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The Power of Dissonance

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  • #31
    I think there is a difference between the need to be right and being right. Getting things right is usually preceded by getting things wrong and as noted in an earlier post by Barrett (Edison and Tesla), the need to be right (perhaps expressed as a bias) can only slow the march toward knowledge.

    I also think there is a difference between things being right and achieving a desirable outcome. I think this is where the thoughtfulness mentioned by Barrett would come to bear.

    My dissonance is resonating.
    Last edited by Jon Newman; 18-08-2007, 03:17 AM.
    "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris


    • #32
      Good (last) point, Jon.
      A desirable outcome is often serendipitous. It can appear when we have done something which may not be wrong, but isn't right according to the rules. This has happened to me a number of times, leaving me thinking: What the hell did I do, anyway?

      Perhaps those who 'need to be right' are far more conscious of the ogre of unpredictability and that is scary for them. Physiotherapy has evolved with more and more complicated techniques that promise predictability and when that fails, the therapists 'know' it's their fault.



      • #33
        Back to Asimoz's Insight

        Last night I realized how similar this thread was to one titled Asimov’s Insight from a few months ago. There’s some discussion there about the need to be right as well.

        At that time I hadn’t heard of Tavris and Aronson but can see that their book was just waiting to be discovered. I have to wonder if those who stick to traditional methods in therapy would be as anxious to embrace its theme. As I push these ideas into my classes the next few weeks I guess we’ll find out.

        Nari’s comment about our reaction to an unpredicted outcome triggered my remembering what Asimov said:

        The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'

        In short, some clinicians don’t respond with any defense against change as dissonance theory predicts – they’re drawn toward it.

        Today I would conclude that it isn’t the routine finding that draws a scientist’s interest but the unexpected one, and this fascination with the unexpected trumps the instinctive response to reject its reality.
        Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 18-08-2007, 02:19 PM.
        Barrett L. Dorko


        • #34
          I agree with Nari and Barrett here as well. Having those moments of "wow, it actually worked" does not help my cognitive dissonance however. Because of the complexity of the organism we deal with (humans), we can't control and can rarely predict the outcome of our handling. However, we can choose to do no harm, which is our highest priority.


          • #35
            I’ve been thinking about what’s been said here recently about expectation.

            Jason states: “Ultimately I believe it to be most productive to not have any expectations at all.” I know this sounds good, and is probably consonant with the Buddhist or Zen philosophies that many find very comforting and insightful. But I don’t think for a minute that this attitude can be realistically maintained in the circumstances of workshop instruction.

            Though I am troubled by any therapist who espouses “belief” in the care they provide and usually ask for understanding instead, I’m aware that I am required to believe many things if I am to get through the day. Things like where I believe I left the keys to the car. This saves me all kinds of time when I’m trying to drive to the airport. To save time looking I can’t help but maintain a certain expectation, but this isn’t quite the same as believing in the way the body functions or what my care accomplishes. (see Why We Believe for more on this)

            I suspect quite strongly that my students have been repeatedly exposed to certain remarkably common clinical phenomena, though they’ve quite commonly missed all of this or misinterpreted it. They’re all therapists, educated and licensed and paid for seeing patients who depend upon them, yet there’s little or no evidence that they’ve read any neuroscience beyond the meager amount offered in school. Their “beliefs” regarding dysfunction and effective care cannot be defended beyond the perfunctory, “Well, it seems to work.”

            To enter a workshop as an instructor with no expectation would require that I somehow become robotic and, ultimately, behave as if nobody knew anything, which is in my experience a major mistake.

            I also wanted to say this today: Something I find lacking in Tavris and Aronson’s description of dissonance theory is a response to cognitive dissonance I find is easily the most common and the most difficult to do anything with on my part. It is simple silence. Non-action. No argument. No apparent defense of current behavior. No follow-up. No comment. Silence combined with non-expression.


            What are we supposed to do about that?
            Last edited by Barrett Dorko; 19-08-2007, 10:19 PM.
            Barrett L. Dorko


            • #36

              You ain't no Red Queen when it comes to believing impossible things, especially before breakfast?

              Have you ever had a class or two which exceeded your expectations? Did the class start out as usual and metamorphose into something quite unexpected? If so, what might have been different about a) your expectations and b) theirs?

              A couple of years ago I went to a talk given by a local PT who is highly ranked as an educator and clinician. It was about the technicalities behind the use of ultrasound. The audience as a whole was interested, attentive, asked questions, agreed, disagreed.
              I was so bored by his topic and his mechanical and formalised presentation I have no idea what his conclusions were, if any. I think he had no expectations at all; he simply spewed out information. I was extremely silent for the 80 minutes.
              This does not solve any problems with walls of silence, but my silence was entirely due to his lack of expectations from us.
              That cannot be said of your presentations.



              • #37
                I hope you have an answer coming, meanwhile I'll offer a quick opinion. This may sound flippant but I mean it seriously. Maybe your workshop is just too short. In spite of all that you offer here, and that much is unequalled, there is no follow-up, no exam to pass to ensure concepts have been learned, no next day, no next course, no next level. There is no time to respond, confront, accept and learn how to think and behave differently.
                Imagine if it was drawn out over, days, weeks, dare I suggest it, even months. Classes that could go into nauseating detail, throw in some homework, exams, maybe even a private discussion forum where participation was mandatory, maybe then the silence would be broken. It would have to be, or you'd fail.
                Eric Matheson, PT


                • #38
                  Thanks Nari.

                  I work hard to engage everybody I can from the beginning. This is one of the reasons I often use popular culture as a teacher and metaphor. The other reason is because I like that stuff. It’s interesting to watch some therapists come alive with this while a few will act as if it’s beneath them. I tell them, “You ignore the culture at your peril” and usually they begin to see this.

                  I regularly see classes change, but almost without exception for the better. That’s my job, as far as I can see.

                  What I don’t see is any evidence that this change commonly endures. And that’s yet another reason to examine the power of the culture.

                  It’s a funny thing, the only time I regularly sense boredom is a few minutes into my presentation of web sites they will find helpful. In response I often hurry this.
                  Barrett L. Dorko


                  • #39

                    I agree. It might be that no amount of time will take the mesodermalists or energists from the Mothership, but for others a few more hours and some testing might suffice.

                    But right now I'm only teaching for Cross Country Education (unless otherwise requested) and their formula is strictly "one day workshops." They know that attendance would drop dramatically if it were even two days.

                    I agree. That's why the room is empty five minutes after I stop speaking.
                    Barrett L. Dorko


                    • #40
                      Another way of looking at this is in terms of work. Confronting ones dissonance takes work. In this case a whole lot of work. I imagine it as being something like trying to change a lifetime of deeply held religious beliefs. Unless someone is genuinely dissatisfied with the status quo, they are unlikely to put forth the effort to do this work on their own. Therefore you either have to increase their sense of dissatisfaction, or force them to do the work and hope that they'll sense the reward at the end is worth hanging in for. Maybe a non-refundable tuition would do the trick.
                      Eric Matheson, PT


                      • #41
                        Confronting ones dissonance takes work. In this case a whole lot of work. I imagine it as being something like trying to change a lifetime of deeply held religious beliefs.
                        And often mental hands must be held through the process. I'm looking at this as just another facet of HPSG.
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                        "Rene Descartes was very very smart, but as it turned out, he was wrong." ~Lorimer Moseley

                        “Comment is free, but the facts are sacred.” ~Charles Prestwich Scott, nephew of founder and editor (1872-1929) of The Guardian , in a 1921 Centenary editorial

                        “If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you, but if you really make them think, they'll hate you." ~Don Marquis

                        "In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists" ~Roland Barth

                        "Doubt is not a pleasant mental state, but certainty is a ridiculous one."~Voltaire


                        • #42
                          Eric, I agree that dissatisfaction must be present in the students in order to move forward and learn new things. From this, we have to assume that many are satisfied with their status quo OR they are in a state of dissonance, don't know it and are too uncertain to do anything about it.

                          Social grooming might be an answer. That's hard work and requires a lot of patience.....



                          • #43

                            What about 2 different one day workshops? That would fit into Cross Country Education's formula and would provide opportunity for those who want to
                            learn how to think and behave differently
                            As Diane said - this often needs mental hand holding...

                            Is that a possibility?

                            Last edited by clarett; 20-08-2007, 04:19 PM.


                            • #44

                              I'm ready to do this but it's difficult to find sponsors who can find students and venues. I'm not currently of the opinion that there's sufficient interest.

                              Maybe I'm wrong.

                              I often think back to the model of teaching and "dissonance introduction" Stan Paris demonstrated so masterfully in the 70s and 80s. I was immersed in this as an instructor and course designer and therapists flocked to them. When the operation went into a generic mode of presentation that severely curtailed intellectual growth I had to leave. That was in '79.

                              The courses remain very popular despite all of that, and maybe there's something to be said for Paris' formula.

                              A reasonable question is this: What evidence is there that Paris' many students have made a difference?
                              Barrett L. Dorko


                              • #45
                                I guess the question is can the what be separated from the how and maybe, in this case, the who.

                                I'm not sure if anyone can answer that. I'd be interested to see how another instructor would handle the same material. Sometimes the one closest to the ideas presented is the worst one to present them, sometimes they are the only one who can present them and remain true to them, and sometimes it just doesn't matter.