The Character Adaptation Systems Theory (CAST) - Deepstash

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The Character Adaptation Systems Theory (CAST)

UTOK, the Unified Theory of Knowledge, identifies 5 different character adaptation systems. A system is an interlocking network of parts that function as a whole. It turns out that we can divide the ways people respond and adapt to their environment via 5 primary systems of adaptation: the habit, the experiential, the relational, the defensive, and the justification systems. This is called Character Adaptation Systems Theory (CAST), and knowing about it can help us see more clearly the patterns by which we adjust, adapt, and act in the world.


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Adaptation Systems, But Maladaptive Patterns…?

The systems of adaptation do not always produce the most adaptive behavior patterns. Sometimes problematic habits, like excessive drinking or binging and purging, can develop. Sometimes we cope with our emotions by blocking them, only to have them come back and flood us and get u...


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The Contexts Of Development And The Systems Of Adaptation

Here is a diagram that represents CAST. On the left, it shows the three broad contexts of development (i.e., biological, psychological, and social). On the right, it lists the five systems of adaptation.


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System 5: The Defensive System

This system is the hardest to see directly. The reason is that it emerges between the self-conscious systems of justification and the subconscious processes of inner images, feelings, and drives. As Sigmund Freud realized, those subconscious processes often involve content that i...


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Schools Of Psychotherapy And Adaptation Systems

Interpersonal therapists and therapists who emphasize attachment, focus on the relationship system. Psychodynamic therapists, in the tradition of Sigmund Freud, focus on helping us understand our defenses. And, cognitive therapists and narrative therapists focus on the justification system, and h...


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System 1: The Habit System

The habit system works by chaining together stimuli with responses toward some result that is expected or rewarding. The habit system works pretty automatically; that is, we don’t need to think about it; we just do it. When we do things repeatedly, they get “downloaded” into our habit sys...


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System 2: The Experiential System

This is our “on-line” system of subjective conscious experience that integrates our senses into perceptions and orients our attention. In addition, it includes our drives and feelings about what is happening and what we want to happen. Learning how to direct our attention in a re...


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The “Emotional Sweet Spot”

Also, effectively processing our emotional reactions by being aware and attuned, while also adaptively regulating them, is key to mental health. Holding your emotions this way, by being aware and attuned on the one hand and adaptively regulating them on the other, is called the “emotional...


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Schools Of Psychotherapy And Adaptation Systems

Much of psychotherapy is about identifying maladaptive patterns. Indeed, the major schools of psychotherapy tend to focus on different systems of adaptation. The behavioral school focuses on habits, how they are formed, and how we can shape new ones. Humanistic and emotion-focuse...


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What Are Character Adaptations?

Our personal adaptations are the ways in which we have learned to respond and adapt to our environment, based on our genetic predispositions, life histories and events, and cultural contexts. For instance, taking off our shoes before entering our house, going to the...


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System 4: The Justification System

The justification system refers to our language-based system of propositional beliefs and values. It is at work when we ask and answer questions, when we tell stories about what is happening, and when we are reasoning and giving reasons for our behavior. The world of justifica...


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HER DJ - Mammals And Persons

We share 3 of the 5 systems of adaptation with other social mammals, like dogs and apes; 2 of the 5 are unique to us as human persons.

One way to remember these 5 systems is with the acronym “HER-DJ,” as in, “Her DJ played great music at her wedding.” The “HER” portion (i.e., hab...


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System 3: The Relationship System

You may have heard of the attachment system or attachment style. That is where the relationship system starts. It also includes drives toward status and affiliation. In particular, our relationship system tracks the amount of social influence we have and our felt sense of relational value...


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“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison

Mental health is about adapting to the environments we are in over time. Learning about the 5 systems of character adaptation can help us see the different domains of adaptation and identify where we are healthy and where we might be able to enhance our adaptive living potential.


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