Chunking Down

The processes of chunking up and chunking down may also be applied directly to a statement, judgment, or belief, in order to shifl perceptions of them and 'reframe' them. The Sleight of Mouth pattern of chunking down, for instance, involves breaking the elements of a statement or judgment into smaller pieces, creating a different or enriched perception of the generalization expressed by the statement or judgment. For example, let's say someone has been diagnosed as "learning disabled" (an obvious 'problem frame' label). One could take the word "learning" and 'chunk it down' into words which reflect various components of the process to which the term "learning" refers; such as: "inputting," "representing," "storing," and "retrieving" information. One can then ask, "Does learning disabled mean someone is also 'inputting' disabled? That is, is the problem that the person is unable to input information?" Likewise, does being learning disabled mean a person is "representing disabled," "storing disabled," or "retrieving disabled"?

Such questions and considerations can stimulate us to rethink our assumptions about what such labels mean, and help to put the situation back into a 'feedback frame'. It helps to shift our attention back to people and processes, rather than categories.

Inputting Representing Storing Retreiving Disability?

Chunking Down a Generalization can Change Our Perceptions and Assumptions About It

"Learning" Disability

"Learning" Disability

Verbs and process words can be 'chunked' into the sequence of sub-processes which make them up (as in the example of "learning" above). A term like "failure," for example, could be chunked into the series of steps making up the "failure" experience, such as: setting (or not setting) a goal; establishing (or neglecting) a plan; taking (or avoiding) action; attending to (or ignoring) feedback; responding in a flexible (or rigid) way; etc.

Nouns and objects can be chunked into the smaller components which make them up. If someone says, "This car is too expensive," for instance, one could 'chunk down' by responding, "Well, actually the tires, windshield, exhaust pipe, gasoline and oil are as inexpensive as any other car. It is only the brakes and engine that cost a bit more in order to ensure performance and safety." In a statement such as, "I am unattractive," even the word "I" can be 'chunked down' by questioning, "Are your nostrils, forearm, little toes, voice tone, hair color, elbows, dreams, etc., all equally unattractive?"

Again, this process often places a judgment or evaluation in a completely different framework.

Practice this process for yourself. Find some negative label, judgment or generalization, noting the key words. 'Chunk down' one of the key words linguistically by finding smaller elements or chunks, which are implied by the statement or judgment. See if you can find reformulations that have richer or more positive implications than the ones stated in the label, judgment or generalization; or which stimulate a completely different perspective with respect to the label, judgment or generalization.

Key Word

Key Word

Smaller 'Chunks'

You might take a label like "attention deficit" and explore different types of attention (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, for instance; or attention to goals, oneself, context, past, internal state, etc.).

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