Preface vii - xi
Chapter 1 Introduction: Paradigm Shifts 1 - 30
Chapter 2 Constructing Our Realities:Theory and Method of Reframing 31 - 60
Chapter 3 Present State and Desired Outcome 63 - 90
Chapter 4 The Responsible Part 91 - 110
Chapter 5 The Positive Intention and Rapport 111 - 127
Chapter 6 New Behaviors 128 - 141
Chapter 7 Conclusions 142 - 160
References 161 - 164
Index 165 - 168
In science, there is a new paradigm to which psychotherapists are
turning for quicker, more effective-- many are aware that "HMOs"
and managed care will require them to adopt brief interventions. Sports
mental training consultants, like I, who specialize in performance enhancement
have always addressed the need of athletes to achieve quick results, or we
have functioned as "educators" rather than " psychologists,
" thus we have been relatively unconcerned with reimbursement issues.
Nevertheless, within this new paradigm, specific, brief techniques
have been developed to improve the effectiveness of all psychotherapeutic
approaches, including interventions for performance enhancement, and related
areas, such as, injury avoidance and rehabilitation.
" words of the new paradigm are "chaos theory and perturbation,
" "constructivism and structural determinism," "
cybernetics" and "second-order cybernetics." During the last
twenty years, family therapists, particularly those affiliated with the
Ackerman in New York, and the former Milan Family Therapy Center in Italy,
have evolved this new perspective. Their use of this new paradigm is reflected
in their shift from the "pathology" of the "identified patient
" in the family to the "communication system" of the family,
and the concomitant shift from a lineal, causal model to a circular, recursive
one. More recently, there is recognition that "family systems"
has become riefied, and proposals that "circular casuality" should
be replaced with "co-drift," although not without resistance from
others. The adaptation of this new paradigm to sports psychology, or any individual
psychotherapy largely entails a similar shift-- from a focus on the
individual as the point of change to the elaboration of the communication
between the educator or psychotherapist, and his or her clients. The case
that is presented in this book is the interpretation of the "reframing
" of performance anxiety in terms of new paradigm. However, the paradigm
can be applied to any psychotherapeutic technique, and reframing can be seen
as a description of a mechanism that is fundamental to any behavioral change.
In this sense, I am addressing all psychotherapists who are interested in
understanding their work in terms of the new paradigm.
In 1986, at the
first annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport
Psychology, the keynote speaker, Rainer Martens, spoke about the subjective
nature of experience, and presented the work of Michael Polanyi (1962). He
urged sport psychologists to consider Polanyi's ideas. Over the years,
gradually, I connected Martens' ideas with what I was learning from family
therapists, and specialists in developmental disabilities who were using
constructivist/cybernetic models. For example, families were viewed as "
;constructing their realities," and levels of "mental retardation
" were defined by categories based on an individual's needs in his or
environment. Expressions such as "pervasive support," have replaced
the old intelligence-test-based labels of "mild," "moderate,
" " severe," and "profound."
Laplace, in 1812, articulated the objectivist, determinist view-- the "
old" paradigm of science: For "an...intellect... that knew all the
forces that act on nature... nothing could be uncertain..." Although
they challenged it, neither the discovery of "Brownian motion" in
1827, nor the observations of Henri Poincare, in 1889, had significant impact
on the determinist perspective, which dominated scientific models until 1961
when the meteorologist, Edward Lorenzo, found that convention currents and
turbulence patterns were "chaotic" -- seemingly random, but, in
fact, exhibiting a pattern. Lorenzo's "Chaos Theory " also was
demonstrated in systems that oscillate: a pendulum oscillating between two
magnets never traces exactly the same patttern over time, complex non-linear
dynamical equations can describe a pattern.
In 1959, a group of
biologists, including Humberto Maturana, published "What the frog's eye
tells the frog's brain." They pointed out, that the "old paradigm
" -- that an objective observer observes an "external reality"
-- ignores that our sensory receptors were formed as an adaptation to the
"external reality." We "construct" our realities with
our sensory organs. A frog's "reality" is that which registers on
his retina. It is very different from ours, because its eye was formed
according to its unique needs. An familiar riddle reflects one aspect of
the issue: "If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no human to hear
it, is there a sound?" From the point of view of the old paradigm there
is a sound, because there are sound waves. From the point of view of the new
paradigm, there is no sound, because sound must be constructed by an auditory
recept notice by an intelligent consciousness. A tree figures in Heidegger's
expression of constructivism, "...thought has never let the tree stand
where it stands."
The "old paradigm" in addition to
claiming objectivity, and determinism also claimed causality. It dictated
that a cure consists in finding and manipulating a mechanism external to or
within an independent entity. A physician makes a diagnosis -- a hyperextension
of the knee caused a cruciate ligament to rupture. He repairs the ligament
and causes it to function properly again. Spots on the lungs are caused by a
tubercular microbe. Antibiotics cause the microbe to die. Under many
circumstances such an approach yields satisfying results.
the common cold, and AIDS challenge the simple causal model. We have
identified the cause and effect of these illnesses, but this knowledge does
not lead to a cure. To justify continued research with the old, causal model,
we say that there are many forms of cancer, strains of colds, and multiple,
mutated variations of the AIDS virus. If we keep trying, we tell ourselves,
we will find the mechanism that resides within these microbes. We will
disable it. Forced by the AIDS virus, only recently, have scientists
acknowledged that a new paradigm is needed. The interaction between the immune
system and the microbe is under scrutiny. The role of environmental and
psychological factors is being considered. The National Institutes of Health
are funding "alternative" research.
In psychology, several
models emerged from the old paradigm. In classical conditioning, environmental
factors -- "the stimuli-response" pattern -- seemed to offer a viable
explanation of behavior and learning, until we wonder "cybernetically,
" as many have, whether the rat has trained the experimenter to give it
a pellet of food each time it correctly runs through the maze. In
psychodynamic theories, the causal model fostered the idea of mechanisms
within the psyche unconscious mind causes us to do things we don't want to do,
and our behaviors are "out of control." The breakdown of the defense
mechanisms causes mental illness -- the patient is schizophrenic or paranoid.
In cognitive/behavioral theory, our perceptions cause us to act in specific
ways. The therapist can help us to change our perceptions, and causes a change
in our behavior. But, our perceptions, our unconscious, and our environment are
created and shared through language. And language is created by perceptions,
the unconscious and the environment. Applying such circularity to problem
solving in therapy, rather than ask, "What is the cause of the
problem?," we ask, as in reframing, "To what problem is the present
problem a solution?"-- "To what problem is the performance anxiety the
solution?" Or "What do you want to conserve?"
description of the client/therapist relationship exemplifies the appreciation and
awareness that have had for a cybernetic view: psychotherapists believe that they
should be empathic and supportive toward their clients; consequently, they train
themselves to be sensitive to the behaviors of clients -- they learn to recognize
behaviors of the client that they perceive as acknowledging that they, the therapist,
are empathetic and supportive. During the therapy session, the therapist observes
the client's facial expressions, movements, and verbal assurances for "
feedback" that rapport is being established; the therapist adjusts his or
her behavior accordingly. Throughout the therapeutic encounter, these recursions
continue, and maintain the therapist on the course of maintaining rapport
A "cybernetic/constructivist" model points out that we reify concepts,
and place them, like things, within the client; it helps us see that we use a
diagnosis to define the relationship. In so doing, we reduce the complexity of
that relationship, and in turn, the creativity of the therapist his responses to
the uniqueness of the client. In reframing, the theory dictates that the therapist
reify the concept that the client's personality is made up of "parts"
which have "positive intentions."
Such considerations bring us
to the idea of "second-order cybernetics"-- a "sport psychology of
sport psychology" or a "psychotherapy of psychotherapy."
Psychotherapy becomes the client, and the principles of treatment are used to
"cure" psychotherapy of its ills, or place it on a healthy regime. The
objects of its productions-- its theories, presuppositions, diagnoses, its "
;cures"-- are reflections of itself, and the basis of its self-correction.
Psychotherapy reflects upon its constructions of its clients, and its own way of
thinking. Our messages about our messages are also messages. We see our work as
descriptions of relations between messages.
With second-order cybernetics,
the insights gained from the uctivist model can be examined for their political
and social agendas, as well as for their explanatory power and therapeutic
effectiveness. These approaches are relevant to a psychotherapy of psychotherapy
that would form, and reform its own theories. For example, is it politically more
viable to call psychotherapy an art or a science? What do we gain or lose from
either description? Do we always have to be "empathic?" What is the
function of the reification of concepts in reframing such as "parts"
and "positive intention."? How effective can we be, if we locate the
pathology in the client?
Some of these questions are not new, and on this
basis caution is warranted: the failure to make a fair and honest overview of the
"old paradigm," could further contribute to the already popular, but
futile exercise of setting up "straw men" in the attempt to make reforms.
"Cyberneticians" have suggested that the long-standing causal model is
naive without knowing it, scientists have merely created tautologies. Gravity
causes objects to fall toward the earth. In reality, the critics say, "gravity
" has no explanatory power. It is merely a description of objects accelerating,
according to a precise equation, toward earth. But, in fact, physicists have
recognized the limitations of the Newtonian model since very early in this century.
Constructivists criticize scientists for their naive objectivism, but skepticism
about scientific objectivity has had a long tradition in the philosophy of science
as well as in science itself. Since Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, scientists
acknowledge that they destroy the phenomena that they study; that they are part of
their own experiments; that they "see" the realities that they construct
with their theories; that the structure of a question determines, at least, the kind
of answer that will be recognized.
Through the "second-order cybernetic
lens" we remain aware of our action in creating our realities. We remain aware
that we are not some kind of new experts who can "fix" athletes or other
clients; we are not neutral in our stance toward our clients, and we struggle with
how to assign responsibility. As we interact with them, we wonder how we both change.
We are part of the communication that we are describing. We explore how our
understanding shapes the understood, and the understanding of self. We understand
that we understand our constructions of events, not the events themselves.