Here is where I will opine on what I have read so far. Let's compare science and psychology. Mr Horgan says that psychology is relatively new compared to the sciences, but that is not true, Even though the word psychology was not used at the time, philosophical interest in the human mind and behavior dates back to the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, India and Greece. This is in parity with the beginning of the interest in sciences. I believe that the reason that giant strides were made in the sciences is multi-fold. To begin with, I think that Abraham Mazlow's hierarchy of needs was right on. Before humans can move from the lowest level (physiological), which is composed of food, water, breathing, sleep, sex and excretion to the next ascending level (Safety), which is composed of health, property, family, morality and resoruces and safety of body, they must have certain needs met. I am without a doubt Ms. Harmon that you are more familiar with this than I. In any case it makes sense to me that in order for humans to survive, they had to understand and manipulate their environment that they lived in. This is how science (in my estimation) took hold. In order to get food, you either had to gather it or hunt for it. This led to tool making etc. I could leave a bread crumb trail but instead I will just get to the point. If I were hungry or didn't have shelter or safety, I don't think I would have the luxury of contemplating, gee whiz why do I act a certain way in front of that girl or how come I didn't get a good night sleep last night? Thus the study of the mind started lagging because the essentials for surviving could be obtained through the innovations of science. Now what about the cosmos, how come we are more concerned with that than the human mind, Well for starters 65 million years ago life just about became extinct because of a giant asteroid hitting the earth. About 10,000 bc there was a giant asteroid that impacted the eastern part of the U.S.A. causing all life to either cease to exist or move to the southwest area of the U.S.A. I could go on ad infinitum but my point is just this, what is the sense of trying to figure out why I start shivering when I see a black widow before I try to ascertain how I can avert those disasters of the past by studying the cosmos. Finally I think that the sciences have advanced because of the following reasons. First if a theory is is proposed by a mathematician or physicist etc. his/her colleagues will either try to prove or disprove it. If it is disprovedthen that block is lthrown away, but if it is verified (proven) then that block is built upon. The sciences continued in this manner, i.e., building upward like the Tower of Babel. Whereas it is my opinion that psychologist are more ego driven. When someone proposes their theory, instead of proving or disproving it, his/her colleagues will just formula another theory that could run parallel or take a juxtaposition. A good example of this is Sigmund Freuds psychoanalysis. He coined words like id, ego, superego, subconscious, preconscious and unconscious just to name a few. If you were to obviate his theory, then the house of cards would fall, i.e., Melanie Klein's Theory, Rollo Mayes Theory etc. I believed they all used Freud's tenets and all they did was alter the namesof those specific areas they were referring to. In other words, instead of using their blocks to build vertically (proving or disproving), they layed their blocks on the ground and expanded horizontally (no solid foundation). Lastly, the human mind is so complex and the speed that it makes decisions can never be matched by a computer. I believe that they tried to duplicate the thinking process of the mind in the early 80's and the computer they had built had filled a room with the measurements of 40' x40' x 12', yet the computer had not even scratched the surface of what the human mind was capable of doing. I am a math major and I like to think of the human mind this way. The brain itself is a set. The functions of the brain are subsets. Withing each subset there is a sub-subset. I am sure that you could continue in this manner indefinitely. If this is truly the case then there are infinite areas of the mind to be studied. (Student
Student 19 paper
“Knowledge led to virtue; whereas ignorance led to evil”
Was Socrates correct when he proposed that knowledge leads to virtue and ignorance leads to evil? The statement above can be found in the lecture notes regarding Socrates, and whether or not those were his exact words one cannot help wonder if this statement is the final verdict on the issues of virtue and evil. Even though this proposal may seem to illuminate a truth, it’s when one begins to contemplate the implications that these words impose on our modern society, that the realization comes about that Socrates was not completely correct. The fallacy in this proposal was not found in what was said, rather it is found in what was not.
First let’s examine the first part of this statement “Knowledge led to virtue”. According to the Merriman-Webster Dictionary knowledge is defined as “the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association” and virtue is defined as “conformity or standard of right”. The truth that comes about from knowledge does not all and of itself lead to virtue, rather it is the intention that is behind the usage of knowledge that will ultimately determine whether the outcome of knowledge is virtuous or not.
Take for example the knowledge of chemistry, one can obtain a degree in chemistry and use this knowledge to assist others in finding a cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, or any other life threatening disease. Likewise one can take this very same knowledge and use it to manufacture methamphetamines, chemical weapons, or any other device that would ultimately destroy lives. The same basic knowledge was used but two different set of outcomes were obtained, one set was very virtuous and the other was not. The intention of helping mankind produced a virtuous outcome while the intention of greed and hatred produced none of the kind. Knowledge is simply the means, a vehicle of sorts by which intention rides upon to reach an objective.
The same can be said, but only in part, of the second part of this statement “ignorance led to evil”. For the purposes of this argument ignorance can be defined as the absence of knowledge and evil can likewise be defined as the absence of virtue. Under this perspective intention also arises as the determining factor if the outcome of ignorance will be evil or not, but only if the ignorance was consciously self imposed. An individual can choose to ignore the warning label of a cigarette package that warns of the horrific consequences that smoking has on his or her health only to reap the evil of that ignorance decades later. Likewise an individual can choose to ignore the coercion of a friend that offers a cigarette claiming it will relieve tension or stress, such a decision can prevent harmful consequences at a later time. The intention behind of one form of self imposed ignorance will lead to heart and lung disease, while the other form of self imposed ignorance will lead to better overall health. There is although a form of ignorance is not driven by intent and therefore no control of its outcome exists. This is the kind ignorance that is imposed on an individual because of unforeseen events and circumstances. But for the most part, in regards to ignorance, many if not most of the circumstances we find ourselves in as adults are because we choose to impose ignorance upon ourselves. We choose not to know, not to care, for better or for worst. Socrates was a great thinker and philosopher, but his overrated reliance in knowledge, and his underrated view of ignorance was something I felt had to be examined.
Student 41 paper
How does one conduct a double-blind study of psychotherapy?
This is the question put forth by Horgan on page 89 of his book. It is a question that he puts forth after decrying the science of psychology as not being a true science. He bases this premise on several different reasons. He continually attacks psychology throughout his writings. I do believe that psychology is a legitimate science and has scientific merit.
When proposing the question in question he is saying that the efficacy of psychotherapy cannot be measured objectively, that because we cannot meet this final criterion we somehow fall short of a legitimate science. This cannot be further from the truth and I will address the plausibility of doing a double blind study as well.
First, to the question as to whether psychology can be considered a real science, and whether we are making legitimate findings as they relate to the mind sciences. There are scientific experiments being done all the time as they relate to the mind sciences. He claims they are not, simply because there is not a unifying theory. That there are many branches of the mind sciences but there is no trunk. This is like the chicken and the egg argument all over again. Which came first? We must encourage the findings that are being made in every branch of the mind sciences until there is, and there is a possibility there may never be, a unifying theory.
The mind sciences are a very young science and progress has been rapid in the last decade and very slow before that. We must take our time and use empirical observation as a guide post to finding the answers to how the mind and all that is related to it actually functions.
His contention that we must be rid of all these conflicting theories I think is very short sighted at the very least. We have a wealth of knowledge that has been obtained through scientific methods. The obviation of Freud he somehow thinks will somehow solve this problem or at least free us to pursue other avenues of information. However, I again believe this to be short sighted. There are some parts of Freud’s theory that may very well be applicable to finding what is actually occurring in the mind. They are valuable even if just to direct us away from that viewpoint. This gives us background information that may be key to discovering the undiscovered mind.
Secondly, all this talk about not being able to pinpoint conscious and unconscious behavior and their origins is I think a lot a propaganda away from the real issue. We must be able to assess the origins of thought and behavior from many different perspectives, lest we not completely understand the entire process. An evolutionary perspective cannot be said to be less valid than a behaviorist perspective. They may both contain the key to the final outcome, so we pursue science from many different perspectives, and hence the many branches of mind sciences.
Lastly, as to constructing a double blind study to measure the efficacy of psychotherapies, and their adjuncts, as they relate to each other. It might be feasible to construct such a study if you have an independent observer measure the test subject prior to assignment to a group. A check of sorts to measure their depression if that is what you are measuring. Then randomly assign the subjects to groups. Some to one kind of therapy and then some to another form of therapy, and have a control group which receives no therapy. After a period of time the independent observer would be asked to reassess the subject to find out what relief or benefit has been obtained for each group. The observer would not know what group obtained what therapy if any at all. This would blind the observer from the assignment or therapy used. We could then independently assess efficacy of the treatment, if any, that was received. This however would not blind the subjects from the treatment they were receiving.
I don’t think the answer to the mind sciences having a unifying theory will be answered anytime soon. It may never be answered. But, if we are pursuing answers to questions and following the scientific methods in the process of finding answers we cannot be said to not be a science.
Student 6 paper
Is human soul immortal?
According to a famous philosopher Aristotle, the human’s soul is mortal. I would argue that this is a question of belief. People who believe in God are sure that human soul is immortal and when their true life is over the soul becomes a part of spiritual life either in heaven, hell, or purgatory. However, it is obvious that theory about existence of human soul is getting into attention for more and more scientists. The consideration of human soul as being mortal or immortal is an interesting issue over decades.
I believe that the cycle of human soul is repeatable and in some part also predestinated. Brain is the organ that creates soul, but soul is unable to control the brain. However, even if the brain creates the soul, how can I surely say where exactly is the soul located in our bodies? Because of the inability of localization of the soul, I believe that there is a presence of spiritual life that is not yet identified in our time and dimension, human’s souls can be located far away, even behind the space of universe. Everything that happens to us is actually created and calculated by our brain. The example might be happiness, sadness, or decision making. That is why I believe that our soul was created by the brain as a by-product.
Also, after reading some studies and research concentrated on existence of human soul, makes more and more convinced that spiritual life is really happening. The study was concentrated on clinical death. The researches monitor the patients during their clinical death, such as stopped heart rate, breathing stopped and also brain activity. After resuscitation when brain did not show any activity, the patients reported that their thinking and reasoning was working properly. They were aware of moving beyond their bodies. They also reported that they had an extremely deep feeling of happiness and relaxation, but still aware of their action. That is why I believe that if somebody damages brain the mind is still working, and that is the prove that the brain is only an apparatus. It means that soul is the main thing that creates our minds. The soul is also indestructible. After leaving the carrier, humans body, it returns to the spiritual dimension and soon after it replicates into another human carrier.
Death is not the end of human’s path. Souls do not disappear in nothingness but they just reincarnate into a new life and knowledge. I believe that they are part of every single person and also that is what drives each personality. I think that soul is the most mysterious and beautiful thing inside every individual.
Teachers note: If you mention a particular study you should cite the source.
Student 40 paper
The explanatory gap is the inability of physiological theories to account for psychological phenomena. Socrates suggested that the explanatory gap might never be closed. Did Socrates have narcissistic tendencies that caused him to think that the explanatory gap might never be closed?
Horgan regards physician Sherwin Nuland as a narcissist because the human mystery engages his fascination more than the condition of the cosmos. Horgan deduces, “Narcissists that we are, there is no subject that fascinates us more than ourselves” (p. 4).
Mayo Clinic describes patients with narcissistic personality disorder as having an inflated sense of their importance and a serious need for admiration. Socrates has narcissistic symptoms including failing to recognize other people's feelings and appearing unemotional.
Socrates illustrated his lack of empathy for others feelings when he responded to his disciple’s question, “But how shall we bury you?” Socrates responded, “However you please, if you can catch me and I do not get away from you.” Socrates laughs at his disciple’s question and acts as if it is not important. This question may have seemed foolish to Socrates after his life’s work of teachings but this disciple may have been expressing more his feeling of grief. It would be understandable that Socrates’ follower would want to plan a way to seek closure but Socrates failed to look past what he thought was merely a silly question.
Socrates displayed unemotional reactions before his death. First, before Socrates drank the poison that led to his death Creto asked him to wait a bit longer like others had done. Socrates responded, “Those who you mention are right in doing as they do, for they think they gain by it. And I shall be right in not doing as they do for I think I should gain nothing in taking the poison a little bit later”. He showed no reaction to this sad request. In addition to this cold reasoning he also asked his disciples why they were crying. He said he sent his family away so he could die in silence. Socrates appeared to be stoic right upon his death.
Switching gears, Neuroscience is the field that appears most likely to close the explanatory gap. Horgan explains replications of experiments are crucial for science to prove results are consistent. This is a challenge for mind-science because all brains and mental illnesses are different. Lobotomies treat mental illness by destroying the brain’s prefrontal lobes. Lobotomies are an example of how different each person’s brain is. Only some patients benefited from the lobotomy procedure. The unfortunate others were sometimes crazy uninhibited or almost catatonic. Historian of medicine Jack Pressman reveals this information to us and concludes, “Because every individual is comprised of a singular combination of physiology, social identity, and personal values, in effect each patient constitutes a unique experiment” (p.36).
Socrates along with Plato believed the explanatory gap existed between the psyche and the body. Socrates philosophy backs up the explanatory gap but Socrates seemed to only be interested in his own unique experiments and more importantly his own experiences because of his narcissistic tendencies. It appears that Socrates may not have had a substantial amount of information or insight on other’s sole experiences in order to have a healthy balance of knowledge about the self’s psyche and body that would constitute expressing such a strong assertion about mind-science.
MayoClinic.com. (2010, April 6). Narcissistic personality disorder. Retrieved from
Teacher's note: 3rd sentence was your thesis statement, it should have been your first sentence.
Student 32 paper
Why Freud Isn’t Dead, Is He Dying?
In the book, “The Undiscovered Mind” the first two chapters I found them to be very interesting. Thus far chapter two has captured my attention because of the way Mr. Horgan presents the subject of “Psychoanalysis,” his critique. There are two questions I’d like to focus on, number one, is there a bases for why Horgan seeks to discredit psychoanalysis and number two, and are there grounds for pursuing the practice of psychoanalysis?
First of all there is a base for Horgan discrediting the work of psychoanalysis that originated with Freud. There is no research that proves psychoanalysis reduces or eliminates conscientious or unconscientious mental disorders. And Freud himself had some doubt that psychoanalysis would continue as a form of therapy. Given these two bases Horgan gives a good argument as to why he seeks to discredit psychoanalysis. He says that as far back as the late 1800’s Freud’s work had been under attack, calling his theories “Scientific fairy tales.” In 1916 the Nation complained about his work saying that is was “Well founded neither theoretically nor empirically” One Russian novelist by the name of Vladimir Nabokov called Freud a “Witchdoctor” and a “Viennese quack.”
This show that Horgan does have grounds for discrediting psychoanalysis, I like what he says “When it comes to theories of human nature, standards of proof should be considered guilty - that is, wrong or dubious – until their correctness is established beyond a reasonable doubt. Critics should therefore be allowed to cast doubt on a theory by introducing a contradictory hypothesis that may be equally dubious.” I agree, we cannot and must not fall into the belief that theories are proof until proven otherwise. I believe that Horgan has done a good job of giving us something to think about. His research is well founded in regards to those he has interviewed and the conferences he has attended. I look forward to reading more from this book.
Are there grounds for pursuing psychoanalysis? Yes, I believe so. Although it has not given us the answers to all our questions, it has set us on the right path per say. Neuroscience, psychology, and psychoanalysis altogether will play a major part in the advancement of our understanding of the mind. Because of its complexity many researchers have turned to other areas of interest, such as the functioning of the brain, what allows us to see, hear, learn, feel, taste and reason which fall under the umbrella of neuroscience. The new frontier of psychology and psychoanalysis is yet to be fully understood which poses a real challenge in its progress. Psychopharmacology has come to the aid in the treatment of cognitive and behavioral disorders, although it has shed a lot of light on understanding brain function it has not helped in our understanding of how nature and nurture interact with each other to give us our individual personality.
Critics such as Horgan continue to doubt whether it is a legitimate science. Based on the history of some of its researchers past and present. Howard Gardner who targeted not only psychoanalysis, but the entire field of psychology said that “Certain approaches to the mind, notably neuroscience, had progressed and would continue to do so,” and that “The years at the close of our century can well be described as the coming-of-age of brain or neuroscience.” What does this all mean? Although there have been some setbacks, the study of the mind will continues in spite of all the criticism. We as a society would be doing an injustice to those who so desperately need and want an answer to the question that have plagued us for centuries which are; consciousness, the self, free will, personality, cognitive and behavioral science.
We can’t stop now, we owe it to the human race to at least try and find a logical solution to the problems that face our world today, be it socially, physiologically, or psychologically. Be it this generation or the ones to follow, may the search continue.
Teachers note: Answers were a bit too general.
Student 4 paper
Getting in touch with Emotions
“Minds without emotions are not really minds at all. They are souls on ice – cold, lifeless creates devoid of any desires, fears, sorrows, pains, or pleasures.” According to LeDoux, emotions define who we are to ourselves as well as to others. There are at the core of many psychiatric disorders, and they can also alter our physical well-being.
LeDoux makes several distinctions about the study of emotion. Consciousness and cognition: Cognition is our ability to process and store information about the world. We are not necessarily conscious of those activities as they occur. He states that although our consciousness is often equated with the mind, most mental processes occur beneath the level of awareness.
He also distinguishes between cognition and emotion, recognizing that many aspects of emotion rely on cognition and cognition similarly depends on emotion, like fear. Fear is the emotion most responsible for reinvigorating the study of emotion. Studies have led us to understand that the amygdale is the key. Psychologists once believed that the subjective sensation of fear is the first component of the fear response; increased hear rate, sweating, and other physiological symptoms were thought to be triggered by the subjective sensation. LeDoux argued that the opposite is probably true; that physiological symptoms occur first, and then initiate the subjective sensation of fear. He states that fear responses might never generate a conscious sensation, and that these conscious, subjective feelings are merely diversions in the scientific study of emotions.
Implicit and explicit memory has to do with our ability to consciously remember something is not necessarily the same as our ability to respond to something on the basis of past learning. LeDoux contends that the emotional system of the brain is one of the most powerful learning systems that we have, but it is an implicit learning system. He states that yes, it can contribute to explicit memory so that we are able to have memories about emotional situations that are both explicit and consciously available. But the many systems involved in implicit learning are what give rise to physiological and other responses in the presence of stimuli associated with past danger or pleasure.
Lastly, LeDoux states that explaining consciousness is not as important as understanding how the brain draws on both genes and experience to create a self, a personal identity, in each individual. To explain how the brain makes us who we are he sought out to explain that one must understand how both nature and nurture affect the brain’s wiring. The distinction between nature and nurture is a big one. We come into the world capable of being happy and capable of being afraid, but we must learn which things make us happy and which make us afraid.
Student 44 paper
Why do some still agree Freudian concepts remain in present Psychology?
Horgan quotes in his book psychologists who have conducted a survey regarding Psychoanalysis, “This does not mean that ‘Freud isn’t dead’, but rather that his presence if felt indirectly. Indeed, many of Freud’s basic ideas – for example, that unconscious processes influence behavior and that early-childhood experiences influence adult development – have become incorporated into the foundation of psychology as a science.” (p.50)
Many argue that there is a need in Psychoanalysis. Horgan visits a conference in New York City, where many neo-freudians find with ways to still preserve their field. They argue psychoanalysis still may have its benefits towards society. I would agree, to a very small extent. I think it is very relevant to the quote above, especially regarding the infamous cases of early molestation but in repression.
It shares the view of Behaviorism; the way we encounter and behave towards our environment is a result of different kinds of responses of previous similar experiences. The way a woman may timidly feel towards males could be the result of a traumatizing experience with her uncle. This woman’s experience of anxiety is a result of her experiences. She has developed avoidance towards sexual encounters. She removes herself away from similar environmental situations for a decrease in anxiety. This too pertains to the Freudian concept: repression. Like the woman’s memory, other thoughts may be too troublesome, so we avoid them to decrease that uncomfortable feeling. It is then the Behaviorist’s job to uncover, and train the client to start over and develop a therapy to counter those feelings. Though Freudians may not direct therapy in this manner, they would agree this method of declaring the source of the problem is similar.
This indication of previous trauma leading to anxiety has relevance in Neuropsychology too. As stated in the book, “Neuroscience had provided “solid scientific evidence” that both childhood experience and psychoanalysis alter “the way in which the neurons in the brain are connected to one another. This rewiring leads to changes in how you process, integrate, experience, and understand information and emotion.” (p.53) Though Horgan argues that other irrelevant things such as watching a football game or cooking causes changes in neural circuitry. He misses the point, that such a traumatic event would cause a greater connection to a memory, more profound than any memory of a touchdown or when to place the chicken in a dish. Actually it would be so profound, this neural connection, it would lead to fear like symptoms resulting in this avoidance I spoke of earlier.
Clearly, Freudian concepts still remain in today’s Psychology. His concepts share meaning behind what is thought to be an avoidance of previous experience involving behavior. This does not mean Freud has unlocked the problem of irrational behavior as clearly pointed out by Horgan. His book points out a recognizable problem, studied by Elizabeth Loftus, who studied the fallibility in producing memories. What Cognitive psychologists call Interference, either old or new memories interfering the processing or recollection of new or old memories, presents a problem in therapy and other situations. Loftus who has conducted experiments involving testimony, believes that retro interference can occur during the moment of therapy, the therapist can accidentally implant a false memory of molestation into the patients memory. Meaning, in reality there was never any moment of sexual abuse, but after ‘suggestion’, the patient recalls a false memory of abuse as maybe shaped by the therapist. Loftus’s experiment of ‘Lost in a Shopping Mall’, demonstrates that 29% of 24 subjects remembered ‘false events’ about getting lost in a mall. This study, along with many others, shook the ground of psychology, having left psychoanalysis with mistrusting credibility. Can we depend on the resurgence of memories that are claimed to be true, when evidence shows that they may be false? In addition, this could leave many families in conflicting terms that can never be repaired.
Loftus, E. F. & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The Formation of False Memories. Psychiatric Annals. 25: (720-725)
Student 31 paper
gThe first time a girl sees a male penis, Freud contended, she eknows that she is without it and wants to have it. . . . Even after penis-envy has abandoned its true object, it continues to exist: by an easy displacement it persists in the character trait of jealousy.fh
A characteristic that a lot of women have is jealousy. They may be jealous of their friends, of a sibling, or of a potential competitor for their mate. According to Freud, this jealousy derives from Penis Envy. Due to the fact that women do not have this male sex organ, they have a sense of envy that develops in them. This envy carries on with them and becomes a personality trait that many of us are familiar with, jealousy. Although women are said to have penis envy that turns into jealousy, how would Freud account jealously to arise in men? Would men then be deemed with vagina envy? This is where Freudfs theory may falter in the idea that jealousy is only in women, but donft some men also suffer from extreme jealousy? Men may at times be just as jealousy, if not even more jealous than women. How would this trait arise in them?
The Oedipus complex, and the Electra complex which is established in girls, are both Psychoanalytic theories, therefore how can they be proven to be false or true? The Oedipus complex is due to the belief that the young girlfs mother has deprived her of a penis and because of that the young girl feels like she is less than a boy and she sees herself a gnothingh (Lax, 2007).
There have been many complains throughout the years about Freudfs theories, and his ideas. Just like Horgan (1999) mentions in his book, gThe Nationcomplained that psychoanalysis was ewell founded neither theoretically nor empirically,fh (p.49). That is the same criticism that I have of Freudfs penis envy theory, and any other psychoanalytical theories he may have. His theories cannot be empirically tested because they are below the conscious level. Although it can be observed through behavior, it would never prove this theory to the same extent that other theories like Einsteinfs have.
To play devilfs advocate, the theory of penis envy can be in fact true as it has been observed in many children. This theory is specifically based on observation and the connection of theories, ideas, and aspects in which Freud saw the relationship between a daughter, the father, and mother. The personality of an individual flourishes and forms from when the individual is young, due to this one may assert that the jealous personality in a woman arises in her childhood years because of the Oedipus complex. The Oedipus complex also helps to explain the aggressive personality and behaviors that males develop and display. A question regarding those two traits is if females only develop a jealous personality type if they do not overcome the Oedipus complex? Do males only become aggressive if they do not resolve the complex as well? One cannot assess that every female is jealous and every male is aggressive. What accounts for the males that are overly jealous and the females that are overly aggressive? Does that mean that there was a reverse in the type of fear of castration in the child or the opposite complex was felt? To me, many questions are left unanswered and still arise when thinking about penis envy. Freud made a general statement that resonates in my head, that all women wish they had a penis, but in fact not all women want to be bear children and be mothers, so what accounts for them? Just as the Professor mentioned in class, a lot of feminists do not like Freudfs theories, I guess I am one of them. Although, it can be a general statement about the stages of development, there are many cases that deter from this explanation. I would like to hear of theories that may also give the alternate explanation to different personality traits like jealousy in women and aggression in males.
Horgan J. (1999). The Undiscovered Mind. York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Lax, R. F. (2007). Father's seduction of daughter entices her into the oedipal phase: Mother's role in the formation of the girl's superego. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(2), 306-316. doi:10.1037/0736-9722.214.171.1246
Student 28 paper
When taking the first quiz, we came across the question “Horgan claims that Psychology is an 'ironic science'. What does he mean? Do you agree?” Basically anything that goes too deep into eye-witnessing is considered an ironic science. Psychology, to Horgan, is something that “never gets a firm grip on reality and this does not converge the truth” (6). How can he say this when everything about psychology is about trying to converge the truth. Just because psychology is a new science, compared to chemistry or physics, it does not mean that one day we will have the answers for everything. We are constantly observing people in reality trying to figure out what is going on. Of course, everybody does not have the same type of reaction to certain things but we do know that for every type of stimulus, there is an reaction. As psychologists, we are trying to find out why we have those different type of reactions and if there is any way to predict those reactions for the different types of people. Ironic science is also something that is “more akin to philosophy or literary criticism or even literature than to ironic science” (6). I find it funny that he says this because every science whether it is “ironic” or not has evolved from philosophy. So there must have been at some time where biology or physics were “ironic”.
Newton's three laws of motion have been around for a very long time and are part of physics which is, according to Horgan, a legitimate science. Of course, Newton came up with these laws by simply observing and testing. One day, Newton was sitting by an apple tree and happened to notice that the apple feel towards the earth, and not away from the earth. He tested his observation with math and came up with the laws of motion. In biology, we observe things under a microscope, and if we see something that is unusual, we observe it some more and test it to see what reactions it can cause. With this, we may discover a cure for something or maybe a cause for a certain disease.
This is exactly the same thing we do in psychology. For example, you can observe that if you scare a person they have some type of reaction, it may vary from a scream or a jump. We test this and find out that every time a person gets scared, the same region in everybody's brain gets activated. We come to the conclusion that the amygdala is responsible for fear.
When a person sees a doctor for treatment for depression, and the medication does not work, they are referred to a psychologist. Sometimes, medications do not work. Therapy with a psychologist is used as a medication even though it is not something you take orally.
In psychology, we observe things and test them, just as we do in physics, biology, and so on. So basically, Horgan is wrong when he says that psychology is an ironic science, because we are just starting!
Student 29 paper
In Defense of Sigismund Schlomo Freud
In the Undiscovered Mind, John Horgan refers to Mr. Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory and various aspects of it, such as, dream interpretations, the id, the ego, etc. Yet he refuses to mentioned the superego. This is tataumont to describing the external characteristics of a lemon without informing you that, oh by the way, the liquid within it is very sour in taste. For that reason I feel compelled to express and describe the importance of mentioning the superego if you are going to talk about the Psychoanalytic Theory. The Psychoanalytic Theory of Sigmund Freud evolved because of a combination of reasons. Some of these reasons were his observation of patients who consulted him, his knack of interpreting his dreams and theirs, his self –analysis and finally his insatiable curiosity of seeking out books on the sciences and humanities. His theory which revolves around sex and aggression, suggests that there are two levels of mental life, the unconscious and the conscious. This is what he called his topographical model. He thus defined the unconscious as possessing our drives, instincts or urges that are incapable of being detected by our awareness (conscious). Freud believed that it was these entities that motivated our feelings, actions and selection of words. Ironically, the consciousness which is that part of our mental life that we are aware of is really only an insignificant factor in Freud’s analytical theory.
About 20 years later Freud refined his theory to now include a structural model of the mind. This new model has three distinct entities. The id, which is primitive and doesn’t interface with reality, is at the heart of the personality. It has only one function and that is to transform anxiety into pleasure, thus it is often said that it is the servant to the pleasure principle. It is Freud’s belief that the ego initially grew out of the id and serves the reality principle because it interfaces with reality. Of the three parts of the personality, it is the only one that makes decisions. It has this capability because it can interface partially with the unconscious and preconscious even though it is only partially conscious. As the executor of the personality, the ego is constantly involved in a balancing act. The ego makes its decision by carefully considering the unrealistic demands of both the id and the superego all the while considering the realistic demands of the real world in which it finds itself in. Finally the third entity is the superego. It is a servant of the moralistic and idealistic ideal. Unlike the ego which grows out of the id, the superego grows out of the ego. Unlike the id or ego, the superego has two levels, the conscience and the ego-ideal. Of these two levels of the superego, the conscience tells us what not to do because of past experiences with punishment. While from experiences, the ego-ideal tells us what to do in order to gain rewards.
To Freud, the various levels of mental life define the composition of the personality and because of this he proposed that the personality itself also did something. Hence he set forth his postulation to explain people’s action. He described it as a dynamic or motivational principle. He speculated that psychical and physical energy emerges from basic drives within a person in order to reduce anxiety and tension because people are always motivated to seek pleasure. There are two major headings for these drives: sex (libido) and aggression and they originate in the id.
Freud proposes that the defense mechanisms used by people are implemented by the ego. In this manner psychic energy has to be expended thus there is less energy to satisfy the impulses of the id. There are eight defense mechanisms: repression, reaction formation, displacement, fixation, regression, projection, introjections and sublimation. Repression occurs when the ego is threatened by dangerous id impulses. It then represses these harmful feelings into the unconscious. Reaction formation occurs when one of the repressed feelings has disguised itself and reappears in a form opposite of what it was when it was repressed. Displacement occurs when disguised impulses are redirected to external objects. Fixation occurs when the next step in psychical growth appears laden with anxiety. The ego then basically refuses to continue on until the anxiety has been removed. Regression occurs when there is too much stress in a person’s life that causes them to regress to an earlier stage of development. Projection is a way of ridding oneself of anxiety by casting it onto another person or thing. Introjections are a way of incorporating into oneself the good qualities that were originally external to the individual.
Freud proposed that there were three stages of development for the newborn infant. He designated this period as the infantile stage of development. In these stages, the child supposedly possesses a sexual life and proceeds up to the age of four or five through a period prudential sexual development. The oral stage is the first stage of development and it occurs within the first year. The sexual aim of this early oral activity is to accept into its body the object it desires, mainly the mother’s nipple. The second stage of development is the anal stage. This occurs in the second year of life of the infant. During this stage, the anus is the pleasure center and satisfaction is accomplished by aggressive behavior and through excretory functions. The phallic stage occurs during the age of 3-4 years. It is at this time that the genital area becomes the leading erogenous zone and masturbation enters a second crucial phase.
Now with regard to Freud, just like us, he also had the ability to think, to be mobile, to experience the gamut of emotions and the need to be loved. In his lifetime, he experienced many personal crisis and dissapointments that ladened him with anxieties, hence, it was these anxieties that drove him to seek pleasure and this pleasure could only come to be if he fulfilled his desires. Thus, when I hear that he is being compared to or referred to as a conquistador, I don't think that those people that are saying that really understand what the man was going through in his life.
Student 37 paper
Why would Freud believe he was capable of interpreting dreams?
After reading the notes from lectures 4 and 5 I realized how I did not agree with Freud when it came to interpreting the dreams of other people, along with his attempt to help the people understand the reasons why they had the dreams that they had. In the notes it is stated how Freud argues that dreams provide people with insight into the unconscious. Freud also describes how the “manifest content” is the consciously experienced part of a dream. Freud is referring to the vivid images and activities, which are often loaded with emotions, which a sleeping person visualizes during their dream. On the other hand, Freud also explains the “latent content” which contains the underlying conflict provoking ideas that present themselves under the appearance of the manifest content. Note that according to Freud personal relevance is found within the latent content. As a result, Freud proposed that every dream begins with a number of latent thoughts which the sleeping mind then transforms into the manifest content.
Moreover, Freud used dream analysis as an alternative to the seduction theory. Bear in mind that Freud’s new theory suggested that dreams represented the fulfillment of wishes. With this in mind, I then began to analyze all the interpretations Freud had made for its patients. The interpretations would not make sense to me. For instance, the patient who was considered to be an excellent hostess had a dream about being unprepared on the day of a party. Freud interprets this dream as the hostess wishing for this to come true, to prevent the other women from having an opportunity to eat her good food and gain weight. I strongly disagree with this ridiculous interpretation. No one is going to gain enough weight to get “curvy” by eating one meal. Inviting a person over to a party is not the only way a person can be feed. The women can eat enough food on her own and gain the weight. Notice how these interpretations are irrelevant. They do not provide strong evidence to support the statement being made.
In addition, Freud also goes into detail explaining his dream about his father’s death. Freud states how two repulsive ideas had been tied up in the latent content, which are the following: 1) the wish for his father’s death, and 2) the sensual/sexual desire for his mother. Freud then interprets this as the death of his father meaning the absence, which to me it is the same thing, and the sexual desire for his mother as seeking for attention from his mother. I do not understand how Freud can make these connections to interpret the dreams and their meanings. A person can have better dreams with other actions symbolizing affection for a mother, rather than something sexual.
To conclude, after analyzing all this data, I get the impression that perhaps Freud had no clue of what he was doing when he considered himself interpreting the dreams of others. I kind of get a sense that Freud would come up with interpretations of the dreams to what he wanted to believe. Indeed, according to one of my past professors from a psychology class, dreams are nothing meaningful. Dreams are made up of thoughts a person had throughout the day.
Student 14 paper
Will Freud ever really die?
When this question arose in chapter two it really made me think if Freud would actually ever die. Although he is not literary with us his memory and theories seem to continue to be loved as well as hated. Many of the people who do not like him seem to keep him alive. They try to prove Freud wrong by proving certain points that do not make sense to them at all. Then there is those people who love Freud and try to prove that many of his beliefs can be proven to be right. In the Undiscovered Mind by John Horgan he describes what Richard Webster believes of the situation of why Freud has not yet died, he says "Psychoanalysis persist because science has been unable to deliver an obviously superior theory of and therapy for the mind. That is why Freud isn't dead yet" (p.51). To me this made a lot of sense and this is why. It's very true that many scholars attack Freud, they seem to only focus on the criticizing of other scholars and trying to make a even better criticism then the person before. They do not realize that they are keeping Freud alive. I think that they should instead focus on trying to come up with a better theory like Webster mentioned. But of course if a new theory was to be conducted I believe that Freud would still not die. I believe this because each new theory that would be conducted would have to be compared to that of Freud's and his beliefs. I feel as if Freud is the base of psychology and therefore each new theory or belief will have to be compared to his. For this reason i believe that Freud will never die! The same people that despise him are the ones that will keep him alive, and the ones that follow him just help make his theories understandable by giving us examples and situations that make his theories somewhat correct to the eyes of those that want to believe. of course this is just my opinion others may believe that eventually Freud will not be talked about and a new theory will take over. My question then is wont the new theory have to be compared to Freud's? If so then he will never die.
Student 4 paper
Why Freud isn’t Dead
Freud was a theoretician who explored a vast new realm of the mind, the unconscious, the philosopher who identified childhood experience as the crucible of character, and the therapist who
invented a specific form of treatment, psychoanalysis. Ever since Freud invented psychoanalysis, critics have viciously attacked it as a pseudoscience and pseudo-medicine. In Horgan’s book, The
Undiscovered Mind, he states that the persistence of psychoanalysis confirms why “Freud Isn’t Dead”. Psychoanalysis has persisted not because it has been empirically validated but because science hasn’t
yielded an obviously superior theory of and treatment for the mind.
Anti-Freudians argue that psychoanalysis has no more scientific standing than phlogiston, the pseudo-substance that 18th-century physicist believed was released during combustion. The
reason physicists do not continue to debate the phlogiston hypothesis is that it was made absolutely obsolete by the advances in chemistry like the discovery of oxygen. A century’s worth of research in mind-
science has not yet yielded a paradigm that has been powerful enough to hinder Freud, once and for all. If psychoanalysis is the equivalent of phlogiston, as claimed by anti-Freudians, so are all of its would-
In 1975, the psychologist Luborsky et all reviewed studies of major psychotherapies and concluded that all were roughly as effective or ineffective as each other. To dramatize this finding, the
authors quoted the Dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. After observing a footrace the Dodo says, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes!” Studies indicating the superiority of a particular
approach, Luborksy demonstrated in a later study from an “allegiance effect” the tendency of researchers to find evidence for the therapy that they already favor.
The dodo and the allegiance effects is true for both talking cures like psychoanalysis, but also for drug treatments, which many large-scale clinical trials have shown are no more effective than
talking cures at treating anxiety, depression or other common disorders. Many patients, and all health insurers, favor short-term psychotherapies that target specific problems rather than psychoanalysis,
which typically lasts years and calls for as many as five one-hour, $100, sessions per week. Furthermore, many psychiatrists and other M.D’s are increasingly prescribing medication in preference to
psychotherapies. In a recent report from the New York Times, many of this country’s major proponents of the benefits of psychopharmacology are great for drug companies.
Criticism of Freud’s ideas about the mind has reached an increase in the 1990s. The Viennese neurologist’s ideas have been challenged since he founded psychoanalysis a century ago, and
although a few specific hypotheses have fallen out of favor, psychotherapists still tend to share two of Freud’s core beliefs: that the human psyche is shaped by childhood experiences and that it can be
reshaped through psychotherapy. Whether we agree or disagree with Freud, we all “speak the Freudian language.” For every book that attacks Freud, there is another that supports him and his ideas. Freud’s
influence is particularly strong in the social sciences and in the humanities. That’s why Freud isn’t dead.