Glasser and PCT

from Ed Ford (930529:2300)

To Dag, Rick, Tom, Chuck, et al

I was a member of the Institute For Reality Therapy for about 12 years,
from 1969, when I first had a workshop under Glasser, till I resigned
from the organization because Glasser's ideas on Control Theory were
different from what I thought Bill was saying. I joined the CSG (in its
embrynoic state) and struggled to learn PCT over many years.

At the 1989 Reality Therapy convention, Diane Gossen gave a presentation
on what others were teaching in control theory. Glasser was in the
audience and so was a friend who taped the entire session. It was from
Glasser's comments during this session that I learned how little he
understood PCT. Rather than go into lengthy discussions about what he
has written (Dag has done a great job), I would suggest the following
comments on what he said of PCT. Bill Powers & I discussed this
several years ago, and I think much of what we reviewed still continues
as a misunderstanding of PCT by Glasser today.

First, Glasser's idea of control theory is my idea of cognitive theory.
When he uses the term behavior, he means output. He doesn't understand
the closed loop system. When asked during Diane's presentation when
output becomes input he gave the following explanation which shows a
complete misunderstanding. "All you control is your perception. Your
behavior is your attempt to control your perception. All we'll do all
of our life is behave. Nothing goes on from conception to death except
behavior. The only way that the behaving organism becomes aware of the
behavior is through its ability to perceive which is input. You can go
through all kinds of outputs all the time but what they are saying is
that the only time you become aware of it is through input. If I walk
down the hall way and I bump into him and knock him down but I'm not
aware of it, and he could come up and say I knock him down, but it I'm
not aware of it I could deny that I knocked him down. The point is you
are only aware of what you perceive. That sounds very simple but that's
a very complicated concept. We are only aware of behavior as we are
capable of perceiving it." Obviously, he sees input as when we become
aware of our acitons. Remember, Glasser's baby is reality therapy. A
key in Reality Therapy is to ask people "what are you doing?" For
Glasser, getting them to perceive their behavior (or output or actions)
is what control of perception is all about. If you understand Reality
Therapy, then his thinking becomes logical. After he became exposed to
PCT, he added "What do you want?" to his counseling strategy. He had
always asked clients "What are you doing?" which is to get them to
perceive their behavior (or output). Reality Therapy is basically What
Do You Want, What are You Doing, and is what you are doing getting you
what you want. What PCT did was give Glasser the idea of asking "What
Do You Want? which wasn't part of the original Reality Therapy. When
people were asked to compare what they were doing with what they wanted,
Glasser saw this as "getting people to perceive their behavior and thus
take control of it. Thus, for Glasser, Behavior was the control of
perception. So it was all very logical for him and thus his complete
misunderstanding of what Powers meant by Behavior: The Control Of
Perception. .

Thus, Glasser's thinking is still very linear. He absolutely does not
understand the concept of controlling input. For him behavior is our
actions or output. He doesn't understand that we compare our internal
goals or wants with present input or the controlled variable. He
doesn't understand our actions or output oppose distrubances such
that the controlled variable can be favorably compared with the
desired goals or wants.

There are lots of other aspects of PCT he doesn't understand.
Earlier in the same lecture, Glasser says "for them the needs are
disturbances." He views feelings (as Dag mentioned) as a behavior
(remember that behavior to Glasser is output or our actions). In his
letter to me (telling me I didn't understand PCT ((which at the time I
didn't)) but neither did he) he said "leave perceptions alone, leave
perceptions to the theorists." His thinking is muddled, and certainly
has no relationship to PCT except that he uses the name. He doesn't
think we can focus at any specific level in the hierarchy.

I must admit (if it isn't already obvious) my own disgust. I've watched
Bill Powers over the many years we've been friends. He has devoted his
life to building and patiently teaching others a very complex but highly
facinating theory. It has had a profound impact on my life and the
lives of those whom I've tried to help. Glasser comes along, takes this
concept, keeps the name, and totally distorts the concept until it has
no relationship to what Powers has been teaching. It's as if I took the
concept of Reality Therapy, changed the fundamentals completely, taught
it and wrote about it, yet continued to call it reality therapy.

In my opinion, Glasser has set our attempts to teach PCT back ten or
more years. Tom Bourbon once told me that when his peers heard Glasser
speak on Control Theory at his university, they laughed at the concept.
Glasser taught me a great deal about counseling and I learned many, many
techniques from him. But I could not remain in good conscience with
someone who I believed was distorting PCT and then teaching it,
eventually, as a lot of his own thinking and still calling it control
theory. That's just wrong, that's all.

Rick Marken (930527.0830)

But Glasser's out there in the trenches, isn't he?

No way. He is on the lecture circuit. He is surrounded by lots of
people who don't disagree with him. They learn what his latest thinking
is and teach it. I never heard him back down and admit anyone else was
right in the 12 or more years I knew and worked with him.

Tom Bourbon (930528.0922)

...being open, like expressing interest, may be a necessary step in
learning about PCT, but it is not a sufficient one.

I guess I used the wrong word, Tom, or perhaps I should have qualified
it. Many have purchased some of our books (Powers, Robertson, and
Marken's books). Some have joined our organization, some expressed an
interest in the net. But what seems genuine about them is there
continued interest to learn and, in some cases, their ability to explain
the basic concepts, using their own examples. They were not trying to
defend a position, but were just basically interested. I guess one
difference is that I continue to hear from them and they continue to
show an interest. I must admit, though, I have run in to some who are
rather closed minded, but they are in the minority.

Best, Ed

Ed Ford 5913466@MCIMAIL.COM
10209 N. 56th St., Scottsdale, Arizona 85253 Ph.602 991-4860

[from Mary Powers 9410.31 boo!]

Brian Hartman [9410.30]

Welcome to the horse's mouth. You are the most recent of a number
of people who first ran across control theory by reading Glasser.
I hope the following is helpful.

1. William Glasser ran across control theory in about 1980. He
wrote a book, Stations of the Mind (1981) after having read Bill
Powers' Behavior: the Control of Perception, then spending a day
talking with him, and following that up with phone calls every
few weeks for a year or so.

2. Glasser is convinced that what he has done is expand and
clarify control theory. He hasn't - he still thinks of behavior
as that which is controlled rather than as the means by which
perceptions are controlled. The control of perception is the main
sticking point in understanding control theory, and Glasser, like
many others, doesn't get it.

3. Besides Powers' BCP (above) (Aldine/DeGruyter, 1973), I would
suggest Gary Cziko, Purposive behavior as the control of
perception, Educational Researcher, 21, 9, p 10-18 (1992), and,
for a non-technical introduction that is really up your alley,
Edward E. Ford, Discipline for Home and School: teaching children
to respect the rights of others through responsible thinking
based on Perceptual Control Theory (available from Brandt Pub.,
10209 N. 56th St, Scottsdale AZ 85253 for $10.00 plus $3.50 s&h).

Come back on the net any time with questions, comments, etc.

Mary P.