Mappae Mundi, Psychological Governance, and 21st Century Citizenship Priming

Let’s start with a quote that will help us recognize the bullseye that needs to be manipulated by education reforms tied to social and political transformations. This blog and my earlier book laid out in depth that those transformations are the undisputed goal.

To acquire knowledge we need an apparatus of concepts to classify and organize our sensory experiences–the more so as the latter become, through all kinds of measuring equipment, elaborate extensions of those experiences…Beyond our immediate sensory experiences, with or without artificial extensions, we use inferences, hypotheses, speculations, conjectures and refutations as part of our genetic and acquired configuration…It may sound trivial but: you can only see what you can see. Yet even in the realm of sensory perceptions philosophical questions may arise about the relationship between those perceptions and the associated experiences, information and knowledge. There is always a lot of filtering and selection going on, followed by complex cognitive processes which add ‘meaning’ to the perceptions–or simply ignore them.

That’s what was being manipulated that gave rise to what were misleadingly termed the reading, math, and science ‘wars’–pretending the dispute was about how to properly teach a subject. As the book Mappae Mundi put it, “human beings are able to conceive new ideas, put these new ideas into practice and transmit their innovations that come after them”. That capacity, however, is not evenly distributed among human beings and is thus not equitable. Even more crucially though, those who possess that capacity, really do not fit well into a collective. Inventors of new ideas may not simply accept the transformational “myths, maps, and models” those with political power insist that they use.

the idea of myth as a narrative account intended to make sense of the present by explaining it in terms of events and developments in the past…[This interpretation of myth] has the advantage of not drawing a sharp dividing line between ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ images of the past…The standards by which we measure the validity of our myths evolve; but this applies to our maps and models as well. Maps are a pictorial means of orientation and communication…The standards by which we measure the quality of maps depends on the purpose for which we wish to use the maps…Loosely speaking, any scheme representing associations between events may be called a model…In the process, the complex forces at work are interpreted and simplified. Even rudimentary and relatively simple models can serve important heuristic purposes by pointing to significant problems for further research…Myths, maps, and models represent three modes of discourse, that is, of thinking and communicating, which are, respectively, mainly narrative, descriptive or explanatory.

Useful to control in other words for anyone wishing transformation in the world that currently exists, but not just at the level of conscious thought. In July 1999 American Psychologist published an important article entitled “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being” that recognized a crucial aspect used by learning standards and the conceptual frameworks they mandate. School curriculum can be created to manipulate “mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance.” See how useful controlling Myths, Maps, and Models can be once they become embodied in the neural architecture of the brain as Habits of Mind that can be activated without any conscious thought, but still actively guiding both perception and behavior? That article quoted a 1911 insight of philosopher Alfred Whitehead we should also be aware of:

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle–they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.

Controlling conceptual frameworks instilled in students at both a conscious thought and an automatic level means that when the student believes they are making their own decisions–launching a cavalry charge to use the above metaphor–they are still coordinating their life in a way designed by others. When it is unconscious, it uses what that article called “a direct and automatic route provided from the external environment to action tendencies, via perception.” Makes the requirement that student achievement now be measured by action required–‘performance standards’ as the measure of learning make more sense, doesn’t it? The student as automaton, completely unaware of how much his or her future action has been programmed into them. A useful tool for anyone with aspirations for a compliant collective and disdain for the historic Western conception of the individual.

That includes john a. powell from Racing to Justice to build on the previous post, whose interest in dreams in the book, made it crystal clear that he too wants to reconfigure K-12 and higher ed to use the psychological fact that:

Mental representations designed to perform a certain function will perform that function once activated, regardless of where the activation comes from. The representation does not ‘care’ about the source of the activation…The activated mental representation is like a button being pushed; it can be pushed by one’s finger intentionally (e.g., turning on the electric coffeemaker) or accidentally (e.g., by the cat on the countertop) or by a decision made in the past (e.g., by setting the automatic turn-on mechanism the night before). In whatever way the start button is pushed, the mechanism subsequently behaves in the same way.

Think of it as BF Skinner’s aims, but not his methods, because the values, attitudes, and beliefs–the categories of thought whether myths, maps, images, models, lenses, or frames–become the activated mental representations guiding perception and behavior. Across the political spectrum, this bullseye appears to be what everyone wants to use education to remodel and control. It’s also the source of a great deal of deceit. Much of the deceit comes from think tanks, which makes far more sense given these totalitarian aims, when we become aware of a book from 2017 called Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the Mind, Brain and Behavior. No wonder there was such an organized effort to misdirect public attention away from the documented revelations in Credentialed to Destroy, especially in the areas of how learning standards, competency frameworks, and Tranzi OBE (as defined in book) operate.

They all utilize both the manipulation of nonconscious processes, as well as when the student believes they are making their own decisions consciously. Why on earth would a think tank that quietly advocates that governments and the law promote “the widespread use of psychological governance techniques” be forthcoming about such aims? Utilise the methods of 21st century governance that rely on

the ‘two-brain model’ that succeeds in gaining policy traction precisely because it does not challenge liberal democratic assumptions of political freedom…Certain nudges are aimed at cultivating deliberation and rational responses, whilst others seek to bypass conscious awareness to achieve rational responses through irrational (heuristic) means.

That 2017 book recognised valid concerns that such psychological governance techniques could be considered by some to be overly intrusive in a free society, but rejected that contention since there was supposedly no covering up of this nudging. My point in today’s post is to reject that contention because this targeting is being made in K-12 learning standards that virtually everyone writing books and white papers on behalf of think tanks is misrepresenting. That deceit then leaves no impediment to each student’s very mind, brain and behavior becoming a means where

Key to the exercise of psychological governance in this case, therefore, is a set of technological developments that represent certain tools and techniques necessary for the practical workings of governmental power…[It allows] the political and cultural normalisation of a therapeutic behaviour change agenda. In educational settings from early years to university, numerous policy reports reflect a wide, influential consensus that an interrelated set of psycho-emotional attributes, dispositions and behaviours…can be taught, learned and transferred over time as an essential foundation for successful education and life functioning…All mainstream political parties now agree that the inner states of human subjects determine the relationship between psycho-emotional responses and behaviours in complex, non-linear ways.

Ways that are now being deliberately manipulated via education globally to create the desired citizen of tomorrow, ready for the ‘wicked problems’ of 21st century living. For our own good supposedly we are seeing a new vision of 21st century education grounded in values, attitudes, and beliefs and controlling the instilled mental representations, operating largely unconsciously where

psychology is a source of knowledge and practice with regard to policies and initiatives designed to make live: to impel people to live in particular ways, to endorse certain views of the good or responsible life, to promote and normalise ways of achieving this good life.

In the next post,  I will track this aim through particular curriculum like a 21st century conception of American Democracy grounded in a new vision of History and Civics, as well as Global Education Futures new Learning Ecosystems: An Emerging Praxis for The Future of Education.  These qualities for a governmentally mandated and psychologically instilled ‘good life,’ with its need dispositions and attributes, are ALL communitarian in their vision. They all have the effect that at least john powell laid out explicitly as the real purpose of all this attention on race–to target and then rearrange–“the meaning of the Western self, to bring us into a new relationship with the other and the self. We can and must expand the circle of human concern and attend to our structures and the work they are doing.”

Rather than quoting more from powell that ties to the next post’s specific curricula or restate his tied to both K-12 education and higher ed, let me point out he has a tag for anyone interested in previous posts. Let me close by pointing out that he covered the importance of “framing and priming” because “what we call something can be consequential, affecting the way we think and what we do in relation to our conceptualization of it.” Mandating desired categories of thought to guide our perception and thought at an unconscious level are a major target of his book Racing to Justice as a way to get to his vision of a just society laid out here in a way that will fit well into the next post.

as humans, we are living beings, inherently connected with one another and with the natural world. So although our brains develop partly through categorizing and organizing in ways that can be challenging in a diverse society, our hearts orchestrate a system hardwired to care and respond empathically to one another’s suffering and joy. We can’t allow structures–economic or political–to block or blunt these connections…To embrace our commonality…will require new selves, who are citizens in the true sense of the term: individual, interconnected, and inclusive in ways that reflect the highest aspirations of our nation and our species.

Those new aspirations, to be instilled neurally at an unconscious level, just happen to be the target of the Roadmap to American Democracy and Learning Ecosystems for the global or species level. I guess we could call this the Instilled Mental Map Trilogy.

28 thoughts on “Mappae Mundi, Psychological Governance, and 21st Century Citizenship Priming

    • Had trouble with comments section so will try again. I guess this goes well with Hewlett’s support of Deeper Learning in education. DiaMat internalized to this on the external reality.

      In March 2018, the Hewlett Foundation’s board approved a two-year, $10 million exploratory grantmaking effort to examine potential successors to neoliberalism, the intellectual paradigm that has dominated our economic and policy debates for the past 40 years. This exploration was predicated on the belief that neoliberalism has outlived its usefulness and needs to be replaced by something better suited to the political, economic, and social conditions of the 21st century. Earlier this year, the Hewlett Foundation’s board approved a further five-year, $50 million initiative to continue that work. This document describes the background, goals, and grantmaking strategy for the Economy and Society Initiative.

      Yeah! That worked. Turns out there is a direct connection to the conceptual framework push and their hiring Peter Senge and Robert Kegan to make sure that the Common Core assessments targeted Deeper Learning that we know from Lauren Resnick’s work ties to Soviet psychology and CHAT–Cultural Historical Activity Theory.

      At any given time, our thinking about policy, law, and the proper role of government is shaped by some prevailing intellectual paradigm: an overarching ideas framework that structures how people think about and understand the economy, what its ends should be, and so what government should and should not do. Disagreement persists between different political visions, like today’s conservatives and progressives, but within a larger framework that is for the most part shared.These paradigms are neither right nor wrong so much as they are descriptions that politicians, policymakers, and ordinary citizens use to make sense of an always complex world. A concept like “the king is divine” ordered political and social life for centuries, for example, until replaced by the alternative concept of “popular sovereignty,” which has done similar work since the American and French Revolutions. These paradigms achieve acceptance because they work as explanations for people—meaning they provide a convincing account of what people see in the world around them, which in turn helps frame their understanding of what changes are desirable and what undesirable.

      • Also part of the Hewlett Initiative per that paper’s footnotes

        Also says they are behind Danielle Allen’s work at Harvard so that picks up the Roadmap to American Democracy and her Democratic Knowledge Project created for 8th graders in Cambridge Public Schools. No wonder it fit so well with the cybernetic mindset template.

        And on February 10, 2021 they rolled out their new Fairer Tomorrow Initiative

        Takes you to the interactive website.

        • It appears so in terms of function, which is ultimately what matters in these cybernetic visions. Following up on this insight already pulled up this morning as I avoid the almost unprecedented levels of tree pollen here today. If you look at figure 1, your competency frameworks in coaching and mine, including the Common Core, in K-12 are clearly created to get to the desired Congruence. It also gets at what ll the deceit is about–Use the Subjective Realm while pretending the dispute is about objective reality. As that article says and it fits with where john a powell is going and what I heard in webinars last week: “The concept of Congruence between subjective and objective dynamics highlights that sustainability transcends materiality.”

          That’s also the realm of those Catholic Curriculum Frameworks the think tanks like Pioneer seemed determined to mislead about. I think the money quote in that article is the statement attributed to Bromley in 2012 that

          it is the social construction of that ecosystem–its shared mental objectification–that will be decisive in terms of institutional arrangements by addressing issues of global governance.

          I am reading the Bromley article now (or was until I stopped to make tea and roast chicken for a casserole I am making later so there is plenty of lunch leftovers this week). This is quite astute in its implications. My bolding.

          For humans, the only thing that matters about forests and various ecosystems is nothing more than the categories and meanings and purposes that humans attach and attribute to them. Each of these “environmental assets” becomes for us what we have made of them. This implies that we will see nature and revere nature and use nature in ways that necessarily evolve. The forest is for us nothing but the sum of its effects on us. An ecosystem is to us the sum of its effects on us. Of course forests and ecosystems are also parts of other biological, chemical, and physical systems. But human interaction with forests and ecosystems can be understood only in terms of the effects those forests and ecosystems have on us. When we try to “manage” forests and ecosystems, we are, in fact, managing (redefining) the effects that forests and ecosystems have on us, as we “manage” and redefine the effects we have on them.

          Grasping that reality and how it explains SO MUCH of the organized deceit–like the insistence that data collection was about PII and tied to Evidence-Based Policymaking (remember the Lemming post and the angry response that I was being means?)–that I have encountered. It fits with an article on APUSH that Rick Hess, Jane Robbins, and Stanley Kurtz co-wrote that completely glossed over the implications of a ‘conceptual framework’ in shifting a course away from objective facts and into subjectivity and consciousness alteration. I had a similar reaction to some other webinars last week that disputed the 1619 Project on the basis of objective facts and then turn around and talk about the ‘Ideals’ and ‘principles of 1776’ or the sought ‘virtues’ of citizenship. Everyone seems to want to dictate this consciousness alteration while we are not supposed to notice the slight of hand being used.

          Well, I noticed last week, just like I noticed in the odd responses to the provable facts laid out in CtD. Back to Bromley now I suppose.

          • On the topic of ‘eco-systems’, I was bitching to a CA-based friend about the “CROW” problem in Tokyo. Our fair city has spawned populations of ‘super’ crows, and super ‘rats’. Rats aside, the crows are very large, and HIGHLY intelligent. They can ravage a bag of garbage in seconds; can pry off the plastic lids on discarded fast food containers. They also attack toddlers, old people, and small dogs.

            Upon hearing this, my friend described this as a “human problem”….WELL YES IT IS A PROBLEM FOR HUMANS.

            I was happy to note, later, that the city of Dubai has solved this problem by deploying falcons and other birds of prey.

            This all reminds me, too, about how the Japanese were lectured a few years back on the need to reduce their carbon footprints. I don’t see how THESE could get any smaller. Happy to report that one of the most reviled creatures in Japan is Greta “How Dare You!” Thunberg.

          • is the “Localizing the SDGs through Decentralized Cooperation” document I tried to post last week because I found it so telling. DC is so crucial to global plans it quickly gets turned into an acronym–DC. That was even before I read yesterday’s “Double coupling”, which turns out to have been funded via an NSF grant on “The Dynamics of Multi-Scalar Adaptation in Megacities”.

            I also appreciated the confession in Double Coupling that goes to the real reason for the reading, math, and science wars–“socio-cultural self-organization is driven by symbolic processes” and the key to preventing those processes from creating idiosyncratic differences among people is to get at conceptual thinking, values, attitudes, and beliefs and standardize them. That’s precisely what the Common Core, NGSS, the C3 Framework in Social Sciences, and competency frameworks globally now do.

            Funny, you mention your experiences with animals as Friday afternoon we were outside on back patio in a ritual that will probably outlast the pandemic, with guests over, and a hawk began doing a deliberate spiral maybe 30 feet above us. In more than 25 years of living here, that’s a new one. It certainly changed the topic of conversation. It was clearly putting on a show for us.

          • Look what I found

            CNH considers humans and the environment as one interconnected system. This year’s grantees will look at the ways people deal with environmental processes in a range of settings, including coasts, forests and cities.

            “Improving knowledge about the complex ways humans interact with natural environmental phenomena and processes is a focus of the CNH program,” said Thomas Baerwald, CNH program director representing SBE. “Projects examine how these interactions can enhance human well-being and environmental quality.”

            CNH stands for Coupled Natural and Human Systems and the program goes back to 2001 . The coupling and one systems vision fits with the funding for K-12 curriculum, which certainly aids that coupling into one system by manipulating the symbolic systems. It also reminds me of following the advocates of the False Narrative in student data privacy and discovering both of the most prominent proponents, including the woman whose work on Project Unicorn was 180 degrees from reality, and learning each was married to an environmental sciences college prof. That didn’t seem coincidental at the time, but with CNH as an organized, well-funded program it all seems to fit. Misportraying the role of data in manipulating human subjectivity and pretending it was about a PII database and not centripetal as I asserted leaves the ability to get at KSAVE to aid in this coupling intact.

            From a 2019 solicitation

            This solicitation represents a significant update of the CNH program, which will be known henceforth as CNH2: Dynamics of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems. The CNH2 program acknowledges a continuum of environments from those with very limited human impacts (e.g. the extreme poles) to those in which human systems and processes fully dominate (e.g. densely populated megacities). There are integrated systems operating in all these spaces, and many can be considered as domains for CNH2 study. For the purposes of this solicitation, we define the “socio” or human component of the system as one predominantly governed by human decisions, actions, and behaviors, and we define the “environmental” component of the system as one predominantly governed by biological, physical, and chemical processes. CNH2 projects can include research that investigates integrated socio-environmental systems in agricultural as well as in urban settings.

            Okey-dokey. Another mystery solved. That definition of socio gives every reason to manipulate the realm of ‘human decisions, actions, and behaviors’ because the desired coupling CANNOT occur unless the internal drivers of those become standardized. Precisely what KSAVE (Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes, Values, Ethics) targeting does, which NSF has also funded and UNESCO emphasizes. An idiosyncratic Mappae Mundi defeats the desired coupling, just like the related well-stocked brain full of facts from a lifetime of phonetically fluent reading.

          • There is a paper I think you will appreciate that I found looking for something in a footnote described in Nikolas Rose’s governing the soul. The article is called “Kurt Lewin at The Tavistock Institute”. Written by an employee there, Jean E. Neumann, it was published in Educational Action Research in March 2005. There appear to be a couple of sources for the article once you know it exists. I know Lewin is of interest to you.

  1. A Japanese professor just sent me this “anime”, which he thought describes JP culture, exactly.

    You have probably seen it. I hadn’t.

  2. Thanks on the Lewin reference. Ages ago, you send me a K-12 teacher’s training document that referenced Erhard as the “father of transformational learning”…can’t find it. Can you resend?

      • If you can just locate any K-12 doc that references Erhard it would be fine. Just looking for an example of the penetration of his learning ‘technologies’ into this world.

        • has the mapping of the neural activity that leads to perception, emotions, cognition, and behavior. As I have said before, this is not a project about dysfunction, but rather ultimately a means of controlling human functionality with only an apparition of choice. That also became apparent toward the end of the Behavioural Insights book. For me, it ties perfectly to the mandated annual HOTS assessments in the ESSA federal legislation passed in 2015.

          I have no doubt Erhard was and is familiar with all the behavioral sciences work that came out of CASBS and that the real target was and is human subjectivity itself. There seems to be a real organized push to misdirect attention from that based on videos of webinars I have watched in last several weeks. There is a real determination to pretend CRT is about bad history and erroneous facts instead of altering the perspective in which reality is seen and then making that perspective widespread.

    • The reason I became aware of the Psychological Governance and Public Policybook was it was cited in the 2020 MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series’ book Behavioral Insights by Michael Hallsworth and Elspeth Kirkman. VUCA gets at cybernetics as a vision for transforming and guiding society from the level of the mind that goes back to Norbert Weiner’s wartime work around uncertainty. VUCA gets at a world where probability is the closest we can come because of the desire to transform what exists, instead of building on it. It talks about VUCA, but more importantly, the aspiration for the “integration of cultural, regulatory, and individual change.”

      This list, from the chapter on “Applying Behavioral Insights” seems to me to fit within both what I have seen in education and the real purpose for the changes and what you have seen with organizations and Executive Coaching. Toget at the “kind of interventions that would be feasible” to alter the areas targeted for change, the book recommends asking the following questions. Italics in original.

      1. Can you change the fundamental rules that govern the system, such as regulations law, or policies?
      2. Can you change the incentives that motivate action, such as the social or economic costs and benefits of certain behaviors?
      3. Can you change the information provided?
      4. Can you change the environment in which decisions are made (e.g., the space in which certain activities are completed)?
      5. Can you change the process actors go through, for example, removing or reducing barriers to progress?

      Remember Pavel Luksha and Skolkovo have partnered with MIT around his work and MIT has partnered with UNESCO and other UN entities to achieve the goals of the Earth System Partnership I first wrote about in 2012. It’s one of the reasons I started the blog after discovering that Obama had rolled out a global transformational initiative in 2009 laid out in a document called the Belmont Challenge. I still have hard copies of all the documentation, whatever has since been flushed from the internet. Although I didn’t understand or even know about the Marxian Human Development Society and the real meaning of the phrase “All that is solid melts into air,” I HAD finished the CtD manuscript. I was quite taken by how the Belmont Challenge vision could fit with the recently required changes to K-12 accreditation standards and what Quality Learning was to actually mean.

      No need to wonder anymore. One more crucial point laid out in the above book is that as to what we are both dealing with and trying to highlight accurately to others is contained in this paragraph.

      So, at around the mid-2000s, our three strands of history come together: the rise of behavioral economics, the convergence on dual process theories in psychology, and the growth of government interest in new accounts of human behavior. These created the conditions for the birth of behavioral insights.

  3. Can you confirm in what year Carl Rogers received an NIMH grant…to write his humanistic education blah de blah. I recall you discussing this in a previous post.

    • Are you thinking of this post that describes the 1962 work with the NEA and then the later work with Rollo May that ties to Martin Seligman and his Positive Psych work?

      Also the NIMH in the 60s funded Milton Rokeach’s work on the unconscious that he coined the term ‘competency-based education’ to describe. I consider all the feints about CBE to be about workforce training to be misdirection or ignorance. The South Carolinians are being misled within the last week I noticed on CBE and SEL.

      I spent yesterday morning reading the 2018 article by Prof Mark E. Button cited in Behavioral Insights called “Bounded Rationality without Bounded Democracy: Nudges, Democratic Citizenship, and Pathways for Building Civic Agency”, which certainly closed the loop in the plans for us and how it really does tie back to John Dewey as I laid out in CtD. If you can locate it, remember it was the Rockefeller Foundation that funded the Deliberate Democracy Handbook and Center.

      If that’s not the right article, put Carl Rogers into search and see what else it pulls up. Seems like I remember what you are talking about in connection with one of the Esalen books. I think it got routed through his center in La Jolla that is now closed. Also, the VUCA reference ties to the plans for what BI calls CAS–Complex Adaptive Systems. It defines those in the Glossary as

      A dynamic network of many agents, which each act according to individual strategies or routines and have many connections with each other. These agents adapt and self-organize, which means that changes are not linear or straightforward and the behavior of the whole cannot be predicted from the constituent parts.

      The real truth is we you are hellbent on fundamental transformation, have disdain for individuality, and want to make the collective dominant because it’s what can be controlled, the end result is not built on the past and is thus quite uncertain. Wouldn’t want a well-stocked mind full of facts and a personality with spine pointing out the flaws of all these plans. That’s inconsistent with being a malleable system subject to political control at every level of government, which is certainly the plan as that Decentralized Cooperation paper made crystal clear.

      My work may not contain insights that are pleasant to read, but it certainly allows almost 20/20 Foresight about what is planned for us and what the likely consequences will be. One of the topics that MIT considers to be “Essential Knowledge’ in its series was School Choice by a David R. Garcia. No wonder there’s so much deceit surrounding those public policy think tanks and ‘conservative’ websites with ties to those think tanks concerning school choice. Essentially get parents upset, make them seek a choice that they will inherently believe actually gave them a way out, and they’ll likely never notice the same end result to their child’s mind and personality using a different rationale and sales pitch. Listen up as to how every remedy is more at a normative change level than about the actual transmission of factual knowledge. All laid out in the Psychological Governance and Public Policy book down to using Aristotle to obscure the reality of the shift.

      • Yes, I had been thinking of that post…thanks. I am writing up my findings on Esalen, and 1962 was a banner year for grants to certain parties. Virginia Satir, who founded the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, received an NIMH grant in 1962 and then relocated to Esalen as a permanent resident. She worked with Fritz Perls, there, testing gestalt ‘therapy’ methods on the guinea pigs who walked in the door. I remembered that Rogers received some form of funding in 1962, other than that funneled through the Human Ecology Foundation.

        Googling Rogers nets a lot of disinformation.

        • Fritz Perls came up troublingly and unexpectedly in something I read recently. Did not use his nickname, but full name. Will try to locate, but I remember writing Esalen in margin of whatever it was.

          How’s this for a telling confession from the BI book.

          Normalizing is about how to integrate the behavioral insights approach into standard practices for organizations, so it can endure even as attention fades–even if we eventually stop talking about ‘behavioral insights’ as a distinct idea…Our main commitment should be to ‘what works,’ since the overriding goal is to have an impact on issues in the real world, rather than to maintain theories for their own sake…this setup creates a ‘psychocracy’ of control…there are many environments that individuals struggle to change on their own, indicating a change in politics or policy is needed…At the most basic level, behavioral insights can be used to nudge people to take part in civic activities in the first place. Although this nudge may be operating on the Automatic System, the goal is to make sure someone takes part in an activity that engages their Reflective SWystem. Then, behavioral insights can be used to design better deliberative mechanisms.

          Those ‘deliberative mechanisms’ include conceptual frameworks, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Cross-Cutting Concepts, Enduring Understandings and all the other euphemisms for Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete a la DiaMat that come under the Higher Order Thinking Skills mandate that absolutely and demonstrably came out of Soviet psychology and the CHAT work. The book then goes into how CAS-Complex Adaptive System analysis can help. VUCA indeed.

          …in complex adaptive systems there may not be a straightforward link between cause and effect. As Herbert Simon observed in 1969, this means we need a different and less directive approach, ‘When we come to the design of systems as cities, or buildings, or economies, we must give up the aim of creating systems that will optimize some hypothesized utility function.’ Instead, we need to understand how we can create the conditions so that individuals and organizations can interact in a way that means the desired behaviors emerge from the system indirectly.

          That requires getting at people directly and how their Automatic and Reflective Systems both work now and how they can be made to work via formative assessment to make use of “behaviorally informed regulation that focuses more on ‘reshaping the rules of the game’ for public good…and integrate behavioral insights into the standard way that policy is made or organizations are run.”

          Precisely what you and I have been noticing and tracking for years now.

          • Yep.

            The installation of Fritz Perls at Esalen is kinda mysterious. I say so because there is a lot of evidence that neither Murphy, nor Price felt any affinity for Perls or his version of gestalt. They seem to have tolerated him, and some pretty outrageous behavior, adjusted to him and then built whole programs around his ‘approach’.

            Perls was ‘grandiose’ by any standard of that word. He believe ‘gestalt therapy’ would “save mankind”. HUH???

            In 1966, Murphy and George Leonard put together a resident training program that focused on gestalt, and encounter group ‘therapy’. This program, a succession of nine month workshops was not really ‘therapeutic’ in nature. Murphy called the participants, “psychonauts”, meaning they were to explore uncharted territories of human experience. Lot’s of LSD involved, I imagine. The program was suspended after six years and a spate of suicides. Some of the suicides involved licensed therapists who were taking the program to upgrade their skills.

            Half of these deaths occurred at the facility, and they were of a gruesome nature…shot-gun to the head, drowning in a public bath, swan dives into the Pacific Ocean.

            Thing is, “gestalt therapy” is still an experimental technique, had never been codified, or validated — and never will be. Esalen seemed to skate on these deaths, I guess because it was not a licensed mental health facility. Shit happens, after all. You want to experience ‘nirvana’, you gotta break some eggs.

            Perls had a likable side, though, at least in my opinion. He apparently told Murphy that he had a great b.s. detector, and could discern chicken-shit, from bull-shit, from elephant-shit, and that he thought the New Age movement and Esalen, and presumably Murphy, himself, qualified as elephant-shit. I give him credit for that!

            As for your own research, I guess you could consider that ‘a’ focus of gestalt as practiced by Perls was to decouple participants from their past experience, and to immerse them in the “NOW”. I think the ‘mindfulness’ stuff comes out of this.

            As second outcome seemed to involve the expression of sexual energy, anytime, any place, with anyone. I guess this comes out of Wilhelm Reich’s sex-pol.

            Drugs, sex, NO BOUNDARIES seems to be a good recipe for unhinging people to the point of suicide, or, at least the personality ‘snapping’ we have discussed before.

            All of a piece…

          • I just figured it out, as I knew it had come up within last week or so, and I had left Nikolas Rose’s Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self in my car after I worked on it while sitting in a parking lot recently in my chauffeur mode. Turns out the preceding paragraph on page 246 in the “Technologies of Automation” chapter refers to Carl Rogers and his ‘client-centred therapy’ and its clear ‘ethical theme’–‘To Be the Self Which One Truly Is’. The footnote cites to Rogers’ 1961 book On Becoming a Person, with the next footnote on Rogers’ work’s purpose being from a 1971 book by W.B. Frick Humanistic Psychology: Interviews with Maslow, Murphy and Rogers. The Rose book finishes the paragraph on Rogers by stating that his “goal of therapy is nothing less than ‘the fully functioning person,’ on whom the survival of the species may well depend.”

            Here’s the next paragraph quoted in full until until it gets to Art Janov, the “originator of primal therapy”

            The moral codes of the less ‘respectable’ forms of therapy are equally clear. Frederick Perls, inventor of Gestalt therapy, proclaims the Gestalt outlook to be ‘the original, undistorted, natural approach to life’ through which each individual can ‘heal the dualism of his person’, recover ‘his Wholeness, his Integrity’, grow, mature, develop his ‘self’–nothing less than ‘a small contribution to that problem which might contain the possibility of the survival of mankind.’

            So once again supposedly, as I covered in CtD with respect to sustainability and its ties to the global education reforms known as the Common Core in the US and competency-based education globally, we have a call for education to transform who the student is from the inside-out on a transformational, holistic basis. It’s also interesting that Rose admits to having been a Marxist, but now sees psychological techniques altering human subjectivity and consciousness as the key to how governments will control citizens in the 21st century. We really do need to listen, especially since an earlier chapter was called “The Young Citizen”. It was not referring to 20-somethings.

            The Perls’ quote was from the 1951 book on Gestalt Therapy he did with Hefferline and Paul Goodman.

  4. Wow, and bless you…I was just writing about the Perls/Goodman practice manual. I LOVE you, Robin, but don’t get any ideas, ;-).

    Clearly their mission and approach is of existential importance, and NO HALF MEASURES.

    On Rogers, I just found a paper on the shadow side of Rogers, Perls, Ellis. Not to gossip, but WHY NOT…Rogers, per this pretty well-researched manuscript was really fond of vodka and was consuming a bottle a day by the early 70’s. I guess this was his “authentic self”. He was also into Ouji Boards, and channeling. Are any of these guys ‘normal’?

    I think it has something to do with utopian visions…the need to create:

    “the context of a world that works for everyone”…right?

    This is FUN!

    • It starts with a country that works for everyone apparently as I have bolded this quote from this just released paper from a convening we were not invited to.

      A Public School System—and a Nation—at Inflection Point

      We as a nation are painfully divided and facing a series of systemic and cultural crises. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare profound issues that we have known about for decades but have addressed with only minimal success. Confronting and overcoming long-brewing racial, economic, and social injustices and disparities so that we may promote and safeguard healthy civic participation for all is the imperative of our day. These challenges require that all Americans consider their role in protecting our republic and forming a more perfect union for all citizens.

      For educators, these challenges demand that we evolve the public school system so that it can equitably and effectively meet the needs of ALL learners—from those children who have been systematically marginalized to those with disabilities to those who benefit from more independence, and all in between. Action has never been more urgent or consequential. Superintendents, building principals, teachers, school boards, teachers unions, and community leaders all must accept responsibility for addressing our nation’s challenges and play a central role in defining and leading systemic change in our districts and schools. Achieving this level of accountability will ask all of us to redefine our roles and responsibilities in the education system.

      To articulate a call to action and a shared vision for public educators, AASA convened the Learning 2025: National Commission on Student-Centered, Equity-Focused Education. This report holds recommendations for school transformation from the Commission’s thought leaders in education, business, community, and philanthropy. It captures a new vision of public schools as ecosystems of future-driven, rigorous, energetic, and culturally vibrant learning, where leaders, administrators, teachers, learners, families, and communities all play a role in redesigning the system, reengineering instruction, and co-authoring the learning journey. The recommendations require that educators are empowered and equipped to meet Whole Learner needs by personalizing and customizing instruction and coordinating resources to support ALL children’s overall growth and well-being.

      The latter bolding was to point out this fits with the SoLD Alliance’s push to do the same but using the ‘thrive’ euphemism. There will probably be a flourishing paper by next week. is the link, released yesterday. Still working on it, but I recognize Daggett.

      Adding this–Yikes!!

      As we defined our vision of holistic school redesign, we were guided by a core belief that schools must operate as the heartbeat of the country we want and believe in—a country where freedom, justice, and opportunity are extended to everyone, without question, qualification, or exception. We achieve this only when educators stand firmly against the marginalization of any child and steadfastly in favor of building a new system capable of meeting ALL children’s Whole Learner needs equitably. Schools must be culturally responsive, culturally representative, and inclusive incubators of honest, courageous discourse about the issues most important and sacred to the well-being of our country and democracy, such that learners grow into committed stewards of a country and world where marginalization, racism, racial and ethnic injustices, and any and all discriminatory practices are rooted out and eradicated.


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