Perceptual Control Theory

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Publish Date
Jun 27, 2021
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Perceptual control theory is a cybernetic model of behaviour based on the principles of negative feedback, mostly associated with the work of William Powers.

The 4 shortcomings of PCT

To my mind PCT has 4 primary shortcomings.
  1. The reference signal is not recognised as a kind of “perceptual” input (
    ) that is also “external-internal” to the self-system
  1. The definition of behaviour as the control-of-perception vs the control-of-the-
    Meaning gap
  1. The recognition of the “Comparator” as requiring intelligence (prediction capability based on a world model). It is more than a simple mathematical difference calculating function; it is necessarily creative ::& requires a memory::
  1. The “output function” is simply the enaction of the output of the “comparator” function. In PCT’s model the comparator is a simple mathematical function and the reconciling theory and its inaction are combined into a single function

Method of Levels

PCT contributes a useful perspective on psychological disorders by providing a model of satisfactory psychological functioning as successful control.
Dysfunction then is understood as disruption of successful control, and distress as the experience that results from a person’s inability to control important experiences.
No attempt is made to treat the symptoms of distress as though they were in themselves the problem. The PCT perspective is that restoring the ability to control eliminates the source of distress.
Internal conflict has the effect of denying control to both systems that are in conflict with each other. Conflict is usually transitory. When conflict becomes chronic, then symptoms of psychological disorder may appear.

Levels of control

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