(ab)uses of imagination

[From: Bruce Nevin (Tue 931130 10:53:42 EST)]

( Rick Marken (931129.1300) ) --

Bruce Nevin (Mon 931129 11:55:21 EST) --

Rick, Mrs. Corrie and her daughters are deluded, remember? They don't
know PCT. That is why I said

As Mrs. Corrie perceives the world, she must arrange for her daughters to
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ feel obligated to please her,
she must arrange that the means for pleasing her should be paradoxically
opposed, so that the girls can't actually carry them out to please her
and must suffer conflict that they cannot resolve.

I agree with you that (as PCT tells us)

Mrs. Corrie cannot arrange for her daughters to have a particular goal

without their complicity. I said that manipulation cannot be sustained
without complicity. I said that Fannie and Annie were complicit in their
own manipulation by their mother. I also described how this complicity
enabled them to control perceptions that (in their deluded state) they
wanted to control.

You agree with me about part of this, it appears, for you say:

She can do this only if, for their own reasons, the girls have adopted
the goal of pleasing her.

The girls are also deluded. They don't have the blessing of knowing PCT
either. They believe that they can control their mother's emotional
states. Each of the girls, through long practice of trial and error,
from their earliest childhoods, has determined for herself that when she
and her mother go through this sort of communicative dance, she
experiences the pain and confusion of conflict, her mother expresses a
kind of delight, and the "heat" is off for a while. Her mother may even
be "nice" for a while after--an hour, or a day, or a week, depending on
what's going on within her at the time.

As you sort out what's interpersonal and what's intrapersonal in this, as
you have begun to do, don't you see how the two kinds of conflict
(interpersonal and intrapersonal) are connected to one another? Annie's
expressions of affect are a CEV for mom; Mrs. Corrie's expressions of
affect are a CEV for Annie. Also for Fannie, but she stays out of it this
time; and of course Annie's expressions of affect are a CEV for Fannie,
and vice versa.

You acknowledge that there is both an interpersonal conflict and an
intrapersonal conflict going on here, but you APPEAR to claim that they
are not connected to one another:

[There is] an INTERpersonal conflict [in which t]he girls are trying to
achieve one goal (pleasing mom); they are not achieving it because mom is
(actively) pushing back. Mrs Corrie does share responsibility with the
girls for the existence of this INTERpersonal conflict

Mrs. Corrie had nothing to do with [...] Annie's
INTRApersonal conflict (trying to please mom by both exerting her own
independence and by deferring to mom's authority -- she cannot achieve
both by giving or not giving gingerbread). [...] this is entirely different

Notice that the visiting children are already frightened of Mrs. Corrie.
What if she is controlling her perception of them fearing her, as I have
claimed she is. It would seem that she is controlling this perception
successfully, and with every appearance that she is successful in
controlling other people's emotional states. Specifically, this appears
to be the case from her deluded point of view, from Annie's equally deluded
point of view, from Fannie's point of view, and even probably from the
point of view of the visiting children. They all share the delusion that
one can make another person have certain feelings. This should not be
surprising. It is a view that is widely held and commonly expressed.
"You hurt my feelings." "He made me mad." "Now you've made them happy."

It can hardly be any wonder that they overlook actual perceptions of Boss
Reality and substitute imagined perceptions, perceptions of a delusional
reality in which one person can control another. Fannie and Annie have
grown up as children having awesome responsibility for their mother's
emotional states, which we may surmise were important for them. Quite
deluded, of course. All wrapped up in imagined perceptions.

conflict (intra or interpersonal) is
always the result of controlling perceptions, not imaginations. In
fact, conflict can disappear when you control imagination instead
of perception. Imagination is not constrained by boss reality; per-
ception is so constrained; that's the problem. Annie could solve her
problem by imagining that she has exerted her independence AND deferred
to Mrs. Corrie's authority by giving the gingerbread. The actual
result of giving the gingerbread could be (and was) quite different;
only one goal was actually achieved by giving the gingerbread (exerting
independence); the other goal was not (Mrs. Corrie scolded Annie for
not deferring to her).

You are limiting consideration to lower-level perceptions. What the
dramatis personae here are imagining is not perceptions of gingerbread,
or perceptions of putting gingerbread into children's hands, or
perceptions of one another's facial expressions, posture, and words.
What they are imagining is perceptions of what these lower-level
perceptions signify. It is quite possible to control lower-level
perceptions quite successfully for a long time while being completely
deluded as to the significance of those perceptions.

Interpersonal conflict is almost always about the significance of things,
the obvious exception being cooperative physical movement in a shared
environment (moving a table together). Intrapersonal conflict can be
about either. Annie's conflict involves both the lower-level
perceptions, such as putting gingerbread into children's hands or not
doing so, and perceptions of the significance of those perceptions--being
independent, being subordinate, pleasing mom, being angry, being
delighted. Annie and Fannie have agreed, as children, to defer to mom's
interpretation (her perceptions of the meanings of things). Mom suggests
one obvious interpretation of their physical and social interrelations
with their visitors, Annie says she was going to do that, Mom
switches to another equally plausible interpretation. The two
interpretations of the significance of their situation appear to include
program perceptions that entail different actions. From this follows the
conflict of lower-level perceptions. Annie can't give and can't not-give
the gingerbread. Catch-22 (a famous example from literature).

Family patterns, community patterns, cultures, largely involve learned
attributions of significance to perceptions.

Therapy is difficult in part because the patient is in fact controlling
his perceptions as well as he knows how. He has never stopped being a
control system, after all. He's just deluded about some of his
perceptions, of the sort that are not readily validated or refuted by
boss reality--little things like the significance of something to him and
to others. As any handy Zen master will tell you, perceptions of the
significance of things are all imagined perceptions.

Not to say that's all we can imagine, not at all.

[Avery.Andrews 931139.1342]

Suppose you're on an exposed position
on a small boat, controlling for staying on the boat, and you see a large
wave coming. You cannot do anything about the wave per se, but you can
predict that it will shortly induce forces that will tend to interfere
with your goal of staying on the boat, so you have a bit of time to
take some action to increase your chances (hold on tighter, shift
to somewhere where you can to better at holding on, etc.). This
kind of feedforward is based on perception, as you point out, but not
perception of the thing that you're controlling for.

I remember big waves tossing the boat (or a boat) and making it hard as
hell to stay on. I imagine this big wave tossing this boat and making it
hard as hell to stay on. I remember and/or imagine holding on to
something strong and avoiding being knocked painfully against something.
I control these perceptions in imagination. While I control these
perceptions in imagination, I cast about for means for controlling them
in actuality, before the wave hits. This is of course a category
perception, "things to hold on to when in an exposed position on a small
boat, controlling for staying on the boat, and you see a large wave
coming." Looks like all feedback control to me. Who needs feedforward
or a category level when you have imagination. Sure, it can get you in a
lot of trouble if you neglect real-time perceptual input in favor of the
illusion of control. But it can be real useful too.

    bn@bbn.com (soon to be bn@lightstream.com, I think)