In Chapter 8 I sketched possible limits of the behavioral repertoires of the women, limits imposed by the totality of their experience. And we have agreed that the women's behavior was constrained by the definition of Session I as a type of narrative conversation. But within these limits the women had a latitude for tactical management. They could pick certain topics, for instance, and avoid others.
In this chapter I will describe how they shaped and managed their behavior within the range of these limitations. I will stick to the hierarchical scheme we have been using, mentioning first their over-all performances, which I will consider as their strategy. Then I will describe how they managed positions to form tactics in the over-all strategy.
I assume that these tactical variations were determined and constrained by the mediate contexts of the women’s lives. I will make some comments about the neuropsychology of planning and carrying out a plan.
THE APPARENT STRATEGY OF THE WOMEN
Review of the Women's Performances
We should go back to Chapter 6 and review briefly the overall performances of the women.
The format of Mrs. V's performance can be summarized as follows:
Marge's performance was not as simple as her mother's. She played with a Kleenex, quasi-courted, and in general maintained an active kinesic relation with the men. In addition she used various combinations of points in her format from position to position. We could summarize these alternative constitutents as follows:
The General Compliance with the Definition
In general these positional performances were in keeping with the formal definition of the transaction as a psychotherapy session. Mrs. V kept trying to narrate episodes in the history. Marge began by sitting back and commenting on the narrative. Even the repetitiveness of these positions is not unusual since we would expect that a number of topics would be breached and the speakership would oscillate if the participants disagreed.
Consistent Slanting of the Performances
But each time the women performed these positions they slanted them in a particular direction. Three consistent tactics can be abstracted by observing these directions.
Discrediting and Defending
In each position the women intercalated disparaging metacommunicative points about the other. And each woman added point comments to support her own position when it was disparaged.
Although Marge was most overt about it, both women sought support from the men. Marge used laments and sexual appeals, for example. When Marge achieved such support from Whitaker she used it to contend with her mother. She did not stay in face-to-face relation with Whitaker or converse with him unless he questioned her.
But the women did not maintain their contention. One of them quickly conceded and offered a conciliatory statement. Then Marge would break off her relation with Whitaker and return to sitting with her mother. Even in Phase II when Marge had become engaged with the men Mrs. V appealed to her to return home and Marge said she wanted to do so.
The occurrence of these reconciliations indicates that the women were constrained not to escalate their argument to the point of a schizmogenesis (Bateson 1958). So their argument was negotiatory. Each one seemed determined to alter the other’s behavior and change the other’s conceptions in order to make easier a life together. Even their relationships with the men were used in the service of influencing each other. My guess is that they saw no choice but to stay together (see Chapter 10).
THE TACTICAL MANAGEMENT OF A POSITION
We cannot observe directly what plans the women had and thereby substantiate this idea of their strategy, but we can note more carefully what they did to slant and tailor the usual positions of the narrative conversation.
The Selective Use of Language Points
The narrative position is performed by taking a posture of vis-a-vis orientation to the listeners and recounting a series of descriptive language points. But the narrator can choose particular points and omit others.
Mrs. V's Selective Narrative
In the simplest instance a narrator strings together a number of point units until he completes a picture of some remote context and specifies his meaning. He may then add additional point units if he is questioned or if the listeners indicate noncomprehension.
Mrs. V, however, tended to be vague. She would utter a few point units and stop speaking. At six minutes and two seconds, for instance, she said: ‘I think they (hallucinations) just come into my mind, and sometimes when I think to verify what I see.’Then she stopped speaking and folded her hands. The men remained immobile, staring at her without comprehension signals. She continued with another vague comment: ‘Something like that. I didn't read it. It just came in my mind.’
As she made these comments, Mrs. V gave every indication of embarrassment. She had brought up the subject only at Marge’s insistence. We can assume she did not want to talk about her hallucinations.
This incident typifies Mrs. V's account. She was often vague. She did not supply much information until she was pressed to do so by Marge and Whitaker. Ethnographers and demographers generally agree that the Italian-American family member is especially closed-mouthed about family affairs when he is interviewed by outsiders. From her omissions and Marge's insinuations we can guess that Mrs. V selected her narrative points to conceal the discord in her family history.
Marge's Points of Disclosure
But Marge kept adding points of insinuation and accusation which brought to light certain incidents in the history. In fact Marge aired a series of allegations in a systematic way as if she had a list of charges. All in all, Marge managed to establish a rather unflattering picture of her mother’s past behavior.
She depicted her mother as mentally ill. With reluctance the older woman admitted nervousness, hallucinations, ideas of being persecuted by some ‘French people,’ and an episode where she had apparently wandered the streets in a panic. And Marge depicted dissention in the family. She alleged that she was afraid of her father, that her father beat her. She brought up a struggle between her parents and an incident in which the police were called because Mrs. V was allegedly attacking him with a knife. And Marge managed to portray her mother as uncaring. She implied that Mrs. V was glad when her husband died, that she had neglected the baby brother, that she talked crazy to Marge and did not understand her.
Marge's insinuations brought to light incidents of her mother's behavior which fitted psychiatric theories of the mother’s causative role in the development of schizophrenia, e.g., maternal indifference, maternal psychosis, marital discord, and so on. Her choice of these topics and the ways she seemed knowingly to catch Whitaker's ear with these insinuations gave me the impression that Marge was familiar with these psychiatric ideas. She had been in psychotherapy for six months with another psychiatrist.
In the theoretical language sketched in Chapter 8, we would say that Marge introduced tactics from the mediate context of her previous psychotherapy relationship. By labeling Marge's statements tactics I do not mean to imply that her accusations were false or unfounded. But her systematic selection of these charges indicated that she had discussed them at some length in her previous psychotherapy.
Loading the Narrative with Metacommunicative Points
Recall once more Mrs. V's opening remarks. She quoted Marge as saying, ‘Help me upstairs.’ Then Mrs. V added a discrediting metacommunicative point: ‘A young girl like her.’ Mrs. V could have said, ‘Poor girl, she was so sick,’ or she could have omitted any metacommunicative addition. Marge soon turned the tables. She mocked Mrs. V's advice to get more sleep and eat. And then said, ‘Gonna go to hell,’ which one can guess was also a caricature of a parental religious warning.
So it went throughout Session I. Mrs. V added such a derogation each time she told about Marge’s illness and Marge used points of disparagement whenever Mrs. V spoke. So the narrative and supplementary narrative positions were loaded with metacommunicative points that were not necessary to tell the story. They were used to slant the narrative to another purpose — that of discrediting the other woman’s position (her metaconceptions, as I previously called them).
If one is not the principle speaker, he may remain verbally silent, yet be kinesically ‘noisy, ’ thus conveying metacommunicative information and distracting attention from the primary speaker. Marge did this continuously in any Period 1 with facial expressions and exhibitionistic gestures. She also muttered comments. So in one kind of tactical manipulation body language is substituted for speech.
The Addition of Direct Accusations and Denials
As you know by now, the women periodically would turn to each other and openly disagree, with Marge making direct accusations and Mrs. V denying them and rationalizing.
At first Mrs. V would ignore what Marge said. It seemed that certain Gestalten had to be accumulated before Mrs. V's response was elicited. In other words, Marge had to reach a certain plateau of insistence. Then the mother turned to her, and Whitaker picked up her daughter’s insinuations (Schflen 1966).
Modification of the Address
The position may be manipulated by modifying the behavior of address, a tactic used repeatedly by Marge.
Loading the Address with Representational Behavior
Marge loaded her orientation to Whitaker with the behaviors of Kleenex display and quasi-courting. And sometimes she added facial expressions and shrugs of helplessness. Thus the representational behavior of appealing and promising can be used to supplement the address in hopes of making it more compelling or more attractive to a potential addressee. In other cases forceful, amiable, or preening behaviors were added to an address.
Promoting a Point Unit to a Position
Marge used another manipulation of the usual unit forms. She performed what are ordinarily point units in a gross, exaggerated manner by altering her basic posture. She would stand up, for example, to make a single language point and a facial gesture of mock incredulity and ‘shock.’ She would sprawl and make an expressive point of despair or disparagement. By such manipulation of posture she made a point unit into a full position and thus interrupted (or tried to interrupt) the narrative.
Tactics of Introducing a Position
A participant may hold off the introduction of a tactic until some propitious time — until someone else has completed a position, for instance, or met disapproval. Whitaker did this repeatedly and Mrs. V seemed to, but it was difficult to assert that Marge did. She seemed to try to manipulate the situation continuously.
The Substitution of Alternative Point Units
In the repetition of a position one or more of the constituent subunits may be replaced by an allomorph (Z. Harris 1951), i. e. , by a form recognizable as being of the same class of behavior but having a different implication or connotation. Synonyms of speech are an example. Sometimes the allomorph may be used to specify a meaning more exactly, but it also can be used tactically. It can be used, for instance, to make a position more persuasive or more acceptable.
Mrs. V did not use many alternative points in her narrative. She tended to narrate sequentially. But she did use allomorphs in her defense, repeating a repertoire of denials, rationalizations, and avowals of not remembering. But Marge tried a number of alternatives both in appealing to Whitaker and in confronting her mother. In initiating a Period Z, for example, she might use alternatively any or several of the following point units: appealing, lamenting, insinuating, or challenging.
In challenging her mother Marge also used alternatives. To picture such usage one must have a knowledge of the usual sequence of forms. Recall once more the pattern Marge used in the beginning of a Period Z to elicit an admission from her mother.
She would turn to her mother accusingly (step A), place her hand on her mother (step B), cock her head and use supplicant tones, as she asked her mother if the accusation were not, in reality, true (step C). If mother ignored her, as she usually did, or flatly denied the charge, Marge would sprawl on the sofa and disassociate herself from the others.
But Marge had a series of alternative tactics for steps В and C. She would raise her voice and repeat the challenge loudly. She would turn to Whitaker and by her facial expression disparage the mother’s denial or she would look appealingly to the men or to the camera.
It was almost as though Marge tried out a series of possibilities to see which one would work and she escalated a series until one actually did. Imagine a child trying to be heard in an adult conversation. He may try to speak and be shushed. He may tug on his mother's sleeve but be ignored. Finally he becomes insistent enough that the conversation is broken off to attend to him. Thus Marge mounted an increasing number of disparaging and appealing points in a Period 1, then she directly and insistently confronted her mother in a Period 2, but she varied the order and emphasis of the point units which she employed.
Multiple, Simultaneous Tactics
These steps were executed in succession. Often, however, they are carried out simultaneously. Speech, while it may be used in narration and postural kinesics, also may be used to load the address and initiate the supportive relationship.1 so the complex business of a transaction is managed by using multiple modalities differentially but simultaneously.
Suppression and Concealment as Tactics
For completion of the discussion of tactics I should mention a subject I have already covered (Chapter 6). For tactical reasons certain performances must be suppressed accordingly. A participant may show as active immobility and constrain his hands or mouth. But I think it is virtually impossible to restrain totally a customary or highly valued enactment. The participant may in this case perform some other unit of behavior which serves to conceal or direct attention away from the performance he wants to conceal. Maybe this is one reason women wear cosmetics and perfume (Birdwhistell 1963).
In such cases it is often possible to note abortive behavior from which one can make a psychoanalytic inference about motivations which were concealed by defenses (A. Freud 1946).
Maneuvers in Managing a Point Performance
By the same token point units can be altered as a maneuver in the tactics of modifying the position. Special syntactic sentences can be chosen, for example. But I do not want to discuss such variations in detail. I will, instead, merely illustrate two matters which I mentioned in Chapter 8. A feature of paracommunication can be stressed or manipulated to alter an implication or convey an impression.
For example, Mrs. V said (2 minutes) ‘He [her husband] died. It'll be a year this December 3rd. December 3rd it will be a year.’
The initial morpheme ‘died’ was said oversoftly, slowly, and tremulously. Probably this is a common paralinguistic quality for such a statement, indicating solemnity, proper sadness, and appropriate hesitancy about widowhood. But the second syntactic sentence was stated in a matter of fact way without any paralanguage beyond the usual range of qualities — as though this statement were a factual answer to Malone’s preceding question: ‘Where is your husband?’
But Mrs. V then repeated the affirmation about his death. And this time she loaded it with paralanguage. Haltingly, slowly, oversoftly, she said, ‘December 3rd it will be a year.’ We might surmise that having answered the question with data, Mrs. V then put in indicators of sadness, lonliness, dependency, and the like.
Marge did this sort of thing continuously. She imitated her mother’s vocal qualities and facial expressions to mock her. She switched from middle class to Italian-American styles. She stressed qualities of lamentation and depression, used qualities of coyness and cuteness and so on.
The form of the point unit is also maneuvered in the use of innuendo. This will be described in Chapter 11.
COMMENT: PLANS AND THEIR EXECUTION
The Idea of Plans
From the tactical variations which we see a participant use, we classically infer his goals, drives, or motivations. We usually arrive at these abstractions by assigning behavioral variations to Aristotelian classes of theories about instincts, needs, and so on. But it is problematical to define such hypothetico-deductive categories. The participants in a transaction are acculturated, socialized people. Since they are not embryos, we cannot realistically speak of instincts as a determinant. And concepts of need and drive have yet to be defined in the terms necessary for systematic usage. These terms refer to organized systems of suborganismic, organismic, and contextual events. They are only represented intrapsychically. They do not occur there. So we had best stick to behavioral terms and to contexts and their cognitive representation. A schema for doing this has already been advanced by Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960). They speak of ‘Plans,’ which they describe as follows:
‘Any complete description of behavior should be adequate to serve as a set of instructions, that is, it should have the characteristics of a plan that could guide the action described. When we speak of a Plan in these pages, however, the term will refer to a hierarchy of instructions, and the capitalization will indicate that this special interpretation is intended. A Plan is any hierarchical process in the organism that can control the order in which a sequence of operations is to be formed.
A Plan is, for an organism, essentially the same as a program for a computer, especially if the program has the sort of hierarchical character described above. Newell, Shaw, and Simon (1958) have explicitly and systematically used the hierarchical structure of lists in their development of ‘information-processing languages ‘that are used to program high-speed digital computers to simulate human thought processes.’ Their success in this direction — which the present authors find most impressive and encouraging — argues strongly for the hypothesis that a hierarchical structure is the basic form of organization in human problem solving. Thus, we are reasonably confident that ‘program’ could be substituted everywhere for ‘Plan’ in the following pages. However, the reduction of Plans to nothing but programs is still a scientific hypothesis and is still in need of further validation. For the present, therefore, it should be less confusing if we regard a computer program that stimulates certain features of an organism’s behavior as a theory about the organismic Plan that generated the behavior.’
The plan, then, is cognitive representation of a traditional way to behave — a way appropriate for a given context. The plan2 makes use of preferred alternatives. Thus a choice of pathways is made. Theoretically, at least, a plan can be altered at any time and at any level to adapt it to the contingencies of particular communicational process (see below).
Planning and Executing
In situations like Session I the participants know in advance that they will participate in a given transaction. They have some idea or phantasy about what they will be expected to do. Presumably they scan their memories of past experience to find some similar transaction and tentatively they select a format and a set of preferred alternatives.
I know that Whitaker and Malone planned their parts in Session I at length because I sat with them as they did so. I had the impression that Mrs. V and Marge enacted a more stereotyped plan from a customary repertoire. Bateson (1962) speaks of such an automatic plan as calibrated behavior.
So the process of planning can vary from the most detailed thinking out of subvariants to a spur-of-the-moment production of a usual or traditional part. In either event we must suppose that the participant matches a percept of the immediate context with the formats in his cognitive repertoire and selects a plan congruent to multiple contexts in his view of the hierarchy.
Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960) postulate a ‘Tote’ mechanism, by which a plan can be tested first in imagination and then in operation.
The participant presumably practices his plan in imagination — he imagines he is performing it. He receives retroactive or feedback information as he calls on his past experience to imagine the responses of the others. He also perceives his own affective and autonomic response. He can, then, alter the plan or some subplan and rehearse his approach.
At some point the participant enacts his plan. He produces motor actions that replicate the form of his imagery. Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (1960) speak of execution as follows:
We shall say that a creature is executing a particular Plan when in fact that Plan is controlling the sequence of operations he is carrying out. When an organism executes a Plan he proceeds through it step by step, completing one part and then moving to the next. The execution of a Plan need not result in overt action — expecially in man, it seems to be true that there are Plans for guiding actions. An organism may — probably does — store many Plans other than the ones it happens to be executing at the moment.
At any point in its performance the plan can be recalibrated. The participant may accommodate the plan at any level, substituting a syntactic sentence or gesture, a point, or a position, adding certain units and so forth. Or he may withhold or conceal a motor activation of some portion and ‘think it’ instead of enacting it overtly. Or he may substitute a metacommunicative commentary (facial, gestural, or lexical). Thus the participant has various logical types of options in enactment.3 He matches and adapts these to his percepts of the immediate context and to his images of personal contexts.
A series of feedback loops are necessary to such recalibration. These are sometimes described as ‘external’ — (the exteroceptive observation of the responses and monitors of others) and ‘internal’ (self observational and proprioceptive systems). Some of this retroactive information is experienced consciously as metacommunicative thought about the performance and some is experienced emotionally.
Mechanisms for Recalibrating a Performance
Pribram also marshalls evidence of continuous inputs from suborganismic levels. Biased homeostats in the walls of the third and fourth ventricle apparently provide information about any parameter in metabolic or physiological state that is not compensated for with reflexes (Pribram 1963, 1966). These inputs constitute parameters which can lead to a modification of the plan.
Possibly these continuous sources of information are integrated in the temporal lobe. We can visualize a continuous cerebral process in which all inputs are continuously scanned and all percepts and images are matched (Pribram 1963).
Such concepts of neuropsychological functioning remain hypothetical but they do include the ideas of systems operation which have proved useful in other sciences. And they take us away from the reductive reflex arc and S-R conceptions of neurosystems which forced earlier psychological theorists like Wertheimer (1925), Koehler (192 5), and Freud (19 1 3) todepart from neurological considerations. Any theory of neurophysiological functioning must be complex enough to account for that which we can see the human organism do (Pribram 1967). Ideas like those of Miller, Galanter, and Pribram (I960) and subsequently of Pribram (1954, 1963, 1966) are based on neurophysiological research and on complex models which could be so. This was not the case with the simplistic S-R or expression conceptions which Osgood calls ‘kiddie-car models’ (Osgood 1963).
If an adequate theory of the nervous system can be developed, one obviates the need for a separate psychological theory. To put the point another way, the old dichotomy between brain and psyche can be eliminated by an adequate theory of either one. The behavioral science movement has contributed to the demise of simplistic theories of instinctual expression and simple stimulus reaction by showing the complexity of behavioral integration. At the same time the new neuropsychologies (Pribram 1954, 1965) have contributed to communication by developing an adequate idea about the mechanisms of communicative behavior.