Volume 6 · Number 1 · Pages 65–76
Exile on Mainstream. Constructivism in Psychotherapy and Suggestions from a Kellian Perspective

Vincent Kenny

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Purpose: The problem of entering a “mainstream” is analyzed by looking at the problem of recursive splitting in the use of constructivism, illustrating this problem with the special case of personal construct psychology. Problem: In this opinion article I outline a number of issues intrinsic to radical constructivism, and also to other less radical forms of constructivism, which tend to lead its users in the opposite direction to any detectable “mainstream,” indeed leading them steadily away from any unifying flow that might eventually leak into a mainstream. Method: By analyzing the “constructivist field” with regard to a series of “miss-takes” easily made by those approaching the radical constructivist outlook, and also with regard to an intrinsic tendency towards idiosyncratic individualism, I want to show the deepening degree of fragmentizing and splitting that I regard as endemic to the constructivist epistemology. I also describe how the metaphoric power of the term “constructivism” has been lost and has now become a dead metaphor, and I use the “gyres” metaphor of W. B. Yeats to describe the impending chaos and dissolution of the constructivisms. Implications: I make six main suggestions as to how this state of events might possibly be slowed down or even recovered from, thus avoiding ongoing deterioration and its self-disintegrating conclusion.

Key words: metaphor, personal construct psychology, splitting, schismogenesis, manipulative psychology, accumulative fragmentalism, George Kelly, Heinz von Foerster, Paul Feyerabend, Gregory Bateson


Kenny V. (2010) Exile on mainstream. Constructivism in psychotherapy and suggestions from a kellian perspective. Constructivist Foundations 6(1): 65–76. http://constructivist.info/6/1/065

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