Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 08:49:50 PST

Fascinating extensions in interesting directions to this thread! One
anonymous soul
sent a website suggestion that those interested in the topic might want to

Thanks Anon!

On 3/6/06, <> wrote:
> Peter:
> Thank you so much for the "defectology" tact. My perception is that few
> on
> the XMCA list ever consider the subject of abnormal psychology. Having
> this perception provides me with the action of usually avoiding the
> subject
> because very few response are ever solicited when the topic is raised. In
> reality there are many reasons why some postings solicite huge responses
> and others are trees in peopless (sp?) forests. Sometimes it is fun to
> fantasize that I control what happens on the XMCA bulletin boad. :-)
> eric
> Peter
> Smagorinsky To: <
> <> cc:
> Sent by: Subject: Re: [xmca]
> Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined
> xmca-bounces who-is-at web
> 03/06/2006 04:56
> AM
> Please respond
> to "eXtended
> Mind, Culture,
> Activity"
> The responses I've seen to Mike's initial question so far have dealt with
> people with "normative" psychological makeups. (I know some out there are
> already asking, "what is normative?" but bear with me.) I'll take a
> slightly Vygotskian tack and use a "defectology" approach--that is,
> introducing "non-normative" makeups such as personality disorders, which
> may include "disturbances in self-image; . . . ways of perceiving
> themselves, others, and the world"
> (
> disorders may have social or biological origins. Or people whose
> perceptions have been affected (warped?) by experience--e.g., if someone
> were to be released from the Abu Ghraib detention facility and
> subsequently
> interpret everything as a threat.
> fyi I have extensive experience at home and work with people with such
> makeups and am intrigued by the ways in which such people's
> interpretations
> of concrete events depart in singular ways from most other people's
> accounts of the same events--also with autistic children whose
> interpretations of events are very hard to grasp to outsiders (e.g., the
> son of a friend who is now 16 yrs old and has never spoken). I am also
> intrigued by the ways in which psychological makeups get diagnosed (I've
> witnessed the recommendation for hospitalization of someone whose single
> Rorschach test results were outside the normal range of interpretation).
> I am not an expert in these matters beyond my experiences and reading on
> the subject. I wonder how someone like Vygotsky would approach this
> question--he often turned to the "abnormal" to explain the normal. One
> way
> is to consider the conditions that define what is "normal" (or perhaps
> "real" to use Mike's original terms). Here I'll quote myself from The
> Discourse of Character Education (Erlbaum, 2005):
> Damasio (1994) argues in his somatic-marker theory against the classic
> Cartesian mind/body binary, instead positing that brain and body are
> integrally related not just to one another but to the environment. A
> change in the environment, he finds, may contribute to changes in how a
> person processes new information (cf. Luria, 1979; Pert, 1997); that is,
> in
> response to developments in the surroundings, the brain will encode
> perceptions in new kinds of ways.
> Conceivably, then, changes in school climate can
> contribute to the emotional well-being of students whose mental makeup
> falls outside the normal range. The therapy for such students is still
> widely debated. While medication and counseling have benefited many with
> nonnormative makeups in their relationships with others, the medical model
> has been criticized because it assumes that a normative mental state is
> best for all. This criticism frequently comes up in debates about whether
> medications for Attention Deficit Disorder are prescribed too often for
> any
> students who have difficulty focusing in school. Some argue that
> prescribing such medications is designed more to increase the comfort
> levels of those around such students than to help those students
> themselves.
> The jury is still out concerning the question of whether
> people with such diagnoses are sick and in need of medicine. Cook (2004)
> argues that relying simply on medication and counseling is inadequate;
> that
> a broader environmental change that enables an understanding and tolerance
> of difference, and gives young people tools for managing their difference,
> is essential to helping young people construct positive lives for
> themselves and in turn contribute to a more humane society. Taking a
> punitive approach to difference, she argues, is regressive and only makes
> life more fragile for those characterized as different and more
> emotionally
> and cognitively unhealthy for those who surround them.
> Well, a ramble with no resolution, but I did want to introduce some issues
> from the mental health field that are concerned with perception. Peter
> At 05:02 PM 3/4/2006 -0800, you wrote:
> >The following quote from Dewey speaks to issues that have been ongoing on
> >XMCA and also provide context for a question I am hoping for some help on
> >(having been so successful with
> >my question about references on narrative!). In particular, it concerns
> the
> >conclusion that experience is a hybrid of what is termed here the
> physical
> >and the mental. This snippet is provided courtesy of Matt Brown, a member
> of
> >our seminar on mediational theories of mind.
> >
> >Here's a little tidbit from Dewey that I think is interesting for several
> >reasons: it answers the question from earlier about whether Dewey is
> >concerned with the social, it provides a sort of summary statement of
> >central Deweyan theses, and it is exceptionally clear (for Dewey). From
> >Chapter 11 of *Art as Experience*:
> >
> >
> >Experience is a matter of the interaction of organism with its
> environment,
> >an environment that is human as well as physical, that includes the
> >materials of tradition and institutions as well as local surroundings.
> The
> >organism brings with it through its own structure, native and acquired,
> >forces that play a part in the interaction. The self acts as well as
> >undergoes, and its undergoings are not impressions stamped upon an inert
> wax
> >but depend upon the way the organism reacts and responds. There is no
> >experience in which the human contribution is not a factor in determining
> >what actually happens. The organism is a force, not a transparency.
> >
> >Because every experience is constituted by interaction between subject
> and
> >object, between a self and its world, it is not itself either merely
> >physical nor merely mental, no matter how much one factor or the other
> >predominates... In an experience, things and events belonging to the
> world,
> >physical and social, are transformed through the human context they
> enter,
> >while the live creature is changed and developed through its intercourse
> >with things previously external to it.
> >
> >Here is my question, related to this characterization of experience:
> >
> >In various situations (in particular, I am thinking of various massive
> >multi-user games and related cyber-interactional meeting places)
> >it appears that people can, perhaps cannot help at times, confusing what
> we
> >would normally refer to as "fantasy" and "reality."
> >
> >There is an extensive literature on the development of this distinction
> in
> >children's development, but I am seeking research on the
> >distinction's presumed presence or absence among adults.
> >
> >Any and all help appreciated
> >mike
> >_______________________________________________
> >xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Apr 01 2006 - 01:00:12 PST