| "The submerged pole of
a construct is the
one which is less available for application to events".
(Kelly, 1955,1991, Vol. p. 6)
Submergence is one of the three
constituents making up the idea of lower levels
of cognitive awareness. That is
a diagnostic construct in Kelly's theory
that, in other theoretical systems,
may be called "unconscious processes".
The other two are preverbal construing
Personal constructs are bi-polar. They have
a likeness end and a contrast end. When a person only
has one end consciously
available, the less available pole is said to be submerged. Kelly's own
is when a person says "Everyone has always been good to me". The
contrast - not
consciously available - can only be guessed at. It may be that "people
always been good to others"; or that "I have not always been good to
or that "there are some people I could name who go around saying people
mean to them - I am not that sort of person".
One useful feature of submergence is
it prevents the construct being put to the test and is thus a good
example of nonvalidation (Walker,
2002). If the submerged pole were uncovered there might be the threat
of having to put the construct to the test. For instance, if the
were "I am not the sort of person who goes around saying people are
them" that might be invalidated -
proved to be wrong. Conversely, if the
submerged pole were "I have not always been good to others" that might
- proved to be correct. Both validation and invalidation can have
and devastating results for the person.
Looking at one's dreams can be of
here. If you have an important person in your life who is short and fat
you feel is putting you under undue pressure, you may dream of the
opposite - a
tall thin person is pushing you around!
The notion of submergence is probably of
most use in the counselling and psychotherapy setting. A person who
that everyone has always been kind to them may be having trouble in
with a new loving relationship in which the partner is occasionally
Once that construct has been identified as possibly having a submerged
behavioural experiences can be designed to bring it into conscious
Such awareness is very important in helping the client become
- Walker, B. M.
(2002) Nonvalidation vs.
(in)validation: implications for theory and practice".
In J. D. Raskin & S. K. Bridges. Studies
in Meaning: Exploring Constructivist Psychology. New York: