The Trading Tribe
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Ed Seykota's FAQ


Essay Examples

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Two of the major notions of the Workshop are:

(1) intimacy-centric and control-centric models for relationships;

In a control-centric relationship, the parties go for control.  They use manipulation, force, threats, guilt, etc. to get each other to "behave" properly.  In an intimacy-centric relationship, the parties go for connection.  Every event becomes an opportunity to become closer and more intimate.

(2) causal and system models for dynamic behavior. 

In the causal model, we have a cause and an effect.  You flip the switch and the light goes on.  In the system model, you have inter-relating elements that co-evolve as their effects on each other change.  Some examples of systems are a thermostat that intends to keep the temperature in the room constant and a futures market that intends to find a price that balances supply, demand and other speculative interests. Politicians typically apply the causal model to economic situations so as to find a conventent "cause" that justifies expenditures on their pet projects.

I would like all workshop participants to have some familiarity with these notions (in their own words) prior to attending the Workshop so we can all get off to a running start.

If you are currently unfamiliar with these notions, you can get up to speed by reading through the FAQ pages (see the link above), by studying the EcoNowMics pages, and/or by reading the essays below. Once you get the idea, write your understanding in your own words, perhaps elaborating with examples from your own experience.


Comparison of Causal and System Models

Essay Example #1:

The causal model is a way of interpreting the world by attempting to explain why an event occurs.  This point of view evaluates these occurrences based on the cause or blame, the effect and the fix or solution.  For example, if a person feels sadness a psychiatrist might evaluate the cause of the unhappiness to be an abusive childhood.  The doctor blames the parents and the solution would be for him to prescribe an antidepressant to alleviate the distress.   Another instance would be if the stock market crashes causing an individual to lose all of their investment.  The consensus in the media blames hedge fund selling as the main contributor.  Then investors put pressure on politicians to implement laws governing hedge funds as a solution to the problem.

The System model views events as feedback from the multiple sets of entities and conditions we constantly deal with in the world and using that information to improve and grow.  For instance, when the person experiences sadness he could actually feel the feeling of being sad and relate that emotion to instances from his past.  He could use this knowledge to learn new resources to handle similar situations in the future.  For example, he could express his feelings and ask how the others involved feel as well.  As for the investor who lost all his money, he might use this experience as an opportunity to institute stop loss orders to minimize losses during turbulent market behavior that can happen at any time and for as many reasons as there are investors.

Essay Example #2:

The Causal model posits that every event has one cause.  By changing the cause, the model claims, an undesired outcome can be prevented or a desired one can be brought about.  Though it may be effective in understanding isolated physical phenomena, the causal model fails to account for unintended consequences or changing the cause of changing the event. When applied to human behavior, the causal model becomes the control-centric model: it suggests inducing people to feel fear, guilt, shame, etc. in order to prevent them from engaging in the causal behavior leading to the undesired event.  When the causal model fails, the failure is often perceived as an undesired outcome that can be remedied by finding and changing its cause, i.e. by reapplying the causal model.

The system model posits that most events have multiple inputs and multiple results.  Through its results, and event may provide feedback, positive or negative, directly of indirectly, to one or more of its inputs.  The system model recognizes the complexity of interactions in real-world environments such as the human body and brain, computer programs and operating systems, families and small social groups, businesses, markets, and ecosystems.  The system model inspires humility and caution in those seeking to change particular results, both by showing the complexity of interactions we have mapped and by reminding us that other interactions may remain unmapped.  When applied to human behavior, it encourages use of the intimacy-centric model.


Essay Example #3:

The system model states the situation is too complex or too interrelated for simple answers. In this model it is accepted that everything influences everything else. This means there is no one cause. For example, I can cause a basketball to bounce up and down continually. In simplistic terms, I cause the ball to bounce. But if you take in the complex things my brain does to coordinate my body to keep the ball bouncing and the need to have enough air pressure in the ball along with a flat surface for the ball to bounce on, you realize this simple task is not so simple. Then explain how the ball and I were in the same place and time for this activity to happen. The system approach maintains that everything inside the system is responsible and affects the other parts of the system.

The causal model states that there is one cause for each event. The causal model allows us to place responsibility on someone or some thing. It allows us to blame others thereby excluding ourselves from responsibility. The causal model is for simple mechanical actions it fails in describing complex systems that involved large numbers of inputs or actions.

In a relationship many people use the causal model to simplify problems by blaming others for our state of mind or our situation. But by looking at how our life experiences mold our thinking and emotions, the country we live in and how it came to be, the situation becomes much more complex and we realize the situation fits more closely the system model than the causal model. Though saying life experiences affect my behavior now is also a belief in the causal model. Somehow this relates to being in the Now but I haven’t figured it out. Another example of the misuse of the causal model would be the desire of everyone to explain why the economy slowed down in 2008. No one really knows for sure but people have a desire to have simple answers and the ability to blame others and not take responsibility.


Comparison of Intimacy-Centric and Control-Centric Relationship Models

Essay Example #1:

The Control-Centric model is a system in which people use the Cause and Effect model to deal with their emotions and relationships.  For example, if a father said to his son, "I never wanted you to be named after me," the son would feel sadness, anger and rejection.  He blames his father for being an abusive and hurtful person.  He then shuts down his feelings and maintains a cold distance from his father.  Another instance would be an older brother attacking and beating up his younger brother.  The little brother feels violated, invalidated and unhappy.  He blames his brother for being a violent and hot-tempered individual.  He shuts down these feelings and stays away from his elder sibling.

The Intimacy-Centric model is aligned with he System model because this structure allows feedback from a person's subconscious mind to their conscious mind in order to handle their feelings and relationships. During the first example, instead of shutting down and assigning blame, the son could express his feelings to his father and ask him to share his feelings as well.  Therefore, allowing a chance for the two to experience a release of the tension and emotions in order to create a more loving relationship.  In the second instance, the younger brother could express his feelings and ask his brother to share his.   Again, instead of assigning blame and keeping his emotions to himself, this sharing opens up a more intimacy based relationship.

Essay Example #2:

In the control-centric model, one ignores or manipulates other people's feelings, his own or both.  Common outcomes include engaging in dramas, casting other people as adversaries, failing to achieve stated intentions, and achieving consciously-undesired senior intentions.

In the intimacy-centric model, one accepts and honors both other people's feeling and his own.  Common outcomes include a better grasp of things as they are, greater closeness and contentment with friends and family, achievement of stated intentions, and closer alignment of stated senior intentions.

Essay Example #3:

In the control model one or more of the parties is selfish and manipulates the other into acting in ways the controller wishes. A control-centric relationship may also have one that attempts to fix the other person. The controller believes they know what is wrong with the other person or situation and guides or pushes the other in the direction of a ‘fix’. I am not a ‘fixer’ but I have always tried to live my life in a logical way. This has allowed me to avoid feelings at times and live life much more under control. I control my feelings today, I hope to acknowledge my feelings and appreciate that I have them.

While in an intimate relationship, the parties do not act in selfish ways to control. Each party supports the other so they can live life in whatever way they desire. Intimacy means to have a connection or bond and that both work to support each other. While in an intimate relationship, each party knows they are responsible for their own happiness and do not attempt or demand the other provide their self worth. Being in an intimacy-centric relationship means the parties support each other by living in right-livelihood which fosters growth for all involved. An intimate relationship allows me to express my feelings, thoughts, desires and concerns knowing I will not be judged.

Good communication is encouraged in the intimacy model and discouraged in the control model. A controlling person doesn’t want good communication, they want what they want.