Introduction

Introduction

Based on the principle that, “thinking controls behavior”, the term cognitive behavior management includes: cognition – thinking (which, of course is a behavior; albeit covert), behavior (usually meaning overt action), and management – the ability to cope with one’s own or other’s covert or overt behavior. Thus an Institute of Cognitive Behavior Management would be concerned with teaching people how to manage their own or other’s behavior through a process of understanding the fundamental assumption that ‘a person is the sum total of what s/he thinks and particularly, what s/he believes.

One should note that this assumption is mutually exclusive to assumptions that a pathology or psychological drive causes misbehavior. The choice of behavior we make is characteristically based on what we believe to be true and how we habitually think about these beliefs. If we believe that people are out to get us, we most likely will either try to avoid them or try to cause them harm first. If the belief that people are out to get you is confirmed by others to be true, the selected behaviors are generally supportable. If, however, most rational people believe that your belief is false, you are unlikely to get support – thereby, of course, reinforcing the belief that people are out to get you – or at least, they don’t support you. So the ability to define truth within the boundaries of your support group is essential to psychological fitness.

Cognitive-Behavior-Logo

Further, the question of deriving and confirming truth is an accretion process that starts while the embryo is still in the womb. Over the next four five to seven years the individual experiences and associates data from the ‘bottom up’ until s/he acquires sufficient data to begin to form a ‘theory of meaning’ about how the world works. While all of the data about experiences and association are utilized, it is the data about self, others and future prospects [expectations] that are most significant. Note, that this naïve five to seven year old then begins his or

her confirmation bias trying to make all future data fit into the accepted theory.

The result is that many of us operate with theories that make little sense in the adult world, yet find it difficult to change. When these theories make us stand out like a ‘sore thumb’ from the rest of our social environment, there is a tendency to begin to have conflict with others. Such conflicts often lead to delinquency, substance abuse and emotional instability and other ‘problems in living’; that sometimes become severe and persistent. People with obvious ‘differences’ are particularly prone to such difficulties, for once recognizing one’s difference they must answer the question: “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” If they decide the difference is a ‘bad’ thing, there attempts to deal with it become imperative.

Thus Cognitive Behavior Management is useful to anyone who is interested in helping people and is usually accomplished under the rubrics of cognitive restructuring, cognitive therapy, cognitive skill training, neurolinguistic programming, psychosocial rehabilitation, and the like.

You cannot act differently than you think, therefore, change will occur only as you think differently. Parents, teachers, clinicians, corrections officers, and other caretakers can use these constructs to develop methods to improve the performance of children in development or people with problems in living.

“People with problems in living”, is a rubric coined by Thomas Szasz to replace the term “mental illness”. It can, we think, be used to cover a multitude of degrading labels. We will use people with problems in living to discuss the problems of behavior, incoherent thinking, abuse of substances, and antisocial behavior. If thought is important, it is important that the words we use convey appropriate thoughts. Labels such as schizophrenic, delinquent, and others convey very specific messages to people. When you own such a label it is very difficulty to feel good about yourself. It

is interesting to note that most often the professional “helpers” supply these labels. It makes one wonder whose

thinking is incoherent.

Since there is “magic” in words, communication is a major component of cognitive behavior. Cognitive structures [schema, systems of thought, beliefs, etc.] are the lens through which the individual sees the world. And the lens is developed and magnified or reduced by the words of significant people as well as through repetition. It is important to note that all propositions are true – at least until the mental energies are spent to evaluate them. This is true because the primitive animal must instantly “believe” the sensations of stimuli or become the prey of a predator. Such instant belief is an evolutionary prerequisite for survival and continues even in animals as sophisticated as humans.

Along with instant belief, human beings are easily habituated to “automatic thoughts”. We think things without even being consciously aware that we are thinking them. Thus two major elements of cognitive behavior management are awareness and a process of evaluation. In the beginning, having another person who can dispute automatic thoughts is very helpful, but skill in appropriate thought evaluation provides future protection against thoughts which cause

problems in living. One researcher has even indicated that children can be “inoculated” against future depression through this method.

Habitation can be used to provide automatic thoughts that are “helpful” rather than harmful. Self-instruction may sound childish, but, even athletes professionals, use it rigorously both imagining themselves in successful activities and telling themselves [and each other] that they can succeed. Such tactics have the additional appeal of being nonintrusive. There are no harmful side effect from telling someone that they are okay.

The illusion of the cube to your right is, in fact, two images as many of you might know. The illusion

represents the paradigm shift required to effectively understand and use cognitive interventions. It is not enough to

simply see the two images in the illusion; one must hold many illusions separate at the same time in order to move away from the ambiguity of old paradigms and the new. Some will have “epiphanies” of understanding without being able to maintain the insight. It will take repeated repetition and habitation to even make ourselves understood. But the shift must take place.

Finally, we can be gratified that the process of cognitive behavior management has an integral assumption that the individual with problems in living is capable of making their own decisions and given sufficient information is likely to make good ones. Thus the intervention respects and empowers the person. This site is interested in promoting cognitive behavior management both for the purpose of helping those with problems in living and for the purpose of

improving how we manage people in other arenas such as work. The same principals apply.

MacGregor’s Theory X and theory Y, Pygmalion [self fulfilling prophecies] in management, and total quality management are all based on the cognitive behavior management principals. If you are interested in exploring the underlying theoretical and coherent philosophical principals, you will want to go to THEORY. If you are more interested in specific implementations in health, education and welfare services, you will want to visit SERVICES. If you would like to contract for consultation to improve your own programs, you can go to the CONSULTING page.

Finally, we know that you will want to compare what others are saying about cognitive behavior management and will want to test the LINKS page. In the future, we will try to sort these by type as well.

WELCOME! We are delighted to offer to you information about a technology that is likely to change the world. We hope that if you have comments, good articles [you own or others] or other information you will share it
Jerome R. Gardnerwith us. If we believe it is appropriate and you give us permission, we will publish it on the site for others to consider as well.

 About Us

Institute For Cognitive Behavior Management

The ICBM is an institution designed to promote new skills for the practice of human services – educational, clinical, corrections and protective. The failures of human services, particularly for people with severe and persistent problems in living have been documented nationally for over forty years. Despite the fact that new human service technologies exist which are evidence based as more efficient and effective, they are not in common use.

 

Two major factors are novel in the ICBM. First, it is organized around a ‘cutting edge’, not a ‘state of the art’ technology. By ‘state of the art’, we mean the so-called ‘best practices’ that a human service field has to offer; the best level that the art of human service delivery system [not individuals or groups within the system] has been able to achieve. By ‘cutting edge’, we mean a technology that is still growing and developing and not in common use, although it is demonstrably improved over ‘best practices’. ‘Cutting edge’ technology may be used by individuals and groups who are seen as ‘pioneers’ of the next wave of improvements. Second, the technology is not one that is focused on one field of human service endeavor, but extends its usefulness across all systems including education, clinical, correctional and protective services as well as natural supports.

 

The purpose of the ICBM is to bring this cutting edge technology to becoming the state of the art in actual human service practice.

 

Overview of the industry

 

Human services is increasingly concerned with training. The Children and Adolescent Service Support System [CASSP] Institute, The Children, Youth & Families [CY&F] Institute, the Juvenile Justice Institute and Act 148 for educators are some of the organized ways of providing training to a ‘revolving door’ staff in this age of staff turnover at the direct service positions. Why, then, do we need another entry? The simple answer is because of the failed technologies. Both the training technology and the service delivery technology being provided for use in human services are suspect.

 

The state of the present direct service intervention technology is chaos. Despite careful analysis on many levels that indicates that the biomedical, command and control technology in use today is not only unhelpful, but is actually destructive, we continue to see its dominance in the market place. Powerful stakeholders, most importantly psychiatrist and pharmaceutical companies, although to a lesser extent all of the professional guilds, continue to control the industry. Having psychiatrist as legally responsible for all ‘mental health’ programs contaminates the best of intentions. ‘Common knowledge’ is based on a psychotherapeutic notion that most problems in living are caused by a ‘pathology’ which happens at the moment to be a chemical imbalance. People who suffer with these pathologies are ‘victims’ who are unable to control their own behavior. [Notice the similarity to the ‘demonic possession’ effect.] The lack of personal responsibility introduced by this ‘victim’ status has lead to substantial evil in the broader social system. These notions have led to a generation of citizens who take little responsibility for their own behavior, feel ‘victimized’ by any hardship, place more importance on ‘feeling good’ than doing good, and blame others, often with violent reprisals for their lot in life.

 

By emphasizing how a child feels, at the expense of what the child does – mastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom, and meeting challenges – parents and teachers are making this generation of children more vulnerable to depression. Seligman

 

Because the impact of psychotherapy and its related biomedical technologies has been so ineffective [destructive?] over such long periods of time, it has resulted in the development of special ‘police’ [psychiatrists] and ‘weapons’ [drugs] to control aberrant behavior.

 

Outcome studies show little value in the service approaches presently being used. One of the leading critics H.J. Eysenck, states it this way:

 

Numerous studies since the 1950s have in essence failed to disconfirm the view that various forms of psychotherapy do not show greater effectiveness than spontaneous remission or placebo treatment.

 

Personal responsibility is not an issue, since the ‘illness’ controls the behavior. In fact, because personal responsibility is not an issue, the legal system has accepted a plea of ‘innocent’ by reason of insanity; as

opposed to ‘guilty’, but insane. Further, built upon this presumption of irresistible impulses, the Constitutional protection of incarceration without cause demonstrated through due process is abrogated in ‘involuntary’ commitments, which take place through the police action of psychiatrist, and are done for the person’s ‘own good’.

 

The psychiatrist is now in a position of determining exactly who should be incarcerated, when and for how long, based upon a social judgement. Drugs have been extremely effective in ‘controlling’ the behaviors that are disturbing to other people, but have little value to the people taking them. In fact, they are so toxic, that they create considerable harm. Combined with the anger at being coerced ‘for their own good’, and the feelings of ‘victimization’, many survive the ‘system’ only by striking out.

 

The most unfortunate aspect of this ill-advised adventure is that the mental construct of ‘pathology’ has become the basis for all relationships with people with problems in living. This ‘state of the art’ is sad indeed. We are seeing increasing depression, suicide, and intensity of violence, substance abuse and other problems in living which reflect the victim attitudes promulgated by the construct of ‘mental illness’ and related ‘junk science’. The training institutions continue to support this paradigm, and although almost everyone recognizes the failure, they find it hard to think about different approaches. Thus we have an environment of ‘seekers’ in the institutional system, who are unable to find their own way. The ICBM offers a new way of doing business. Its technological approaches are particularly simple to understand and can be incorporated into the direct practice though the entry-level staff, creating revolution from below.

 

As a cadre of ‘new staff’ are able to demonstrate effective impact on the people they serve, the traditional ‘experts’ will become more and more isolated – unable to even understand what is happening. As parents are trained in the basics, they will more and more demand staff with this expertise, generating new pressure to use the ICBM. Further as young people seek ways into the traditional hierarchy, they will find the path of most influence in the new technology.

 

PURPOSE

 

The purpose of the ICBM is to bring into common usage a technology which places personal responsibility back into the hands of the

individual, does not promote coercion, and has a scientific basis for consideration. The intent is to change the paradigm of human services both within the general population and within the practitioners. Unlike the common over usage of the word paradigm to mean something as negligible as perspective or attitude, a paradigm according to its linguistic originator [Kuhn - 1952] and reported by Eysenck – [1994] consists of a disciplinary matrix, acquired implicitly through the educational process, whereby one becomes a licensed practitioner of the scientific discipline. In the course of this learning process the student encounters numerous exemplars; these are instances exemplifying the ways the science’s symbolic generalizations [the so-called laws or theories] apply to phenomena. Thus, a paradigm becomes a way of thinking about something that makes it very difficult to even understand other ways of looking at the problem.

 

Baar, from his book, ‘A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness’, adds a further dimension. Established presuppositions, he says, tend to become unconscious. Whatever we believe with absolute certainty we tend to take for granted. We lose sight of the fact that alternatives to our stable presuppositions can be entertained. The more powerfully we hold these tenets, the more we are unable to consciously think consistently of the alternatives to our own, stable presuppositions.

 

Kuhn calls this phenomenon ‘the incommensurability of competing paradigms’.

 

Since new paradigms are born from old ones, they ordinarily incorporate much of the vocabulary and apparatus, both conceptual and manipulative, that the traditional paradigm had previously employed. But they seldom employ these borrowed elements in quite the traditional way. Within the new paradigm, old terms, concepts and experiments fall into new relationships with the other.

 

Communication across the revolutionary divide is inevitably partial and therefore, not persuasive. Thus, it is unlikely that the ‘experts’ in the old methods of providing services to people with problems in living can even understand the training concepts.

 

In order to change the paradigm of human services across the community, it will be necessary to have a broad based approach. As Aristotle said, consensus osmium – What everyone believes is true. If we want everyone to believe that cognitive behavior techniques are the true way to help our children achieve success in living, we will

need to develop a disciplinary matrix and exemplars which become common to citizens.

 

Vision: The Institute for Cognitive Behavior Management will become a program sought by lay people and professionals as a means of becoming certified in ‘cutting edge’ technologies.

 

Mission: The mission of the ICBM is to make cognitive behavior management what everyone believes is true.

 

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

 

The ICBM presently provides this new information [the difference that makes a difference - Bateson] through the cognitivebehavior.com website. The ICBM has developed protocols, techniques and procedures for addressing specific problems in living. Additionally, it has a complete introduction to behavior and positive approaches, and a cognitive addition to the Functional Behavior Analysis.

 

ABOUT ILLUSIONS

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”–Anais Nin

 

“An illusion in the misleading technical sense that if you take a physical measurement and compare that to your perceptual judgment, there’s a discrepancy.” Duke University neurobiologist Dale Purves – as reported by Diana Steele / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

 

“One of the deepest problems in cognitive science is that of understanding how people make sense of the vast amount of raw data constantly bombarding them from the environment” [Hofstadter, 1995].

 

Take a moment to observe the world around you. For example, if you tilt your head, the world doesn’t tilt. If you shut one eye, you don’t immediately lose depth perception. Move around an object: The shape you see changes, yet the object remains stable. Look at some of the illusions on this web site. Even though you may intellectually know that you are being fooled, it does not stop the effect from continuing. This indicates a split between your perception of something and your conception of it. In many cases your higher order cognitive abilities cannot influence your lower order perceptions.

[Http://www.illusionworks.com /html/introduction_to_perception.html]

 

“…Ambiguity is pervasive; but the conscious experience of ambiguity is quite rare.” – Bernard Baar

 

“The brain puts tremendous effort into making sure that you don’t get illusions.” This wouldn’t be surprising, he says – except for how complex the brain’s synchronization has to be to present a seamless reality.” David Eagleman, Salk Institute for Biological Studies – as reported by Diana Steele / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

 

There is ambiguity in all forms of perception, but the one that might be of most concern to cognitive practitioners is the ambiguity of language. Languages are subject to the same ambiguity as an optical illusion. Sentences such as “This sentence is false.”, provide the illusion that something real is being said, but closer examination indicates a paradox.

 

In some cases, illusions take place because the constraints for interpreting an image are ambiguous. Your visual system can interpret the scene in more than one way. Even though the image on your retina remains constant, you never see an odd mixture of the two perceptions – it is always one or the other, although they may perceptually flip back and forth. Normally, this does not happen in the real world, as your visual system has evolved many different ways to resolve ambiguity. Visual perception is essentially an ambiguity-solving process. [Http://www.illusionworks.com/html/introduction_to_perception.html]

 

In a similar manner, the mind seeks to eliminate ambiguity in all areas. One of the outcomes of this is that the mind ‘chooses’ to believe one interpretation over another. Usually this choice is based upon the unconscious mental contexts that have grown through experience and imagination over time. As Ludwig [1988] put it: “The mind is much less on organ of rationality than of rationalization. Because the individual has to live with himself, his mind tries to legitimize his intentions and behaviors so that he need not feel guilty, so that he can convince himself that his is making the right choice.”

 

Or as Gilbert [1993] says “The problem is that when we say a person seeks true information we really mean that the person seeks information that [s/he] considers true. …subjective truth is largely a matter of coherence; statements that complement (rather than contradict) what one already believes are likely to be seen as true.” thus, we might say that the person “deludes” him or herself into believing what s/he perceives, choosing perhaps to see something that is not “real” in the sense of what most of the rest of us perceive.

 

It seems that delusions are much more commonplace than most people would assume. “A belief is considered a delusion if a person holds to it no matter how bizarre it is and despite all evidence to the contrary.” “…researchers say the delusions of those with psychiatric disorientation are fundamentally no different from, say, a private belief that a color is unlucky or popular beliefs in the existence of flying saucers.” [Goleman, 1989]

 

Dr. Brendan Maher, a psychologist at Harvard has said, “Many or most people privately hold strange beliefs that could be diagnosed as delusional if brought to the attention of a clinician.” [Goleman, 1989] If this is so, should we believe that such people are psychologically unfit, and if so, what does this say about the ability of humankind to survive? “In 1917…the classification system used by the American

Psychiatric Association included only 59 forms of mental complaint. By 1952 … there were 106. By 1989… 292.” The latest version 1994 of the manual, which is employed by mental- health professionals, lists 396 possible diagnostic codes. This proliferation of labels is causing some dismay. Indeed, some critics wonder if the multiplication of mental disorders has gone too far, with the realm of the abnormal encroaching on areas that were once the province of individual choice, habit, eccentricity or lifestyle.” “As one psychologists says, ‘It’s a very political process.” [Goode, 1992]

 

Webster defines hallucinations as false illusions. But illusions are false perceptions. Does this sound like double talk? Hallucinations are false perceptions, which are false. And since truth is in the eye of the beholder, is the perception false or simply not verified by others? “Those who hear voices are usually considered psychotic or saintly” [McCarthy, 1993] Would Jesus be suffering from delusions of grandeur or perhaps hallucinating the presence of God? How do we separate the common psychotic from the saint, and who is justified in making that decision?

 

In the course of her research, psychotherapist Myrtle Heery indicates that otherwise ordinary people may sometimes hear voices, too. Heery emphasizes that her subjects ‘are functioning members of the community’ [emphasis ours] [McCarthy, 1993].

 

The lowest perception occurs, of course with the reception of raw sensory information through the various sense organs, described as sensations. Out of the many sensations the mind seeks to find an orderly process by which to make sense of the world. Perceptions, however, may be influenced by belief, goals, and external context. This implies that there is a top-down process along with the bottom-up process of the senses. In order for raw data to be shaped into a coherent whole, it must go through a process of filtering and organization, yielding a structured representation that can be used by the mind for any number of purposes. The result of this process is that everyone’s mental context is different and we may all see things differently through our individual lens.

 

In Perspective & Personality, we present an illusion that is reported to have eight different perspectives, although I admit to finding only six. Partially, this may be because I do not have an independent form in mind to construct from. For as Albert Einstein [1949] pointed out ‘It seems that the human mind has first to construct forms independently before we can find them in things …knowledge cannot spring from

experience alone, but only from a comparison of the inventions of the intellect with observed facts.’

 

Although we see things differently, everyone finally can see the illusion if a construct is supplied. It may take a while, but finally all see the illusion. Some people just do not see anything, but with a little help in focusing the construct they too can see the illusion.

 

Illusions can be considered distortions in perception. They represent differences in the appearance of a measurable aspect of the world such as size, distance, and shape. Sometimes there are hidden things in a picture. There may be another picture or a design inside the original picture. We get used to how things are supposed to be, and sometimes our brains get the clues all wrong.

 

Our brains put images together because they have learned to expect things, and sometimes the data might get a little confused. We may see an illusion because we know what we are supposed to see, even though part of a picture or design may not be completely there. The basis of using illusions within this site is to project how we perceive things. If our brain and eyes did not function as they do, we would not see illusions as we do.

 

Some optical illusions are just taken for granted, such as movies or television. They just show you a continuous flow of still pictures, one right after the other. Your eyes along with your brain fill in all of the empty spots. Your brain has learned to expect movement. As a result, your brain can fill in all of the missing pieces and the picture appears to be actually moving, even though it really isn’t!

 

When we say that an illusion is an error in perception – what do we mean? Who is to say that what we see is not the correct image and what everyone else sees is the error. Aristotle probably said it best – Consensus omnium – What everyone believes is true. While everyone is difficult to measure, there is a common sense of what is true, and there is some merit in this common sense even though it too is subject of illusive interpretation and error as described in the article on Culture.

 

Finally, the illusions have a relationship to paradigm shifts. The well-known illusion of the old/young woman can represent the difficulties of shifting paradigms. When one perspective is held tightly – for example the old woman – it is very hard to see the other perspective. In fact, some people will think you are lying about there being another

perspective. When they finally see the other perspective – usually after someone has a) indicated what the other perspective was, thereby giving the person and independent form to look for, and/or b) giving specific hints about what a line represents, the person is then able to ‘see’ the perspective for the first time. This is like an epiphany, but, depending on the difficulty of the illusion, sometimes hard to hold. After practice, one can see both perspectives at will. However, note that they cannot be seen at the same time. What happens in a paradigm shift is that multiple changes in perspective exist and the person rigidly holding an old perspective cannot see, hear, smell, taste or feel the new perspective. When there is finally breakthrough, they will have difficulty holding onto the new image, thought, concept, idea. Finally, they will be able to see both perspectives at will.

 

Needless to say, the admonition from cognitive behaviorist Ron Farkas – “Don’t believe everything you think! – can serve you well both while examining both the articles and the illusions. The ability to see things as they are is what we seek. The Buddhists call this enlightenment.

 

In getting back to the illusions, they are on the site are for two purposes: first, they are enjoyable, as most people will take the trouble to try to figure out the unique ambiguity of each one. Second, they indicate a major construct of the site: that perhaps was best said by Kant, “Concepts without percepts are empty; percepts without concepts are blind.”

 

We are what we pretend to be.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

 

ABOUT THE SKILLS

 

The Institute for Cognitive Behavior Management [ICBM] owes its existence to a concern about the lack of skills in human services (education, clinical, correction and protective) in dealing with children whose behavior IS the problem. These children attain labels of delinquency, dependency or diagnosis, but receive little help because of the failure of the prevention/intervention technology used in the systems designed to provide help. There is a fifty year history of such failure well documented through national reports starting with the Hobbs Report in 1953, and continuing through the Joint Commission of Mental Health of Children [1969], the President’s Commission on Mental Health [1978], the Office of Technology Assessment [1986], the Institute of Medicine [1989], and the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families [1990], and concluding with the President’s New Freedom Commission report: Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America – July 22, 2003. All of these reports concluded that services to children were inadequate and ineffective, but none identified the failed technology as the reason for that failure. The recommendation is always the need to do more of what is being done: e.g., more money.

 

The Institute believes that the biomedical, psychodynamic foundation of most human service programs is a failed philosophy and technology which has never had any scientific evidence based support. Cognitive behavior approaches, on the other hand, are specifically evidence based and scientific.

 

Cognitive Behavior Management is a process in which distressing thoughts are reconsidered, new meanings are found, and change is made through habituation and reinforcement. In many Cognitive Behavior Management interventions, learning the concepts required to utilize the skill is a significant part of the process. This introduction is a psychoeducational process which will shape the concepts necessary for understanding Cognitive Behavior Management.

 

If Operant Behavior Management is stimulus – response, Cognitive Behavior Management is stimulus – thought/emotion – response. Thought/emotion is tied in this manner since emotion is a value added to a thought based on the thought’s utility. The definition by the nineteenth-century utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham is that utility is the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. Thus, a thought which has meaning to the individual contains some measure of pleasure and/or pain which equates to an emotion. The degree of emotional content derives from a comparison with past experiences.

 

Note, that emotion is not the same as ‘feeling’, which is a message from the senses – or sensation. Feeling in this context is the actual bodily change that is caused by a stimulus, which is then interpreted by a thought, which produces the emotion. If I stick you with a pin, this stimulus is likely to cause a ‘sting’, which you might interpret as pain. The pain, in turn, may be interpreted as caused by me, generating the emotion of ‘anger’ toward me because of the belief that I trespassed on your space and caused harm. Or you may experience ‘fear’ because you believe that I will hurt you again. What

you felt – the stinging sensation is the ‘feeling’, and the way you interpreted it is the emotion.

 

In fact, you may not even feel the sting, if your energies are being used elsewhere. How often, have you gotten a ‘paper cut’ and not felt the pain until you discovered you were bleeding. ‘Feelings’ are always biological while emotions are always biographical. You will find authors will, however, habitually use these terms interchangeable, and the reader is cautioned to always remember to identify the context if s/he expects to understand the intent of the word. While the facts may be clear, language is notoriously ambiguous.

 

A stimulus can alternatively:

 

1) Not contain any information and therefore not arouse the individual at all,

2) Contain information and cause arousal which leads to an interpretation which may or may not contain an emotion,

3) Contain information that is interpreted based on past experiences as intensely felt.

 

Gregory Bateson, as the ‘difference that makes a difference’, as used here, precisely defines information. If the difference is not sufficiently strong to make a difference, there is no information. In the first situation, the person may not even be consciously aware that the stimulus occurred [as in our example of the paper cut]. In the second case, the person may respond quite casually. In the third, the person may respond quite strongly.

 

We must point out that having an emotion is not necessarily a bad thing. Emotions motivate us to do something, and normally this is a good thing. The third case above holds some potential for distressing emotions and the resulting behavior. Such distress, may also cause difficulty with others, but this is only so when the person’s ‘inner logic’ [their pattern formation of prior experiences’] is ‘out of kilter’ with the norm of the people with whom they associate. If the distress and ensuing behavior are well understood by the others, empathy and comfort are likely outcomes.

 

However, if the distress is not understandable, the person’s behavior is likely to be considered to be bizarre. If, for example, you believed from prior experience that people were out to get you, you may respond quite dramatically different to a person who runs into you. If others around you do not have this belief, they are unlikely to understand the intensity of your response. It is this ‘inner logic’ which sets the context for the outer events and the emotional content that sets the tone. This is often seen in ‘spy’ movies, where the actor is responding out of inner knowledge in apparently bizarre ways.

 

The ‘inner logic’ is built up over time and experience and the interpretation, patterning and generalization of many, many experiences. The ‘inner logic’ may not be ‘true’, in the sense that it is what everyone would make of the situation. It is, however, the ‘reality’ of the individual. The failure of strict behaviorism is the failure to take into account the inner logic of the person who is responding in the disruptive fashion. The inner logic of

Yeshua ben Yosip [known commonly as Jesus Christ] was quite different than, say, Charles Manson. Therefore, the two would likely act substantively different to ‘a slap on the cheek’.

 

The pattern formation which creates the ‘inner logic’ is primarily developed over the first seven years of life from random events. It is up to the infant child to ‘make sense’ of the world through identifying patterns of experiences and ‘generalizing’ them into categories. It is important to note that the first three years of the child’s life, the child‘s ‘thinking’ is dominated by the right brain, which does not generally deal with language. Therefore, the child is creating an ‘inner symbolism’ which s/he cannot describe. The fourth, fifth and sixth years of life, is a process of left-brain development, but apparently it is only after the seventh year that the left-brain becomes dominant. The early pattern formation is therefore dominated by symbolic thinking which the person cannot talk about, even if s/he wanted to. We don’t what our symbols or metaphors mean or they would be put into words. But this does not indicate that such symbols are without meaning.

 

Cognitive Process Correction [generally related to the Cognitive Therapy of Beck and the Rational Emotive Therapy of Ellis] is predominantly a left-brain exercise with a five step process of 1) awareness, 2) attendance, 3) analysis, 4) alternatives and 5) adaptation. To deal with the ‘inner symbolism’, the use of imagery is vital. For children who have been invalidated and whose early schema is maladaptive, this creates a context for an inner logic that the person cannot even understand, in the sense of being able to articulate, although they know it has powerful meaning. Schema or the plural schemata, are organizing attractors in the mind. When operating, they draw all of the necessary thoughts, emotions and value regarding a given domain together into a context. This is not unlike the rock in the stream that draws the water into an ever changing, but always similar pattern. If the schema is an attractor, the experiences will always be different, but will always be similar. As a result, many people with severe and persistent problems in living seem to relive the trauma with different people at different times.

 

While there are schema concerning conventions, such as how to operate in a restaurant, personal schema, such as those beliefs about self and others are of major psychological concern. If such schemata are maladaptive, imagery and metaphoric counseling are critical components to the required longer term Cognitive Restructuring. In both these interventions, [process correction and restructuring] the person is enabled and supported through various mechanisms, to stretch to describe their intuitions, to gradually bring the symbolic into language. For if I can describe it, I can begin to control it. Such stretching can be demonstrated by the concept of ‘laddering’. Laddering is a way of analyzing your internal monologue statements by looking for more and more basic underlying assumptions and predictions until you arrive at statements of core belief. The technique is called laddering because it proceeds step by step. Laddering has only two rules. Rule number 1 is to question yourself with the following format, and Rule number 2 is don’t answer with a feeling. The format is to ask:

 

‘What if ________________________?

What does it mean to me?’

 

In the blank space the client writes a self-statement from his/her internal monologue. Then s/he writes the answer to the question. Having done that, have the client use the answer to fill in the blank and ask the question again. After using this sequence a few times, the client will arrive at a core belief. The answers must be confined to statements that express conclusions, beliefs or assumptions – not descriptions of feelings.

 

This stretching to put into words each new step epitomizes the process. This same stretching is used in metaphor counseling and other imagery processes.

 

A critical part of thinking is ‘meaning’. Experiences do not have meaning until we give meaning to them. The glass is half full or half empty. It depends on one’s perspective or ‘frame of reference’. Change the context and change the frame of reference, which changes the meaning. The usually connotation of the glass being half full is that this is an optimistic way of thinking. But if the content of the glass were toxic, having the glass half full would be a pessimistic way of thinking – too much of a bad thing. If you are with a beautiful woman or handsome man and are confident both of yourself and your relationship to this person, stares from others may be thought to be a compliment. However, if you are not confident of yourself or of your relationship with your partner, stares may constitute a threat.

 

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” — Anais Nin

 

The process of ‘reframing’ is another major process in Cognitive Behavior Management. The creation of alternative meaning in the five step Cognitive Process Correction is a process of reframing the experience so that the meaning will be less distressing. Another way of doing this is to dissociate from the experience through imagery and then, from this detached frame of reference the experience may become different than the memory of the experience. Dissociation is a metaperceptive process. The process of using metaperceptions [visualization, imagining] for the purposes of helping people change is not new. Cognitive clinicians have been doing this for years. However, over time, we have expanded the dimensions considerably. We can, for example perceive ourselves in regard to time as 1) in the present, 2) in the past, or 3) in the future. We can also change space, the place and the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

 

In addition, we can perceive ourselves in what are called positions, we can view ourselves in the first position as actually the one experiencing the event, in the second position, as the other person in the experience, or the third position, as a by-stander watching the event occur from the outside. The movement to these different positions changes the emotional content of the experience as it modifies the degree of association or dissociation with the experience. Thus we can view ourselves as in a movie, experiencing a phobic reaction to a stimulus, without feeling the emotional fear in

the process. Or, conversely, we can view that same experience from the first position, where we are experiencing all of the emotion, as a process of desensitizing ourselves to the emotional feelings caused by the stimulus through imagined exposure.

 

These metaperceptive techniques, combined with a stretching1 to articulate the intuitive symbols are critical to the ability to restructure the maladaptive schema of people who have been invalidated in early childhood.

 

Culture Restructuring is the prevention aspect of Cognitive Behavior Management. This is so because children do not form their ‘inner logic’ or theory of meaning, without a little help from their friends.

 

A father saw out of the corner of his eye, his three-year-old child jump into the twelve-foot end of the pool. The father slid into the pool and saw the child rising to the surface. As the child broke the surface the father picked him up out of the water and ………

 

What the father does will set the tone for the experience for the child. In this case, the child was just about to cry when the father tossed him into the air and laughed. The child then laughed too. The experience changed from one of fright to fun. The down side, of course, was that the child kept jumping into the deep end and the father had to be alert. The upside is that the child very quickly learned to swim.

 

The father sent the child a message about the experience and fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, teacher, etc., do this nonconsciously all the time. Usually, these messages are tolerable, although most often they could be improved. Unfortunately, sometimes these messages invalidate the child and are psycotraumatizing. And these very negative messages happen most often when the child is very young. Such messages are likely to lead to severe and persistent problems in living.

 

Some of these messages can be improved by changing the culture and getting everyone in the culture to provide balanced and rational messages. To add to the grievance of what has occurred at home, the child’s behavior may cause other adults in the childcare center or school to add to the burden. Inappropriate behavior tends to generate inappropriate responses. When a child calls a parent, clinician or teacher a #^@(^^, what is the response – and does the response reinforce the child’s beliefs about other people or generate dissonance. Parents generally respond as human beings having had no special training in being a care manager. Unfortunately, most clinicians and teachers will also respond personally, not professionally. They will get angry and punish the child – reinforcing the child’s belief that adults really are #^@(^^.

 

In Culture Restructuring, the adults are taught to be mindful of the messages they send to children regardless of the circumstances. This should be easier, of course, in a professional arena, but that is not usually the case. Mental health, for example, has such derogatory and destructive jargon that it carries major potential to psychotraumatize a person who may already have a maladaptive inner logic. The professional depersonalizes the individual and attempts to control their behavior because of a belief that the individual cannot control his/her own behavior. This is the epitome of a maladaptive message.

 

Mindfulness is like becoming an impartial spectator, trying to observe your own behavior as if you were observing the behavior of another. The Impartial Spectator is a concept that Adam Smith used as the central feature of his book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. He defined the Impartial Spectator as the capacity to stand outside yourself and watch yourself in action, which is essentially the same mental action as the ancient Buddhist concept of mindful awareness, and is the second position in metaperceptions.

 

Adam Smith understood that keeping the perspective of the Impartial Spectator under painful circumstances is hard work, requiring, in his words, the ‘utmost and most fatiguing exertions’. But it is just such exertions that are required of teachers and clinicians if we are to overcome the ‘inner logic’ of an invalidated and psychotraumatized child.

 

By teaching people in the culture what to say and not to say, both to themselves and to others, in order to reach certain outcomes and by supplying them with specific techniques such as attribution training, we can begin to provide a culture which will teach the child balanced and rational meanings for self and others and dispute distorted points of view.

 

Finally, Cognitive Behavior Management includes Social Skill Training, although on this site we do not spend a lot of time mentioning it. The reason for that is because of the excellent work done by others in that arena. Arnold P. Goldstein, for example, in his book The Prepare Curriculum covers the ground much better than we could here. It is worthwhile to note, perhaps, that his ‘improvements’ of that book do not appear to be nearly as good as the original. Nonetheless, Goldstein and others have made significant inroads toward providing the skills necessary to the delivery of Social Skill Training. Another worthy contribution comes in the corrections field from Positive Solutions Associates, although this is not quite as accessible due to costs. PSA provides quality field-generated and research-supported cognitive skills programs. According to Michael Voron of PSA, this approach is different because it does not tell offenders how to simply follow the rules, but challenges their choices and seeks to build the cognitive skills necessary so that following the rules becomes a positive intrinsic choice.

 

We hope to do as well in compiling a compendium of skills in Cognitive Process Correction, Cognitive Restructuring, Culture Restructuring and other techniques which fit into these categories.

 

August 2013

© Jerome R. Gardner 1997 – 2013. All rights reserved. Site: FloridaWeb.com

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