Sunday, August 18, 2013

People Make Sense: Foundations for a Human Science

127.  The work of the philosopher consists in assembling reminders for a particular purpose.
128. If one tried to advance theses in philosophy, it would never be possible to debate them, because everyone would agree to them.
        Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

By the early 1960’s it was clear to many that the intellectual foundations of psychology were in shambles.  Psychology looked like a collection of separate antagonistic systems. At best, theories and practices coexisted the way people respect their neighbor’s different but incorrect religion. Worse, what should be basic concepts: person, behavior, language and world were without systematic explication or interconnection. Psychology had experimental methods and conceptual confusion. It was a mess.  In many ways, it still is.

Descriptive Psychology was created as a way out akin to Wittgenstein's aim to show the fly the way out of the fly bottle.

How can we achieve the necessary sorting out without tossing the baby with the bathwater?

What does a coherent psychology require? First, a conceptual foundation. Theory comes second.  We need a clear and sufficiently elaborate conceptualization of the subject matter before we can organize empirical data and before we can systematically compare the theories that exist or might follow. We need to know if we are arguing about the same thing or trying to understand something else. Without shared concepts, we are clueless. 

We need common ground seldom achieved through shared definitions, since most of the significant concepts defy definition and invite disagreement.  We need something else.

Peter Ossorio recognized this confusion and decided, “Sometimes it is better just to make a fresh start.” Starting over involved clarifying and organizing concepts rather than building new theory. It required establishing a framework that would allow all empirical possibilities a place.  The goal was to be precise and systematic while not foreclosing on the full range of what actually happens or possibly could.   The fresh start involved replacing a self-defeating concern with definition with the methods of Paradigm Case Formulation and Parametric Analysis. It also involved a rigorous adherence to a set of policies implemented through explicit reminders in the form of maxims to direct and maintain descriptive clarity and logical coherence.

Here’s four slogans and nine maxims that can help orient a coherent psychology. They come from Place (1998/2012) and The Behavior of Persons (2006/2013).

Four Slogans:
1. The world makes sense, and so do people. They make sense now.
    (They already make sense to begin with.)
2. It's one world. Everything fits together. Everything is related to everything else.
3. Things are what they are and not something else instead.
4. Don't count on the world being simpler than it has to be.

Let’s start with a raw fact.  If we didn’t generally understand people, life would be chaotic. We could not cooperate.  You could not understand this sentence. Understanding people is the central competence involved in being a person.

Misunderstanding is the exception, not the rule.  It has to be.  Misunderstanding only makes sense in contrast to things being ordinarily understandable.  Before disagreement and misunderstanding can be identified there has to be a shared means of negotiation based on a common appreciation of what understandable action looks like in a coherent world. We have to know how to adequately get along and communicate before we can identify its absence.  

We have the potential to understand the stranger we don't yet grasp. We can find shared social practices.  We can recognize shared opportunities and vulnerabilities. 

Another assertion. The world consists of objects, processes, events, concepts and states of affairs that we recognize, more or less,  in common. We demonstrate that recognition through a competent use of these distinctions.  Our common ground is that we know how to act on these distinctions and how to do so together. If we had no shared relationship to these states of affairs, we would have nothing to say. They have a place in our lives because we can act on the differences they make. Their meanings and significance  follows from their effective use. 

If, "all is maya", then maya is a distinction we could not make. (But that is different than insisting we have it right).

Another Wittgenstein reminder: Concepts are tools judged by their use in action. Effective action follows from basic competence and requires a complicated toolbox to construct different things. Things differ irregularly. Actions vary in an irregular fashion. So must description. The “essence” of all this is expressed through the careful use of an adequately complex grammar. Our descriptive and scientific resources must be up to this task. They often haven't.

More considerations: Everything does not boil down to the same thing. Persons, languages, actions, and worlds are not really just machines, organisms, contexts, or formulations.  The world, although entirely inter-connected, varies in an irregular manner.  This is reflected in the range of expression that our natural ordinary language attempts. A vast collection of concepts is already available to construct a sensible understanding.

Sometimes we need to invent new concepts, and action and speech will get technical.  

The range of required tools for description will vary from simple to enormously complex.  The devil is in the details. Reasons for action range in complexity. If this is not acknowledged, motivation will not be understood.  Reductionism has been a pox on psychology. The world and our actions are as potentially differentiated as the composer or decomposer can imagine.

Our competence in becoming a person requires a vast array of conceptual tools in the service of understanding people, their actions, languages and worlds. Somehow, normal infants growing into adults, supported by family, community and culture, acquire these competencies.  People acquire them by engaging in each other's practices.

There is a natural grammar we implicitly employ when recognizing something makes sense. It's natural, so there's nothing else to notice, we just keep on doing what we're doing. This is part of the intrinsic competence required for speech and action.  The job of Descriptive Psychology is to make this competence explicit, to explicitly identify the central concepts and formulate the implicit rules.

Whether acknowledged or not by our religions, philosophies and sciences, people live in significant accordance with these slogans.  Bear in mind, “living in accordance” is not constrained by what we say. We say all sorts of strange things.

Nine maxims, part of the early history of Descriptive Psychology, make explicit some of the rules for a reasonable account of behavior.  They are explicit reminders of how to make sense. The following nine are a fraction of the current collection but they provide a good orientation.  And, like a well-formed formula, they are tautological.

Nine Maxims:
1.  A person takes it that things are as they seem unless he has reason to think otherwise.

Maxim one provides the reminder that people act on how it seems to them.  It requires building a case if they are to be dissuaded.

2.  If a person recognizes an opportunity to get something she wants, she has a reason to try to get it.

Maxim two is the reminder that behavior follows not just from motive but also from opportunity. The behavior occurs now because the opportunity, correctly or incorrectly identified, is occurring now.

3.  If a person has a reason to do something, he will do it unless he has a stronger reason not to.

Maxim three is the reminder of the multiple perspectives that go into the appraisal of what a situation or circumstance calls for.  There may be reasons not to pursue an otherwise desired course of action.

4.  If a person has two reasons for doing X, she has a stronger reason for doing X than if she had only one of these reasons.

Maxim four holds for any number of additional reasons and is the reminder of the multiple reasons people often have for doing what they do.

5.  If a situation calls for a person to do something he can't do, he will do something he can do.

Maxim five reminds us that behavior is an expression of a person’s current values, knowledge and competencies and not what an observer believes ought to be the case.  People may not always do the best they can, but their action is always based on their appraisal of themselves and their circumstances. Not ours.

6.  A person acquires facts by observation (and thought).

How could it be otherwise?

7.  A person acquires concepts and skills by practice and experience in some of the social practices that involve the use of the concept or the exercise of the skill.

Maxim seven reminds us that skill, competence or know-how has a learning history and requires the opportunity to practice. In the absence of such practice a person may know what is called for but be unable to effectively act on that knowledge. 

8.  If a person has a given person characteristic, she acquired it in one of the ways it can be acquired, i.e., by having the prior capacity and an appropriate intervening history.

Where maxim seven refers to the development of competence, maxim eight provides the logical structure for the development of personal characteristics and individual differences.

9.  Given the relevant competence, behavior goes right if it doesn't go wrong in one of the ways it can go wrong.

Maxim nine simply restates what it means to be competent. Once competence has been acquired, successful behavior requires no explanation but failures do.

These maxims are components of a pre-empirical structure for behavioral science and offer guidance for sound description.  If a description is adequate, as Wittgenstein pointed out, there may be no need for further explanation. But there might.  When more explanation is needed, theory might serve the purpose.

Another basic introduction is found in the posting: A Short Course in Descriptive Psychology.  The Person Concept, Peter Ossorio's  grounding for the behavioral sciences, the interdependent  concepts of Individual Person, Behavior, Language, and World can be found here: The Person Concept

The previous posting, Intentional Action, Empathy and Psychotherapy, provides a Parametric Analysis of Intentional Action. The posting, The Problem of Other Possible Persons, provides a Paradigm Case Formulation of persons.

Further thoughts on People Make Sense regarding motivation and money can be found in a November posting.

For a collection of Descriptive Psychology resources and discussion please visit our Facebook page.

(To say people are understandable is not to deny that in the absence of enough shared social practices other people seem strange.  The solution is to not be a stranger.)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Intentional Action, Empathy, and Psychotherapy

Intentionality and its observed manifestation as intentional action are central concepts in psychology. In the realms of cognitive neuroscience, psychoanalysis, the practices of cognitive and behavior therapy, and various humanistic approaches to psychology, everybody talks about intentionality but often without clarity or agreement on meaning. This is a common problem in psychology.

The formulation of Intentional Action used in Descriptive Psychology is serviceable across other disciplines and is intended to be part of the general conceptual framework of psychology.  It is particularly useful when comparing and coordinating different theories in the behavioral sciences. The existing theories pay attention to certain aspects or parameters of Intentional Action while underplaying or ignoring others. 

Intentional Action is the general case of purposeful, goal directed activity and is a common feature of all behavior. 

The varieties of Intentional Action specific to Persons are Cognizant Action and Deliberate Action. In Cognizant Action people know they are engaged in some sort of an Intentional Action.  (This will be represented by the small diamond above the Knows parameter). In Deliberate Action people both know what they are doing and are choosing to do so from a set of known options.  (This will be represented by multiple small diamonds above the Knows parameter). Cognizant Action highlights the person's "conscious awareness". Deliberate Action highlights the person's choices in the circumstances. Not all a person does involves cognizance and deliberation, but the ability to behave cognizantly and deliberately is fundamental to the Paradigm Case of Personhood. 

Here are the parameters of Behavior as Intentional Action. Each parameter is a conceptually separate distinction required for a full appreciation of an Intentional Action. For some descriptions of behavior, we might not need the full set. For some purposes, we might only be interested in describing a behavior's performance, or what the behavior achieved, or the stimulus and response, or the behavior's significance, and so on. Here's the full set, unless you can think of more.  

Here's a way to represent Cognizant Action. The representational convention used in Descriptive Psychology is for the Diamond to be a shorthand way to represent an Intentional Action. 

The question marks on the small diamond in the Knows parameter are to remind us of the "more or less" and uncertainty features of awareness. 

And here's a way to represent Deliberate Action:

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).

The full case of Intentional Action has the conceptually separable parameters of Identity, Wants, Knows, Knows How, Performance, Achievement, Significance, and Personal Characteristic.

The parameters are pre-empirical.   They refer to distinctions that locate the "empirical data" but are not themselves a discovery in nature. They are akin to the "X" and "Y" axis of plane geometry. The parameters provide the framework for organizing the empirical data. Finding the specific content of the parameters requires observation. The parameters remind us what to look for.

The remarks that follow concern each of the parameters and focus on their use in maintaining an empathic relationship during psychotherapy. They could just as well serve as reminders for understanding any other activity that requires an adequate map of behavior. 

Wants. Perhaps the most general answer to the question of why someone does something is answered in reference to some state of affairs that the person wants to bring about. Wants refer to the motivations or values that are involved in how people appraise their opportunities and dilemmas given what they see as their options in any given circumstance.  

Although the paradigm case of human behavior involves a cognizant person knowing their values and being able to deliberate, i.e., choose whether or not to act on the values, it is also clear that a person can act on motives and values that are not consciously or accurately recognized (Schwartz, 1984). We would be blind if we didn't see that some of our actions involve motives we are reluctant to own (Kris, 1982). 

Distortions in reality may be a part of transforming the intolerable or unthinkable into the more manageable. A maxim: what a person acts on successfully tends to become real for her. This is the domain of psychological defense and the dynamic unconscious, a traditional focus of psychoanalytic inquiry. 

Motivations and opportunities that create reluctance or unconscious defense require empathic tact to be explored.  The analytic attitude of nonjudgmental empathy that establishes the “conditions of safety” (Schafer,1983) are traditionally employed. The therapeutic relationship has to be safe.  Safety comes first. Analysis second.

Some reminders:  Actors and their observers might be accurate in knowing what “wants” are in play or they might be mistaken.  Even when known, people might not be in a position to articulate what they want. Clarity and accuracy have a “more or less” quality and this will hold for the content of all the parameters. It is important to keep this in mind since insistence when attributing motivation, especially when there is disagreement or discomfort, tends to disrupt the safety of a relationship and may foreclose on exploring and appreciating the complexity of the situation. There is often disagreement, and people are sometimes reluctant to acknowledge what they know to be the case. 

What a person wants is often simple, clear and easy to say. Other times, it is complicated, multiply determined, conflicted, murky, ambiguous or “unspeakable”, especially in the dilemmas that bring people to therapy.  People often sense their complexity even if they are not able or ready to talk about it, and this is frequently the case when they feel they are not understood. They may have reason to expect misunderstanding. 

Telling someone the reasons you think they act as they do is frequently met with the rejoinder, “but it’s more than that”, since it often is.  And some people take offense when told what they are feeling especially if it intrudes into their privacy.

Ossorio (2013) indicated that there are four classifications of intrinsic or fundamental motivation:  hedonic, prudent, aesthetic, and ethical.  There may be more. They intrinsically provide reason enough to do something. They stand on their own. These reasons for action can conflict, operate in a complementary or independent fashion, and so on. If you have two or more of these reasons to do something, you have more reason than if you only had one.  Any general theory of the human behavior that does not adequately address these motivations will be defective.  

Hedonics refers to pleasure, prudence to self-interest, aesthetics to values of truth, rigor, objectivity, beauty, closure or fit, and ethics with concerns of right and wrong, of fairness and justice.  Hedonic and prudent motivations can operate consciously, pre-consciously or unconsciously.  Aesthetic and ethical motivations require the actor is eligible to choose or refrain from an action, to potentially deliberate about a desirable course to follow.  In the service of being able to choose, a person’s aesthetic and ethical motives are often consciously available (Schwartz, 1984).  I can’t help it that it feels good, or that I see it as in my self-interest, but I can consciously attempt to refrain from seeking pleasure or self-interest on aesthetic and/or ethical grounds.

Another point. Not doing a pleasurable act because of utter coercion, overwhelming guilt, or unconscious taboo may appear to be an ethical performance, but if the actor had no choice, their performance was not one of renouncing pleasure or self-interest but of forced constraint. A person can appear to do “the right thing" because he had no choice.  It might be a mistake to point this out. Without enough shared history, it is hard to judge how a critical observation will be tolerated. This is a key feature of therapeutic tact and why careful listening comes first and may take considerable time before problematic motivations and constraints are interpreted. 

A person's observable performance and their psychological state are conceptually separate. This is why they involve distinct sets of parameters. Identical performances may follow from very different motives or appraisals. 

What a person wants is often not a simple matter. An empathic appreciation is respectful of this. It can be the case that what looks intended is instead accidental or coerced, and in those situations the empathic response acknowledges the absence of motive. Still, while we tend to be skeptical of the claim that “the devil made me do it”, it pays to be sensitive to why a person makes such a claim. The empathic therapist waits until it is safe enough to suggest otherwise.

Knows.  Along with the basic question of why a person does something comes the question of why they are doing it now. The answer will always be some version of their recognition, correct or not, that the current circumstance provides an opportunity to do something they now want to do.  Action requires a correspondence between motive and opportunity.

The Knows parameter contains the range of concepts, facts, and distinctions a person has available and employs in a given situation. Knowledge, a personal characteristic, is acquired by observation and thought. Knowledge is relevant to the extent that it involves recognitions that can be acted on, differences that make a difference in behavior. As a rule of thumb, people tend to notice what they value, including what they want to avoid. People can also act on distinctions and not be cognizant of making those distinctions, just as people might not recognize an opportunity when it stares them in the face.

A person might be wrong about what they know and this will have consequences especially if they believe they are competent or eligible in ways they are not.  Knowledge can be clear or unclear, certain or uncertain, serviceable or unserviceable. Knowledge relevant to behavior is evaluated on how effectively the known distinctions can be employed, and this necessarily has a “more or less” quality to it.

The Knows parameter includes the potential awareness or cognizance of one’s own actions and potential choices.  Cognizant recognition of choice is an aspect of Deliberate Action, and is a conceptual requirement for an ethical perspective to be employed or considered.  The recognition of choice or option, including the potential to renounce a choice, serves as one of the ordinary standards for accountability.  Negligence occurs in situations where community standards hold that an ethical dilemma ought to be recognized but isn’t. Significant negligence of ethical consideration with attendant action (or inaction) is central to most formulations of criminality and tort (see, e.g., Prosser, 1941).

The eligibility for certain recognitions and choices has a learning history.  The empathic actor knows this about the other.  Given where and how someone has grown up, what can they be expected to know?  What we expect people to know will be influenced both by shared cultural expectations and by an appreciation of the idiosyncratic.  Even though membership in a culture involves knowing standard choice principles, we should be careful what we presume.  Similarly, understanding that a person might have an underdeveloped or diminished capacity is also part of the empathic observer’s knowledge of the other. If a situation would ordinarily call for a person to do something, if they lack the relevant knowledge (or values or competence), they will do something else instead. A person can only act on the values, concepts and skills they have available unless their performance is coerced (or they get lucky). 

Know-How. An action is always an expression of a particular skill, competence, or know-how if it is something a person can expect to perform non-accidently.  Competence is acquired through having a prior capacity and the appropriate practice and experience.  Not everyone has the needed prior capacity, practice and experience to develop the competencies a community might take for granted. And some people are more talented than others in acquiring or exceeding the expected skills.  Their performance can look like magic (Putman, 2010).

Having the relevant know-how means that a person can perform an action in a variety of ways with the expected outcome that the actor achieves what is intended. Think of driving a car or dancing with a friend or throwing a fastball high inside at ninety-five miles an hour. Drivers, dancers and professional pitchers have their expected know-how acquired by having the prior capacity and sufficient practice and experience. Behavior going wrong calls for an explanation once adequate competence has been achieved; behavior going right requires no explanation.  Bobby’s walking toward the couch and sitting down requires no explanation, but his repeated stumbling does.

Akin to what some call procedural memory, once competence is acquired, people are rarely self-conscious of each move necessary in the performance of a task. We tend to be more self-conscious when we believe, correctly or not, that we lack the competence to act in the manner a situation demands. The absence of self-recognized competence may turn what would be opportunity into threat, manageable hazard into feared danger.  It is unsurprising when worry, anxiety or panic are features of a situation when a person believes they lack the relevant competence to handle a problematic or even desired state of affairs.  This is why the Know-How parameter is of special relevance to what a person can tolerate (Schwartz 2002).

Defensively, we are only somewhat able to tolerate how we are seen or what we consciously know. Defensive styles represent personal characteristics, sometimes unconscious, that limit or shelter a person’s awareness to what they can tolerate at any given time. Defenses may be automatically applied even when a person has outgrown their serviceability. The empathic clinician keeps this in mind.  I think that a good deal of successful “interpretations of defense” are a result of an empathic therapist recognizing that the client can now tolerate what in the past gave them good reason to remain defensively unaware. What was good to avoid in infancy and childhood may no longer be intolerable, even if the person hasn't recognized this yet. Successful confrontation that a person can do more than they claim follows a careful gathering of evidence. 

Psychotherapy is often an exercise in acquiring the competence to sit still and experiment with thought and emotional response.  Empathy is a major aspect of making it safe enough to sit still and practice confronting what might otherwise be unthinkable or intolerable. Patience and practice are required. This is the love in the work.

Significance.  Significance is what a person is also doing by doing an act in question. It is, so to speak, what they are up to. Behavior is organized by its significance and implemented by the particular practices a person engages in. 

Empathically, I am aware that what a person’s behavior signifies to me may be different from what it means to them.  I also keep in mind that they may not appreciate what I see as the significance of their behavior, regardless of how compelling the evidence. I don’t have a pipeline to the truth.  I to Thou involves being clear that mystery and uncertainty remains.

In appreciating and acknowledging the significance of an action, especially when that acknowledgment involves interpretation, all the dilemmas of attempting to make the unconscious conscious, all of the problems of attempting to get someone in touch with what they are reluctant to see, come into play.  Therapeutically, confronting someone while they are defensive requires tact.  Tact requires empathy; it requires an empathic appreciation that a person at any given time can tolerate only so much. People have to cope with how they are seen and this comes into play during psychotherapy. Being seen in ways that a person might be reluctant to acknowledge is akin to the vulnerability that attends intimacy.  One’s lovers, close friends, and therapists may be given permission to test the boundaries of self-understanding, but even when insight comes from a person’s closest confidants, it still might be intolerable.

Here's a story that I tell my students.

A baseball player, a pitcher, regularly throws a fastball high inside at ninety-five miles an hour. He mixes this up with a nasty curveball and is known for the occasional wild pitch.  He has hit more than one batter in the helmet. Those that know him outside the game have seen him tease his wife and children beyond what makes his audience comfortable.  This teasing clearly upsets his children. He doesn’t seem to notice their unhappiness. With his wife and kids, he thinks he is just being playful. You might think he is sadistic and mean and enjoys making people uncomfortable and helpless.  This is why his preferred pitch to a batter he has previously hit is to throw fast, high and very inside.

He had a severe and strict moralistic upbringing and now looks at himself from a perspective of moral superiority. Guilt is very hard for him to acknowledge or bear. It is reasonable to assume that he’d feel guilty and ashamed if he knew how he looks but defensively he is not going to see himself in that light. 

Instead, he sees himself as a talented pitcher with a clear appreciation of the strike zone and of the pitches hardest for his opponent to hit.  He views himself as a tough-minded sportsman, hypercompetitive but fair, and accepts only that the significance of his pitches is to strike out the batter, end the inning and win the game.  If he was asked if these pitches are also how he’ll get his contract renewed, feel the admiration of the crowd, and live the life of the ball player, he could probably acknowledge all of that.  But beyond what he can acknowledge about the significance of his pitches, he may also use his style of throw to achieve some sort of sadistic pleasure. It could be that the way he felt helpless and punished as a child is being worked out unconsciously in his manner of play both on the field and off.  He cuts that high inside corner on the wrong side more often than his consummate skill should allow.  His satisfaction at making the batter wince is too much for him to resist.  Since he is unaware of his sadism, he doesn’t control it well. In looking over his life a through-line of sadism emerges implemented by his treatment of family and opposing players. An empathic interpretation of his sadism would require considerable tact and care. It would be resisted. 

Identity. Every action is someone’s action and that someone has a name and a title or some sort of individual status marker.  The Identity parameter specifies that. A person’s name or title used out loud or silently in social interaction is a significant status marker and may frame how one person appreciates the context and meaning of the other’s action. Addressing or responding to someone by their nickname has different implications than responding to them as Professor or Doctor or Ms. or boy or "hey you".

How a person feels understood, and what they will tolerate from another’s representation of them may significantly reflect the names that are used. Empathy involves being held in mind in a fashion that may be reflected in the means of address. And, of course, people have various responses to their names being forgotten and may experience such a forgetting as a breach in empathy.

Personal Characteristics.  People’s behaviors are an expression of their personal characteristics as they show their colors, true or otherwise.  People vary in their Powers and Dispositions. A person’s behavior in their world follows from their psychological state and status, their values, knowledge and skills, and their traits, attitudes, interests and styles. 

People may want their actions judged as “in character” or not. Problematic or laudable behavior labeled as “out of character” does not create the conditions for degradation or accreditation that these same actions do if they are recognized as “in character” (Ossorio, 2005; Schwartz, 1979).  We offer praise or give people breaks in ways that depend on this distinction.  It gives them and us wiggle room.

Performance and Achievement.  A performance is an episode of behavior in real time with a beginning and an end. It can be interrupted and it achieves some difference.  

We do not directly observe what a person wants, knows, and knows how to do in the sense of being inside their head; instead, we observe their performance. We watch and participate in their social practices. But whatever their behavioral performance, if it is an aspect of an Intentional Action, it achieves some difference in the world, be it trivial or profound.

Behavior as "Intentional Action" is one of the basic interdependent components of the more general "Person Concept". The others are Individual Person, Language, World and Community. Some of this has been discussed in these writing and the rest will follow.  A full formulation can be found in Peter Ossorio's The Behavior of Persons.

Earlier, I posted on a method for regaining empathy and the problem of finding a common understanding of empathy.

Adapted from my “The Parameters of Empathy:  Core Considerations for Psychotherapy and Supervision”, The Advances in Descriptive Psychology, Vol. 10, 2013

Thanks to Joe Jeffrey for his powerpoint adapted here "Intentional and Deliberate Action".

This posting is an introduction to Descriptive Psychology. I have posted another more elaborate introduction:  A Short Course In Descriptive Psychology.
The Boston Descriptive Psychology Study Group has a FACEBOOK  site that contains a repository of basic Descriptive Psychology resources and current articles of interest. You are invited to join in.