Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

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vMEME stack’

Vulnerability to Stress #2

ART 2 Life events and stress For most people life can be very challenging at times. Everybody experiences major ‘life events’ or ‘life changes’ which can prove acutely stressful and bring about illness – eg: marriage, divorce, death of a close friend or family member, etc, etc. Even Christmas can be acutely stressful! And stress-related illness can contribute to further illness. The idea of ‘life events’ causing stress to the point of illness had begun in 1919 with the ‘life chart’ work of Adolph Meyer. His work became the foundation for the Schedule of Recent Events developed by N G Hawkins, R Davies & Thomas Holmes in 1957; this looked at the cumulative effect of life events in causing stress. (Amusingly Holmes’ interest in the relationship between stress and illness came from finding his mother-in-law’s visits so stressful that he developed a cold every time she came to stay!) In 1967 Thomas Holmes & Richard Rahe added the idea of the magnitude of different life events – measured in ‘life change units’ (LCUs) – to get a more precise understanding of the cumulative effect. They examined the medical records of over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might… Read More

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

Putin, Trump and the Endgame for Syria

A  couple of years back I stopped writing about Syria. It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It just seemed to happen. The routine nature of the horrific atrocities committed with relative abandon by both sides, with advantage seeming to swing first one way and then the other and then the other and then the other yet again seemed endless and wearisome. Everything that could be said seemed to have been said…and yet still it went on. Meanwhile, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Scottish independence referendum, the Peshawar Massacre, Charlie Hebdo and other UnIsamic State atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit referendum, Jeremy Corbyn (again!), Donald Trump…. So many other things have happened in those 2-3 years and so many of them ‘closer to home’…and, as the apocryphal ‘McClurg’s Law’ postulates: the more something is closer to you (racially, nationalistically, culturally), the more newsworthy it is (Stephen Moore, Steve Chapman & Dave Aiken, 2009). Thus, it is understandable (in some senses, at least) that Syria went ‘off the radar’ at times not only for myself but for many other ‘thinkers’ and much of the Western media. Now, though, as what seems to be the final, heartbreaking agonies of Aleppo are so grim and apparently so decisive, they actually break through the news barrier and Syria becomes… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More


PART 2 The Ist Tier BEIGE (A-N) (Maslow’s Survival; Loevinger’s Pre-Social) This vMEME is concerned with basic survival needs and is bottom of the Spiral. It is instinctive and does not lend itself to cognitive thought as such. Air, food and water, sleep, shelter from the elements and sex for procreation (rather than pleasure or affection) are the very basic drives which characterise this vMEME. If these requirements are not met (with the partial exception of sex for procreation), the human body simply cannot continue to function. If the BEIGE driver ceases to work, then we will die because we simply will not do what we need to do to survive. BEIGE ceasing to function is almost certainly what is meant when we say that someone has lost the will to live. Much of what Evolutionary Psychology has to say about the essentials of human nature is centred at this pre-cognitive, animalistic level. BEIGE/PURPLE (A-N/B-O) There is not enough reliable data to break this transition down into exiting and entering phases. The organism is beginning to show signs of cognition. Graves (1978/2005, p214) referred to it as the beginning of “viable psychological life”. Basic cause-and-effect assumptions start to be made. Primitive… Read More

Modernisation Theory vs Stratified Democracy

Updated: 10 January 2017 It’s rather astounding that, nearly 60 years after Walt Rostow (1960) published ‘The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Manifesto’, how much Rostow’s ideas – Modernisation Theory – still shape Western foreign policy – and the United States’ attitudes in particular. In those nearly 60 years that have seen, first, the end of the European empires and, then, the demise of Communism as a political and economic alternative to Capitalism, Rostow’s ideas have almost universally failed to deliver the wealth and prosperity to the developing nations that they promised. Large parts of the world in which Rostow’s ideas have been applied – ‘Black Africa’, in particular – are mired in poverty and debt…and all too often internecine warfare – with the attempts to implement Modernisation Theory a major causal factor. Not only that but, astonishingly, Rostow’s ideas underpin the Americans’ lack of understanding and application of inappropriate intervention strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan and their wholly-misguided approach to the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions, with all the bloody consequences that have entailed during the early years of the 21st Century. Rostow’s ideas have been heavily criticised from Marxist perspectives, most notably Andre Gunder Frank’s Dependency Theory (1971) and Immanuel Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory… Read More

Psychosocial Development

Updated: 23 June 2016 Sigmund Freud’s (1920) concept of the Id can be seen as the self-expressive side of Clare W Graves’ Spiral – with its ultimate and most visceral expression in nodal RED. The development of the self-sacrificial/conformist side of the Spiral also parallels Freud’s thoughts to some considerable degree. Firstly, the PURPLE vMEME’s restriction of BEIGE instinct to gain acceptance sounds like the Freudian Ego’s determination to avoid the consequences of the Id’s behaviours. Then, the Superego’s Conscience element is reflected in BLUE’s drive to ‘do the right thing’; while there are strong echoes of the Superego’s Ego Ideal element – how things should be – in GREEN’s idealistic intentions toward human inter-relations. Thus, while the Psychodynamic approach is frequently criticised these days as ‘unscientific’ and ‘overly fanciful’, it is clear many aspects are still relevant and have much to offer in developing our understanding of Integrated SocioPsychology. No other psychological theorist has yet come up with an explanation – or linked series of explanations – of the ‘human condition’ anything like as comprehensive as Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory, the first of the Psychodynamic theories. Yet, from the earliest days of Freud’s theorising, it was obvious there were certain inconsistencies… Read More

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

The Process of Change

Updated: 5 April 2019 A French translation of this article by Luc Taesch is available at 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

3 Stage Theories of Development #2

PART 2 Stages of Moral Development Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development constitute an adaptation of a psychological model originally conceived of by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1932). Kohlberg, while a Psychology postgraduate student at the University of Chicago, expanded Piaget’s concepts and then developed them throughout the course of his life. The theory holds that moral reasoning, the basis for ethical behaviour, has 6 identifiable developmental stages, the thinking at each more adequate at responding to moral dilemmas than its predecessor. Kohlberg followed the development of moral judgement far beyond the ages studied earlier by Piaget who also claimed that logic and morality develop through constructive stages. Expanding on Piaget’s work, Kohlberg (1963) determined that the process of moral development was principally concerned with justice and that it continued throughout the individual’s lifetime – a notion that spawned dialogue on the philosophical implications of such research. Kohlberg also took the concept beyond Piaget’s model in that he allowed for moral development to be influenced by aspects of the social environment such as what other people might say. (Piaget limited moral development to the effects of the individual’s own active self-discovery.) Kohlberg’s methodology used the Moral Judgement Interview he had first developed… Read More