[From Bill Powers (2008.08.24.0738 MDT)]
Rick Marken (2008.08.23.1850) --
> I think you're missing the point of the MOL approach to therapy. The
> therapist is not going to make, recommend, or direct any of the
No,I know that. But this is not therapy. This is improving society, of
which you are a member.
I have never met a society. Of course I have concepts of society, or culture, or The System, and so on, but those are concepts in my head, not real things outside me. All I ever meet are individual people with similar ideas inside their heads. Realizing that made a big difference in my life. That was one reorganization that I remember happening. I stopped being impressed by walking into big buildings.
When people behave in a way I don't like, my first impulse is either to get away from them and have nothing to do with them, or push them away, or try to get them to change their behavior.
Trying to do those things, however, is not very successful. Getting entirely away from people has serious disadvantages. Pushing them away immediately generates resistance or even retaliation, and of course trying to get them to change the behavior that bothers me creates conflicts with them because their behavior is their means of controlling their own experiences, most of which I don't know anything about. If I succeed in arbitrarily changing their behavior, I prevent them from controlling some of the experiences they consider important. They may reorganize and find other ways to control those experiences, but if they don't, or reorganize in ways I hadn't anticipated, I have just created more difficulty for myself. I don't remember when that reorganization of my thinking occurred, but it was long ago.
After much reorganization, over a long time, I came to understand that the only way to get along with other people is to do what I can to see that they are happy and satisfied with their lives. Happy and satisfied people are just a lot easier to deal with than unhappy and unsatisfied people. And I have found that when people solve their problems they seem to change their minds about a lot of things, so they usually change what they do that bothers me. I don't have to tell them what to change; apparently what makes them behave in ways I don't like is often a result of their attempts to resolve very difficult conflicts. A greedy, acquisitive, selfish person, for example, might be unable to get enough of anything, or enjoy anything once acquired, because of internal conflicts. When those conflicts are resolved, acquisition loses most of its appeal.
So that's one rather general description of how I reorganized.
With respect to abortion, the main problem that I can see is that we don't know whether aborting a fetus amounts to murdering a living, sentient human being, or to removing an unwanted bit of tissue that might one day become sentient. All the conflicts over this issue seem to result from people choosing one or the other position, for no good reason that I can see. If we knew that consciousness appears on the 136th day of gestation, there would be much less of a hard decision to make. But we don't know. Nobody knows. Yet people act as if they do know. That's what causes the conflict. They pick a side, then try to think up as many reasons as they can for having done so.
So I would be asking questions about the basis for picking one side or the other. Then we would no longer be talking about abortion, but about what the facts are, how a person discovers facts, why some facts are accepted and others aren't, what difference it would make if this fact were false instead of true, how we might find out what the facts are, and so on. In short we would go quickly to higher-level concepts and goals that apply to a lot more than just the abortion issue. Any reorganization at those levels would have a lot more effect than just finding a new way to argue about abortion.
Once people come to realize that they simply don't know when tissue removal becomes murder (prior to birth, that is -- after birth it's easier to decide) the issue changes. There's no point in arguing about abortion until we know the answer to the basic question. And of course certain other aspects of the decisions about abortion will change, which I don't have to spell out.
The point I'm trying to make is that when you turn attention away from the immediate conflict and toward the reasons for which the conflict exists, the nature of the problem changes, and solutions become more powerful and far-reaching. There's no way to predict what sort of solutions will arise, since reorganization is random and we just continue considering one idea after another, rejecting those that make matters worse and finally settling on the idea that makes matters better, at least for now. The way we recognize the right reorganization is through its effects on our error signals -- the error signals start to get smaller. If we already knew what would have that result, we wouldn't have to reorganize; we'd just do it. We reorganize when we don't know.
She had a problem so I suggested we try MOL and we did.
Now I am the world's worst MOL therapist and I thought we were going
nowhere; I was mainly listening,though she did discover what seemed to
be a conflict and I had her look at both sides. But after it was over
I figured it was just a complete failure but she texted me the next
day and thanked me for the very helpful session. I'm sure she still
has the problem but she says she feels better nevertheless.
This is typically how MOL sessions go. Nothing in particular seems to be happening, yet afterward people feel better and behave differently. This is why therapists trying this method complain that they don't feel that they're doing anything. Basically, the therapist is not doing anything to the client. The client is doing it all, inside where you can't see it happening.
Reorganization is not a conscious process. You can't say, "I think I'll reorganize my study habits." If you do then proceed to put your materials in order, get a good lamp in the right place, sharpen your pencils, and make out a study schedule, you have already reorganized and are simply using its result. The result of the actual reorganization was the sudden thought, "I think I'll reorganize my study habits." Before that reorganization, you couldn't start to organize your study habits. After it, you could, and did. You already knew what to do; you just couldn't get yourself to do it. Then you could. That's how reorganization, as opposed to rational problem-solving, looks.
The only influence you can have on your own reorganization is to point it at new areas in your mind. And to do that, it's very helpful to have someone looking over your shoulder and reminding you to pay attention as fleeting thoughts come and go. Once you do catch a background thought, you can't deliberately reorganize it; all you can do is keep exploring the new territory. If you're feeling a problem, reorganization will be going on. It might as well be working here as anywhere else. But you can't tell it what to change, any more than you can tell your mind exactly which new idea you want to have. If you knew which new idea you want to have, you'd have it already and it wouldn't be new. Think of the granting agency asking the applicant to state exactly what the proposed research is going to discover.
with a 3rd rate therapist like me. I think the success of this therapy
was simply that my daughter got to talk about her problems.
Well, that's an interesting theory. Could you explain how it is that arranging words into sentences and then uttering them has therapeutic effects? In my theory, the beneficial effects come from looking inside to see the answers to questions. Directing attention to both sides of the conflict requires that you occupy a viewpoint that is not identified with either of them (normally, you identify with one or the other pole of the conflict). That's probably a higher-level viewpoint, though you can never be aware of the viewpoint you're in (You have to get out of it; then you can see it). Reorganization happens to the viewpoint you're IN, not the one you're aware OF. You know it's happening when suddenly the things you're looking at, without changing, look different. They haven't changed; the perceptual system through which you're looking has reorganized. The prescription of your control theory glasses has changed. The conflict dissolves because the systems causing it, at a higher level, have reorganized. You may never know exactly how they reorganized -- to see that, you'd have to be yet another level higher, and remember how things were before.
success of MOL comes from something other than a person being happy to
talk about their problems with someone then I think it is important
that the nature of what happens that makes things better be described.
Golly, I can hardly follow such complex technical terminology: being happy to talk about their problems? How did they get happy when they were unhappy before? Is the happiness at a higher level than the problems? Does happiness cause reorganization?
What does a successful reorganization _llok like_. If it can't be
described in words then we have a bit if a problem. I do, anyway.
Perhaps you could try to see exactly what sort of description would be recognizeable as what you want. Then you can tell me about it, and I can try to comply.
> >It's nice that you'll help them but who is going to help you? Or don't
> >you need any help?
> Help doing what?
Help reorganizing so that you are part of the solution. I presume you
have some attitude toward capital punishment. Don't you have to be
included in the reorganization?
I can only reorganize myself, not anyone else. I can't even help anyone else reorganize. Even if I cause errors in someone else sufficiently large and protracted to cause reorganization to start inside that other person, I can't predict what the result would be. Even behaviorists discovered that: punishment is an unreliable way of improving behavior, though it certainly can cause changes.
I don't think you're ever going to get a solution that everyone agrees
on. We do the best we can to find generally agreed on solutions.
Does this mean that there's no point in trying to find a solution that (almost) everyone agrees on, and that there will always be a conflict between those who have agreed on it and those who haven't? Are you saying that you don't like to try to solve problems if you know, or believe, they can't be solved?
When I was in England I didn't hear any complaints about the fact that you
can't go to a public draw and quartering anymore. People change, even
if it takes a generation or two.
Yes, but why do they change? Could it be because they reorganize? And how is it that reorganization changes some things, but not others? Could it be that attention goes to problems, and reorganization follows attention? Is it possible to reorganize at the wrong level, and accomplish nothing but a change in HOW you have the same problem?
But I still don't understand how your approach will work. If we do a
group MOL session and find that someone's concern is that people freed
on DNA evidence might be pissed and dangerous so they should have been
killed before we found out about their innocence then we have to deal
with that conflict. And then when we deal with that conflict we have
to deal with the 1,000,000,000 other conflicts people have given any
other solution to that conflict. I'm just not seeing how your group
MOL approach to solving social problems is going to come up with a
solution any better than what is currently done (the political
process). I can't see how it will lower the net level of conflict,
whether the result is a policy that I or anyone else likes or not.
Well, I'm glad that you're finally realizing that you don't understand reorganization (or are avoiding applying its principles). Reorganization alters the direction in which you are changing; the speed of change is determined by the degree of intrinsic error. See the E. coli demo. An episode of reorganization alters the direction of change -- that is, the relative proportions of changes in each of the dimensions being reorganized. The speed of reorganization in the current direction goes to zero if the errors in all dimensions go to zero; then the organization that exists at that time persists. So reorganization is not a rational process involving logic, or an organized way of inducing specific changes. Add to this the apparent fact that the locus of reorganization -- the place in the hierarchy where the effects are the strongest -- is mobile and follows the focus of awareness or attention, and we have the roots of the method of levels.
If I understand the approach you recommend, you propose to use reason, logic, persuasion, threats of force, and all those other systematic modes of control that you learned through reorganization, as a means of changing the behavior of other people. That seems to imply a theory that people change their inner organization as a direct result of what other people say to them or do to them, rather than through any internal process of change. Apparently you are not including as an object of change the methods you acquired along the way; you just want to use your present organization, as it is, to get other people to change their organizations. Do I understand you correctly?
> So you think you can force a person's reorganizing system to come up with
> the solution that suits you rather than the other person?
No. I think you can persuade most people to accept better solutions.
But it can take a long time.
What happens when they already have a solution that is better than yours? Or are the ones you propose automatically the better ones? How is it determined that one solution is better than another?
I agree that the distance between advocacy and confrontation is not
very large. But I guess I'm just too dense to see why advocacy of
social policies based on an understanding of human nature -- policies
aimed at improving the general welfare; ie. improving individuals'
ability to control -- is very slow and uncertain compared to whatever
it is that you are advocating.
I think that internal reorganization systematically directed to higher levels has a far better chance of reducing error than using the existing organization of our control systems to disturb what other people are doing. In fact, I think that existing theories of why people change are not worth a teaspoon of used spit, if you'll excuse my use of technical jargon.
So, have I inadvertently answered any of your questions?