Home Concepts Communication The New Johari Window: Exploring the Unconscious Processes of Interpersonal Relationships and the Coaching Engagement

The New Johari Window: Exploring the Unconscious Processes of Interpersonal Relationships and the Coaching Engagement

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External Locus of Control

The shadow seems to play an important internal role in defining the nature and purpose of Quad Four, as do the neural networks of the cortex and structures of the Limbic Brain (in particular the Amygdala). These dynamic Quad Four systems keep the content of Quad Four inside our head (and heart)—even though we may have very little control over these internal processes. There are many contributors to Quad Four over which we never have had and never will have control—not because they are unconscious, but because we believe (rightly or wrongly) that they reside outside ourselves.

In some case, we believe that there is an external source, when in fact this source may be internal. There are many people—and many cultures—that view many of the very powerful and emotional elements of their life as residing outside themselves. They believe they are “victims” or beneficiaries of externally imposed emotions or attitudes. I believe that someone else has made me feel bad or made me feel alive. Many songs tell us that someone else has made us feel like a “real man” or a “real woman.” Rogers and Hammerstein offer a powerful example of this external perspective in a song—“Love look away”—from their Broadway musical, Flower Drum Song. Looking plaintively at a man that will never care for her, the singer views “love” as an external force in her life and asked this external force (“love”) to “look away from her” and “set her free” from her unrequited yearning for this man. Is this external focus common in the culture she represents (Chinese), or is this Rogers and Hammerstein’s stereotyping of this culture? Whether it is a stereotypic or an insightful perspective on an external locus in Quad Four, “Love looks away” certainly is a lyrical (and touching) expression of the desire we have all felt at times for external assistance in resolving a difficult interpersonal dilemma.

In many other instances, it is very appropriate for us to assign Quad Four content to external sources. Clearly, there are externally-based social-culture determinants of Quad Four content. There may even be inherited content – though this is a much more controversial assertion. I will briefly address each of these sources of external content.

Social Cultural Determinants: We can never escape our social-cultural upbringing. Some researchers, for instance, suggest that our fundamental interpersonal values are acquired when we are five to ten years of age. These values have changed very little since then. I was a young child during the late 1940s. My values were forged during an era when the American suburb was flourishing and the Cold War was fully in force. By contrast, I interact in the classroom with younger men and women who hold values that were forged during the era of Viet Name, Watergate and collapse of the Soviet Union. According to the values-formation researchers, the values held in my fourth quadrant are profoundly different from those held in the fourth quadrant of my younger students.

Neuro-Templates: Even if we declare that social-cultural values and perspectives from childhood can be modified, there are recent findings from the neuro-sciences that suggest the immutability of other Quad Four elements. We return to the Amygdala for the source of these elements. Apparently, there are not only memories in the Amygdala that are highly resistant to decay; there are also “wired-in” templates to which we often refer when roughly assessing whether or not something is dangerous. There also may be positive wired-in templates—templates that induce an instance sense of joy or trust.

Recent research regarding the Amygdala (that I have already described) opens up a very controversial issue—the presence of more complex, innate images or “archetypes” in what the Jungians call the “collective unconscious.” Jung was among the first to explore the notion of a collective unconscious. It is one of his most controversial explorations. His collective unconscious serves as the intermediary between personal unconscious and culture. It is either inherited or the product of powerful societal forces.  The first option has usually been dismissed; yet, in recent years, findings from the neurosciences [especially the work of Joseph Le Deux (1998)] suggest that specific neuro-structures (the Amygdala) may hold primitive (even inherited) templates.  Thus, the Amygdala may hold not only the memories (and related templates) of our early life experiences, but also wired-in templates that existed in our brain when we were born or appeared spontaneously at a critical period during our development.

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