While the underlying theory of cognitive behavioral management is related to social learning theory, there are many theoretical constructs which concern us in delineating a full understanding of how it is used. While it is relatively easy to suggest that thought controls behavior, meaning of course, that if you believe that you are superman, you will try to fly, this simple construct is not easy. It requires much more, because in many senses it is self reflective. Not only do we need to help people with problems in living learn to attend to their internal dialogue as a means to making choices about change, but we must understand that as theorists and clinicians, we must also attend and make choices. The simple becomes difficult when we attempt to break through our own belief systems and deal with the dichotomies of our own internal realities and those of a broader world perspective. In order to help you examine these issues we include short papers on a a varity of subjects.
Consciousness: In 1988 Bernard J. Baars published A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness which provides the final piece of our theoretical puzzle. The book is concerned with conscious and nonconscious processes. Consciousness is not something we can observe directly, other than in ourselves, and then only in retrospect. However, the fact that we can predict with considerable confidence indicates that conscious experience is something knowable.
A Biological Theory To Underpin Cognitive Behavior Management: There are fundamental laws about complex systems, but they are new kinds of laws. They are laws of structure and organization and scale, and they simply vanish when you focus on the individual constituents of a complex system – just as the psychology of a lynch mob vanishes when you interview individual participants.” the brain-mind question is, according to one neurologist, a question of the survival of the fittest. Perceptual categorization is the first step, and it is crucial for learning, but is not something fixed, something that occurs once and for all. The evolution of thought allows for learning.
Precepts & Concepts: Based on theoretical work by Hofstadter the process of getting from perceptions to conceptions involves what begins randomly from the bottoms-up. As the organism is able to experience objects and relations, a knowledge base is created upon which meaning and value can be abstracted. As experiences and events gain meaning and value, the process becomes increasingly top down as the mind in attempt at an orderly process influences perception though beliefs, goals and external process – we perceive more and more of what we expect to perceive.
Belief Systems: What people believe to be true is that which is coherent to their already established cache of truisms. This cache is developed over time and is significantly shaped by the significant people in the environment. Its development is monitored by the rigor with which each new proposition is analyzed in relationship to what already exists. But the child who has a poorly developed set of logical skills; whose information cache is personalized and moralized; and has little energy to deal with noncoherent propositions, will develop a reality which very likely depreciates his/her self concept which is likely to result in antisocial behaviors which set in motion a reality [pragmatics] which reinforces this perspective.
Communication: The human behavior stream is contingent upon communication for social learning and the development of personal mental schema about, among other things, self, others and future prospects. Communication and information are coterminous constructs. Communication is information; and information is the means of communicating. Since communication has two distinct poles: the conveyor of information and the receiver of information; precepts become an important part of the creation of concepts. Thus the perception becomes a part of the communication process. What happens between perception and conception is also interesting.
Culture: The scientific study of human social life must concern itself with two different kinds of phenomena. On one hand, there are the thoughts and feelings that humans experience within their minds; on the other, there are the activities that constitute the human behavior stream. The relationship between mental and physical behavior events are significant. If beliefs are mental representations which predispose towards action, then the mental activities and context have some relationship to the physical outcomes.
Restructuring Judgement: The investigation biases in judgement has followed from the study of perceptual illusions. Our understanding of the human visual system, for example, comes in part from the study of situations in which our eye and brain are “fooled’ into seeing something that is not there or not seeing what is there. With cognitive biases, the analogue of the ruler is not clear. Against what would we validate our judgmental system?
Language & Thinking: Human beings have developed consciousness through the use of language symbols. With this innovation, humans became capable of an awareness of their own mental processes and through that event become amenable to modification and adaption of the very schemata which creates their reality. The result is that each individual, within some limitations, has the capacity to modify their own reality to make it more satisfying.
Metaphor: The process of the human experience of learning is dominated by analogy [the heart is like a pump] and metaphor [the heart is a pump]. In learning we transform the strange into the familiar as in our comparison of the heart to a pump. In innovating, we change contexts by transforming the familiar into the strange. Because such analogies or metaphors do not quite fit, the process of comparison of similarities and differences helps us to conceptualize a new perspective. In this vein and for purposes of learning, I would like to compare human social relations to quantum physics.
Perceptive & Personality: In some ways, this illusion, because of its multiple perspectives, provides the best concrete example of what lay people refer to as personality. The personality of an individual person is based on the attitudes and behaviors that they convey to others in various situations. Some attitudes and behaviors will only become apparent in certain situations, while others will be fairly obvious at all times.
Rationality: Several different views of the nature of rationality in intelligent behavior have been introduced in the development of artificial intelligence. A quick statement of some theoretical constructs will help, perhaps, to demonstrate a point concerning provision of services to people with problems in living; particularly those whom we consider to be not rational. Allen Newell  proposed as the principle of rationality the Maximum Rationality Hypotheses: ‘If an agent has knowledge that one of its actions will lead to one of its goals, then the agent will select that action.’ This principle of rationality suggests that a rational entity always chooses actions which it believes are in its own best interest.
Reality: The classical ideal of objectivity – the idea that the world has a definite state of existence independent of our observing it, has been effectively ravaged by quantum physics. “The actual state of existence depends in part on how we observe it and what we choose to see. Objective reality must be replaced by observer created reality.” [Pagels - 1982] The conceptual framework of observer created reality is carried into the macroworld through the functioning of the mind.
Science: The word “science” seems to be used interchangeably in general conversation in at least three quite distinct and nonequivalent ways:
- A set of facts and a set of theories that explain the facts.
- A particular approach, the scientific method.
- Whatever’s being done by institutions carrying on “scientific” activity.
- As a general rule, the nonscientific public tends to opt for the third interpretation. If people describe themselves as “scientist”, what they do must be scientific.
Social Context: Kerr and Nelson  suggested three functional explanations for aggression in the classroom:
- students may lack the ability to discriminate the environmental cues or prompts that set the occasion for prosocial rather than antisocial behaviors. [Inappropriate or ineffective stimulus control].
- aggressive behaviors are reinforced by tangible reward or personal gain, by the reaction of others, or by the avoidance of aversive, unpleasant situations or consequences. [Direct or indirect reinforcement.]
- aggressive behavior may be imitated. [Modeling of aggression]
Emotions: The question of emotions is one that is critical to cognitive/behavioral skill development. “…our deepest feelings, our passions and longings, are essential guides, and our species owes much of its existence to their power in human affairs” [Goleman - 1995]. That emotions have evolutionary importance goes without saying.
Fear, Anger and Attachment: an exploration – Fear is the primordial emotion. Fear is the survival response. Fear, oddly, is also the basis of “trust”. Since fear spurs the animal into action, the animal must trust its instincts and trust the warning; ultimately trusting the person who gives the alarm. For humans anger is a moral emotion. It is righteous. For most of us our attachment to “things” [thoughts, goals, objects and people] are critical to our evaluation of ourselves.
Telos & Responsibility: Victor Frankl  suggests that the search for meaning is the primary motivation in life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. People, he suggests, need “something” for the sake of which to live. ‘Teleology’ is the term for this belief that events are pulled by a purpose toward a definite end. The first and original meaning for telos was formulated by Aristotle: ‘that for the sake of which’.