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How Real Is Real? by Paul Watzlawick

How Real Is Real?

by Paul Watzlawick

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This is another one of my all time favorites. Watzlawick uses espionage,communication with extraterrestrials and much, much more to illustrate how we construct "reality" in our minds.It definitely helps to keep some of these insights in mind the next time you encounter somebody who seems to live on another planet.
A fascinating eye opening read! ( )
  Colibriani | Oct 13, 2010 |
"This book is about the way that communication creates what we call reality." - Paul Watzlawick

One of my driving forces is the desire to understand how people understand each other. So, when a friend mentioned this book to me, the title was enough to send me looking. I understand that this book is often used as an introductory text for communications classes, and I think it would be very effective in that role. When you read it, you absorb the material without feeling like you are learning.

Though the writing is rather dated (my edition was published in 1976), I found it fascinating. From one of the opening anecdotes, of how a translator almost caused an international incident at the Geneva conference in Korea by trying to "clarify", to the last chapters dealing with communication with animals and possibly extraterrestrials, this book is a fascinating peek into the ways we assume that everyone communicates, and the trouble that can get us in. Also examined is the way that our reality is shaped by how we interpret our experiences, so there is no one "real" reality, only each person's subjective view of the world.

Watzlawick discusses our need for information being of primary importance in order to make the world seem orderly and reduce anxiety. Chapters cover topics such as the benefits of confusion, disinformation (including examples of espionage), interdependence, paradoxes, and "psychic" abilities. Every topic is explained primarily (and hilariously!) through anecdote, though some theories are examined in more detail.

One story describes the case of some European researchers who thought that they had established communication with a horse. The horse could answer questions by tapping with it's hooves. Further research discovered that the horse, rather than being able to add, subtract and answer other questions, was able to give correct responses based on minute changes in the body language of the researchers. These movements were completely unconscious on the researchers parts, and almost invisible, but the horse could detect them.

Another story deals with two psychologists, each told that they were about to examine a patient with severe delusions who thought he was (!) a psychologist. Each tries to analyze their "patient" and the more serious they are in attempting that analysis, the more insane they appear to the other.

Watzlawick goes on to discuss how humans learn to look for certain cues to gauge the progress of our interactions with each other, and how misreading these signals with members of our own or other cultures can have severe consequences.

I can't sum it all up right here, but it's a fascinating read for anyone interested in how humans communicate. I highly recommend it. ( )
  superbadgirl | Nov 1, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394722566, Paperback)

The connection between communication and reality is a relatively new idea. It is only in recent decades that the confusions, disorientations and very different world views that arise as a result of communication have become an independent field of research. One of the experts who has been working in this field is Dr. Paul Watzlawick, and he here presents, in a series of arresting and sometimes very funny examples, some of the findings.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:46 -0400)

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