Process and Content
Content is what the group only
appears to be saying - and can seem irrelevent or pedantic or
boring or flaming or
inviting or whatever. What's most interesting is to examine what is going
on underneathe - what is the subtext - who is taking which
role and eliciting which
responses and when is this derailed or suddenly
appealing to large numbers in the group?
For a time I was convinced I'd been removed from the list for bringing up such irritating things (as process) yet again.
The content of what I have to say at this point is probably much less important than the process -- or, no, that process/content heirarchy is false (I suddenly see in sentence #2!) Both are equally vital and meaningful to safe, creative and sustaining group activity....
intimacy and increased group cohesion that follows the rough and tumble of aggression, fear, exhileration, primitive process
what is said and done and responded to is considered to be delivered and received on two levels: One level is the "content" level. "Content" amounts to all that is said, done, etc that is overt and at face value. For example, if the patient/client says "I really like coming to therapy" that is the "content" of their message. "Process" is everything else: all that is conveyed implicitly by nuances of language - how delivered and how received - nuances of behaviour, and basically much of the stuff that is typically unconscious, or semi-consious, or even consciously hidden - but which is nonetheless communicated in these subtler ways. Defenses have their hay-day on the "process" level; as do love and creativity and emergent (as yet un-verbalizeable or even intelligible) activity. So, when the same patient/client who says "I really like coming to therapy" keeps missing sessions, or gets the days mixed up, or always misses the bus or has a last minute crisis... well, the "process" begins to say alot more than the verbal "content."
I think we might distinguish three kinds of possible patterns: 1) Content patterns --classifying content and discerning some (regular or irregular) sequencing of classes. 2) Process patterns . . . 3) Emotional rhythms
Now, I think that the discussion of process vs content has been less than helpful in one sense because I think of it as the PC/Mac discussions: holy wars over the impossible. The process people (I call them the Mac crowd) are not swayed by the content (the PC) crowd and I'm guessing that rational discourse is not going to change that very much.
I wonder if the process/content question that has fascinated the list for so long does not implicate a serious question of a community of belief and associated values. Steve uses the word "studying" when he refers to the experiential examination of process, and the word "building" when he refers to content laden discussion. Can the studiers and builders make a community? Why are the studiers studying? Why do the builders want to build? Is the dichotomy even useful if its effect is to silence thoughtful but unfamiliar approaches?
At the risk of being flamed, I'm going to comment on our process. . . .
Hope no one flames you for pointing out the obvious. The distinct change has been a switch in focus from process to content. I can testify that it's not (only) a tug of war between different factions, as I'm very interested in both, and will happily engage on either basis. To me, it felt refreshing to talk for a while without analyzing every word six ways from Tuesday
and too, i cannot see such a clear deliniation between content and process. identity, yes (heh... more on this) but not this clearly drawn line. i think perhaps, in net communications, as content and context merge, that is, one perhaps defines the other through the process. what you say, is very much part of how you say it. and how you say it, becomes who you are. and who you are may be the process itself.
(This is content --about process.)
Do I NEED to hear that my curiosity is "depressing?" or "irrelevent?" or "that Process shit again?".
Any process comment is a gamble.
Becoming a member of a process oriented group is a choice you make in order to learn something about yourself, group dynamics and/or interpersonal relationships.
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