Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dreaming as Playtime

I had a funny thought while dreaming.  I don't recall the details but I was having fun talking with someone I really liked. I don't know what provoked me to say "if I didn’t dream, I’d be too bored to sleep", but it woke me up. I jotted down some notes, went back to sleep and the conversation continued. 

Sometimes I go back to sleep to continue a dream or to mess around with its story. I like to sleep and dream. Freud suggested that dreams function to preserve sleep and that works for me. 

My experience of dreaming is not typical, nor is it fundamentally different from other people's. It's a matter of more or less. 

As an experimentalist, I was once part of a group that empirically demonstrated that one's current problems, dilemmas and opportunities are basic units of dream content and connect dream experience to waking life. I think we clarified that the dilemmas and opportunities represented during dreaming are similar to those a person has while awake but less constrained by the realities of the waking world.  This freedom invites dreams to be fleshed out by a person's imaginative capacities and interests. Freud called this a primary process governed by a pleasure principle freed from reality testing. But clearly dreams are more than this. 

Freud also recognized that dreams involve somewhat less deliberate thinking than waking thought and this provides dreams with an impulsive and emotional quality. Deliberation is not so essential when safe in bed. Pleasure and self interest are prominent in dreams with ethical and moral concerns diminished since there is less consequence to what we do when asleep. The diminished role of ethical considerations may follow from dreams being a less deliberate act. What I do in my dreams doesn't get me in the same sort of trouble that waking action would, and I may be less prone to think about alternatives and consequences. 

More and more as I get older, my dreams provide an opportunity to play. 

Every dream is personal, shaped by the dreamer's characteristics relevant to the circumstances the dream offers up. I am not someone else when dreaming but I go places and do things not otherwise possible. When asleep I am very skilled at flying. It took some practice but I'm good at it now. As a child, I'd sometimes crash, but now I soar. 

When I say I am not someone else when dreaming, it occurs to me that I have sometimes dreamt I was one of my dogs. But no one who knows me would find that out of character. 

Back to my sleepy wonderings.  Here's the gist of what I wrote down: 

1. Sleep is a necessary restorative. I can’t do without it.
2. Some dreams wake me up because they are too arousing, tedious, frustrating, or frightening. (Fortunately for me, these are rare, but those feelings are also rare in my current waking life.  Knock on wood.) 
3. If I didn’t have something interesting to dream, after “x” amount of sleep, my waking concerns would grab my attention and I'd awake and be up to my usual mischief. So I get another forty winks, whether I need it or not.

So what I am wondering, and this question woke me up, does playful dreaming help preserve sleep by providing something interesting to stay asleep and think about? Of course, sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. (That, in turn, is a reflection of waking life's worries and opportunities).  Not to make too much of this, but most dreaming occurs in the later periods of sleep. 

As far as I know, dreams as a manner of keeping sleep interesting, as a way of playing, is under-explored in the literature. I am not arguing that the function of dreaming is to have a place to play but rather that dreams present an opportunity to play. Dreamplay might be adaptive but is a worthy thing-in-itself apart from any adaptive advantage it offers; a spandrel as Gould and Lewontin might say.

I have been thinking about play, especially creative play, as a fundamental feature of life, always an option when we're free of desperation and need, and maybe even then.  Ernest Hartmann describes dreaming as making connections in a safe place. When those connections are fun, there's reason to remain asleep. 

Some references: Schwartz & Godwyn, Action and Representation in Ordinary and Lucid Dreams, 1988. Greenberg, Katz, Schwartz & Pearlman,  A Research Based Reconsideration of the Psychoanalytic Theory of Dreaming, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1992,  and Hartmann, E. The Nature and Function of Dreaming, Oxford 2011.  Gould and Lewontin, "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme" Proc. Roy. Soc. London B, 1979.

Cyndi Lauper made the key point that I am coming to believe is true across the animal kingdom when she sings Girls Just Want to Have Fun. I know I do. Come on out and play.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Through-Lines, the Dramaturgical Pattern and the Structure of Improvisation: A work in progress.

This has been submitted for publication. Most of the content has been developed in earlier entries. True to this subject matter, your comments are welcome.  If I can figure out how they fit, they will be incorporated. Thanks in advance. 

Through-Lines, the Dramaturgical Pattern and the Structure of Improvisation:  A Descriptive Psychological Account


Improvisation creates novel social practices, manners of engagement and meaning, that are  intrinsic to the lives of persons. Unfortunately, most existing systems of psychology, given their commitment to causal explanation and reductionism while attempting to be systematic and scientific, have failed to provide a satisfying account of the creative nature of improvisation. In contrast, those psychologies that do embrace the creative and novel tend to lack sufficient systematic structure required for an intellectually satisfying understanding of persons, let alone an empirical science. An exception to this state of affairs can be found in the discipline of Descriptive Psychology. The Descriptive Psychology concepts of Dramaturgical Pattern and Through-Lines are offered as tools serviceable for a precise and systematic clarification of improvisation in everyday life.

Part 1: Some Descriptive Psychology Concepts

.... All explanation must disappear, and description alone must take its place. ... (109)
.... Since everything lies open to view, there is nothing to explain. .... (126) Ludwig Wittgenstein, PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS

What makes an individual a person is, paradigmatically, to have mastered the concept of a Person. Peter G. Ossorio, PLACE

Improvisation creates novel social practices, manners of engagement and meaning that are an intrinsic feature of the lives of persons. Unfortunately, most existing systems of psychology, given their commitment to causal explanation and reductionism, while attempting to be systematic and scientific, have failed to provide a satisfying account of the creative nature of improvisation. In contrast, those psychologies that do embrace the creative and novel tend to lack sufficient systematic structure required for an intellectually satisfying understanding of persons, let alone an empirical science. An exception to this state of affairs can be found in the discipline of Descriptive Psychology as it has unfolded over the last forty or so years.

Descriptive Psychology is the intellectual discipline that makes explicit the implicit structure of the behavioral sciences. It develops conceptual, pre-empirical and theory-neutral formulations identifying the full range of a subject matter. This concern with full inclusion, with clarifying the full set of possibilities, is a hallmark of Descriptive Psychology.

The pre-empirical work is accomplished through identifying and interrelating the essential concepts, the vital distinctions, characterizing all possible instances of a subject matter.  The empirical project, on the other hand, involves finding the specific possibilities and patterns that actually occur. To do this, we use our conceptual tools and go out and look.  Descriptive Psychology separates the conceptual and empirical from the theoretical. The conceptual formulation is logically prior to finding appropriate empirical instances.

Once an adequate conceptualization is achieved, theory may be employed for explaining why, out of the full range of possibility, only certain empirical patterns are found.

What I hope to accomplish here is to provide a very brief introduction to Descriptive Psychology relevant to a systematic exploration of improvisation. So, to set a stage, here is a relevant set of descriptive maxims that identify some of the structure of improvisation. From Ossorio’s Place, (1998/2012):

F5. If C makes the first move in a social practice, that invites Z to continue the enactment of the practice by making the corresponding second move. (Move 1 invites Move 2.)
F6. If C makes the second move in a social practice, it makes it difficult for Z not to have already made the first move. (Move 2 preempts Move 1 ex post facto.)
F7. Z’s positive or negative evaluation of C’s behavior provides reasons for C to continue, discontinue, modify, or elaborate (etc.) such behavior.

For purposes of this essay, I am going to focus on the Descriptive Psychological concept of a person as an individual who is inherently able to improvise.

A Person is an individual who paradigmatically engages in:

1. Deliberate Action (An intentional or goal directed action in which the actor is both cognizant and chooses to do it)
2. Language  (deliberate symbolic verbal behavior)
3. The significance of which reflects the actor’s perspectives and concerns with Hedonics (pleasure, pain, disgust, noxiousness, etc), prudence (self -interest, what is to my advantage or disadvantage, aesthetics (fittingness in the artistic, intellectual and social domains), ethics/morality (right or wrong, fair or unfair, just or unjust, and carries duty or obligation).  
4. Resulting in a Dramaturgical Pattern of intelligible Through-Lines  (i.e. significance patterns).

The concept of behavior employed in Descriptive Psychology involves a Parametric Analysis of Intentional Action allowing an observer to indicate how any particular action is the same or different from any other action. It looks like this:

  Behavior = Intentional Action = < I, W, K, KH, P, A, S, PC >

I: The Identity of the actor.
W:  What the actor wants to accomplish.
K:  What the actor knows, distinguishes, or recognizes in the circumstance that are relevant to what the actor wants. (In Deliberate Action the actor recognizes different options, in Cognizant Action the actor is self aware of the ongoing behavior).
KH:  What the actor knows-how to do given what the actor wants and knows about the relevant circumstance.
P:  The procedural manner or performance of the action in real time.
A:  The achievement of the action.
S:  The significance of the action for the actor.
PC:  The personal characteristics of the actor expressed by the action.

Persons as Deliberate Actors are able to self-regulate or adjust their behavior to fit their changing circumstances in response to their appraisal of how effective they are in achieving their goals. For this, Descriptive Psychology employs the Actor-Observer-Critic feedback loop of self-regulation. A person is an Actor able to Observe and describe his behavior and Critique and adjust his behavior accordingly.  The observer’s role involves engaging in Cognizant Action and the critic role involves Deliberate Action.

Although this feedback could be a process of deliberation, of thinking through the possibilities, it ordinarily isn't. Instead, for the most part, people simply recognize their options and what they take is the "best" course to follow.

The A-O-C model naturally relates to the concepts of Intentional, Cognizant and Deliberate Action. Cognizant and Deliberate Action are types of Intentional Action along with Emotional and Unconscious action. All are intentional but not all involve the same degree of awareness. Emotional actions are cases where a person has a tendency to act intentionally and immediately on their recognition or reality appraisal without deliberation.

I will employ the concepts above in what follows.

Part 2: Through-Lines and the Dramaturgical Pattern

“Dealing with heterogeneous behavior patterns as a single type of behavior does nothing toward elucidating the pattern. And yet the understanding of such full scale patterns in real life is essential for understanding the behavior of persons.”
(Peter G. Ossorio, The Behavior of Persons, 2013, p 293)

Everyone has a place on the stage of the world. Everyone is in the game. The stage has props and actors. The game has rules and boundaries. The players have statuses assigned by themselves and others as they go about their different roles.  Some people are well cast for what they encounter and some are not.  At times people recognize the part they are playing, at times they don’t. How cognizant and well cast is always a matter of “more or less”.

Although there are reality constraints, how the drama or game unfolds is uncertain. The actors are agents who play within and against the constraints.

Living one's life involves improvisation.  There is no “script” except ex post facto; it emerges from the interaction. The actors might be told what they should be doing, they may have plans, but such direction does not determine what actually happens.  The only certainty is that choices will be made and action will ensue.  Actions will follow from the opportunities and dilemmas that accompany each player’s unfolding circumstances given their individual and changing powers and dispositions.  Since it is improvisation, the actors will change each other as they interact, as their response incorporates the other player's moves.


What a person finds significant organizes their selection of specific behaviors. Implementation rests on both recognized opportunity and the actor’s competence.  Implementation is the performance. I know what I am doing because I know what I am about. I make choices based on their significance to me. You understand what I am about by observing and thinking about my performances. Performances have achievements and consequences.

Notable patterns of significance implemented over time with their corresponding consequences establish what I am calling a  “through-line”.  This concept bears a family resemblance to Stanislaviski’s (1936/1989) concept of through lines but is adapted for the purposes of precise behavior description rather than actor motivation.

Through-lines identify what it is in character and out of character for an actor. Keep in mind that self-status claims of something being “out of character” may be “in character”.  People can deny responsibility and disown their actions. It takes an observer-critic to point out when this happens.

Through-lines identify not just the organization of patterns of significance, but also the actor’s power and disposition to use what is achieved for corrective feedback. Through-lines are constituent treads of life's dramaturgical patterns.

Identifying through-lines is an observer’s task, subject to all the dilemmas of observation, disagreement and negotiation. Notice that as an observer's task, the identification of through-lines involves an appreciation of the actor’s reckoning with the consequences of implementation.  Implementation, the performance of the intended act, achieves some new state of affairs. Consequences, to the extent known, are part of corrective feedback. Here cognizance matters. The observer can be the actor or someone else.  Corrective feedback can be effective or ineffective. Does the actor learn from his mistakes? Are mistakes even recognized? Does the actor have the know-how or competence to do something differently when similar circumstances recur?

The pattern of through-lines intertwined together over the course of life weaves a dramaturgical pattern of unfolding social practices, performances linked by their achieved consequence and significance.  People simultaneously and sequentially live on many fronts as they go about their lives. Some through-lines may appear consistent with the other ways a person goes about living, while others may not. Some may appear for a time, disappear, later to reemerge. They may end in satisfaction or be abandoned in frustrated disappointment. They may be given up with insight or because of an absence of opportunity for expression. Some may seem to go on forever.

The fundamental coherence of the dramaturgical patterns is that a person's life makes narrative sense. The choices made are not random or arbitrary but follow from opportunity and the significances that a person's values, knowledge and competency allow. But people are complicated. Circumstances are complicated. Even knowing a person's true colors, they still can throw you for a loop.

Part 3: Formulation of "Through-Lines" and "Dramaturgical Pattern"

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
Søren Kierkegaard

"The appropriate size of the unit for conceptualizing a person is not a behavior but a life history."
Peter G. Ossorio

"You do not know that your intentions will be carried out but you can suppose that they will be. Then you must have an idea about the rest of your day. Don't you feel that solid line as it stretches out into the future, fraught with cares, responsibilities, joys, and griefs? In looking ahead there is a certain movement, and where there is movement a line begins."  
Constantin Stanislavski

"I spoke of performers and audiences; of routines and parts; of performances coming off or falling flat; of cues, stage settings and backstage; of dramaturgical needs, dramaturgical skills, and dramaturgical strategies. Now it should be admitted that this attempt to press a mere analogy so far was in part a rhetoric and a maneuver." 
Erving Goffman

A Dramaturgical Model

"In the Dramaturgical Model, behavior is intrinsically and fundamentally a matter of creating and realizing personal and social dramas. Human lives are intrinsically and fundamentally dramatic in form."

"... a drama is a structured behavioral episode or series of episodes which makes sense to Us." Peter G. Ossorio

Dramaturgical patterns are the creative improvisation of individuals, of ongoing and overlapping social practices, resulting in the creation of their worlds.

Through-lines are significance-implementation-achievement patterns of social practices. Through-lines are the observed patterns of choice made by a person that reflect what the person finds intrinsic. Significance linked intrinsic social practices are through-lines. A set of temporally co-occurring through-lines, a "bundle", constitute some of the intentional aspects of the overall Dramaturgical Pattern for any meaningful duration up to and including a person's entire life span. (The word "world" derives from an old Anglo-Saxon locution that meant "the course of a man's life").

Nothing necessarily ties a bundle together except that the varied through-lines express a person's significant concerns enacted in the same life-interval. Sequential and co-occurring through-lines may be relatively independent, or have a dynamic relationship of interdependence, conflict, complementarity, inhibition, and so on.

The overall Dramaturgical Pattern with its constituent through-lines involves a person's response to sought-after and unsought circumstances.  Accidents and the passage of time are the not chosen features of life that necessarily shape a person's history. A person's life also includes average expected challenges that follow from age, sex, gender, class, culture, appearance, etc.

The overall Dramaturgical Pattern also involves social practices independent from what an observer classifies as a through-line.  Some challenges and opportunities might happen infrequently resulting in one-off behavior hard to classify. An observer may be noncommittal about assigning such behavior as in or out of character. Some social practices may not be part of a discernible through-line.

A person creates a world in the wake of his progress. In the role of observer-critic, a person notes the quality and significance of how his implementations create, change and maintain this world.

From a observer's perspective, a through-line is a set of social practices, extended over time, that constitute the enactment of a status that is a significant aspect of a person's identity.  The observer can be oneself or another.

A person's self-knowledge of engaging in what she finds intrinsically significant will correspond to what she can acknowledge as in character. Observers may differ about the adequacy or accuracy of such self-status assignments.

Given continued relevance and opportunity, a through-line can appear, disappear and reappear. Significant changes in what a person finds intrinsically significant correspond to where a through-line may start and end.  There are as many through-lines as an observer can potentially identify.

Identification and Knowledge of Through-Lines:

To say that a Person "A" knows one of Person "B's" Through-Lines, she would have observed that

A) "B" engaged in a series of social practices that

B) Share a common significance

C) The specific implementation/performance of the practices

D) What the implementations achieved in "B's" world

E) What "B" knows regarding what the implementations achieved

F) How "B" appraised the consequences of the achievement

G) How "B" did or did not correct his course of action based on his appraisal of the consequences.

And produce

H) A significance description that encompasses A) through G) and names this particular through-line. (Reduce the details and/or increase the abstraction until a workable encompassing significance description can be offered).

The through-line will describe improvisational creative engagements with the circumstances of a person's world in which a person's relevant personal characteristics are identified as making understandable the way the person acts given their opportunities and dilemmas.

To the extent that an observer identifies significance linked intrinsic social practices germane to the actor's identity, she will have identified a through-line.  She could just as well be commenting on the actor's world since she will be offering a commentary that links the actor's personal characteristics to the sort of world he finds, creates and maintains.

The Descriptive Psychological concept "through-lines" resides in an intermediate zone between social practices and ways of life (Ossorio, 2006/2013).  People know how they expect to live their lives; looking back, their observer-critics can understand what they actually did.

Incomplete descriptions of through-lines that lack information regarding their significance and achievement correspond to the standard dispositional descriptions of traits, attitudes, interests and styles.

Part 4: Examples of Through-Lines

The through-line concept refers to a person's history of varied performances that have a common and recurring significance. Any personal characteristic can be an aspect of a through-line description.  Here’s some examples of how they look. When there is opportunity and while doing other things as well:

She heedlessly and perhaps unconsciously goes through life attempting to score competitive victories with women who resemble her mother and does so with an eye toward currying favor with unobtainable men. 

While fearfully avoiding degradation, he manages his affairs in such a way as to offend no one while never stepping outside of what be thinks are his competencies. 

He consciously and unconsciously strives to put people in a helpless position in a manner that keeps him, in his view, on the moral high ground. 

Terrified of being alone and doubting her worth to others, she seeks satisfaction by tolerating the abusive needs of others or in actions that undo and distract her from being aware of her loneliness.

Requiring a sense of specialness, he looks for opportunities to demonstrate his worth by achievement in competitive arenas while making sure not to out-step the values and achievements of those he considers the conventional esteemed judges. 

Notice the multiplicity of similar and dissimilar performances that can be the enactment, performance or implementation of the significance described in any of the examples above.


There is not always opportunity nor will an opportunity that exists in the ongoing circumstances always be reason enough for something of significance to be enacted. A person's other significant hedonic, prudent, aesthetic and ethical perspectives might prevail. Still, over time, patterns can be observed by self or other defining what is in character for the actor in question.

Some through-lines can coexist with other through-lines. And some implementations may satisfy a variety of through-lines. 

A through-line is a significance driven description that can be built with any and all of the relevant features needed to make a pattern understandable regarding what a person is repeatedly up to in the course of their life.

Some through-lines end in satisfaction, some are out grown or are no longer relevant, some are extended compulsively without satisfaction, while others are extended because the satisfactions remain valued. 

They may look, in some cases, to the psychoanalytic observer as a function of a fixation.

A through-line that has significant unconscious aspects is prone to unsatisfying repetition since the actor is not in a good position to critically modify behavior or reorder priorities.  This is the heart of the repetition compulsion if it involves fundamental and ongoing desire. Sex, trauma and dependency may work this way when the desire for connection, restoration or support remains without a self-aware practicing of alternative serviceable implementations. Without adequate self-critical awareness, a person may repeat a tragic pattern, feeling born to lose unable to learn from misfortune.

Through-lines organize a descriptive narrative in a manner that highlights a status dynamic similar to what Roy Schafer (1976) called psychoanalytic action language.

While writing this I was troubled by the generally negative, restrictive and pathological tone of the examples. To the extent that pathology involves a restriction in behavior potential or ability, it is often easier to identify patterns. Pathological restrictions limits performance in a manner that produces stereotyped behaviors.  This is what allows diagnostic categories to work. Pathology is simpler than health. The through-lines of the healthy are organized in a manner that involves varied and flexible satisfactions with less insistent repetition. A happy and healthy life is less predicable than one restricted by fixation and compulsion. So how's this:

Grabbing all the gusto she can, mindful of the rights and plights of others but careful not to compromise herself, she speaks truth to power while seeking novelty, pleasure and beauty.

Works Cited

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday. 1959

Ossorio, Peter G. Place. Ann Arbor, MI: Descriptive Psychology Press. 1998/2012

Ossorio, Peter G. The Behavior of Persons. Ann Arbor, MI: Descriptive Psychology Press. 2006/2013

Schafer, Roy. A New Language for Psychoanalysis. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 1976

Stanislavski, Constantin.   An Actor Prepares.  New York: Routledge. 1936/1989

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Philosophical Investigations.  Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. 1953/2009

Friday, March 21, 2014

Maxims for Vertebrates

and how chasing your tail makes sense. 

Policies are guides to how we'd like to live our lives. Maxims are the behavioral logic that guide proper description.

"If the situation calls for a person to do something he can't do, he will do something he can do instead," is different from the more hopeful, "people do the best they can" since it is pretty clear, often enough, they don't. People doing the best they can is a kind and generous variation of the policy "give people the benefit of the doubt," and that's usually a good first move. There is a conceptual difference between behavioral logic, the Descriptive Psychology maxims employed to guide proper description, and personal and therapeutic policies that represent our values and the direction we hope life will take. To give people the benefit of the doubt, to treat them as doing the best they can, is a good first move since it usually avoids starting off on the wrong foot with a degradation. Of course, when we treat someone as doing the best they can and they know damn well they're not, we might end up disqualifying ourselves as competent judges. It's a risk, but that's why policies are different from maxims. Policies are to be followed until or unless we have reason enough not to, whereas behavioral logic in the form of maxims are the constraints or the rules for correctly framed descriptions.

The body of behavioral logic that constitutes the maxims in Descriptive Psychology is "an open-ended collection, since there is no limit to the different warning, reminders, etc. that might appropriately be given by one person to another in regard to describing persons and their behavior" (Ossorio, PLACE, 1998/2012).

People always act within their values, knowledge and competence. What else can they do? But do they do their best? Sometimes, maybe. This illustrates the difference between logical forms, the grammar of making sense, and social policies and choice principles. "If the situation calls for a person to do something he can't do, he will do something he can do instead," is a logical form. Treating people as doing the best they can, is a social policy. 

Maxims can also serve as a form, a sort of grammar, that guides the  shape of a hypothesis or empirical generalization. In these cases, the logical structure serves as the frame for the empirical content:

"When over-excited or in doubt, groom," is an example of an empirical generalization of a pattern of vertebrate behavior.  Grooming, whether a response to over-excitment or confusing uncertainty, is an example of the more general notion of displacement behavior, something I was taught when I was going to be a zoologist. I was taught that displacement behavior sometimes occurs when an animal is in a situation that might call for aggression but where aggression, for whatever reason, would be problematic for the animal’s survival. This includes conflicts over food, dangerous sexual challenges, or when a juvenile gets too rough with an adult of greater threat potential. For some zoologists, displacement was a manner of bookkeeping drive and excitement, a way of accounting for “frustrated aggression”.

The maxim, "If the situation calls for a person to do something he can't do, he will do something he can do instead" can provide a structure to house displacement behavior in the form of the hypothesis:  “If a situation would appear to call for an animal to do something that might put it in a worse position, it will likely do something else instead”. This is also informed by a modification of the maxim, “A person values some states of affairs over others and acts accordingly”.  Grooming serves social cohesion and also feels good, prudent and hedonic motives, and so fits the maxim, "If a person has two reasons for doing X, he has a stronger reason for doing X than if he had only one of these reasons."

The Maxim, “if a situation calls for something a person can’t do, he will do something he can do”, is open concerning what it is that the person will choose or select from his behavior potential. Selections are not random or arbitrary, hence:  “If a person values a specific something….he will thereby also value other specific things of the same kind to the extent that they are relevantly similar to the original.”

Displacement attempts to accomplish something relevant, given the circumstances, even if it is not what the observer might expect at first glance.

My puppy Hart has a policy, “When you can’t steal the bone, chase your tail.”

More on Maxims can be found in the entry, People Make Sense...., and on therapeutic policies, Mindful Ignorance: What is Psychotherapy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Short Course in Descriptive Psychology

.... All explanation must disappear, and description alone must take its place. ... (109)
.... Since everything lies open to view, there is nothing to explain. .... (126) Ludwig Wittgenstein, PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS

What makes an individual a person is, paradigmatically, to have mastered the concept of a Person. Peter G. Ossorio, PLACE

Descriptive Psychology is the intellectual discipline that makes explicit the implicit structure of the behavioral sciences. It concerns conceptual, pre-empirical and theory-neutral formulations identifying the full range of a subject matter. This concern with full inclusion, with clarifying the full set of possibilities, is a hallmark of Descriptive Psychology. 

The pre-empirical work is accomplished through identifying and interrelating the essential concepts, the vital distinctions, characterizing all possible instances of a subject matter. The empirical project, on the other hand, involves finding the specific possibilities and patterns that actually occur. To do this, we use our conceptual tools and go out and look. 

Descriptive Psychology separates the conceptual and empirical from the theoretical. 

We start with conceptualization, then find the data that has a place within the conceptualization. The conceptual formulation is logically prior to finding appropriate empirical instances. 

Once an adequate conceptualization is achieved, theory can be employed for explaining why, out of the full range of possibility, only certain empirical patterns are found. But that is not Descriptive Psychology's job. For that task, I might wear my psychoanalytic hat or assemble the tools and hypotheses provided by any of the standard theories or invent new ones. 

Descriptive Psychology's conceptual tools explicate and assemble the logical structure of behavior and serve as a formal check on the logical adequacy of theory. 

Descriptive Psychology explicates the Person Concept as the fundamental structure of the behavioral sciences. The Person Concept is a single, coherent concept which involves the interrelated concepts of Individual Person, Behavior, Language and World. Descriptive Psychology establishes the rules of construction, composition and relationship that articulate how these concepts are interconnected.

Only Individual Person and Behavior will be addressed in this entry and only in a very basic manner. 

These diagrams are some of the ones I use in classes on psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice taught from the perspective of Descriptive Psychology.  Most of the diagrams have a link elaborating the content.

Let's start with the concept of a person:

 I explore this in greater detail in the essay What is a Person? And how can we be sure?

And then examine behavior through the concept of Intentional Action by way of the Agency Diamond:

This represents five of the eight parameters of the full case of Intentional Action that has the conceptually separable dimensions of Identity, Wants, Knows, Knows How, Performance, Achievement, Significance, and Personal Characteristic.  

Behavior = Intentional Action = < I, W, K, KH, P, A, S, PC > 

I: The Identity of the actor.
W:  What the actor Wants to accomplish.
K:  What the actor Knows, distinguishes, or recognizes in the circumstance that is relevant to what the actor Wants. (In Deliberate Action the actor recognizes different options, in Cognizant Action the actor is self-aware of the ongoing behavior).
KH:  What the actor Knows-How to do given what the actor Wants and Knows about the relevant circumstance.
P:  The procedural manner or Performance of the action in real time.
A:  The Achievement of the action.
S:  The Significance of the action for the actor.  What the actor is up to by performing the act in question.
PC:  The Personal Characteristics of the actor expressed by the action.                                                                                       

Agency descriptions concern goal directed or purposeful behavior. These descriptions are defined by something recognized and wanted that the person knows how to do. Behavior is motivated by opportunity and dilemma. It involves a performance in real time that achieves some difference in the person's world.

This is explored further in the blog entry, Intentional Action, Empathy and Psychotherapy.

We then go on to represent Cognizant and Self-Aware Action:


In Cognizant Action people know they are engaged in some sort of an Intentional Action.  This is represented by the small diamond above the Knows parameter.

We are now ready to look at a special case of Intentional Action called Deliberate Action in which people choose an action from alternative ways of reaching a goal given how they understand or appraise their circumstance. This is the paradigm case of the behavior of persons. 

IA=Intentional Action; I=Identity; W=Wants; K=Knows; KH=Knows How; P=Performance; A=Achievement; PC=Personal Characteristic; S=Significance.   Adapted with permission from Joe Jeffrey, Ph.D

The larger blue diamond notations are a shorthand that represent an Intentional Action without commitment to the Identity of the actor, the Significance of the act, and the Personal Characteristics that the act reflects. The little blue diamonds represent the person's Intentional Action options given the circumstances. In a Deliberate Action, the actor is both Cognizant of what he is doing (IA in K) and Chooses to do it (IA in W).

Another way of going about this is to remember that persons as Deliberate Actors are able to self-regulate or adjust their behavior to fit their changing circumstances in response to their appraisal of how effective they are in achieving  their goals. For this we employ the Actor-Observer-Critic feedback loop of self-regulation. A person is an Actor able to Observe and describe his behavior and Critique and adjust his behavior accordingly. 

Adapted with permission from C.J. Stone's "Actor Central". 

Although this feedback could be a process of deliberation, of thinking through the possibilities, it ordinarily isn't. Instead, for the most part, people simply recognize their options and what they take is the "best" course to follow. 

Psychopathology involves something going wrong in this feedback loop and psychotherapists, one way or another, intervene by taking on the function of an adjunctive observer-critic. 

The A-O-C model naturally relates to the concepts of Intentional, Cognizant and Deliberate Action. Cognizant and Deliberate Action are types of Intentional Action along with Emotional and Unconscious action. All are intentional but not all involve the same degree of awareness. Emotional actions are cases where a person has a tendency to act intentionally and immediately on their recognition without deliberation. 

I take up the concept of emotional action and emotional competence in the posting Emotional Competence, Self-Experience, and Developmental Patterns.

At this point it might be useful to look at the Judgment or Decision Diagram that illustrates the structure of making an appraisal.

This is a reconstruction, performed after an action, given an agent's Personal Characteristics, of how they weighed their hedonic, prudent, aesthetic, and ethical/moral values in their Judgment or Decision on what Behavior to enact. Although Judgment or Decision could be an active process of thinking through options, of deliberating about the circumstances, it usually isn't. Often enough, a person simply knows what they want to do. Their appraisal of a situation is immediate. On the other hand, if the behavior goes wrong, a person might rethink their judgment by reconstructing their action in a way the diagram illustrates. Later, we will use this diagram to help understand unconscious motivation, transference, and symptomatic or compromised behaviors.

But first I'd like to show how the Intentional Action model can provide insight into Empathy in a non mysterious way: 

We can use this model to look in more detail at the more or less quality of an empathic understanding as well as the kindred concept of mentalization, a concept I find far less problematic than "theory of mind". Wil does not have a theory that Gil is a deliberate actor with a mind of his own.  He simply takes it to be the case unless he has reason not to. Wil's becoming a person required engaging with others as deliberate actors. He didn't first need a theory or assumption to see others as like himself in this way. However, if in some autistic manner he does not adequately know others to be minded, this model might be a way to teach him by showing the factors involved. 

This is elaborated in the essay, "The Parameters of Empathy."

Bear in mind that Wil does not have direct access to Gil's Wants, Knowledge, or Know How, but can only observe and think about the Significance of Gil's Performance and Achievement. The yellow and green IA diamonds above Wil's representation of Gil's behavior show that Wil more or less empathically recognizes that Gil has his own choices and is also a Deliberate Actor, i.e., a person like himself. This is how I understand "metallization". This is how Wil can put himself in Gil's shoes. 

Earlier, I probably should have introduced a very important conceptual tool, The Relationship Formula, since this is logically related to the concept of Intentional Action and will be a key to understanding both emotional behavior and behavior that doesn't follow the expected norm, along with a host of other important questions we often ask when behavior doesn't go as expected (and even when it does). As you will see, we are very fond of unless clauses in Descriptive Psychology. 

Should you be interested, I make use of this formula in my essay, Sex and a Person's True Colors.

So let's use the concept of Intentional Action and the Relationship Formula to make sense of Emotional Behavior. Say, for example, you are sitting quietly at your desk working on your blog when a Zombie enters:

Regardless of what you might report feeling, stomach dropping, heart pounding and nearly breathless, what makes this an example of emotional behavior is your immediate attempt to escape the danger without having to think it over. This impulsive quality is typical of what we are call an emotional response. Here's the behavioral logic:

     Adapted from The Behavior of Persons, 2013, Peter G. Ossorio

And we can make sense of most of what we are likely to call emotion this way: 

A lot to digest. But if you're ready, I'd like to pull some of this together by way of clarifying some aspects of unconscious action. Since I am a psychoanalyst, this seems obligatory. Let's start with the logically necessary reminder that the unconscious is an Observer's construct. The unconscious refers to what I notice about you, that you can't recognize about yourself.  Since no one has a pipeline to the truth, when interpreting something as unconscious, we are entering a domain of disagreement, contention, and defensiveness. I liken this to the lawyer's dilemma when facing opposing counsel, jury and judge. It boils down to making a case that regardless of its merits will be accepted or rejected.

The issues of interpretation are explored in the earlier post  On the interpretation of unconscious action and self-deception.

And now, finally, I going to reposition some of this using a variant of the Judgment diagram that was introduced earlier. Here are some fundamental distinctions that involve the concept of unconscious action and recognition (transference) as well as motives that a person might refuse to acknowledge as their own (although if given sufficient reason, they might.)  

Notice how domains two and three are likely sources of disagreement and are also sources of behavior going wrong, being compromised, bungled, or mysterious to the Actor.  The unconscious and unexamined is difficult to socialize since it is unavailable for moral dialog, self-correction and negotiation.  It's where we mess up.

At this point, I think I'll call it a day.

Another way of approaching the question of What is Descriptive Psychology can be found in the entry: People Make Sense: Foundations for Behavioral Science.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What is a Person? How can we be sure?

The following is a paper submitted for publication. This content is largely taken from earlier entries in this blog and from my presentation at the Yale Personhood Beyond the Human Conference.

What Is A Person And How Can We Be Sure? A Paradigm Case Formulation

It is sometimes said that animals do not talk because they lack the mental capacity. And this means:  “they do not think, and that is why they do not talk.” But---they simply do not talk.   Ludwig Wittgenstein (1953)

Apparently, humanity has matured enough for us to ask in a non-trivial way, “Are human beings the only persons we encounter?”  Historically, we have only recognized others who share our human embodiment as fellow persons. This matters legally, morally and ethically since we grant people rights, privileges and protections that are not offered to nonpersons. These rights, privileges and protections are subject to revision. We no longer allow people to be kept as the property of other people. People can also revise what they take to be the case; this includes their moral and ethical judgments, and their appraisals of who is to be treated as a person.  The capacity to revise and reorder appraisals is a fundamental feature of what it means to be a person.                                                 
I am going to offer a Paradigm Case Formulation of what we take to be a Person. I am going to suggest that ethical and moral progress is a fundamental possibility inherent in this conceptualization. From such possible progress, it follows that if we recognize nonhuman animals (or other entities) as persons, asking, for example, if we are holding them in slavery becomes a legitimate question.

What is a person? And what is a Paradigm Case Formulation?

Sometime in the mid 1960’s, NASA asked the Descriptive Psychologist, Peter Ossorio, “If green gas on the moon speaks to an astronaut, how do we know whether or not it is a person?” (Schwartz 1982).  Note that simply asking this question acknowledges the possibility of a person who does not share human embodiment. 
So how can we sort out what constitutes a person if we allow that the category is not based only on having a particular body?  Toward this goal I am going to use the Descriptive Psychological method of Paradigm Case Formulation (Ossorio 2013).  I will show how it is reasonable to include non-humans as persons and to have legitimate grounds for disagreeing where the line is properly drawn. 
I am going to make explicit what is already implicit in what we mean by "Persons" by making explicit what we already know and act on.  We already have an implicit understanding of what it means to be a person since this understanding is fundamental in order to act as one of us with the shared expectations required to competently engage in the social practices of everyday life. We engage with our fellow persons differently than we do with what we take to be nonpersons.

  The value of a Paradigm Case Formulation is to achieve a common understanding of a subject matter in cases where an ordinary definition proves too limiting, various, ambiguous or impossible.  These formulations are helpful when it is reasonable to assume there are legitimate grounds for disagreement about specific possible examples. I think the concept of “Person” presents this definitional problem.  
A paradigm case formulation should provide competent users a starting point of agreement.  Paradigm case formulations are designed to be as inclusive as possible in order to capture, as a starting point, all possible examples.  Generally they should consist of the most complex case, an indubitable case, or a primary or archetypal case. It should be a sort of “By God, if there were ever a case of “X”, then that’s it.”  
Finding a fully inclusive definition is a common conceptual dilemma. Consider how difficult it is to exactly define what is meant by the word “family” or the word “chair” if we wish to achieve agreement on all possible examples of “families” and “chairs”.  Must families all have two parents of different genders plus their children?  Must all chairs have four legs and a backrest?  
For example, most would agree that a group of people living together consisting of a married father and mother and their biological son and daughter is a family. But what if there is only a husband, his husband and their dog? Or three best friends who live under one roof and make their significant decisions together?  What elements must be present and what can we change, add or leave out and still meet what different people call a family? Notice the parameters of gender, number of participants, presence or absence of marriage, presence or absence of children, presence or absence of “living together” and so on.  The content of each of these parameters is subject to deletion or substitution, with the result that with each alteration a judge may no longer accept the new variation as within the domain of what they take to be an appropriate instance of the concept in question. 
By starting with a paradigm case that everyone easily identifies as within their understanding of a concept, it becomes possible to delete or change features of the paradigm with the consequence that with each change some people might no longer agree that we are still talking about the same thing. But because of the shared paradigm, it becomes possible to show where there is agreement and disagreement and where various judges draw the line. 

A Paradigm Case Formulation of Persons

A person is an individual whose history is, paradigmatically, a history of deliberate action in a dramaturgical pattern.  Deliberate action is a form of behavior in which a person (a) engages in an intentional or goal directed action, (b) is cognizant of that, and (c) has chosen to do that.  A person is not always engaged in a deliberate action but has the ability to do so.  
Deliberate Action is fundamental to any claim of personal autonomy insofar as autonomy is linked to the ability to make personal choices.   As deliberate actors, Paradigm Case Persons act on hedonic, prudent, aesthetic and ethical reasons when selecting, choosing or deciding on a course of action. Why only these four? These are the ones we know. There may be more; if another is invented or discovered, it would be included, somewhat like cooks now agree there is a fifth taste, umami, in addition to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.
Hedonics, prudence, aesthetics, and ethics provide intrinsic or fundamental motivation (Ossorio 2013). They provide reason enough to do something. They stand on their own. These reasons for action can be in conflict, operate in a complementary or independent fashion, and so on. Tautologically, if you have two or more of these reasons to do something, you have more reason than if you had only one of them.  
These four classifications are "family resemblance groups". Hedonics refers to the value of pleasure, pain, disgust, and so on; prudence to self-interest; aesthetics to the artistic, social and intellectual values of truth, rigor, objectivity, beauty, elegance, closure and fit; ethics with right and wrong, fairness and justice, the level playing field, the Golden Rule and kindred notions.  
Hedonic and prudent motivations can operate with and without cognizant awareness. They can be an aspect of both deliberate and non-deliberate intentional action. As a fundamental aspect of the general case of goal directed behavior, they are probably features of all sentient animal life, whether human or not. They provide a basis for cross species empathy and shared understanding.  I can be sensitive to my dog’s pain.  I have reason to believe he is sensitive to mine.
Aesthetic and ethical motivations are in an important way different from hedonic and prudent concerns.  Aesthetic and ethical motivations are only relevant when deliberate action is also possible since aesthetic and ethical action require the ability to choose or refrain, to potentially think over a desirable course to follow. In the service of being able to choose, and perhaps think through the available options, a person’s aesthetic and ethical motives are often consciously available (Schwartz, 1984).
It is reasonable to claim that I can’t help but that it feels good, or that I see it as in my self-interest.  I simply and directly know it that way without having to deliberate about it, but as a mature paradigm case person, I can consciously attempt to refrain from seeking pleasure or self-interest on aesthetic and/or ethical grounds. And, at times, I might set my ethics and aesthetics aside for the sake of pleasure and self-interest.
It is a matter one's personal characteristics how an individual weighs their hedonic, prudent, ethical and aesthetic reasons in a given circumstance, and how these perspectives operate independently, antagonistically, harmoniously, and so on.  To remain a member in good standing in the general community of persons, central to our social contracts, we expect that the normal mature human can employ all of these motivational perspectives.      Any adult human who does not have these interests will likely seem primitive or pathological.  Any general theory of human behavior that does not adequately address these motivations will be defective.
It is the formal requirement that ethical and aesthetic acts are potentially deliberate that positions these motives as quintessential person qualities. Any action that is motivated by ethical or aesthetic concerns is evidence of the involvement of a person.

What about language?

Also paradigmatic of persons is language use, the ability to share symbolic representations that correspond to the concepts used in social practice.  The detection of language is both vital and problematic in assigning the status of person to a nonhuman entity.  Shared social practice based on shared "forms of life", as Wittgenstein (1953/2009) put it, creates a dilemma since both embodiment and environment are relevant in what is shared.  Evidence of language is vital in the detection of deliberate action since with language we can symbolically represent a choice, both what was chosen and what was renounced.  I can tell you what I did and what I decided not to do. Language may not be required for a particular deliberate action to be possible, but it hard to get around its central place in the detection of persons.
We don’t have direct access to what goes on in another person’s head. We can only observe each other's overt performance, including what we tell each other about what we are up to. Language is the ideal format for representing option and choice, since we can speak about what we did not do, what we rejected or refrained from. 
You see me take the low road but unless there is some way of representing that I was aware that I could have taken the high road, you might be hard pressed to successfully argue my behavior was deliberate and that I am accountable for the choice.
Language is especially significant in a person's ability to reorder priorities. Since language can be used to represent the consequences of a course of action not yet followed, it serves as a fundamental means of personal and social negotiation. I can weigh the consequences of my potential acts and you can tell me your thoughts about them. The reordering of priorities is a vital aspect of social life, hard to accomplish without language. 
This is also partly why the behavior of persons is less stereotyped and predictable than the behavior of nonpersons. People can develop, invent and reconsider. They can think about their thinking. They can change their mind (or at least they can try). And, central to my interests in this writing, people can gather evidence that an entity they had not considered a person might be one. 

What about the Dramaturgical Pattern?

That life is lived in a dramaturgical pattern is to say that people’s lives are potentially understandable.  Their stories can be intelligibly told. Life consists of episodes of unfolding and overlapping social practices in response to the changing circumstances.  A person’s history is not a random or arbitrary collection of performances but instead a meaningful unfolding of behavior given what a person is attempting to accomplish.  A person’s actions have an ongoing significance creating intelligible through-lines that an observer can employ in recognizing behavior that is both in and out of character (Schwartz 2013). Of course, accidents and the unintended can happen; but for the most part, people have their reasons for doing what they do.  The drama of a person’s life is created in a manner akin to an improvisational play. The characters and the setting is a given but we have to wait and see what they will happen.
The Paradigm Case Formulation allows for nonhuman persons, potential persons, nascent persons, manufactured persons, former persons, deficit case persons, and primitive persons, and I suppose, super-persons.  A human being is an individual who is both a person and a specimen of Homo sapiens (Ossorio 2013).
I am not going to include the political and legal claim that corporations are persons since that claim involves a language game that is played for different reasons than my concerns here. Corporate personhood has its own logic of contract and responsibility.

Some implications

Although deliberate action is not dependent on the availability of language, language use is a form of deliberate action essential for the full paradigm. A person without language would be a deficit case.  Different judges will have their reasons for granting or rejecting a deficit case as a full person along with the corresponding rights, obligations and expectations that follow from that accreditation or degradation (Schwartz, 1979). 
Must a person have an ethical and aesthetic perspective to count as a person? Or is the ability to engage in any sort of deliberate action enough?  Clearly to me, my dog Banjo is a deliberate actor.  But our conversations are pretty one sided. He has, I feel sure, hedonic and prudential perspectives.  About his ethical and aesthetic perspective, I am not sure, except that I think I would have a hard time building a case that he has these values. I think he appreciates affection and gentleness similar to me, but I would not trust him with my lunch. I do not doubt that he is an intentional actor, although I am uncertain about the range and nature of his deliberations.  But regardless, apart from the extent I consider Banjo to have some person qualities, he is a member of my family and is to be treated as such.  He is a beloved companion. 
The ability to weigh hedonic, prudent, ethical and aesthetic interests are defining personal characteristics since these perspectives shape an individual's social practices and ways of life.  The dramaturgical pattern of a particular life is significantly dependent on a person’s values. A robot or manufactured person, given its physical form, might not have an hedonic perspective since the visceral sensations of pain or pleasure might not be available; a chimpanzee person, apparently lacking language, probably has underdeveloped or absent ethical and aesthetic concerns and this suggests a sort of primitive status.  Still, underdeveloped is different from absent.  Our descendants may look back at our values and see them as underdeveloped.  We are a work in progress. 
Human children, while developing their perspectives, have nascent person status and are treated this way.  Their rights and obligations change as their abilities and values mature. Note how unclear where to properly draw a line; how uneven and changing this line is drawn; how it is exactly a matter of "more or less".  How variable it is “for this right and obligation but not for that”. 
The paradigm case formulation provides a way to classify different sorts of persons based on the motives they have available in forming and choosing their deliberate action.  The ability and disposition to manifest and refine hedonic, prudent, aesthetic and ethical values are fundamental status markers relevant to a consideration of appropriate rights and responsibilities.  This, in turn, can aid in the classification of appropriate engagement. 

What about other animals?

Years back, I was pursuing a pod of bottlenose dolphin when a small one smacked the stern of my kayak, hard.  As the calf re-approached, a large female nudged it away. I was astonished, relieved and grateful. Not wanting to push my luck, I paddled back to shore.
Are dolphins good candidates for personhood?  Do they engage in deliberate action in a dramaturgical pattern? Do bottlenose dolphins speak to each other?  Did a dolphin protect me from mischief?  I don't know.  I don't have sufficient evidence that dolphins fill the paradigm case.  Some people have reason to think they might. Using a paradigm case formulation, I can point to where the evidence is robust and where it is lacking.  Language seems to be the sticking point. 
About the other Cetecea, the elephants, the nonhuman primates, and various parrots?  I suspect they fill out some of the paradigm case. Other judges reasonably believe they fill out more. To the extent other animals are not domesticated (or enslaved), they can’t or don’t "talk" with us.  Nonhuman animal communication, including the possibility of language use, is difficult to study when there is an absence of "shared forms of life." 
The domesticated are interdependent with humans in a way other animals are not and this partly accounts for my sense of their companion status and our shared practices. We work, play, eat, exploit and otherwise interact with the domesticated in ways we do not with the "wild".  They become our pets, our livestock, our guards and our companions.  We treat them, for better or worse, accordingly.  As our ethical and aesthetic standards evolve, we revisit what we take to be the right way to engage with them (or we should). 
Do animals in the wild talk with each other and could they talk with us?  We may not have sufficient shared social practices to make inter-species communication, speech, and translation feasible, so it is very hard to tell. This is a difficult empirical issue. Rather than simply communicate, some observers believe they speak to each other in a linguistic fashion. There is no consensus regarding this (see, for example, Savage-Rumbaugh, 2009). 
Since language requires shared social practice, an animal’s ecologically bounded options limit its expected communicative range, actions and concerns. Humans are adept at disrupting their environments.  We are very skilled at coercing them and killing them to further our goals. If they wanted to talk to us, I am not sure we would welcome what they have to say. 
If someone actually taught nonhuman animals to competently use language, would that be teaching them to be a person? Yes, that is an implication of the paradigm offered here.  By this same reasoning, we teach our human children to be persons, too.
What are the ethics of uncertainty?

So what should we do with our uncertainty? Logically, we are never in a position to prove that something is a person, but we can adopt a policy that if we have any strong grounds for seeing the other as one of us, we should treat that entity as a person until we have reason enough to feel we are misguided. With persons it should be I to Thou. There are people whose cultures and social practices leave me mystified, but it is prudent and ethical to proceed from the belief that I simply do not understand what they are about.  The same should hold for other animals.
I am not particularly concerned with initial false positives.  In my scientific training, I was told to avoid anthropomorphism.  I have become skeptical about the morality of this stance, whether it involves an animal’s possible slavery or how I treat them as food.
A significant ethical question remains: After the line on personhood is drawn, what considerations apply to the treatment of animals that do not fall into the person category? Since animals as intentional actors have an interest in the avoidance of suffering (Singer 2009), is it ever ethical to inflict harm if there is a way not to? What other priorities need be weighed? 
Person status defines a domain where social and legal rights reside, hence a proper abhorrence of slavery and murder.  Judges in good faith might differ as to what animals are included as persons, but it is a moral and ethical mistake to limit concerns about the quality of a life to whether that life is also a person.  Part of being a person is to understand this.


Ossorio, P. 2013.  The Behavior of Persons.  Ann Arbor: Descriptive Psychology Press
Savage-Rumbaugh, S., D.Rumbaugh, W.A. Fields. 2009.  Empirical Kanzi: the ape language controversy revisited. Skeptic. 15(1): 25-33.
Schwartz, W. 1979.  Degradation, Accreditation and Rites of Passage.  Psychiatry. 42(2):  138-146
Schwartz, W. 1982.  The Problem of Other Possible Persons: Dolphins, Primates, and Aliens. In Advances in Descriptive Psychology vol 2.. ed. Davis, K. and T. Mitchell, 31-56, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
Schwartz, W. 1984. The Two Concepts of Action and Responsibility in Psychoanalysis.  The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 32: 557-572
Schwartz, W. Through-lines and the Dramaturgical Pattern, accessed:
Singer, P. 2009. Animal Liberation. New York: HarperCollins.
Wittgenstein, L. 1953/2009, Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell