Prof. Gabriele Chiari, MD chartered psychotherapist, is co-director and teacher at the School of Specialization in Constructivist-Oriented Psychotherapy at CESIPc, Florence, Italy. He introduced personal construct theory in Italy in the early 80's and since then has trained about two hundred psychotherapists and contributed to the spreading of Kelly's ideas in the university. A member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Constructivist Psychology and Personal Construct Theory & Practice since their first issue, Prof. Chiari has published extensively on constructivist epistemology, theory and practice. His latest contribution (together with the late Maria Laura Nuzzo) is Constructivist psychotherapy: A narrative hermeneutic approach, published by Routledge in 2010.
Armezzani M. & Chiari G. (2014) Ideas for a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of personal construct theory. Part 1. Kelly between constructivism and phenomenology. Costruttivismi 1: 136–149. https://cepa.info/1249
Kelly’s personal construct theory, put forward in 1955, is considered the first constructivist theory of personality and the first expression of those contemporary psychotherapeutic perspectives grounded on a constructivist view of knowledge. Notwithstanding the similarities between psychological constructivism and the phenomenological-hermeneutic tradition, Kelly always rejected the parallel of his theory to phenomenology, regarding the latter as unacceptable since idealistic, solipsistic, and particularistic. In this first article of a work subdivided into three parts, the Authors explain such criticism by Kelly with his knowledge of phenomenology deriving from secondary sources, and stress the wide possibilities of a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of his theory. Relevance: The publication highlights the analogy between psychological constructivism and phenomenology.
Armezzani M. & Chiari G. (2015) Ideas for a phenomenological interpretation and elaboration of personal construct theory. Part 3. Clinic, psychotherapy, research. Costruttivismi 2: 58–77. https://cepa.info/1251
In this part of our work about a comparison between Kelly’s personal construct theory and phenomenology, we enter the fields of psychotherapy and research. The topic of intersubjectivity, meant as original recognition of the other’s subjectivity, provides a backdrop for both phenomenological clinic and Kellyan psychotherapy. Though Kelly never used the term “intersubjectivity,” his theory and the corollary of sociality in particular, reveals a view of interpersonal relationships as intercorporeality, which is much closer to phenomenological ideas than to the cognitive ones. Depending on such commonality, in either cases clinical relationship is not viewed as an “aspecific factor” of psychotherapy, but as the essential tool for the care of other. Furthermore, the core role of intersubjectivity in scientific knowledge implies a radical revision of the criteria of research. Consistently with the intent of a science of experience, it is no more a matter of collecting data, as of accepting meanings. Psychological research has to refound itself in continuity with life and recognize the need for a real involvement and real interaction with the subjects, as far as to reverse the traditional relation between clinic and research. It is nonsense to conceive clinic as an applicative sector of a pure science because clinic, on the contrary, is the place where one can know, in first-person, those meaningful realities which take shape in the intersubjective exchange of ideas, in order to make them comprehensible and controllable. Relevance: The publication explores the dimension of intersubjectivity in phenomenology (starting from Husserl) and personal construct theory, and its relevance in psychotherapy and research.
Chiari G. (2008) How Questioning Reality Can Help Face Real Problems. Review of: Studies in Meaning 3: Constructivist Psychotherapy in the Real World, edited by Jonathan D. Raskin & Sara K. Bridges, 2008. Constructivist Foundations 4(1): 70–71. https://constructivist.info/4/1/070
Summary: Some of the most authoritative names from the constructivist community have been called on to contribute to this volume, coherent with the editors’ choice to start from a broad definition of psychological constructivism, and to maintain its various expressions and derivations… It seems clear that the editors strongly recommended the authors to include many examples and clinical cases to demonstrate with actual facts the applicability of the epistemological assumptions of constructivism to clinical practice. In my opinion, in addition to reaching this target, this work provides numerous suggestions to those clinicians already conscious of the efficacy of the therapeutic applications of constructivism.
Chiari G. (2009) The issue of the unity and specificity of psychology from the viewpoint of a constructivist epistemology. Humana Mente 11: 81–95. https://cepa.info/365
A certain constructivist psychology converges with a certain epistemology of psychology as rejecting as meaningless the project of the unification of the various psychological schools and theories, as well as the trend to the progressive reduction of psychological phenomena to neurophysiological processes. The paper discusses the subject by referring to the work of the Italian epistemologists E. Agazzi and S. Marhaba, the American psychologist G. A. Kelly, and the Chilean biologist H. Maturana.
Chiari G. (2013) Emotion in personal construct theory: A controversial question. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 26(4): 249–261. https://cepa.info/918
George Kelly’s personal construct theory (PCT) has been accused of disregarding the role of emotion in human life. This charge originates from a misunderstanding of PCT’s basic assumptions. Kelly deals with experiences commonly called “emotional” in terms of dimensions of transition according to a genuinely constructivist epistemology. A review of the literature shows few elaborations of Kelly’s original formulation of constructs relating to transitions, and even some contributions critical of Kelly’s approach to emotions. This article rebuts the criticisms while making clear the epistemological and theoretical bases of Kelly’s treatment of transitional experiences, its peculiarities, and its role in the diagnostic/therapeutic process. Relevance: It deals with the notion of emotion from a genuinely constructivist epistemology such as that envisioned by Kelly’s personal construct theory.
Chiari G. (2016) So distant, yet so close: Kelly, Maturana, and their constructivist theories. In: Winter D. A. & Reed N. (eds.) The Wiley handbook of personal construct psychology. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester: 57–68. https://cepa.info/5362
George A. Kelly, a psychologist born in Kansas, began to elaborate personal construct theory in the first half of the twentieth century; Humberto R. Maturana, a Chilean biologist, started to conceive his theory of autopoiesis during the second half of the same century. The two were unknown to each other, yet their theories show striking similarities. Though the focus of convenience of personal construct theory is psychotherapy whereas the theory of autopoiesis is a biological theory of knowledge, Kelly’s ingenious ideas can be enriched by the way in which Maturana deals with features common to both theories.
Chiari G. (2020) Intersubjectivity, constructivism, and personal construct theory: Commenting and extending Mascolo and Kallio’s article on the phenomenology of between. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 33(1): 29–35. https://cepa.info/7762
Some of the arguments presented by Mascolo and Kallio in their article, “The Phenomenology of Between: An Intersubjective Epistemology for Psychological Science” are discussed. The aim of Mascolo and Kallio’s work is commended, given their efforts to overcome purely subjectivist or purely objectivist approaches, not only in psychological research but also in psychological and psychotherapeutic theorizing. Remarks herein cluster around two themes: (a) the need to clarify what is meant by “intersubjectivity,” “constructivism,” and “phenomenology,” given the highly variable use of such terms; and (b) ways the epistemology of intersubjectivity as devised by the authors is both consistent with and divergent from view of the person as depicted by Kelly’s personal construct theory.
Chiari G. & Nuzzo L. M. (1996) Psychological constructivism: A metatheoretical differentiation. Journal of Constructivist Psychology 9(3): 163–184.
As the constructivist movement spreads throughout the contemporary psychological literature, the meaning of the term constructivism is loosening and has become permeable to rather different approaches. This excessive permeability is one of the reasons why in recent years there has been a proliferation of the reasons why in recent years there has been a proliferation of lables suggested by several authors to point out relevant differences under the umbrella of constructivism/constructionism. In this article, we attempt to contribute to a systematization of the field by using the knowledge/reality relationship as a metatheoretical criterion of differentiation among the several psychological perspectives on personal knowledge. In doing so we fix certain terms to the different views of knowledge, suggesting their discriminative use. Brief references to the psychotherapeutic approaches based on the metatheoretical perspectives considered make clear their different implications at the applied level.
Chiari G. & Nuzzo M. L. (1988) Embodied minds over interacting bodies: A constructivist perspective on the mind-body problem. The Irish Journal of Psychology 9(1): 91–100. https://cepa.info/3953
The consideration of the relation of mutual specification between a distinguished whole and the parts distinguished in it, and of their specification of two nonintersecting phenomenal domains, constitute the starting point for a radical constructivist redefinition of the ‘mind-body problem’ (MBP), where the opposition between mind and body turns into a relation of complementarity between components of a larger (social, ecological) whole. The implications as to the traditional views on the MBP are outlined, stressing in particular the overcoming of the holism/reductionism and parallelism/interactionism dualities.
Chiari G. & Nuzzo M. L. (1996) Personal construct theory within psychological constructivism: Precursor or avantgarde. In: Walker B. M., Costigan J., Vine L. L. & Warren B. (eds.) Personal construct theory: A psychology for the future. The Australian Psychological Society, Sydney NSW: 25–54.
Topics addressed include: constructive alternativism and the knowledge–reality relation; anticipation, self-organisation, and structural determinism; constructs, systems, and complementarity; identity, sociality, and the mind–body problem; acceptance, orthogonal interaction, and the psychotherapeutic relationship; and person-as-scientist and the narrative approach.