Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

How Subjectivity Can Be Investigated in the Post-Rationalist Cognitive Approach: Clinical and Psycho-Diagnostic Tools

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

How Subjectivity Can Be Investigated in the Post-Rationalist Cognitive Approach: Clinical and Psycho-Diagnostic Tools

Article excerpt


Reciprocity with primary care-givers affects subjects' adaptive abilities towards the construction of the most useful Personal Meaning Organization (PMO) with respect to their developmental environment. Over the last ten years we analyzed the post-rationalist approach focusing on the construction of a specific framework for distinguishing immediate experience from explanations of the experience, the slow-motion ("moviola") technique, and the analysis of awareness and resistance. Neuroimaging (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fMRI), genetic polymorphism investigations and new psychodiagnostic post-rationalist tests (Mini Questionnaire of Personal Organization, MQPO, and Post-Rationalist Projective Reactive, PRPR) were used to conduct a scientific in vivo study of PMO. The presence of specific and stable clinical patterns both in inward and outward subjects was supported by parallel differences in cerebral activation during emotional tasks at fMRI and in the different expression of some polymorphisms concerning serotonin pathways; Furthermore, validation data concerning both a questionnaire (as MQPO) and, crucially, a projective test (as PRPR) allowed to distinguish four organizational profiles, confirming their adaptive significance in assimilation of experience. Focusing on the PMO promotes the emergence of adaptive individual resources, thereby improving skills needed to control perturbing emotions and to apply more flexible behaviour strategies.

Keywords: Post-Rationalist Cognitive (PRC) therapy, Personal Meaning Organizations (PMO), Functional neuroimaging (fNI), Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP), Mini Questionnaire of Personal Organization (MQPO), Post-Rationalist Projective Reactive (PRPR)

1. Post-rationalist Theoretical and Clinical Frameworks

Among constructivist approaches to psychotherapy, the post-rationalist paradigm constitutes one of the most innovative, proposing a useful epistemological theory of mental functioning with successful applications in clinical practice. As known, this model was conceptualized by Vittorio F. Guidano in the Eighties (Guidano & Liotti, 1983; Guidano, 1987, 1991a, b, 1995). Such an approach originates "from the perception of a discrepancy between the promising results of a psychotherapeutic practice making wide use of behaviour therapy techniques and the limited explicative power of the learning principles forming the theoretical foundation of those techniques". According to the development of the epistemology of complexity and the evolutionary, explanatory and holistic psychological approaches (Weimer, 1979, 1982; Prigogine, 1980; Sameroff, 1982), it is possible to focus on individual self-organization and self-determination as consequent to openness and plasticity of his/her developmental pathways. By this point of view, the self can be investigated not as an entity connecting experience and behaviour, but as a process of selfhood, with a reflexive nature, continuously remodelling and restructuring itself (Guidano, 1987).

As Guidano wrote (1987), "individuals' experiences, both positive and negative, are powerfully influenced by their personal 'psychological organizations'". Therefore, "the 'deep structure' or 'core organizing processes' that constrain human psychological experience may be at the heart of successful interventions as well the classical problem of resistance, relapse, and refractory behaviors ... Those psychological processes involved in the development and maintenance of personal identity or 'self' should be the primary focus of research and intervention in psychological disorders". For this goal, his post-rationalist approach drew together themes from object relations theory, ego psychology, attachment theory, constructivist models of human cognition, and lifespan developmental psychology. From this evolutionary, holistic and process-oriented perspective to living systems, a special attention must be directed to the hierarchical organization, temporal becoming and dynamic equilibrium by which the human knowing system can be considered as a self-referent complexity, with self-organizing ability. …

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