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Abstract

Under a variety of labels, many academic disciplines focus on the unsettling impact of fresh and vivid interpersonal experiences upon pre-existing beliefs and behaviour patterns. Reference is to philosophical discussions of sophism and humanism, historical theories about frontier influences, anthropological interest in culture shock, psychiatric concern with empathy and with perceptive listening, and sociological analyses of marginality, uses of participant observation and life-history data, and clinical studies of social behavior. Their significant similarity is that they are all discussions of demystifying influences on social thought and action. They are demystifying in the sense that they tend to translate the distant, the abstract, into immediate, specific, and personal terms. They throw traditional patterns into contrast with what is here and now and with quite different traditional formulations.

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