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67,782 Words On:

A Critical and Creative View of

Psychology and Related Concepts

 

Website Created in August 2008

By David Alderoty

Phone (212) 581-3740

E-mail is RunDavid@Verizon.net

 

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This Book Contains Sound Recordings Of The Text

This e-book contains narrations of the text, which is recorded in audio files. If you want to listen to the sound recordings, left click on the hyperlinks that appear on the beginning of each chapter.The following is an example of one of these hyperlinks.

 

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Click on only one link at a time.(Note, in some cases, it can take one or two minutes for the sound files to download, after you click on the hyperlink.)

Incidentally, the sound recordings were produced with text-to-speech software, but the voice you hear sounds like a professional announcer.However, you might occasionally hear a slight pronunciation error.

 

Instructions On How To Open Footnotes

To read the footnotes in this book, left click on the numbers that appear in the sentences with footnotes.To return to the main text after reading a footnote, see the instructions below.

 

Instructions On How To Return To The Main Text After Reading A Footnote Or Viewing Another Website

To return to the main text of this book, after reading a footnote, or viewing another website, click on the left arrow on the upper, left portion of your screen, one or more times, until you are back to the book's main text.Clicking on the left arrow can also return you to the table of contents, from various sections of the book. ††

 

 

The Best Way To Use This E-Book Is With Internet Searches

The ideal way to use this e-book is to read the topics of your choice, and then do an Internet search with Google, or Yahoo, to determine the latest expert opinions about the topics.If you want to access information from the scientific journals, do your searches with Google scholar.To access the three search engines mentioned above, click on the following hyperlinks.

 

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Sophisticated Internet Searches

If you want to carry out sophisticated searches for websites and Internet videos on psychology, the following web link will be very helpful for you.When you left click on this web link it will take you to one of my websites that contains a number of unique search strategies, many conventional and specialized search engines, directories, and search pages, including Internet videos, for the psychological sciences.

www.Tech-For-Text.com/SP

 

 

About The Book

Some of the material in this e-book is in a rough draft format, and portions are study notes that I created for college studies.This material was modified and converted into a website in August 2008.

†††† The original material was written for a course in psychology.The questions used at the beginning of the chapters 1 to 25 are a modified version of the questions that the professor of the course provided.Chapter 15, (A Two Stage Model of Role Development) was written for a writing course.This paper was slightly modified so it would fit into the context of this book.Chapter 24, (An Interpretation of the Myth of Mental Illness and My View of the Problem) was written for a course on social problems.This paper also was slightly modified so it would fit into the context of this book.

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

The Table Of Contents Consists Of A Series Of Hyperlinks

The following table of contents consists of a series of hyperlinks, and it serves as a good outline of this book.Left click with the mouse on the link to go to the section of the book you are interested in reading.

 

Table of Contents

Read All The Instructions First How To Use This E-Book 2

This Book Contains Sound Recordings Of The Text 2

Instructions On How To Open Footnotes 3

Instructions On How To Return To The Main Text After Reading A Footnote Or Viewing Another Website_ 3

The Best Way To Use This E-Book Is With Internet Searches 4

Sophisticated Internet Searches 6

About The Book_ 6

The Table Of Contents Consists Of A Series Of Hyperlinks 7

Introduction_ 19

Introductory Note_ 19

The Perspective of this Book_ 21

Chapter 1:Is psychology a science?Is it one science or many sciences? Should psychology be a science in all situations?Is Psychology a Science? 37

Psychology is a science by definition.A discipline that incorporates scientific methods of experimentation and observation. 37

Is psychology one science or many sciences?66

Should psychology be a science in all situations?68

Chapter 2: The parts of the brain that are most important for the following human functions are discussed in this article: vision, speech (expressive and receptive), locomotion, sensation, thinking, hunger and thirst, sexual arousal and behavior, sleep and waking, the emotions (joy, rage, etc.). 74

Occipital Cortex_ 74

Broca's Area_ 79

Wernicke's Area_ 82

Motor Projection Area_ 83

General Sensory Area, also called the Somesthetic Area_ 86

Cerebral Cortex_ 89

Hypothalamus, and its Supraoptic Nucleus and Ventromedial Nucleus 91

Posterior Nucleus of the Hypothalamus 92

Reticular Formation and the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus 93

Limbic System, and Hypothalamus 96

Chapter 3: Can we choose our own motives? 98

Chapter 4: How is human learning different from the learning of lower animals?Are there any similarities?How does it compare to chimpanzee learning?What is distinctly human? 113

How is human learning different from the learning of lower animals? 113

Are there any similarities between_ 118

human learning and animal learning? 118

What aspects of learning are distinctly human?124

Chapter 5: Are we perceiving the real world? 127

Chapter 6: Why do we forget things?What would life be like if we never forgot anything?Or if we never remembered anything? 143

I will modify and advance the above model of memory, by showing (or perhaps postulating) that there are many types of memory, which relate to different types of sensory input. 149

Why do we forget things? 157

What would life be like if we never forgot anything? 174

What would life be like if we never remembered anything? 182

Chapter 7: Can we create a computer that is intelligent as a human being?Would it be conscious? 185

Can we create a computer that is intelligent as a human being? 185

Would it be conscious? 201

Chapter 8: What would humans be like without language? 205

Chapter 9: What human functions and characteristics seem to you most likely to be biologically determined and hereditary in relation to intelligence? 213

Intelligence and Related Factors 213

Chapter 10: Are there any biologically determined factors that relate to human behavior 267

What are the biological factors that relate to behavior in babies? 273

Chapter 11:Is sexual orientation biologically determined? 276

Chapter 12: Are mental disorders biologically determined?Is there a biological cause for mental disorders?318

Chapter 13: Are Humans Basically Competitive or Cooperative? 324

Chapter 14: Is the perspective of the sociobiologist correct?(Is Darwinian evolution involved with the formation of human behavior patterns?)Or is the evolutionary process involved with human behavior really sociocultural in nature?374

Chapter 15: A Two Stage Model of Role Development 386

DEFINITIONS AND PREVIEW_ 386

Part one: A Two Stage Model of Role Development 393

Introduction_ 393

The First Stage, Development of a Predisposition for a Role_ 396

Second Stage, the Development of a Predisposition into a Role_ 411

Part two: Now this Model can be Advanced Further 442

More About, the First Stage, Predispositions443

More About, the Second Stage, Role Development 461

Chapter 16: Goffman saw much social interaction as "impression management." Can you think of any social interactions that do not involve impression management? 487

Chapter 17: What are the causes of prejudice?What is theauthoritarian personality type?What are its characteristics?Does this phenomenon adequately account for prejudice or are there other explanations? 498

What is the authoritarian personality type?What are its characteristics? 498

Chapter 18: Is Piaget's theory of cognitive stages correct? 569

1) Sensory-Motor Intelligence_ 571

2) Preoperational Period_ 581

3) Concrete Operations 592

4) Formal Operations 595

Is Piaget's theory of cognitive stages correct?595

Chapter 19: Is Bowlby's claim correct.That is, any disturbance in the attachment of the young child to the primary caregiver will have serious adverse impact on later mental health and social adjustment?What are the implications for social institutions and policies, such as day-care and working mothers? 604

Chapter 20: Are intelligence tests fair?625

Chapter 21: Are projective tests and personality inventories valid indicator of emotion, motivation, or other personal characteristics? 652

Chapter 22: Freud saw sexuality as a key to understanding human motivation.Are Freud's theories applicable in our modern culture? 682

Part Two_ 701

Freud saw sexuality as a key to understanding human motivation. 714

Are Freud's theories applicable in our modern culture? 720

Chapter 23: Is the concept of mental illness a useful way of conceptualizing mental disorders and emotional problems?721

The concept of mental illness, is it useful or deceiving? 722

The terminology MENTAL ILLNESS_ 786

Are some mental and emotional problems better seen as illnesses than others? 788

Chapter 24:An Interpretation of the Myth of Mental Illness and My View of the Problem. 828

A Description of this Chapter 829

An Interpretation of the Myth of Mental Illness and My View of the Problem_ 833

Part One_ 833

My Interpretation and View_ 833

"1. Strictly speaking, disease or illness can affect only the body; hence, there can be no mental illness." 833

Part Two_ 928

The Problem Mental Illness, Myth or Reality_ 928

Chapter 25: Which of the various schools of therapy are the best and which are the worst.Are some therapies appropriate for some problems and not others or does one size (kind) fit all. 956

What is the best therapy?And what is the worst therapy?There are no precise answers to the first question and the second question will be answered later in this text.The reason there is no precise answer to the first question is as follows. 956

Which types of therapy best fit which problems?1030

Chapter 26: The concluding statement: it is apparent from the previous twenty-five chapters thatpsychology needs a scientific approach specifically designed for the human behavior sciences. 1052

Concluding Words 1085

 


 

Introduction

Introductory Note

NOTE (The words: chapter, paper and article are used as synonyms in this book.The words he and she, him and her, himself and herself, are also used as synonyms, when the terms apply to ahypothetical person.)The book is written with the assumption that the reader already has a background in psychology, but it will most likely be partly understandable to readers that are not knowledgeable in the discipline.Reading a section of a chapter might be confusing, even for a person with a solid background in the subject, because some of the papers contain: counter arguments, original ideas, new terminology or wording used in unusual ways.Thus, to (totally) comprehend the ideas in each article it is generally necessary to read them from beginning to the very end.However, each paper is an independent unit and can be easily understood without reading preceding chapters.††

 

The Perspective of this Book

Many of the ideas presented in this book represent the generally accepted views of psychology.However, there are many statements that challenge some of these ideas, and some of the perspectives presented are unique to this volume.The reason for this is as follows.

††††† Psychology contains many ideas that were created by great people that were more philosophers than scientists.This resulted in many theories and therapies that are not totally keeping with the realities of the normal and abnormal behaviors of human beings.On the other hand, many individuals tried to take a truly scientific approach to psychology and made the error of following the scientific philosophy and approach of the physicist and chemist, which can result in very limited perspectives of human awareness, motivation, and values.In fact, many of these attempts at being scientific involved studying animals, which certainly do not have the qualities that are associated with being human.Animals do not have human: culture, technology, values or the ability to think, understand, and communicate in terms of language.††

††††† An important point to understand is the approach of the physicist and chemist was created to deal with very simple entities, such as subatomic particles or chemicals.The rules of the hard sciences work well for simple entities that are all identical, such as electrons, neutrons, and protons.These rules do not work when the entities are very complicated and all different, such as with human beings.The simple entities studied by the hard scientists generally do not change, and when they do it is in relatively simple ways that can be precisely measured.Human beings are always changing.A conversation can change a person's views or philosophy in ways that are not predictable, because of the complexity of the human mind.Thus, the rules for the hard sciences work very effectively for the purpose that they were created for.But these rules do not always work very well with the human behavior sciences. When these rules are applied to the study of human behavior and the mind, the results can be a lower level of precision than can be obtained from commonsense experience.The scientific rules designed for subatomic particles and chemicals cannot even recognize human feelings.Thus, additional imperfect therapeutic methods and theories of human behavior were created by some of those who were trying to be scientific.

††††† However, most of the therapies and theories in psychology are partly correct.They sometimes work, but they often fail also[1].Thus, this is the reason I challenge some of the ideas and present some alternative perspectives in this book.†† Hence, the theme that runs through this book is critical (the challenging) and creative (the alternative perspectives).This theme runs through the book from the beginning until the twenty-sixth concluding chapter.

††††††† The first chapter deals with the question: is psychology a science?Chapter 2, deals with a section of psychology that definitely is a science.The parts of the brain that are most important for various psychological processes, such as vision, speech, locomotion, sensation, thinking, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal, sleep, waking and emotions.The third chapter deals with human motivations from a unique perspective, that is: can we choose our own motives?Chapter 4, contains a comparison of human and animal learning.The fifth chapter answers the question: are we seeing the real world?Chapter 6, deals with a theoretical model of memory and answers some related questions.The seventh chapter discusses the possibility of developing a computer that is as intelligent as a human being.Chapter 8, answers the question: what would human beings be like without language?The ninth chapter deals with the nature, nurture issue of intelligence, and related ideas.Chapter 10, answers the question: are there any biological components that relate to behavior?The eleventh chapter deals with the question: is sexual orientation biologically determined?Chapter 12, answers the questions: are mental disorders biologically determined?†† And is there a biological cause for mental disorders?The thirteenth chapter answers the question: are humans basically competitive or cooperative?Chapter 14, answers the question: is the perspective of the sociobiologist correct?That is, is Darwinian evolution responsible for the creation of shared behavior patterns in human beings, or is the development of such patterns the result of sociocultural evolution.The fifteenth chapter contains a discussion of a two stage model of role development.Chapter 16, discusses Goffman's perspective on impression management and answers related questions. The seventeenth chapter deals with the problem of prejudice.Chapter 18, discusses Piaget's theory of cognitive stages, and the weaknesses in his model.The nineteenth chapter deals with Bowlby's ideas, in relation to separation of children from their primary care giver.Chapter 20, deals with the question: are intelligence tests fair?The twenty-first chapter deals with projective tests and personality inventories.This paper focuses on the accuracy of these evaluation methods, and suggests possible alternative methods of evaluation.Chapter 22, is a discussion of Freud's ideas, and questions the validity of some of his theories.The twenty-third chapter answers the question: is the concept of mental illness a useful way of conceptualizing mental disorders and emotional problems?Chapter 24, is a discussion centered around Thomas Szasz's book The Myth of Mental Illness.This chapter questions the validity of the concept of illness in relation to mental disorders.The twenty-fifth chapter discusses psychotherapy and answers related questions.

††††† It becomes apparent from the twenty-five chapters that what psychology needs is a scientific approach specifically designed for the human behavior sciences.The last chapter (twenty-six) of this book deals with this idea.


 

Chapter 1:Is psychology a science?Is it one science or many sciences? Should psychology be a science in all situations?Is Psychology a Science?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

NOTE(The words pure science, hard science and true science are used as synonyms in the following paragraphs.)

 

Psychology is a science by definition.A discipline that incorporates scientific methods of experimentation and observation.

 

However, psychology is not a pure science.Psychology differs from the hard sciences in many ways, such as the degree of predictability of experimental results.It is not possible to predict with certainty how a human being, or even an animal, will behave under a given set of conditions.A counter argument to this, is experimental results in psychology are usually reproducible.This argument fails because the results are often based on statistical results with a significant percentage of the subjects responding in a non-predictable way, which is not typical of a pure science.With a hard science, such as chemistry it is possible to predict with certainty how two chemicals will react under a given set of environmental conditions.A counter argument to this, is that chemistry cannot predict precisely how an individual atom will react at a given instant in time.However, this argument fails because the entities that are studied in chemistry are chemicals, and the chemist does not make predictions about the behavior of an individual atom.The same is true in physics.The physicist does not make predictions about the behavior of an individual subatomic particle.Another counter argument, is the theories of some of the hard sciences, such as chemistry and physics, are not perfect predictors of results, and are no more precise than many psychological theories.This argument fails also, because the hard sciences are based on experimental evidence that has been verified a large number of times.The chemist can tell in advance, which theoretical models will work with a particular chemical reaction and, which theories will fail to predict the final results of the reaction.The psychologist cannot tell in advance, which theories will predict actual results on a given individual and, which theories will fail to predict the true outcome.Another counter argument is scientists working with advanced experimental chemistry and physics cannot make predictions that are any better than psychologists working with human beings.This argument also fails, because results that are not predictable are not considered valid proof of a reaction in the hard sciences.The experimental proof becomes valid when it can be reproduced in a predictable way.And then it may become part of the generally accepted literature in the field of chemistry and physics.Contrast this with psychology, which generally cannot make any precise predictions.Rather imprecise experimental results can become part of the literature of psychology.

††††† There are many other factors that rule psychology out as a true science.Some of these factors are discussed in the following paragraphs.

†††† It is not always possible or practical to deal with human beings as objects of a scientific study.Experimental results may be influenced by the expectations of the experimenter, and the subjects may be influenced by what they believe the experimenter wants of them[2].Of course some of the difficulties with psychological experimentation can sometimes be avoided by carefully planning the experiment, such as using double blind methods, and a uniformed representation of the population that is being studied.

††††† The latter is seldom used in psychology; most experimental subjects are not a representative sample of the general population.They are usually young college students[3].College students are really a very unusual segment of our society.This might not be apparent to the experimenter who most likely works on a college campus.However, if we list some factors that relate to most college students we become aware of the unusual circumstances of this population.Most college students are young, recently left home to attend school and are single.This population is facing a very challenging and anxiety provoking set of circumstances.†† They are trying to obtain academic success, and most are involved in the mate selection process.This generally results in partial failure and some rejection, which is coupled with partial success and some acceptance.In addition, less than half of the general population attends college.The college environment contains more middle and upper class people than the general population.This was even more true when many of the older psychological studies were carried out in the 40's 50's 60's and 70's.Thus, any psychological experimentation carried out with college students as subjects would only apply to the population of college students, from a scientific perspective.Of course, the same results, might be obtained if individuals from the general population were used, but it is unreasonable and unscientific to assume this to be true.Most likely if the many experiments that were carried out in psychology were tried on the general population different results would be obtained in at least some cases.

††††† The counter argument to the points made in the above paragraph, are as follows:The practices described are simply poor experimental procedures.However, this argument fails because material based on these poor procedures was printed and became part of the literature on psychology.In the hard sciences, such poorly performed experiments generally would not be published.

††††† A truly scientific approach to psychological experimentation would involve either a representative sample of the population as subjects, or the study of a target population, such as senior citizens, middle-aged people, college students, prisoners, mental patients, etc.And of course, when experimental subjects are selected from such a target population the results would apply only to that population, from a scientific perspective.This might not be so from a specific philosophical perspective that is less restricted than a scientific approach.

††††† Some of the ideas in psychology, can be more accurately classified as philosophy, rather than science, such as psychoanalytic theory and humanistic psychological approaches.††† These philosophical ideas generally cannot be measured and evaluated with experimental methods, which is the very reason that they are not classified as scientific.The counter argument to this is that the philosophy is not psychology, but psychologists use this philosophy in their practice and it is found in books on psychology.Thus, the counter argument is a weak one.Another counter argument to the above is that the physical sciences contain some philosophy.Most of the philosophy in the physical sciences relates to the methodologies used (such as the experimental method) and the goals of scientific research.The hard sciences contain very few ideas that cannot be at least partly confirmed by either observation or direct and/or indirect experimental methods.Thus, this argument is also a weak one.

††††† Other reasons psychology is not a pure science, is because there are a huge number of factors that can influence human responses.Perhaps, the primary reason is each human mind is different from every other mind.This is even true with animals to some extent.The pure science of chemistry can be used as a comparison once again.For example, one batch of pure hydrogen is chemically identical to any batch of hydrogen, with the same level of purity.†† The fact that chemicals with the same name are identical, makes it easy for the chemist to make accurate predictions, and the fact that all human beings are different, makes it almost impossible for the psychologist to make any accurate predictions.

††††† The psychologist is sometimes dealing with mental processes that cannot be directly observed, such as how the individual feels, what the individual is thinking, what the subject believes, how intelligent a person is.Of course, there are indirect ways of evaluating and measuring all of the above, but this is not the type of absolute observation and measurement that is typical of the hard sciences.

††††† The mathematical precision of the hard sciences generally ranges from three to ten places[4].The precision of psychology is at best, one or two places.But usually its accuracy is much lower, such as with certain testing methods, which have an accuracy of only 50 to 20 percent.(See the articles on psychological testing, chapters 20 and 21)This low level of accuracy should not be confused with statistical significance.Experimental results in psychology can sometimes have a very high level of statistical significance, but this does not necessarily relate to the precision of the hypothetical model that is being tested.A high level of statistical significance only means that it is highly unlikely that the experimental results could happen from random chance.That is, a hypothetical model that was tested could have been very inaccurate, but the experimental results could have a very high level of statistical significance.

†††† The psychologist has very poor measuring devices, such as the Rorschach inkblot and IQ tests.Often a detailed interview of a subject can provide more accurate information than the measuring devices available to the psychologist.This is especially true when interviews are carried out over a number of sessions.That is, interviews can reveal actual behavior patterns, strengths and weaknesses that manifest in real life situations.However, the interviews, even if coupled with the best psychological measuring devices does not approach the precision that the hard scientist can obtain.Thus, psychology is typical of the other human behavior sciences, such as sociology, organizational behavior and anthropology, which can be called the soft sciences.

††††† All of the above can be a disadvantage when psychology is applied to a practical problem, because the results are not predictable.Contrast this with a hard science, such as physics.The laws of physics can be applied to the construction of a skyscraper costing hundreds of millions of dollars with no fear of failure.The engineer applying the principles of physics can be extremely certain of his results.He may place hundreds of tons of steel and concrete above the heads of hundreds of human beings.This is true confidence and it is justified by the precision of the pure sciences.The practitioner who applies the principles of psychology cannot have this type of confidence.

††††† There is a relatively simple way of dealing with the uncertainties of psychology, when applied to practical problems.In each situation that a theory or method of psychology is applied to a problem, it can be considered an experiment.The results are carefully evaluated to see if the problem truly was solved by the psychological methodology that was applied.If the method failed modification of the technique or substitution of a different theory or method should be applied to the problem.And the effort can be repeated, modifying both theory and technique, until the problem is solved.

 

Is psychology one science or many sciences?

There are many different schools of psychology, such as behaviorism, psychoanalytic theory, Gestalt psychology, humanistic therapies, etc.Each school has essentially a philosophy associated with it.The different schools of psychology do not necessarily agree with each other.Thus, it could be argued that psychology is a number of related disciplines, which certainly are not pure sciences.

††††† It is interesting, to contrast psychology and its many schools, with the hard sciences.There are many different subdivisions of physics, but there is essentially no disagreement between the generally accepted theories from the different subdivisions.This is also true with chemistry.In fact, the theories of chemistry are to a considerable degree based on physics.In a sense, all the hard sciences are really one science.However, psychology can be thought of as a number of related soft sciences, which do not totally agree with each other.

 

Should psychology be a science in all situations?

In the laboratory psychology should always be a science.However, when psychology is applied to certain problems, it is not always an advantage to be scientific.The application of psychology in terms of psychotherapy is often quite unscientific[5].In general, psychotherapy is more of an art than a science.This is not necessarily undesirable in all cases.Human beings are not physical objects.They are conscious beings who have philosophical belief systems.And the client in therapy may be seeking relief from a general set of life circumstances and/or their own irrational thinking processes.That is, a troubled person may not have a clearly defined problem that can be solved scientifically.Additional reasons why it might be better that psychology is not always scientific are the following.Trying to solve certain practical problems scientifically is time consuming and unnecessary.Most human beings probably would not like to be treated as a scientific object, which might result if the application of psychology was absolutely scientific.

††††† However, there are practical psychological problems that can be clearly defined and solved with scientific methods.It would probably be better if psychology became more scientific to treat such problems.

††††† I believe that psychology could become more of a science in the future.Just as the physical sciences advanced to higher levels of scientific perfection so can psychology.However, progress has been much slower in all the human behavior sciences, but these sciences do seem to be advancing.

 


Chapter 2: The parts of the brain that are most important for the following human functions are discussed in this article: vision, speech (expressive and receptive), locomotion, sensation, thinking, hunger and thirst, sexual arousal and behavior, sleep and waking, the emotions (joy, rage, etc.).

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

 

Occipital Cortex

The part of the brain that is most important for vision is the occipital cortex, located in the occipital lobe, which is in back of the cerebral hemisphere.To be more precise, there are two occipital lobes each containing an occipital cortex, one on each hemisphere.The right visual field of each eye is connected to the left occipital cortex.The same relationship exists for the left visual field of each eye.That is, the left visual field is connected to the right occipital cortex.

††††† A simplified summary of the neurological connections (starting with the right field) is from the right visual fields of each eye to the left optic nerves of each eye.The optic nerves meet at the optic chiasma.From this point on the connections are on the left hemisphere and involve the thalamus and then the left occipital cortex.†† The left visual fields have similar neurological connections and lead to the right side of the brain.

††††† Significant damage to any of the neurological connections or brain centers mentioned above can produce severe visual perceptional difficulties or blindness.Thus, it is really an oversimplification to say that the most important part of the brain for vision is the occipital cortex.

††††† NOTE (Incidentally, this is true with just about any portion of the brain.That is, in general it is an oversimplification to say that a particular region is the most important for a specific function, because the brain really is a single system.If any of the neurological connections to a region are disrupted the function controlled by that region will be disrupted.In addition, damage in any part of the brain is likely, (perhaps with some exceptions) to have some affect on all the other functions the brain performs.However, in many cases, the above may be either indirect and/or too small to measure easily.) END OF NOTE

††††

Broca's Area

The part of the brain that is most important for expressive speech is on the lower side of the left frontal lobe[6] and is called Broca's area.Broca's area is an association area.It controls the coordination of the muscles needed to communicate with language, such as spoken words and even writing.There is some evidence that it controls the muscles needed to communicate with hand motion as with sign language for the deaf.Damage in Broca's area does not paralyze the jaw, tongue, lips or larynx, or any muscles, but it prevents the precise unified control of the muscles needed to produce speech and written language*.†† And for the deaf, damage might prevent the precise muscle control of the hands and fingers when communicating with sign language.This condition, resulting from damage to Broca's area is generally called expressive aphasia.

††††† *NOTE (it is interesting to note, that Broca's area borders on the motor projection zone, which is involved with speech muscles, such as controlling the jaw, tongue, lips, larynx, etc.)

 

Wernicke's Area

The part of the brain that is most important for receptive speech is Wernicke's area.This region borders the auditory projection zone.Damage to Wernicke's area can result in a condition called receptive aphasia, which is associated with an inability to comprehend spoken language.The ability to use written language can also be impaired with this condition.

 

Motor Projection Area

The part of the brain that is most important for locomotion is the motor projection area, which is located on the frontal lobes of each hemisphere.More precisely, the upper portion of the motor cortex controls the muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, knees, thighs, hips and trunk.All of the above are needed for walking or running.And we can also add the section of the motor cortex that controls the arms and hands, which are needed for crawling, swimming, and climbing.The locations are approximately in the center of the motor cortex.That is, starting from the area that controls the trunk, which is followed by the arms, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.

††††† The section of the motor cortex on the left hemisphere controls the limbs on the right side.The same relationship exists for the right hemisphere; it controls the limbs on the left side.

†††† The above is of course an oversimplification.There are other sections of the brain that assist in locomotion.The primary motor cortex has connections that descend to the internal capsule, the midbrain, the pons, medulla and eventually lead to the spinal cord.

 

General Sensory Area, also called the Somesthetic Area

 

The part of the brain that is most important for sensation is the general sensory area, also called the somesthetic area.This area is located on the cerebral cortex just behind the primary motor area.However, certain sensations such as pain, temperature, touch can enter consciousness at the thalamus.The actual discrimination of sensation does take place in the cerebral cortex.This includes sensations that relate to the: position of the body and texture, shape, and size, of an object. The sensations that relate to, relative strength and location of stimuli also take place in the general sensory area of the cerebral cortex.

††††† There are two general sensory areas, one on the left side of the brain and the other on the right side.The left sensory area receives neurological impulses from the right side of the body.The same relationship exists for the left sensory area; it receives impulses from the right side of the body.†††

††††† The general sensory area is laid out similar to the motor cortex, with some slight differences.That is, starting from the upper portion and preceding downward, the layout is the following: the toes, feet, legs, trunk, arms head, hands, eyes, face, lips and tongue.

 

Cerebral Cortex

The part of the brain that is most important for thinking is the entire cerebral cortex especially the association areas.To think can require one or more of the following, and thus involves the corresponding brain centers:

      Taking in sensations from the external environment

      Visualizing

      Verbalizing

      Searching for memory traces of past experiences

      Making new associations between ideas

Even the motor cortex is involved with thinking.When an individual thinks there are generally slight muscular contractions of the skeletal muscles.Perhaps this is not always absolutely necessary for the thinking process.When one is thinking about a motor related task, the muscular contractions most likely assist in the thinking process.

 

Hypothalamus, and its Supraoptic Nucleus and Ventromedial Nucleus

 

The part of the brain that is most important for hunger and thirst is a structure in the base of the brain right above the pituitary gland and it is called the hypothalamus.To be more precise the region of the hypothalamus for thirst is called supraoptic nucleus.The region of the hypothalamus for hunger is the ventromedial nucleus.

 

Posterior Nucleus of the Hypothalamus

The part of the brain that is most important for sexual arousal and behavior is the hypothalamus.To be more precise it is the posterior nucleus of the hypothalamus.

 

Reticular Formation and the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

The part of the brain that is most important for sleep and waking is the reticular formation.The reticular formation is in the lower part of the brain and it is located inside the brainstem. It sends neurological impulses to the cerebral cortex to maintain the waking state.The sleeping state is maintained by essentially the opposite process of the waking state.The reticular formation sends less neurological impulses to the cerebral cortex.

††††††† In addition, a area on the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus is also important for sleep and wakefulness.It partly controls the circadian rhythm, which is essentially a 24 hour biological clock, which involves all of the following:

At the peak of wakefulness the body temperature reaches a high point, and vision, hearing, smell, taste and overall alertness are at the maximum point of sensitivity.Then there is a slow decline in all of the above including the body temperature.As the body temperature drops sleepiness increases.Generally during the sleeping period the body temperature reaches the low point.Then the body temperature starts to slowly rise.As the above rises so does alertness and the sensitivity of the sense organs.††

 

Limbic System, and Hypothalamus

The part of the brain that is most important for emotions, such as joy and rage, is the limbic system.The hypothalamus is also a primary area involved with emotion.Three areas in the limbic system that are specifically involved with emotion are the septum pellucidum, hippocampus and the amygdala.Two areas in the hypothalamus are the dorsomedial nucleus and the dorsal area.The dorsomedial nucleus controls aggressive behavior and the related emotions.The dorsal area is believed to be a pleasure center.


Chapter 3: Can we choose our own motives?

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

Our motives are very much the products of our human genetics and environment, and in this sense we cannot choose our own motives.For example the sensation of hunger is an inborn response, which is triggered when our body needs food.The type of food we attempt to obtain is very much related to the type of food we were exposed to in the past.That is, we learned to like certain foods, which is an environmental factor.

††††† We can examine this question even further as follows. Motives can be divided into two categories, primary and secondary.Primary motives are related to inborn responses that are automatically triggered when certain internal and/or external environmental conditions exist.These motives are also called biological motives and are found in all human cultures.Examples of these motives are hunger, thirst, sleepiness, sexual feelings, and desire to urinate or defecate.Our response to cold temperatures triggers a desire to warm up, and our response to warm temperatures triggers a desire to cool off.In addition, emotions can trigger motivations.The experience of fear or anger results in a desire to retreat or attack.All of these motives are activated under appropriate physiological conditions by the lower brain centers located in the hypothalamus and the limbic system.The psychoanalytic analogy to the above brain centers is the id.

††††† NOTE (An additional motive that might be primary is an exploratory or curiosity motive.This motivates exploration learning and problem solving.Such behavior is seen in animals without any special training.Thus, this motive might truly be an inborn motivation.)END OF NOTE

††††† The way the primary motives are satisfied can be controlled by the environment.This leads to secondary motivations, whichare learned.We may obtain an education to obtain a good job.The job is to obtain money for food and shelter.We might buy a fancy car and expensive clothes to attract a mate.The type of secondary motivations that develops in an individual is determined by environmental and cultural conditions.Thus, it is unlikely that an individual will have exactly the same secondary motivations as another individual.Secondary motives are obviously the result of the higher brain centers.The psychoanalytic analogy to these brain centers is the ego.

††††† The way we obtain both primary and secondary motives can befurther controlled by the moral and value system of the society in which we live.An obvious example is the values controlling the way sexual gratification can be obtained.The morals and values are obviously learned and the higher brain centers are obviously involved with this process.The psychoanalytic analogy to the relevant brain centers is the superego.

†††††† Thus, primary motives are determined by biological factors and secondary motives are determined by environmental and sociological factors.And in this sense we cannot choose our own motives, but in a different sense we can.†† We can sometimes create a motivation if we know how.The (unfortunate) example of addiction is obvious.A exposure to the addicting substance will cause a desire for the substance.With many drugs the addiction that develops is essentially a biological motive.The opposite can also happen.A individual who has a strong addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs can decide to abolish the motivation with appropriate therapy over a period of time.

††††† Constant exposure to certain activities over a period ofweeks, months or years can produce motivations under certain conditions.For example, a constant exposure to moderate exercise at approximately the same time each day can, for some people, produce a strong desire to continue the practice.

††††† Hypnosis, suggestion and other types of therapy can be used in certain situations to create secondary motivations.The abovecan be used to connect pleasant associations to a task.Hypnosis and other types of therapy can also be used to eliminate or reduce unpleasant associations that are related to a task.For example, stage fright can be reduced or eliminated.The above†† can also be used to make ourselves more aware of the benefits and/or costs of doing or not doing a particular task, such as homework.Thus, increasing or creating a motivation to perform the task.

†† ††††Another way we can choose or at least influence ourmotivations is by changing our environment.This includes the people we associate with.Our friends and acquaintances as well as the organizational structure that surrounds us can influence or change our feelings about engaging in certain activities.For example, if an individual joins an outdoor club she might develop a motivation for hiking and jogging.This would be more likely to happen if the individual made many friends in the new environment, the outdoor club.If the individual sees her newfriends jogging, she is more likely to want to jog.The desire to get involved with the jogging and other activities of the club would be further increased by the conversations with the new friends.

††††A counter argument, to the possibility of choosing our own motives, is as follows.If the person started out with no motivation to engage in a given activity, he would never apply the techniques needed to create the motivation.This argument is a weak one, because the motivation needed to apply the techniques (such as hypnosis or joining a club), is not the same as the motivation that eventually develops.This is unfortunately also true with addictive substances.For example, a teenager may start smoking to feel grown up and win the acceptance of peers.And he may continue smoking throughout life because of the acquired desire for nicotine.The desire for nicotine is a new motivation, which is very different from the original motive, which started the smoking habit.


Chapter 4: How is human learning different from the learning of lower animals?Are there any similarities?How does it compare to chimpanzee learning?What is distinctly human?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

How is human learning different from the learning of lower animals?

 

Human learning usually involves symbolic representations of objects, processes, and actions associated with entities.These representations are in the form of written and spoken language, as well as mathematical notation.Graphics such as drawings and photographs are also major factors used in human learning.Modern man also has methods of recording both symbolic and non symbolic information electronically.All of the above allows humans to pass on what was learned to other generations.None of the above are present in animals to any significant degree.

††††† With a few very minor exceptions, animals do not have the capability of using symbolic methods to transmit information, and they have no means of storing data on external media.One of the minor exceptions is monkeys can learn sign language and can learn to press buttons with symbols representing food, water, etc.The above are under laboratory conditions.Porpoises in the natural environment might have some type of language, which has not been unraveled.Bees have a method of communicating to other bees the location of nectar.This method can be thought of as a type of sign language, and it involves a series of dance like movements.However, the bees language is believe to be the result of instinct, not learning.

††††† Most animals appear to have inborn responses, called instincts.Some of these responses are quite complicated, such as a bird building a nest.However, if the assumptions of scientists are correct this behavior is not related to any type of learning.Humans do not appear to have any true instincts.(The sucking response of infants might be an exception.)Thus, humans must learn all the information they need for survival.The superior ability of human beings to learn, and store information on external media more than compensates for the lack of inborn information.

 

Are there any similarities between

human learning and animal learning?

 

Both animals and humans can learn from experience.Instrumental conditioning provides ample evidence that animals learn from experience.In the natural environment this type of learning is essential for survival.Animals learn from experience that certain foods will make them sick and other types of food are safe to eat.

††† ††Learning from experience often involves trial and error learning in animals, and this is also true to some extent with human beings.Animals try a tiny quantity of a new food and note its smell and taste (or color for certain species of birds).If they get sick they associate the smell and taste (or color) of that food with discomfort and no longer consume that food.If they do not get sick they try more of the food.Humans respond in similar ways to food, but this would probably be more apparent in a natural environment.

††††† In general trial and error learning is a major learning method of both humans and animals.We partly learned how to interact with others by trial and error.Some species of animals learn their relative power position in relation to other animals by a trial and error process.That is, they challenge each other in a battle.Most people who have mastered the operation of a computer partly learned how to operate it by trial and error.For humans, certain tasks are learned easier by trial and error, but with humans and some higher animals there is generally other types of learning involved, such as insight learning.

††††† Humans and chimpanzees are capable of insightful learning.This type of learning can involves an understanding of relationships between factors of a problem and what actions to take to solve it.This type of learning is not seen to any significant degree in most animals, with the exception of the chimpanzee and perhaps a few other species.††††

††††† One of the types of learning that is seen in most animalsand humans is cognitive learning.Cognitive learning is a rather general concept, and essentially all of the learning methods discussed above involve cognitive learning.Cognitive learning involves the attainment of bits of knowledge, which can be applied to a specific situation.The bits of information the animal learned can comprise a map of an area, such as seen in birds that can find their way home.This type of knowledge is called a cognitive map.In general, cognitive learning consists of bits of knowledge that indicate what actions will lead to a given result.The result could be finding the way to a nest or how to obtain food.

 

What aspects of learning are distinctly human?

As already stated, the aspects of learning that are distinctly human are the symbolic representation of information in terms of written and spoken language.Humans have many ways of storing information.Written language is just one method.Humans can store information with computer technology, video tape, photographic film, tape recordings, etc.†† And the point is thatall of the above is used in human learning.Animals do not have any means of recording information on external media.The method of learning opened to animals is experience from the environment.They can also pick up information from other animals in some cases.However, animals do not teach each other with the use of language.Put simply, animals cannot learn by reading or writing, and they cannot make use of spoken language in the learning process as human beings can.


Chapter 5: Are we perceiving the real world?

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

We experience a representation of the real world.This includes what we see, hear, feel, smell, etc.The representationwe experience is not the real world.The representation does not incorporate all of the information of the world around us.We can see visible light reflected off objects, but we have no direct sensation of other wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, such as infrared and ultraviolet.

††††† The representation that is projected onto the retina of the eye is called a proximal stimulus.The real object, which we have no way of experiencing directly is called the distal stimulus.These terms also apply to the other senses, such as smell, touch and hearing.

††††† What we experience is also determined by the surroundings of the distal stimulus (the real object).A simple example, is an object placed on different color backgrounds will be perceived at different levels of brightness.It will stand out more in some backgrounds than in others.If it is the same color as the background it might barely be visible.If there is a great difference in the background and the object, such as a red object on a green background, visibility will be essentially maximized.

††††† What we see is influenced by are culture and what we learned and experienced throughout life.That is, the representation that we perceive is influenced by prior learning.Our perception of an object can actually change as a result of learning.If we look inside an electronic device we may see a mass of meaningless components and a series of random connections.However, if we study electronics the components become individual objects that serve specific functions.And it becomes apparent, that the components have precise connections to each other.Another example, is the experience of an unfamiliar wilderness area.At first it might look like a randomly arranged mass of trees, soil, and rock.However, when the area becomes familiar, the random arrangement of naturally occurring objects starts to have meaning.We can tell one tree from another and the big boulder from the smaller one.This happens in relation to finding direction.We become aware of marked trails, and we also create our own trails in our minds.Still another example is the experience of listening to a foreign language, which we do not understand.The individual words and phrases sound essentially like a series of repetitive meaningless sounds.Of course, if we study the language the sounds will eventually be perceived as words and phrases.††

††††† Perhaps the most important component to consider is how we interpret the proximal stimulus, which is only a representation of the real object.As implied above, knowledge can influence are interpretation.Even our state of mind can influence bothour perception and interpretation.If we are hungry we might be more aware of the aroma of food.On the highway we might notice road signs indicating food with little effort.If we are in a bad mood we might interpret the actions of others more negatively.

††††† How can we circumvent the limitations of our brain, sense organs, and state of mind?That is, how can we increase the accuracy of the overall mental representation we have of an entity.The answers are in the following six paragraphs.

†††† 1) Keep in mind that we can only experience representations, and not actual objects.The more representations that we have of an object the greater the accuracy of our overall perception of that object will be.For example, if we look at a tree from one angle and at a fixed distance we will have a very inaccurate representation of that tree.However, if we examine the tree from different angles and distances, we will have a more accurate picture of the tree.

†††† 2) Another method of increasing the accuracy of the overall representation of an object is to evaluate it by using a number of senses.If we also touch and smell the tree we will have a still more accurate representation of that tree in our mind.The more senses we use to evaluate an object the more accurate our overall mental picture will be.

†††† 3) Another, method that we can add to this list is to use equipment, such as a magnifying glass, microscope, tape measures, etc. to evaluate an object.If we examine the leaves of our tree with a magnifying glass and a microscope we will have a still better picture of our tree.If we measure its circumference and height we will have an even better overall representation of that tree in our mind.

†††† 4) Still another method is to obtain the point of view of other people, especially experts.If we ask one or more experts to give us an opinion about the tree we would have even a better picture of our tree.If the expert's opinion agrees with ours, we probably have a very accurate overall representation of the tree.If there is disagreement about the nature of the tree or object in general, we would know that this object can be experienced and evaluated in different ways by others.

†††† 5) Another method of increasing the accuracy of the overall picture we have of an object is to gather information, which relates to that object.If we look up information on trees and find out the type of tree, and also gather other data, we will have a still better picture of the tree.

†††† 6) Still another method is to examine an object over time, such as hours, days weeks or years.When we first see an objectour state of mind can interfere with an accurate evaluation.By examining the object over a period of time we eliminate this problem.In addition, over time the object may change.Time allows us to examine the behavior of an entity.All of this would certainly give us a more accurate picture of the object.If we examine the tree throughout the year we will see how it changes with the four seasons.

††††† Even with all of the above we cannot be absolutely certain that we have a totally accurate mental picture of an entity.However, there are ways of testing the accuracy from a practical and even scientific point of view.If we can make accurate predictions about the entity, then we have at least a reasonably accurate representation of the entity.If we can predict the way the entity will react in certain relevant situations, we certainly have a good mental picture of the entity.For example, if our image of an employee is that of a reliable man, we can test the accuracy of the picture, simply by giving him a number of tasks, and see if he carries it out in a reliable way.


 

Chapter 6: Why do we forget things?What would life be like if we never forgot anything?Or if we never remembered anything?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

 

Before I answer this question it is necessary to explain the memory process.†† There is short term memory and long term memory according to the stage theory of memory.However, there may also be a sensory memory, which is part of some theoretical schemes (the model suggested by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin).The system works as follows.Information enters the sense organs and is stored in sensory memory (also called the sensory register) for a time interval ranging from a fraction of a second to a few seconds.NOTE (There might be some question as whether or not there really is a sensory memory (sensory register).We can evaluate this for ourselves.We can experience sensory memory by very quickly interrupting our line of sight.If this is done for a fraction of a second (1/10 or less) the image essentially does not disappear from site.We can achieve this by looking through a rapidly moving fan blade.The mechanism for sensory memory might be partly or totally in the sense organs themselves.That is, when a sense organ is stimulated it can continue to give a sensation for a fraction of a second after the stimulus is removed.However, one can argue that this is not truly memory, it can only last for a fraction of a second, and perhaps this component of the Richard Atkinson, Richard Shiffrin model is only theoretical. They did postulated a longer time interval than the above.)†††††††

††††† If we slightly focus our attention on the stimuli, stored in sensory memory, it will enter short term memory.This memory is a temporary storage area where information is held for a number of seconds (generally no more than 20 to 30 seconds).This storage is quite limited.Approximately 5 to 7 chunks of information can generally be retained by the average person.If we rehearse the information and/or focus prolonged attention on the material it will be transferred to long term memory.Long term memory is for all practical purposes an unlimited storage system.Memories stored in long term memory can last a lifetime.††††††† To understand this model I must return to a further explanation of short term memory.When we think or perform a task from memory, we first must retrieve information from long term memory into short term memory.The information can be rearranged in this memory and then stored in an additional new form in long term memory.Our thinking and self awareness take place in short term memory.Short term memory is essentially the area of memory where information is processed in various ways.It is essentially equivalent to the random access memory of a computer.

 

I will modify and advance the above model of memory, by showing (or perhaps postulating) that there are many types of memory, which relate to different types of sensory input.

 

If we place the sensations that human beings experience into six categories, then there are six types of short term memory and six types of long term memory.That is, there is visual short term memory, visual long term memory, audio short term memory, audio long term memory, tactile short term memory, tactile long term memory, kinesthesis short and long term memory, olfactory short and long term memory, and a short and long term memory of the sense of taste.

††††† Each of the above can be considered a learning channel.Thus there are six learning channels that relate to the senses, according to this modified version of the model.The first three visual, auditory, and tactile channels are general learning channels.That is, language can be used with any of these channels, which permits the learning of a wide range of material through any of the three channels.For example, a blind person can learn about the world with the auditory channel, such as by listening to recorded books.A deaf person can learn with the visual channel, such as from sign language and reading.A deaf blind person can learn about the world with the sense of touch.That is, there are languages that are transmitted through the sense of touch.Braille is one such language.Another tactile language involves communicating with the fingers by touching the hands of the listener.

††††† The other three channels are only useful for specific types of learning, because there is no language for these channels.However, it might be possible to create a language that would work with these channels.A real possibility is with the kinesthesis channel, such as basing the language on different positions of the hands and arms.

††††† From the above paragraphs it becomes apparent that there are linguistic memory and non-linguistic memory, which also suggests that there are linguistic and non-linguistic learning channels.That is, we have a long and short term memory that relates to language, and another that relates to non-linguistic experiences.†† An example of linguistic memory is remembering a telephone number, which could be retained temporarily in short term memory or remembered for a lifetime in long term memory.The non-linguistic short and long term memory can involve such factors as the shape, texture, color, smell, and taste of various objects.For example, we remember the location of various entities in our environment, such as where the bathroom is located.

††††† Language might reinforce non-linguistic short and long term memory in some cases.For example, we might have a visual memory of a tomato that incorporates both its shape and color.This memory might be reinforced with language, if we remember the shape as spherical and the color as red.Thus linguistic and non-linguistic learning can reinforce each other.

†††††

Why do we forget things?

To answer this question we have to make a distinction between short term memory and long term memory.Short term memory is memory that lasts for a matter of seconds.It is believed that this memory is the result of active nerve impulses that must continue in an active state to maintain the memory.That is, it is similar to the random access memory in a computer.If the active state ceases, which could happen by focusing attention on a different subject, we will forget what was stored in short term memory.This is similar to turning a computer off, all the data that was in random access memory is lost, unless it was also stored in long term memory, which is the computer's hard drive.Thus, we forget things in short term memory because we must maintain an active neurological state that maintains the memory.†† As soon as this active neurological state ceases, we forget what was in our memory was in short.Another way of stating this is the specific neurological pulses that maintain a specific segment of information in short term memory decay as soon as we focus our attention on another subject.

††††† Short term memory is a temporary storage system.The only way that we can maintain a memory for any length of time is to transfer it to long term memory, which is discussed below.††

††††† Long term memory is believed to be essentially a permanent storage system.Theoretical models state that there is either a permanent change in chemical or neurological structures, which stores the memory.The stored bits of information are sometimes called memory traces.But if it is permanent why do we forget things in long term memory?According to theory there are a number of reasons why we forget things in long term memory, which will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

††††† To become aware of material in long term memory, that is, to remember the material, we have to find where we stored the memory traces.That is, we have to retrieve the memories.††† One of the reasons we forget things is because we cannot retrieve the memory traces, which is essentially the same as saying we cannot find it.Retrieval failure can be thought of as not having enough cues available at the time to find the location of the material that one wants to recall.We probably know this phenomenon from experience.†† We may havean a person's name on the tip of our tongue, but we just cannot remember.However, after a period of time, perhaps in a different context, we might not have any difficulty remembering.However, there are probably memory traces that cannot be retrieved under ordinary circumstances.These lost memories might be retrieved under special circumstances, such as continuously trying to remember the material over an extended period of time, returning to a specific context, writing and rewriting about the material.

††††† NOTE (Writing can bring back lost memories very effectively.The idea is to write whatever is remembered and leave gaps for material that is not remembered.Then try to fill in the missing pieces of information later.If this method is done over an extended period of time it is even more effective.) END OF NOTE††

†††† NOTE (The word context is used in this text in a very general sense; it means the physical location and all the sensory stimuli associated with the location.It also means all the data surrounding an idea.For example if we learn the law of conservation of energy in a physics book that is one context.We might come across that identical law in a biology book, which is a different context than the physics book.) END OF NOTE††††††

††††† Information that the human being learns in one context may not be remembered in a different context.This is reminiscent of the computer storing a file in a specific directory.If you try to retrieve that file without knowing the directory it might be almost impossible.If you are in a different directory than the file's directory, you generally cannot access that file (unless you are able to change the directory).This tells us how we can circumvent one difficulty of recalling information.Study the information in a number of contexts, especially the contexts that the information will be needed, which also creates more retrievalcues.This is similar to storing the same computer file in a number of directories.

††††† However, retrieval failure is not the only way we can forget material in long term memory.Memories decay with time when the memorized material is not used.An example is if we learned how to speak a foreign language in high-school and never used the language after graduation, the ability to use the language, without further study, will deteriorate.That is, we probably would not be able to speak the language years later.The decay process is probably even more significant as the aging process sets in.

††††† Another way that we can forget things in long term memory is by interference, which means material learned blocks or confuses the recall of other material.There are two types of interference, one is proactive interference, and the other is retroactive interference.Proactive interference is a situation when old material, in long term memory, causes interference with the recall of newly learned information.Retroactive interference is a situation where newly memorized material causes interference with the recall of old memories.

††††† Still another way that we can forget information stored in long term memory is motivated forgetting.That is, under certain conditions unpleasant events might not be remembered because they are very unpleasant.Perhaps in some of these situations the individual simply does not want to remember the unpleasant event.The motivation, not wanting to remember, might be on an unconscious level.

††††† NOTE (Of course, this is certainly not true with all unpleasant events.Often unpleasant events are remembered more than ordinary events.Very unpleasant events that are of ahistorical nature can strengthen the memories, of the time interval, when the individual heard the bad news.As if a picture was taken with a flashbulb.In fact, the phenomenon is called flashbulb memories.The individual remembers exactly where she was and what she was doing when she heard the bad news.Probably most people can tell you what they were doing when they heard about the space shuttle explosion.)END OF NOTE

††††† Another theoretical possibility for long term memory failure is called consolidation failure.This results when newly memorized material does not have time to consolidate into firmly implanted long term memory traces.This condition can be seen when an individual experiences a neurological disruption such as a seizure or severe blow on the head.Some or all memories of the new events just prior to the disruption might not be remembered.

†††††† And of course, there is the obvious, information might not be recalled because the information never made it passed short term memory.This is called encoding failure.In this type of failure the information was never really learned.

 

What would life be like if we never forgot anything?

It is necessary to answer this question from the perspectives of short term memory and long term memory.The reason for this will be obvious in the following paragraphs.

††††† If we never forgot anything from short term memory we would not be able to function.Our memory would be clogged with information in a matter of seconds.When we think or process information on a conscious level we use short term memory.If the memory was clogged we could not process any new information. Simply stated, we would not be able to think or perform any task that required thinking if we remembered everything fed into short term memory.

††††† Incidentally, this happens sometimes with a computer.The random access memory is the computer's short term memory.When this memory is nearly filled to capacity the computer will continue to operate if data is removed from random access memory.If the memory is filled to capacity new information cannot be processed.When the new data is placed into the system for processing the computer stops operating.Probably something similar would happen if human beings never forgot information stored in short term memory.

††††† Microsoft Windows operating software has a special feature that helps the computer to forget unnecessary information, at least temporarily.The Windows software instructs the computer to transfer excess data to the hard drive, which frees the random access memory.The point is that we have found it necessary to make computers forget information in its short term memory, which certainly suggests the utility of the forgetting process.

††††† If we never forgot anything from long term memory we would have a tremendous store of knowledge. (This assumes that there would be no deterioration of the memory traces and we would have no trouble retrieving the memories.)If we were able to remember all the information that we stored in long term memory we would never forget the details of the course material we learned.We would probably all do much better in school.There would be little or no need to review material before a test, assuming the material was already learned one time.

††††† Of course, we cannot really be sure what would really happen if we retained everything in long term memory.There might be some unforeseen problems if we never forgot material placed in memory storage.Long term memory is believed to be an unlimited storage system for all practical purposes.However, if the known principles of information storage are considered, we must conclude that there is a limit of the amount of material that can be stored in long term memory.Perhaps no individual ever reached this limit.However, if we retained everything we experienced and stored it in long term memory, it might actually get filled to capacity.If this happened we would not be able to use our long term memory for new information.We would have an excellent memory for past events, but we would not be able to remember any new information for more than a few seconds.

 

What would life be like if we never remembered anything?

 

If we never remembered anything we would not be aware of anything we experienced in the past.We would have no sense of self.We would not know who we were.We could only live in the present.†† We could not learn even the simplest task, because all learning requires memory.Thus, we could not read, write or even talk or walk.We could not make friends and we would not even know our closest relatives.An individual without a memory could not really survive without the assistance of others.It is necessary to obtain food and water to survive, and such an individual would not remember where and how to find food and water.


 

Chapter 7: Can we create a computer that is intelligent as a human being?Would it be conscious?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

 

Can we create a computer that is intelligent as a human being?

 

I was interested in this question for years.I studied this problem and investigated the technology that was available.I†† actually applied what I learned and was able to setup a computer system that can do many of the things human beings can do with language.This computer system can read, type, spell, and respond to human speech commands.My computer can also learn new words and commands.The computer can also learn from experience, such as recognizing the pronunciation of new words.It even has a synthetic voice, which almost sounds human.

††††† I can tell my computer to print a page and it will perform the task.I can also tell it to count the words in a document and the computer will repeat back the request orally while it counts the words.After completing the counting, it will orally state how many words there are in the document.It also types the number on to the computer screen.It can spell and type over 40,000 words automatically, when a human verbalizes a word.That is, it types and spells in response to human speech.If I say cat, the computer will type the word cat on the computer screen and orally, with a synthetic voice, say the word it just typed. Incidentally, this entire chapter was automatically typed by the computer in response to my voice.

††††† The computer has a separate verbal subsystem to read and speak words, which is more or less analogous to the left side of the human brain.This subsystem is really a specialized computer, which was installed into the main computer.The way the computer reads and speaks is by sending electrical pulses, which represent the words on the computer's screen, to its verbal subsystem.These pulses that represent the words are held in a short term memory while the verbal subsystem checks its long term memory for the audio equivalent of the word.If the word is found in its long term memory, the audio equivalent of the wordis sent to a loudspeaker.If the word is not found, it analyzes its syllables and if it can decipher the word it sends the audio equivalent to the loudspeaker.If this second attempt fails it will use very elementary phonics consisting of the sounds of each letter of the word, which it will send to the loudspeaker.The above steps takes a tiny fraction of a second, even with the most difficult words.That is, for all practical purposes it is instantaneous.The computer occasionally misreads or mispronounces a word, but this is rather unusual.

††††† The computers audio perception is not as effective as the above.It often confuses spoken words.However, the user can correct the computer, and with enough corrections the computer learns how to recognize the word.The computer does not have a separate subsystem to perform this job, which is one of the reasons that it does not work perfectly.However, once it recognizes the sound of a word its spelling is essentially perfect.

††††† The way the computer recognizes spoken words are as follows.The user talks into a microphone, which converts the sound into a weak series of alternating electrical pulses.The alternating electrical pulses enter a special circuit that converts the above into an on off digital pulse, which the computer can use.These pulses, which represent a spoken word or phrase, are held in short term memory (called random access memory), until the computer can search for the closest match in its long term memory.When the computer finds the match of the pulses, there is a written equivalent attached to the matching set of pulses.The computer types the written equivalent onto the computer screen.The computer uses the same principle to decipher and carry out commands.This general principle can in theory be used to detect visual information, identify odors and chemicals, identify objects with tactile sensors, etc.

††††† To perform all of the above the computer needs many different types of memory.It has two or three types of long term memory.The system has several types of short term memory. There is one primary short term memory, which is analogous to, but certainly not equivalent, to awareness found in human beings.

††††† This computer system only cost about $14,000 and the components are off the shelf items, which can be purchased and hooked up by just about anyone.Thus, my belief is that if someone invested enough money, such $14,000,000, it would be quite possible to create a computer system that would equal or surpass human capabilities.And it is obvious that such a system could perform many tasks far superior to what a human can do.The computer I have now can read, spell, look up information, and perform mathematical calculations better than most educated people.

††††† I believe the best method of creating a computer system that can equal or surpass human performance is to connect specialized computers together, which are programmed to perform a specialized task.The specialized computers feed information into one powerful main computer.My computer has a special computer to read and speak words, another that handles video information (commonly called a video card), and another for mathematics (called a math compressor).

††††† The ideal system would have many specialized computers, which would feed data into one super computer.Each specialized computer would have a sensor connected to its circuitry.There would be several that can sense visual images from different angles, a similar setup for sound, smell, etc.We would not have to limit the performance of such a system to the human senses.We could install radar and sonar senses, which could work in conjunction with the visual processing.In addition, we could make the sensing devices for light, sound, and smell far more sensitive than the human equivalent.Thus, surpassing human capabilities would not really be difficult with this type of setup.††

††††† The ideal system would be far more sophisticated than my system.When a word is spoken into the ideal system it would not only type the word.It would find pictures and other information about the word in the same way that the human brain does.For example, if the word cat is heard by a person he locates a large number of memories and general information about cats.The ideal computer can do this at a much more sophisticated level, which could include thousands of pages and photographs.

 

Would it be conscious?

A computer as described above would not be conscious.It would have no true awareness of its own existence.It would not even have awareness of the operations that it is carrying out.It would be essentially like a gasoline engine.There is no reason to believe that the gasoline engine has any awareness that it ismoving a series of pistons, which are turning a shaft and moving an automobile.†† And there is no reason to believe that the computer would be any different.

††††† However, when this question is examined further some interesting speculations develop.I believe it might be possible to build a computer that has true awareness, a computer that is conscious.Before such a computer could be built, it is necessary to determine what awareness is in terms of electrical flow patterns.That is, we would have to find the answer to the following question.What is the precise shape and form of the electrical flow pattern in the human brain that makes us aware of our existence?If this question can be answered it is quite possible that we will be able to produce a machine that is aware of its own existence.

††††† We can experimentally test any theory of electrical flow patterns as it relates to awareness in human subjects.By modifying the electrical pattern that we believe relates to awareness, should temporarily abolish awareness in the experimental subject, if we have the correct electrical flow patterns.


 

Chapter 8: What would humans be like without language?

 

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Human beings would probably be much like other higher animals without language.Essentially, humans would be very much like monkeys and apes living in the wild.We would not have a written culture to pass on to the newly born members of our society.Information could probably be passed onto the young by copying the actions of the more experienced adult members of the community.That is, we would probably learn by modeling the actions of others.Much of the learning would be from experience, primarily based on trial and error.This would result in a primitive way of life for all human beings.

††††† We probably would be food gatherers and hunters.However, hunting would probably be very limited and focused on the smallest animals.To hunt big game requires teamwork.Good teamwork requires the use of language.

††††† People would probably live in large family like groups of perhaps 20 to 70 people.Most of these groups would probably be nomadic.When food supplies become scarce or weather conditions are unfavorable the group would probably move on to a different location.

††††† The technology that human beings created requires teamwork and precise written instructions.The technological information took hundreds of years to accumulate and is taught with the aid of language.Thus, technology could not exist without language,especially the written form.And if we advance this line of thinking further, we can see that all the good and evil that stem from technology would not exist without written and spoken words.†††††††††

††††† To build comfortable shelter requires technology and language.Thus, humans would still be living in caves and under trees, without language.Perhaps there would be some very simple construction of huts, made of tree branches and animal skins.There would be no doctors, no medicine, no vaccines.Many people would die from contagious diseases before they reached their 20's.

††††† Our legal system, moral structure and religion could not exist without language.There would be no Bible and no written law.There would be no government, no courts, and no holy temples.However, we might not need the above, because there would be no guns, no bombs and essentially no wars.If there was a war, it would probably be a limited battle between a few men who truly wanted to fight.Nobody would have to worry about nuclear bombs, guided missiles, or germ warfare.In addition, there would probably not be any drug abuse, because there would not be any written information on how to prepare drugs.Perhaps, there would be certain natural plants that would permit some indulgence in drugs, but this would probably be very limited.

††††† There would not be any significant air or water pollution, either.There would be no automobile accidents.No airplane crashes, and no industrial accidents.But, man would be very much like monkeys and gorillas.We cannot really be human (in the sense that we learned to think of the concept) without language.


 

Chapter 9: What human functions and characteristics seem to you most likely to be biologically determined and hereditary in relation to intelligence?

 

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Intelligence and Related Factors

Most of the external behaviors we see people perform are not biologically determined.However, the capacity (the potential) to perform the various tasks that human beings carry out, are biologically determined.That is our sense organs, limbs, and our powerful brains are all biologically determined.This gives us the capacity to learn how to perform various tasks.

††††† Our ability to learn and use language is biologically determined, but we must be exposed to appropriate environmental conditions to learn language.This capacity is seen when we compare chimpanzees that were trained to use sign language with athree year old human.The child's linguistic skills are far superior to the well‑trained chimpanzee.Our great potential to use language is primarily the result of the superior evolutionary development of the human brain.The advanced development of the vocal cords and *hands are also components that facilitate our linguistic abilities.*(Hands are used in language, such as in writing and sign language.)††††††† Our hands and superior brain provide the capacity to learn and carry out extremely complicated mathematical calculations.This ability includes the capacity to learn mathematical reasoning and how to use symbolic logic to solve problems.

††††† Our hands give us the capacity to manipulate objects in a very precise way.This and our superior brain give us a capacity to make and use tools in a manner that is much greater than any living creature that ever walked the earth.This ability coupled with the great capacity to use language and mathematics lead to the development of super human technologies, which permit us to use external energy sources to do work, build sky scrapers that are as high as mountains, fly through the air, travel through space, cure disease, build cities, and create computers that can do many millions of calculations a second.

††††† But the point is that all of the above are potential abilities that can only develop into a true capability under appropriate environmental conditions.Without such conditions man is much like other primates.The individuals who grow up under isolated conditions will not be able to speak a language.They may make sounds with the vocal mechanism just as other animals do.People who grow up in very primitive cultures have a language that does not involve reading or writing.They can count but cannot perform any type of sophisticated mathematical calculations.They have the ability to make and use simple tools and fire.But their overall development is only one level above the other primates.People who grow up in underdeveloped cultures that are severely impoverished may develop at a level that is just above a primitive culture.Poor people in our own society might develop to a level that is not much better, which might include a fifth grade reading and writing level.Thus, human beings have a biologically determined capacity to develop many skills and intellectual capabilities, but such development depends on the environment.

††††† In spite of the above information, which is widely known, many individuals including some psychologists have argued that the variations in capability amongst people from different socioeconomic environments and cultures are really the result of genetic differences.Often these arguments are used as a rationalization for racist policies, or as an excuse not to help the poor.Such, arguments fail because all of our ancestors come from such environments.That is, some of us can go back one or two generations and see ancestors that were functional illiterates.Some of us must go back several generations to find similar levels of academic incompetence.In almost all cases if we go back 3,000 years we would find that all our ancestors were illiterate and if we go back 10,000 years we find that are relatives were primitive people who lived in a way that was similar to other animals.This relatively short time interval is not a long enough period for the evolutionary process to evolve a superior human physiology, such as a better brain and hands.Thus, are ancestors of 10,000 years ago had the sameIntellectual capacities that we have but environmental conditions were not favorable to develop the intellectual abilities that we have.In addition, there are many college educated people, throughout the world, who have living ancestors who were born into primitive preliterate cultures, such as certain American Indians and some African individuals.And no doubt there are some individuals that were born into such cultures that graduated college, such as infants who were born into primitive cultures and adopted by Educated Americans or Europeans.Thus, if we look at history, we find that the variations in intelligence in human beings are primarily the result of different levels of environmental development.

††††† However, this does not mean that there is not a very significant genetic component involved with intelligence.But what is obtained from genetics is only a capacity to become intelligent.Thus, intelligence is not the direct result of heredity.If an individual was born with tremendous capacities to become intelligent, but his environment was extremely impoverished intellectually, emotionally, as well as economically he might not even learn basic linguistic skills, if he survived at all.And of course individuals with severe genetic abnormalities, which limit mental functions, will not be able to perform the intellectual tasks of a 10 year old, no matter how favorable the environment is.

††††† However, one of the primary points of this paper is that inour world, environments very far more than genetics, in relation to intelligence.The above assumes that we are excluding extremely unusual environments and abnormal genetics.Extremely unusual environments means here: rare situations that are not related to any of the socioeconomic or cultural divisions found in society.Abnormal genetics means here, genetic variations that cause detectable neurological differences, which generallyinclude a visible variation in brain structure.

††††† We know from history and current events, that environmentsvary far more than the genetically determined capacity.The above is obvious when we think of all the different cultures and economic conditions in the United States.Environmental differences become even more apparent when we think of cultural and economic variations throughout the world.This was clearly illustrated in the preceding paragraphs using the variations of culture, history, and poverty.

††††† A conservative[7] counter argument is that people in impoverished cultures are in such circumstances because of genetic inferiority.But, this argument fails because we know when individuals (or their ancestors) from impoverished cultures are educated they eventually do as well as educated white Americans and Europeans.

††††† I notice an interesting contradiction in the conservative view, which states that those in impoverished cultures and environments are intellectually inferior because of genetic limitations.These conservative individuals also generally believe in cutting educational programs and other support services for the poor.If those in impoverished cultures were truly genetically inferior the appropriate response would be to provide additional funding for special education programs to try to correct or circumvent the genetic deficiencies.This is done in middle and upper class communities with individuals who have intellectual deficits that are believed to be of a physiological nature.Such individuals can even complete college in some cases, if the deficit is not too severe and they receive special services to circumvent their handicaps.Of course, with more severe cases the best that can be obtained is significant improvements in overall intellectual performance.Hence, people who truly are inferior as a result of biological deficiencies can be greatly improved by expensive special educational services.Thus, the conservative view of cutting educational and other support services for the poor is a contradiction, if they truly believe that the poor have biological deficiencies.

††††† I believe, that the contradiction of the conservative view can be explained in psychological terms.The belief that impoverished cultures are genetically inferior, serves as a rationalization to minimize guilt and other negative consequences.If people are poor because they are innately inferior nobody has to feel guilty about the problem.The conservative might try to see the poor as a natural condition of nature, which cannot and should not be corrected.Of course, the real motive is that he does not want to pay for the difficulties of poverty with higher taxes.If the conservative tells himself this, he will feel guilty.If he tells others that his primary concern is his own financial interest, or the financial interest of people similar to himself, he will face negative consequences.If he is a private citizen he will be thought of by many people as a selfish unsympathetic person.If he is a political candidate he will lose support from some of the more liberal voters.Thus, I believe the conservative view is a rationalization used to save money without feeling guilty and avoiding negative reactions from the more liberal sector of society.

††††† The way to argue with such conservatives is to agree with them and state that we must spend much more money to try to circumvent the inferiority of the poor.Of course, this would probably not really solve the problem because the conservative does not want to pay to correct the problems of poor people, which seem to be alien to her middle class culture.Such a conservative is not likely to feel empathy for people who seem so different from her family and friends.That is, if people who she perceived to be similar to herself were in poverty she would feel empathy and probably would support programs to help them.But people who appear very different are less likely to elicit any empathy in a middle class conservative that wants a tax reduction.

††††† The conservatives very often point to studies that have been done on identical twins using IQ tests as a measure of intelligence.Even if such methods are valid, and many researchers believe they are, they do not prove that intelligence is hereditary[8].It proves that there are genetic components involved with intelligence, which are factors that are needed to develop intelligence.Such studies also suggest that these genetic components vary somewhat in the general population.

††††† I believe that the studies done on identical twins do not have much to do with the realities that cause variations in academic and IQ performance in the general population.Such differences are caused by the extreme variations in the environments that people commonly grow up in.Many of these studies compared twins that were in the same environment.In some cases the identical twins were separated at an early age into different environments.Generally the difference in environment was relatively small such as working class and middle class, with the cultural components remaining essentially the same.Commonly, environments can very from upper class to extreme poverty.In addition there are extreme, cultural variations in environments, which include different languages, customs and varying degrees of emphasis on academic performance.One component that is often ignored is the emotional impact of the environment on the individual in relation to academic performance and IQ scores.Factors such as the attitude of parents, the attitudes of people in the neighborhood, emotional stress, and similar factors can most likely have a great influence on the development of intelligence.All of these environmental variations can greatly influence intellectual performance and IQ scores.The identical twin studies have not dealt with such environmental variations.Such studies are limited because there are not many identical twins that are separated at birth into the many different environments that commonly exist in our world.If there were enough identical twins to do an accurate study I believe they would find that the determining factors of academic achievement, IQ scores and occupational level are primarily determined by environment.

††††† Thus, I believe that the difference between occupational achievement is not genetic.The reason one individual becomes a janitor, a waiter, doctor or scientist is the result of environment.The difference between individuals with lower and higher occupational achievement, such as janitor and doctor, is the educational, cultural and emotional factors in the environments that they grew up in.This does not mean they are all equally intelligent.The professionals are most likely more intelligent than the janitor or waiter (especially in relation to academic subjects).However, the difference in intelligence is the result of many years of development starting from early childhood through the most advanced levels of professional training.That is, intelligence is developed with experiences that relate to learning and problem solving.The professionals no doubt had more learning and problem solving experiences, as far as academic material is concerned.

††††† Individuals with a conservative view about intelligence would of course disagree with the above.The conservative would insist that the difference in occupational achievement and adult IQ scores are primarily the result of genetics.A more moderate view would be that the difference between a low status person, such as a janitor, and a professional, such as a doctor is essentially the result of both genetics and environment.These arguments fail because there are many immigrant janitors and similar low status workers, who come from a long line of peasants, who raised children who became professionals.

††††† My view will become clearer if I define the word intelligence.The conservative might define the concept in terms of IQ.She might say a high IQ is intelligence.But the concept of intelligence was known for thousands of years before IQ tests were invented.Thus, IQ is not a good definition, it is in reality a method of measuring intelligence, which on the average is only moderately accurate at best.My definition of intelligence contains 12 components.Thus, Intelligence is all of the following:

1) the ability to learn with the use of language

2) the ability to learn material that does not involve language(Examples, are learning how to: draw engineering diagrams, put something together, create a work of art with clay, etc.)

3) the ability to comprehend ideas with the use of language

4) the ability to comprehend relationships that do not involve language (Examples, are an understanding of: artistic relationships, geometric relationships, how a physical structure is held together, etc.)

5) the ability to find and use linguistically coded information(This includes the ability to find any type of written information.)

6) the ability to find and use information of a non-linguistic nature (This can include finding information of an experiential nature by trial and error or experimentation.)

7) the ability to reorganize information into new ideas with the use of language (This includes the ability to create: new hypothetical models, original written text, poems, etc.)

8) the ability to reorganize nonverbal information into new structures. (This can involve any type of creativity that is not primarily based on language, such as designing a new entity, building any structure, or any type of art work.)

9) the ability to use language in the problem solving process

10) the ability to solve nonverbal problems (This can include repairing an electrical device, solving engineering problems with graphics, putting a puzzle together, etc.)

11) the ability to learn mathematical concepts

12) the ability to solve mathematical problems

The greater the ability the higher the intelligence.This applies to all twelve components.

††††† The twelve components and related factors are learned.This becomes obvious when we think of the rare individual who grew up in extreme isolation.Such an individual generally has not learned any language and five of the above components†††††† (1, 3, 5, 7, 9,) obviously involve the use of language.And less obviously, two other components (11, 12,) involve a mathematically related language.The components that involve language are primarily stressed in school and are the primary criteria for academic success in most courses.

††††† From the above it becomes obvious that linguistic skills are a major factor in intelligence.It is obvious that people can improve their skills with language with study and practice.We also know that it is possible to learn an entire language in high-school or college.Thus, this factor of intelligence is obviously learned and can be improved with practice.

††††† The ability to learn verbal (1) and nonverbal (2) information increases with practice.We learn how to learn from experience.We also might learn better techniques of learning from books and courses that deal with the subject.The ability to understand new ideas (3 and 4) are the result of prior learning, especially as it relates to similar concepts and experiences.The ability to find and use information (5 and 6) is also the result of learning and practice.We learn where to find information and how to use the information to achieve our goal.We learn how to use information for various purposes, such as supporting our views with information from other sources.We learn how to organize information into a clearly written document.The ability to reorganize information into new ideas (7 and 8) is learned from experience.This skill can also be learned from books on creative thinking.Problem solving (9 and 10) is also learned.We learn how to solve problems from many of the courses taught in school, especially science subjects.We also learn problem solving from experience.The ability to learn mathematical concepts and solve mathematical problems (11 and 12) is the result of an accumulated knowledge of mathematical postulates and theorems.Experience in solving many different types of mathematical problems is also a primary factor in developing advanced mathematical skills.Thus, intelligence is clearly the result of environmental experiences that facilitate learning the above skills.I believe that most people are born with a tremendous capacity to develop these skills.However, I am not saying that everybody has the same capacity, but I am saying that most people have an excess capacity, which is usually only partly developed.Thus the variation in capacity is not the limiting factor in most cases.

††††† My perspective on intelligence is not the most popular view.A more widely accepted idea is that intelligence is partly determined by environment and partly determined by heredity.This belief is based on defining intelligence in terms of IQ scores.When intelligence is defined in this way the definition of intelligence is changed, but it allows a method of measuring the concept.With such a definition it is possible to apply mathematical principles as we do with physics and chemistry to the evaluation of intelligence.However, physics and chemistry are dealing with very simple entities and human beings and their intelligence is a very complicated reality. The physicist and chemist are often dealing with entities that cannot be seen directly.It is not possible to accurately evaluate the behavior of individual atoms and subatomic particles.The physicist or chemist often must study many trillions of particles simultaneously to obtain accurate information.It is not possible to trace the history of a single atom through a lifetime.If it was possible to chart the history of a single atom little information would be obtained, because atoms are very simple entities that do not permanently change in response to time and environment.So for these sciences special methods were developed.However, the limitations and simplicity that the chemist and physicist face are not the same type of challenge that the psychologist is confronted with.The psychologist can accurately observe the behavior of a single individual, and he can study all the relevant environmental factors in great detail.The psychologist could look at history of various groups of people and see how education and other environmental factors†† changed each succeeding generation.The psychologist can experiment with one individual at a time.A relatively small group of individuals can be used to obtain accurate experimental data.Thus, the psychologist is not limited to the statistical limitations and distorted definition of intelligence, inherent in IQ methods of studying intelligence. I believe the most revealing methods, to study intelligence, is to study the history of different cultural groupings and the changes that resulted from environmental improvements and education.When this is done the mythology associated with intelligence will be revealed and discarded.††


 

Chapter 10: Are there any biologically determined factors that relate to human behavior

 

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There are a number of components that relate to behavior that are biologically determined in human beings.However, these components are generally modified by environment.The learning process that takes place as an individual develops from infancy to adulthood can greatly affect, modify or neutralize most of these biologically determined components.Some examples of these components are hunger, sexual desire, anger, and a number of facial expressions that relate to emotions.

††††† Hunger is controlled and modified by culture and experience.We learn to like certain foods.Some of us learn to control our appetite, and we may go hungry for short periods of time during each day.Many of us learned to eat before we are hungry.Some of us learned to eat when we are bored or depressed.††

††††† Sexual desire is also controlled and channeled by culture and learning.There are norms in all societies governing sexual behavior, which is learned by the individuals in the culture.We learn what type of person is an appropriate sexual partner and under what circumstances that sexual behavior is permissible.

††††† Anger is also governed by social norms.The individual learns how to express his anger.In our middle class society it is not acceptable to express anger in terms of aggression.However, in certain working class and poor segments of our society it might be marginally acceptable for young males to deal with their anger in terms of controlled physical aggression.This is the case when two males want to settle a conflict with a fight.All this behavior is learned, but the aggressive impulses initiated by anger is innate.However, two middle class males who are angry at each other might give each other dirty looks, engage in a verbal conflict, or simply ignore each other, if they are following the middle class norms.The mature person may learn not to express much anger under any conditions.There angry responses may be limited to a few stern words, which is more likely to be focused on a family member or a younger person.

††††† A number of facial expressions associated with emotion appear to be innate.Examples are the smile, and expressions of discussed or displeasure.However, these expressions are modified and controlled by the cultural environment that the individual grows up in.Japanese will generally conceal expressions of discussed or displeasure.Americans are more likely to show such expressions in public.Smiles are generally expressions of non-aggressive intentions such as friendliness or expressions of passivity.

 

What are the biological factors that relate to behavior in babies?

 

Babies have certain responses that are essentially instincts, which are biologically determined, such as the sucking response and a grasping response.These responses are generally not related to any type of learning.They most likely become modified and eventually disappear for all practical purposes before 3 years of age.Thus, there are essentially no instincts in older children and adults.

††††† We can see that the smile is biologically determined by watching babies that were born blind respond to their mother's voice, which proves that it is not learned.The smile is even present in babies born both deaf and blind.This eliminates any possibility of learning the response.


 

Chapter 11:Is sexual orientation biologically determined?

 

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Question what determines sexual orientation?A common belief held by many laymen and some psychologists is that sexual orientation results from an innate process.Many homosexuals and lesbians strongly agree with this belief.However, if there is an innate process involved with sexual orientation it could not be genetic, in the usual sense, because there is no evidence that homosexuals can produce offspring that are homosexual in a statistical way that would relate to genetics.Of course this might shed some doubt on the theory, but it does not rule it out.There might be variations in hormonal levels during pregnancy, that might affect the developing fetus in such a way as to produce an innate tendency toward homosexuality.†† Some research has been done with pregnant monkeys that involved experimentally manipulating hormonal levels in their blood.The offspring developed into homosexuals.(I do not know if this experiment was confirmed and I do not remember the original source.)

††††† Thus, one could argue that there are homosexuals that have some innate predisposition toward homosexuality.However when we look at history, culture, contemporary society and the behavior of people in unusual environments the evidence is that sexual orientation in human beings is learned.A relatively large percentage of people in some cultures engage in homosexual activities.Some cultures have more homosexuals than other cultures[9].Certain ancient Greek cultures supported the concept of homosexuality.Other cultures deplored such behavior.(Our own culture was in this category until fairly recently.Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder and it was justification for discrimination.)Thus, the results of different cultural values affects the amount of homosexual behavior and no doubt the number of individuals that are exclusively homosexual.

†††† There are individuals that would debate the above.They would argue that there is a difference between homosexual behavior and an individual that is exclusively homosexual.They would state that the homosexual is innately homosexual, which excludes the possibility of heterosexuality.However, if this was true for homosexuals, it would also apply to heterosexuals.That is, there would be an innate predisposition for heterosexuality, which would exclude the possibility of homosexual behavior.The evidence is that heterosexuals under certain cultural or environmental conditions can engage in homosexuality on an ongoing basis.This often happens in prison.There are even heterosexuals that changed to an exclusively homosexual lifestyle and vice versa.Hence, the argument fails.††††††† Thus, when we look at history and culture and all the evidence it appears that sexual orientation in human beings is a learned response.There is a possibility that hormonal imbalances during fetal development or other physiological factors might affect sexual orientation in monkeys under certain conditions.One could argue that similar factors mightaffect sexual orientation in human beings.I believe this might be true in very rare cases, but generally speaking it is probably incorrect.There never has been any scientifically confirmed evidence for any type of physiological cause for sexual orientation in human beings.The quantity of evidence of environmental factors determining sexual orientation is overwhelming if we remember to examine history, culture and environmental variations.

††††† However, many psychologists and most of the published literature insist that the evidence is not conclusive.They would insist that there is no detectable difference in the case histories of heterosexuals and homosexuals.They might point out that they cannot find a significant difference in child rearing practices of parents of homosexuals and heterosexuals.The first part of their error is that they are looking for a common cause for homosexuality.Most likely there are many different types of factors that cause homosexuality.That is, people probably become homosexual for different reasons.Another part of the error, is that such psychologists are not examining history, culture, and unusual environments.They are simply ignoring the evidence.But an interesting question is raised.Why do some people become homosexual and others heterosexual in our contemporary society?This is answered in the following paragraphs.

†† †††I believe that sexual orientation (and other adult roles)develop in two stages.(This theory is discussed in detail in chapter 15, A Two Stage Model of Role Development.)This process of development is based on learning and related psychological dynamics.The first stage involves the development of a predisposition for one or both sexual orientations, which generally takes place in childhood.This developmental process, whatever the sexual orientation is, might be quite different for each individual.For example, one individual might learn to focus his sexual fantasies toward heterosexuality and another individual may have not learned such a focus.Or he may have inadvertently learned to focus his sexual fantasies on his own sex, perhaps because of unpleasant experiences with the opposite sex.Another possible component is one individual can be more inclined toward copying the behavior of parents and another might be more inclined to experiment with sexuality.Still another component might involve the learning of a distaste for either homosexuality or heterosexuality.The first is often the result of deliberate moral training and the second can be inadvertently taught as a result of certain types of experiences in a disruptive household.There are probably hundreds of other components that might cause a predisposition toward a sexual orientation.The set of components that results in a predisposition is probably not the same for any two individuals.This explains the difficulty in finding a common set of components as a causative factor of homosexuality.

††††† The predisposition(s) that develop in childhood may not†† actually develop into a specific sexual lifestyle in adolescents or adulthood, according to my theory, unless appropriateencounters with other individuals (or stimuli) takes place later in life.For example, if an individual developed a predisposition for heterosexuality and marriage he would have to meet an individual of the opposite sex for such a reality to manifest.If an individual has a predisposition for homosexuality he would have to meet other homosexuals for the predisposition to develop into a homosexual lifestyle.Of course, a person can develop into a heterosexual or homosexual in terms of preferred sexual fantasies, without ever meeting any sexual partners.But the environmental components that theperson encountered in adolescents and beyond are still involved, such as erotic literature, television, movies, and the behavior of other people in the environment.A predisposition can evoke selective perception and interpretation, which relates to the nature of the predisposition.For example if a male developed a heterosexual predisposition in childhood he may focus on the attractive women on the television screen and think of them as sexual entities.If he developed a homosexual predisposition he may focus on the attractive males that he sees on television,and think of them in sexual terms.

††††† This second stage of the development of sexual orientation also involves a conditioning response.The person is conditioned to prefer a specific category of sexual objects (such as men, women or both sexes) as a result of repeated sexual contact.The contact can take place in reality and/or in fantasy.This conditioned response is not necessarily an absolute; it may change in certain cases as a result of experiences later in life.

††††† In general, if an individual has a number of voluntary physical and sexual contacts with the opposite sex relatively early in life, he will most likely prefer a heterosexual lifestyle.This is most likely to be true if positive consequences are associated with the experience.And just the opposite is also true, if an individual has such experiences with the same sex he may prefer a homosexual lifestyle.Thus, once a sexual orientation is conditioned it is quite difficult to change.Even if the individual truly wanted to change his orientation.However, homosexuals do change to heterosexuality in some cases and heterosexuals also change to homosexuals.And no doubt there are cases where both of the orientations changed to bisexuals.

††††† There are people that engage in homosexual behavior but do not consider themselves homosexual.Examples are some prisoners, and male prostitutes that serve homosexuals.These individuals generally claim to prefer heterosexual interactions.This suggests an interesting question.If sexual orientation involves a conditioning response why don't these people become homosexual? There are a number of factors that are involved with the answer to this question.The first is these individuals do not have a predisposition for an exclusively homosexual lifestyle.The second is most of them have been conditioned into a heterosexual orientation at an earlier point in time.Third they have a specific reason for engaging in homosexual activity, which changes the psychological dynamics, for the prostitute it is money, for the prisoner it is a substitute for heterosexual interactions.Fourth many of these individuals are really either homosexuals or bisexuals but the concept does not fit their self image, so they choose to call themselves heterosexuals.

††††† Many homosexuals probably also developed a predisposition for heterosexuality.Thus, if they met pleasant members of the opposite sex that were willing to interact sexually, before they became conditioned into homosexuality, they would probably have developed into heterosexuals[10].This of course is not true with all homosexuals.There are some homosexuals that started out as heterosexuals, and experimented with homosexuality at a laterpoint in time, which led to a totally homosexual lifestyle.In such cases the earlier heterosexual experiences may have had unpleasant consequences associated with them.Such individuals most likely had a predisposition to experiment with sexuality, which resulted in encounters with homosexuals.

††††† As stated above, according to my theory, there are probably not a common set of causes for the development of sexual orientation.Each person develops a predisposition for one or more sexual orientations in childhood, which develops into a heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual lifestyle as the result of sexual encounters later in life.However, the most common elements in the development of homosexuality might be a willingness to experiment with sexuality.A failure to learn to focus sexual fantasies toward heterosexuality, in the developmental period before late adolescents.(The factors contained in the above, two sentences, constitutes a predisposition.)In addition, the individual probably has a number of homosexual experiences relatively early in life, which results in a conditioning response toward ones own sex.(This is the second stage.)As already explained this or any such developmental sequence might apply only to a minority of homosexuals.Human beings develop into a specific sexual orientations for reasons that are probably quite different.

††††† Is homosexuality a psychological disorder?This is a value judgment[11].If a homosexual is truly dissatisfied with her sexual orientation then it is a psychological disorder.This would also be true of a bisexual or a heterosexual.On the other hand if a homosexual is satisfied with her sexual orientation then it should not be considered a disorder of any type.That is, it is truly a value judgment and each individual should make such a judgment for themselves.It is of course statistically abnormal behavior, but it certainly should not be considered a sickness or a psychological disorder, by society.

††††† What are the political and psychological implications of the theories of sexual orientation?Most homosexuals and lesbians support the idea that sexual orientation is innate.I believe the reason for this is partly psychological and partly political.If sexual orientation is innate the homosexual does not have to feel guilty about his orientation.His parents do not have to feel guilty either, because it was simply an unusual act of nature, which nobody can help.The political benefits of supporting the innate theory of sexual orientation are also quite significant.If people are born with an innate sexual orientation the homosexual cannot be held responsible for his unusual behavior.However, there is a far more significant political issue.If homosexuals are innately homosexual they cannot convert young people into a homosexual lifestyle.And thus, nobody has to be concerned about homosexuality spreading throughout society.Nobody has to worry about their children being seduced into homosexuality.There children will either be heterosexual or homosexual and this would be predetermined by nature.Thus, the innate theory conveys the idea that there is no reason to be afraid of homosexuals, which is certainly good politics.

††††† The theories that state that sexual orientation is developed as a result of environmental experiences might be threatening to most people including homosexuals.If there are environmental influences then the homosexual might feel that he is responsible for his behavior and thus feel guilty, which is probably unwarranted because he is not harming anyone.Some people might be concerned that their children might be seduced into a homosexual or bisexual lifestyle.I believe this risk is generally quite small.The only people that can be seduced into such a lifestyle are people who have a predisposition for a homosexual lifestyle.

††††† However, I believe if we want to be realistic, there is probably some risk.The way homosexuals become homosexuals is generally by a conditioning response from sexual interactions with other homosexuals (according to the model I presented above).However, I do not believe that such a risk justifies any discrimination against homosexuals.Perhaps such a risk justifies, a much higher level of supervision and guidance for adolescents.The guidance could be toward early physical and sexual interactions of a responsible nature with members of the opposite sex.(If such experiences have negative consequences the dynamics may push the person toward homosexuality in some rare cases.)Or perhaps, a better understanding and acceptance of the sexual choices made by young people is needed in our society.

††††† The word choice was used in the above paragraph, but the homosexual or heterosexual is not usually making a choice, with some exceptions of course.The individual is led into a sexual orientation by environmental circumstances, involving a process of socialization as explained in the preceding paragraphs.As already stated there is a conditioning response involved with the process.Some individuals may be involved with homosexual encounters for relatively brief periods, which do not allow a strong conditioning response to take place, especially if they have heterosexual experiences as well.Others might get more involved with homosexual behavior, which can result in a strongly conditioned response toward the same sex.And once an individual is conditioned into a homosexual lifestyle, she is most likely to attribute her circumstances to innate factors, which she has no control over, and the rest of society will agree with her.


Chapter 12: Are mental disorders biologically determined?Is there a biological cause for mental disorders?

 

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Most mental disorders are the result of environmental factors.There are some conditions that may be true diseases and have a physiologically related cause.But generally most of the mental disorders are caused by psychological factors, such as faulty learning, deficiencies in learning and the development of destructive habits.This includes emotionally related components, poor coping skills, inadequate interpersonal communications strategies, drug abuse, and many other dysfunctional behavior patterns.

††††† There are many psychiatrists and some psychologists that would disagree with the above.Their belief is that mental disorders are physiologically related diseases, which might be triggered by environmental factors.This belief gives both the psychiatrist and the patient a justification to use drugs to treat (or mask) the disorder.The belief gives the patient and her family the opportunity to escape responsibility for their dysfunctional behaviors.

††††† The belief that mental disorders are caused by physiological factors is generally not true, with perhaps some exceptions.However, it is true that all psychological states including mental disorders have a physiological effect on our bodies.This effect can range from insignificantly small (too small to measure with any instruments) to very great (easily measured with instrumentation).An example is, anxiety provoking situations change our body chemistry.This change continues until the anxiety ceases.In addition, there is some evidence that prolonged anxiety could lead to permanent physiological damage.Severe depression is another example that causes relatively large biochemical changes.However, I believe the important point to remember is that the cause of these conditions are generally environmental, with only a few exceptions.

††††† This topic is discussed in more detail in chapter 24, with the topic centered on Thomas Szasz's ideas.Thomas Szasz is a psychiatrist who wrote a book entitled the Myth of Mental Illness.


 

Chapter 13: Are Humans Basically Competitive or Cooperative?

 

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Human beings learn to be competitive or cooperative in specific situations.This learning depends on the person's culture and the details of her psychological development.We can see this by examining different cultures and the various subgroups of our own society.We can find individuals and groups that are extremely competitive and violent, such as criminal gangs.However, even the most competitive and violent group has some cooperation between group members.We also can find groups that are extremely cooperative and support just about any individual who needs assistance, such as certain religious organizations and charities, such as the Catholic church, and the Red Cross.However, even the Catholic church engaged in competitive aggressive action during the crusades.The Red Cross competes indirectly with other charities for contributions.Thus, competitive and cooperative behaviors are often involved in the same situation.This is even true with war and competitive sports.In war there is great cooperation between soldiers that are fighting for their country.There is even some cooperation between the enemy, such as international agreements on how captured soldiers are to be treated.In competitive games there are rules that are followed by all involved, which is a form of cooperation.From the above examples it becomes apparent that there are many different types of cooperation and competition all of which are essentially learned.That is, a person learns how to cooperate and how to compete in the many situations that are competitive or cooperative.

††††† To clarify the concept of competitive behavior it is necessary to make some distinctions.There are a number of types of competitive behavior, which are as follows:

      Competitive behavior that involves anger and an intent to harm the opponents.An example is two people who get into a violent argument.The ability to be angry is innate, but when to be angry and how to be aggressive is learned.

 

      Competitive behavior that involves aggressive action, but does not involve anger An example is an air force pilot dropping bombs on the enemy.This is of course learned.

 

      Competitive behavior that involves competition between people playing a game The goal is not to hurt the opponent, but to win the game, which is learned.

 

      Competitive behavior that is not apparent to the individuals involved with the competition That is, the individuals might know they are competing but it is not an obvious competition, such as competing for a mate or a job.This type of indirect competition involves no aggression against the competitors.The focus of each competitor is on obtaining a specific goal.This type of competition islearned and is discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs.

 

††††† The individuals in our society are often competing for a limited entity.Some individuals will obtain the sort after entity, others might obtain a lesser reward and some will not obtain any winnings.This type of indirect, non-aggressive competition is a major component of our society.Examples will clarify the above description, which are as follows:

 

      The competitive efforts by students for the best colleges

 

      Competition for high grades, when the grading is based on a performance curve of the class

 

      Competition in the mate selection process

 

      Competition for a good job

 

There are many other examples, but the above are the most obvious.

††††† This type of indirect competition involves selection criteria that is created by the institutions or individuals that are doing the selecting.Competitive colleges primarily base their criteria on entrance exams and prior academic performance.In grading the criteria is usually set by the instructor of the course.In the mate selection process the criteria is set by the individuals involved, but it is usually closely related to their own social status, attractiveness level, and academic success.The criteria for a job is set by the employer and primarily relates to the skills needed to perform the job.All of the above criteria are essentially rational in nature, but there are irrational selection criteria involved in all areas of our society.For example, an individual may be rejected for a job because of his race.Another example is a well‑qualified applicant for a competitive college or a job may be rejected because he does not have formal qualifications.

††††† This competition is often called a game, which is quite deceiving.It is very different from a truly competitive game in certain respects, because the primary purpose of the competition is to achieve some other purpose besides just winning.For example, college selection criteria serve to select consumers (students) that can benefit from their program.The criteria created by individuals in the mate selection process is to find a compatible mate, and traditionally for women to find a man that can provide sufficient financial support.The criteria for a job are created to select individuals that can perform that job adequately.

††††† Another component that distinguishes this competition from a game is the following.If there is no individual that fits the selection criteria the standards may be lowered in some cases, such as in a college.But there are situations where the criteria will not or cannot be changed, or it can only be lowered to a certain level.In such cases nobody will be selected, if an individual cannot be found with the right qualifications.This sometimes happens with certain types of highly specialized jobs.It often happens in the mate selection process also.If a young person cannot find an appropriate date he/she may decide to stay home on Saturday night.Some individuals even remain unmarried because they cannot find an individual that meets their selection criteria. (Of course, in mate selection people may lower their standards, but only to a certain point.)All of the above distinguishes this competition from a game.In a truly competitive game the selection criteria can be lowered to any level necessary, because the only goal is to win.However in reality (a non-game situation) very often it is better not to select anyone, if there is no applicant that has the needed qualifications.††

††††† Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this type of competition is everybody involved are not necessarily competing for the same entity, which also distinguishes it from a true game.In a real game all the competitors are trying to obtain the identical goal, that is win the game or in some gamesmaximize their winnings.For example only some students will be competing for a specific college.Only a certain category of men might be competing for a certain category of women in the mate selection process.And the same applies to the different job categories.Human beings have different preferences and goals so they are simply not all competing for the same entities.There is also usually an awareness of what they can successfully compete for, which also influences their choices.This is discussed in more detail later on in this text.

††††† Another interesting component involved with this competition, which is implied in the above paragraph, is that there is only a certain number of individuals seriously competing for an entity.As stated everybody is not interested in the same type of college, job, mate, etc, which greatly reduces the number of individuals competing for an entity.This number may be limited even more by geographical factors.Many people are not prepared to move to a different locality to attend a college or obtain a specific job.With mate selection the geographical factors are usually even more limiting.Most people would not consider moving to another state to find a potential mate.The competition is limited still further by the ability to advertise the need for competitors.An example is, a small college has a limited advertising budget, which can reach only a certain percentage of the potential students.In the job selection process, the employer may be willing to invest in a small newspaper ad.Many jobs are informally advertised by word of mouth, which limits the number of applicants even more.In the mate selection process the advertising is usually limited to†† social interactions involving friendship circles and single's meeting facilities.Thus, very often the actual number of individuals competing for a given entity is relatively small.This becomes especially obvious in the mate selection process.Most married people selected their mate from only a few potential candidates.

††††† Very often the individuals involved with this type of competition do not know who their competitors are.This is generally not important, but it is important to have a sense of their relative power as it relates to the competition.Generally, but certainly not always, the people involved with this competition know where they have a chance to compete successfully.For example, most people know which college might accept them, which job they might obtain, which type of mate may be interested in them, etc.This knowledge is a basic part of adjustment in our society.Those who are not adjusted in this sense may over or under estimate their chances in this competition.Other maladjusted individuals might have a clear picture of their chances in the competition, but they might be very dissatisfied with their chances of winning, or displeased with what they are likely to win.

††††† Generally individuals with higher social status, formal academic credentials, more money, greater intelligence, more physical attractiveness, better interpersonal skills, higher levels of motivation, and greater levels of mental and physical health will have much better chances in this type of competition.Individuals from lower socioeconomic groups with little formal education will be greatly limited in this competition, especially in relation to economic components.For example, the women in this category may be able to compete for an unemployed mate, which explains why marriage is not always formally carried out amongst the very poor.That is, the men in the lowest socioeconomic status are essentially not competitive in the job market and the women may actually do better unmarried and obtain support from welfare.

††††† Now that the distinctions of the many types of competition have been made, I will make similar distinctions for the different types of cooperation.There are a number of types of cooperative behavior, which are as follows:

 

Cooperative behavior that relates to sexual desire, such as romantic love Examples are obvious, such as two young people dating.The sexual desire is innate, but the courtship process and all the details are learned.

 

Cooperative behavior that relates to the parent child bond This can also include a foster child.There probably are some innate factors here, but how to take care of a child is a learned skill.In addition, there are a set of values that are learned in association with child care, such as how to treat a child properly.

 

cooperative behavior that relates to personal friendshipGenerally there is know single clearly defined motivation involved with this type of relationship.All of the behavior associated with friendship is learned.

 

cooperative behavior that is motivated by informal rulesOne of the motivating force behind this cooperation is an effort to avoid mild to moderate penalties such as embarrassment, rejection from friendship groups, hostile'criticism, etc.All of these rules and the needed behavior to meet the criteria of the rules are learned.

 

Cooperative behavior that is motivated by formal rules This includes the law and the written rules of conduct in school and in the workplace.It also includes the helping behavior required of instructors in school and workers on the job.The motivating force behind this behavior includes the avoidance of penalties such as imprisonment and loss of a job and in school dismissal.Obviously, all of the behaviors needed to follow these rules are learned.

 

Cooperative behavior that is motivated by job related situations or economic factors This behavior may be motivated at least partly, and usually primarily, by financial gain.However, there are situations where the cooperation is exchanged by individuals trying to get a job done, with the motivating force being either a common goal, or an exchange of assistance from a fellow worker.This type of job and economic related cooperation is learned and is a primary type of behavior found in our society.††

††††† In spite of all the competitive factors involved with our society there is far more cooperation than competition.For example, once an individual is selected in the competition there is a reluctance to replace her if a superior individual becomes available.This is especially true if a positive relationship is formed in the process.For example, if an individual obtains a job and is doing it adequately and the employee forms a satisfactory relationship with her employer, she generally would not be fired if a better employee becomes available.Another example is married people do not generally search for a superior mate to replace the one they are married to.If a more attractive mate becomes available most people would not even consider breaking up a reasonably stable marriage to form a new relationship.Even at the very early stages of mate selection, qualified individuals that are already familiar have a much better chance of being selected than an equally qualified stranger.

††††† The concept of cooperation discussed in the above paragraph is partly the result of the quality of the relationship that is formed.Thus, those who can form good relationships will have less difficulty with the competition.The reason for this is if there is some preexisting relationship they are more likely to be selected (win) if they are qualified.And once they are selected they will maintain what they won, be it a mate, a job, etc.

††††† There are of course situations where no personal relationship is involved, such as in a college or very large corporation, but even here there is some loyalty to people who have already been selected.A college will not dismiss students if an abundance of higher caliber applicants suddenly apply.Corporations usually will not fire good employees if better workers apply for the job, because it cost time and money to train new people.No matter what the situation is, there is always a risk with new applicants, which is probably one of the primary factors that facilitates cooperation and loyalty to the already selected.††

††††† Thus, from the above paragraphs it becomes obvious that human beings can be both competitive and cooperative in many situations.Are there any innate tendencies involved with these two components?This was already indicated in the earlier descriptions, but it will be expressed in more detail here.Anger is a psychological motivation that is innate and it tends to facilitate competition especially in the form of aggression toward others.However most of our competitive and even aggressive behavior, such as in law enforcement and war, usually does not involve anger.For human beings to survive and reproduce they must cooperate.Sexual desire is innate and it usually facilitates cooperation between potential and actual mates.A mother must take care of her child if it is to survive in a natural environment.This involves feeding the child milk from the mother's breast.All of this is of course biologically determined.Human beings have a brain and vocal cords (which of course is physiologically determined) that facilitates the use of language.Language is one of the primary components used to facilitate cooperation.So there are some innate factors that facilitate both competition and cooperation in human beings, butall of the behavior associated with competition and cooperation are learned.In addition, learning is the primary component that can determine what actually happens in a specific situation.For example, sexual desire can facilitate cooperation, such as in love, and aggression, such as in rape.The result is determined by how the individual learned to behave, which is closely related to the values that the individual developed in his environment.

††††† The view presented in the above paragraphs are not the only perspective on competitive and cooperative behavior.The ideas in the following paragraphs were presented in the fourth edition of psychology by Gleitman.

††††† The view of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is quite different from the complicated model of cooperation and competition presented in the above paragraphs.Hobbes view is that human beings are basically highly competitive and aggressive.If left to nature each person would compete in the most aggressive sense to try to maximize his/her gains at the expense of others.To avoid such unpleasant situations human beings form governing bodies such as the state.That is, Hobbes belief, was that this was a necessity to prevent people from destroying each other in aggressive competition, for desired entities.Essentially Hobbes belief was that human beings are vicious by nature.However, he believed that with the aid of the controlling forces of society, such as the state, people could learn to be loving and loyal.But he believed that this or any cooperative behavior was motivated by a self centered need.His view was that human beings were animals and we would act accordingly if there were no external restraints.

††††† However, in nature most warm blooded animals display social behavior including altruistic actions.This can involve distress calls when an enemy approaches.An example (from Gleitman) is a ground squirrel will give an alarm call when they sense the approach of an enemy, which serves as a warning to the other squirrels.The squirrel giving the warning is put in more danger than if he remained silent, but the other squirrels have a much better chance of escaping as a result of the warning.

††††† Thus, there is considerable evidence that both animals and human beings are highly cooperative and social.Thomas Hobbes distorted view was probably the result of his historical period.In his time, there were violent upheavals in England, which probably distorted his perspective of human nature.

††††† I believe that Hobbes was not totally wrong.A more realistic description of human nature is that there are tendencies for cooperation, compassion and competition, and without a controlling entity, the interactions between human beings tend to fall into a disorderly and/or destructive type of competition, which includes aggression.It is a general principle that systems tend to fall into disorder without a controlling entity to maintain the state of order.This principle applies to all types of systems, which includes systems of molecules, animals and people.

††††† Gleitman points out in his book that testosterone, the male sex hormone, increases aggressiveness.Perhaps a more accurate description would be that this hormone increases the tendency to be aggressive if provoked.Thus, it could be argued that males are more aggressive than women.I believe, any tendency toward greater aggression in human males is easily counteracted by learning.In actual situations men can learn to be very non-aggressive and women can be taught to be very aggressive.††† With human beings most natural tendencies can be overcome by learning.


 

Chapter 14: Is the perspective of the sociobiologist correct?(Is Darwinian evolution involved with the formation of human behavior patterns?)Or is the evolutionary process involved with human behavior really sociocultural in nature?

 

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The perspective of the sociobiologist is that there are innate predispositions that determine some of the social behavior patterns seen in human beings.The sociobiologist tries to show that these behavior patterns evolved first in animals through the evolutionary process of natural selection.However, I believe it is more likely that the behavior patterns seen in human beings have developed in a sociological process.I am calling this process sociocultural evolution, which is described in the following paragraphs.

††††† There is a process of selection and perpetuation of behavior patterns that involves social and psychological dynamics, which takes place in a specific culture.This process is reminiscent to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, but it involves sociological principles and other human behavior factors, instead of biological components.Most of the behavior patterns seen in human beings probably evolved from this process of sociocultural evolution.The process involves the following.A particular behavior pattern survives and is copied by others if it is rewarded.That is, if the behavior pattern is reinforced with rewards then it tends to be copied by at least some of the members of the culture.If the behavior pattern is not reinforced with rewards or if it is not visible to others it is not likely to be copied by others.This essentially results in extinction or a failure for the behavior pattern to propagate.This failure can happen to both dysfunctional and functional behavior patterns, under the conditions described above.

††††† Behavior patterns that are rewarded may be functional to the specific culture, which is the very reason they are rewarded.However, highly dysfunctional behavior patterns may also be rewarded and not punished at a significantly high level, which results in a survival of the behavior pattern.Behavior patterns that are severely disapproved of by the majority of people in a society can evolve because they are rewarding to some people in that culture.The use of illicit drugs by a segment of our society is an example.

††††† Thus, some of the behavior patterns that the sociobiologist

believes are the result of biological evolution are probably the result of sociocultural evolution.Certain tendencies that developed in animals as a result of Darwinian evolution may have developed for the same reasons in human society through the process of sociocultural evolution.An example is the high degree of sexual selectivity amongst females, which is found in warm blooded animals and human beings.This selectivity has a survival advantage for the animals in the wilderness, which probably evolved through Darwinian evolution.The sexual selectivity also has a survival advantage for humans in a civilized society.But I believe the process of evolvement in the human female is the sociocultural process.This becomes apparent when we realize that all human females are not highly selective, which would most likely be the case if it was an innate behavior pattern developed through Darwinian evolution.

††††† Darwinian natural selection is a process that does not require intelligence, and is the process that is involved with the behavior patterns of animals, (and of course Darwinian evolution was involved with the development of both animal and human physiology).Sociocultural evolution requires a relatively high degree of intelligence.This process is potentially much more adaptive than Darwinian evolution because the sociocultural evolution is a much faster process.Behavior patterns can evolve or become extinct within a few years.However, this rapid evolvement is not always functional.For example, the use of new types of illicit drugs can become popular with a segment of society in a couple of years.Perhaps if the process of sociocultural evolution is understood it can be controlled for the benefit of society.

††††† However, the primary point is not to confuse the instinct and innate responses of animals with the sophisticated learning and adjustment capabilities of human beings.This is one of the major points in this paper, and it is also one of the most frequently made errors of both psychologists, psychiatrists and††† laymen.This error has been made throughout history.There are probably both psychological and political motivations that perpetuate this error.


Chapter 15: A Two Stage Model of Role Development

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DEFINITIONS AND PREVIEW

THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM ROLE: The term role is used in an extremely general way in this article, and it includes the set of behaviors associated with a particular occupation, such as physician, lawyer, professor, carpenter, plumber, electrician, soldier, etc.The word role also applies to other adult behavior patterns that are not associated with an occupation, such as husband, wife, father and mother.The term even applies to deviant or unusual behavior patterns, such as mugger, burglar, bank robber, drug addict, derelict, prostitute, homosexual, and even a mental patient when the condition is primarily environmentally based.The reason for this general definition is that all of the above fit this two stage model of role development.However, from the perspective of this model a brother, sister, aunt, uncle and in-laws should not be considered roles because they do not fit the developmental pattern that this two stage model deals with.

†††† A SUMMARY Of THIS PAPER: This paper is divided into two separate parts.The summary of part one is as follows.The model deals with roles that develop in two stages, which is the case with most roles.The first stage is the development of a predisposition for a specific category or type of role, which usually happens in childhood.For example, predispositions may develop for the role of husband, father, teacher, lawyer and psychologist.The predisposition is essentially the emotional and intellectual prerequisites that are needed for a role to develop.The above includes the morals, values, attitudes, motivations and basic knowledge needed for the very beginning stages of the development of a role.

††††† During childhood many predispositions for specific types of roles may develop, with varying degrees of strength.However, only some of these predispositions will develop into roles.Stronger predispositions are more likely to develop into roles than weaker ones.Whether or not a predisposition develops into a role is determined by the individuals, groups and organizations that the individual gets successfully involved with.Thus, two individuals with the same childhood background and the same predispositions can develop very different roles in adult life, because they happened to get involved with different friends, groups, and organizations.

††††† Part two of this paper contains a more detailed discussion of predispositions and role development.This portion of the paper contains speculations on what childhood experiences will lead to various types of predispositions, such as for a criminal, drug addict, or a professional (teacher, physician, lawyer) role.The last section deals with the socializing dynamics that develop roles and the failures of these dynamics associated with poverty.

 

Part one: A Two Stage Model of Role Development

Introduction

How do people turn out the way they are in adult life?

Many believe that individuals are born with genetic predispositions to develop certain roles. This is because in many cases, it is very difficult to explain why one individual turned out to be an X and another from a similar childhood background a Y.This two stage model explains how this can happen from various environmental factors.

††††† From the perspective of this model role development is the result of two stages.More precisely, this model deals with roles that can be divided into two developmental stages, which is the case with most roles.The first stage is usually in childhood and it involves the development of predispositions for a number of adult roles*.The second stage is the actual development of specific predispositions into roles, which usually takes place in the mid teens and beyond.*NOTE (Occasionally a predisposition for a role can develop in the late teens or in adulthood, but this is unusual.In addition, in rare cases adult roles can develop in childhood, such as a music prodigy or a criminal in his early teens.In such a case the predisposition develops in early childhood and the role develops in late childhood or the early teens.) END OF NOTE

 

The First Stage, Development of a Predisposition for a Role

 

There are many factors that go into the development of a predisposition.Some of these factors are discussed in the two paragraphs that follow.However, it should be kept in mind thatall the factors and related dynamics are not necessarily obvious or even known.

††††† The child learns certain activities are rewarding and other activities are unrewarding or lead to punishment.As a result he develops likes and dislikes of various activities, such as studying, sports, aggressive behavior, taking risks, breaking rules, following rules, etc.Keep in mind that each child will learn differently.Some children might learn that aggressive behavior, risk taking, and breaking rules are rewarding.They may experience such behavior as challenging and exciting.Other children might learn that such behavior leads to punishment.Some children learn that studying their school work will lead to rewards, others might learn that it leads to frustration.The child develops certain motivations, from what was rewarded and what was unpleasant, which will most likely affect the development of his role predispositions.

††††† Additional factors that affect the development of predispositions are a child's play, morals, values, how she sees herself, social status, family, neighborhood, and academic performance.A child learns about the various adult roles, which she may mimic when she plays with other children.The child also learns a set of morals and values.Some of the morals and values might be followed in daily life and some may be un-actualized theoretical ideals.She learns to see herself in certain ways that are appropriate for her social status, primarily from the people in her family and neighborhood.People will tell her or suggest in subtle ways what will be appropriate and inappropriate adult roles for her.She also learns from her academic performance at school how to see herself, in terms of her future adult roles.Indeed, a child's academic performance is a primary factor in developing various role predispositions.Thus, from these childhood experiences certain predispositions for certain roles develop.

††††† It is important to understand, that a predisposition is essentially the emotional and very basic intellectual prerequisites that are needed for a role to develop.The above includes the morals, values attitudes, motivations and basic knowledge needed for the very beginning stages of the development of a specific type of role.The above factors can range from strong to weak.If they are strong, then a strong predisposition has developed toward a role.If they are medium then the predisposition has medium strength and if they are weak then the predisposition is also weak.In the developmental process, certain roles are essentially excluded, which do not have role predispositions, which could be thought of as a predisposition of zero strength.During childhood certain aversions toward the activities needed for the development of certain roles can develop, or a dislike of a specific role.This can be thought of as a negative predisposition toward a specific role, which can range from strongly negative to mildly negative.In general, the stronger the predisposition for a role, the greater the chances of it developing into actualized, role at some point in the individualís life.Predispositions with zero or negative values will generally never develop into roles.

††††† Predispositions are often general and apply to a number of related roles.For example, a child might develop a predisposition for a role in science.If this predisposition actually develops into a role as an adult, her occupation can be a science instructor, writer of scientific subjects, biologist, physicist, chemist, laboratory technician, etc.This isn't to say that all predispositions are general.There are some predispositions that may be quite specific.For example, the majority of Americans develop a specific predisposition for marriage, which is the role of husband or wife.

††††† A hypothetical case will serve as a simplified example, which will clarify the idea presented in the above paragraphs.Two children, Donald, and John are brought up in the same neighborhood.Their neighborhood is a very tough and poor environment.Both children are brought up in a one parent household.Donald and John learn about basic moral values from their mothers and the local church.However, these moral values are not the values that the people in the neighborhood actually live by.Both children learn that these values are theoretical ideals, and they actualize the somewhat aggressive and dishonest ways of the people they meet in the neighborhood.A primary value that is respected amongst their peers and young adults in their neighborhood is bravery and risk taking.Donald and John actualize this value to a maximum degree.Both children develop a very tough attitude and they get into fights with other children, which they usually win.They usually escape punishment for fighting and are respected by their peers for their fighting ability.Donald and John become interested in combat like activities, such as boxing, karate, target shooting, playing military games, etc.Both children also become interested in athletics and work out in the school gymnasium.Donald and John do not do well in school.They find school a very punishing and frustrating experience.However, they master basic reading writing and arithmetic, and drop out before completing high-school.According to this model, Donald and John developed predispositions for a number of adult roles that involve aggression or combat, such as a soldier, a guardian angel volunteer, an amateur or professional boxer, a karate instructor, a mugger, a bank robber, etc.However, it does not automatically follow that any of these predispositions will actually develop into roles, which is explained in the following paragraphs.

 

Second Stage, the Development of a Predisposition into a Role

 

An individual may develop many predispositions, but only a few will actually develop into roles.The experiences that an individual encounters, generally in the mid teens and beyond, determine which predispositions will develop into roles.These experiences usually take place outside the family, in most modern societies.That is, the development of a predisposition into a role is generally the result of friendship groups, gangs, the military, the college environment, trade schools, religious groups, the job market, etc.NOTE (In addition, in some cultures role development might take place more often within the family.There are unusual situations in our own culture where the role develops within the family, such as when an occupational trade is taught to the offspring by the parents.)END OF NOTE††

††††† Thus, the process of a specific predisposition developing into a role is generally determined by the people, groups and organizations that the individual gets involved with in the mid teens and beyond.The people, groups, and organizations, can have various levels of strength in relation to the process of developing roles, which can range from strong to weak.(This is discussed in detail in the last section of this paper.)

††††† The involvement with people, groups and organizations can be the result of random chance in some situations, which is usually the case with lower status jobs and deviant roles.In addition, much of the mate selection process, for the role of husband or wife is the result of chance encounters.Often an individual happened to attend a particular event at a specific point in time, which resulted in finding a marriage partner.††

††††† In general, any involvement must be successful if the predisposition is to develop into a role.For example, if an individual wants to become a lawyer, he must be accepted by a law school and must successfully complete the course of study.This even applies to the most deviant roles at some level.A prostitute must be successful in attracting customers.A drug addict must be successful at financing his habit, finding a source of drugs, and avoiding arrest.A homeless derelict must be successful at obtaining food.

††††† The process of role development usually involves the learning of new skills, the reinforcing of certain previously held values, the learning of new values, and the rejection of some previously held ideas.The individual generally learns to see herself and describe herself to others in terms of her roles.The acquisition of the skills and all the other elements of role development take place over a period of time and involve repetition and practice.

††††† This practice can be on a conscious and deliberate level, such as a serious music student practicing to become a professional musician.The actions of the music student are planned in advance.However, in certain situations the learning of the skills and the other elements needed for a role, can take place partly or totally on an unconscious and non-deliberate level.A small amount of this type of learning is probably present in most roles.However, much unplanned and unconscious learning is most likely to happen with deviant roles.An example is an individual who is developing the role of a derelict.Such an individual does not usually plan to live on the streets and learn the needed skills.He may find himself without food and shelter and learn to survive on the streets.††

††††† An important part of role development is psychological and social adjustment to the role.This process of role adjustment involves many factors, and some are explained below.The individual must learn to feel relatively comfortable with the image she projects to the people who see her in her role.In the beginning stages of role development the individual might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed with this image.People learn to excuse themselves in various ways by using their roles.The examples of the music student and the derelict will illustrate the role adjustment process, which are presented in the following two paragraphs.

††††† The music student must learn to perform in front of an audience.She must see herself as a musician, and she must project the right image to the audience.The student must learn appropriate behaviors for stage performances.She also learns to describe herself to others in terms of being a musician.The student learns to explain herself in such terms also.Her excuses may be based on her role of an aspiring musician.She may say I cannot attend your party; I have a performance that day.I am sorry, I am late, I had to rehearse for the performance.

††††† The derelict must learn to project a non-threatening image, to succeed in begging and to avoid arrest.He must learn to feel relatively comfortable in his role.At first he might be quite embarrassed that he is homeless with dirty clothes.Perhaps he might try to hide this fact from others.As time passes, he will feel less embarrassed about his image.As he develops the fine art of begging he will consider his image an asset and openly project it to the public.This will further facilitate the development of his role.It will help with his begging and he will have excuses for dirty clothes, sleeping on the street, and asking strangers for money.

†††† There are a number of factors that serve to maintain a role as soon as it starts to develop.These factors get stronger once the role has developed and includes: personal relationships, a tendency for one role to limit the development of other roles, an addictive like property of certain roles.The above are discussed in the following five paragraphs.††

††††† People generally interact on a primary (friendly personal and non-business) level with individuals with similar roles.Primary interactions are also common between individuals with similar role statuses.That is, people tend to make personal friends with others who are in similar occupational roles.People tend to marry individuals who have roles that are similar in status.Deviants tend to form close personal relationships with individuals who are in similar deviant roles.This is partly because of mutual understanding of similar roles and also it is the result of physical proximity.

††††† However, there are additional dynamics involved with deviants.Individuals that are involved with deviant roles may have little choice of primary relationships (personal friendships and mates).They may be misunderstood, mistreated and/or rejected by the general population.The attitude of others might be that the deviant does not meet their moral standards for any type of personal relationship.The deviant may simply be considered an individual that would pose risks and major inconveniences if any type of personal involvement was allowed to develop.For example, a prostitute is most likely to have other prostitutes as friends.One of the reasons for this is a young woman in a different field might feel that her reputation would be threatened if she had a friend as a prostitute.Her parents would also most likely be concerned if such a friendship formed.These restricting dynamics apply to most deviant roles and inadvertently serve to reinforce and maintain the role.††††

††††† It is perhaps obvious from the above paragraphs that once certain roles develop they may exclude or limit the possibility of other roles developing.The strengthening and reinforcing of certain values and behavior can limit the acceptability of the individual for other roles, which serves to maintain the individual in the same role.This is especially true with deviant roles.A simple example is very few if any employer would consider a heroin addict for an occupational role, and most people would not consider such an individual for a husband or wife.In addition, there is generally a considerable investment of time in the development and behaviors associated with a role, which limits the possibility of the development of other roles.For example, it takes medical student years to become a doctor.Once she is a doctor she may spend many hours a day in her practice.This massive time investment certainly limits the possibility of developing other occupational roles.

††††† In general, once a role has started to develop or has actually developed it becomes a more or less permanent entity. The reason for this is partly seen in the above paragraphs, but there are additional factors involved.Once a role starts to develop, habitual behavior associated with the role start to develop.In addition, there are almost always some rewards associated with a role.The rewards may be just to escape from the burden of an unpleasant life, such as with the role of a heroin addict.Or the rewards can partly or totally be financial, as with occupational roles.Thus, the development of habitual behavior patterns and rewards are important components in the developmental process and maintenance of a role.

††††† If a role is suddenly terminated it may cause severe emotional stress, because the habitual behavior and the rewards associated with the role will be interrupted.Essentially the role becomes an addictive entity.Indeed, sometimes it is the true chemical addiction, such as with a drug addict.However, there is often emotional stress that can be quite severe when an occupational or marriage role is terminated.The role may be maintained simply to avoid the suffering associated with the termination of the role.NOTE (This can be a real problem when rehabilitation counselors are working with individuals who are in deviant roles.And obviously, the addictive like response to an undesirable role, is a primary difficulty for the individual who wants to make changes to more constructive roles.A way around the difficulty is to help the individual develop non-deviant roles, which would interfere with the undesirable role.This would probably only work if the individual truly wanted to make constructive changes in his life.) END OF NOTE

††††† To clarify the principle discussed in the previous†† paragraphs, on the second stage of role development, I will return to the hypothetical example of Donald.Let us assume that Donald happens to meet individuals from the toughest criminal gang in the neighborhood.If given the opportunity it is quite likely that Donald will join the criminal gang, because of his predisposition in this area.It is also likely once he joins the gang that he will take on the role of a criminal and learn to commit serious offenses.In this process his values of aggressive behavior will be reinforced, and as he matures his aggression might be channeled toward economic gain.As he continues in this process of role development Donald will see himself as an outlaw.He will find rationalizations to justify his criminal behavior.

†††† If our hypothetical John was given the opportunity that Donald was offered, it is most likely that he would accept it also because he has the same predispositions as Donald.However, John happens to meet an army recruiter.It is likely that he might be interested and join, because of his predisposition in this area.In the army John will learn the values, skills and role of a soldier.Thus, Donald will develop into a criminal and John will develop into a soldier.Perhaps, by the time John leaves the armed services his educational deficiency would be remedied and he would be interested in developing other roles, such as a karate instructor.By this time Donald might be in prison, serving a long sentence, which could limit his opportunity to develop other roles.If John did well in the army, the possibility of ever developing any criminal role might be reduced or eliminated.The people who knew the two boys would be asking the question why one turned into a criminal and why the other turned into a highly respectable individual.

††††† Thus, two individuals who have very similar childhood backgrounds can develop very differently.That is, they may have developed the same predispositions in childhood, but in the mid teens and beyond they may encounter different experiences as they interact with the society at large.The result is different predispositions develop into different roles of each person.Thus, there can be a considerable amount of unpredictability involved with role development.This was, and is, attributed by many individuals to genetic factors, which is quite wrong according to this model.NOTE (In chapter 11, the two stage model of role development is used to explain the development of a specific sexual orientation.)

††††† This model does not rule out genetic involvement at some level.For example, a ballet dancer may become great because of genetic factors coupled with years of practice.However, the development of the role, which includes the motivation to spend years at practice, is environmentally determined according to this model.There can be individuals that have excellent genetic potential to become ballet dances, but the predispositions developed in childhood did not include ballet dancing.Such an individual could in theory develop into a lazy overweight housewife, a waitress a gymnast or an acrobat.The determining factor would be environmental not genetic.

††††

Part two: Now this Model can be Advanced Further

 

More About, the First Stage, Predispositions

If we can explain a number of patterns that lead to specific predispositions the model will be more useful.To do this in a precise way would take a considerable effort.It would involve the study of the childhood background of hundreds of individuals.However, it is relatively easy to make speculations, on the childhood dynamics that lead to specific predispositions.The hypothetical example of Donald and John is a speculation that is probably fairly accurate.To be more precise, a predisposition for criminal behavior can develop under the following conditions:

 

      A poor neighborhood, which has many criminal role models

 

      Lack of supervision and guidance from responsible individuals, which is more likely to happen in a single parent household

 

      Poor school performance, which can be the result of lack of supervision, uneducated parents who cannot assist in the educational process of their children, and a school curriculum that is not designed to rectify the deficiencies of its pupils

 

      Exposure to aggressive behavior, especially when it is not followed by negative sanctions, which can include child abuse, fighting between children, and physical aggression between adults

 

      A child that spends much of her spare time in the street without responsible supervision, which can happen as a result of parents that are not competent, inadequate housing conditions, and lack of appropriate supervised activities in the neighborhood

 

An important point must be made here.The above is certainly not the only set of environmental circumstances that can lead to a predisposition for criminal behavior.Another set of childhood circumstances that can result in a predisposition toward criminal behavior, is an individual who is brought up by parents who are involved with organized crime.The child may learn the basic criminal philosophy and values from his parents.In general there are probably a number of environmental circumstances that can lead to a development of the same predispositions.

I should emphasize that this applies to all types of predispositions.This should not be surprising because we know that there are people from very different childhood backgrounds that can end up in the same adult roles.

††††† I will speculate further on the childhood experiences that result in various predispositions for specific adult roles.If a child experiences all of the following he is likely to develop a number of predispositions for professional roles, such as doctor, lawyer, professor, etc:

 

      A middle class background, with college educated parents

 

      The child does well in school, perhaps because her educated parents encourage and assist her in the educational process

 

      Her parents teach her to be self-disciplined and a responsible individual

 

      Her parents teach her to respect and actualize the values of middle class culture

 

††††† Another example of a childhood background that can produce the same predispositions toward professional roles is quite†† different from the above.A child that is brought up in a poor family can also develop predispositions for professional roles, even if the parents are ignorant of the middle-class American ways.This can happen if they teach their children to become highly self-disciplined and moral individuals, and strongly encourage academic success.Such parents might put restrictions on their children social interactions.They may not allow their children to make friends with most of the other children and adults in the neighborhood.This would be especially true if the neighborhood is a high crime area.They probably would not allow their children to play in the neighborhood unless they were closely supervised by responsible individuals.They are likely to force their children to invest a considerable amount of time studying.Such parents are also likely to emphasize that success is likely to happen as a result of studying.They are likely to encourage their children, and emphasize that academic success and college will lead them out of poverty.Such parents are likely to have a very positive attitude toward their children, and form close relationships with them.They are likely to be very proud of the academic achievements of their children.However, they are likely to maintain strict discipline until their children marry and leave their home.†††

††††† The developmental process of all role predispositions is not necessarily as obvious as the examples given in the above paragraphs.Some predispositions might be very general.†† A tendency to experiment with whatever life happens to offer, is an example of such a predisposition.The childhood development of such a predisposition, in a middle class family, might appear to be quite healthy.However, whether it develops into a healthy role or a deviant role is a matter of chance.Needless to say a young adult with such a predisposition could develop serious difficulties if he happens encounter a group who is involved with addictive drugs or other illegal activities.However, if such an individual happened to get involved with constructive friendship groups and organizations he might be quite successful in life.If the individual got involved with the drug taking group and started to use drugs, the psychological dynamics that caused the problem would not be understandable from conventional models of psychology, or from the commonsense psychology of the layman.The parents would not know where they went wrong.The psychologist might try to explain the problem in terms of an abnormal childhood or a stressful lifestyle.However, he would probably find that the childhood was essentially normal, and there was no more stress on this drug taker than on other young people.The psychiatrist might say that this individual was very susceptible to the normal stresses of life, (because of unknown and undetectable biochemical abnormalities) which facilitated the drug habit.

††††† The point is that most likely there are many predispositions that are of a general nature and are not necessarily good or bad.The developmental process of such predispositions in childhood, would not appear to be undesirable, but can develop into either deviant or conventional roles in the teens and adulthood.Thus, trying to understand the dynamics, which cause the development of a role, is not easy.There is a temptation to blame the problem on biochemistry, an abusive childhood, or on society in general.In some cases one or more of the above could be the cause.However, the point is that there are cases where deviant roles might develop, simply because of certain general types of predispositions, which do not incorporate restrictions toward certain behaviors.When young people with such predispositions encounter a deviant group there is a chance that they will become involved and develop deviantbehavior patterns.

 

More About, the Second Stage, Role Development

It is necessary to begin this section with a definition.The term socialization means in this paper, the process of learning the skills, norms and values, as it relates to one's role within a group, an organization, or a society.This process can involve formal and informal learning, suggestion, subtle influence of other group members, rewards for proper learning and behavior, punishments for failures and misbehavior.An important component of the socialization process is modeling the behavior of others who are in similar roles.The individual learns about the roles of his superiors and how she is to relate to these higher status people.She also learns about the roles of lower status individuals and how to treat them.That is, the individual learns her place in relation to others and how to carry out her role.Each role that an individual takes on is mastered through this process of socialization.

††††† In the following paragraphs the above concept is used a number of times.Keep in mind the above definition, especially as it relates to developing a role.

††††† Just as predispositions have various levels of strength, as was already discussed, the socializing dynamics of groups or organizations also have various levels of strength.The stronger the socializing dynamics of a group or organization the bigger the chances are that a newcomer with a specific predisposition will actually develop the role and be successful at that role.For example, if students with average qualifications enter a specific medical school and almost all become excellent doctors, that school has very strong socializing strength.On the other hand if most of the students failed and the few that became doctors were very inadequate, that medical school would have weak socializing strength.If most of the students became average doctors that school would have perhaps medium socializing strength.

††††† A real example of strong socializing strength can be seen in the armed forces.They generally have a fairly high success rate in socializing civilians into soldiers.An example of weak socializing strength can be seen in the New York City public schools in poor neighborhoods.This is most noticeable in the high-schools, because of the large dropout rate.A counter argument to this is that these public schools have poor students, or in terms of this model the students have weak predispositions for any occupation that requires an education above the junior high-school level.Whether the argument or counter argument is correct is a relative concept, and the point I am trying to make is that the idea of socializing strength is also a relative†† concept.However, if one starts with the philosophy that the students are poor quality students, then the school escapes responsibility for correcting the difficulty, which also saves money.However, if the New York City public school looks at the difficulty in terms of its failure to socialize students who are in poverty, then the problem can be corrected by increasing the socializing strength of the schools.Of course, the question arises, how can this be done?†† The answer is explained in the paragraphs that follow.

††††† The socializing strength of a group or organization can be increased or decreased by changing the socializing dynamics.The socializing dynamics can be changed in four ways: strength, direction, method and environment.This is explained in the following four paragraphs.

††††† Primary components of the socialization process are various types of learning, suggestion, rewards and punishments.These components can be changed in strength.That is, they can be increased or decreased.One of the simplest ways of increasing the relative impact of these components is increasing the length of time that the individual is exposed to the components.(There are other ways that this can be done, but I will not discuss them in this paper because of the degree of complexity involved.)

††††† The direction of the socializing dynamics relates to what is being taught (the type of socialization) by the group, organization, or society, with respect to long term goals.For example, most middle-class school systems prepare their students for college, which is a direction.The army prepares the recruits to be good foot soldiers, which is another example of a direction.The direction is not necessarily intentionally planned, such as a school system that has a curriculum and policy that causes many of its students to dropout, which is also a direction.Thus, it is perhaps obvious that direction can be changed also.One method of facilitating the change of an undesirable direction of a group or organization is to make all concerned aware of the undesirable impact of their actions and policies.††

††††† The term method relates to how the material is being taught to the members that are being socialized into a role.Certain material may be taught by a teacher, and other material might be informally taught by other members of the group or organization.Both correct and incorrect ideas can be taught by peers.

†††††††† Books, television, film and computers can also be involved with this learning process.Obviously all of the above can be changed in various ways, but what works better would probably be determined by the circumstances of a specific group or organization.

††††† The environment is the physical space where the socialization takes place.It includes the general atmosphere of the physical space and its contents.It also includes the influence of the people in the physical space.The security of the space is also an element of the environment, such as safety from crimes and accidents.The environment keeps out undesirable factors, which can range from distractions, the undesirable influence and actions of nonmembers, uncomfortable weather, etc.The above factors can be changed in many ways that will modify the socialization process.For example, if the space is small, with good security, a small friendly staff and several newcomers, the socialization process would take place on a more personal level.In such an environment there is less likely to be dishonest actions, unless it is by mutual consent.On the other hand, if the environment is made larger, with poor security, a large impersonal staff, several hundred newcomers, the socialization process would be less friendly.In such an environment there is more likely to be dishonesty.(The above example was to illustrate a principle and the cause and effect relationships described might not manifest under many conditions.)

††††† I will show how changing the socializing dynamics can be used to correct a socialization problem, using the New York public schools that serve the poor, as an example.The goal is to increase the socializing strength by changing the socializing dynamics.As already stated the socializing dynamics can be changed in four ways: strength, direction, method, and environment.Thus, to correct the deficiency in this school system, we can make changes in one or more of the above.This is explained in the following four paragraphs.

††††† The strength can be increased by increasing the number of school hours, perhaps from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. with rest periods and supervised recreation breaks.The school can be run on a year round basis, requiring that the students attend school in the summer.The direction can be changed by changing the curriculum, to deal with the problems in the neighborhood and prepare the students for college level work and professional roles.The method can be changed by requiring that homework be completed in school under the supervision of tutors.Thus, students that need any assistance with homework will have the help immediately available.The school environment can be improved by providing security that is sufficiently strong and prominent that it removes any concern for safety.The environment can also be improved by changing the attitudes of all concerned.This can be done by providing therapeutic workshops to improve the attitudes of parents, students, teachers and other school employees.(Of course, the above was greatly simplified for the purposes of illustrating the basic principle of changing the socializing dynamics.)

††††† This basic idea (changing the socializing dynamics) can be applied to any agency that is involved with the socialization process and role development.However, in many cases, such as the New York City schools, the issue really is financial, and it is not a lack of effective methodologies to solve the problem.

†††† There are many methodologies and models of human development besides the model I presented in this paper.Some of these models are ideas that are simply based on the common sense of the layman.Applying most of the models, including the two stage model of role development presented in this text, would more or less suggest the same basic actions to solve many of the problems in the New York City schools.Such models would also suggest solutions for other socialization failures that are associated with poverty.Thus, the real reason these problems of socialization failure are not corrected is financial.That is, these problems can be corrected, but paying the bill is the difficulty.Perhaps the right question is who should be held responsible for paying the bill.

††††† In the past, when additional money was applied to the socialization process many sociological problems were reduced or solved.Many individuals developed professional and semi-professional roles as a result.We can see this by looking at history.The government financing of the public school system educated huge numbers of Americans.Most college students receive some type of government assistance, such as government guaranteed student loans, veteranís benefits for college and other types of federal and state grants.However, there are segments of our society that are not in a position to take full advantage of such programs.These segments need programs to deal with their special socialization and role development problems of poverty.This obviously would require a source of funding, which does not exist.


 

Chapter 16: Goffman saw much social interaction as "impression management." Can you think of any social interactions that do not involve impression management?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

 

There probably is no social situation that does not involve any impression management.That is, there is probably almost always some impression management when there is more than one person on the scene.The point to examine is that the amount of impression management varies from very low (perhaps almost zero) levels to very high levels.

††††† A very low level of impression management manifests when two family members are alone.This is probably especially true if they are both engrossed in activities that distract from the fact that they are in the same physical space.Family members that are in a heated argument are another example where there is a very low level of impression management.This can even be true in public if the argument is really out of control.

††††† In the above situations if the individuals are very young children there will be practically no impression management, because impression management is learned.The infant has no conception of the rules and customs of his society.He does not know the consequences of making a bad impression.The infant is probably not embarrassed of anything he does.However, one can argue that there is some spontaneous impression management with infants (especially toddlers).When people enter the room the infantís behavior and reactions may change.Whether or not this is true impression management is debatable, because impression management usually involves a controlled or inhibitory set of responses to control the impression that others perceive.The very young infants may respond to the presence of others, but the infant is probably not concerned about what others will think of him.He is concerned about obtaining food, being relieved of uncomfortable wet diapers, or obtaining some stimulation from the people in his environment.Of course, we do not really know what an infant is thinking about, but no doubt the lowest level of impression management is exhibited by the infant.

††††† Situations where there is more impression management than within the family are in school and in the workplace.Both the student and the employee usually want to make an impression that they are respectable, self-disciplined and hard workers.Mediocre students and workers might be more inclined to worry about their impression than the more successful and hard working individuals.The more successful hard workers will spontaneously project the right impression.They really do not have to do any acting to convey the right image to others.However, the less successful mediocre individuals may have to pretend (act) that they are working hard when the professor or boss scrutinizes their work and behavior.

††††† The situations that involve the most impression management are large formal ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals.Such events may be televised if they involve royalty or famous individuals.This probably increases the tendency to manage impressions even more.

††††† Thus, impression management varies from very low to very high, but there are other dimensions involved with the management of the personal images and information projected to others.††† One of these dimensions is honesty versus dishonesty.The individual in a given situation can project an image that ranges from honesty, an accurate representation of himself, to dishonesty, a fraudulent representation of who he is.Another dimension, or perhaps a set of dimensions, is the nature of the image that is being projected.For example, teenagers may want to project one type of image to their parents and another type of image to their friends.This can be stated another way basically we try to project an image that is appropriate to our roles.Our roles may vary from one environment to another an in each environment we must project an appropriate image to be accepted by the other individuals involved.In some of these environments we can relax our guard and in other environments we must focus a considerable amount of energy to project the right image.We want to and need to make the right impression to survive in a successful way in our society.


Chapter 17: What are the causes of prejudice?What is theauthoritarian personality type?What are its characteristics?Does this phenomenon adequately account for prejudice or are there other explanations?

 

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What is the authoritarian personality type?What are its characteristics?

 

An authoritarian personality is a definition that consists ofall of the following characteristics:

      A individual that generally submits to authority without question Such a personality in a certain sense worships authority.This type of personality essentially has a strong need or willingness to submit to (who he perceives as) legitimate authority.

 

      A individual that generally is prejudice toward minority groups This prejudice can be focused on Jews, black people, Latins, Asians, foreigners, and other minority classifications.

 

      A individual that generally is harsh to inferiors If he sees himself in a position of authority he will be inclined to be very strict and penalizing toward his inferiors.

 

      A individual that generally believes in severe punishment for deviations from established rulesThis type of person is likely to vote for conservative candidates that are advocating strong law and order policies.

 

      A individual with a generalized hostilityThe hostility,is focused on minority groups, and individuals of lower status.There generally will be no apparent hostility toward established authority.

 

††††† I have never actually met anyone that fits this definition, but no doubt there are people that have the characteristics of an authoritarian personality.That is, in our large society there are probably many people who fit the definition.However, there are far more individuals that have a few of the characteristics described in the above definition.

††††† Can the problems of prejudice (such as racism, sexism and negative attitudes toward the poor) be explained in terms of the authoritarian personality?Most people that are prejudice probably do not have the characteristics of an authoritarian personality.However, some of the prejudice attitudes in our society can probably be attributed to the authoritarian personality type.I use the word some, because the authoritarian personalities probably represent only a tiny percentage of the population.However, a larger percentage of the problem of prejudice may be related to people who have some of the characteristics of this personality type.But most of the problem probably comes from other factors.A more sophisticated model of prejudicial behavior is presented below.

††††† Question, what causes most of the prejudice if it is not all caused by the authoritarian personality type.The answer is many different factors are involved with prejudicial attitudes and discrimination.There is probably no single cause for this problem, which is the case with many behavioral problems.Some of the factors that might be involved with prejudicial behavior are the following eight components (which have explanations that range in length from one sentence to three paragraphs):

 

1) A difficulty in empathizing with people who have different characteristics, which is a primary factor in most types of prejudicial behaviorIt is easy to empathize with people who are similar to us, which will motivate assistance if such people need help.We are more likely to treat people fairly if we can empathize with them.And just the opposite is true.If people have characteristics that are different than ours it may be more difficult to empathize with them.This can include skin color, language, culture, social status, religion, educational level, age, occupation, and many other characteristics.We may, in a certain sense, see people with different characteristics as creatures from a different species.That is, we might have difficulty seeing them as human, in the same sense that we see ourselves.This is especially true if we also see the people as lower in social status or inferior to ourselves in some important respects.In such cases mistreatment and even violent conflict is quite possible.For example, the black slaves and American Indians were perceived as savages by the early Americans that enslaved the blacks and pushed the Indians off their land.There was no empathy; the early Americans did not perceive them as human beings on an emotional level.If we examine history such responses are unfortunately common in situations that fit the above criteria, of a difference in characteristics coupled with a belief that relates to inferiority.Another way of understanding this concept is when people have different characteristics there is no empathy, and without empathy the more powerful group will probably, sooner or later, exploit the less powerful group.We see this in contemporary society with the poor, especially poor minorities, who receive extremely low wages for their labor.

 

2) Institutionalized racismInstitutionalized racism is an inadvertent type of racism, which is the result of the structure of our society and its institutions.The typical school system in America is designed to teach middle class students, who are self-disciplined, and who have good English language skills.If an individual enters the school system that does not have the above prerequisites, she will most likely have a very difficult time, and probably would not succeed in completing high-school.Of course, such an individual could be educated to the highest levels if the system was designed to correct her deficiencies.But the system is designed to correct the deficiencies of middle class kids, not the deficiencies of impoverished minorities.Thus, institutionalized racism is the result of institutions that were designed for a segment of society (usually the more powerful segment), or to maintain the status quo.An example, of an institution that inadvertently maintains the status quo is the welfare system.This system does not correct or circumvent the factors that put its clients into poverty.It just maintains a minimum subsistence level for the very poor.If their clients get off welfare they still would be poor because their deficiencies have not been corrected, which means they cannot obtain a well paying job.

††††† Thus, institutionalized racism is the result of inappropriate design of the institutions of our society to deal with the problems of certain segments of our population.The people who have the power to redesign the institutions have little motivation to do so.These people are very different than the poor minorities, (and as explained in 1)) there is not likely to be much empathy, which could motivate improvements.

3) Certain prejudicial personality typesThis can include the authoritarian personality and those who possess some of the traits associated with this personality type.However, there are most likely other personality types that are inclined to be prejudice.For example, some people have a personality that is based on certain types of conservative ideas.Specifically the ideas are: that the life situations of people are preordained, and those with unfortunate situations are inferior and/or evil, which means their situation cannot and should not be changed.Some of these people may be religious and their view might be that aperson's life situation is preordained by God and thus it is essentially unchangeable.People with this personality type are most likely far more numerous than the authoritarian personality.Unlike the authoritarian personality they are not necessarily hostile, but they may believe in their own divine or natural superiority.Their views results in the maintenance of the status quo especially with respect to racism, poverty and sexism.Their overall attitude is essentially respectable, they are not filled with hatred, but they are prejudiced, by definition.(If they have the above traits and are not prejudiced then they do not fit the definition of the personality type that I am defining.)Some people who are of this personality type may feel sympathy for the less fortunate segments of society, but their belief is that such things cannot and should not be changed.They may support legislation and charities to maintain the poor, including impoverished minorities at their current economic status.But they are likely tooppose legislation that is intended to change the status of the above.This will be especially true, if the legislation is expensive or if they think it might endanger the existing status structure of our society.††

 

4) Irrational beliefs about a segment of the population These incorrect beliefs can include ideas such as minorities and women are genetically inferior, minorities and the poor are lazy, etc.Some of the irrational beliefs can be created as a result of generalizations from relatively unusual circumstances.For example, if a few black people commit crimes, the irrational belief that results from the generalization is all black people are criminals.Thistype of irrational thinking is present in many types of prejudicial behavior.††

 

5) Concern of high taxes and scapegoating in terms of racism and prejudice against the poorThis may be based on frustration and irrational beliefs, such as poor minority groups are consuming all the tax revenue.

†† †††NOTE (The scapegoating is not necessarily done on a conscious level.This applies to all the sections where the word scapegoating is used in this paper.)

 

6) Fear of crime and scapegoating in terms of racismThe people are informed that more minority individuals are being arrested andof high crime rates in certain minority neighborhoods, which results in fear and makes scapegoating easy.

 

7) Concern for the deterioration of the cities and scapegoating in terms of racism This may be based on frustration, fear of crime and irrational beliefs, such as minority groups are destroying the cities.

 

8) Frustration over adverse economic conditions (such as unemployment) and scapegoating in terms of: racism, sexism,prejudice toward the poor or other segments of the populationThis may be based on frustration and irrational beliefs, such as minority groups and women are taking the jobs away from the respectable workers.

 

††††† From the eight components and their explanations we can isolate eight fundamental factors that can be involved with prejudicial behavior.These eight fundamental factors show prejudice from a slightly different angle.There are some similarities between the first list of eight components, because some of the components appear to be fundamental factors.The fundamental factors of prejudicial behavior are as follows:

1) Difference in characteristicsOne segment of society has characteristics that are different from the rest of society.When there is prejudicial behavior this factor is always present.But of course, it does not logically follow that a difference in characteristics will automatically cause prejudicial behavior.

 

2) An inability to empathizeOne segment of society cannot empathize with another.Or the empathy may be significantly less when dealing with individuals of certain segments of society.This is usually, but not always, a factor in prejudicial behavior.

 

3) A difference in powerThis is a major factor with prejudice against minorities and the poor.This factor is usually, but not always, involved with prejudicial behavior.When power is a factor the dynamics can be that the more powerful simply take advantage of the less powerful.And/or the less powerful might resent the more powerful, which could happen (in some cases) even if the more powerful are not prejudiced.Power becomes especially relevant when we are considering economic power.However, political and military power can be more important in some cases.††

 

4) Prejudiced personality typesThis is often a part of the problem of prejudicial behavior, however you could not explain the wide spread discrimination in our society with this factor alone.Thus, this factor is not present in all types of prejudicial behavior.

 

5) The structure of a system that puts certain people at a disadvantageThis is a primary cause of discrimination against minorities and the poor in our society, but it is not present with all types of prejudicial behavior.The prejudice that results is usually inadvertent from thisfactor.

 

6) Irrational beliefs about certain segments of society††† Irrational beliefs may be used as a rationalization to excuse discrimination.This factor is not always present with all types of prejudicial behavior.

 

7) Irrational generalizingThis factor involves coming to irrational conclusions about people through the process of generalizing.This type of irrational thinking is based on a conclusion that an entire category of people are the same, which is usually based on a small sample.For example, if we find that a few individuals from a minority group are criminals, and conclude that all minorities are criminals, then we are guilty of irrational generalizing.This factor is present in most (but not all) types of prejudice.

 

8) ScapegoatingThe scapegoating is usually associated with frustration, anger, fear, hatred and/or confusion mixed with various types of emotional reactions, which could include guilt.The scapegoating is not necessarily done on a conscious level.This factor is not always present with all types of prejudicial behavior.††

 

††††† Who are the victims of prejudice?The obvious answers are minority groups, women and the poor.In addition, we can include the elderly, the physically handicapped, homosexuals, lesbians, and individuals with psychiatric disorders.People in the above category no doubt have a major problem with prejudicial attitudes of others.However, there are other segments of our society that suffer from this problem.People from these segments are not usually considered victims of prejudicial attitudes but they are victims nevertheless.That is, their problems and the attitudes they face from society are not usually conceptualized as discrimination or prejudice by themselves or the rest of society.Some of these mistreated segments of our society are discussed in the following paragraphs.

††††† The largest unrecognized category of victims of prejudice and discrimination are males.This may seem strange to some readers, because we do not usually define this segment of our society as a victim of discrimination.In our society men are often thought of by some as potentially evil, dangerous, and sexually aggressive and promiscuous.Television and the film industries often depict males in stereotyped roles that facilitate negative attitudes toward males.In addition, many of the laws discriminate against men.The alimony laws are very unfavorable toward males and men are drafted to fight wars.Male occupations are often far more dangerous and dirty than occupations for women.The life expectancy of males is shorter than women.I believe that a major cause for this is the additional stresses that are placed on males.Biology might also be involved, but probably social dynamics are a more important cause.This of course becomes obvious when we consider war and dangerous occupations.Men are often mistreated by (some) women just because they are men.Very often men find, in marriage they are used as a source of income and nothing more.Many find that they do not even receive a minimum degree of respect from their own families.When they return from work they are ignored and treated in a rather disrespectful manner.In some relationships the man is subjected to extreme psychological abuse by his female partner, this can involve severe verbal statements indicating inadequacy, ridiculing and cursing.Of course, the above does not apply to all relationships, but it is not uncommon for males to be mistreated to some extent in their relationships.

††††† In general, some men might escape the consequences of the prejudicial attitudes as a result of certain types of circumstances, such as a relatively high level of wealth or being involved with non-prejudicial segments of society.This also applies to all types of discrimination.Some individuals do not experience the negative consequences of prejudicial attitudes of others.

††††† If we compare the level of prejudice and discrimination faced by both sexes, the level of injustice faced by men are many times greater than what women deal with.However, this reality does not excuse discrimination against women.If our society ever recognizes the problem of discrimination against men, the way of correcting the difficulty should not be to take away the rights women have obtained in their political struggle.The goal should be to create a more functional system for all.For example, people can learn to treat men with more respect, dangerous occupations can be made safer and made available to both sexes.Both the law and our social expectations from men can be made more functional and fair without taking anything away from women.Ideally the women's movement should continue to make progress toward a more functional society for women, but the point is we need a men's movement to make the society more functional for men also.If society continues to develop without a strong men's movement the development will most likely be channeled inadvertently toward a more dysfunctional system for men.

††††† Another unrecognized category of victims of prejudice are young people, from 7 to about 25.Individuals in this age range are trusted less and are often treated with little respect by older people. People in this category are generally students, and they deal with a system that was structured for the convenience of the employees of the school.The school system that they are faced with compares their performance in a very cruel way.Some students get As others get Bs some get Cs, Ds and Fs, which remains on their record for life.This concept is very dysfunctional and unfair, which may not be readily apparent because it is a major part of our culture.On the surface there appears to be no other feasible method.However there are many.One alternative is to give grades that are temporary, if they are less than an A.Then additional class study, tutoring and/or self study can be used to raise the grade to an A.With the current discriminatory system, students that received marks lower than As will have academic deficiencies in that subject area, which will remain throughout their lifetime.For example if an individual performed in elementary school at a C level, he will have deficiencies, which could have been corrected with additional assistance.With the non-discriminatory method a C would mean that the student needs more assistance and practice in that subject.An A would mean that he has mastered the subject, and does not need additional assistance.

††††† Generally young people are placed under tremendous stress especially 14 to the early 25.They are placed under severecompetition in the school environment, which is unnecessary as explained above.The males in this age category are not sure ifthey will live, or die in a war.People in this category are most likely to be underpaid if they try to find a job.Other discriminatory acts involve child abuse for the younger segment (7 to 15).Teenagers are often kicked out of their parents house after an angry argument.There are many more stresses placed on young people.The discrimination and resulting stress placed on young people explains the rebellious attitudes and heavy use of drugs.From this group the individuals that probably receive the most discrimination and abuse are poor black males from 14-to 24.This explains the relatively high use of drugs and the high crime rate amongst this segment of society.However, even the wealthiest white individuals receive some mistreatment in this age group.

††††† A counter argument to the above two paragraphs is that the relatively harsh treatment that young people are exposed to is discipline, which is essential to create responsible adults.However, a distinction must be made between discrimination, mistreatment and healthy discipline that relates to the enforcement of equitable rules.The discriminatory treatment I am talking about contributes to crime, drug abuse, and psychological disorders.†††

††††† Another unrecognized category of victims of prejudice relates to occupation.Policemen, physicians, semiskilled and unskilled workers, are all examples of victims.(There are many other occupations that have this problem associated with them, but the following paragraphs are limited to the above examples.)†††††††† Police are often distrusted and disliked by a large segment of society just because of their occupation.Some of these negative attitudes may have developed because of political protest movements of the sixties, seventies, and eighties.Some people in these movements classified all policemen as pigs.Another component that facilitates prejudicial behavior toward this occupational group, are cases of improper behavior of some police, which is spread and amplified by the news media.This bad publicity may be irrationally generalized to all policemen by some segments of society.Probably another contributing cause is many people have had unpleasant interactions with the police, which for most people relates to automotive violations.The extent of the discrimination resulting from the prejudice attitudes toward police is probably (usually) limited to their social life, and occasional dirty looks from the general public.The discrimination in relation to their social lives may not even be noticed by most policemen because they are more likely to meet individuals that work in law enforcement or people who have positive attitudes toward the police.Most prejudice people would simply quietly walk away if they meet a policeman at a social event.However, there are political forces resulting from this prejudice that can have adverse consequences in relation to their job situation.In addition, there are occasionally individuals that are so prejudiced and filled with hatred that they intentionally harm or kill policemen.

††††† Medical doctors are also victims of prejudice, which has developed over recent years.This is probably partly related to the high cost of medical care and the frustration over medical problems.Another factor is probably the change in attitudes toward physicians as a result of a highly educated population.This resulted in an awareness of the limitations of doctors (they are only human), which precipitates frustration and negative sentiments.That is, the super human image that people in our society once had of physicians broke down, which may have contributed to the negative prejudicial attitudes.The prejudicial attitudes have had adverse political consequences for physicians and an increase in malpractice lawsuits.

††††† People who work at unskilled and semiskilled jobs are often considered to be inferior by the rest of society.The wages given to this segment are usually unfairly low.There are some exceptions to this when there are unions involved, and/or if the work is so dirty and dangerous that they must give an adequate salary to obtain workers.A good example in this category is the trash collectors.Very few people would have the strength and endurance to pick up tons of garbage in a few hours.If these people stopped working our cities would become infested with rats, mice, and disease in a matter of weeks.Thus, logic would suggest that they should have a relatively high status, but their occupation is considered disgraceful by many people in our society.The prejudicial attitudes probably keep their wages down, however those who work for the city obtain a relatively fair salary.

††††† Thus, there are many categories of people in our society that are discriminated against.That is practically every individual is a victim of prejudicial attitudes and discrimination.Most people are in at least two or three categories that receive an abundance of unfair evaluation and treatment.Of course, some people such as the poor, young black males, and minority groups in general face a very severe type of discrimination, which is mostly inadvertent in contemporary times.Other segments may not even be aware of the problem that they live with.The problems resulting from prejudicial attitudes simply can be interpreted (or conceptualized) as a natural component of life.However, such problems really are not an integral part of life, and they can be eliminated.Or more realistically, there is a reasonable possibility that we can greatly reduce the prejudicial attitudes for all segments of society, if we become aware of the problems and related dynamics and make appropriate corrections in the system.


 

Chapter 18: Is Piaget's theory of cognitive stages correct?

 

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To answer this question it is necessary to explain some of the basic ideas of Piaget's theory and some ideas about intellectual development.(The bold italics print, which looks like this line, represents my interpretation of Piaget's ideas.)

††††† Human intelligence develops (cognitive development) from birth to maturity in a continuous process.This process of development can be divided into a series of stages.Jean Piaget (1896-1980) divided the developmental process of children into four stages, which are the 1) Sensory-Motor Intelligence, (from inception to two years old) the 2) Preoperational Period, (two to seven years of age) 3) Concrete Operations,(seven to eleven years of age)and 4) Formal Operations (eleven years and beyond).The ages are approximations and overlap can happen with the each succeeding stage.These developmental stages are briefly explained in the following paragraphs.

 

1) Sensory-Motor Intelligence

Sensory-Motor Intelligence, (from inception to two years old)involves failures in understanding object permanence, sensory-motor schemas, and beginnings of representational thought.

††††† Object permanence is the ability to sense the reality of objects.That is, we know that solid objects are real, they do not disappear, and they cannot pass through each other.According to Piaget the child from birth to approximately two years of age is not aware of this reality.

††††† However, there is some convincing research that indicates that the above may not be true.The original belief developed as a result of watching infants ineptly search for objects, which they saw was concealed in a new hiding place.The infant would search for the object in the old hiding place.Perhaps a more accurate statement is that children in this early stage do not have the eye brain coordination to control their arms to reach for the objects hidden in the new hiding place.

††††† An interesting point to consider is, in our world of electronic media object permanence is not always a reality.It is common to see objects disappear on the television set and in the movies.It is also not uncommon to see objects in television and the movies pass through each other.An interesting question is, at what age is the young child able to reconcile the difference between images produced electronically which do not have object permanence and objects in his physical environment. Perhaps it is after two years of age at the very least.That is, after the sensory-motor stage.

††††† Sensory-motor schemas are essentially sensory and motor experiences that the infant organizes into mental patterns, called schemas.This process is called assimilation.The schemas change with experiences over time.The changes include simple schema being organized into more complex schema, or the generalizing of schema.This process of change is called accommodation.

††††† The above can be restated as follows.The child starts life with the ability to sense the world in a limited way.She also is able to make simple body movements.At the earliest stage of development many of the child's responses are essentially reflexes.If an object is placed in her hands she will grab it.If a rubber tipped bottle or nipple is placed in her mouth she will suck on it.These basic responses are organized into higher mental patterns as the infant matures.This process continues and the mental patterns are eventually organized into still higher mental patterns.The mental patterns are also generalized in certain ways.For example, the child learns that she can suck on other objects besides rubber tipped milk bottles and nipples.She learns that there are liquids she can consume besides milk, such as water, orange juice, tomato juice, etc.

††††† As the child matures, the development of the schemas helpher make some sense of her surroundings and give her some control over her environment.

††††† The beginning of representational thought is the last phase of the sensory-motor period, which is approximately eighteen to twenty-four months of age.At this point the child has mental representations, of internalized actions and images of objects.The mental representations can also be comprised of words representing objects and/or actions.

††††† The beginnings of representational thought starts at the very end of the Sensory-Motor Intelligence stage and object permanence begins to appear.The child remembers her toys.The child might search for a toy and show emotional stress if she cannot find it.

 

2) Preoperational Period

Preoperational Period, (two to seven years of age) includes failure of conservation of quantity and number, and egocentrism.

††††† The failures of conservation of quantity and number, is the inability to sense that quantity or number of entities are not affected by changing the geometrical configuration that contains them.†† An example of failure of conservation of quantity is: if eight ounces of orange juice is poured from an ordinary glass into a very thin and high glass the child in this stage may think that there is more juice in the narrow high glass.If the eight ounces of orange juice is poured back into the shallow glass right in front of the child he will still think that there was more juice in the narrow tall glass.Another example is if a child sees a ball of clay stretched out into a very long hot-dog shape, he will think that there is more clay in the long geometric configuration.An example, of conservation of numbers is: if 50 checkers are placed close together forming a square they will look like a smaller number of checkers than if they are spread out over a large area.The child in this stage will interpret the impression as an actual change in the number of checkers.In general, the child in this stage interprets what he perceives, even if it is a logical impossibility.

††††† There has been some research, which questions the above.Children in this age range can learn the principles of conservation of quantity and number.However, there is some question whether they really understand the concept.That is, they may understand conservation in a specific case only.For example, they may still be confused with 50 checkers, but with two or three mice there may not be any confusion.

††††† It is my opinion that a significant factor in failure of conservation is the result of misinterpretation of the adult observer.That is, the cause of this failure might be a misunderstanding of the definition of quantity and number, in some cases.That is, the tall narrow glass is higher.The child assumes the adult is not asking an irrational question, so he assumes that the correct answer relates to height.(Older children know adults are sometimes irrational.)The child may simply think the experimenter is asking which of the two glasses has a higher level of juice.The same situation can happen with a ball of clay.When the ball is stretched out into a hot-dog shape the child might think that the experimenter is asking which of the two geometric shapes is longer.Of course, thisdefinitional difficulty is probably not true in all cases.Young children may have difficulty comprehending the principle of conservation, but I believe in more than half the experimental cases, the failure was caused by the child not understanding the definitions of quantity and number.

††††† By age seven children have the ability to make accurate judgments in relation to conservation.I believe a significant factor is they understand the definitions of quantity and number, and they understand that adults sometimes ask irrational questions.However, this is probably not the only factor.I believe Piaget's idea is partly correct.There is no doubt that there is an increase in cognitive ability from age four to seven. This increase in ability can certainly explain the improvement in the judgment of the child in relation to conservation.

††††† Egocentrism is the tendency for the young child to believe that others, perceive objects from his perceptional field.For example, if they are shown a complicated three dimensional structure, they may assume that their view of the structure is the same as a person viewing the structure from a different angle.

††††† However, there is some convincing experimental evidence that Piaget's idea is not totally correct.If two or three year old children are shown a picture and then told to show the picture to their mothers, they turn the picture away from their visual field toward their mother's eyes.If the child was truly egocentric she would maintain the picture in her own visual field.That is, she would show her mother the back of the picture.With complicated geometric forms, young children may simply be confused about the various perceptional fields.

 

3) Concrete Operations

Concrete Operations (seven to eleven years of age) involves an inability to understand abstract or general ideas.They cannot understand general mathematical principles, but they can learn concrete ideas that apply to specific cases.Thus, children in this age range are not capable of generalizing from the concrete case to the general situation.An example, (from Psychology fourth edition by Gleitman), is eight year old children can learn that 4 is an even number, and if 1 is added it results in 5 an odd number.The child can learn that the same is true with 6+1 and 8+1, but the child in this age range cannot learn the general idea of: any even number plus one equals an odd number.

††††† There is some research that questions the above.This research shows that children as young as six months old can detect certain general concepts, such as twos (two objects of any type) and threes (three objects of any type).Thus, there is some ability to use abstract thinking very early in life.However, Piaget is not totally wrong.The child's ability to use abstract thinking is much greater after the stage of concrete operations.

 

4) Formal Operations

Formal Operations (eleven years and beyond) involves an ability to use abstract principles in a general way.At this stage the child can understand general theoretical principles.He can make hypothetical assumptions.

 

Is Piaget's theory of cognitive stages correct?

From a very limited and unscientific view of children, it mightappear that Piaget's theory of cognitive stages is correct.That is, observing and/or interacting with children in a relatively simple way it is very difficult to perceive their true intellectual capabilities.With very precise scientific methods we see things that we cannot normally sense.The experiments that were carried out clearly suggest that Piaget's theory of cognitive stages is not entirely correct.

††††† However, we can make slight modifications in Piaget's theory that would make it more precise as follows.At the various stages outlined by Piaget, children reach certain intellectual levels where they are more skilled in certain areas, but they have relative weaknesses in other intellectual skills.This does not mean they have absolutely no ability in the weak areas.Thus, the following are a brief outline of the modifications.(Take note of the underlined terminology, which will be explained later on in the text.)††

 

1) Sensory-Motor Intelligence stage (from inception to two years old) involves some weaknesses in understanding of object permanence, the development of sensory-motor schemas, and beginnings of representational thought.

 

2) Preoperational Period, (two to seven years of age) includes weaknesses in understanding the conservation of quantity and number, and a possible tendency toward egocentrism in certain situations.

 

3) Concrete Operations (seven to eleven years of age) involves weaknesses in relation to the understanding and application of abstract or general ideas.

 

4) Formal Operations (eleven years and beyond) involves an increase in ability to use abstract principles in a general way.At this stage the child usually can understand general theoretical principles.†† She can make hypothetical assumptions.As she increases in age, her abilities in this area will usually increase.

 

††††† The above modifications in Piagetís theory simply remove absolute terminology and replaces statements with more general terms.Terminology, such as some weaknesses, relative weakness, possible tendency, certain situations, increases, usually, makes this theory more accurate.There is a general principle here that applies to many theoretical ideas in science, especially the social and psychological sciences.When dealing with the simple systems of chemistry and physics it is possible to make precise statements that are applicable to many experimental situations.However with complicated systems such as human beings it is generally not possible to make absolute statements that are totally accurate.Even in the physical sciences, absolute statements are not always accurate.Often hard scientists use the words near zero, or the graph approaches zero.

††††† The weaknesses in Piaget's theory of cognitive stages essentially results from the absolute terminology, which is a deficiency with many theories that involve human behavior.If we ignore or change the absolute language we have a fairly good theory of the cognitive development of children.


Chapter 19: Is Bowlby's claim correct.That is, any disturbance in the attachment of the young child to the primary caregiver will have serious adverse impact on later mental health and social adjustment?What are the implications for social institutions and policies, such as day-care and working mothers?

 

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I believe Bowlby is partly correct.If there is a separation of young children from their parents there may be adverse consequences in relation to mental health and social adjustment in some cases.Certain parent child separations, can result in severe emotional stress for the child, manifesting in extreme anxiety and/or depression, which certainly can affect later adjustment.However, negative consequences will not always manifest as a result of separation from the primary care giver.In certain cases separation might have beneficial results.Whether the separation has negative, neutral, or positive results are determined by the interaction of many psychological and social factors and dynamics.That is, certain components increase the probabilities that negative results will manifest.Other components increase the probability of neutral or positive results.Some of these components are listed below:

 

Length of Time of Separation If the separation is prolonged (such as days, weeks, months, or years.) the chances of negative results will usually increase.If the separation is for a matter of hours usually no negative consequences will result.If there are many separations for two or three hours with pleasant secondary care givers, from the time of birth, the results will probably be positive.

 

Unpleasant versus Pleasant Separations If the separation is unpleasant and forced negative consequences may result.On the other hand if the separation is pleasant and for a matter of hours, such as with a baby sitter or an adult taking a child on an outing the consequences are likely to be neutral to positive.

 

Unhealthy versus Healthy Environments If the separation places the child in adverse circumstances negative consequences are likely to result.Examples of adverse circumstances are adults that abuse children, or unsupervised environments, which allow other children to physically or verbally abuse other children. (Unsupervised†† environments that permit such abuse are rather common in certain areas of our cities.)A less severe, but still harmful situation is where the children are supervised but ignored as individuals.On the other hand, if children are placed in healthy environments, which are properly supervised, for a matter of hours, neutral to positive outcomes are likely to result.Certainly, if the people are pleasant, the environment is interesting and exciting, there will most likely be positive psychological development for the child.

 

The child's Experience with Secondary Care Givers If the child was raised with only one primary care giver and was never left alone, a sudden separation will most likely result in severe emotional stress, which could have long term negative consequences.On the other hand, if the child had many pleasant care givers from birth throughout his life besides his mother, the separation is less likely to be harmful.The separation in such a case might even be positive if it is for a relatively short period of time.This is especially true, if the child was raised from birth with continuous periodic short term and *pleasant separations from his mother.

 

The Number of Social Experiences that the Child HadIf the child had very few social experiences with children or other adults besides the mother, separation will probably result in negative consequences.The negative consequences can range from short term emotional responses to more severe long term problems.The situation will be quite different for a child who had many positive social experiences with adults and other children.For such a child, there is not likely to be any negative consequences stemming from the separation.If the early social experiences of the child were very positive the separation might have a positive effect, if it is in a pleasant environment for a shortperiod of time.

 

Unpleasant versus Pleasant Social Experiences If the child had a number of social experiences with children or adults that were *negative then the separation will probably have negative consequences.NOTE (Negative social experiences can include child abuse by adults, or inadequately supervised situations where one child may be severely mistreated by other children, which can include both physical and psychological abuse.However, a child in a severely destructive environment might be better off if he is separated from his primary care giver, even if the child is emotionally upset about the separation.) END OF NOTE†† The healthy situation is, if the child never experienced mistreatment and had positive social experiences from adults and children.In such a case there is likely to be neutral to positive consequences as a result of a short separation.

 

††††† The above could be summed up with respect to day-care with the statement: those children from healthy, environments, who had many pleasant separations from their parents starting from†† birth, are not likely to experience negative consequences from the short term separations.This is especially true if the day-care facility is a truly healthy environment where the experiences are exciting, pleasant and educational.Thus, children placed in such day care facilities may actually benefit from the separation.This is especially true because prolonged contact with a single primary care giver can result in hostility for the mother and boredom for the child.A separation for a few hours a day can be quite healthy for both mother and child in some cases.

††††† On the negative side, many day-care facilities are not pleasant environments.The children may be placed in a boring environment with staff that is unpleasant and not well trained for their job.This is most likely to be the case in poor neighborhoods.

††††† From the various components mentioned above, it is obvious that early separation in a day-care facility is not healthy for all children.Children that have had few if any pleasant short term separations from their parents and/or who had few or unpleasant social experiences, may react quite negatively if suddenly placed in a day-care facility.In addition, children who had unpleasant and forced long term separations from their parents might respond especially negatively.Perhaps such children could benefit from a high quality day-care if the procedure is done gradually.That is, some children have to learn how to be comfortable away from their parents.Other children do not have to learn this, because they experienced many short term separations, which were pleasant, starting from birth.The same is true with socialization.Some children must learn how to be comfortable and sociable around others.Other children have been exposed to pleasant children and adults from birth and do not have to learn to be comfortable and sociable around other children.To successfully socialize young children from severely disturbed environments, in a day-care facility or elementary school, might require progressive desensitizing techniques coupled with other types of therapy.

†††† The implications for day-care are simply children should be trained from birth to be comfortable with short separations from their primary care givers.And day-care facilities should be carefully supervised and adequately funded.The facility should be essentially an educational program that is designed to be exciting and fun for the child.Few facilities probably meet such standards.The day-care facilities for the poor are especially inadequate.I believe additional funding for day-care facilities is more than justified.


Chapter 20: Are intelligence tests fair?

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NOTE (IQ testing and intelligence testing, and similarphrasingsare used as synonyms in this paper.†† Unfair and dysfunctional imply similar meanings in this paper.The word client is used to designate the person being tested.)

 

IQ tests are not really a truly scientific methodology of evaluating intelligence[12].The very nature of an IQ test changes the definition of intelligence, to a very limited perspective.However, this unscientific nature does not make IQ tests fair or unfair.The question "are intelligence tests fair?" can only be answered in the specific context in which the test is used.That is, intelligence tests can be used in fair and unfair ways.In the following paragraphs a number of fair and unfair methods of using intelligence testing is discussed.The first five paragraphs deal with applications of IQ testing, which are functional (fair).This is followed by a discussion of dysfunctional (unfair) use of intelligence testing.

††††† Intelligence testing can be used to document mental retardation, for the purposes of obtaining special assistance for the client.The IQ test of course is not the primary diagnostic criteria, because many people with normal intelligence, such as from poor agricultural communities, will score very low on intelligence tests[13].The primary diagnostic criteria should be interviews with people that know the client and interviews with the client herself.In addition, observation of the clientís behavior and responses are primary diagnostic criteria.If the client is perceived to be severely intellectually impaired by the standards of her sociocultural group then she can be considered mentally retarded.In such situations IQ tests can be used to confirm and/or document the condition to obtain the assistance the client needs.††††††† NOTE (In general, a more accurate way of using intelligence tests is to compare the IQ score of the individual with the average score of people in his socioeconomic class and age.A comparison based also on culture will increase the accuracy even further.In situations where there is evidence that a significant factor in the client's problem is educational deprivation, the score should be compared to the average score of people who completed the same amount of education as the client.)†††††† Intelligence testing can be used to help document a learning disability, if it is used in conjunction with other types of testing and actual evaluations of school performance.The intelligence test in this case is used to rule out mental retardation and document a normal level of intelligence.Some psychologists would say the IQ test in this diagnostic procedure can be used to determine a discrepancy between academic performance and intelligence.This is really theoretical at best, because IQ tests are not that accurate, but from the perspective of documenting the problem it might make sense.The actual utility of IQ evaluations and other testing methods in relation to a learning disability, is similar to the case of mental retardation, that is, to provide services for the client, which is certainly fair.

††††† Another use of IQ tests is to rule out mental retardation in children who are severely emotionally disturbed.This is useful when the emotional disturbance severely interferes with academic performance.If the results are used to document needs for special services, to help the client, then the testing is once again certainly fair.

††††† NOTE (When IQ testing is used to rule out mental retardation there is no guarantee of the type of perfect clinical accuracy that is generally available with conventional medical testing.It is quite possible to obtain a false positive in situations where there is cultural deprivation, a learningdisability, an emotional disturbance and similar disabling situations.But it is highly unlikely that a false negative will result from such testing.Thus, one can be quite certain that the client is not mentally retarded if the test results are significantly above 70.)

††††† Thus, in clinical situations intelligence testing can be used in a fair way[14].But outside of certain limited clinical situations IQ testing can be very misleading and unfair.IQ tests are essentially based on white middle class culture.††† People from a foreign culture or a minority group are likely to perform lower than the white middle class.The worst use of IQ testing is to compare the races.Generally, the comparison is between poor minority groups who are educationally deprived and a white population.Such results are essentially totally invalid and are not used to help the minority groups.The lower IQ scores are often used as a justification for cutting back educational services and an excuse for discrimination, which is obviously extremely unfair.(Note that in the clinical situation mentioned above the lower IQ scores are used to provide additional services for the client.)The lower intelligence scores of minorities are also sometimes used as an excuse for the school administrators and teachers.There inadequacies in their teaching skills in relation to culturally deprived minorities can be falsely justified with the low IQ scores of their students, which is highly dysfunctional.The functional approach would be to learn how to teach students from educationally deprived backgrounds.

†††† Another unfair situation is the general use of IQ testing in schools.The reason for this is it gives the false impression that academic achievement will be determined by genetics.No doubt there is a correlation between intelligence and IQ scores, but actual intelligence is not determined and limited by genetics in normal individuals.(Individuals and publications with a more conservative view will disagree with this.Their belief is that genetics and IQ scores partly or totally determine academic performance of most people.)I believe there would be a much closer correlation between IQ scores and experiences that relate to certain types of puzzles, rapidly defining words, quickly performing simple arithmetic, memorizing digits, and solving certain types of problems, such as problems involving analogies.Very often the most intelligent people of our society do not score extremely high on IQ tests, and there are many cases where people of normal intelligence score on the genius level on these tests.This happens because IQ tests really do not measure intelligence.It measures one's ability to answer certain categories of questions and solve certain categories of problems.Thus, even a highly intelligent person might have difficulty with these questions and problems if he has not obtained prior experience with similar questions and problems.However, a person with average intelligence can sometimes obtain a very high IQ score simply because of experiences with such questions and problems.

††††† Many psychologists simply avoid the above contradiction by simply defining intelligence in terms of IQ, which totally changes the definition of intelligence.Thus, this is really a form of rationalizing, in a highly dysfunctional way.Another way of rationalizing the concept of IQ scores in relation to intelligence is to use statistics.There is an imperfect statistical correlation between IQ scores and academic and occupational achievement.The reason this is irrational is the very nature of statistics hides the many errors.The way this happens is some of the errors are over estimates of intelligence and some are under estimates, which cancel out in the calculations.Even if all the testing was incorrect, if approximately one half were over estimates and one half were under estimates the average could be a 100 percent correlation (that is, a correlation of 1.00), which falsely implies great accuracy.The actual correlation of academic and occupational performance with respect to IQ scores is of course far from 100 percent; it is only about +.50.

††††† However, the major problem of the general use of IQ testing is primarily the implied belief of limitations based on IQ scores.If a student score is 100 (which is average) many counselors, school advisers and some psychologists will assume certain limitations.Such a person might not be considered college material.She might be channeled toward a trade.If on the other hand a student scored 120, even if she was having academic difficulties, the assumption of some advises, would be that she is college material, but she must correct her academic difficulties.In reality the difference between IQ scores is the result of differences in experience in answering certain types of questions and solving certain types of problems.Thus, IQ scores do not always have much practical validity.The scores can be a self fulfilling prophecy.People who score slightly below normal may be channeled into unskilled occupations, those who score at the normal level might be channeled into trades and people who score above normal will be encouraged to attend college.Very often the channeling process is the result of students and parents who believe the IQ scores are precise measurements of future academic success and limitations.This is obviously quite dysfunctional.

††††† I believe a more accurate and equitable method of measuring intelligence is to use achievement tests.The reason for this is an achievement test score can measure the skills actually obtained.These scores can be compared to the average person in the population, or more functionally with the average student who is studying a specific field.This information has more utility than an IQ score, for practical applications.A low score on an achievement test implies that the person needs more training and practice with the subject that was evaluated with the test.It generally is not interpreted as a limitation in potential.When poor minority groups score low on achievement tests the implication is the school officials and instructors are not doing their jobs well.This is likely to motivate both instructors and students to apply more effort to increase academic achievement. Contrast this with the false impression of low IQ scores, whichimply limitations that cannot be corrected.


 

Chapter 21: Are projective tests and personality inventories valid indicator of emotion, motivation, or other personal characteristics?

 

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There are two basic types of projective tests, one type involves inkblots (Rorschach inkblot technique) and the other involves pictures of people in various scenes (Thematic Apperception Test abbreviated as TAT).A simplified description of the way these tests work is as follows.The client is shown an inkblot (for the Rorschach) or a picture (for the TAT) and asked to interpret what he sees in terms of his imagination.The psychologist conducting the test takes notes on what the client is saying.The idea is that the client is expected to (unconsciously) project his own personality traits, motivations and problems into his interpretations of the inkblots or pictures.Essentially, it is believed that the client will project his mental disorder with his interpretations of the inkblots or pictures.That is, the person suffering from a psychological disorder is supposed to interpret the visual stimuli in these tests differently than a normal person.After the testing of the client is completed, the psychologist evaluates the results in terms of special criteria, which relate to the test.Both tests have their own rules of how to evaluate the client's interpretations of the inkblots or pictures.

††††† Question, is this a valid method?†† As far as a testing procedure is concerned it is very time consuming and there appears to be a rather low level of validity.†† According to Gleitman (as stated in Psychology fourth edition pg 637)

"By now, there must be nearly ten thousand published articles that are explicitly devoted to the Rorschach and the TAT.Considering all this effort, the upshot has been disappointing.According to some experts, these techniques have some limited validity; according to others, they have little or none (Holt, 1978; Kleinmuntz, 1982; Rorer, 1990)."

Thus, these tests cannot be used as an accurate method of diagnosis.It is usually not possible to distinguish the mentally ill person from the normal person with projective tests.

††††† However, these tests are used by many psychologists.The users of these testing methods would most likely argue that the tests must be carried out in a precise way and the psychologist must know and understand the client's problems.The supporters of these tests would generally state that they must be used in conjunction with other information gathering methods, such as interviews with the client and her family.A strict interpretation using very precise criteria might increase the accuracy of the tests.One study for the Rorschach showed a correlation of +.21 when compared to psychiatric interviews (Little and Shneidman, 1959)[15].Such a small level of validity is still very discouraging because these tests are very time consuming and the tests may not provide any additional information.However, there is some indication that the TAT test indicates a person's motivations.These tests may suggest a person's motives, according to some studies (Atkinson and McClelland, 1948)[16].If a person has a high achievement motive, is aggressive, or simply hungry it might show up on the TAT.However, the same information can generally be obtained from ordinary conversation.For example, when people are hungry they are more likely to talk about food.Individuals who are highly motivated to achieve talk about how to advance one's self or they discuss their own achievements.Aggressive people often talk about aggressive behavior.Thus, it is not surprising that people interpreting pictures orally, will reveal their motives.But I believe more information can probably be obtained about a clientís motives by carefully listening to her conversation and occasionally asking questions.††

††††† In spite of the above evidence, in certain situations projective tests may have some value.If the client is not willing or ready to talk about his problem, either or both of the two varieties of projective tests can serve as an exercise.That is, the test allows the client to get use to talking to his therapist.This may ultimately encourage the client to talk about his true feelings and problems[17].This is not the intended theory and plan of projective tests.However, many therapeutic methods and other components of human culture work or have some value because of unknown or unintended psychological and/or social dynamics.(This is a very important general principle.)This can be thought of as a type of placebo effect, if we stretch the definition slightly.The determination for the utility of projective tests and any unscientific procedure should be determined in the individual situation.If it helps the therapist work with a specific client, or if it alleviates the client's problem, then it is useful in that specific case.††

††††† There is a third type of test called a personality inventory, which is not a projective test.An example is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, abbreviated MMPI (the newer version is MMPI-2).This test consists of a series of questions that the client answers, which is supposed to reveal the psychopathology that afflicts an individual.This has more accuracy and validity than the projective tests.However, the validity is quite small, it correlates only about +.30 with conventional methods of diagnosis.

††††† One of the difficulties with testing for mental illness, is mental illness generally is a value judgment.(Of course, this does not necessarily apply to all cases, especially when the condition is extreme.)For example, two people might drink a large amount of coffee each day.The individual that wants to break the habit and seeks psychotherapy will be diagnosed as having a psychological disorder.The other individual that wants to continue the habit in spite of the health risks would not be diagnosed as having a mental disorder, which is really quite sensible and fair.It is probably better if the client and/or her family (or those who live and work with her) decides what a problem is, and what is not a problem.This should apply even for the more extreme examples of behavior, such as excessive alcohol consumption, homosexuality, visual or auditory hallucinations, and just about all the components that can be defined as unusual behavior or a psychological disorder.Such a definition should be left to the client and/or her family.

††††† The idea I am leading up to is that a test can be constructed that simply asks, if a factor of the client's behavior is a problem for the client or his family.Of course, this can be done in an interview, but a test constructed in this way would have value in many situations.An example of such a test is presented below.Of course an actual test of this type should have many more questions, and it would have to have statistical norms obtained for the various psychological disorders by experimentation.

††††† Two versions of this test could be constructed.One version would be for family members, with essentially the same questions, which would evaluate the client's behavior from their point of view.The sample version that follows is meant for the client.

NOTE (The test is printed in blue to distinguish it from the main text.)

INSTRUCTIONS:Place a 0, next to the questions that have never been a problem for you.Even if the statement is true in your case.For example, if you drink a very large amount of coffee and you do not believe it is a problem, or it does not bother you, place a 0 next to the question.If the question represents a minor problem for you place the number 1 next to the question.If the problem is more than a minor difficulty place the number 2 next to the question.If the question represents something that was a problem for you at one point in time, even if it was a very minor difficulty, place a W next to the question.Note the questions are written in the present tense, but it should be understood that each question also applies to the past.

 

Do you have a difficulty with excessive alcohol consumption?

 

Do you ever feel you drink to much coffee?

 

Do you have a difficulty with the excessive use of any drug?

 

Are you concerned about your smoking habit?

 

Do you have to take a drug to feel good?

 

Do you ever hear voices that other people do not hear?

 

Do you ever see things that other people cannot?

 

Do you have difficulties communicating with other people?

 

Do other people have difficulty understanding you?

 

Do you have difficulties in explaining your experiences to others?

 

Do you have strange dreams that bother you?

 

Are you ever confused about what was a dream and what actually happened in reality?

 

Do you ever feel as if you are dreaming while you're awake?†††

Are you depressed?

 

Do you feel very unhappy?

 

Do you find yourself extremely unhappy and do not know why?

 

Are you discontented with life in general?

 

Are you discontented with specific aspects of your life?

 

Do you get depressed for no apparent reason?

 

Do you often find that you do not want to do anything?

 

Do you sleep excessively?

 

Do you have difficulty falling asleep when you want to?

 

Do you find yourself worried about things that other people, who are similar to yourself, are not concerned about?

 

Do you often feel nervous?

 

Are you ever anxious nervous or frightened and do not know why?

 

Are you ever frightened of something that you should not be afraid of?

 

††††† This test has a validity scale, which is somewhat similar to the one on the MMPI.If none of the questions have a W, a 1 or a 2 next to the questions the client is probably not telling the truth.This becomes clear when we examine some of the questions.Almost every body experienced some of the problems mentioned in the above questions at some point in their lives.Thus, if there are little or no questions marked with a 1 or a 2, there should be some marked with a W.If not most likely the client does not want to reveal her problems.In addition, if there are an excessively large number of questions marked with a 2, indicating a significant problem, the client might be exaggerating or trying to fake mental illness.

††††† Some of the questions in the test are almost duplications written in different words.The reason for this is that one phrasing may be more acceptable than another by some clients.For example, some clients may be more willing to admit that they are feeling very unhappy, rather than saying that they are depressed.The reason is unhappiness is more acceptable by some segments of our society than the word depression, because the latter signifies mental illness.†††


 

Chapter 22: Freud saw sexuality as a key to understanding human motivation.Are Freud's theories applicable in our modern culture?

 

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To answer this question it is necessary to give a brief summary of some of Freud's ideas.Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the creator of psychoanalytic theory of human behavior and emotions.Freud saw human beings as having various biological drives that motivate the individual to satisfy certain needs, which are necessary for survival and reproduction.These needs relate to the primary motives that are inborn and are automatically triggered when certain internal and/or external environmental conditions exist.That is, these needs are the biological drives such as hunger, thirst, desire to urinate or defecate and sexual desire, which Freud put a primary emphasis on.The part of the human personality that represents these basic animalistic drives he called the id.From a modern neurological perspective these drives are generated in the lower brain centers, which could be thought of as the id if we stretch the definition.Another part of the personality is the ego, which guides the individual in terms of feasible methods of satisfying the biological drives.The ego can be thought of as the intellect.For example, if an individual (the id) is hungry, the ego knows methods of obtaining food.Thus, the ego will pick the most feasible method of obtaining food and carry out the needed steps to obtain the food.The ego in terms of neurology resides in the higher brain centers.The id and ego have no morality, thus these parts of the human personality can be quite immoral in the process of satisfying biological needs.But according to Freud theory there is a third part of the personality that contains moral values, which he called the superego.The superego in terms of neurology resides in the higher brain centers.The superego mediates between the id and the ego to satisfy the biological drives in a moral way.

††††† There is often emotional conflict between the id, ego and superego.That is, the ego will want to satisfy the desires motivated by the id in the easiest way possible, without concern of moral values or consequences that may stem from violating these values.The superego will restrain the above and attempt to control and guide the ego toward a moral way of satisfying the needs generated by the id.

††††† Freud's view of human beings was in a certain sense similar to Hobbes.That is, humans are savage by nature and can be quite destructive in their effort to satisfy their needs, unless they are restrained by some entity.Hobbes view was that the state was the primary entity of control and Freud's theory emphasizes the internal superego as a controlling entity.

††††† What Freud basically did with the human personality is to divide it into three sections the id, ego and superego.It is interesting to note, that transactional analysis also divides the human personality into three sections, which are the child, adult, and parent.The child is very similar, but not identical to Freud's concept of the id.The adult is quite similar to the ego.The parent is also quite similar to Freud's concept of a superego.

††††† Question is there any more to Freud's theory than the id, ego and superego.The answer is much more than can be written in this brief summary.Some additional ideas of the theory are presented in the following list (and additional information will be presented in the following paragraphs):

 

The unconscious mind Freud believed that many of our actions, beliefs, plans and verbal statements, are the result of an unconscious thought process.This includes motivations that we are not aware of.Freud believed that mental disorders are the result of abnormal (dysfunctional) unconscious thinking processes.

 

Conflicts This is essentially mixed feelings about something, such as wanting to be introduced to someone and at the same time fearing the introduction.Another example, is truly wanting to give up a bad habit, such as cigarette smoking, but not being able to succeed for any length of time because the pleasure derived from the habit is very strong.There are an almost infinite number of other examples.These conflicts can be on an unconscious level.The individual may have no awareness of the dynamics involved with the conflict.The individual in such a case might find himself very anxious when he is in the conflict situation.

 

Repression This involves pushing anxiety provoking thoughts, impulses, and memories, out of consciousness.Another way of stating this is that: we may simply not want to think about anxiety provoking situations and experiences.That is, we may decide not to think about unpleasant things.

 

Anxiety This is a generalized fear which on the conscious level is not stemming from any single entity.That is, the anxious individual cannot explain precisely what he is afraid of.

 

Defense mechanisms A unconscious method of reducing anxiety, which could involve rationalizations, repression, etc.

 

Displacement This involves a re-channeling of an impulse.An example with aggression is: having an argument with the boss and taking it out on your wife.

 

Rationalization This involves finding a reason for one's actions and verbal statements, which serves as an explanation or justification.If the reason is truly a rationalization it is not the actual reason for the behavior.In the rationalization process the justification or explanation is not necessarily created on a conscious level.The person may not be aware that he is making up a false reason to use as an excuse.

 

Projection This involves attributing one's thoughts, feelings, or problems to another person.For example, if an individual is very hostile toward someone, he may falsely sense hostility in the other person.Another example, if a young man is attracted to a woman, he may falsely sense that she is attracted to him.

 

††††† Freud believed that mental illness was essentially the result of psychological factors, which includes all of the components in the above list.(The listed components are present in normal people also, but in a controlled or functional way.)†† Freud believed that mental disorders generally had their origin in the psychological developmental process in childhood.

††††† What was presented of Freud ideas to this point is basically quite sound.The id, ego, and superego are essentially useful divisions of the human personality.The above list contains components that we know from our own experience.For example, we know people often experience anxiety.If we think about it we realize that we sometimes justify our actions with a rationalization.Most of us experienced displacement, when an individual (usually a family member) has had a difficult time with the boss, and he takes it out on us, which is displacement of aggression.We all know that at one time or another there were things we did not want to think about because of the unpleasant anxiety associated with it.Sometimes people actually tell us that they do not want to think about that, with the that being certain unpleasant situations.Thus, the above is a very sound theoretical framework of human psychology.However, many of Freud's beliefs are quite strange.The following ideas of Freud (presented in part two of this paper) are quite shaky and border on the irrational, but there may be a slight grain of truth in some of these ideas, especially as it relates to certain special cases.

 

Part Two

Freud believed that psychosexual development involves a number of stages as follows.The infant starts life as a pleasure-seeking creature, with the pleasure being more or less sexually related.The pleasure is obtained by the stimulation of certain areas of the body, which Freud called erogenous zones.These zones include the mouth the anus and the genitals.There is a gradual shift of emphasis of these pleasure areas, which Freud defined as stages.The emphasis of pleasure is initially on the mouth and sucking.This defines the first stage, which is the oral stage.The next stage is related to toilet training, and the anus, which Freud called the anal stage.As the child matures the area of pleasure becomes the genitals.Freud called this the phallic stage.The final stage is reached in adult life, which is the genital stage.This stage signifies the sexual maturity of the individual where sexuality involves a sharing of sexual gratification with a partner.

††††† Freud believed that conflicts relating to psychosexual development are often at the root of psychological disorders.He believed that there is a normal sexual conflict that all people experience in childhood.If this conflict is not resolved there can be serious psychological disorders later in life.He called the male conflict Oedipus complex and the female version the electra complex.The male and female versions are explained below.

††††† The Oedipus complex starts with the phallic stage, at about three or four years of age.According to Freud, the male child becomes aware and interested in his penis at this age.The penis becomes a source of pleasure (as with masturbation) and pride for the child.The child's sexual feelings are eventually focused on his mother (or on an equivalent female primary care giver).The child wants his mother for himself both as a care giver and an erotic partner.The little boy sees his father as a competitor, and wants his father to go way and never come back or die.The boy begins to fear his father, because he believes that the father is aware of his hostility and will have similar hostile intent toward him.This concern results in castration anxiety.The child attempts to push his hostile feelings out of his mind, but the hostility returns.The child then projects his own hostile feelings on his father.That is, the child believes that his father hates him because he hates the father.This situation causes great fear and hate.Essentially a vicious cycle develops which results in seeing the father as an ogre.The little boy fears that his father may castrate him.†† The child's anxiety continues to increase until he stops seeing his mother as an erotic partner.When this happens the child gives up genital pleasure, until he is older.The child identifies with the powerful father.The child believes that by becoming like his father he will ultimately obtain a sexual relationship of the kind his father now has.That is, the boy is hoping to obtain a relationship with a woman that is similar to his mother.

††††† After the conflict associated with the Oedipus complex is settled there is a stage of reduced sexual interest called the latency period.During this stage the boy plays only with other boys.The child spends his time with athletics, and is not interested in the opposite sex.This situation continues until puberty, when once again the attention turns toward the opposite sex.According to Freud the earlier sexual conflicts in childhood, plague the adolescent to some degree.However, a normal male overcomes any remaining conflict and anxiety that stems from the earlier part of life.

††††† Females essentially go through the same stages and sexual conflict as the males, but there are some differences.†† Freud called this conflict the electra complex.The young girl is sexually attracted to her father and is jealous of her mother's relationship with the father.Eventually hostility builds toward the mother.This hostility just like the male version, leads to projection, and anxiety builds until the little girl ceases her sexual focus toward her father.When this happens she identifies with her mother.Sexuality is put aside until adolescents, when the young woman must overcome the anxiety of the earlier emotional conflict.

††††† The difference between the Oedipus and Electra complex is penis envy of the girl.According to Freud, the child thinks of herself as unworthy because she does not have a penis.She also sees her mother as unworthy for the same reason.The attraction to the father is facilitated by the fact that he does have a penis.

†††††† Another idea of Freud relates to his interpretation of dreams.Freud gave great significance to dreams, and interpreted them according to his theoretical framework, which often emphasized sexuality.He believed that dreams revealed hidden motivations, which often are of a sexual nature and an attempt at wish fulfillment.

††††† NOTE (Freud's idea of interpreting dreams might have some beneficial effects under certain conditions. I do not believe that interpreting dreams has any validity, but this does not mean there is no utility to the process.The interpreting of dreams along with the client can facilitate useful discussions between the therapist and the client.The discussions facilitated by the dreams can reveal true motivations, emotional conflicts, and other problems.This can lead to insight and a better adjustment for the client.) END OF NOTE†††

Freud saw sexuality as a key to understanding human motivation.

 

As can be seen from the above, Freud's theory of sexuality does not seem to be a sound or even a rational theory.It appears to have come out of literature rather than science.Thus, most of Freud's ideas not only do not apply in current times, they probably never represented reality.Perhaps, Freud had a few unusual patients that actually had conflicts that were similar to his theoretical Oedipus and Electra complex.

††††† However, in our time, as in the past, people have sexual conflicts that have their origin in moral and social expectations.Many of us (but certainly not all of us) are taught one set of sexual values, which are tainted with fear and/or other negative emotions, when we are children.The goal of the first set of values is really to discourage the very young from getting involved sexually.This is especially true with females, because they are the ones who can get pregnant, and parental concerns are greater as a result, which facilitates stricter values that are intended to discourage sexuality at an early age.†† As we mature we may learn a new set of sexual values, which are in conflict with the first set we learned.The young adult often has to overcome this conflict.Such conflicts often remain even in marriage, which interferes with normal sexual activity.We can see this situation, with certain married women that brag that they live with their husband like a brother, emphasizing that their relationship is platonic.(This is probably a conflict because such women most likely have sexual needs that go unsatisfied, and they probably feel some guilt about denying their husband's needs.)There are other types of sexual conflicts that people in our society must deal with.There are conflicts that relate to sexual attraction and rejection, which single people face.One such conflict involves concerns over the appropriateness or inappropriateness of sexual advances toward a specific person.And still another conflict, in this category, is whether or not to accept or reject sexual advances from a specific person.††††

††††† Thus, Sigmund Freud was correct in that sexual conflict is a common problem that most people face, but the nature of the conflict is not related to castration anxiety, penis envy, or parental sexual attraction.

††† ††

Are Freud's theories applicable in our modern culture?

The first part of Freud's theory as presented in this paper is applicable today.Human beings, rationalize, repress thoughts, project their hostilities on to others, etc.The ideas of Freud presented in the second part of this paper were probably never applicable to reality.


 

Chapter 23: Is the concept of mental illness a useful way of conceptualizing mental disorders and emotional problems?

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

NOTE (The next chapter (24), contains a discussion that involves some of the ideas that will be discussed in this chapter, (23).However, the discussion in chapter 24 is based on Thomas S. Szasz's book The Myth of Mental Illness Revised Edition, 1974.Thomas S. Szasz is a psychiatrist who strongly believes that most mental disorders are of psychogenic origin.) END OF NOTE

 

The concept of mental illness, is it useful or deceiving?

 

IMPORTANT NOTE (I am classifying any disorder that has a physiological cause as a disease or illness.If the disorder does not have a physiological cause then I do not consider it a disease or illness in this paper.Thus, for a disorder to be considered a disease it must have detectable biochemical and/or physio-structural factors that are abnormal.Of course, there are other possible classifications besides the one I am using.)††

†††† Generally the concept, or phrasing mental illness, is deceiving to the patient and our society in general.Most conditions that are classified as mental illnesses are not illnesses at all, with some exceptions of course.They are psychological disorders that have no physiological cause.This can also be stated as most mental disorders (of the type treated by psychologists and psychiatrists) are generally psychogenic in nature, and very few are of somatogenic origin.A true illness essentially has either a biochemical and/or physio-structural cause, which is generally detectable by chemical evaluation of body fluids or visible with x-rays, CAT scan, MRI, etc. (I excluded the PET scan which is explained in a note on the end of this paragraph.)It is true, that all psychological states have some physiological effect on the body.For example, if a person is relaxed there are specific biochemical factors involved.If that relaxed person is suddenly frightened by a mad dog, her biochemistry and nervous reactions will change.But it is not correct to call this an illness, because the cause of the reaction is stimuli, a mad dog.An example using a mental disorder is as follows.When people are exposed to certain types of prolonged psychological stresses, which could include their own negative thinking processes, there may be long term biochemical changes that serve to maintain a state of depression.Question is this an illness?If the cause was psychological stresses then I would not define it as an illness.

††††† NOTE (A PET scan image cannot generally be used to prove that a condition is physiologically caused.The reason for this is the image obtained with the PET scan is determined essentially by psychological factors.This device forms an image that relates to the way the brain is being used at a given instant in time, which is related to the blood flow in relation to the fuel consumption of the brain.For example, if you made a person very anxious and they were also concentrating on both verbal and visual stimuli there would be much red in the image.If on the other hand there is a normal amount of stimulation and the person is moderately relaxed there would be much yellow with very little red in the image.If the person was totally relaxed and depressed with the eyes closed there would be much blue and probably no red in the image.The primary point here is that these images can be made to change from moment to moment by changing the mood and sensory input of the subject.Simply stated the PET scan indicates momentary psychological states in terms of images.In spite of this reality, the images from these machines are often, inadvertently or intentionally used in deceiving ways.That is, the images are sometimes used to make a case that certain mental disorders are somatogenic in nature.There are a number of PET scans in Gleitman Psychology fourth edition that makes this false impression.Drug companies sometimes use PET scan images in some of their ads to (falsely) suggest that certain disorders are physiologically caused, which justifies the use of their product.The PET scan is obviously not capable of providing such evidence.The evidence it does supply generally relates to psychology only specifically psychophysiology.It is true that there are certain exceptions to the above where the PET scan can be used to help diagnose a physiological condition, such as if one wants to find if a specific area of the brain is functioning normally when certain stimulus is presented to the subject.One example is showing a complex visual image, which should cause a red spot to appear in the image over the occipital cortex, if it is functioning normally.But such a use of the PET scan cannot be a logical justification for interpreting images of mental states produced by psychological disorders as a physiological disease.Essentially by itself the PET scan cannot prove weather a condition is psychogenic or somatogenic in origin) END OF NOTE††

†† †††Some psychiatrists and some of the literature would disagree with the view presented in the above paragraphs, because classifying a psychological disorder, such as depression, as a disease justifies the use of drugs.Classifying a psychological abnormality as a disease also has a financial motive in relation to medical insurance and disability benefits.However, there is some legitimate justification for all of the above in some cases, because some psychological disorders can be just as disabling as a major disease.Drugs might be the only feasible way of treating certain psychological disorders, especially if the patient is not motivated in the direction needed for improvement of his condition.Since many psychological disorders are as devastating as a disease, requiring medical treatment, insurance payments and disability benefits might be justified.This is probably especially true with alcohol and illicit drug abuse, which require much medical services because of secondary physiological damage caused by the habit.

†††† But, what is a psychological disorder anyway? A psychological disorder, as I would define the term, is a condition that develops as a result of one or more of the following six categorical components:

 

1) Maladaptive learningThis involves many types of learning that have adverse psychological effects.Most maladaptive learning takes place in early childhood through late adolescents, but it certainly is not limited to this age group.This dysfunctional type of learning includes the attainment of two or more sets of conflicting values, the evolvement of irrational fears or specific phobias, the development of bad habits including drug and alcohol abuse.Perhaps one of the most important maladaptive learning is the learning of dysfunctional strategies to deal with the problems and experiences of life.This can range from a habit of repressing unpleasant thoughts, to dysfunctional communication strategies, and dysfunctional manipulative techniques of dealing with people.Under this category is the learning of any type of antisocial behavior.And there are many other factors that can be added.

 

NOTE (It is worth noting, in general that the learning process can be divided into to categories, emotional learning, which includes classical conditioning, and intellectual learning.For example, developing a phobia or a habit of unconsciously repressing anxiety provoking thoughts are the result of emotional learning.Developing skills that are consciously carried out, such as reading, writing, maladaptive manipulative techniques of dealing with people, are examples of intellectual learning.One's philosophy and beliefs whether they are adaptive or maladaptive are also the result of intellectual learning.The distinction between emotionally learned material and intellectually learned material are quite important, because if the material is maladaptive the methods needed to remedy the resulting problems will be quite different.For example, a phobia, which is emotionally learned, generally cannot be extinguished with a series of intellectual discussions.To solve such a problem requires special methods, such as progressive desensitizing techniques.However, a maladaptive behavior pattern of consciously manipulating people, might be solved with a series of intellectual discussions.This would especially be the case if more effective strategies were explained to the client.) End OF NOTE†††

 

2) A failure to learn components needed for psychological adjustment This can include a failure to learn fundamental behavior patterns that are needed for adjustment in society.Another component under this category is failure to learn and actualize basic moral values, such as a failure to develop a basic understanding of people and society.Failure, to learn certain intellectual skills such as reading, writing, and the skills needed to obtain employment.Of course there are many other learning failures that can be added here.

3) Adverse environments This includes problems with individuals in the social network.A primary example, are parents, who are one or more of the following: violent, ignorant, alcohol or drug abusers.Under this category are poor neighborhoods, violent, drug or alcohol abusing neighbors, gangs, and high crime rates.Unsupervised environments for children and teenagers are still another factor that comes under this category.Another primary factor are schools that are not setup to educate the category of students that attend.There are many other adverse situations that belong under this category.††††††

 

4) Adverse life experiences This is a common situation in modern society.Some examples of adverse life experiences are: economic problems, losing a job, failure in school, divorce, death of parents or other close relatives, destruction of property from a natural disaster, etc.Very often but certainly not always, people who develop psychological disorders from adverse life experiences, have had some of the difficulties mentioned in category 1 and/or 2, during their developmental years.For example individuals that are severely psychologically harmed by adverse life experiences may have learned very ineffective coping strategies.Of course, this is not always the case.Adverse life experiences can be so severe in some cases that they can cause a psychological disorder in a person that was very well adjusted all her life.Adverse life experiences very often start a chain reaction, which is discussed in the next category.

 

5) Chain reactions A chain reaction is a situation where one or more problems causes additional problems.The new problems may be worse than the original difficulties, and the new problems might cause still more problems.This situation is probably involved in the development of many psychological disorders.An example of a chain reaction is a person might lose his job, which causes financial problems and emotional stress with his wife.This can lead to divorce (in some cases), which may result in clinical depression.Clinical depression can lead to other problems such as alcohol or drug abuse.

6) The development of vicious cycles (This is the most complicated component and it required ten paragraphs to explain.)Once any psychological difficulties develop there is a high probability that one or more vicious cycles may develop.The consequences of the vicious cycle can be much greater than the original psychological problems.In some cases the original problems were relatively minor but it triggered a vicious cycle that resulted in the development of a serious psychological disorder over time.The consequences of the cycle involve an increase in severity, such as a depressed person becoming more depressed.Vicious cycles often have chain reactions incorporated into the cycle, which results in an expansion of the psychological pathology into other areas.An example, is an individual who loses a good paying job and develops financial problems as a result, then becomes depressed.And the depression leads to alcohol abuse, which prevents the person from finding another job, which causes further financial problems and a serious case of suicidal depression, etc.The dynamics and several types of vicious cycles are explained in the following paragraphs.

††††† The psychological disorder and/or the psychiatric diagnostic label can have an adverse affect on the social network[18] of a patient, which may result in harsh treatment, scapegoating, social rejection, the loss of opportunities associated with the socializing process, etc.This can greatly worsen the psychological condition, which will worsen the response of the social network.In extreme cases it can force the patient to live in a state of almost total withdrawal from society, which might further worsen her psychological condition.This will probably also worsen the response of the people in the social network, creating even more problems for the patient.

††††† There is another type of vicious cycle that also relates to the social network.The people in the social network may inadvertently force the patient into a role of a mental patient by the way they treat her.They might consider her a phony or a mental patient that is not in touch with reality, if she behaves in a normal way or expects to be treated normally.Her therapists might think she is trying to hide her psychiatric difficulties from them.In some cases they may reward her if she behaves as they expect her to, that is as a mental patient.The rewards can range from encouragement, indicating that progress is being made, because the patient is aware that she "is mentally sick" to financial rewards, from family or from agencies that supply disability benefits.The rewards may be quite functional in some cases, but they are often coupled with inadvertent sanctions if the patient makes an attempt at improving her condition, which of course is quite dysfunctional.Thus, the patient is rewarded for being sick and inadvertently punished if she tries to behave normally or present a normal image, which is likely to worsen the patient's condition.The worsening of the condition will make the problems with the social network even worse, which will ultimately still further worsen the condition of the patient.

††††† An individual can develop a self-image of a mental patient and verbalize his image to the people he encounters.That is, he may have a habit of revealing details about his psychological disorder in situations where it is not required.This habit may greatly reduce chances for employment, finding a mate, and obtaining close friendships, which may further worsen the psychological disorder.If the disorder gets worse the patient will have even more information to reveal, which may worsen his social problems even more.

††† ††† Another type of vicious cycle relates to the educational process of children, teenagers and young adults.Psychological difficulties or environmental stresses can interfere with academic performance.This can lead to failures in elementary school of basic academic skills, such as reading and writing. And of course in high-school and college it can lead to general failure of more advanced subjects.The failures in school may result in worsening the psychological condition, which will cause even more problems in school and in the social network.This of course can greatly worsen most psychological conditions, which will cause even more academic failures.

†† †††A failure to learn certain non-academic skills such as social skills, can happen as a result of a psychological disorder that started early in life.The deficiency is likely to lead to social difficulties, problems in school and employment, which may worsen the psychological condition.The worsened psychological condition will cause further difficulties: in school, employment, and in the social network.

††† ††† When an individual develops psychological problems in childhood, he may be inadvertently or intentionally taught alternative sets of coping and social skills, which may be dysfunctional.These dysfunctional skills can interfere with both school and employment, and result in general social difficulties, which can perpetuate and worsened the psychological condition.

†††† †††† Another type of vicious cycle involves the deterioration of health habits, such as maintaining good nutrition, maintaining proper body weight, healthy sleeping patterns, using alcoholic beverages in moderation or not at all, not using illicit drugs, etc.Such health habits can deteriorate as a result of a psychological disorder.This can result in deterioration in health and a reduction in overall motivation.This will generally worsen the overall psychological condition.If the patient is still in school this will generally interfere with academic performance.If the individual is employed, his job performance will most likely deteriorate to the point where he is fired.This will further worsen the psychological condition, which might lead directly or indirectly to further deterioration in health.

††††† There is a vicious cycle that relates to employment and psychological disorders.If the psychological disorder interferes with employment the individual might lose his job.The loss of the job and financial resources will most likely worsen his condition.The worsening of the patient's problem may result in an inability to find new employment, which can lead to long term financial problems.If thepatient is a married man this condition can lead to divorce which will still further worsen the psychological difficulties.

†††† †††† There are almost a limitless number of other types of vicious cycles that can cause psychological problems to develop into a more serious condition, but the above examples are more than adequate to explain the principle.

 

NOTE (The job of crisis intervention therapy should be to prevent any vicious cycles from taking place.It should also prevent chain reactions.)

††††† Of course the six categorical components and the factors mentioned do not automatically cause a psychological disorder.The factors usually must impact the individual with adequate intensity and duration to cause psychological problems.But there are probably cases where the initial impact was very mild resulting in very minor difficulties, which triggered a vicious cycle resulting in serious psychological problems.In general, even minor problems can become very serious if a vicious cycle of significant intensity and duration is triggered.Very often the actual cause of a psychological disorder is the result of a number of factors impacting the individual over a period of time, which usually includes one or more vicious cycles.

††††† It should be noted that in some unusual cases some of the factors mentioned in the list (such as the factors under adverse environments) may actually stimulate motivation and personal growth, as opposed to leading to a psychological disorder.This can happen, if there are certain positive factors that are strong enough to counteract the negative factors.Such positive factors might be strong philosophical beliefs, which may have a religious basis, the positive encouragement from parents, etc.However, usually strong philosophical beliefs and encouragement from parents are not strong enough to counteract a number of negative factors.

††††† NOTE (Many mental health professionals and laymen would wonder why I did not put genetic traits on my list.The reason is: I do not believe that genetic traits cause psychological disorders.It is perhaps true, in some cases that genetic traits have some influence on whether a psychological disorder develops or not.However, the cause and the development of a psychological disorder is generally the result of one or more of the six categorical components and the factors they contain.Of course I am not discussing any illness with a physiological origin here.I am only discussing psychological disorders.

††††† The above does not totally rule out the role of genetics.The way genetics comes into the picture is through certain types of interactions with other people.For example, if an individual is born black (a genetic trait) in a poor environment, she may have to face much discrimination in her life.The discrimination can lead to an increase chance of developing a psychological disorder.The race is genetically determined but the discrimination against black people is a sociological factor. Thus, the cause is not genetic.This type of reasoning cannot be applied to all genetic traits, but it can be applied to many.

††††† A hypothetical example of a genetic factor that might influence the development of a psychological disorder is a variation in the energy level of a person.People might be born with different levels of energy.If an individual is born with a high energy level in a healthy middle-class environment the genetic trait might facilitate a hard working well‑adjusted person.That is, the energy might be focused into constructive activities.However, a person born with the same genetic trait for high energy, in a poor maladjusted family who lives in a high crime area, might have an increased chance of developing a psychological disorder.The high energy might be invested in destructive ways, such as aggressive behavior, experimentation with drugs, and illegal activities.This behavior by itself can be defined as a psychological disorder, but such behavior increases the chances of even worse psychological problems.

†††††† Another example, can be seen with a hypothetical genetic trait for quick learning.In an environment where the individual is surrounded by well-adjusted people, the quick learner will pick up adaptive behavior patterns very fast, which is certainly a very healthy situation.However a quick learner in a maladaptive environment will learn maladaptive behavior patterns very quickly, which is certainly likely to result in serious psychological problems.

††††† Thus, in one type of environment a specific genetic trait might have no affect on the development of a psychological disorder.The trait might actually facilitate mental health.However, the same genetic trait in a different type of environment might facilitate the development of a serious psychological disorder.This is one of the reasons why I excluded genetic traits from my list of causative factors.However, there are many people who strongly believe that genetic traits cause or predispose people to psychological disorders.This belief probably serves the purpose of reducing guilt and responsibility for the development of psychological problems.The genetic excuse also provides quick and simplistic answers to complicated problems, which are really caused by deficiencies in our society. ) END OF NOTE

††††† The point is that it is the net effect of the number of negative factors and their intensity combined with any positive counteracting factors that will determine whether a psychological disorder develops.In general, if any of the components are present in a given situation there is probably a strong possibility that psychological difficulties will develop.

††††† A primary factor in the development of psychological disorders is related to whether a condition is defined in a specific situation as a disorder.For example, a heavy drinker in certain economically disadvantaged environments might be considered normal by the people in his social network.However, a person who drinks just as much may be classified as an alcoholic in a typical middle class environment.The same is true with most psychological disorders.The definition will be determined by the many different types of social networks, especially by family members and close friends. (See note at the end of this paragraph.)Of course, extreme cases of abnormal behavior will be almost universally classified as a serious mental disorder, but very few cases fall into this extreme category.

††††† Once a condition is classified as a psychological disorder a vicious cycle may or may not develop, in relation to the reactions of the people in the social network.For example, some social networks might consider a patient diagnosed as having clinical depression as crazy.Thus, in such networks the patient might be treated as a crazy person.However, there are other social networks that might simply define the problem as a temporary nervous breakdown, which might motivate friends and family to support the patient in a process of recovery.

††††† The point is that psychological disorders are no mystery but they are quite complicated and they are not produced by genetic factors.There is no reason to hypothesize unknown genetic components to account for the development of psychological disorders.This becomes obvious when we look at the list (presented above) with the six categorical components. Most conditions that are called mental illness are really psychological disorders, caused by one or more of the categorical components on the list.Of course there are exceptions to this.There are mental disorders caused by physiological factors, such as syphilis attacking the brain, and many other conditions that are neurological and/or biochemical in nature.††

 

The terminology MENTAL ILLNESS

In the ideal world the term mental illness would not be appliedto psychological disorders.The term would only be used when behavioral difficulties were caused by neurological or biochemical conditions, which was confirmed by chemical testing of body fluids, x-ray, or careful medical diagnosis.The term mental illness is deceiving; it gives the false impression that an internal physiological malfunction is causing the patient's problems.If the patient improves to the point where her behavior is normal, people and some psychiatrists and psychologists will think there is some internal physiological mechanism, which will cause a reoccurrence of the disorder.This belief will interfere with the patient's rehabilitation.However since psychological disorders can be just as disabling as a true illness, the term mental illness might be necessary, for legal reasons as it relates to insurance and disability benefits.

 

Are some mental and emotional problems better seen as illnesses than others?

There are different views on this issue in the literature and amongst psychiatrists and psychologists.One of these views is that genetic predispositions are often involved with psychological disorders.Another view, which includes the above idea of genetic factors, considers most psychological disorders to be physiological conditions, which may be triggered into a disease state by social, psychological or environmental factors. The physiological factors causing the condition are usually believed to be unknown factors that will eventually be discovered.My view is quite different than the above and is presented in the following paragraphs.

†††† Certain mental disorders are certainly true illnesses with a neurological cause, such as when syphilis attacks the brain, and any neurological condition that affects brain function.However, there are diagnostic labels that are put on patients that are not necessarily precise.††† Examples, of such labels are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, seasonal affective disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociative identity disorder (the older terminology is: multiple personality disorder), somatoform disorders, psychophysiological disorders, sociopathy (older terminology is: psychopathic personality), alcoholism and drug abuse.These labels are briefly discussed in the following paragraphs.

††††† Schizophrenia:Schizophrenia is really not a precise term.There are probably many factors that can cause the set of symptoms associated with schizophrenia, such as auditory hallucinations, disorderly verbal statements, withdrawal from others, etc.Most cases of schizophrenia are probably some type of psychological disorder and are not physiological illnesses.However, there are disorders that have true physiological abnormalities (such as abnormal variations in brain structure), which have been called schizophrenia.These conditions are true illnesses, because there are detectable variations in physiological factors.

††††† Bipolar disorder:Bipolar disorder is thought to be a true disease and a relatively precise label by many psychiatrists, but there is no precise biochemical or x-ray method of diagnosing this condition.The original hypothesis was developed as a result of genetic studies on a relatively small sample of subjects.This suggests that we may be dealing with a hypothetical condition that may not be a true disease (in all cases).But there probably really is a true disease, of physiological origin, that causes this problem in some cases.Patients in the original genetic studies probably had such a disease.Most likely the label bipolar disorder is applied to many psychological disorders that appear to have fluctuations in mood over a period of time.

††††† Fluctuations in mood can simply happen as a result of being over involved in various activities to the point of exhaustion.Exhaustion can facilitate depression if other psychological factors are present.The exhaustion and depression facilitate a decrease in activity and generally additional hours of sleep.This eventually results in recovery and an accumulation of excess (psychological) energy, which can facilitate riskier behavior.The increase in energy, which will ultimately lead to exhaustion and the failures associated with the riskier behavior, will put the person back into depression after a period of time.

††††† Thus, there probably is a true bipolar disorder that is a disease, and there is most likely a number of psychogenic disorders that mimic the disease.That is, it is possible to get a manic state followed by depression, in a repetitive cyclic manner, as a result of psychological factors alone.The psychological version is certainly not a disease.

††††† Major depression:Drug companies and many psychiatrists believe that major depression is a disease of physiological origin.This might occasionally be true.However, I believe most cases of clinical depression are the result of psychological factors.Almost (but certainly not all) cases of depression can be traced to one or more of the following: major failures, adverse life circumstances, death, boredom, negative thinking habits, attributing failures to limitations of self, unrealistic expectations of self and/or the world in general, and other psychological factors.In addition, a major factor in some types of depression probably involves certain types of poor coping skills, which are inadequate to deal with the failures and other adverse experiences of life.There are certain types of depression that are associated with repeated bouts of failure and depression.The failure might be facilitated by unrealistic expectations and may include an unwillingness to consider possible risks of failure.This makes it impossible to avoid the failure by taking corrective action.When the failure comes so does depression.Another factor that may be related to certain types of depression: is the patient is very realistic about the negative realities of her life and is very displeased with these realities, which results in depression.†††

††††† Seasonal affective disorder:Seasonal affective disorder is believed to be a disease also, and once again this might be true in some cases.However, it might be a psychogenic disorder in many cases.The seasonal variation in mood, which drops to a depressed state in winter and reaches a peak (in happiness) in summer, can be the result of psychological factors.Sunlight is associated, from childhood on, with pleasant experiences for many people.The association includes experiences at the beach, outings in the wilderness, vacation from school and work.Thus, the simple association of sunlight may have an uplifting affect on the mood of many people.The cold weather and the lack of sunlight is associated, from childhood on, with unpleasant experiences, such as the discomfort of the cold, staying indoors and going to school.However, theabove associations are only part of the psychological dynamics.Winter can truly be a depressing time for many people, because the low temperatures make it more difficult to socialize.For example, outings on the beach or picnics are generally not feasible, and students have less time available because of their school work.In addition, cold weather can be physically very uncomfortable for many people.Summer, truly is more interesting and exciting for many individuals.There are vacations, outings on the beach and in the wilderness, which offer interesting experiences and chances to meet new people.Thus, for some people summer is a merry and exciting time, and winter is a very boring and depressing part of the year.The individuals with seasonal affective disorder (of a psychogenic origin) might inadvertently let the negative and positive associations and realities of winter and summer influence their mood.

††††† Phobias:Phobias are definitely not of somatogenic origin.Thus, I will not classify it as a disease or illness.Phobias are basically the result of various experiences that cause irrational fear responses to certain stimuli.The fear response involves a physiological reaction, but this does not make it a disease, because the causes of phobias are psychological.

††††† Obsessive-compulsive disorders:Obsessive-compulsive disorders are believed by some drug companies and psychiatrists to have a biological basis, which relate to a predisposition to develop the disorder.The relatively involved behavior, (such as ritualistic cleaning of hands, excessive checking and counting of certain objects, an irrational effort to obtain perfection in situations where perfection serves no significant purpose) makes the belief highly questionable.Most likely the belief is motivated by the financial desires of drug companies, who make drugs that can reduce the motivation to carry out obsessive-compulsive behavior.This does not imply any dishonesty on the part of the drug companies, because the drugs really do reduce obsessive-compulsive behavior.However, theirhypothesis is not correct; it is possible to reduce the motivation associated with just about any type of behavior with the various types of drugs that are on the market.Thus, it is quite apparent, because of the relative complex nature of the behavior associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, that the condition is cause by psychological factors.Therefore, I would not classify this disorder as a disease.

††††† Generalized anxiety disorder:Generalized anxiety disorder is another condition that is believed to have a physiological cause by some drug companies, psychiatrists and psychologists.Again this is probably motivated by the financial desires of the drug companies, and their advertising, which influences people in the mental health professions.There are many drugs on the market that can reduce anxiety, and the companies simply want to sell their product.However, very likely there are certain anxiety disorders that are truly cause by malfunctioning physiological factors, but these conditions generally do not have anything to do with most anxiety disorders.It is true that all types of anxiety involve a significant physiological response, such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, etc, but this response is generally cause by psychological factors.Thus, I would not classify most anxiety disorders as a disease.

††† Panic disorder:Panic disorder may have a contributing physiological basis in certain cases.(The following is not the generally accepted view of panic disorders.)Some panic disorders may be caused by certain tranquilizer drugs, such as beta-blockers.Basically, the body produces chemicals, which can be thought of as stimulants that counteract the results of the tranquilizer.These stimulants increase over the time interval that the tranquilizer is used.If the tranquilizer was regularly used over a period of time and then suddenly reduced or stopped the natural stimulants, which were increased by the bodyís response to the tranquilizer, will cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, and other physiological symptoms.These symptoms can be quite severe in some cases.If the symptoms are severe enough to frighten the patient then a true panic attack might manifest.This can be thought of as a type of chemical addiction to certain types of tranquilizer drugs and since it has a physiological cause I would classify it as a disease.

††††† However, most types of panic disorders are probably caused by psychological factors.Some of the dynamics that might be involved are as follows:A vicious cycle is triggered by a fear of various bodily responses, such as sudden increases in heart rate, momentary dizziness, a feeling of anxiety, etc.These bodily reactions cause fear, because the patient believes, or feels that something terrible is about to happen.The fear causes an increase in the bodily responses, such as increase heart rate and anxiety.These responses cause even more fear, which of course results in even a greater heart rate, which causes still more fear, etc.

††††† Unfortunately, panic disorders may be treated with tranquilizers (such as beta-blockers), which may help the patient for a while, but in the long run there is a high probability that the condition will be worsened by the medication.This is probably obvious from the paragraph that began this discussion.

††††† Post-traumatic stress disorder:Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychogenic condition and thus is not a disease.This condition obviously develops from extreme environmental stress, such as in war.

††††† Dissociative identity disorder:Dissociative identity disorder (the older term is multiple personality disorder) is a psychogenic disorder and is not a disease.The condition involves two or more distinct personalities that developed in the same individual.

††††† Somatoform disorders:Somatoform disorders are psychogenic disorders and thus are not diseases.The disorder essentially involves bodily complaints that relate to psychological factors.One type of somatoform disorder is hypochondria, which involves an irrational belief of having a disease.

†††††† NOTE (Probably in some cases, involving somatoform disorders, the individual really is suffering from an undiagnosed medical problem.This probably was very true in the past, because of limitations in medical diagnostic methods.Thus, I believe that older literature on somatoform disorders may not be valid.)END OF NOTE

††††† Psychophysiological disorders: Psychophysiological disorders are physiological disorders that were facilitated in their development by psychological stresses.Examples, are coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and asthma.Obviously psychophysiological disorders are true diseases.However, the role of psychological factors in the development of the disease is probably not a total causative factor.The psychological stress probably facilitates the development if various physiological factors are present.

††††† Sociopathy:Sociopathy is a psychogenic disorder and not a true disease.The individual afflicted is called a sociopath (an older term is psychopath).There are some individuals who might argue that there is a physiological component involved with this disorder.In certain cases this might be true, but generally the condition appears to be the result of an individual who is a victim of maladaptive learning.Some of the basic symptoms are antisocial behavior, selfishness, callousness, impulsiveness, and the individual is very irresponsible.However, the sociopath can be quite intelligent and capable of putting on a good social image.They may use this to con and manipulate people for their own satisfaction or financial gain.

††††† Alcoholism:The causative factors of alcoholism are psychological factors, including components related to culture and the family background of the individual.Thus, from this prospective it certainly is not a disease.(See note discussing genetic factors two paragraphs below.)However, alcoholism and nutritional deficiencies that are likely to accompany excessive drinking will usually cause a true physiological disease.Alcohol by itself has many destructive effects on the body including the brain.The destructive effects are usually worsened by the very poor eating habits of the alcoholic.Most of his calories might come from hard liquor, which has no significant quantity of vitamins and minerals.Thus, alcoholism is not a disease because it is cause by psychological factors, but excessive drinking causes one or more true physiological diseases.

††††† Drug abuse:Drug abuse is similar to alcoholism.The condition is caused by psychological factors, thus it is not a disease.However, the drug can cause one or more physiological diseases.Many drugs are physiologically addictive, which I would classify as a disease.

†††† NOTE: The idea has been raised by some researchers that alcoholism is caused by genetic predispositions.(Similar arguments can be made for other types of drug abuse.Thus, the following to paragraphs can also be applied to other drugs besides alcohol.)Question: are these arguments valid?Genetic factors are not particularly relevant until the individual starts to drink excessively.People with certain traits will become intoxicated with less alcohol than people without the traits.For example, a person who is small in height and body frame will get intoxicated with less alcohol than a tall person with a big frame.Other factors are related to variations in metabolic rate.An individual with a slow metabolic rate will maintain the alcohol in her system longer than an individual with a high metabolic rate.There are probably many other similar factors that can be genetic in nature.

††††† However, what many people believe about alcoholism and genetics is not related to the above.There are people who simply believe that alcoholism runs in families and it is genetic.Actually, alcoholism sometimes does run in families, because the culture and the family background are primary determining factors in the consumption of alcohol.Perhaps, it might be easier for a person to become an alcoholic if he has certain genetic traits as mentioned above, but this only comes into play if the person has a desire to become intoxicated.It will be easier for some people to make themselves intoxicated than others, as a result of certain genetic traits.††

Chapter 24:An Interpretation of the Myth of Mental Illness and My View of the Problem.

 

Left click on these words to hear a sound file of this chapter.

 

NOTE (This chapter covers some of the material that was already covered in chapter 23, but it is covered from a different prospective as explained below.)

 

A Description of this Chapter †††††††

The first part of this paper is primarily based on the ideas and text of Thomas S. Szasz's book The Myth of Mental Illness Revised Edition, 1974.That is, the paper is my interpretation of Szasz's book, written in my own style.However, I added additional ideas and elaborations to my interpretation. I also excluded some of the less important ideas from the book.NOTE (The term author in this paper refers to Thomas S. Szasz.)

††††† The first part of the paper is divided into ten sections.The divisions are the underlined large type headings in quotation marks, which is Szasz's original summary of his book.Each heading, which is in the author's original words, is interpreted and explained in my own style and wording.After the interpretation I generally add my own elaborations and ideas.

††††† The amount of text under each heading ranges from several pages to one paragraph.The reason for this is simply because some of the headings required less text to explain.

†††† In Thomas S. Szasz's book, which is nearly 300 pages, there are many statements and ideas that can be interpreted in slightly different ways.Thus, my interpretations are not the only possible versions.††††††††

††††† Part two of this paper is a summary of the problem, mental illness myth or reality from the perspective of the psychological, sociological, economic and technological components.

 

An Interpretation of the Myth of Mental Illness and My View of the Problem

††††††††††

Part One

My Interpretation and View

 

"1. Strictly speaking, disease or illness can affect only the body; hence, there can be no mental illness."

 

What the author means here is that the types of disorders that psychiatrists generally treat are not true diseases or illnesses.There are of course abnormal styles of thinking, communicating, and behaving. This includes: abnormal reactions, unjustified anger, nervous reactions, irrational perceptions and interpretations of the world, and other unpleasant states of mind.Perhaps when such conditions are severe they can be classified as psychological or psychiatric disorders.However, these unfortunate conditions that psychiatrists and psychologists generally deal with are not diseases, and are not caused by a biological abnormality.Such conditions are caused by psychological factors.The individual with such a psychological or psychiatric disorder is not ill.(I believe that one can find exceptions to the ideas presented in this paragraph, but the exceptions are too few to invalidate the statement.)

††††† It is necessary to define the words disease, illness and sickness at this point.The simplest dictionary definition that I can find is: disease is a condition of a body that impairs its functioning.A more precise definition for this paper is the following.Disease is a biological malfunction, such as physiological, or biochemical that impairs the functioning of the body.The definition of illness or sickness is simply a person with a disease.Thus, the definition does not include the conditions that are traditionally called mental illnesses.

††††† The author's view is simply that mental illness is an invented concept, which is based on the false assumption that there is a biological cause for the condition.This is discussed on page 11 to 13 and elsewhere in Szasz's book.That is, the idea is that conventional diseases were discovered and disorders such as hysteria and other mental illnesses were declared to be diseases.

††††† Sometimes, but certainly not always, a person that is declared to be "mentally ill" is simply a malingerer.The malingering is not necessarily carried out on a conscious level. The acceptance of the label mentally ill and/or a psychiatricdiagnosis as certain inadvertent rewards for the patient, which encourages him to play the role of a mental patient.The rewards can be freedom from the responsibilities that other people are faced with, such as earning a living, military service, etc.Other rewards for accepting the role of a mental patient can be disability benefits and insurance payments for psychiatric treatment.

††† ††The author acknowledges that there are physiological disorders that affect behavior.There is no doubt about such diseases.They are neurological conditions that are definitely illnesses.There are also hormonal imbalances that cause the body to slow down, or speed up, or malfunction in some way, such as thyroid malfunction, diabetes, and many other conditions.These diseases impair the functioning of the body, as well as the emotional state and behavior of the patient.However, these diseases are not generally considered mental illnesses, and are usually not treated by psychiatrists.Such diseases are treated by neurologists, endocrinologists and other traditional medical doctors.

††††† When is the term mental illness used?The term is usually used when there are dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, or actions which are not associated with an obvious biological condition that directly impairs the body.This generally boils down to when an individual displays abnormal behavior that offends someone else and/or when the patient is bothered by her own thoughts or actions.This usually means that the indiv