Sonntag, 27. Mai 2007


Die Leute die mich kennen wissen, dass ich nicht gerade begeistert von Psychologie bin. Zu diesem Thema habe ich einen Post in einem Comment-Thread auf Pharyngula gefunden, der meine eigene Meinung sehr gut widerspiegelt:

[...] **Mind** is a word some clowns made up way back when to describe some sort of intermediary between the spirit and the flesh. This is the *equivalent* of talking about the "ghost" in a steam engine that some Japanese where convinced made them move, back when the technology was first being introduced. Its pure BS. The *Mind* as modern psychology uses the term refers to the, and I know I am going to get attacked over this, data and "software" sitting in the "hardware" of the brain. It does exist, but its not at all separate from the physical system. An article I myself posted about on the subject talked about the brains of flies, and posited that free will was the equivalent of going from:

mind { do x do y do z }


mind {
a = rnd
select case {
do x
do y
do z
>.33 and do x
do p
do y
do z
>.66 and do x
do z
do y

Well, that would be a ***very*** simple explanation of what they found. The behavior was "random" within a set range of possibilities, but nearly entirely non-random. The "mind" in that sense if the code between "mind {" and the last "}". The problem is, psychologist and behaviorists has generally tried to deal with *only* the software, without looking at the hardware. This is why they are known, in some cases, to be highly defensive at the suggesting that handing someone a pill, to fix a **real** chemical defect, is still more common than for them to accept that there is something physically wrong, which can be fixed chemically, or repaired (in theory), instead of it *all* being derived from the "data".

In other words, I tend to agree that the "mind" as described by pure psychology, or behavioral models, is total BS. It looks only at a) the data going in, b) the **assumed** nature of the processing system and c) the data coming out, without asking if the "hardware" is working. Some people in the *purist* psychology field think that if the brain doesn't "look" damaged in some blatant way, it must work in some ideal state, and the only *problems* that can exist are in the "personality" of the person using it. I.e., that every problem is due to how people "think", not what they are thinking with. This is the equivalent of ignoring the fact that people have different amounts of three "types" of muscle, which is why some people are good sprinters, some good distance runners, and some good at more in between races. You can't make a sprinter into a distance runner. It just won't work, because their muscles are **not** balanced that way. You can't "cure" a scitzophrenic by "talking to them", no matter how much time you spend doing so, their brains just don't work that way **period**. But there is still an element in behavioral and old style psychology that think you can.

This is why they are calling you on going after "neuroscientists". These are the "last" people to talk about the "mind" as some separate thing from the hardware. They are the last people that would suggest spending 20 years trying to "talk" a problem away. They would be the first ones to say, "Maybe the problem isn't mental, but physical and we can correct that glitch, at least temporarily." They are the 180 degree opposite of the people you are babbling about and trying to claim are so full of it.

And, just to be clear, psychology and behavioral studies *are* still useful, in that they describe what is "observed" and they can "sometimes" give good indications about how the hardware, even when working right, can be *forced* or *encouraged* to generate the wrong results. I.e., what someone can do to someone else that produces abnormal behaviors.

The problem I have with this is that it starts with assumptions about what is "normative" without questioning if that is even a valid premise, can overlook non-obvious reasons for things to get there, assumes that talking about the problem can "fix" it eventually, even if neither participant (patient or doctor) have a clear picture of the situation, etc. Behaviorism can provide good data on "what" is seen. Its not so good at saying if that "should" be what is going on in any other context, save in a pure statistical sense, or as a product of a social system that warps the default behaviors to begin with, to try to conform them "accepted" behaviors. This is imho, bad, because it fails to ask if those are themselves "normal" or not, or why some people can't conform to them at all. And if you can't say why that should be impossible for some people, you can't derive an effective "treatment" for it in the first place.

The other problem, for those driven purely by either/both, is that I have heard of cases where they have been so irritated by the mere suggestion that their might be a physical cause for the problem, that they ignore the possibility and even tell patients that its not worth looking at such solutions. This happens less and less over time though.

I personally think that psychology, in its more philosophical form, where neurology is *not* actively used, and even behaviorism is used only as prescription, not as description, is the modern Alchemist. Sure, they get it right a lot, simply because the formula they follow "mostly" fits. But they also sometimes have dozens of other patients, who have spent years trying to be "cured", only to not actually get any place. And part of that is the *stupid* assumption that I think [supporters are] aiming at, and completely missing, which is that these people also tend to see the "mind" as something they can fiddle with, without bothering to look at, understand or examine the physical brain its sitting in. [...]

Ich habe das Comment leicht verändert (eckige Klammern), da es eine Antwort auf einen anderen Poster war. Nun ist es im Grunde allgemein Gültig, wenn ich nichts übersehen habe.
Hier im Kontext.

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