Your question–how would I objectify critical distance with multiple subjects and contexts–highlights a frustration I have with these discussions. Only 500 words are given which limits the amount of detail we can write. In an earlier draft, I had the sentence, “Individuals change along their own trajectories. Multiple simultaneous critical distances are possible when groups of individuals interact during their learning.” But I took that out because I felt it confused the single point I wanted to make in the short space I had. Instead, I only kept in the second part of the thought group, “If proximal others also change, the overall state of relationships is dynamic, fluid and unpredictable”, hoping that the multidimensional possibilities of the model would be inferred.
Please forgive me if the clarity of my writing isn’t ideal yet. Perhaps I shouldn’t have selected a highly dense, compacted topic to discuss in 500 words. But I do think that the answer to your question is already present in the original essay.
Let me explain. The previous paragraph shows that it’s not only the self that changes. However, the model–in order to show the increasing tensional possibilities that arise during change–describes only the change in a single individual. In a second draft:
A key assumption in this figure is that only the self changes.
This model describes the change that occurs in an single individual.
And I’d include this:
Figure 2: Simultaneous changes in different individuals.
It would be difficult to disagree with you when you question if only the self changes. And all of us have our own lives and relationships that interact and influence each other. However, there is a stability in many relationships. The degree to which proximal others change simultaneous is rightfully a very rich area of study. But we can without too much trouble identify states where, for example, a husband experiences rapid personal growth while the wife remains relatively stable. In the literature for this week, other examples include the doctoral candidate and their relatively static work colleagues and a candidate and their friends.
Figure 3 Rapid changes against slow changes
The bottom right apex of the green triangle is far from that of the red triangle. This bottom green apex is where I put the small arrow on the left to indicate the change in the proximal other.
The final part of your question–varying pressures from wider contexts–is something I need to think about more.
To sum up, the model is a simplified operationalising of a multi-layered 3D reality–like all models are. I found it useful yesterday when my 12-year-old was upset that her best friend from last year was no longer friendly with her. I showed her figure 1 and explained that her development was different from that of her erstwhile friend’s. Sara could see this dynamic quickly. We discussed how she and her friend had grown apart over the year, and within a few minutes, Sara pinpointed actual arguments they had had, disappointments she had felt and other areas where tension had become apparent. The inevitability of their break-up became clear to Sara, and somehow this comforted her. Incidentally, I don’t think that it was inevitable, but Sara wouldn’t change some of her requirements of her friends, so in her mind it was inevitable. This anecdote reinforced the model’s potential usefulness.