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The Power of Dissonance

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  • #61
    Thanks guys.

    I think that this thread marks a turning point in my career as a teacher. If I carefully consider what my own brain is up to when I hear another therapist extol the virtues of their method, a method that distinctly differs from my own, I can authentically exhibit more patience than I commonly do.

    Not a bad idea.

    But I can't help but wonder if this approach might push me closer to an acceptance of "alternative" thinking or practice than I'm capable of tolerating. Before you know it, I'm grinding my teeth rather than saying what I think. I know myself well enough to realize that such a situation will soon become intolerable.

    So, I've added yet another slide to that portion of my workshop that discusses theory and scientific reasoning. I call it "The Line" and it looks like this:

    Biologic Plausibility

    Physical Possibility
    ______
    ____The Line_____________

    My plan is to simply say, "If your theory crosses the line beyond the two attributes I've indicated above it, you'll find that I lose interest. I know that some will see this as dismissive but I'm being as kind as I can, and my lack of careful consideration of theories that have crossed this line is the price I pay for being a scientist."
    Barrett L. Dorko

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    • #62
      For years I’ve asked the class if any among them begin with their patient’s posture; making sure that it was “aligned” and prescribing strengthening exercises in order to maintain this alignment. Always a few would raise their hands, a few with reluctance. Then I’d point out that several studies I carry with me (see A Big Mistake for these references) in my infamous Red File have demonstrated an absence of correlation between strength and posture. This, of course, makes many therapists uneasy and their methods of justification predictably grow stronger. One thing I notice – the Red File on the front table remains unexamined.

      On Wednesday in Tallahassee Florida I’m going to say this instead:

      “For many years therapists have supposed that there was a strong correlation between muscular strength and posture and their therapeutic exercise regimen reflected that belief. However, a number of carefully done studies by wonderfully competent therapists have shown this to be untrue. Here (pointing to the Red File) they are.”

      By eliminating the personal nature of this situation and simply interrogating reality as any fierce conversation would dictate, the power of the response should be dispersed. The motivation dissonance engenders won’t disappear, and I don’t want it to. But perhaps people will be motivated to open the file rather than, say, go out to the parking lot and slash my tires. Not that anybody has considered such a thing.

      See? All it takes is a single book full of insight to change our behavior.

      Even mine.
      Barrett L. Dorko

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      • #63
        Barrett maybe you have some insight here. I certainly felt the awful pangs of dissonance when I first read your material and attended your workshop. I still don't understand why I spent a portion of my lunch hour with that red file copying down all the references. Why me?
        Eric Matheson, PT

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        • #64
          Reading the Red File

          Eric,

          How we get to be the way that we are is a mystery some are compelled to solve and others couldn’t care less about. I’m not certain that even those who seek the answer will ever draw very close to the truth though they might find some comfort in the search.

          There’s a danger however in looking too hard for a cause or reason to explain the way we feel and behave the way we do. This is one of the primary themes in the Alien Abduction thread that proved pretty popular a few weeks ago. In short, belief systems result from stories that comfort us, and the veracity of the story takes a back seat to its power to explain.

          When you ask, “Why me?” I feel like saying immediately, “It is your scientific bent that drives you to examine evidence rather than seek comfort in tradition and familiarity. What you did was both unusual and courageous.”

          I often hear, “How can you say…” followed by some outrageous statement that I may or may not have made. I’m beginning to realize that the person asking isn’t usually looking for the evidence I cite or even a clarification – they’re asking me to explain how it is I acquired the nerve to stand before my colleagues and offer so much dissonance.

          I don’t actually know, but I know I’ve paid an enormous price for this.

          I know you have as well, and that this price will only increase as you continue to “read the Red File.”

          No need to thank me.
          Barrett L. Dorko

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          • #65
            Why me?
            Eric, your feeling of dissonance at the course was the exact opposite of what I felt.
            After I learned about ideomotion and attended the SC course, there was the 'Eureka' response: this is the gap in clinical practice that has haunted me for years. I suspect dissatisfaction wth the status quo is one 'cause'; there may be many others.

            Another driving force was Gribbin's book Deep Simplicity and I immediately connected Gribbin's theme with the 'power' of ideomotion.
            I had never been abducted in the first place.

            As to why this gap plagued me for so long - I don't know.
            Then again, I am something of a non-conformist.....

            Nari

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            • #66
              Hi Barrett,

              Perhaps you could sell "cognitive dissonance" as the 'new' core strengthening. It has some truthiness and is probably within most students' lattitude of acceptance.
              "I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing"--Bob Morris

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              • #67
                Jon,

                Maybe. I'm certainly expanding upon the concept these days.

                Jason's personal response to his own ideomotion in response to Simple Contact (by me) has always fascinated me. He laughed out loud.

                Not your usual response to dissonance. Not at all.
                Barrett L. Dorko

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                • #68
                  Response to dissonance

                  Barrett,
                  I remember when you made that statement in the course that I attended. My reaction was much like Diane's and I thought, "finally, someone who actually makes sense!" In my excitement I quipped back, tongue in cheek, "Have you mentioned this to Florence Kendall?" Despite the large grin on my face, or perhaps because of it, you must have thought I was challenging you instead of agreeing with you. I don't remember what you said, but I remember the scowl on your face and your tone of voice, and it wasn't pleasant. Obviously, a miscommunication, but it did keep me from coming up to talk to you later at lunch. You were sitting at the table directly behind me and my friend with your nose buried in a book and a posture that said "Do not disturb". How unfortunate. I should've looked in the red file instead I guess.

                  Sarah

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                  • #69
                    Yes, you should have.
                    Barrett L. Dorko

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                    • #70
                      The Red File

                      touche

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                      • #71
                        Barrett-
                        I remember that. I always will. I've yet to have someone I've handled do that as well, but you never know - tomorrow's a new day.
                        Jason Silvernail DPT, DSc, FAAOMPT
                        Board-Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy
                        Fellowship-Trained in Orthopedic Manual Therapy

                        Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist


                        The views expressed in this entry are those of the author alone and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US Government.

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                        • #72
                          Yesterday a massage therapist responded to the fact that external rotation of the hip reduces neural tension with this:

                          "We were taught that when people lie on their back their toes should point toward the ceiling. If the hips roll out then that means there's an imbalance in the muscles. It means that the external rotators are tight and/or that the internal rotators are weak."

                          I spoke to him for a while, trying to explain the many problems with this, uh, theory, but never felt I was making any headway.

                          Either I am unable to explain the simplest fact about the function of gravity or normal muscle function or he's already on the Mothership and can no longer be retrieved.

                          I suspect it's the latter, but you never know until you get some explanation that improves upon your own. He had nothing other than what he'd been taught and had assumed was true.

                          That's hard to overcome, but at the very least he didn't become angry. I've got to give my dissonance lecture credit for that.
                          Barrett L. Dorko

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                          • #73
                            Barrett, are you finding that the dissonance lecture is sufficiently deflective, that warning people what they might expect to feel helps them to soften their way from 'belief system' into the science material better?
                            Diane
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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

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                            • #74
                              Diane I've wondered the same thing, whether many are just going to be dissonant about dissonance.
                              Eric Matheson, PT

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                              • #75
                                Good question.

                                I've only been at this a couple of weeks but I feel it's very helpful in every way. The trick is to talk about the instinctive response to dissonance before you offer information that will produce the dissonance itself. It also helps a lot to point out that even I will instinctively react as anyone else would. (I say "even I" rather dramatically)

                                "But I am committed to thinking like a scientist is supposed to," I say. This makes me examine my own response to new ideas more carefully, and thus recognize the danger inherent to a purely instinctive reaction. After all, the Enlightenment didn't arise from instinct, but, rather, carefully considered thinking and study."

                                (I think I might lose a few with that last sentence so I should probably consider leaving it out next time)

                                I am haunted a bit by a single image from yesterday however. After I did the dissonance lecture a lady in the second row dropped her head into her hands and maintained that position for about five minutes.

                                I thought, "Uh oh."
                                Barrett L. Dorko

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