Rita Carter is a science writer who has written a number of books on the human brain and how it works. Her most recent book is called Multiplicity and it examines the idea that we do not have one consistent and constant personality or identity. Instead, some psychologists suggest that we have a number of different personalities inside us, linked to different clusters of memories. The different situations and contexts we experience prompt different mini-personalities to take control of our thoughts and actions.
A similar theme is approached from a slightly different angle by Peter MacIlveen and Wendy Patton from Queensland University of Technology in their article ‘Dialogical self: author and narrator of career life themes’ in the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance (Volume 7, Number 2, August, 2007 – or try here for an alternative version).
Part of the theory of the dialogical self assumes that we can each take a number of different ‘I-positions’. These I-positions are sets of assumptions, attitudes and perspectives that interact like several different narrators collaborating to tell one story.
This set me thinking…
- How do we know which mini-personality is in control of a client when we are talking to them in a guidance discussion or a group session?
- Will it be the same personality in control when they make actual decisions and act on them?
- Could this partly explain the clients who seem to be enthused about taking forward an action plan in the office but then do nothing about it when they get outside?
- How can we bring more of a client’s different I-positions or personality aspects into the career discussion and decision making process?
- Can we get the clients’ different personalities to talk to each other while we have a bit of a snooze?