Yesterday in Hospital Friends Charity Shop I found a copy of Dorothy Rowe’s The Successful Self. Rowe is a psychologist and writer who particularly focusses on depression. Much of her work focusses on how we structure our views of the world and create meaning. “She has shown how we each live in a world of meaning that we have created out of our past experience”
I got to hear her speak in 2011 about Depression and Creativity at an Un-Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University organised by Arts for Health and Greater Manchester Arts Health Network. I found her fascinating and particularly connected to her laddering technique which is introduced in a chapter called “Which Reality do you prefer/” in The Successful Self. Rowe describes laddering in the following way:
When I teach a psychology class about the structure of meaning I often, as a demonstration, call for some volunteers to go through a process of questioning which demonstrates how the most trivial of decisions which we make is based on a series of judgements, each more abstract than the one preceding it,and all ultimately dependent on a judgement about the nature of the individual’s sense of existence
I would like to use the technique in Not a Séance in a simplified form as I think it encourages you to very quickly uncover unconscious beliefs and values.
Laddering: an example from my breakfast.
Whilst in a clinical context laddering might be prompted by a statement by a client, it can also be stimulated by asking someone to think of three types of the same thing. In The Successful Self Rowe uses the examples of cars books and food. I will show an example from what I had for breakfast and will put Rowe’s questions in bold.
Give the names of three foods
Avocado, egg and pitta bread
Can you tell me one way in which two are the same and the other different?
Egg and avocado are natural, pitta bread is processed.
Which do you prefer?
I prefer the natural foods.
Why is it important to you?
I like things to be natural as I think they are healthier and more authentic
Why is that important to you?
When things are healthy and authentic its easier to connect with the world
Why is that importat to you?
Because feeling connected means that you are more open to experience and feel more alive and able to understand more.
Suppose the conditions of your life changed and you were unable to experience your life in this way?
I would feel very isolated and down and not see much point in anything.