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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Vulnerability to Stress

Updated: 11 April 2020 Clearly some people become stressed more easily than others and some have the experience of stress – fight or flight  – more strongly than others. So what are the factors that influence these phenomena? A vMEMETIC approach One way of looking at this is to take a Maslowian viewpoint – ie: people have needs and having those needs unfulfilled causes stress. The vMEMES identified via the work of Clare W Graves are then the drivers to fulfil those needs. Of course, Graves held that motivational systems (vMEMES) emerge in symbiotic interaction with the life conditions in the environment – an internal response to external stressors and almost certainly the first emergence of a vMEME is an example of epigenetic modification. Graves’ position has been upheld completely by Chris Cowan (2004). However, Don Beck (2002a), with his concept of the prime directive, does imply that there is a maturational factor in the emergence of vMEMES. He has not said explicitly that vMEMES are programmed to emerge in sequence as someone develops through life, irrespective of the life conditions; but the implication that maturation matters is inescapable. The position Beck appears to be working towards is perhaps best represented… Read More

Suicide? #2

  PART 2 The social construction of suicide Scientific and quantitative methods are completely rejected by some Phenomenologists. J Maxwell Atkinson (1978) does not accept that a ‘real’ rate of suicide exists as an objective reality waiting to be discovered. According to Atkinson, behavioural scientists who proceed with this assumption will end up producing ‘facts’ on suicide that have nothing to do with the social reality they seek to understand. By constructing a set of criteria to categorise and measure suicide – in scientific language, by operationalising the concept of suicide – they will merely be imposing their ‘reality’ on the social world. This will inevitably distort that world. As Michael Phillipson (1972) observes, the positivistic methodology employed by Durkheim and other researchers “rides roughshod over the very social reality they are trying to comprehend”. Suicide is a construct of social actors, an aspect of social reality. Official statistics on suicide, therefore, are not ‘wrong’, ‘mistaken’, ‘inaccurate’ or ‘in error’. They are part of the social world. They are the interpretations, made by officials, of what is seen to be unnatural death. Since, Phillipson argues, the object of Sociology is to comprehend the social world, that world can only be understood… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More

The Biological Impetus to Attachment

 Updated: 31 March 2017 The largely complementary attachment theories of John Bowlby (1969) and Rudolph Schaffer (Rudolph Schaffer & Peggy Emerson, 1964; Schaffer, 1996) mostly focus on the conscious cognitive and affective aspects of the formation of an attachment bond between the child and its primary caregiver (usually the mother), being in broad agreement that this is usually in place by the time the child is 6-7 months old. However, Bowlby (1958) was convinced that there existed an innate drive to attachment between child and mother and that this was adaptive. For evidence from an Evolutionary perspective, Bowlby was initially dependent on animal studies of imprinting such as those of Konrad Lorenz (1935). Lorenz had shown that animals such as geese and ducks imprint on the first thing they see after breaking the egg and treat it as their ‘mother’. (Famously, Lorenz got greylag goslings to imprint on his wellington boots, after which they would follow him around when wearing them!) Lorenz proposed that imprintability is genetically switched on and then switched off, effectively anticipating the development of Epigenetics. From this, Stephen Lea (1984) proposed that instinct gives the gosling chicks the concept or template of the mother but the environment has to supply… Read More

Of Components and Tiers…

by Don Beck June 2003 Spiral Dynamics co-developer Don Beck is occasionally prone to post what effectively amount to teach-ins or mini-lectures on the Spiral Dynamics e-lists. This is an extract from one such posting in 2003. You can e-mail Don or visit the Spiral Dynamics Integral website to find out more about his work. The 3 Components The Gravesian/Spiral Dynamics/SDi framework tracks the relationships among 3 essential components:- The life conditions – both external and internal or within a person The awakened vMEMETIC code that contains the complex, adaptive, contextual intelligences to deal with those specific life conditions The surface level content that displays those codes, in all 4 Quadrants. There is no guarantee that a specific set of life conditions will, automatically, activate the adaptive codes. They may overwhelm the preexisting capacities. I heard a BBC report that described a project of moving thousands of ‘Bantu speaking’ Africans in Somalia into urban centres in this country, with just a few speeches to ‘orient’ them to our life style. These projects, for the most part, have failed because, like the deep sea diver who gets the bends when ‘coming up’ too rapidly, one can most certainly get the ‘cultural bends’.… Read More

What is Romantic Love?

Relaunched: 5 November 2018 Being able to define ‘romantic love’ and understand how it comes about, how it works, how it lasts, how it changes and how it all too often fades is a set of challenges that has beguiled philosophers throughout the millennia and over the past couple of centuries psychologists and, to some extent, sociologists too. The theme of romantic love – and the sex that usually goes with it – is one of the most pervasive memes of our times. It dominates Western culture: approximately 90% of all pop music is concerned with it and it is at the core of many dramas – whether on TV, in films or in books. In so doing, it gives a great many of us a mission in life: to find that ‘special person’ to love and be loved by. The love to be obtained is as seen as somehow mystical; and terms with a hint of mysticism are often used for the special person such as ‘soulmate’ and ‘life partner’. Of course, while men and women in all civilisations seem to experience romantic love, not all cultures regard it as a suitable basis for marriage. Phil Shaver, Shelley Wu & Judith Schwartz (1991) compared… Read More

Attachment Theory

Updated: 10 October 2017 Mary Ainsworth & Sylvia Bell (1970) define an attachment as:  “An affectional tie that one person or animal forms between himself and another specific one – a tie that binds them together in space and over time. The behavioural hallmark of attachment is seeking to gain and maintain a certain degree of proximity to the object of attachment.” Rudolph Schaffer (1996) adds that separation from the attachment figure can lead to distress. Daphne Maurer & Charles Maurer (1988)  state that attachments “…are welded in the heat of interactions.”  Modern affective Attachment Theory, in its application to infants, has its origins in the work of John Bowlby. Bowlby was a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist working at the London Child Guidance Clinic in the 1930s. He had become interested in the effect of children’s disrupted relationships with their parents when, as a medical student, he volunteered to work in a residential children’s home and encountered a range of abnormal behaviours. His famous study of 44 ‘juvenile thieves’ (1944) identified Maternal Deprivation as being associated with delinquency and all sorts of problematic emotional and behavioural issues, including in the extreme what Bowlby termed ‘Affectionless Psychopathy’, the symptoms of which are now incorporated into Reactive Attachment Disorder. Bowlby’s… Read More

The Process of Change

Updated: 5 April 2019 A French translation of this article by Luc Taesch is available at https://www.taesch.com/cognitive/changemanagement/le-processus-de-changement-keith-rice What is it leads us to change? Do we just suddenly wake up one morning and decide to change? Do we change because we want to or because we have to? Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996), co-developers of Spiral Dynamics, identified 7 factors which are part of the change process. Beck (2009) later identified another 3 factors; and this article will use Beck’s 10 factors to set a broad frame for understanding change and how and why it takes place. 1. Potential The individual – or, for that matter, the organisation – has to have the capability to change. Beck & Cowan, from the seminal work of Clare W Graves, identified that someone could be in one of 3 states:- Open to the possibilities of change – they are ready for something new. The Open state is often characterised by the acceptance that change is inevitable and a relatively non-judgemental tolerance of differences. Arrested – caught up so much in their present way of thinking and being that change – without the introduction of dissonance – simply will not occur. This is particularly… Read More

What is Stress?

Updated: 29 December 2019 From a UK survey the Mental Health Foundation (2018) found that, in the year 2017-2018, 74% of people felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. 46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking; and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking. 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed and 61% reported feeling anxious. Of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 16% had self harmed and 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings. 37% of adults who reported feeling stressed reported feeling lonely as a result. The Health & Safety Executive (2018) estimated 15.4 million working days were lost in the UK 2017- 18 as a result of stress, anxiety or Depression. So what is stress? As good a definition of stress as any comes from Richard Lazarus & Susan Folkman (1984): “…negative emotional and physiological process that occurs as individuals try to adjust to or deal with environmental circumstances that disrupt or threaten to disrupt, their daily functioning”. Randolph Nesse & Elizabeth Young (2000)… Read More

The Meaning of Charlie Hebdo…for Islam and the West

The power of the web has been demonstrated very powerfully the last 5 days in just how many cogent positions have been staked out so rapidly re the Charlie Hebdo murders. It also says something about how powerfully the shootings in Paris have touched so many Westerners emotionally to galvanise such strong responses. That in itself, though, is part of a disturbing narrative that feeds into the terrorists’ hate-fuelled ideology. Just 17 people are massacred in Paris and the Western media – formal and social – goes into meltdown. In comparison the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights documentation of over 76,000 deaths in 2014 in the Syrian conflict – the vast majority innocent civilians – warranted around one smallish article per newspaper – eg: The Guardian’s 28 lines – or one short item per news broadcast. The subtext of this comparison is that French lives are worth an awful lot more than Syrian lives – and this comparison is then easily meta-stated into the Western media being racist, anti-Arab, anti-Islamic, etc, etc. It’s one more piece of evidence to support such frames of reference from a line of evidence that notably includes the Americans counting Western lives lost in Iraq 2003-2011… Read More