Nature or Nurture: The Evidence
This piece, Nature or Nurture was written by my dear friend Keith Elvin. Keith is a Psychotherapiust working in London. He has been my friend since 1966 when we worked together at what was then the Ministry of Public Building and Works. Keith and our mutual friend Colin Cave and I were almost inseparable from 1966-7, when I left the Ministry to take up the appointment of Research Fellow at the Portsmouth School of Architecture. Then he and Colin were staunch supporters and helpers in the preparations I had to make for the Portsmouth Symposium on Design Methods in Architecture. We were all equally involved with the philosophical storm raging around Christopher Alexander's Relational Theory (later to become A Pattern Language). Many were the hours that we discussed the works of Sartre, Laing, Skinner, Nietzche etc. Keith was one of my closest friends and my staunchest challengers. I could always rely upon him to find the most carefully avoided holes in my rationalisations, and in so doing to open up whole new worlds of ideas and theories to ponder. I owe a great deal to him for my intellectual development. We maintained a close but intermittent contact after I moved to Berkeley, and lost contact entirely nwhen I moved to New Zealand in 1982. It was with great joy that I was able to renew contact and our friendship in 2007.
It was then that I discovered he was no longer practicing architecture, but had turned his interests towards an ecclectic brand of psychotherapy largely involving the theories and works of Milton Erickson, Bandler and Grinder amongst others. This discovery came as a pure delight, following, as it did, my own brief journey into Gestalt Therapy, Psychodrama, Guided Daydreams and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. Here we were again, a gulf of 25 years separating our individual destinies and experiences, only to find (for me at least) our paths converging once again around important philosophical, political and spiritual issues. What a joy!
Knowing my interest in these matters, he sent me this essay, which I am happy to share with you. You will see why I value this friendship, this man and his mind. Here once again, he refuses to take an easy ideologically simplistic view, but struggles to present the available research of the competing theories and fields of knowledge that bear upon the issue. Enjoy!
To download a PDF of Keith's essay click here
For my own, related but squite different slant on these issues in The Social Construction of Human Nature click here
And another related (Gestalt) piece about the body, the mind, the unconscious and the development of personality, The Body of Knowledge, click here