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CONFLICT IN MEANING SYSTEMS:

PERSPECTIVES AND IMPLICATIONS FOR


MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
Guillem Feixas
Symposium Chair

gfeixas@ub.edu

THE NOTION OF INTERNAL CONFLICT


Psychoanalysis

the internal dynamics of the psyche

Piaget

cognitive conflict

Social

Psychology (Festinger, Heider)

efforts to counterbalance dissonances

Conflict

notions in psychotherapies

(Transactional Analysis, Gestalt therapy, etc.)

AN IMPORTANT
ISSUE
BUT.
Cognitive
conflicts in
psychotherapy

Little has been done in terms


of defining conflicts in an
operational way, and thus,
little research has been done

Even less is known about the


role of conflicts for both
physical and psychological
health, development, and
change (psychotherapy)

PCT & PCT

Perceptual Control Theory (Powers, 1973) &


Personal Construct Theory (Kelly, 1955)

Common features:

Cybernetic view of human


functioning
Behavior

is understood as a way to
change (or control) perception
(constructions)
Discrepancy (invalidation) between
actual perception and an internal
reference value (personal construct
anticipation) leads to further action
(constructive revision)to match percept

Control theory and psychopathology: An integrative approach


Mansell, Warren (2005)
Psychology and Psychotherapy, 78

PERSONAL CONSTRUCT THEORY


1

Anticipation
of the experience

Implication

Constructive

in the outcome

revision

THE
EXPERIENCE
CYCLE
4

Validation/
Invalidation

of the anticipation

Encountering
the events

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNAL CONFLICTS


Hierarchical

arrangement of
Control/Personal construct systems.
Two control systems specify incompatible or
opposite reference signals.
As one control system acts to reduce the
difference between the sensed experience
and the specified experience it increases
the difference between what is sensed and
what is specified for the other control system.
Conflicts are natural but excessive level of
conflict leads to malfunctioning and
psychological problems.

INTERNAL CONFLICT/PERSONAL DILEMMA


IN PSYCHOTHERAPY

NEED FOR
CHANGE

NEED FOR
CONTINUITY

ANTI-SYMPTOM
POSITION

PRO-SYMPTOM
POSITION

SYMPOSIUM PRESENTATIONS

Are the Detrimental Effects of Suppression Due to Their Conflict With Goals
for Expression? A Transdiagnostic Study in an Analogue Sample
Warren Mansell, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Co-Author: Rebecca E. Kelly, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London
Voices, Conflict and Personal Goals: A Study of Clinical and Non-Clinical
Auditory Hallucinations Informed by Perceptual Control Theory
Filippo Varese, Lancaster University, United Kingdom

Cognitive Conflicts and Psychological Distress in a Non-Clinical Sample


Luis Angel Saul, National Distance Education University Madrid, Spain
Co-Author: Maria Angeles Lpez-Gonzlez, Faculty of Psychology, National
Distance Education University, Madrid
Negative Views of Self or Internal Conflicts as Targets of Psychotherapy?
Guillem Feixas, University of Barcelona, Spain
Co-Author: Adrian Montesano, University of Barcelona