William B. Stiles, Katerine Osatuke, Meredith J. Glick & Hannah Mackay
Miami University, USA

E-mail:stileswb@muohio.edu

 

ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN INTERNAL VOICES GENERATE EMOTION:
AN ELABORATION OF THE ASSIMILATION MODEL

 

The voices formulation of the assimilation model characterizes psychological problems as voices, understood as agentic traces of problematic experiences. The model describes successful therapy as building meaning bridges (shared signs) between problematic voices and the person's dominant community of voices. At first, their encounters generate increasingly intense dysphoric emotion, as they recognize and acknowledge each other. Later, the emotion becomes moderated and turns positive as the meaning bridges become stronger. This developmental sequence is summarized in the 0-7 Assimilation of Problematic Experiences Scale (APES), in which problematic voices progress through the stages of being warded off (0), avoided (1), painful emergence (2), recognition (3), understanding (4), and application (5), to becoming resources (6 or 7). One underlying dialogical process is cross-triggering, as one voice calls forth a rejoinder from the opposing voice. At the emergence stage (APES 2), the problematic voice and a community representative trigger each other rapidly, generating intense emotional pain. Sentence-by-sentence rating suggests that this intense negative emotion occurs in brief spikes, as the community engages and then quickly withdraws from the problematic material. Later, as the meaning bridge becomes more established (APES 3-4), the cross-triggering slows, and alternating contradictory expressions can be observed in the session dialogue. In one investigation of emotional expression, forgetting indicated the highest degree of separation between client's voices (APES 0-1); crying marked an increasing connection between voices (APES 2); and laughing indicated an even stronger connection as one voice took perspective on another (APES 3-4).