Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Expert Opinions" & the Capacity to Learn

     Roger Walsh MD, PhD describes how he learned "to appreciate the importance of an experiential foundation for intellectual understanding and the extraordinary extent of miscommunication and projection which operated in these areas.
     Many times, I listened to people explaining their misgivings about such-and-such a program and I was left wondering if we could possibly be talking about the same thing. I was no exception to these barriers and was amazed to see how radically my perceptions of a person or program depended on my psychological state.
     For example, on first reading the books of Ram Dass, I announced to several people that he was either psychotic or knew so much more than I did that I couldn't understand him, but I suspected the former. Six months later, on rereading the books, I found myself amazed that I could have failed to appreciate the depth of wisdom in them.
     Going through the est training in 1975, I walked out after the first three days feeling that I already knew all this. Some months later, I had the opportunity of meeting its founder Werner Erhard and found to my amazement that the man seemed to know considerably more about the workings of the mind than I did. Somewhat humbled, I went back and redid the est training and was astounded to find out how much it seemed to have improved. It became apparent that I had tried to protect my self-image as a highly trained mental health professional who must therefore know more than the people giving the est training, most of whom did not have professional degrees. I had apparently thus blocked my ability to hear anything of deeper significance than I already knew.
     ... the general principle should be clear by now. Basically, my defenses, biases, and lack of experience limited my capacity to appreciate people or information of greater wisdom than I myself possessed. Moreover, it seemed that not only was I passively incapable of hearing it, but was also at times actively defended against it." 
       Walsh R. "Journey beyond belief." Journal of Humanistic Psychology 1984; 24(2): 30-65.



  1. that grey background is not totally conducive to legibility

  2. It's a very tricky balance between sufficient and too much contrast.