Psycho-Babble Medication Thread 21333

Shown: posts 1 to 25 of 28. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Freud and his relevance

Posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 13:38:20

Do any of you feel Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is still relevant today? We have come so far in scientifically analyzing mental disorders, but does that negate his life's work?

interested for your input...

Jeb

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Eric on February 13, 2000, at 14:35:14

In reply to Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 13:38:20


Jeb, Freud's work means nothing in the modern world. If anything, Freud's work has largely contributed to the many problems and misconceptions that exist in psychiatry and psychology today. Freud was a quack and I would pay no heed to his bogus theories...nor to any other of the "psychological" theories of depression. Depression is a neurological disease...a disease of the brain and central nervous system. To put it bluntly, people with clinical depression have problems with their brain not functioning properly. A person with severe clinical depression has a poorly functioning brain Jeb. No amount of "psychanalyzing" in the Freudian sense can ever correct this problem once one has been hit by major depression.

Quit thinking of clinical depression as a "mental illness" or an "emotional problem" and start viewing it as just another serious neurological disorder like Parkinsons disease, Alzheimer disease or other serious medical problems.

Furthermore, serious mental illness has a heavily genetic component. Sure, it usually takes some type of severe environmental stressors to "activate" depression but some people just dont have it in their genes to become that way no matter what happens. As history moves forward, we will begin to view Freud's theories as worthless and laughable. Kind of like the old time theories that the Earth was flat.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 14:53:02

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Eric on February 13, 2000, at 14:35:14

I agree many of Freud's theories are "worthless and laughable" as you put it, but isn't there some substance to his notion of repression of emotions and desires? Dream analysis?

I also agree that some of us are genetically predisposed to experiencing some sort of mental illness in our lives but wouldn't you agree that some of us will experience mental illness based solely on some sort of trauma experienced early in life?

>
> Jeb, Freud's work means nothing in the modern world. If anything, Freud's work has largely contributed to the many problems and misconceptions that exist in psychiatry and psychology today. Freud was a quack and I would pay no heed to his bogus theories...nor to any other of the "psychological" theories of depression. Depression is a neurological disease...a disease of the brain and central nervous system. To put it bluntly, people with clinical depression have problems with their brain not functioning properly. A person with severe clinical depression has a poorly functioning brain Jeb. No amount of "psychanalyzing" in the Freudian sense can ever correct this problem once one has been hit by major depression.
>
> Quit thinking of clinical depression as a "mental illness" or an "emotional problem" and start viewing it as just another serious neurological disorder like Parkinsons disease, Alzheimer disease or other serious medical problems.
>
> Furthermore, serious mental illness has a heavily genetic component. Sure, it usually takes some type of severe environmental stressors to "activate" depression but some people just dont have it in their genes to become that way no matter what happens. As history moves forward, we will begin to view Freud's theories as worthless and laughable. Kind of like the old time theories that the Earth was flat.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Sef on February 13, 2000, at 18:57:04

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 14:53:02

I think that some therapists who use a purely cognitive approach, which I envision being like psychoanalysis, will keep there patients sick longer than therapists taking more of a behavioral approach to therapy. I have PTSD and I have found that I do better when my pdoc tells me something I can DO to help me cope with a memory or a bad dream than trying to have me remember back and recall all the gorey details. For instance, when I had a dream in which I was a victim, my pdoc told me the next time I dream I will beat the h_ll out of the perpertrator. It worked. I also think that Freud also focused too much on how people deal with their sexual desires effects their everyday life.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Scott L. Schofield on February 14, 2000, at 10:24:17

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 14:53:02

> I agree many of Freud's theories are "worthless and laughable" as you put it, but isn't there some substance to his notion of repression of emotions and desires? Dream analysis?

Personally, I think that some of Freud's notions do have substance, and that they definitely have a place in the modern world. One of the problems with many of Freud's conclusions is that they were based on the incorrect assumptions regarding human biology that existed at the time. It was Freud's goal from the start to explain psychological and behavioral phenomena within the context of both human biology and evolution. He was, after all, a Darwinist.

> I also agree that some of us are genetically predisposed to experiencing some sort of mental illness in our lives but wouldn't you agree that some of us will experience mental illness based solely on some sort of trauma experienced early in life?

Some words came to me the other day as I was driving past a McDonald's. I thought they might be useful.

"The brain determines the mind as the mind changes the brain."


- Scott

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Sigolene on February 14, 2000, at 16:01:12

In reply to Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 13:38:20

I think that one day, when people finally understand that with one, then two, 3, 4, even 5 medications together, they are still not happy, they will discover Freud again.
Thez will understand that it's not that ... they were looking for. Medications are just acting on the symptoms, not the cause.
Personnally, if I haven't done a psychoanalysis when I was 25, I think I would be dead today. With or without medications. The psychoanalysis made some changes in my head, that no drug could have made.
But nowadays, everyone (especially insurances and med laboratories) are interested in killing Freud theories. It's business.
Sorry for my bad english, I'm french.
Sigolene.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Seamus on February 15, 2000, at 1:11:30

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Scott L. Schofield on February 14, 2000, at 10:24:17

> Some words came to me the other day as I was driving past a McDonald's. I thought they might be useful.
>
> "The brain determines the mind as the mind changes the brain."
>
>
> - Scott

I like the idea.


Billions and billions of neurons served?

Seamus

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Vesper on February 16, 2000, at 14:50:36

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Seamus on February 15, 2000, at 1:11:30

Hey! Thanks to Sigmund Fraud, I have Venus Envy!
Whoever apologized for poor English saying they were French, don't apologize
, Do you ever hear Americans apologizing for their poor French, because they are Americans?

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Noa on February 16, 2000, at 17:22:30

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Vesper on February 16, 2000, at 14:50:36

> , Do you ever hear Americans apologizing for their poor French, because they are Americans?

No, but Americans use the expression, "Pardon my French" when using spicy language! :')

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by saint james on February 17, 2000, at 19:54:22

In reply to Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 13:38:20

> Do any of you feel Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is still relevant today? We have come so far in scientifically analyzing mental disorders, but does that negate his life's work?
>
> interested for your input...
>
> Jeb

James here....

I think you need to put Freud in context. He was a neurologist by training and it is well est. that he said that most mental illness was biological in nature and being a neurologist he well knew there were no treatments so he decided to work on the psychological side. He was successful in doing what we do today, having people talk about their past and present problems with the intent of understanding how all this effects behavior.

I will fully agree that many of this concepts are wacked. There is documentation to indicate he had a gay lover. Cocaine has to be factored in ! However Freud lived in the Victorian era which
was VERY repressed sexually; everything has buttoned up and not talked about. It was a pot about to explode and Freud's main contribution was that he was the first to go there.

James

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Adam on February 17, 2000, at 20:12:59

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Noa on February 16, 2000, at 17:22:30

Freud had his day. He made some brilliant deductions (such as the existance of the subconcious), and thus some important contributions, but the state of the art and the science has moved on.

Some of Freud's observations and constructions may hold up to scientific scruitiny. Some may and have not. Frued himself was not a scientist, but, at best, an intuitive creator and philosopher. He should be honored as such and put to rest.

I think the psychotherapy of the future will be multimodal and will adapt itself temporally to the needs of the patient, and will almost certainly not be separated but rather integrated in an adaptive way to the course of psychopharmacological interventions. It may progress in phases from a cognitive-behavioral approach to help modify maladaptive behaviors and patterns of thinking, to an interpersonal phase of confidence building and relationship skills, to a more reflective, psychoanalytic phase where, if desired, issues of symbol and meaning and subconcious impetus can be pondered. Particular details will be fitted to the patient based on a hopefully robust system of identification of well-characterised schemas that the patient displays. The particulars will be informed by rigorous study and research into human behavior as influenced both by environment and genotype.

The key will be knowing what to throw at what phenotype and when. This will be determined by scientific research, not intuition. Thus, Freud has no place in such a scheme. If he is proven right on occasion, it will be coincidence. We can then marvel at his genius if such praise is warranted, the way we marvel at at Democritus, whose concept of the atom may seem as quaint but inspired to modern physicists as the id will seem to the future healers of the mind.

> > , Do you ever hear Americans apologizing for their poor French, because they are Americans?
>
> No, but Americans use the expression, "Pardon my French" when using spicy language! :')

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Elizabeth on February 17, 2000, at 22:04:02

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Adam on February 17, 2000, at 20:12:59

> Freud had his day. He made some brilliant deductions (such as the existance of the subconcious), and thus some important contributions, but the state of the art and the science has moved on.

Agreed. So, how about Freud's contemporary, the remarkable Santiago Ramon y Cajal? There's someone of lasting importance.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Adam on February 17, 2000, at 22:39:45

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Elizabeth on February 17, 2000, at 22:04:02

Never heard of the guy. Can you tell us more?

> > Freud had his day. He made some brilliant deductions (such as the existance of the subconcious), and thus some important contributions, but the state of the art and the science has moved on.
>
> Agreed. So, how about Freud's contemporary, the remarkable Santiago Ramon y Cajal? There's someone of lasting importance.

 

Ramon y Cajal

Posted by Elizabeth on February 18, 2000, at 1:43:40

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Adam on February 17, 2000, at 22:39:45

> Never heard of the guy.

Exactly -- everybody's heard of Freud. Yet while I do think Freud (though wrong on many counts) made some important contributions (not to science, but to talk therapy and literature), Cajal is the one whose name should be remembered by all, especially on this board.

At the end of the 19th century, Cajal discovered the basic structure of the nervous system and how neurotransmission works. Something else that impresses me are his detailed drawings of neurons. They can be found all over the web; one good one is at http://www.hhmi.org/senses/b/b110b-lg.htm.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Kim on February 18, 2000, at 4:49:15

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Vesper on February 16, 2000, at 14:50:36

> Hey! Thanks to Sigmund Fraud, I have Venus Envy!
> Whoever apologized for poor English saying they were French, don't apologize
> , Do you ever hear Americans apologizing for their poor French, because they are Americans?

Sigolene,
Your English is better than that of some "natives" who post on this board!
Kim

 

Re: Ramon y Cajal

Posted by Adam on February 18, 2000, at 11:27:25

In reply to Ramon y Cajal, posted by Elizabeth on February 18, 2000, at 1:43:40

Well, it turns out I have heard of him, and I've got the textbooks to prove it. Unfortunately I didn't remember his name or much of anything else about him. If you had brought up histology, it might have jogged my memory; then I would never have uttered a sentance with Cajal but without Golgi. Ironically, that's where I heard about Cajal the most (or perhaps at all), in his use of Golgi staining of neurons, not for furthering the understanding of that structure at the molecular or even the cellular level.

Who can forget Freud, though? Anyone who goes around saying emotional problems can stem from the uterus and women wish they had a penis and yet still have modern-day adherants is bound to be the topic of lively conversation for years to come. I heard about Freud way more in school, a man of pure evil if you ask some of my old professors. One, a protege of Mary Daly, I think coined the term "Sigmund Fraud", or acted like she did.

Yeah, nothing like a little Freud to get the blood boiling. A bit more exciting than "nerve cells stain black." But you're right, Cajal is much more deserving of our memory.

Being Spanish might not help matters. You know, most Americans' idea of Spanish literature is Hemmingway, and how many great Spanish thinkers can we name vs. Austrian?

Thanks for the reference.

> > Never heard of the guy.
>
> Exactly -- everybody's heard of Freud. Yet while I do think Freud (though wrong on many counts) made some important contributions (not to science, but to talk therapy and literature), Cajal is the one whose name should be remembered by all, especially on this board.
>
> At the end of the 19th century, Cajal discovered the basic structure of the nervous system and how neurotransmission works. Something else that impresses me are his detailed drawings of neurons. They can be found all over the web; one good one is at http://www.hhmi.org/senses/b/b110b-lg.htm.

 

Re: Ramon y Cajal

Posted by Noa on February 18, 2000, at 12:38:13

In reply to Re: Ramon y Cajal, posted by Adam on February 18, 2000, at 11:27:25

Another possible reason he didn't make it into general knowledge in our culture, is that the science wasn't in a place to run with his discoveries. For the same reason, the theories of psychoanalysis filled a void, because the technology wasn't there to develop the science of the brain. Now that the technology is kicking into gear, well, it seems apt to resurrect Senor (el doctor?) Ramon y Cajal, doesn't it?

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Eric on February 18, 2000, at 16:45:58

In reply to Freud and his relevance, posted by Jeb on February 13, 2000, at 13:38:20

> Do any of you feel Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is still relevant today? We have come so far in scientifically analyzing mental disorders, but does that negate his life's work?
>
> interested for your input...
>
> Jeb

Freud was just a quack and a weirdo who should be shoved under the rug and forgotten about. I hate to say it but many of psychiatry's current problems and overall bad reputation can be indirectly traced back to Freud and his whole mentality and approach. Freud's approach was extremely subjective and unscientific...totally unacceptable in any other branch of medicine. I am sure if Freud were to practice psychiatry today with his ideas he would be hit with so many medical malpractice lawsuits it would be ridiculous.

We live in a society in which biotechnology(genetic research and engineering) is in the beginning stages. It is time to forget about Freud and psychiatry's past ties to psychology and reliance on ineffective, open ended talk therapy and move on to more of a neuropsychiatric and genetic engineering approach to severe mental illness. Talk therapy and psychoanalysis are weak tools to combat severe mental illness. Much stronger and more effective treatments are desperately needed and this most surely cannot be found in Freudian psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo studies.

It is time to cut ties to psychology and Freud and move psychiatry forward into the era of hard science research.

 

Re: Freud and his relevance

Posted by Cam W. on February 18, 2000, at 23:10:12

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Eric on February 18, 2000, at 16:45:58

> > Do any of you feel Freud's theory of psychoanalysis is still relevant today? We have come so far in scientifically analyzing mental disorders, but does that negate his life's work?
> >
> > interested for your input...
> >
> > Jeb
>
> Freud was just a quack and a weirdo who should be shoved under the rug and forgotten about. I hate to say it but many of psychiatry's current problems and overall bad reputation can be indirectly traced back to Freud and his whole mentality and approach. Freud's approach was extremely subjective and unscientific...totally unacceptable in any other branch of medicine. I am sure if Freud were to practice psychiatry today with his ideas he would be hit with so many medical malpractice lawsuits it would be ridiculous.
>
> We live in a society in which biotechnology(genetic research and engineering) is in the beginning stages. It is time to forget about Freud and psychiatry's past ties to psychology and reliance on ineffective, open ended talk therapy and move on to more of a neuropsychiatric and genetic engineering approach to severe mental illness. Talk therapy and psychoanalysis are weak tools to combat severe mental illness. Much stronger and more effective treatments are desperately needed and this most surely cannot be found in Freudian psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo studies.
>
> It is time to cut ties to psychology and Freud and move psychiatry forward into the era of hard science research.

To All -
Have any of you read at least some of Freud's book? I did a few years ago. What struck me was that he seemed to be speaking in metaphor about physical and emotion states, to which there were no words available to describe what he was seeing (or understanding). People seemed to have taken these metaphors literally. The cocaine that Freud was habitually using may have make him paranoid or apathetic about the responses his books elicited. Most of the criticisms we hear today were formulated after his death. Freudian metaphor was not to understood in the literal context, but as a metaphorical explanation of the unknown. - Cam W.

 

Re: Ramon y Cajal vs the power of PR

Posted by dj on February 19, 2000, at 0:38:18

In reply to Re: Ramon y Cajal, posted by Noa on February 18, 2000, at 12:38:13

Freud's nephew was a relentless self-promoter named Edward Bernays who is arguably the 'father' of modern public relations. Albert Spiers (sp) or one of Hitler's other promoters is rumoured to have had a copy of Bernay's text on his shelf when the Third Reich was in full bloom.

Old Siggie from bits and pieces I've picked up was equally good at promoting himself and undercutting the views of his former disciples when they strayed, particularly Jung. Anthony Storr wrote an interesting book called "Feet of Clay -- Saints, Sinners & Madmen:A Study of Gurus" in which he looks at both Jung and Freud along with Gurdjieff, Rajneesh, Ignatius and a few other interesting historical figures who have a mythology about them which they and their disciples fanned.

One of Siggie's talents was that he was a good writer and supposedly he reads well, whether his theories make a whit of sense or not.

Cajal just needs a good PR agent! ; )

 

Re: Freud, Buddha and their co-relevance

Posted by dj on February 19, 2000, at 1:41:30

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Cam W. on February 18, 2000, at 23:10:12

That's exactly my understanding Cam. Freud was very methaphorical as is much of theological thought. The book "Thoughs Without a Thinker" by Mark Epstein is a great overview and comparism of Freudian vs Buddhist perspectives on the perception. Buddhism is very much about Insight, coming form the individual using meditative tools.

And learning to let go is also a major part of it all, which the same author writes very eloquently about in another book of his: "Going to Pieces, Without Falling Apart". As both a practicing buddhist and a psychoanalyst he knows his terrritory and the fact that the map is not the territory.

Namaste!

> To All -
> Have any of you read at least some of Freud's book? I did a few years ago. What struck me was that he seemed to be speaking in metaphor about physical and emotion states, to which there were no words available to describe what he was seeing (or understanding). People seemed to have taken these metaphors literally. The cocaine that Freud was habitually using may have make him paranoid or apathetic about the responses his books elicited. Most of the criticisms we hear today were formulated after his death. Freudian metaphor was not to understood in the literal context, but as a metaphorical explanation of the unknown. - Cam W.

 

Re: Freud in Context

Posted by Noa on February 19, 2000, at 9:33:16

In reply to Re: Freud, Buddha and their co-relevance, posted by dj on February 19, 2000, at 1:41:30

I think it is important to keep chronological context in mind. There are many thinkers who, by today's standards, might seem like "quacks". But they did contribute to the development of thought about their fields. Anyone who adheres to Freud's ideas dogmatically, obviously is ignoring all that has been learned in the meantime. But there are ideas we have learned from Freud, that have led to new ideas, etc, and that makes his work valuable for what it is.

As for the suggestion that there is no use for psychology in an age of pharmocology, well I have to disagree strongly. Although neurotransmitters clearly are essential to treating our disorders, you cannot separate what is purely chemical from what we experience with our thoughts and our interactions with others. And the influence travels in both directions.

 

Re: Ramon y Cajal vs the power of PR

Posted by V. on February 19, 2000, at 11:00:39

In reply to Re: Ramon y Cajal vs the power of PR, posted by dj on February 19, 2000, at 0:38:18

> Freud's nephew was a relentless self-promoter named Edward Bernays who is arguably the 'father' of modern public relations. Albert Spiers (sp) or one of Hitler's other promoters is rumoured to have had a copy of Bernay's text on his shelf when the Third Reich was in full bloom.
>
> Old Siggie from bits and pieces I've picked up was equally good at promoting himself and undercutting the views of his former disciples when they strayed, particularly Jung. Anthony Storr wrote an interesting book called "Feet of Clay -- Saints, Sinners & Madmen:A Study of Gurus" in which he looks at both Jung and Freud along with Gurdjieff, Rajneesh, Ignatius and a few other interesting historical figures who have a mythology about them which they and their disciples fanned.
>
> One of Siggie's talents was that he was a good writer and supposedly he reads well, whether his theories make a whit of sense or not.
>
> Cajal just needs a good PR agent! ; )

Albert Speer was an architect who later became Reichsminister for Armaments.

 

Out walking the dogma...

Posted by bob on February 20, 2000, at 0:57:44

In reply to Re: Freud and his relevance, posted by Eric on February 18, 2000, at 16:45:58

> It is time to cut ties to psychology and Freud and move psychiatry forward into the era of hard science research.

First off -- Eric, please don't take this personally. I don't mean to dis you here. (I just like to bait any and all hard-core empiricists who might be in the audience ;^)

All the same ... as someone trained in the "hard sciences", I always have to laugh at such dogmatic empiricism, particularly when applied to psychology. "Inner space" is truly the "final frontier", as I think we'll know far more about the depths of the oceans and the furthest reaches of space and time before we get any serious kind of fix on what makes the human mind make sense of the world.

"Hard" empiricism is fine for understanding phenomena that do not involve cognitive or affective processes, but the "modern" scientific mindset is simply ill-prepared to deal with mental phenomena. Blindly expecting the same investigatory criteria that help us understand the atom to shed light on thought processes is what Stephen Jay Gould rightly referred to as Physics Envy. The biggest joke of it all is that what physicist understand quite well about their work is that it is getting more and more metaphorical all the time. They theorize about events that cannot be directly measured and splice together statistical models of best-case scenarios, and they still cannot come up with a complete picture. But they KNOW that and they readily ADMIT to it ... just like Terry Gilliam says of Camelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail --"It's only a model."

The fact that our models of atomic and subatomic structures may have absolutely no resemblance to what is "really" happening, tho, makes no difference. The metaphors still have EXPLANATORY POWER and PREDICTIVE POWER. They help us make sense of the world.

Just don't make the mistake of thinking that what physics says is happening has a perfect correspondence to some reality outside the realm of human mental functioning.

If this is the case for physics, the most fundamental of all the sciences, what hope is there for chemistry or biology of explaining their domains in a perfectly mechanistic, clockwork manner? You want to get even more fundamental than physics? Try mathematics. It is based on ideal entities -- things that only exist in the minds of mathematicians.

Yes, sure, there is SOME correspondence to the experienced world, but this simple fact remains: we have no system of knowing that has direct access to the "underlying" reality of the material world.

Empiricism can lead us to nice approximations and powerful metaphors, but it's philosophical base is intellectually bankrupt when it comes to crossing the divide from world to mind--primarily because it requires us to make a distinction between the two in the first place. As long as science tries to distinguish between the objective and the subjective, it will fail to have a philosophic foundation that allows mental phenomena to be a part of the world instead of something separate from it.

To put it more plainly: if you are going to label some metal activity as objective and other mental activity as subjective, then you must also accept mind-body dualism. To then argue that objective science can come to a complete understanding of mental life is a direct contradiction of your initial assertions, since you have already acknowledged that some mental activity exists beyond the realm of physical measurement.

"Scientific" psychology only adds insult to injury (after all, spliting your mind from your body has gotta hurt) by throwing statistics at us as a mechanism for explanation. Sure, atomic physics uses statistics all over the place as an explanatory mechanism. For example, a physicist might be able to tell you the probability of a hydrogen atom's single electron being in any particular "energy level", orbiting around the nucleus. Even if he could say that there was a 99.9% probability of that electron being in level X, to then ask "is that electron really physically there?" is essentially a nonsensical question. "There", in this case, is a model, a metaphor. It's a mental invention that corresponds well to sensory data taken in from measuring devices, but if you could shrink yourself to the size of an atom and take a picture with, say, a Polaroid i-zone camera (forget how big the pictures look in commercials -- the film is actually well suited for taking snapshots of individual atoms), the result may not resemble the metaphor one bit.

It doesn't change the efficacy of the metaphor as an explanatory device one bit.

So, there may come a day when neurobiochemistry figures out exactly which of the seratonin receptors (isn't there something like 15 different receptors or something like that?), when blocked from taking-up seratonin from the bloodstream, are responsible for alleviating the symptoms of a specific type of mental disorder, AND when some pharmaceutical firms discovers the compound that will block the action of those receptors only and none of the others, then it will be safe to say that people with that specific mental disorder will be able to find relief from the symptoms of their disorder. But...

Will it tell us why they developed this disorder in the first place?
Will it tell us what extent of this disorder is due to genetic fault versus environmental fault?
Will it tell us whether alleviating symptoms is identical to "curing" the disorder?
Will precise reduction of symptoms lead to a spontaneous change in the overt behaviors related to that disorder?

Will it ever be possible to single out any one aspect of a mental disorder in such a precise way in the first place?

Even if you can explain away the problems of mind-body dualism and the object/subject distinction, even if you can explain away the falsification paradigm and the "fact" that nothing scientific is ever proven to be true (we can only falsify or provide support), empiricism is still shackled with single variable, unidirectional causation. We do not have an adequate scientific model that allows for multiple and/or bidirectional/recursive causation that does not resort to statistics. And as soon as we resort to statistics, we lose the ability to describe with precision the behavior of specific individuals, since statistics is based on populations.

If you're still unconvinced of the fallibility of hard science, take a look at its bleeding edge -- Occam's Razor. If two theories explain a phenomenon equally well, then the simpler of the two is the true explanation.

Now, that's what I call the pinnacle of objectivity.

When it gets down to brass tacks, the most powerful ideas of the hard sciences are not clockwork, mechanistic descriptions of directly perceived empirical phenomena -- the most powerful ideas of science are metaphors.

So, I have no problem believing that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


Sometimes, that is.
Bob

 

Re: Out walking the dogma...

Posted by Adam on February 22, 2000, at 14:34:35

In reply to Out walking the dogma..., posted by bob on February 20, 2000, at 0:57:44

> When it gets down to brass tacks, the most powerful ideas of the hard sciences are not clockwork, mechanistic descriptions of directly perceived empirical phenomena -- the most powerful ideas of science are metaphors.
>
> So, I have no problem believing that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
>

I guess I was unaware that scientists pushing the envelope of neurology, psychiatry, and psychology still bothered with distinctions between mind and brain. I rather thought that duality was going the way of, say, wave/particle duality: How you look at something affects the observation but the distinction is artificial, and, while such observations provide useful information, they're limited by the very nature of the experiment and thus inevitably obfuscate some aspects of "reality".

Some people have proposed that what makes the "mind" more than the sum of its brain parts is the fact that it is, at some level, a quantum computer, and uses the superposition of quantum states of some or other molecular component(s) to do massively parallel calculations that can't be observed directly but will resolve themselves into a singular result, a "thought". However, many physicists who study quantum computing think the brain is just to warm and full of jiggling stuff to support a usable quantum computer: molecules interact with other molecules so quickly that superimposed quantum states resolve themselves far faster than any neuron can fire.

Maybe people think the mind is more complex than it really is. Maybe the brain, being just a big mushy computer, can really be figured out adequately to explain and simulate conscious processes to the greatest meaningful level of accuracy: It might just be only the sum of its parts, and the variability one sees from brain to brain is is typical of any biological system. By that we mean its development is characterized by the order we see in chaos, fractal geometries, which really aren't all that mysterious. So the brain is very complicated, to be sure, and unpredicatble in its development the way watersheds or tree branches are unpredictable in their individuality. But, as the mathematics of fractals tells us, the fundamental structures maybe aren't all that inscrutable, and "hard" science could really tell us all that we need to know about the brain. This means the mind too, since they are one and the same.

The statistical analogy of quantum physiscs thus might not be fully applicable to the use of statistics in studying the brain/mind. You wouldn't, for instance, use such an analogy to describe the workings of a digital computer, which the brain, for all the world, behaves like at its most fudamental level, a la the original concepts of neural networks dreampt up by Turing. You need to exploit quantum properties to make transitors in a semiconductor chip work, but those properties don't constructively affect the processing of bits and bytes but rather destructively affect them through random decay of data. The same may also be true of the brain.

To sum up, the brain may be sufficiently computer-like to yield all its secrets to reductionist study, and that in neurology, as well as any cognative science, physics envy is warrented and to be desired.


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[dr. bob] Dr. Bob is Robert Hsiung, MD, dr-bob@uchicago.edu

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