Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Gentlemen! You Can't Study the Soul Here -- This is the Psychology Department!

I missed my calling. If I had only known psychology was this interesting, I would have studied it in graduate school instead of...

Just what did I study, anyway? Both -- Thomistic and non-Thomistic -- are called "psychology," but only one of them even acknowledges the soul (psyche), let alone illuminates it in depth and with precision. Which is ironic, because my focus in grad school was on psychoanalysis, which calls itself depth psychology.

Now, deep -- that's a name no one would self-apply where I come from. But then, there was a lot about psychology that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But then again, maybe that's why I found the field s'durned innarestin'.

In any event, "deep" isn't necessarily synonymous with profound. One can be deeply confused, or maybe you don't pay attention to the liberal media. For it is written: Confused ideas and murky ponds seem deep (Dávila).

Moreover, Profundity is not in what is said, but in the level from which it is said. At the same time, The depth of an idea depends on the capacity of the listener.

Putting these three together, we see that there is a true and false depth, and that depth not only transmits a content, but is a kind of form, such that that depth must call out to depth, so to speak.

While this may at first sound novel -- or, worse yet, original -- it is actually quite mundane and experience-near. There are credentialed morons who know more about quantum physics than we ever will, and smelly Walmart shoppers who know more about the soul than the physicist will ever even suspect. Which is why there is infinitely more wisdom at a single Trump rally than in the entire Harvard faculty lounge. For

Great stupidities do not come from the people. They have seduced intelligent men first.

Indeed, if you've spent any time in college, you know that A high I.Q. is indicative of distinguished mediocrity, and that The learned fool has a wider field to practice his folly. The institution of tenure is a way to transform idiocy into a permanent instead of temporary condition.

Now, back when I was in graduate school, I began to have my suspicions, although who was I to question the basis of an entire discipline? Nevertheless, I couldn't help noticing two things: first, that a discipline is defined by its object, and that psychology didn't have one. For example, one of the first courses will acquaint you with all the major theorists and theories of psychology. But if psychology is a thing, there shouldn't be wildly divergent opinions about the nature of its object.

Analogously, if you study physics, you don't begin with a survey of all the various disputed and discarded theories about the nature of physical reality. Rather, a mature discipline converges on a unity of both object and method.

But someone who approaches psychology in this way will probably be called fascist, or authoritarian, or medieval. At the very least, one will be told that's just, like, your opinion, man (or other preferred gender).

For example, just try uttering a banal truth such as "homosexuality is objectively disordered." That's not an insult. Rather, just a logical entailment of the deeper principles of biology. I myself am objectively disordered, because I have diabetes. It's an inconvenience, but not an insult. A dead pancreas is a lot of things, but I don't pretend it's normal.

So, the first thing I noticed was that psychology was and is pre-paradigmatic. It's not so much that the theories disagreed with one another, but that there was no agreement as to the object of psychology. Is it behavior? The brain? The mind? The unconscious? Attachment? Affect? Neurobiology? Neurochemistry? At least we can agree: it's not the soul, because there is no such thing.

What about morality? Is this totally subjective, or is there objective good and evil? Does human development have a telos, or do we make it up as we go along? Is there such a thing as human nature, or do we define ourselves by our own choices? Do we even have choices, i.e., is there such a thing as free will? If so, what is it and how did it get here? By virtue of what principle can freedom even exist?

Etc. The second thing I noticed is that there is no objective way to choose one of these 238 theories to guide one's life -- and the life of one's patient. So, on what basis do we choose? It occurred to me that we choose based on "what works for me." Being that clinical psychology isn't just a discipline of study but a "healing art," one will pick the one through which one was "healed."

Healed of what? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's just call it "pain," which covers a lot of territory.

We're almost out of time. But as usual, I see that Dávila was here before me. For as he observes,

The great imbecilic explanations of human behavior adequately explain the one who adopts them.

Ah ha. This explains a great deal, not just with respect to psychological theories, but vis-a-vis every theory that pretends to be comprehensive. (I believe Nietzsche said something to the effect that philosophy is just autobiography in disguise.) It explains why feminists are feminists, why Marxists are Marxists, why atheists are atheists, critical race theorists are critical race theorists, ad nauseam. The theories explain them, but not us. And yet, so many of them want to force us to live under their theories, when all we ask is to be permitted to live in reality.

To be continued...

14 comments:

julie said...

Being that clinical psychology isn't just a discipline of study but a "healing art," one will pick the one through which one was "healed."

Kind of like how every portrait is a self portrait, to greater or lesser degree depending on how well the artist understands both himself and the general tendency of everyone to see the self in those around him.

Anonymous said...

Great Post, you are closing in on the quintessential topic, the soul. Be warned, as you probably already know, you'll be breaking new ground with every post. The soul is a slippery topic, it has ever and anon been difficult to describe.

From you post: "So, the first thing I noticed was that psychology was and is pre-paradigmatic. It's not so much that the theories disagreed with one another, but that there was no agreement as to the object of psychology. Is it behavior? The brain? The mind? The unconscious? Attachment? Affect? Neurobiology? Neurochemistry? At least we can agree: it's not the soul, because there is no such thing."

As I recall from my psychology studies, developmental theorists Erickson and Maslow tackled the object of psychology. They described "stages of development" leading to the "fully actualized" human being. Maslow in particular pinned this down, and further begins to describe something about the soul. The accepted canon of psychological studies does contain nuggets of soul and spirit sprinkled throughout if you know how to find them.

Look up Maslow's description of the fully-actualized man. It has a transcendentalist flavor. It is the secular equivalent of a religious object, a very curious hybrid ideology.

So there you have it, the psychologists did not forget to determine the "object" of human life. It is not widely ballyhooed though.

- Regards from Camarillo Cathy, (on which side of the locked door are you situated Cathy)?

Anonymous said...

No person gets through infancy, childhood, and adolescence without sustaining at least a few traumatic long-term psychological wounds. These invisible mutilations of the psyche create the lions share of challenges faced by people.

Trying to get these wounds treated and mitigated is the job of every clinical psychologist. The psychologist must first identify and mitigate their own wounds so that they don't transfer negativity onto the patient being treated.

The use of Erickson's developmental table is an excellent start; wounds at certain ages reflect the tasks of that age cohort.

As a rule of thumb, the earlier the wound, the more egregious the outcome. Wounds sustained in early infancy 0-6 months (usually caused by neglect or abuse) are grave.

At this stage a basic sense of security could not be formed and this person will never trust anyone, unless the root wound is thoroughly examined and talked about. Even then the damage is hard to mitigate.

Later wounds, such as in the age group 6-12, can cause an inferiority complex which is a heavy burden to carry through life.

And so on and so forth. The connection to the post is, the discipline of psychology has actually done a fair dinkum job of looking for the roots of human suffering; these ideas have been transferred into other disciplines and have helped a lot of people.

Give it up for clinical psychologists! Yay! Tenured psychology professors! Yay! Yay? Experimental psychologists! Yay! Amateur psychologists! Yay! Your wise old Granny! Yay!

Anonymous said...

I was perfectly happy with my childhood wounds, since I was self-actualizing everywhere I went. But then others stepped in and ruined my life making the self-actualizing much more difficult.

But the clinical psychologists keep wanting to drag me through all the old childhood wounds. I'm starting to think that maybe they're projecting.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous 09:39 AM

Thank you for sharing about your situation. So you are aware of your childhood wounds? What are they exactly?

I have a suspected early infancy wound. Based on interviews with my parents and siblings, my mother(a very good mother) likely had several severe bouts of post-partum depression after my birth, probably leading to baby not getting needs met timely. It was au-courant at that time to let babies "cry it out." I think this happened to me, I have one fairly vivid memory and the emotional tone of this memory is devastating. It is a massive, crushing sensation of sadness, fear and rage. This is accompanied by a physical feeling of blockage of the throat.

I developed abnormal compulsions by age 12, with somatization and dysphoria, and have had these or other symptoms for life. It has been a hard road. I have worked it out to some extent, or have simply worn it down. But it still comes back at times.

My siblings were not affected that I can see; I think they got bent in other ways, but do not share my lesion.

I know you are interested in sociopaths and I hate to say this, but it is possible I am one or have the tendencies. How about yourself? I know you fear and resent sociopaths, but have you considered the possibility you are one yourself?

Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Sociopathy is just the survival impulse unrestricted. Born sociopaths (dark triad) have nothing stopping them. For the rest of us, it's mostly learned callousness from cultural or environmental causes.

Personal example: I once had a pet slug. It lived inside the water meter cover in my front yard. Every night it would crawl out (slime?) and extend it's eyes to look for food. I'd feed it watermelon rinds. It took a really long time for it to turn around and get to it, but even if I threw it 10 feet behind it, it'd sense it. It's name was Sluggy. I was poor back then and Sluggy was the only pet I could afford. Years later as a wealthy homeowner I took up gardening but had a major slug infestation. I tried everything. I finally decided that the best method at controlling them was to stomp on them, let other slugs find the guts and start to feed on them, then stomp on those slugs too. One day I realized that I'd turned into a Sluggy mass-murderer. All it'd taken was a little anger and a lot of rationalization.

Larger more cultural example: Some of history's most ruthless people, the Mongolian horde, who used to launch severed heads over city walls as warnings that you could either surrender and get your asses sacked, or fight and still get your asses sacked but die horribly, are today pretty much a gentle folk. I just worked with two. Mongols. So reasonable, decent and hardworking were they that I left my tools unguarded. Not once did I fear having my head launched toward the neighbors house as a stern warning. As an added bonus, I we even discussed some history and the unusual Genghis love some Mongolians are perceived to have. They said it was overblown and most Mongols are just like them, pretty mellow and looking to get out in the world to make some money in a real job. Same thing for Norwegians I suppose. From horned helmets to floppy hats that culture.

That's why I don't like the cultural ignorance and/or acceptance of sociopathy. Even worse is when Christians become that way. The last thing we need is another sacking of Constantinople situation.

I think good cultures turn to shit when too many sociopaths gain control. I think we're headed that way now.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous 4:42

Interesting comment you have there. Regarding Sluggy, you loved Sluggy as evidenced by your putting out the watermelon rinds for Sluggy. And then later as wealthy homeowner you had a major slug "infestation" and slaughtered beings just like Sluggy.

The question is, which of these two people is the real you? The loving child, or the murderous adult? Which is closer to your core?

Regarding Mongols, I like to consume the grilled Mongolian foods prepared as you watch. Many Mongols are related to Genghis Khan; this has been shown by genetic study. The Khan mounted a lot of women. Most Mongols will still keep a sinew-backed bow and quiver of arrows stashed in a back closet. They'll act like "how'd those get in there?" if you find the stash. Yeah...things change, things stay the same.

Now while the Mongols and Swedes have became relatively tame, a latent tendency for viciousness is still there. It would only take the right environmental triggers, and once again the mounted Horde and the Longboat menace would be back among us, severing heads and ransacking abbeys.

So for now, just be grateful.

Anonymous said...

I had a neighbor who kept encroaching on my property. They knew where the property line was because I politely notified them. Repeatedly. But they just kept putting their kids summer tents, their dogs invisible fence, their grass clippings... way over the line into my yard no matter how many times I politely warned them. Since we weren't allowed to build fences in that neighborhood, I eventually launched sacks of slug guts at their house instead. (Found the plans online.) Maybe that describes my core better than just loving or murderous?

Cousin Dupree said...

Just say No to slugs.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the slugs listened about as well as the neighbors. So apparently engaging in dialogue with those who don't share our assumptions is nothing more than a stupid way to kill time. Maybe that should be an aphorism.

Anonymous said...

My point is that the Bible seems to encourage a proper balance in life. I’m thinking that if our system has gone almost totally selfish objectivist narcissistic asshole, then maybe injecting a bit of selfless love into the system will rebalance things out. The question is of course, who gets to do the injecting?

But even then this has to be done properly to yield proper rebalancing results. I mean, you can’t just give love to immigrant Mongols trying to price gouge you for $100 per interior door just to spray paint ten $40 door slabs, just because those Mongols were referred by a bleeding heart who thinks people from one of the poorest countries in the world are just gonna automatically work harder for less than their reputedly lazy anglo counterparts. And maybe she knows their history and is unconsciously a little afraid of their murderous bad side. Some sort of common civil sense has to prevail.

I had been kinda hoping that the churches would help out, but they're either all magachurches all pussy grabby, or community organizer style churches where everybody wears bling and yearns for mansions by the rising seas.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous 09:01 AM

You should be aware that some slugs carry the deadly rat lungworm disease; sacks of slug guts would therefore be highly dangerous to sling at a neighbors house. Just a speck of slug innards landing in someone's mouth, and....it's a bad way to die. Look it up.

You wrote: "...the Bible seems to encourage a proper balance in life. I’m thinking that if our system has gone almost totally selfish objectivist narcissistic asshole, then maybe injecting a bit of selfless love into the system will rebalance things out. The question is of course, who gets to do the injecting?"

You get to do the injecting, anonymous. You. Having made this essential realization, you are now marked for the spiritual life.

It doesn't matter how small and unsteady you start out, or how many times you stumble and fall. You are marked for inevitable success, you will find and unite with your soul, and with God, in due time.

This is a big day for you, anonymous. A really big day. I celebrate with you.

-Commanding Officer X

Anonymous said...

I love you Commanding Officer X. But I have a secret for just between us. Raccoons also carry a nasty parasite to which they're immune, but is deadly to cats and dogs, and brain damaging to humans. I oughta know.

As for the neighbors I did ultimately have success. Since the loving neighborly shtick was a disaster, playing all mad niggerish is what finally worked. I wore a fro, crips colors, and talked all "Yo, yo, mothuf#@$er..." while flashing gangsta signs. As a white guy. I even graffitti'd their garage. They got the message they never wanted to screw with a crazy neighbor ever again.

Word.

Van Harvey said...

"... I couldn't help noticing two things: first, that a discipline is defined by its object, and that psychology didn't have one..."

Sort of like the "science of ideas" that Ideology was invented to be, it doesn't care about whether those ideas are true, as long as they're measured and packaged into positions that please the shopper, and the hollower they are, the easier they are to arrange.