4th International Conference on the Dialogical Self (icds-4) University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

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10h15 – 11h45

Paper 20
Managing multiplicity

Chair: John Rowan (Independent Consultant, UK)

Managing multiplicity: Self-creation in a multicultural society

Emma-Louise Aveling (University of Greenwich, UK)

From the perspective of the theory of the dialogical self, ethnic identity development can be understood as a process of appropriating discourses of ethnic identity, and positioning oneself in relation to those discourses. In this process, a self-constructing narrative emerges through a dialogue in the polyphonic self. The agent does not act in a ‘free space’, but is constrained by asymmetries of power rooted in socio-cultural structures and reflected in the ‘society of mind’.

Children of immigrants must therefore find their positions within the tangle of contradictory demands and discourses from both their ethnic community and the wider society. The case of second-generation Turkish adolescents living in London is used to illustrate the development of a multiplicity of ethnic identity positions in response to such discourses. These adolescents both appropriate and reject essentialising discourses of ethnicity and identity. I suggest this contextual and contingent duality can be understood as an adaptive response to a multicultural environment structured by social, cultural and political asymmetries of power, allowing them to move with purpose in an on-going process of identity development.

Self multiplicity and integration: The perspective of cognitive-experiential self-theory

Hubert Suszek (Warsaw University, Poland)

The main aim of the presented investigation was to show that the cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST) can be useful for understanding both multiplicity and unity of the self-concept. It was assumed that the rational system is responsible for unity of the self-concept whereas the experiential system is connected with multiplicity of the self-concept. Two studies were conducted to test the model. Study 1 showed that subjects with dominant experiential processing have more multiple self and are more prone to dissociation than subjects with dominant rational system. Study 2 indicated that the experimental induction of experiential system increases the plurality of the self, whereas the induction of rational system increases the self unity. Those findings support the CEST, according to which self can be considered as both multiple and unitary.

Brain plasticity and the process of change: From synaptic change to change in organization of I-positions

John Klein (University of Minho, Portugal) & Agnieszka Konopka (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Poland)

The adult human brain is a complex, dynamic, rapidly changing system capable of great adaptation in normal and pathological situations. The concept of a static brain, limited in its powers of recuperation by a constituent neuronal population incapable of regeneration has lately undergone into a dramatic revision. Since Hebb’s earliest findings on structural and functional changes in synaptic strength proposed as a sign of what is called brain plasticity until Hermans’ dynamical conceptualization of the self, research has tried to understand how the human brain works, how psychopathology arrives, and how clinicians can therapeutically manipulate the relevant mechanisms to promote further recovery. The authors address an enterprise within a dynamical functioning that will require creating links between advances in neurosciences and dialogical self theory, proposing a theoretical model of how brain plasticity and I-position’s organization act in the change process. This model will be discussed in terms of contributions to psychopathology and psychotherapy.

Cognitive polyphasis and dialogism

Deepika Sharma Moraje (University of Cambridge, UK)

This paper borrows from two bodies of knowledge: Cognitive Polyphasia and dialogism. Moscovici’s (1976) idea of cognitive polyphasia, rooted in his Social Representations theory, holds that people can maintain inconsistent forms of thought and belief simultaneously. It is premised on the dispersal, inference and circulation of knowledge between changing social milieus and the demands made by particular social contexts on the individual. Cognitive polyphasia in an individual is always part of a larger, collective pattern, and is used by Moscovici (1976) to explain conflicting social representations. Bakthin's (1981) postulation of dialogicality emphasizes the plurality of voices within the self and their interaction with each other. Heterogenous voices constitute the self within every individual, even if these voices are only half ours and half drawn from others. Each voice can be said to correspond to a particular position within the self from which it emanates, which Hermans (2002) conceptualizes as the I-position. Depending on the socio-cultural context, the self occupies different I-positions, and incongruous voices engage in a dialog with one another. The domains of cognitive polyphasia and Bakhtinian dialogism are often treated as separate. Although this is perfectly justified (and even important), I choose to call attention to the similarity between the two: I propose that cognitive polyphasia and dialogism have a common thread – both are orientated towards multiplicity. They address the multiplex nature of our psychic world, and are concerned with the coincidence of the fragmentations of the self. My argument is that this similarity is an important one. It allows us to raise the question of whether, given this common concern with heterogeneity, one of the areas can facilitate a better understanding of the other, and thus potentially contribute to current theoretical perspectives on both. This leads me to the crux of this paper, through which I seek to make two related contributions. Firstly, no definitive research has so far sought to directly assess cognitive polyphasia. As it stands, it has been only suggested provisionally (Wagner et al, 1999). I endeavour to assess the presence and manifestation of cognitive polyphasia among immigrants in two types of contexts: public and private. Secondly, in recognizing similarities between Bakhtin’s (1981) dialogism and Moscovici’s (1976) notion of cognitive polyphasia, I outline an approach where the former is used as the analytical apparatus to explicate the process of the latter. By using Bakhtinian analysis and identifying voices among 2nd generation British-Asians, I thereby seek to understand the process of cognitive polyphasia. My findings reveal that cognitive polyphasia is present among 2nd generation British-Asians, and they are aware of their inconsistencies. Within the public space, polyphasic behaviour exists with respect to alcohol consumption, smoking, and pre-marital relationships. In the private context, marriage is the key issue that elicits polyphasia. Further, I propose that the process of cognitive polyphasia is sustained and reified through the medium of Bakhtinian dialogism, where three predominant voices (Asian, British and Observer) are engaged in dialog. The Asian and British voices are context-congruent (i.e.Asian in the private context, British in the public) and contradict each other in any given context. These contraventions materialize the process of cognitive polyphasia. The Observer voice is neutral and positioned in a unique, distanciated space. It mediates the confutations between the Asian and British voices, thereby managing cognitive polyphasia within the individual. In this manner, my research validates Wagner et al’s (1999) findings, and goes beyond to identify how the process of cognitive polyphasia occurs and is managed through dialogicality.

12h00 – 13h00

Lecturer 3
David E. Leary (University of Richmond, USA)

The significance of dialogues with physically absent partners
One of the distinctive characteristics of human beings is their ability to absent themselves from their physical time and place – to use their imagination to be elsewhere. So I can, at any moment, imagine myself in New York or Braga, in the seventeenth or twenty-second century, and the experience can be as real and consequential to me as any other experience. (Virtual reality is, after all, an experiential reality; and living in it has its own very tangible repercussions.) Conversely, at the focus of my address will be the premise that human beings are able to enter imaginatively into dialogue, in the here and now, with partners who are themselves physically (including electronically) absent, either because they are no longer alive, are physically elsewhere (without access to phone or email), are entirely fictitious, or exist in ways that have nothing to do with physicality. Often these dialogues with a physically absent partner – perhaps a deceased parent, a lover who is away on a long trip, a character in a play who has seized upon one’s imagination, or God – are deeply meaningful and consequential. I will spend some time exploring this topic, using the American psychologist and philosopher William James’s dialogues with Hamlet and with Goethe as examples, hopefully setting the scene for significant dialogue among conference participants. One line of discussion might address the fact that psychotherapy can be seen not only as entailing the revision of the implicit narrative of one’s life but also as inviting the continuation of the unfinished dialogues that have helped to constitute one’s self.

12h00 – 13h00

Paper 21
Theoretical developments to the dialogical self

Chair: Peter Raggatt (James Cook University, Australia)

Forms of positioning in the dialogical self: A survey of midlife adults

Peter Raggatt (James Cook University, Australia)

In a dialogical approach fundamental antinomies or oppositions in the formation of the self are proposed. Hence, for every act of self-affirmation or for every self-defining story told, an opposing episode or state of affairs can be found. Positioning theories have been invoked to account for the dynamics of these oppositions in the self. In this paper a system for the classification of ‘forms of positioning’ is proposed, and a study to evaluate the scheme is described. In the system of classification, the dynamics of positioning are organized by (a) mode or medium of expression (e.g., discursive, performed, embodied), (b) origins of dynamic conflict (e.g., moral career, agency needs, communion needs), and (c) social constructions (e.g., role conflicts, power hierarchies). Hence, the approach taken highlights both personal agency and social construction in the formation of the self. In the study to be described the classification system was adapted to code for positioning forms found in life narrative data. Some preliminary findings from a survey of 115 mid-life adults will be reported.

Explorations in the dialogical self

Piotr K. Oles (Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)

The paper presents selected outcomes of the dialogical workshops conducted at KUL in 2005, inspired by Hermans’ theory of the dialogical self. Taking inspirations from the notion of dialogical self as “a dynamic multiplicity of voiced positions in the landscape of the mind”, the relationships among different I-positions were explored.

(1) Phenomenological exploration: Imaginative space of one’s mind was introduced as a circle, the participants were asked to sign one or more pairs of antagonistic I positions, representing variety of their internal voices. The positions were named and their most characteristic verbal expressions were formulated. The maps of the self were analyzed in a qualitative and quantitative way.

(2) Figures of a dialogical mind: Taking a room as a space symbolizing one’s dialogical mind, a person created several I-positions asking the participants of a group to present her internal voices, each having a specific place, function, and way of expression. The participants acted parts of inner voices starting mutual interactions and simulating person’s dialogical self. The person commented such a performance on a level of self-reflection and meta-reflection.

The analysis of the internal voices allowed to distinguish: (1) internal dialogues as simulation of social relationships; (2) identity dialogues, in which a person negotiates personal identity between two or more voices representing different I-positions; (3) dialogues supporting the self, for example between actual and possible selves; and (4) dialogues, as a way to personal maturity, in which a person tends to find a solution of a personal dilemma, engaging his or her meta-position. The confrontation with an imagined point of view of a significant figure (mentor, authority) led to the solution or a new understanding of the problem.

I-positioning as a participation of a newcomer in a professional community

S. Annese, M. B. Ligorio & M. Traetta (University of Bari, Italy)

The study here presented attempts to combine workplace studies and Dialogical Self theory. Based on this integration, professional identity is re-conceptualized as changes in I-positioning related to workplaces. Aim of this study is to track down the process of progressive participation of a newcomer into the professional community. A participated observation was carried out in a testing material laboratory. 20 hours of videotaping were collected. The newcomer was the focus of the observation, especially during two phases: the starting- up of the practice and its central phase. Verbal and non-verbal communication was analysed. Verbal communication was focused on the mechanisms of repair, whereas the non-verbal communication was analysed through categories describing body movements and facial expressions. Results show that the socialization process of the newcomer is non-linear. The pattern of appropriation of a new professional identity moves along a set of I-positioning - expressed both through body and discourse. A complex trajectory of participation is designed, influenced by the confrontation with the others included into the scenario and the situateness of the episodes occurring.

12h00 – 13h00

Paper 22

Narrative, dialogicality and selfhood

Chair: Lívia M. Simão (University of S. Paulo, Brazil)

A narrative and dialogical approach to the self-development of adolescents involved in criminal activities

Maria Cláudia S. Lopes de Oliveira (University of Brasília, Brazil)

This work shares a critical perspective on the mainstream theoretical approach of the categories of self and identity in Psychology of Adolescence. An alternative narrative-dialogical approach is discussed, an interpretative frame based on theoretical and methodological elements of Social-Historical and Narrative Psychology that accomplishes general and specific aspects of the situated development of self & identity in adolescence. We have investigated developmental processes in institutions for temporary incarceration of adolescents involved in criminal activities. Our interest is to evaluate along with the adolescents the impact of incarceration over their present and future life. Narratives and personal accounts of adolescents produced in three complimentary settings are registered and analyzed: (a) autobiographical interviews; (b) structured sessions of pedagogical assistance; (c) informal daily life activities in the correctional institution. In the present work excerpts of autobiographical interviews are presented. They express events of emergence and reconstruction of meanings of participants regard social and personal world, in the context of interactions with interviewer.

Written narratives of women in a teacher preparation program and the construction of self

Zilma Oliveira, Ana Paula Silva & Fernanda Cardoso (University of São Paulo, Brazil)

To study the influence of schooling practices upon the formation of a personal and professional self, we have analyzed written self-narratives elaborated by mature women enrolled in a teacher preparation program. We came to conclude that writing self-narratives helped the students to make choices, to confront meanings, and to select arguments for presenting themselves to the reader in a certain form. The fact that they had written a text to be read by their teachers is as a relevant factor as a great number of the narratives are reflexive, optimistic, and expressing ideas discussed in the program. Their desire of showing their appropriation of the basic teaching competencies has to be considered in the analysis too. However, this fact does not make the speeches uniform. Some narratives were colored by pessimistic and conservative statements, and typical of a more dramatic version of their own history. We can also see an active switching between some positions: sometimes the students present themselves as suffering, discriminated or bitter women, as constrained victims, and sometimes as victorious, successful, rewarded ladies. These portrays are traced by referring to some elaborated linguistic expressions and interesting argumentative constructions, in spite of the fact that many students present texts with traces of an unconventional appropriation of writing.

Constructing a meaningful retirement

Jasmin Tahmaseb McConatha & Mathew Mauriello (West Chester University of Pennsylvania, USA)

This qualitative study focuses on immigrant men and women’s dreams, hopes, plans, and concerns for the retirement years. The transition to later adulthood can be more stressful especially for immigrants who have already had to cope with multiple identity changes. Men and women who immigrated to the United States may face a very different set of cultural expectations for later life than non immigrants. For older immigrants the retirement or later adulthood years present a last opportunity to integrate their divergent life paths and to re-connect with their culture of origin. This qualitative study focused on the results of interviews with 28 Iranian immigrant men and women. The 12 men and 16 women ranged in age from 52 to 81. Their goals, hopes, and plans as well as their concerns for their “retirement years” were analyzed. The results suggest that immigration continues to influence the search for a meaningful retirement and later adulthood. According to our interviews even in decisions related to retirement, there are stressors and cancers related to intergenerational relationships, memory and family history, as well as concerns about health care and economic factors. It appears that early life cultural dislocation complicates the negotiation and re-negotiation of immigrant men and women’s lives even in the transition to retirement.

12h00 – 13h00

Paper 23
Dialogicality and psychotherapy

Chair: Giancarlo Dimaggio (Third Center of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Italy)

Feeling better by being oneself: Dialogical self-construction in psychotherapy

Luis Botella & Meritxell Pacheco (Ramon Llull University, Spain)

This study is based on a relational constructivist approach to dialogical self-construction in psychotherapy and its relation to outcome. Participants were 34 adults receiving individual psychotherapy in a University based clinic. Two components of dialogical self-construction were analized: (a) self-consistency (the degree of association between the client’s relational positionings and his/her general self-construction), and (b) the client’s feeling of “being him or herself”. Both were assessed by means of personal construct Repertory Grids. Therapy outcome was assessed by means of the Core Outcome Questionnaire administered in three different moments (pre-therapy, intermediate, and post-therapy). Results show that symptom improvement was related to an increase in self-consistency and the feeling of “being oneself”.

The dialogical self in transpersonal psychotherapy

John Rowan (Independent Consultant, UK)

It seems that it is possible to treat subpersonalities (under whatever label) by personifying them and dialoguing with them in therapy (Rowan 1990). It also seems that in transpersonal psychology we can speak of states of consciousness with such titles as Mental Ego (Persona, public self), Centaur (or authentic self), Subtle Self (or soul), Causal Self (or spirit) and Nondual (Wilber 2000). These are normally not thought of as subpersonalities, but rather as expresssions of spirituality, and little attempt has been made in the past to personify them. But is it possible to assume or pretend that they can be personified? In the present paper we shall look at the two main aspects of this question: the conceptualisation of internal dialogues and the conceptualisation of the spiritual realm, which we shall call the transpersonal. This will be done through giving an account of how they emerged in my work, particularly in the two books of mine which are relevant: Subpersonalities: The People Inside Us (1990) and The Transpersonal: Spirituality in Psychotherapy and Counselling (2nd edition) (2005). What emerges is a new concept of the dialogical self.

14h00 – 16h00

Creating innovation within the self through a feedforward workshop

Avraham N. Kluger & Dina Nir (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)

To ignite and enhance creative dialogues within the self, we propose a self-examination process termed FEEDFORWARD. In feedforward, participants are coached to tell a story regarding a past experience in which they felt happy and energized from the actual task they were performing. This process revitalizes latent positive representation of the self and brings these voices to center stage. Then participants analyze the causes for their past success, and examine their emotions at their peak moment, hence further solidifying and strengthening these positive voices within the self. The new elicited self-knowledge regarding the conditions that allowed participants to be at their best offers a guideline of standards for future optimal performance.  The evocation of these clear and explicit standards sets the stage for the following inquiry/question:  "Imagine that you continue to work in the same way you have in the recent past, will this bring you closer to or take you further away from the conditions that led you to be most successful?"  This mental exercise creates an innovative dialogue within the self by juxtaposing different self representation: Dominant representations that direct ongoing behavior are contrasted with latent representations of when people felt most empowered and full of life. By aligning reawakened deep-seated needs and motivations with explicit plans for the future, the feedforward process initiates innovative dialogues within the self, and facilitates the reorganization of the self to provide positive and lasting (transformational) effects. To expose the Feedforward process, we propose the following 2-hour experiential workshop: Evocation of feedforward standards and conditions for happiness and productivity.

- Why do we need Feedforward? Feedback and motivation: overview of research and theory (DeNisi & Kluger, 2000; Kluger, 2004; Kluger & DeNisi, 1996, 1998; Levontin & Kluger, 2004; Van-Dijk & Kluger, 2004) [15 minutes] by Prof. Kluger. The goal of this section is to raise awareness of the double-edge nature of feedback, and the inefficiency of feedback processes on creating change and innovation within the self.

- Reawakening dormant positive positions: The standard elicitation interview (Kluger, 2006) by Prof. Kluger and Mrs. Nir: Participants will experience eliciting feedforward standards which includes discover and self-awareness of the conditions that leads oneself to superior performance. Participants will practice this interview method in pairs. The method can be used by researchers and practitioners to discover underutilized skills and to increase motivation, and be employed with peers, subordinates, clients and others. [35 minutes].

- Elucidating commonalities of best practices of people when they are best at their work: Participants will be divided into groups of 4 (without their previous interviewing partner) and be asked to discover commonalities in 8 stories. Group leaders will then report to the plenary their results. Results will be made public as to set the stage for all participants to capitalize on existing strengths found in themselves and among their peers. The potential benefit of this exercise is to propagate feedforward process via sharing success stories, discussing common conditions that facilitate superior performance, and creating a motivating force to be used by trainees upon return home [30 minutes including a plenary].

Feedforward interview (Kluger, 2006):

- Participants will be taught principles for helping interviewees assess the relationships between their immediate-future plans and their evoked standards. Interviewers will be coached to facilitate the activation of non-threatening steps towards reaching self-standards. The product of this exercise is alignment of deep-seated motivation with planned actions. [15 minutes].

- Theoretical review will conclude the workshop. In the review, we will discuss how dialogical processes are triggered by feedforward. Next, we will provide examples of designing provocative questions to help interviewees discover innovative paths for self-development. These examples will include designing questions for reaching win-win conflict resolutions, career choices, decision-making, and employee development. A dialogue with the audience will conclude the workshop [25 minutes].

In summary, this workshop will teach feedforward as a theoretical and applied process to create innovation within the self, and allow participants to integrate dormant voices within their inner dialogues.

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