Living Control Systems Publishing; dedicated to Perceptual Control Theory, a new conception of how all living things function

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About PCT and this web site

It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.
                                        —  Will Rogers

Living Control Systems Publishing is dedicated to introducing and explaining Perceptual Control Theory (PCT), a new conception of how all living things function.
      PCT offers answers to questions such as:

  • Do people and animals really respond to stimuli?
  • Is 'purpose' a metaphysical concept, or can it actually be defined, observed and demonstrated with a fully functional physical model?
  • Can we ever agree on a definition of behavior, explain how it works and show what it accomplishes?
  • Do we control our actions?
  • Just how can a body, a stack of bones stood end-on-end, stand up and walk?
  • Why is conflict so pervasive? How does it come about, and what ways are there to resolve or reduce it?
  • How can behavior be organized to satisfy purposes at more than one level at the same time?
  • What about stimulus-response psychology?
  • What about cognitive psychology?
  • How can people and animals produce consistent results, again and again, in an unpredictably variable world?

An increasing number of scientists view PCT as a step toward a new understanding of living systems. The explanations offered by PCT hold up to scrutiny the way principles in the physical sciences hold up to scrutiny. The books offered at this site—and equally important, the tutorials and simulations you can run on your own computer—will help you decide for yourself.

All contemporary flavors of psychology—and there are many—presume linear causality, from the environment to behavior, as in behaviorism, or from the brain to behavior, as in cognitive psychologies. The new conception we call PCT shows clearly that the key quality of life is circular causality, as in negative feedback control—employed in engineered devices such as the Segway two-wheeled scooter which stays upright as you ride it, autopilots that keep airplanes flying smoothly when buffeted by winds, and your home heating system which keeps the temperature at a desired level.
     Perceptual Control Theory lays a foundation for a psychological science that will be "natural" in the manner of physics and engineering.

Books on PCT listed on the index page and in our order form are published by your host, Living Control Systems Publishing, and by other publishers as shown.

The Subject matter section of this website, About PCT, features a number of statements, tutorials, and simulations to introduce and demonstrate PCT. I have collected, formatted, and brought up-to-date a number of explanatory introductions and technical papers right here, as well as many tutorial and demonstration programs. You can open and print the introductions, explanations and perspectives using Adobe Acrobat Reader version 5 or later. (There are well over 300 pages of pdf-files here.) You can download and run the tutorials and simulations on your own Windows computer.
     If you read a book on PCT and skip these tutorials (which explain how circular causation works in great detail) and simulations (which show applications of this insight to various behaviors), chances are you will read it as an interesting story, one more book on psychology, albeit one with a different perspective and opinion. If you study the book, take time out to run the tutorials and simulations, and consider the evidence with care, you may realize that you are joining a revolution, an intellectual upheaval, where non-functioning metaphors and word pictures are replaced with physically feasible, functional explanations that provide a new and different perspective on how life works.

Living Control Systems Publishing itself publishes People as Living Things: The Psychology of Perceptual Control by Philip J. Runkel at this time and just published its prequel, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Approaches to a Science of Life. Also available are The Method of Levels: How to do Psychotherapy Without Getting in the Way by Timothy A. Carey, Management and Leadership: Insight for Effective Practice by Dag Forssell, and Casting Nets and Testing Specimens by Philip J. Runkel .
     People as Living Things by Philip J. Runkel introduces PCT and relates it to the full range of human experience, as well as to the vast literature of contemporary psychologies. Phil's eminently readable style combined with his extensive knowledge of contemporary psychological literature sets this work apart as the preeminent review of what the implications of PCT might be as seen from numerous angles.
     Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Approaches to a Science of Life in book form is a complete record of the correspondence between Philip J. Runkel and William T. Powers from its inception in 1985 through 1990. This lucid, focused correspondence between two eloquent gentlemen is a delight to read and makes for a rather complete tutorial on PCT. Some written materials that were passed on and discussed in the course of this correspondence will be included as enclosures.
     The Method of Levels: How to do Psychotherapy Without Getting in the Way is a remarkably effective application of PCT to problems of chronic psychological distress. Tim Carey's forceful, compelling presentation makes this volume a superb extension of previously available PCT literature.
     Casting Nets and Testing Specimens, first published in 1990, has been revised and updated and is now available in paperback. This work provides a devastating, but, at the same time, diplomatic critique of conventional research methods in psychology, and provides a a better alternative.
Happy reading and studying—and welcome to the PCT revolution!

Dag Forssell

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Dag Forssell, Webmaster
dag at livingcontrolsystems dot com