[spam] Re: Power in PCT

[From Bill Powers (2008.08.25.1223 MDT)]

Martin Taylor 2008.] --

When someone writes things like

our current disgraceful, disgusting, antidemocratic government.

I always imagine it is being said directly to the people being talked about.

That's something I usually try to avoid, no matter what I think about the person I am addressing. It's a cultural convention, to be polite and civil, a convention that tends to reduce conflict escalation.

Yes. But this means not only not saying such things face-to-face with the criticized subject, but making sure the subject never hears or reads what you said, directly or through some other observer. That's pretty hard to arrange, particularly here in this distinctly non-private conversation. I always feel uneasy when I violate my own principle of not saying anything about someone that I wouldn't say to that person. The safest way to avoid that error is not to want to say it in the first place.

"Frustrated" almost defines inability to control, doesn't it? Isn't that where the tantrums of a child come from? There obviously IS a point, or one wouldn't do it.

Yes, certainly. The point is to push back against a disturbance. That is what is happening on both sides of any conflict. You're frustrated because they do bad things that you want them to stop doing and they're frustrated because you keep saying they're bad when they think they're good and they want you to stop saying that (because they can't help halfway believing it).

As a theorist, you might consider just what perceptions are affected by the secret venting of frustrations, and whether it might be a symptom of pending reorganization or something else.

I think it's a sign of an internal conflict. See MSOB. You want to do something to correct an error, but for some reason you can't let yourself do it. For example, one side of your internal conflict would be saying "It's a cultural convention, to be polite and civil, a convention that tends to reduce conflict escalation." But the other is saying "Dammit, I want them to know how contemptible they are." As a result, you don't do either one as well as you might. You hold back from screaming in their faces, but you publish your opinion (in energetic terms) where the target might see or hear of it. If the conflict is severe, you don't even do that; you keep your mouth shut, say and write nothing, and lie awake at night full of anger -- or drown the anger in vodka.

Being in conflict is not pleasant. Normally the unpleasantness leads to reorganization and terminates the conflict. That's no problem. It becomes a problem when you get your awareness stuck in the conflict itself and reorganize the way you are pushing back instead of your reasons for pushing back: when you reorganize at the wrong level.

That's what I'm trying to write to Rick about (and learning a bit more every time I try). When you stay at the level of the conflict, where the pushing and the pushing back are happening, all you can do is make it more intense. Something in you has to step back and say "Wait a minute, this is a conflict and I'm just making it worse. How did we get into this? What is it I really want? What does the other guy (or the other side of me) want?" Just exploring those questions for a while, looking for what the answers really are, not theoretical answers or generalizations, but the actual answers, can very quickly make a huge difference. I've put on MOL demonstrations lasting 10 or 15 minutes in which a person resolves a conflict that has bothered them literally for years. I didn't intend to do that -- it just happened when I showed how we explore conflicts. I think all MOL therapists have seen this happen -- the patient who has been in one or another kind of therapy for years coming into the session after a good conflict-exploring one and informing the therapist, "Oh, by the way, I've stopped taking Valium."

There isn't anything deep or mysterious or magical about the method of levels. That's what I've been trying to work around to saying, with the help of Rick's skepticism and your clarifications and occasional slips. Trying to resolve the conflict at the level where it's expressed just doesn't work. Somebody has to look at why those reference conditions were set as they are in the first place. Otherwise the conflict will just drag on and on. When Rick really gets what I am talking about, he is going to blow his mind. Right, Rick?


Bill P.