Saturday, October 06, 2007

Integral Theory for Psychologists

This morning's session presented an integral model -- or several of them, actually -- for use by therapists. While some people were very open to the information, and some actually had knowledge of Spiral Dynamics or Robert Kegan or Ken Wilber, many others found the whole idea of a hierarchy of development very disturbing. Clearly some mean Green meme energy, as Wilber might say.

What I found really useful was the mixing of a lot of different maps -- Wilber, Kegan, Beck, Fowler, Gilligan, Kohlberg, and so on. And more importantly, we didn't waste time on the higher levels (subtle, causal, non-dual) because none of us are really seeing people with any awareness of these levels, let alone any experience of them.

The session helped me clarify how integral is useful to me in my work, and how I use it to relate to people's "parts." I spend a lot of time trying to relate to people's firefighters and managers.

This afternoon I get to learn how to be really, really, REALLY good at using the IFS model. Uh, yeah, OK. Sure.


MoE said...

"many others found the whole idea of a hierarchy of development very disturbing. Clearly some mean Green meme energy, as Wilber might say."

I wonder if this has to do with different types of equality thinking...?

When I studied psychology in Norway, developmental psychology (including several of the folks you mentioned) was taken in stride by the students, and nobody - as far as I can recall - had any problems with it. It just seemed to fit what we already noticed from our own life.

Both the US and Scandinavia has a form of equality thinking, but it is different.

In the US, it seems that in the US it tends to be an equality somehow located in the individual. Maybe it boils down to the idea of all having equal opportunities since it is a free country.

This myth seems to be pretty strong here, and pointing out that it is not true since there are strong individual differences - in abilities and opportunities - breaks with that myth, and is threatening to some people.

In Norway, there is more of an emphasis on what the society can do to provide more of an equality for folks in terms of educational and work opportunities, health care services, and so on. It is an equality provided by the society to make up for all the inequalities on the individual level.

In such a context, it is not threatening to acknowledge individual differences - including in our development along the different lines - because it already fits with the basic assumptions of society.

A difference in emphasis on the ability/opportunity sides of the equation may also play a role.

In the US, there is a strong emphasis on the individual, while in most of Europe, there is a stronger emphasis on the communal and the role of society. (See "The Geography of Thought" for some studies on this topic.)

This means that in the US, the myth of equal opportunity can be justified by downplaying the role of society and emphasizing the role of abilities, and then also assume that we all have the same basic abilities. We just need to work hard, that is all.

If there is a difference, it is due to a difference in effort, not differences in abilities or opportunities.

In Europe, that idea is mostly seen as blatantly absurd, but seems to have more currency in the US.

But then, I don't know or meet many even here in the US who I see displaying the "evil green meme" that KW is so concerned with...

Which either says something about who I spend time with, or that I am blind to it since I am in the grips of it myself. (And honestly, I don't mind either way.)

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