Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

1st Tier’

Selfplex Defence Mechanisms

Updated: 23 February 2021 What the great Sigmund Freud termed ‘ego defence mechanisms’ are called ‘selfplex defence mechanisms’ in Integrated SocioPsychology. (The reasons for this are largely semantic: ‘ego’ has multiple meanings beyond the one Freud assigned it whereas ‘selfplex’ is used in a quite specific sense.) Freud’s Ego, driven by the Reality Principle, firstly works to restrain the Id (if it feels good, do it) where there might be undesirable consequences to the Id acting out its instincts. It then tries to balance out the conflicting demands of the Id and the Superego (do what it is right). The implication is that the we are largely unaware of the Id bubbling away in our Unconscious – except where it leaks out in parapraxes (‘Freudian slips’ of the tongue which reveal your unconscious thoughts and desires) and in dreams. Also much of the conflict between the 3 parts of the mind takes place below the surface of the consciousness in what Daniel J Siegel (2012) terms ‘non-conscious processing’. Consequently we may not understand why we employ the ego defence mechanisms we do. This concept of conflicts in the Unconscious is reflected in the ‘Iceberg Model’ – see graphic above – on the basis that, as with… Read More

Can vMEMES cause Clinical Depression..? #2

PART 2 The frustration of needs Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs (1943, 1971)  effectively describes the sequential levels of needs/goals of the emerging vMEMES. Eg: PURPLE wants to find safety in belonging; RED craves esteem; etc. As Maslow theorised mainly from case studies, rather than the kind of methodological research Clare W Graves undertook, it’s hardly surprising that his Hierarchy does not match exactly to Graves’ Spiral. However, the match is close enough  – see the Comparison Map – for us to consider Maslowian concerns and principles from the perspective of vMEMES. By doing this, we see not the ‘theoretical needs’ so often associated in a rather abstracted way with Maslow’s Hierarchy but living neurological systems within us desperate to be fulfilled. Maslow’s Hierarchy is looked upon by a number of psychologists as a guide to ‘ideal mental health’. In other words, if an individual is able to progress up the Hierarchy, with their needs met at each level, then they will move beyond the lower subsistence/deficiency levels and start to meet their ‘growth needs’ and eventually their ‘being needs’. According to Marie Jahoda (1958), Self-Actualisation – YELLOW in the Graves construct – is  a key element of ideal mental… Read More

Self-Actualisation/YELLOW #2

Part 2 Research on Self-Actualisation While Maslow conducted extensive biographical research and case studies of people he considered to be self-actualisers, his methodologies cannot be considered ‘scientific’. Moreover, his criteria for describing a ‘self-actualiser’ could be argued as highly subjective. He did not explicitly compare self-actualisers with self-actualisers. Nevertheless, his work has provided valuable insights the ‘being ways of thinking’. In his near 30 years of research, Graves did conduct investigations of a much more scientific nature and built on Maslow’s ideas, as did Jane Loevinger. Everett Shostrum (1963, 1977) developed the Personal Orientation Questionnaire to create a standardised approach to identifying self-actualisers. The results of scoring the questionnaire reveal the extent (high or low) to which a person self-actualises in their life. Michael Sheffield et al (1995) used it to find that those low in Self-Actualisation tend to have poor interpersonal relationships. Mark Runco, Peter Ebersole & Wayne Mraz (1995) found that creative thinking is more associated with high Self-Actualisation. L Thomas & P E Cooper (1980) found that self-actualisers are more likely to be open to experiences and accepting of those experiences. They are also more likely to recognise a ‘peak experience’ and to use such experiences to enhance… Read More

Theory FAQs

Click the question to go to its answer… 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? 2. What’s the difference between 1st Tier and 2nd Tier in the Gravesian approach? 3. What’s the difference between Integrated SocioPsychology and Integral Psychology and where does Integrated SocioPsychology fit in with the concepts of Integrated Spirituality? 1. What is the relationship between the Gravesian approach, Spiral Dynamics and Spiral Dynamics integral? Updated: 16/05/16 Just as the ‘Freudian approach’ is to do with the work of Sigmund Freud himself and/or developments of Freud’s work which adhere very closely to the principles of his theories, so the ‘Gravesian approach’ is to do with Clare W Graves’ research and/or developments of it. Spiral Dynamics was developed by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) from Graves’ work by linking it with the new science of Memetics developed by the likes of Richard Dawkins (1976) and Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (1993). They coined the term ‘vMEME’ for the Gravesian systems of thinking and saw them as attracting memes pertinent to the vMEME’s motivation. Thus, they extended Graves’ concept of his systems (themas) having preferred schemas. Beck & Cowan also colour-coded the levels to make them easier… Read More


Updated: 19 December 2016 ‘Selfplex’ is the term used by Susan Blackmore (1999) to depict ‘self’ effectively as the key confluence of schemas – ‘the ultimate memeplex‘ – which provides the concept of ‘I’, the cognitive awareness of who I am, how I think, what I feel, what I believe…why I am the way I am. Someone’s sense of identity or identities. The term ‘ego’ is widely used in Psychology and the other behavioural sciences as a cipher for ‘self’. It has even entered mainstream popular language in usages such as: “That’s egocentric” or “He’s got a lot of ego”. The very diversity of usages makes it too vague to use as a term for ‘self-concept’ – though it is often used in that context – which is why ‘selfplex’ is preferable. Sigmund Freud (1923b) used ‘Ego’ in a very specific yet cohesive sense. It is a force which attempts to balance the motivations of the Id and the Superego where they compete for dominance and restrains the more socially-unacceptable demands of the Id. This latter function can be seen in the way the PURPLE vMEME submits to the family or group to gain acceptance. Yet Freud also perceived the Ego as… Read More

A Biological Basis for vMEMES…?

Updated: 16 November 2015 vMEMES, the motivational systems identified in the Gravesian approach and termed such in Spiral Dynamics, clearly have to have a neurological basis. Whatever your views on Dualism and the ‘Mind-Body Debate’ – whether or not we think there is a ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ distinct from the brain – the motivational effect we recognise as the product of what we call a ‘vMEME’ has to have a concomitant pattern of neural activity. So where is it? Or: where are they…the 8 vMEMES identified so far from Clare W Graves research, that is? When Graves career’ imploded in 1978 (due to major health problems), CAT scans – the first technique for providing truly detailed images of the brain – were only just coming onstream and research into the brain was still relatively primitive. With exceptions such as the remarkable mapping of motor and sensory areas of the brain by Wilder Penfield – Wilder Penfield & Edwin Boldry (1937), Wilder Penfield & Theodore Rasmussen (1950) – research was largely dependent on invasive surgery on animals, post-mortems and cognitive and behavioural studies of brain-damaged patients. Early in the 21st Century, the technology to ‘look inside’ the brain is considerably more advanced… Read More

vMEME Stacks

Updated; 25 May 2016 In terms of Integrated SocioPsychology a vMEME stack is simply the spread of vMEMES influencing the selfplex and their strengthening and weakening – brightening and dimming, flowing and ebbing – across different domains of life and relative to the life conditions impacting upon the individual, group or organisation and what their focus is. In their 1996 book ‘Spiral Dynamics’ Don Beck & Chris Cowan introduced what became known as ‘the fried egg’ to illustrate how different vMEMES formed a stack. Always, of course, BEIGE is at the core. If BEIGE stops functioning, we lose our will to live! In the higher fried egg the person is primarily PURPLE-centred but with a large dose of RED and some emergent BLUE. This person is very likely to be narcissistic and family-oriented. With PURPLE dominating in that environment, family, in fact, is a huge part of their life. It’s quite likely that extended family – grandparents, cousins, aunts/uncles – will feature quite markedly on their social calendar. They are also likely to be very defensive of their family and family members. There may be other forms of belonging that are extremely important to them – eg: church/synagogue/mosque/temple, club, women’s organisation or work colleagues. This person’s… Read More

Integrated SocioPsychology

Updated: 20 December 1920 ‘Integrated SocioPsychology’ is the term I have coined for developing a highly-practical and integrated approach to the behavioural sciences… Integrated – the aim is to learn how all the elements of the behavioural sciences and the complementary ‘hard’ sciences’ of Biology and Neuroscience fit together to explain… Psychology – how and why people think and behave as they do in different contexts in different times… Socio – taking into account group dynamics and the influence of culture and the society people live in as those cultures and societies morph and change This page provides a basic overview of the Integrated approach and how the key models link together. More specific detail on the individual models is available on their linked pages. Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology are fractured fields of study, with several different (and often competing!) schools of thought and even areas of exploration. The history of the behavioural sciences is littered with disputes both between those competing schools (which are accepted academically) and also between academia and ‘fringe’ or ‘alternative’ approaches such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). The structure of an Integrated approach Integration is made possible by building the structure of SocioPsychology around the frame of… Read More

Has Vlad played a Blinder?

Was the Russian takeover of Crimea daring RED opportunism that took advantage of ethnic tensions in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea exacerbated by the new Kiev government’s apparent willingness to discriminate against ethnic Russians…? Or was it 2nd Tier-level strategic thinking that had been working towards this potential outcome, while balancing a whole load of other issues, and was ready to move when the time was right…? Last Summer I speculated Putin a 2nd Tier Thinker? and was rebuffed by some complex thinkers who saw Vladimir Putin more as a ‘wily’ RED-driven opportunist who seized his moment. Yet it has stayed with me just how tactical and strategic Putin was. He rescued Barrack Obama from the corner he had painted himself into with his ‘red line’ announcements about Syria and became the hero of the Summer by levering Bashir al-Assad into agreeing to give up his chemical weapons. Yet Putin’s solution allowed Russia’s client, Assad, to continue his brutal and ruthless war with conventional weapons. Syria only makes the headlines occasionally these days but the daily slaughter grinds relentlessly on. The West remains directionless and indecisive about Syria but increasingly less inclined to support the rebels as they become increasingly more dominated… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More