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One of David Grove's areas of interest has been around pronouns for I; that is, different words that stand for 'I' in the language that people use. Examples are 'me', 'myself', 'mine', 'my'.

Not sure where his interest came from - maybe from a curiosity about the odd things that people say like 'I should value myself more' or 'if it were up to me, I would...' ?

In David's current work, there is a process where different pronouns are assumed to have different perceptual positions or to be different perceivers.

Thus it is possible to ask of the statement: 'I want to value myself', the question 'And when I wants to value myself, what would myself like to have happen?'

This forces the I and myself to become separate symbols and presupposes that the myself can have a want.

As a client, such questions that try to split out my personal pronouns are irritating and not at all clean. I have just one entity and all the pronouns (including 'I') are labels for that entity that get used in different situations.

I wonder if a pronoun label describes relationship to the entity? So 'my' means 'of this entity'. Or it may describe a perceptual positioning relative to the entity.

'Me' and 'myself' both mean 'the entity as the object of a sentence or the Perceived'. 'I value myself' is the entity being reflexive - it is both the Perceiver and the Perceived.

So in this Phil-entity's world, multiplicity of perceptions or perspectives comes, not from multiple entities each having single perceptions, but a single entity having multiple perceptions.


  1. webmaven's Avatar

    I never had time to go into detail with David about this either, though this is one of his early ideas. My sense is that "I, me and you" signify different stages in the development of the self. "Me" is the first pronoun to develop in childhood, followed by "I," and eventually "you" (or the "other). I'm not sure how this fits in with his current stuff. I wonder if anyone else has more information about this?

  2. forumadmin's Avatar
    Interesting to speculate, building on your sense of the different stages of development, on whether the pronouns might have different ages. Even more interesting if there were consistency across groups of people, e.g. I wonder if most 'me' pronouns in a group would be younger than most 'I' pronouns, having developed earlier as you suggest. research project anyone? Phil
  3. webmaven's Avatar

    It occurred to me later, after my first posting, that there may also be a connection between the "I, me and you" pronouns and the Freudian concept of the ego, id, and super ego (I=ego, me=id, you=super ego).

    If you look on Wikipedia, the definition of ego is particularly enlightening: "The word ego is taken directly from Latin, where it is the nominative of the first person singular personal pronoun and is translated as "I myself" to express emphasis. The Latin term ego is used in English to translate Freud's German term Das Ich, which literally means "the I"."
  4. forumadmin's Avatar
    Your post has reminded me of how any discussion about personal pronouns can usefully acknowledge the lingusitic context that they emerge from, in particular the rules of grammar associated with subjects, objects and verbs. So here are some egg-sucking grammar 101 basics for those who would like a reminder. In fact, I bet you all know these - and I am describing them to make a particular point, so please bear with me.

    Take the simple sentence: "Jack likes Jill". In linguistic terms, "Jack" is the Subject and is in the Nominative case ('pertaining to naming'), "likes" is obviously the Verb - and "Jill" is the Object and is placed in the Accusative case ('case of that which is caused', in other words, acted upon by the verb).

    Reversing the sentence: "Jill likes Jack", "Jill" is now the Subject in the Nominative and "Jack" is the Object and in the Accusative. Because English doesn't show case changes in proper nouns (names), the words don't look any different.

    When we use personal pronouns (a word that is used 'in place of' a noun), things start to look more complex.

    If we make Jack the Subject and perceiver and Jill the Object and perceived, we can replace the nouns with pronouns.

    So we get the sentence: "I [Jack] like you [Jill]". Here, "I" is Nominative and "you" is Accusative.

    Reversing the sentence: "You [Jill] like me [Jack]", "You" is now in the Nominative case and "me" is in the Accusative. Notice that though "I" and "me" look different, they refer to the same noun.

    A reminder of other cases in English, taking just the First Person as an example:

    Latin has two more cases and Russian adds a third (I'm glad I learned English first!)

    Enough grammar. My point about working with pronouns is this: if we ask, for example, about a client's 'me', treating it as separate from the client's 'I', we run the risk of embedding a suggestion that there is a difference and even creating a false difference where there is none. Might this confuse the client by complicating their system with apparent extra perceivers? It is well known that some clients want to please the facilitator by having an answer, preferably in the positive.

    I think where a client indicates without prompting that (for example) their 'me' is different to their 'I', it's valid to work with that - pronouns can be metaphors, symbols, perceivers. I am unconvinced that introducing a process that presupposes that pronouns are separate perceivers would be valid.
    Updated 22 December 2007 at 10:03 AM by forumadmin
  5. webmaven's Avatar
    So, you want to keep your pronouns personal, do you? I can certainly understand that. ;-)

    Any "one size fits all" approach to therapy is very dirty indeed, and not at all clean. You're right that we don't want to introduce a process that presupposes that pronouns are separate perceivers if there is no indication that the client perceives the pronouns as separate and distinct.

    It's always the best practice to take our cues from the client.

  6. mickeyjudd's Avatar
    I'm Mickey Judd.
    I met David in 1993. My work with "I, me , you" found people who had "I & me" in the same physical position. I agree, we need to be open to let the client tell us what is true for her/him.
    On another note I would like to exchange telephone(Skype) sessions on doing clean language on early trauma if that works for anyone.
    My email is
    Much love to all.
  7. Steve Saunders's Avatar
    The pronouns are at the centres of gravity of the individual galaxy (like stars). Cultural pronouns orbit the individual stars (like planets). The structure holding them in stasis was first navigated using space.

    Each pronoun has an associated defining moment (mainly, there are also momentum and field pronouns).

    I'm in a way disappointed to find this discussion dated years after David and I explored this territory really quite thoroughly (in 05/06).

  8. phil's Avatar
    What kind of "I" is that "I" that is disappointed to find a discussion about something you explored with David?

    Is it just that our metaphors for how we perceive pronouns are different to yours?