Tea time

[From Rick Marken (931123.1330)]

Bruce Nevin (Tue 931123 10:58:10 EST)--

Here's a little story by a woman named Pamela L. Travers.


Annie only
imagines that she ought to please her mother, she only imagines that very
much undesired consequences will follow if she fails to please her.

I completely disagree with your analysis of the story about Annie, et al.
I don't think imagination need enter the picture at all. And your
attribution of Annie's problem to Mrs. Corrie misses the mark completely:

Mrs. Corrie discredits Annie's actions, then her thinking, and then her
feelings in swift succession. No matter what Annie does, or thinks, or
feels, she is wrong.

Annie's actions, thoughts or feelings can be "wrong" only if they are
controlled perceptions that do not match their reference specifications,
which are set by Annie herself. When controlled perceptions (of actions,
thoughts or feelings) are not at their reference level, they feel "wrong".
Annie alone determines what constitutes the "right" (and, implicitly,
the "wrong") states of the perceptions of her actions, thoughts or
feelings -- not Mrs. Corrie. Mrs. Corrie is Annie's problem only if she
is a disturbance to perceptions that Annie controls. Annie's problems
are not the result of "imagining consequences"; they are the result of
Annie controlling her own perceptions. Any conflict in Annie is a result
of how Annie has learned to perceive and how she has learned to control
those perceptions. Annie's conflict is created by Annie -- NOT by
Mrs. Corrie. Mrs. Corrie has no control over what Annie controls. Perhaps
Annie should go see Ed Ford.

I try to
explain that it was to demonstrate to Rick Marken that more controlled
perceptions are involved in communication between intimates than are
involved in anonymous communication, and that the perceptions that the
intimates have of their relationship matter a great deal to them. "Any
fool could see that!" she says. Among other things that she says.

Well, this particular fool (me) can see absolutely no relevance of your
little demo to my question about the number of variables a person is
controlling in any particular situation. In fact, I don't think it is
feasible to try to determine how many variables a person is controlling
at any time. Heck, it's hard enough to determine SOME of the variables
that a person is controlling at any time-- let alone ALL of them.

I have not carried out this experiment, and probably will not.

A wise choice. It is irrelevant and immaterial (as ol' Perry used
to say).

Four variations of a double bind and an example of countering it
(paraquoted from Paul Watzlawick, _How real is real?_ 18f):

Each one of these "variations" claims that something outside of the
individual is responsible for the individual's problem:

A significant other punishes one ... [so]... One learns to distrust
one's perceptions.

A significant other expects one to have feelings different from those
actually experienced... [so] ... One eventually feels guilty

A significant other gives injunctions that both demand and prohibit
certain actions...[so]... One can obey only by disobeying

somebody demands of another person
behavior that by its very nature must be spontaneous but now cannot be
because it has been demanded...[so]...`There is no way in which the
spontaneous fulfillment of a need can be elicited from another
person without creating this kind of self-defeating paradox.

It is difficult for me to imagine anything less helpful coming from
the mouth of a therapist.

It may be that there is less here than meets the eye

An excellent guess.

Looks like your cup is full of Paul Watzlawick, Solomon Asch, Gregory
Bateson, Don Jackson, and Jay Haley (to say nothing of Harris, et al).
Don't worry, the tea never gets cold and it keeps getting better; I'll
keep it steeping. If you prefer, when you want some, Bill P. can pour.



[From: Bruce Nevin (Wed 931124 09:50:51 EST)]

Rick, if Annie imagines that it is very very important to her to please
her mother, then that is so for Annie. If Annie imagines that in order
to please her mother (or in order for her mother not to be angry with
her) she must not take the initiative in serving the children
gingerbread, because that would usurp her mother's prerogatives and she
would be angry with her, then that is so for Annie. If Annie imagines
that in order to please her mother (or in order for her mother not to be
angry with her) she must take the initiative and serve the children
gingerbread, as a responsible young adult helping out in the shop, then
that is so for Annie. In Annie's perceptual universe, these are
realities. Your view of things as an outside observer and my view of
things as an outside observer and Ed Ford's view of things as an outside
observer might be useful in helping Annie and her Mother learn
differently. Or it might not. It kind of depends on them, and on what
they imagine about us.

Or perhaps you doubt that such ways of being stuck amid imagined
perceptions actually occur.

I agree with you that Watzlawick imagines that a linear causation
billiard-ball metaphor applies. Most people imagine so. Those S-R sorts
of ideas about people and behavior are demonstrably wrong. But most
people imagine they see the moon rising, most people imagine that the
floor underneath is solid and that the objects they recognize and
manipulate are solid and are separated by space, most people imagine that
in speaking or writing they are expressing and transmitting to others the
perceptions that they privately have and wish others also to have. These
imagined perceptions and a great many more are real for those who "have"

Annie is very unlikely to have a PCT understanding of things. Almost
certainly she, like most people, has swallowed a linear causation
metaphor hook, line, and sinker. In her perceptual universe, what she
does causes her mother's anger or kindness--she has no idea it's a
noncontingent punishment/reward setup. In her perceptual universe, what
her mother does controls her own emotional states.

In her mother's perceptual universe, this is so also. From what I have
experienced, in awareness, of this sort of thing, I guess that Mrs.
Corrie is controlling a (deluded, imaginary) perception of being
controlled by others. She doesn't want that ever to happen again, not
the way she (deludedly, of course!) felt herself manipulated and
controlled as a child. So she imagines that it is important that Fannie
and Annie not leave her. In her perceptual universe (and in theirs) she
can control them and by doing so prevents them from controlling her; and
it almost seems that she uses them to warn off other people from trying
to establish any kind of social relations with her. Certainly, she could
not run the shop alone, and anyone else coming in their stead might
control her, and she doesn't want that ever to happen again. So it would
appear that she needs them. Or at least one of them.

She is quite deluded in this, and so are they. They are "controlling"
hallucinations. These shared delusions substitute for a social life for
them. The prospect of more involvement with others frightens them. They
are recluses together. Good luck approaching them to help them. God
knows what they would imagine your intentions to be.

What would it take to disabuse them of this shared delusion? Everyone
they know shares the S-R parts of it. And actually they are very
frightened by the possibility of giving it up. Everything else has come
to seem unreal to the daughters due to chronic error and the buzzing
confusion that closes in on their awareness each time the web of
contradictions closes in (imagined, of course). In the daughters (not in
the mother), reorganization results in some bizarre tics and "behavior
problems," perhaps, even some changes in brain chemistry and neural
organization with perhaps seriously dysfunctional consequences, something
for the "medical model" psychiatrists to point to as they work on genetic
causes and chemical cures for mental illness, but these fundamental
agreements remain, a kind of anchor, even, because after all they agree
on them. And better the devil you know than the one you don't. They
have less and less to do with other people, except in the very limited
kinds of relations one has with customers in the shop. Their queerness
becomes institutionalized in the village or neighborhood, "Oh, that's
just the way they are. People are funny." Years pass. Corrie and her
old maid daughter Annie. Fannie married that lad from down Dorchester
way. Runs a tight ship, I hear.

Slice of life. A family heirloom of unguessed antiquity. But by no
means limited to dysfunctional communication patterns in families.
"Someday, my child, this whole herd of chimaeras will be yours." That's
what culture is, and why different cultures are so very different,
despite the individual people living in the same Boss Reality. But that
will appear meaningless, irrelevant, and immaterial (not to say
incompetent) unless you are first aware that denizens of different
cultures do live in different perceptual universes. Their delusions are
different from our delusions, and neither of us are very good at
distinguishing delusion from reality. But we try. And one idea I've
had, what really motivated me to go live in Greece as a teenager, was the
idea that if you really learn to be a member of a different culture, then
you might be able by comparing it and your growing-up perceptions to pare
away some of the delusions of each.

What teacup?