, and in AF ROTC...and (we all know that they're not perfect) a good kid...which I feel is partly because of a decent family unit, morales and environment of nurturing many positives ...
<mydoor> am I getting off base?
<David> No, I don't think so. But at this point, I would like you to say what you thought of the exericise?
<mydoor> thinking...It really allowed me to grind the ole gray matter a bit but did not really tell me or better I didn't feel I discovered much new...
<mydoor> did you have some thoughts to share (guess I am looking for some objective insite and validation) also I don't try going too deep into my personal psyche very often...it's like filleting a fish ya can't just go so far if ya wanna good meal ya gotta do it all the way...
<David> Fair enough. i like this. I agree that maybe more of this type of exercise might result in more awareness.
<mydoor> Its like dating....I don't kiss on the first date as a gal might say.
<mydoor> fair enough.
<David> OK. But you did well. You seem like a great father and have a lucky son.
<mydoor> 2 lucky sons you only met one of them...A lot of people have made the comment that I am good with children (even in their snarly teens) heh heh heh.
<David> If we were going to follow the exercise, I would ask you: What is it like for you when people say you are good with children? But I have to stop at this point.
<David> May I save the buffer and show others who are involved in this project the conversation we had?
<mydoor> Like?
<mydoor> wwhom?
<David> There is a group of people interested in Perceptual Control Theory, from which the method of levels derives, who are interested in seeing how it works in practice.
<mydoor> So does this mean you were in control, I was in control or perceptual Control Theory is a form of development and cognecinse(spelling yuck) sorry I cant spell the word without a dictionary :o)...
<David> I think you were in control of this exercise. My role was simply to help you think about the things you were saying. I think that
<mydoor> aaahhh will I get some kind of report?
<David> If you want, I will email you a copy of the comments I receive from our conversation?
<mydoor> What we discussed or the results of your group assessment?
<David> The comments that we get about the specific conversation. One of the principles of the approach of Perceptual Control Theory is that it is best to study one person at a time in depth rather than to group people .
<mydoor> I agree with that.
<David> So, do I have your permission to save the buffer?
<David> I can delete the physically identifying information you mentioned in the beg
<mydoor> As long as its private meaning that identification of the donor etc...is not disclosed...no I mean you won't publish my name etc...I don't care about the physical descriptions etc...
<David> No. You mean the nickname mydoor?
<mydoor> I forgot my real name isn't in here eh? sorry
<David> True.
<mydoor> go for it.
<David> Thanks a lot. I will say goodnight now.
<mydoor>
<David> How do I do this?
<mydoor> ok if you wish put me on your address book etc if not its been nice...
<David> OK.
<David> Very good.
<David> Yes, feel free.
--------------------------------------

[From Bill Powers (980122.0723 MST)]

From: David Goldstein
Subject: 7th MOL example
Date: 1/21/98

Tonight I had a chat with a person named mydoor. We started talking
about the subject of pole vaulting. ...

The chat is attached.

I had some problems with this chat.
...

<David> OK. First I will ask you to tell me what you experience when you
focus on pole vaulting. As you discuss it, a little, I will ask you to
become aware of thoughts or feelings at the edge of your awareness.
<mydoor> Ok I feel Pride, exhiliration, tension and focus.
<David> OK. Can you describe a specific incident in which these

experiences >may have taken place recently or in the past.

MOL is a present-time process -- that is, the point is to get the person
observing what's going on right now rather than recounting memories. Asking
for a previous incident takes the person out of present time. I would put
it more like this:

When you think about your son's pole vaulting right now, do you get these
feelings?

If he answers yes, the subject becomes these feelings: tell me more about
how it feels -- are there particular thoughts that go with these feelings,
particular attitudes? Are there sensations in your body?

I know that in many psychotherapies, the focus is on incidents in the past
which are thought to hold the key to psychological problems. But that is
not what the MOL is about: it is strictly an exploration of present-time
thoughts, attitudes, etc. that are occuring during this session, right now.
If the person spontaneously turns to memories, that's fine -- the focus is
still on what the person thinks or feels about these memories right now.

You actually do end up back in present time, but not until after a digression:

<mydoor> Yes, our 21 yo son is a pole vaulter and I photograph him in

competitions. All of the feelings come everytime I do this...

<David> Do you participate in pole vaulting yourself now or in the past?

Why are you asking this question? Do you have some theory that this man is
living vicariously through his son? Even if it's true, this idea is not
part of the MOL. The point is not to analyze or diagnose, but simply to
explore present thoughts.

<mydoor> Nope I am 6'3" 270 and they probably don't make a pole that could

hold me...played a bit of baseball in highschool and in my younger days did
some long distance running...eg 1/2 marathon...

<David> OK. As you watch your son and experience these feelings, what

attitude or thoughts or opinions do you become aware of which are behind
what you expressed?

Now you're back to present time, and you get a present-time description
just like what we want:

<mydoor> thinking...That this kid is good really good(pride), physical

flush of increased heartrate as he runs(exhiliration) tension as he plants,
inverts and extends and focus at plant, inversion and/or extension because
that is when I need to take the photos(execute my part of the activity)...

<mydoor> Is that what you're looking for?

The kernel of this is "Thinking ... that this kid is really good (pride)
... my part of the activity."

<David> Yes very nice description.

That is an evaluative statement: it asserts your own opinions, your
judgment of the other person's statement. It puts you into a role different
from that of just guiding the exploration.

<David> Would you have the same experience watching another pole vaulter

doing this?

You're fishing for something here, perhaps some unconcious bias or coloring
of his judgment because it's his kid: his pride is not because the kid is
really good. "Mydoor" lets you know immediately that the implications of
your question are understood and rejected:

<mydoor> Not as much after all it's my kid...but do get some thrill mainly
with the other kids when they do well...I really enjoy taking their pics
too because their parents usually don't take pics or many times don't come
to meets and they get very few or rarely do they get still pics of their
jumps...

<mydoor> my feeling there is more of getting the pics and seeing their joy

when they succeed...more distant?maybe...

The problem with making these evaluations and trying to guess at motives is
that you miss the message and lose the thread:

<David> OK
<David> As we do this exericise, if I think that at the edge of your

awareness is a background issue, I will call your attention to it and ask
if it is OK to switch topics.

<mydoor> ok
<mydoor> don't sweat the spelling
<David> What is it like to take pictures of your son and the other boys,

when you are in this role?

He's already told you that the point is feeling pride and playing a part in
the activity. That would have been the step toward the next level.

<mydoor> It is an exercise, it is focused because you (I) don't want to

get blurry pics if possible, it is physical (diff contortions to get good
pics), it is mechanical in maintaining position, and executing to get the
best shot....it is a form of participation because I can not participate in
the vaulting but can in the total experience and have a positive result
that people enjoy.

<David> OK, very good descriptions.

Evaluation again. Evaluation is not necessary or helpful.

<David> Suppose that someone said, mydoor, sorry, you are not allowed

to take the pictures. What are your reactions?

I think this is to be avoided. You're breaking off the thread here and
looking for some PCTish information that hasn't been mentioned. Mydoor
tries to cooperate as well as he can, but by arbitrarily switching topics
you've confused him:

<mydoor> feelings or reactions?
<David> More experience of this restriction? but also actions.
<mydoor> I'd probably consider what they said(literally) and if I was out

of >line say getting in the way I would back off...if not eg: I had the
right to >be where I was doing what I was doing I would challenge them...

<mydoor> I would probably feel a flush of anger if they were being
unreasonable and understanding and possibly embarrassed if I were in the
wrong place...

Now we're on different subjects at the same level as before. What has
happened to pride and participation?

<David> Stepping back and looking at your answer, what do you think this
says about you as a person?

Does any of this say anything about him as a person? Or is that your own
opinion? You're telling him that what he has been saying says something
about him as a person, and now he has to try to guess what it is. And he
has to justify himself to you, which isn't the relationship we want in MOL.
I don't think that "myself as a person" would have been the next topic --
that's asking for too much too soon, in my opinion.

This session was rather a bumpy ride. It would have gone more smoothly if
you had taken just what he gave you, without trying to guess at motivations
and without trying to make your own points. My guess is that there is some
conflict between the "plain vanilla" MOL and the things your long
experience has led you to do in a therapy session.

I wonder whether you're searching for "bad" things, and not asking about
"good" things (like pride). The tendency in therapy is to go after the
problems. But in the MOL, we just want to know what the next level up is,
bad or good. Such evaluations are not for the guide to make.

All these technical points notwithstanding, I think there were a couple of
level shifts in this session, and that "mydoor" did get some added
understanding out of it. I understand that this is all practice, and that
it takes time and experience to catch the passing remarks and see them as
oppportunities. I hope my comments don't come across as derogatory.

Best,

Bill P.

Bill said:
MOL is a present-time process -- that is, the point is to get the person
observing what's going on right now rather than recounting memories.

My answer:
If he told me what was going on right now, he would give me a
description of his computer, the room it is in, etc.. Unless, of
course, as he was talking he was experiencing his son pole vaulting.
So, I really don't understand this point. Isn't thinking, remembering
and imagining all in the imagination mode which is based on memory?

Bill remarked:
<David> Do you participate in pole vaulting yourself now or in the past?

Why are you asking this question? Do you have some theory that this man
is living vicariously through his son? Even if it's true, this idea is
not part of the MOL. The point is not to analyze or diagnose, but simply
to explore present thoughts.

I don't remember. No theory. Just want to know his experience with
pole vaulting. I know that as I watch my daughter play tennis, that my
own experience with tennis influences my experience.

Bill remarked that making comments like "very nice description" was not
part of MOL. If you notice, mydoor asked me whether this is what I
wanted. He wanted confirmation that he was doing what he was supposed
to be doing. I was simply giving him confirmation. Plus, I was
impressed with his verbal descriptions.

Bill objected to my question:
Would you have the same experience watching another pole vaulter
doing this?

My answer: If he told me that his experience is the same regardless of
who he photos pole vaulting then I know that his relationship to the
person doing the pole vaulting is unimportant.

Bill guessed:
My guess is that there is some
conflict between the "plain vanilla" MOL and the things your long
experience has led you to do in a therapy session.

My answer: Probably true. Although I don't experience it as a
conflict. I do have in mind Experiential Psychotherapy (steps 1 and 2).
And EMDR Therapy(the positive and negative cognition questions). And
Solution Focused Therapy.

Actually, my favorite frozen Yogurt is plain French Vanilla.

Finally, Bill said:
All these technical points notwithstanding, I think there were a couple
of level shifts in this session, and that "mydoor" did get some added
understanding out of it. I understand that this is all practice, and
that it takes time and experience to catch the passing remarks and see
them as oppportunities. I hope my comments don't come across as
derogatory.

My answer: No, I understand that you want me to be plain vanilla MOL.
Other readers of CSG-L are gaining a better understanding of what this
means as I do. There are times when I feel stuck, and don't know what
to say next. If I am not noticeing any background issues, and the
person is not spontaneously noticeing any background stuff, I guess the
thing is to ask the person to fill out the foreground issues more
completely. Or, what would you suggest?

Actually, Bill, I appreciate the coaching and am willing to continue as
long as it seems worthwhile for all of us.

···

From: David Goldstein
Subject: Re:7th MOL example; Bill Powers (980122.0723 MST)
Date: 1/22/98

[From Bill Powers (980122.1435 MST)]

From: David Goldstein
Subject: Re:7th MOL example; Bill Powers (980122.0723 MST)
Date: 1/22/98

Bill said:
MOL is a present-time process -- that is, the point is to get the person
observing what's going on right now rather than recounting memories.

My answer:
If he told me what was going on right now, he would give me a
description of his computer, the room it is in, etc.. Unless, of
course, as he was talking he was experiencing his son pole vaulting.
So, I really don't understand this point. Isn't thinking, remembering
and imagining all in the imagination mode which is based on memory?

Right, and I said that if the person spontaneously refers to a memory,
that's fine. But the point is not what happened THEN; it's what he's
thinking about it NOW.

... I understand that you want me to be plain vanilla MOL.
Other readers of CSG-L are gaining a better understanding of what this
means as I do. There are times when I feel stuck, and don't know what
to say next. If I am not noticeing any background issues, and the
person is not spontaneously noticeing any background stuff, I guess the
thing is to ask the person to fill out the foreground issues more
completely. Or, what would you suggest?

Actually, Bill, I appreciate the coaching and am willing to continue as
long as it seems worthwhile for all of us.

I appreciate your tolerance. When you aren't seeing the background issue,
you aren't seeing it. Happens all the time. As you say, the best thing is
just to keep the person talking. Or if you're really having an off day,
admit it and quit. I did that at a CSG meeting in front of 30 people. It's
not so terrible. Sometimes the "third ear" gets clogged.

Best,

Bill P.