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A DIALECTICAL CONSTRUCTIVIST VIEW OF THE CREATION OF PERSONAL MEANING

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A dialectical constructivist approach, based on a theory of constructive operators (TCO), is presented. This theory explains human psychological functioning as produced by dynamic syntheses of a variety of schemes, the "software," and mental "hardware" operators. In this model the activity of the subject is captured by means of such mental operations as allocation of attention to, or interruption of the application of schemes, as well as by executive processing. These all influence the probability of certain schemes being activated and synthesized in a field of internal complexity. Using this theory as a base, the process of meaning construction in therapy is described as a dialectical synthesis between two major types of processing, conceptual and experiential. These act together to constantly generate explanations of experience. Three important moments in the construction process, emotional arousal, symbolization, and reflection are discussed. Finally a therapy transcript is analyzed in terms of the TCO to illustrate the dynamic syntheses and mental operations involved in generating meaning in therapy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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