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Kelly's theory of constructive alternativism

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Kelly's theory of constructive alternativism By Kendra Pinder George Kelly through treatment and research of Arkansas farming families during a depression realised that because of varying cultures and backgrounds, one basic psychological technique that was applied time and again by many psychologists, In this case The Freudian Psychosexual theory had no true basis in treating these all people. But what this did do was allow Kelly to formulate his theory of Constructive Alternativism. This theory was based upon the idea that, while there is only one true reality, reality is always experienced from one or another perspective. What was realised by Kelly was that every individual acts, reacts and behaves according to how they view their own reality. Each person views another or an event in an entirely different way to anyone else. But what forms that basic reality was of course needed to be understood. Kelly came to the conclusion that we all are mini scientists. Our entire life consists of us formulating our own hypotheses, carrying out various experiments, searching for answers, and concluding our experiments when an answer is gained. Whether this was by self or from an external source was irrelevant, the prime directive was to gain an answer to our initial question. Once this was done we were able to store this information and apply this to other scenarios and events in our lives, believing that to be true until an alternative answer was gained. ...read more.


So Kelly's theory regarding personality, behaviour, reactions and interactions, is based on each individual having their own personal constructs of how life should be. Of how events should conclude, and how they as individuals react, interact and behave within that reality. A personality/behaviour disorder according to Kelly, is when an individual continually goes against their basic constructs, even though validation of what they are doing is wrong is repeated time and again. This Kelly calls this a broken construct, and he suggests that each individual has the ability to change their lives simply by changing the perception of their reality. Overall Kelly's theory suggests that each individuals development, behaviour and personality is determined by what answers we receive to our own little theories when growing up. In other words, we gain answers from our parents and from our environment and those as time goes by do change. Individuals do not take on personality traits of others; they simply take on board how others react etc within that child's environment. So regardless of an individual's upbringing, they will form their own unique personality and behaviour traits based upon what they view is correct or not within their own personal constructs. If this theory is correct then regardless of our home life when developing as children, by understanding what was correct or not within our childhood in later life, our overall personalities should not be affected adversely in any way. ...read more.


A parent it would seem does indeed have a huge impact on our overall personality and behaviour traits. If Kelly's theory is wholly correct, then surely it would not matter if a parent was an alcoholic, or by their lack of nurturing it would affect an individual in such a way as to continue that abusive and self destructive cycle that individual would recognise and acknowledge that situation to be incorrect and should then aspire to change that within his or her life/reality. . From childhood if Kelly is correct, we are constantly theorising and finding answers to questions. This in itself has to start from a foundation; this would be within our childhood years. So Bowlby's attachment theory and Chassin Curran, Hussong and Colder's research certainly would come into affect here. To dismiss an individual's childhood would seem to do so at our peril. But also to dismiss Kelly's theory of initiating change by understanding what went wrong could only benefit the individual's future. It would appear that we certainly should not dismiss what inherent traits and attachments that have already been formed, but also look at recognising and building upon them, as with Kellian therapy apply a different view point, maybe gaining differing answers to what was originally perceived to be true. This in itself can bring about positive change, but only if the root of each individual's behaviour/perception is acknowledged, recognising both the positive and negative affects of an individual's past as a map to show them how to change their future. ...read more.

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