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Social Mentality, 3 systems and cancer

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October 30. 2014
Philip Molyneux

Dear all,
I am presenting on CFT to a group of Palliative Care Social Workers and have been playing with incorporating the physical motivation and social mentalities into the 3 circles diagram in the context of cancer. I am attaching some slides (not the full presentation) and would be grateful for any feedback as to whether I am on the right track in my thinking.
Doing this has generated a couple of questions that maybe some of you could help with ...
1. Given the different Physical motivations and Social Mentalities motivate us to act in different ways, what is the aim of CFT?
- to simply become aware of the interaction of the 3 systems?
- to be able to move between the different motivational systems and maintain balance between the emotional systems as appropriate?
- to move into the care giving/receiving (compassionate) mentality?
I am wondering if we shouldn't see any one of the motivational systems as 'bad' or better than any other, as all might be needed/beneficial to a greater or lesser degree in different situations.
2. Is there a role for encouraging acceptance and compassion in each motivational system/social mentality when the threat system is activated, or is the response of the affiliation system unique within each social mentality (as I have attempted to illustrate in the slides)?
Best wishes,

November 07. 2014
Doug Crix

Dear Philip,

Really interesting question and I like the way your slides pick it up so clearly.  My view on this would be similar to what you have suggested.  I have put on a couple of slides from a presentation i recently gave which links social mentalities to the effects of ill health.   I would agree that social mentalities are neither good nor bad, simply different ways of organizing social behaviours. I often think of 'the apprentice' programme as an example of an environment where a competitive mentality is particularly useful (although not pleasant to watch).  Combat field and sports are two obvious others.  

When suffering/illness etc comes into the fore (as it does for all of us throughout our lives) operating solely from a competitive mentality, for instance, would be distressing and problematic (for example ruminating about how others are stronger, fitter, more attractive, or competitiveness about severity of symptoms).  My perspective would be that this is an example of how it is important to be able to flexibly deploy different mentalities for different situations.  When there is a physical illness such as cancer, we need to access more affiliative motivational systems to enable us to come to terms with our limitations (e.g. grieve, soothe pain and discomfort), access social/medical care and support  and provide care and support to others around us.

In response to your second question... the way I understand motivations (which may be wrong) is that they are not discrete and you may in that they can blend together (for a sexual motive might become associated a status seeking motivation, or a sexual motive might become associated with a care giving/receiving motive). If this is the case then perhaps developing compassion (toward self an others) shapes the form other motivations are deployed

Just some thoughts?  be interested to know what others think

best wishes


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