Bill Powers, You are the Man.

David M. Goldstein, Ph.D.
A personal note.

Bill Powers is my most important teacher outside of my parents, even though I never had him in a classroom setting. I am dedicating my website to him. See:  This website documents how I apply PCT to Psychological Therapy situations, as well as tells people about me. Hopefully, Bill will not experience too many error signals when he reviews the content of the website. I simply want to join the voices of other people who express appreciation to Bill for all his good work over the years.

Sorry, I couldn’t be at the 2003 meeting of the CSG in LA to do this in person.

Bill Powers’ PCT is the only theory I know about in Psychology that applies to all levels of living things from the cell to the person to groups of people.  It has kept my interest and allegiance since I learned about it many years ago, despite many disturbances.

I was first exposed to William T. Powers in graduate school at the University of Connecticut, 1970-1974, by Dr. Michael Turvey, who presented it as part of his course on Perception.  None of us in the class, which included some bright people, understood what the heck he was talking about, including Dr. Turvey.  One of my other teachers, Dr. David Zeaman, described Bill Powers as a “snake oil salesman.” I think that he was responding to Bill’s openness to views that Dr. Zeaman considered to be mutually incompatible.  You can see how well I listened to them and how well PCT was received in academic circles at the time when I first learned about it.

I was later lured back into learning more about PCT from my graduate students at Stephen F. Austin State University, who were studying Piaget with me and Powers with Dr. Tom Bourbon.  There are some interesting comparisons one can make between Piaget and Powers.  The Piagetian “scheme”, which most people find hard to understand, relates to the PCT control system.  The perceptual levels can be related to stages of intelligence.  Bill has a chapter where he spells out the developmental aspects of PCT.  Dr. Franz Plooiz has applied PCT to the development of chimpanzees in the wild and human infants.

Bill came and visited Tom and me and gave a talk to our students in Nacogdoches TX.  He described Nacogdoches as “The backwaters of the world.” He slept in my house and met my 4-year- old daughter Sara, who is now 27 years old and has just finished her Ph.D. work in Developmental Psychology.  Sara, by the way, served as a volunteer to do the Method of Levels (MOL) with me before an interview for admission to a graduate school; I have a transcript of the discussion that took place.  If it was good enough for Piaget to use his children, it is good enough for me.

I attended several of the CSG meetings, one in Philadelphia, PA, several in Haimowoods Wisconsin, one at the University of Indiana in PA. and one in St. Louis, Missouri.  Out of one of the Haimowoods meetings, Dr. Dick Robertson and I evolved the research to study the self-image from a PCT perspective, which was finally published thanks to Dr. Martin Taylor.  I recently learned that Dr. Brian Thalmyer did a doctoral dissertation which was based on this PCT approach to self-image work.

At one of these Haimowoods meetings, I did a Q Methodology study of the way people at the conference perceived Bill.  [At some point, I will write up this study.  It would be interesting to redo the study today and compare the findings using the same items.  Summarize it.]

When I moved to New Jersey, I communicated with Bill via email about a self-analysis I was performing using MOL and Q Methodology.  This led to the concept of an Observer who was probably part of the Reorganization System.  He was a great teacher, and therapist.  This gave me the confidence to apply the MOL in a therapy session with a real patient.  I did and the case was presented at the St. Louis CSG Conference and was accepted in the journal of Clinical Case Studies and will be published in 2003 or 2004; Sara is my co-author.

I had the pleasure of visiting Bill and Mary in Durango, Colorado when I was attending a workshop nearby.  The high mountains seem an appropriate place for Bill and Mary to spend their latter years.

I am confident that PCT will be The Psychological Theory of the future.  It would be nice if Bill gets a chance to see a glimmer of this.  He has already had more of an impact on other people than most Psychologists.  He has certainly influenced me and the way I do Psychological Therapy.  Bill Powers, You are the Man! Thank you, thank you, and thank you.