Observer and Merged Viewpoints

A to Z of
Creativity Techniques
Osborn's Checklist

A problem can be viewed from two distinctive viewpoints, an observers and a merged:

The observers viewpoint, is when a problem is approached with imagination and observation (the object being something you see or hear) with thoughts such as:

  • ‘Stand back’
  • ‘See something objectively’
  • ‘Remain detached’
  • ‘An arms length view’
  • ‘Put things in perspective’
  • ‘Remain separate’

The merged viewpoint is when you are the object (or person or whatever). Having become the object/person, you see, hear and feel as the subject would, often called ‘projective identification’. It can be interpreted as pure fantasy (i.e. imagining what it would be like to be a wheel). However if used in an adept manner, can be extremely empathetic, bringing to mind phrases such as:

  • ‘Getting inside their skin’
  • ‘Seeing the situation through their eyes’
  • ‘Standing in the other person’s shoes’

Care must be taken to ‘imagine that someone else is like you when they aren’t’. The merged viewpoint uses ‘I’ to refer to whatever you are imagining, e.g. for the wheel: ‘my outer feels pressure from the ground as I am rolled’.

Merged observation is an involved state, you identify with the object you are considering, e.g. to resolve a technical problem with the wheel you become the wheel, right down the scale, workings and trying to ‘experience’ its role, thus getting a feel for how it would operate better.

The NLP method makes a distinction between dissociated and associated states. An associated (or merged) state being when some local event triggers a past memory, and you feel you are re-experiencing the same feelings. If a good memory has been triggered, useful, energetic, good and positive vibes are invoked. However, if the memory is a bad one negativity is recalled. The dissociated method is useful for recalling negative, bad memories as a detached experience. Thereby neutralising the bad times, overlaying them with vivid energetic positive feelings.

Observed or Merged, Detached or Involved, Dissociated or Associated, both/all strategies have their usefulness in creative thinking