Law in Contemporary Society
Prologue: After thinking about how to edit my first paper, I finally conceded that the paper contained one fundamental flaw (as well as many more superficial flaws, of course). Specifically, I misinterpreted the scope of Holmes' "bad man," applying it to practitioners when Holmes himself limited it to "those who want to learn the law and nothing else." Because my whole essay was constructed around the hypothetical figure of the practitioner qua bad man, I believe it would be a futile mental exercise to try to salvage this essay.

What I do plan to salvage with this "re-write," however, is the larger idea that I was trying to penetrate—that is, the question of what tools the creative practitioner can use in order to be successful in the face of adversity. Over the course of the semester, I picked up on two such tools: (1) foreseeing future legal trends and becoming an expert on their subject matter, and (2) mastering oneself and one's interpersonal relations by understanding that humans have "multiple personalities." Because I feel as though (1) was discussed more in-depth than (2) in class and on the wiki, I plan to investigate (2) more fully here.

Time to Get Personal

-- By KalliopeKefallinos - 25 Feb 2010

People often refer to "multiple personalities," so the first step is to understand exactly what we are talking about when we say "personality." Accordingly, I will first set forth the account of personality advocated by Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). While it might initially appear counterintuitive to posit that manifesting multiple-- and often disparate or contradictory-- roles is compatible with any concept of a stable, singular personality, I plan to use philosopher H.P. Grice to argue that CAT’s account is theoretically consistent. Finally, I will conclude by proposing how individuals can better understand their own personalities and the flexibility of the roles they assume and ascribe to others in social life. And this is how individuals’ “multiple personalities” can be utilized by the aspiring lawyer.

Understanding "personality"

Psychologist Philip Pollock and others have explained that "healthy identity development should comprise no evidence of dissociation and smooth, integrated and flexible deployment of a range of RRPs [ie. roles] in a socially appropriate manner, with experience of oneself as continuous and coherent." It follows that psychology distinguishes between "personality"/ "identity" and "role"/ "self state." A healthy individual has one personality but exhibits multiple roles. This resonates most with Eben's interpretation of the Leff piece, where he described how in social life we assign one another roles and reinforce them (eg. in some social relations I might act as the nurturer, in others the nurtured, etc.).

Grice argues that personality is an interlocking series of "total temporary states" (TTS). According to Grice, a TTS "is composed of all the experiences any one person is having at a given time” such that experiences E and E′ belong to the same TTS iff they both “would, given certain conditions, be known, by memory or introspection, to be simultaneous.” For example, in the case of a hypothetical law student, assume the TTS at time tx might include as “elements” experiences and memories like attending Barrister's Ball (a), writing an email to a friend back at home last week (b), remembering the Chinese food he picked up last night (c), and reading Criminal Law in the library (d). Given that TTSs "may be said to occur at various times," Grice says they form a temporal series in which any TTS is linked to any other TTS insofar as it would, under certain conditions, "contain as an element a memory of some experience which is an element in [either] some previous” or some subsequent TTS, “there being no subset which is independent of all the rest.”

Consequently, the personality of someone at any two times tx and ty resides in there being a common element between TTS at tx and TTS at ty—for example, using the particular situation described above, if TTS at tx = a, b, c, d, then TTS at ty must contain at least: a v b v c v d, where a, b, c, and d refer to either an experience or the memory of that experience.

In short, then, one’s various and even contradictory roles can be seen as ultimately forming a single personality insofar as the roles are integrated, each role being connected to some other role through some common memory or experience.

Personality/ role mastery in social life

Although CAT’s Multiple Self States Model (MSSM) is generally used in diagnosing personality or identity disorders, it nonetheless provides a useful framework for our purposes. According to the MSSM, there are three levels of personality or identity disturbance: (1) due to some trauma, the person has acquired some maladaptive roles and is not able to flexibly switch among roles; (2) the person lacks metaprocedures that organize the roles hierarchically by social context, which leads to discontinuity of self-experience; and (3) the person lacks the ability to self-reflect/ self- observe (Pollock).

It follows that using the MSSM negatively, the individual striving to better understand his own personality and the roles therein should, firstly, engage in self-reflection, where, watching his interactions with others, he is able to draw out the roles he finds himself repeatedly assuming in various social contexts. (Of course, if some particular role appears maladaptive (eg. abuser), then the individual should seek to discover whether it might not be the result of some past adversity.)

Secondly, having identified his roles, the individual can go on to use this improved conscious awareness to increase the flexibility of role alternation in a given social context. Thirdly, the individual should also strive to identify the roles others assume in their various interactions with the individual. After all, according to Leff, the successful swindler is the master not only of his self but also the selves of those with whom he interacts.

Lastly, once the student notices recurring role patterns in others, he can begin to manipulate his own roles to elicit specific behavioral responses in others, thereby furthering his own ends within his interpersonal relations.


In conclusion, personality can ultimately be conceived as an organized hierarchy of social roles, each role being connected to some other by some memory or experience. This integration of roles leads the individual to experience his self as a continuous personality/ identity, despite the existence of often-disparate roles. Being able to recognize and control one’s roles is a useful tool for the aspiring lawyer to master, with the ultimate challenge being able to perform the same analysis on others, whether it be to understand one’s own clients more fully, elicit some specific response from a judge, etc.

I apologize if my conclusions appear too broad. For example, I realize that telling the individual to engage in self-reflection is hardly as specific as paint-by-numbers. Nonetheless, these general guidelines should be useful. My answer to the “multiple personalities” question is but one of many. Everyone’s inner journey will be different—both as an aspiring lawyer and as a healthy individual in social life—and so everyone will ultimately need to discover what works for them. As Eben once asked me in office hours, “What does that [your behavior] say about you?”

# * Set ALLOWTOPICVIEW = TWikiAdminGroup, KalliopeKefallinos


Webs Webs

Attachments Attachments

  Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
pdf Grice.pdf props, move 2180.2 K 24 May 2010 - 17:29 KalliopeKefallinos Grice, H.P. "Personal Identity."
pdf personality.pdf props, move 245.5 K 24 May 2010 - 17:28 KalliopeKefallinos Pollock et al. "The Personality Structure Questionnaire (PSQ): A measure of the Multiple Self States Model of identity disturbance in Cognitive Analytic Therapy."
r10 - 13 Jan 2012 - 23:14:19 - IanSullivan
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM