Reading Ruthellen Josselson’s Playing Pygmalion: How People Create One Another:
People’s sense of reality is constructed in interconnection with those who make up their social world. There is not an “out there” world to be perceived accurately or inaccurately. Instead, we together create a reality that we live in. Thus, when we have in mind certain “characters” that we need in our world and find people who seem to live out these characteristics, and who find in us characters that fit into the reality they aim to construct, then we together shape a script or play that we will live in together. Seldom do we investigate too closely whether these people who are important to us are in some sense “really” what they seem to be for us. We regard others as being somehow just already there in the outside world.
Wondering: how does this dynamic map out over the course of childhood, adolescence, the different stages of adulthood? Does it begin with the earliest awareness of people as others? Are there moments at which we’re most intensely seeking characters to act with us? At which times are we least in need of–or most closed against–introducing new characters? And finally, what is the range of normal? Surely there are people who have very little social world to speak of, who barely do this at all, and, at the other end of the spectrum, people who are intensely over-involved in the act of creating characters out of other people?