Sunday, June 03, 2007

This appeared in Dennis Cooper's blog yesterday:

Bernard presents ... Michael Daniels' Watchword Technique


I use the Watchword technique in class to introduce Jung and offer a practical example of free association. Since it isn’t a good idea to try free-associating out loud in front of a bunch of people—yes, I know, there are plenty of folks who visit this site who would do it, but you all are special—Watchword is a fast way to demonstrate that free association can quickly lead to the individual’s characteristic patterns of thought—that is, complexes.

Michael Daniels, a British psychologist, created the technique by adapting Jung’s ideas on word association, archetypes, individuation, and personality types. Here’s what he says:

“Watchword is an aid to psychological understanding. Its purpose is to help you to identify your psychological type and to examine important psychological forces and tendencies operating within your own being. Watchword is not a system of fortune telling and it does not offer advice about problems. In providing a description and interpretation of your psychological situation it may, however, assist your choices and decisions.

“At one level, Watchword may be considered simply as an amusing party game or form of psychological solitaire. At its most profound, it is a system that may be used to guide you along the path towards self-fulfillment.”

Whatever. What my students and I like about it is that, like a Tarot or I Ching reading, the results can be spooky and right on. Daniels is undertaking a research project and says that if you send him your completed “Watchword matrix,” he’ll send you his reading of your personality type. If you play his game, you may want to contribute to his research. But I think your personality type is pretty easy to read yourself, and the fun in Watchword isn’t in categorizing types, but in the eleven “Key Words” that are the result of the game, according to Daniels’ directions.

Before you try the game, though, let me tell you:

------1) This is better if you don’t know too much about what’s coming, so fill out the Watchword Matrix before you read on about what you’re going to do with it.
------2) It’s easier to focus if you have someone else administer the game/test, or administer it to someone else, at least the first time (but you can do it yourself if you like). Watchword depends on maintaining a relaxed attitude for entirely free association and that’s hard to do while you’re reading directions and surfing from page to page.
------3) This will take 30 minutes or so the first time.

So read this first:

START by downloading the blank Watchword Matrix, which you can print out in Landscape format to fill out

THEN download the sequence of the game
which you can print out or just look at online.

THEN follow these directions

“Try to clear your mind of any current preoccupations. Close your eyes and focus gently on the sensations of breathing slowly in and out. Relax any obvious tensions in your body, adjusting your position if necessary. Try to forget what you are about to do.

When you feel ready, take a copy of the Blank Matrix Form and proceed as follows:

Step 1 Place the form horizontally and write eight different words, from left to right, in the boxes along the top of the sheet. You may write any words at all - just the first words that come into your head. Try not to censor your thoughts in any way and don't spend too long thinking what to write. Also, don't write a sentence or grammatically connected sequence. Simply write eight separate words.

Step 2 Write another eight different words, from left to right, in the boxes along the bottom of the sheet. Do not turn the sheet upside down to do this. Again, just write the first words that come into your mind.

Step 3 Refer to the Sequence of Connections and consider the two words that you have written in boxes 1 and 2. Now think of another word that, in your opinion, somehow connects the two words that you are considering. The connection can be of any kind at all as long as it makes sense to you. Don't worry if another person might not understand the association you make. If you think of more than one connecting word, choose the one that provides the link which, in your opinion, is the most personally meaningful. The word you choose must be different from the two you are considering but it may, if so desired, be the same as a word written elsewhere on the sheet. If you cannot think of a single word that makes an appropriate link, you may use a short phrase instead. Now write the connecting word (phrase) in box 17.

Step 4 Repeat Step 3, using the Sequence of Connections. Do not run ahead of yourself - make sure that each connection is written down before proceeding to the next. Also, once you have written a connecting word, do not change it.”


After you complete the matrix, Daniels suggests you consider these questions:
“1. Did you feel that, as you progressed through the exercise, you seemed to be tapping deeper and more psychologically meaningful layers of thought?
2. Do the eleven words that appear within the rectangular outline seem in any way significant to you, perhaps when understood as metaphors or symbols?
3. Do the central three words in particular seem to encapsulate or symbolize something very basic about your personality or present situation?”



Daniels’ site, as I said, emphasizes using Watchword to ascertain your personality type. But my students and I enjoy it more as something like a Tarot reading. Daniels believes that the inevitable emergence of complexes in word-association tests, coupled with our archetypal associations with directions (up and down, left and right, inner and outer), lead us to fill in the Matrix in ways that reflect our self-assessments, aspirations, and fears according to the system you find under “Watchword Keys”

Each of the keys has a sort of Lord-of-the-Rings-ish archetypal designation, suggesting its function. You can see that they match up with the eleven boxes in the inner box of the matrix, and Daniels suggests you look at them in this order:

31 Giant – Driving forces
32 Dwarf - Inertial tendencies
29 Soul – Basic inner personality
30 Persona – Basic outer personality
25 Guide – Higher self
26 Imago – Ego-ideals
27 Shadow – Repressed material
28 Spectre – Anxieties and fears
33 Station – Sense of basic selfhood
34 Battle – Personal quest
35 Destiny – Realized self

Check his explanations for quite a bit more on each of the Watchword Keys. You can also see an example of a Watchword self-analysis at:
But my students have mostly enjoyed just seeing how their own Keywords match up with Daniels’ designations and ideas, and sometimes the results are a little uncanny.
If you want to know more about Watchword, you can buy the ebook.

If you want to, you can reply to this Day with your eleven keywords for a symbolic Watchword self-portrait. Then we can all consult the list ourselves and know all your secrets.


Anonymous said...

mine was all about sex. is anyone's not?


casey said...

sex and farming.