|PCP and gender
| "We have attempted to delineate the role of
psychotherapist and his basic
approaches within the systemic position of the psychology
of personal constructs" (Kelly, 1955,
"The client may want to bare himself without taking any
responsibility for formulating his ideas
in communicable form" (Kelly, 1955, p.
There is a curious
contradiction between the emphasis of
Personal Construct Psychology on empathy, on openness in construing
and on the readiness to revise constructions in light of invalidation;
almost total disregard of gender as an issue. Throughout the basic text
1955) as well as in subsequent writings, Kelly (1996; Maher, 1969)
using the third person masculine singular when referring to "the
therapist" or "the client". In his discussion of sex roles (Kelly,
1955, pp. 930-931), Kelly refers to a male client's difficulties in
conflicts rooted in childhood and his
resistance to loosening his construals.
Subsequent research by students of Kelly dealt with differences between
genders only in relatively few researches. Among the findings: girls
psychological constructs in regard to persons than boys, who tend to
constructs, and more complex constructs than boys in regard to objects
1969). Women differentiate between
elements less than men, tend to be more capable of social construing
construe situations more holistically (Landfield, 1971). Similar
cited in research where women were found to construe occupations in a
integrated way than did men (Bodden, 1970; Harren et al., 1979;
There is only indirect
reference to gender in research
related to solving issues in counseling. It was significant, for
findings from the application of the Bannister-Fransella (1967) Grid
Schizophrenic Thinking could not be
explained in terms of sex (or age, or
intelligence, or most personality factors) (see Kear-Colwell, 1973; Poole, 1976;
Stefan & Molloy, 1982). In sex-therapy, counselors seem to analyze
reptest in the same way for both partners. By contrast with other
however, analysts implementing PCP tools give full consideration to
construals (Bannister & Bott, 1973; Proctor, 1996; Winter, 1988).
Some research does make a
point of examining women's point
of view. In attempting to explain differences of construal between the
Carlson (1971) concluded that women see themselves less as "agents" in
confronting situations than do men. Neimeyer and Hall (1988) focus
on problems of personal identity among women in satisfactory,
and abusive marriages. O'Sullivan (1984), who found that agoraphobia is
prevalent among women than among men, sought an explanation for her
construing that in Western societies, girls are traditionally sheltered
experimentation and from experiences that are likely to change their
structures. Among recent studies, Iantaffi (1999, p. 81) notes that she
interviews with disabled women in academia, for, like feminist
concerns, "disability issues
stem from common roots of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression,
personal becomes political..."
The small number of references
to gender in PCP theory and research
is somewhat odd considering how central rejection of the Freudian claim
anatomy is destiny was to Kelly's constructivism.
Furthermore, at the time that
Kelly was formulating the theory, Karen Horney (1939), a psychoanalyst,
energetically arguing against Freud's explanations of women's weakness
of "penis envy". The polemic by De Beauvoir (1949 / 1952), accusing the
patriarchal social order of assigning women the role of parasites,
into submission, was also well-known. Moreover, concern with gender
identification and psychosexual development was central to post-World
research in Jungian psychoanalysis as in theories of social learning
cognitive-development (Unger, 1979).
According to Winter (1992),
PCP researchers felt more
certain of the validity of repgrids when they discovered that findings
differences between girls and boys, men and women. It is possible,
that Kelly allowed the indifference to gender because he related to the
of sex, as, among others, to those of age, origin, and language, as
part of a
cluster of cultural controls. In that
light, he could anticipate that a
sensitive therapist would discover differences rooted in gender by
through a diagnosis with the kind of open mind that therapy – and
require. Still, O'Sullivan (1988) considered that the question of
and feminism are compatible required examination. Her conclusion is
features of PCT (constructive alternativism,
credulous listening to the
other, anticipation, validation of different kinds of knowing,
and reconstruction and recreation rather
than adjustment to the status quo) have parallels in feminist
thinking and thus can provide a basis for a truly non-sexist, even a
Given the expansion of
feminism as a political movement and
the spread of varieties of feminist theorizing during the last several
of the twentieth century, Kelly might, had he lived, revised his
non-construal, of gender. But a thorough exploration of how gender
and how gender issues can and should be integrated into the theory are
be carried out.
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