Depression: an obstacle to learning LO11215

Robert Bacal (
Sun, 1 Dec 1996 22:09:50 +0000

Replying to LO11203 --

On 30 Nov 96 at 0:42, David C. Rupley, Jr. wrote:

> The systems we use to explain stereotyped learning can limit the learning
> we acheive from the observational data. Labeling Skinner as mechanistic,
> though true, shifted the focus away from the experience and into
> explanation. Do we always categorize or reduce when we explain?

I believe Jack was the one who labeled Skinner (and I have no quibble with
that), so perhaps he might respond as to the degree to which that label
affects his thinking. As to your quesiton, my sense is yes, we categorize
or reduce for everything...including explanations. It is a wired in
characteristic of the perceptual/cognitive system which includes the use
of language. I accept that as a given, and the research in psychology
appears to me to be totally unequivical on the issue....whether it be
cognitive research, perceptual research of psycholinguisitics.

The major question, to my mind is not WHETHER it occurs, but how we deal
with the hardware we have that does the reductions (it's a poor
analogy...sigh). ON a personal level it is one thing to use reductionist
thinking to create stereotypes of a particular race or gender and be
unaware of the is a completely different thing to acknowledge
that this is a basic human process, and to understand what we are doing so
we can move beyond it. One is a nonlearning process, one is a learning

> In a recent seminar on change, Delbeque made a point of remaining at the
> experience of the problem to develop innovative solutions. It seems that
> if we explain the problem we have reduced the opportunity to innovate . .
> . and learn? We hurry to arrive at "the problem" and this leads to "the
> solution."

I agree, yet I don't. The problem lies with the word "experience" and what
that means psychologically. There is, in essence, NO sensations or
perceptions that are unprocessed in the brain....that have meaning. The
brain is categorizing all the time, reducing information all the time. Is
there RAW experience in there? I don't know...some people have suggested
there is...but I don't think they are as raw (uncategorized, unreduced, to
be pure experience in a psychological sense. In any event, I am not sure
we would know or know how to access raw experience even IF it exists.

Assume that you want this message to be an can't simply
capture this "experience" raw, unless you have the use of eidectic imagery
(photographic memory) Simply reading the message involves reduction.

> We do lose information when we move away from the experience of depression
> and explain it as a cognitive filter or a mental model. Yet this also can
> provide a focused area to explore the models and learn what we mean by
> them.

My post on the Skinner stuff was in response to a comment regarding males
and their modes of expression, something I view as a stereotype and a
barrier to learning. I don't believe I was applying it to the issue of
depression. I haven't thought about it much.

Robert Bacal, Bacal & Associates,
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Phone: (204) 888-9290


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