The Seven Psychological Levels

Psychological Development of the Value System

When I was president of The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 1981 &1982, the leaders of the society were counseled by a psychologist who was also adviser to the White House in regard to how to manage different people at different levels of psychological development. Here is his theory:

The first level of psychological development is the vegetative level.  It is quite similar to the life of a vegetable or a tree.  This basic level consists of mere existence only, simply life as an individual without group interaction.

The second level consists of being a member of a tribe which is usually 9 persons (7 to 11) under a single leader.  The tribal members stay alive because the strength of 9 accomplishes more than one could ever.  If they pull together, and they do because they have learned through the centuries to do exactly what the leader says.  Thus they survive.  Their key to life is to follow exactly what the leader says—no questions asked, nor ever thought of.

The example given is the janitor cleaning the marble floor in the fanciest office building.  The high executive working into the night, says, “Hello,” and gives his greetings to the night janitor as the exec leaves the down elevator.

Noticing an inefficient practice, he suggests, “John, use the mop, that is twice that width, because you will be finished sooner.”  “No, Mr. Genioso, that only sounds good; my boss told me to use this narrow mop. And he told me just today.”  “Use the wide one; it’s better, faster, not heavier, and it makes you feel good.”  “I can’t, Mr. Genioso, the boss told me different.”  “Well, I’m telling you how to do it right and better.”  “You just don’t understand.  He told me this way, not your way, don’t you understand?”

Reasoning, self-interest, rules, enjoyment, are no match for the world of the boss.  He is a type II, a member of the tribe.  The boss will take care of him, not the executive.  It’s not a difficult decision for John.

The third level is the leader of the tribe.  For example, the leader of the motorcycle gang.  In this chief’s mind and in the mind of the tribal members, this type III man is not only right, but he is absolutely infallible.  Furthermore, he is immortal.  He not only commands others, but he disobeys you when he is in the emergency room waiting room.  He takes your advice, “You mustn’t sit there Rosco.”  He retorts, “I want to sit here, I won’t sit there, go f*** yourself.”  The only way to manage him is, “Sit where I told you, or I’ll kill you with this sharp knife in my hand, and if that doesn’t do it, I’ll pump six bullets from this 45, I will then cut you into little pieces and throw the pieces out of that window just behind you.  Those rats will take care of whatever is left.”

He moves.  But using money, good reasoning, ethics, friendship, a joke, or the kind hand around the shoulder, does not have any chance at all with type III.

Another example is, “Don’t ride that motorcycle anymore, it’s dangerous, you’ll end up in the E.R. and die.”  He answers, “No.  I’ll never die.  Look at me.  I’m alive, and being alive is proof that I will never die.”

The fourth level is the bureaucrat.  The boss, the tribal leader, is not here, they’re gone to rest.  But he has left us his rulebooks, he is in these books, and I’ll read these laws and obey them down to the last footnote.  You see, when the tribal members have no leader alive, they invent a virtual leader saying, “This is what the leader would have said or done in this situation.”  And the bureaucrat, a human being, codified what he thought the leader would have said. He is acting in a level really close to level II, but he has a different function in our society. Religions perhaps started in the same manner when the prophet died, the religion was the virtual leader and the pope, or bishop, or whoever then interpreted what the leader would have done, and you all know how human nature tends to alter what the deity might really desire.

The fifth level, wheeler-dealer self-interest.  This is a modern day refined Level III.  The example is the guy in the airport in the salesman’s uniform (nice suit), the phone with the microphone on the wire hanging from the ear, talking loud about trying to get another 1/4% on the deal and 1/8% will go back to you.  The wheeler-dealer, the hyper nice, slap you on the back, grab your trapezius between thumb and index finger, the big smile.  He has the ultimate self-interest, and knows how to work with the modern world.  He will grow up to be a CEO of an abusive corporation.

These characteristics maybe extended into abuse as a sociopath, or even a psychopath.  “Hi, I’m Larry your salesman, may I get you a beer, my friend?” He accomplishes good to society because he pays at least 1/2 of the taxes due.  “Enlightened Self-Interest.”

The sixth level, modern-touchy-feely genuinely concerned over the fate of the world, over society, the community, his family, the planet, the species.  Business interest is secondary to common good.  Oil, logging, fishing, agricultural decisions, are not made for profit.  These decisions are made by all, for the good of all, for equality and justice.  Social justice comes before shareholders.  Man does not exploit man.  Man does not exploit any species.  Because if you cross nature, she will win out against you anyway.

The seventh level, both self and other are integrated.  Accomplishment is achieved without taking advantage.  Those, whom you pass on the ladder of success going up, are the same that you will pass on the ladder going down.  The highest level of self-interest and the highest level of social responsibility are integrated.

Ideally, the doctors who participate in an Interplast trip, are doing so for the psychic income, and not for any other motivation, therefore would fit into the Seventh Level.
Ideally, the doctors who participate in an Interplast trip, are doing so for the psychic income, and not for any other motivation, therefore would fit into the Seventh Level.

The eighth & ninth levels are thought to exist in the afterlife.  Recall that a level V may masquerade as a VI for the purpose of self-interest, using sixth’s appearance to achieve his own agenda.  And IV may appear to be a V, and also a VI may appear to be a VII just as a VII may try to be a VIII or an IX (claiming preternatural abilities or properties).



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