Challenging Psychology

Challenging Psychology

We should question the assertions of psychologists, about psychology, in every case, shouldn’t we?

You don’t need to answer that. I’ve decided - I’m right - we should. That’s my first mistake.

Give or take?

I’m as persuasive as you allow me to be in some respect to some degree.

But if I’m ‘wrong’, who’s to judge? Me?

I’d have a critical case of infinite regress.

However, scientific authority over who is ‘right from the outset’ is vested by way of the practice of psychiatry. It tends to stifle originality of character, and engenders fear of speaking out in contradiction of a psychologist’s views.

Freedom of expression is incontrovertible by literal psychological ‘truths’, in spite of statements which appear to be logically self-contradictory ((such as ‘I am not me’) i.e. you are well within your rights to say it, and even mean it in an artistic context.)

Arguably, political philosophy, or ideological theory, might aspire to a scientific style of explanation for how economies, for example, should ideally behave, regardless of locality. In practice, we are overwhelmingly inclined to use our social skills in reason and argument in a local environment, based on a compassionate disposition of some kind, to enact political influence on human relations, in the context of everyday circumstances.

Politics relates to the wellbeing of communities. Contingently to historical events it has evolved with an ethics in mind, whereas there is no ethics built into the core of what could be termed ‘scientific advancement’. What are the central values of politics? Happiness. Health. Cooperation. Human relations. Conflict resolution. What are the central values of science? Technological knowhow. Description and understanding of constant physical laws of the material universe. The ends are not necessarily complementary to one another. Not because they are mutually exclusive in practical consequences in the real world, but because their essential nature as subjects of investigation belong to separate disciplines.

It’s not that science shouldn’t answer political or psychological questions. It isn’t equipped to address them to start with. There can be no scientific appraisal of mental wellbeing, whatever the personal state. There are scientifically rigid and effectible algorithms, equations, physical principles of mechanics, and elemental compounds in chemistry. When it comes to the psyche, there are points of view on the nature of causal relations in human endeavour.

A psychologist or psychiatrist has to have vigilance in an effort to eject the assumption of scientific validity and work ‘below the bar’ of the status afforded by the legal system. The ‘subject’ or ‘patient’ has a sound contribution, one which shouldn’t be superseded as a matter of course by the psychologist’s opinion (of course), not defeated by an assumption of correctness (am I right?)

It is reasonable to express the statement ‘the sum of the three interior angles of a triangle is 180 degrees’ as a scientific fact. The same can’t be said of matters of the psyche. However truth may inhere in the discourse of psychology, it is of a different order to scientific fact. I think this delineation should be recognised.

The subject matter is too phenomenal, anomalous, necessarily convoluted and un-pin-down-able. Like the subject’s (and the psychologist’s) emotions - which shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed - I’m talking about during the interview - not afterwards with the academic write-up!! (Sorry, I’m getting emotional.)

Jurisdiction over forms of behavioural expression are extended to a discipline with pretensions to scientific verifiability. The subject is ‘psychology’, but the division of studies it should be established in is ‘arts and humanities’. Philosophy is stumped as to the nature of the mind in any concrete terms (you may laugh, but for at least 20 centuries, they’ve been analysing it.) Literature and prose enlightens, however abstract the portraiture.

Science deduces hardcore certainties through mathematics, and at the other end of the spectrum, builds firm knowledge in biology (understanding of the organisation of systems in organic processes).

Psychology is seen as a branch of biology which describes mental operations. Psychiatry goes so far as to make evaluations and be prescriptive on the subject.

Can you say ‘the mind is perceptive’ in the same way as you can say ‘a molecule is a combination of atoms’? A person’s anatomy can be described physically. Their intentions may only be described in figurative language. What someone intends now is not set in stone, it will change.

Where the motive is human, an emotional aspect is elementary, and is in a state of flux, like our responses to a piece of recorded music, rather than the actual record. In psychology, the concept of ‘motivation’ is key, hence the subject matter is constantly varying.

Psychiatry has a licence to confront psychological issues…creatively of remedial measures to heal the mind. Psychology is an art which ought to aspire to deliver subjective truth, rather than attain objective knowledge, about the mind. Or else it lays claim to a law-like position, rather than an informed and reasoned, yet fallible perspective. A bit like this one.




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