Fast failure–slowly, part one

One of the MOOCs I followed recently is called Creativity, Innovation and Change (Penn State, Matson, Jablokow and Velegol). This course was a shocker.  The experience reminds me of when I was 13 and my 15 year-old sister took me with her to People’s Church. You have to imagine these two scrawny Presbyterian girls, used to the Knox Church pipe organ, sitting in the blonde-wood pews of a church decorated with banners indicating the progress of the fundraising campaign. Praise the Lord. Women in beehive hairdos and men–I could be mis-remembering this–in powder blue pant suits, sang songs that were not in our traditional hymnal. Guitars were involved. The people on stage–yes, people–struck me as moonlighting salesmen. The majestic pipe organ of Knox Presbyterian was replaced by one of those small electric organs played by a woman with cleavage. My sister had found a way to get around the law that required us to attend church as a family. She needed me to be there. The son of the preacher man was, it turned out, the attraction. 

Creativity, Innovation and Change sounded to me like a course that could add to my psychotherapy toolbox. What I hadn’t anticipated was that the professors were engineers and marketers. I am trained in literature, history and philosophy, as well as psychoanalytic psychology. Culture shock happened. Maybe my spotty attendance at People’s Church–coerced by my sister instead of my parents–marked the very beginning of my slow loss of faith–an inadequate way of describing a slowly growing awareness that my corner of the world was part of a vaster, older, more complex universe. 

The most portable concept I learned from CIC is the concept of fast failure. I have already used this handy phrase with some trauma clients. Trauma induces people to repeat painful patterns in excruciating detail again and again. Fast failure sounds like a good idea–speed up the process of pattern repetition so that reflection can shift the client more rapidly towards insight, cognitive and behaviour modification, and health. 


And yet. . . 

To be continued. 


 Note: good stuff came out of this course. See for example



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