Falling for the Formulaic?


During Amjam today I spent the whole session with one participant.

I noticed how shifts in my perspective had radical effects on the work

By seeing X’s actions and speech as “stereotypical”, “repetitive behaviours”, “something she always does”, I found myself tending to –

  • Dismiss the nuance of her behaviour
  • Ignore her
  • Objectify her
  • Infantilise her

It was as though

  • Her speech became stripped of significance
  • My thinking and response to her became formulaic
  • She became more passive and inactive
  • I became distant , detached, as though I wasn’t really “in” her company. I became bored.

However, when I took her speech seriously, and attended to the nuance of her behaviour I noticed several things.

I saw her as an active woman who at times has difficulty between wanting something and initiating the action which would fulfil it. This appeared intensely frustrating for her.

When lightly supported with the linking between impulse and action she appeared to

  • assume agency
  • become significantly more active
  • speak directly in conversational
  • achieve what she wanted
  • become more responsive

I, in parallel, felt

  • involved
  • our relationship develop and expand fruitfully into fresh areas.

I was enthralled.


Peri Mackintosh