David M. Goldstein, Ph.D. Cherry Hill, NJ The PCT Idea of Reorganization:
In PCT, controlling perceptions successfully is the means by which the person controls genetically determined body needs successfully. Traditionally, psychologists have referred to the body needs as physiological needs. The regulation of perceptions is the means of regulating the body. Powers has not provided a list of body needs which must be regulated. As an aside, I would like to point out that these PCT ideas integrate the subfields of motivation and perception in a novel way.
When a person is not satisfying a body need, this is described by saying that an intrinsic error signal exists. The actual body state is not the same as the genetically required state. Only a person can know when intrinsic error signals are present. This is experienced by feelings, for example, hunger, thirst, etc.. The intrinsic error signals can only be reduced by learning and developmental changes in the perceptual control systems which restores the body state to its genetically required state.
Intrinsic error signals automatically trigger a trial-and-error, random-like tissue/biochemical change process called reorganization. This process results in altering the existing “hardware” of selective perceptual control systems within a person. The brain circuits of the error prone perceptual control systems are “rewired”.
Awareness is drawn to the control systems which contain error signals and awareness can start the reorganization process. Conflict is a major reason which stops reorganization from working successfully. The reason for this is that awareness is drawn to the wrong places in the organization of control systems. There may be other reasons why the reorganization system does not work properly but these have not been identified by Powers.
Learning is the acquisition of a new control system or the changing of an existing control system through reorganization. Reorganization stops whenever the intrinsic error signals are reduced to satisfactory levels. Development is the acquisition of a new level of perception through reorganization. Thus, in PCT, learning and development are conceptually alike in that they both involve reorganization.
When a person is reorganizing, the person will be unstable in many different ways including cognitions, moods, behaviors. The person will not feel as though the internal changes are being voluntarily produced. People in the middle of reorganization often feel very anxious, stressed and don’t know what is happening to them.
The concept of stress, in PCT terms, is describable as chronic error signals or intrinsic error signals. The person’s body is aroused but the person is not taking energy spending actions. I have written about stress management approaches from a PCT perspective (Goldstein, 1989).
Behavior is the Control of Purpose
This depiction of the reorganization process starts with the
- Integration factor (related to gain) that has left
- Unresolved error in an active system.
- The unresolved error is then compared to a intrinsic fixed reference (Y) of acceptable error within a level that is weighted and ranked for a given control process.
- If there is a significant difference in the unresolved errors across for given control process it will be sensed by the next higher level. Once the higher level is “aware” of the error….
- That cumulative error signal is then compared to a fixed reference (X) Reference of Acceptable Errors Weighted and ranked across a level or series of control processes.
- If there is a significant difference in the cumulative errors across a given level or series of control processes it will result in Reorganization.
- Reorganization is Random Changes in Perceptions References or Outputs of the next lower level,
- Thus reducing or increasing unresolved error in an active system.
- Repeat steps 3-7 until the unresolved error in less than (Y) the intrinsic fixed reference of acceptable error within a level for a given control process.
Purposeful Control & Reorganization
First Y9 is the reference that is compared to the integration factor’s residual error. Each controlled activity has an acceptable level of error. We routinely accept less than perfect. Also, we accept relatively greater error on each higher level (X) or conversely we expect tighter control on each lower level. No living system has an error signal as a constant zero and certainly not zero error at every level.
As you go up the hierarchy you must build in greater level of “acceptable error across a level” (X) or you would be in constant reorganization (crisis).
Think about some of these questions.
- Is what you are doing working?
- Is what you are doing getting you what you want?
- Is what you are doing making you happy or content?
- If the answer to all the above is no, then right, wrong or indifferent you will have to do something different.
Change how or what you perceive, change your expectation, or change what you are doing. Changing any one of these will change how you feel about the situation. Reducing the acceptable level of residual error (Y) and error across a given level (X). And yes I believe both are variable between people but may be constant or innate for an individual.
But how to choose what to change is a guess or a random act of reorganization