LeadU presents Subject/Object Relations


Subject/Object Relations

I want to move from general to specific, to perhaps abstract, the ideas that I want to focus on when I discuss Subject/Object Relations in FLOW Applications.  You can see this can get pretty complex very fast.  But I want to introduce you to this, and for those already introduced, reacquaint you with work that is largely popularized by Kegan, in his book The EVOLVING SELF, and IN OVER OUR HEADS, as well as others.

William Perry needs to get most of the credit for what Kegan, has of course, renamed and made his own, just for the record.

The following comes directly from the Wiki on Kegan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kegan

In The Evolving Self, Kegan presents a model of psychological development consisting of six "equilibrium stages": the incorporative stage, the impulsive stage, the imperial stage, the interpersonal stage, the institutional stage, and the inter-individual stage.  The object of each stage is the subject of the preceding stage.

The subject of the incorporative stage is reflexes, and it has no object.  The subjects of the impulsive stage are the individual’s impulses and perceptions, and its objects are the reflexes.  The subject of the imperial stage is the individual’s needs, interests, and desires.  Its objects are the individual’s impulses and perceptions. 

The subject of the interpersonal stage is interpersonal relationships and mutuality.  Its objects are the individual’s needs, interests, and desires.  The subjects of the institutional stage are the individual’s authorship, identity, and ideology.  Its objects are interpersonal relationships and mutuality. 

The subject of the inter-individual stage is "the interpenetrability of self-systems".  Its objects are the individual’s authorship, identity, and ideology.

Stage 0: Incorporative stage
  • Subject: reflexes
  • Object: nothing
Stage 1: Impulsive stage
  • Subject: impulses, perceptions
  • Object: reflexes
Stage 2: Imperial stage
  • Subject: needs, interests, desires
  • Object: impulses, perceptions
Stage 3: Interpersonal stage
  • Subject: interpersonal relationships, mutuality
  • Object: needs, interests, desires
Stage 4: Institutional stage
  • Subject: authorship, identity, ideology
  • Object: interpersonal relationships, mutuality
Stage 5: Inter-individual stage
  • Subject: "the interpenetrability of self-systems"
  • Object: authorship, identity, ideology

In the work I’m doing with development, I like to use the idea of subject-object relations to describe what might be happening in terms of meaning-making and the sense we can make from the making of meaning through the use of subject/object relations.

I’m less concerned with the level that the person appears to be at, but how they are moving among levels, whether or not the density of their memes is flexible enough that they are not bounded by narrow levels of S/O Relations, but can take perspectives on their perspectives, even if it’s fairly simple.

This ability to take a perspective on a perspective shows that while we are all subject to things in many object domains, we can "mechanically" fish ourselves out of the subjective soup from time to time and formulate an object experience or perspective.

This is particularly important when we are starting to flex through transitions of these equilibrium states noted by developmentalists.  While we are dissipative structures as living systems — organizationally closed and energetically open — how open, and how closed is key to note as we move to discover and disclose ourselves in the acceptance process.

Helpful Hint: What we are subject to, and are being had by, is different than what we hold as object, and can form a relationship with, including our own inbornness, something that we are almost always 100% subject too  However, in the process of realizing that, we can begin to objectify this process.  This is key to living consciously, or at least maturing in our lives.

Action Step:  The biggest leverage point, IMHO, is how subject we are to our inbornness, and how over time, objectifying that, actually leads us back to ourselves and the happiness program already designed into our inbornness, that often we reject, because it doesn’t fit the cultural stereotypes that we often are compelled, enrolled, or manipulated to subject ourselves too.  Can you notice?

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    We hope you pick up valuable insights, ideas, and tools during this process, which you can use for your own development as well as your work and leadership with others.

    You, Me, and We @F-L-O-W

    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

    Mike R. Jay
    Leadership University

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