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Thread: Psychology and its detractors

  1. #1 Psychology and its detractors 
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    Psychology and its detractors

    I am a retired electronics engineer who was, until recently, totally ignorant of psychology except for the standard pop-psychology that seems to be universally the norm.

    In the last few years I have devoted a good bit of time trying to comprehend psychology, both its history and its present state. During this short period I have posted on various forums many short threads about what I have learned about this science.

    A very distinctive and common response has resulted. Almost everyone who responds is completely negative about psychology. It is also apparent that they are totally ignorant of this science except for the common pop-psychology knowledge.

    I suspect that the degree of ignorance of psychology may be about as total as is the degree of ignorance of QM (quantum mechanics). However everyone seems to hold QM in high regard whereas almost everyone holds contempt for psychology.

    Does anyone here have a considered opinion as to why this is true, assuming you agree it is true?


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    I am one of the people who has given you a negative response on this and other forums. I have done so because you have primarily been promoting the psychology of Freud, Jung and the like. Rehearsing such outdated psycho-babble is not only non-productive it seriously damages consideration of the quality and current fields of psychology.

    There is, in my opinion, as much correlation between Freud's quaint, notions and modern psychology as there is between astrology and astronomy.
    You don't appear to understand this distinction.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am one of the people who has given you a negative response on this and other forums. I have done so because you have primarily been promoting the psychology of Freud, Jung and the like. Rehearsing such outdated psycho-babble is not only non-productive it seriously damages consideration of the quality and current fields of psychology.

    There is, in my opinion, as much correlation between Freud's quaint, notions and modern psychology as there is between astrology and astronomy.
    You don't appear to understand this distinction.
    I have heard that religion, anti-semitism, and just superstitious beliefs are the reason for such negative views of psychology but you would think that education would have some positive impact upon this sort of foolishness.
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    the existence of "pop psychology", more often than not based on some of freud's discredited notions has done great harm to the image of "real" psychology
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    There is, in my opinion, as much correlation between Freud's quaint, notions and modern psychology as there is between astrology and astronomy.
    Excellent asessment
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    I have heard that religion, anti-semitism, and just superstitious beliefs are the reason for such negative views of psychology but you would think that education would have some positive impact upon this sort of foolishness.
    You still don't seem to be getting it, do you. The negative views of psyhcology are of that outdated Freudian landscape of ego/id/superid etc. There are not negative views of solidly rooted modern psychology.
    I reject Freud not because I am an anti-semite. (I came close to working on a kibbutz in '67 to support Isael.) Nor because of religion, or superstition. (Though I have no idea how these would come into it.)
    I reject Freud because his ideas were nonsense.

    I've always thought that was a good reason for rejecting ideas.
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    coberst,

    Why don't you give a try to a more modern approach? For example, independently of its thesis, Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence" is an excellent intro to modern methods of psychology research where neurosciences have a lot to say.

    Best regards,

    César
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    Quote Originally Posted by César
    coberst,

    Why don't you give a try to a more modern approach? For example, independently of its thesis, Goleman's "Emotional Intelligence" is an excellent intro to modern methods of psychology research where neurosciences have a lot to say.

    Best regards,

    César
    Give us a short view of his thesis and why he rates consideration.
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    The thesis is not the point here but the methods and how psychological research is done nowadays, paying much more attention to the neuroscientific approach. In this vein, his more recent work, "Social Intelligence" could do even better. For your comfort here is a brief editorial review courtesy of Scientific American:


    We all recognize a special capacity that humans have—some more so than others—to connect with others in a deep and direct way. We see this quality expressed by a performer revving a crowd, a doctor healing a patient or a mother putting a child to sleep. To orchestrate these tasks, a person must sense and stimulate the reactions and mood of another. In 1995 Daniel Goleman, a Harvard University–trained psychologist and writer for the New York Times, published Emotional Intelligence, in which he discussed the human ability "to manage our own emotions and inner potential for positive relationships." Now he goes a step further. In Social Intelligence, he enlarges his scope to encompass our human abilities to connect with one another. "We are wired to connect," Goleman says. "Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain—and so the body—of everyone we interact with, just as they do us." Each encounter between people primes the emotions. This neurological pas de deux stimulates our nervous systems, affecting hormones, heart rate, circulation, breathing and the immune system. Goleman peppers his discourse with anecdotes to illustrate the power of social intelligence. From the countertop of Rosie Garcia, a multitasking baker in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, to the tantrum-tainted class of a Texas teacher, he shows how social sensitivity and wisdom can profoundly reshape conflicts. In one encounter in Iraq, a quick-witted U.S. commander turned a Muslim mob’s threats into laughter when he ordered his soldiers to kneel, lower rifl es and smile—averting a potentially fatal clash. Goleman deftly discusses relevant neural pathways, including the thalamus and amygdala, which together regulate sensory and arousal stimuli. He speaks of spindle cells, which rapidly process social decisions; of mirror neurons, which sense another’s movements; of dopamine neurons, which react to pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters that flow freely while two lovers gaze. The author’s introductory tour through this emerging research landscape helps readers grasp core concepts of social neuroscience, illustrating abstractions with poignant anecdotes, without excessive jargon. Goleman also explains how such research may influence our lives. Given our socially reactive brains, we must "be wise," he says, and be aware of the ways that our moods influence the biology of each life we touch.
    Best regards,

    César
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    Ophiolite: With that logic we shouldn't learn Newton's Laws and skip straight to Relativity. By learning Freud first, you build a foundation that will help you understand current theory. I would also disagree when you state that Freud is irrelevant to current theory. It is not psycho-babble. Defensive mechanism and psychotherapy are both popular and functional. I am an experimental psychologist and even I know they are still used today.


    As to why psychology is not respected by the other sciences, i think it has to due with the language psychology. For example, they don’t understand that psychometrics is just accuracy and consistency. If we were to use the same language that they use, I think they would start to respect us more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kstephens8
    Ophiolite: With that logic we shouldn't learn Newton's Laws and skip straight to Relativity. By learning Freud first, you build a foundation that will help you understand current theory. I would also disagree when you state that Freud is irrelevant to current theory. It is not psycho-babble. Defensive mechanism and psychotherapy are both popular and functional. I am an experimental psychologist and even I know they are still used today.
    I am personally about to go to college for psychology, and with a well-researched background no less. I can assure you that, unlike mathematics, Freud has no real holding on present day ideas. You've made what is called an apple-buick (or apple-orange) comparison.

    Nor, for that matter, does he provide a "basis" for them. All he provides is a historical figure, illustrating how incorrect past ideas were. If learning to do something wrong helps you learn to do it right, I really must question our present teaching system (if not those learning).

    ---In response to the first post---

    One thing that is a problem with most psychologists, or hobbyists, is that they fail to realize what psychology is. Psychology is a study of the mind, and as a study of the mind it requires one thing most of all. That you understand your own mind. Other "secondary" (but also required) things are as follows: That your mind is capable of understanding others, including topics not on the mind. Philosophy, logic, and many sciences, will all aid in your goal.

    To be a really successful psychologist, one must have one of the most analytical and capable minds of the age (it also helps to have the same problem your patient has, interestingly enough). If you go into psychology, just learn the book knowledge, and attempt to pigeon-hole everyone into what you have learned...you'll be another reason why psychologists have a bad reputation.

    Another thing to realize, is that psychology is more of a philosophy than a typical empirical-evidence science. Due to this, it is very flexible and requires adaptation to a variety of situations. One can draw simple lines, such as "A" will react to "B" as "C" always does, and have them come out true if A is like C. Yet one of the major failures is when A is not like C, or A contradicts the psychologists world-view.

    This brings me to another point: The psychologist must not be biased. If you, as a psychologist, cannot set aside personal, socially-engineered, and other types of bias, you should not be a psychologist.

    - And Finally:

    Remember that you deal with people. If you truly have an understanding of the mind of humans, than your mind is required to be very empathetic to deal with most of them (humans are driven by emotion). People can be stubborn, ignorant, retarded, "emo", attention seekers, etc. Each of them require that you, as the psychologist, to be able to view them as they are. Without personal bias, without judging, and without stereotyping.
    You must wait until the patients make these things clear to you, and then wait more as you verify them. You must learn about each of your patients in order to care for them and help them, and learn to respect each of them as they are; sentient beings.

    This, in short, is a surefire way to be a bit more successful, helpful, etc. Also a surefire way to achieve personal growth as you help others.
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    I am personally about to go to college for psychology, and with a well-researched background no less....Nor, for that matter, does he provide a "basis" for them. All he provides is a historical figure, illustrating how incorrect past ideas were. If learning to do something wrong helps you learn to do it right, I really must question our present teaching system (if not those learning).
    As someone who has been through the college process twice now, Freud has massive influence on what psychology studies and is still relevant to a lot of psychology. Most psychologists just like to call it something else and forget the Freud did it correctly first. He wasn’t right on everything but for personality theory, Freud laid the foundation. Stages of development, everyone still uses that (without the fixations). Freud was first and got most things right. He started psychotherapy which is still practiced today and he created defense mechanisms. He also start to test the effects of psychotropic drugs (look at his work on cocaine, not a lot but it is still there) before most others. There were very few things he was fundamentally wrong on and he is still used by many psychologists.

    Now, I will agree that Freud did not back up his theories. He was a grand theorist.

    Secondly, I was comparing the move from Newton’s laws to the theory of relativity to the move from Freud’s theories to current theory. We still learn from Newton’s laws; they are not wrong. We just found something that fits better. Similarly, Freud’s theories are not wrong; we have just found theories that explain more and go into further depth. We can still use them
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    Quote Originally Posted by kstephens8
    As someone who has been through the college process twice now, Freud has massive influence on what psychology studies and is still relevant to a lot of psychology.
    As someone who has read a lot of literature (including college books) on the subject, I call that bullocks. Most of Freud's theories are invalid for a reason, and the only thing that is "kept" from him would be the bare-husks of his former theories.

    Most psychologists just like to call it something else and forget the Freud did it correctly first. He wasn’t right on everything but for personality theory, Freud laid the foundation. Stages of development, everyone still uses that (without the fixations).
    Read: Husks. Most psychologists forget that everything /but/ his basic concepts were absolutely in err. He was incorrect about most things, in my opinion. But, as is obvious, that's just an opinion.

    Freud was first and got most things right. He started psychotherapy which is still practiced today and he created defense mechanisms. He also start to test the effects of psychotropic drugs (look at his work on cocaine, not a lot but it is still there) before most others. There were very few things he was fundamentally wrong on and he is still used by many psychologists.
    Yes, and I believe those still used by psychologists to be flawed. Minus, of course, some of the husks mentioned. Psychotropic drugs I have nothing but contempt for. As well as the psychologists that hand them out like candy.

    I should also mention that todays psychotherapy (when used effectively) is vastly different from Freud. To that end, Freud just left us a "husk" that should have been left long ago (alas, old ideas die hard). The only thing I attribute to Freud is considering the concepts. One must remember that everything else is a joke.

    Secondly, I was comparing the move from Newton’s laws to the theory of relativity to the move from Freud’s theories to current theory. We still learn from Newton’s laws; they are not wrong. We just found something that fits better. Similarly, Freud’s theories are not wrong; we have just found theories that explain more and go into further depth. We can still use them
    Freud's theories are completely wrong. The only thing correct is the concepts (husks). What we have done is take those concepts and devise entirely new data, stuff it into them, and enjoy the improved accuracy. That is hardly something we should attribute to Freud.

    Similarly, Newton's laws still apply. Not just the concept, but the entire theory. Freud's concept is all that applies anymore, while his theory is incorrect.
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    I would disagree and I feel I have read enough journal articles to disagree but it is irrelevant.

    I would agree; doctors and psychiatrists, not psychologists (simply because we can’t), hand out drugs to easily.
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    Wait, I did say psychologists didn't I? Bah, sorry. I was too busy in a blind heated typing "rage" to notice. That'll teach me.
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    I agree totally. Its a complex issue.

    During the 90s psychology fell from favour, whilst "pseudo-psychology" gained favour.

    Part of the problem is the central figure is Freud, who in his day held sexist views... which back in the day were scientific fact.

    Simulary in a progressively godless world, self and social heriachy has become the new religion, where science can be picked and choosed at will.

    Growing evolution popularity lead to the notion that mental illness is a defect and is best ignored than studied.

    In part the "everyone is a victim" sub-culture caused psychology to falter futher.

    Growing openness of homosexuality has cause unconfident heterosexuals to retreat into a narrower sense of gender hence studing emotions is weak.

    Likewise a growing culture within psychology which proposes that we are machines which doesn't leave room for self, causing people to instinctively rebell.

    Applied Psychology on a base level is "pill happy" rather than trying to find the cause.

    Plenty main stream movies have stated to large audiences that psychology is nonsense, which mindless people gobble up without question.

    You could go as far as blaming Spock, for being so darn logicial.

    ---

    In conclusion human psychology has not differed from the last time it was upgraded. -- insert incomprehensiable time frame here ---

    On a personal level I feel Psychology is informative yet equally destructive.

    and as a characteristic end... I've ran out of steam.
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    Freejack, I don't really know where to begin with your post, most of which I disagree with, so I'll open by welcoming you to the forum. That done, to battle. :wink:
    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    During the 90s psychology fell from favour, whilst "pseudo-psychology" gained favour.
    .
    Fell from favour with whom? Not with child psychologists; not with ethologists; not with industrial psychologists. So, with whom? The general public? They no bugger all about this topic, so why would their opinion be relevant?
    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    Part of the problem is the central figure is Freud, who in his day held sexist views... which back in the day were scientific fact.
    The central point I have been making throughout this thread is that Freud has little or nothing to do with modern pschology. It is interesting and informative to study the works of Aristotle, or Ben Franklin, but we would do so for historical perspective, not for modern science. The same applies to Freud.
    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    Growing evolution popularity lead to the notion that mental illness is a defect and is best ignored than studied.
    If anything evolution is decreasing in popularity. (Though again I wonder what the popular view has to do with the price of bread.) I take it you have evidence to support your rather bizarre assertion that current psychologists prefer to ignore than study mental illness. [As a warning, for every citation supporting this view I'll offer a hundred demonstrating its falsity. 8) ]
    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    Growing openness of homosexuality has cause unconfident heterosexuals to retreat into a narrower sense of gender hence studing emotions is weak.
    And your evidence for this is? Now perhaps you meant that the subset of unconfident heteros reacts in a certain way, rather than all heteros act this way because they lack confidence. If so, so what?
    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    Applied Psychology on a base level is "pill happy" rather than trying to find the cause.
    .
    I really don't understand why poster after poster seems to conflate psychology with abnormal psychology. Could you explain this fixation. (Oops, a Freudian term there. Perhaps a Freudian slip. :? )

    Quote Originally Posted by freejack
    Plenty main stream movies have stated to large audiences that psychology is nonsense, which mindless people gobble up without question.
    I'm a keen movie goer, but I must have missed those. Could you give some examples.

    You've certainly posted a thought provoking post. I am looking forward to your response to mine.
    Rgds
    Ophiolite
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    I just have two cents to add in here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Fell from favour with whom? Not with child psychologists; not with ethologists; not with industrial psychologists. So, with whom? The general public? They no bugger all about this topic, so why would their opinion be relevant?
    Well normally that doesn't matter. If you're in a field where the general public /doesn't/ pay your rent. Public image is important if you want to really help anyone. Psychology just continues to get a bad image, and thus less and less people are willing to see psychologists.

    This applies to just about every field of psychology.
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    I would actually agree with "psychology fell from favor", but it is not falling from favor from the general public (only Tom Cruise). It is falling out of favor with the NIH and government/private grant givers. The money is slipping away and with it most of psychology. Just recently, in order to receive an NIMH grant, one of the professors I work with had to outline how his project would help individuals with a disorder (specifically social anxiety). He wanted to study the subject anyway but NIH made him specifically spell out how it would help individuals past gaining a further understanding of how the disorder works. Basic research is becoming subservient to work on psychopathology.

    I think that the general public perceives psychology more as therapy than a total package. The public is ignoring the other half, psychological research. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do think that the profile of psychological research needs to improve. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do think that the profile of psychological research needs to improve. I can not wait until the split happens, and (similar to biology and medicine) therapy and psychology are considered to separate professions that can stand alone from each other but help each other.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kstephens8
    Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do think that the profile of psychological research needs to improve.

    Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, I do think that the profile of psychological research needs to improve. .
    Do I hear an echo?

    Do I hear an echo?

    Do I hear an echo?
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    In answer to Ophiolite.

    I'm taking exclusively about the general masses because they are the main detractors of psychology.

    Plenty of people have the "survival of the fittest" embedded in their heads without little want or realisation that present day people are homosapiens, the product of millions of years of evolution.

    Given that to further my point a lot of ignorant hetro men would object to be identified as being a homosapien, because it has "homo" in it.

    As for movie goers, there a plenty of people who take movies literality as some kind of society endorsed information broadcast.

    To give a example, there’s a Clint Eastwood movie where he is tracking a man planning to kill the president. Half way through the movie, his partner has a break down because he can't take the pressure and winds up being killed because he is all emotional. Clint "THE MAN" himself expresses that psychology is bullpoo and hence observes that the killer is just a loser who needs to get laid.

    On the pill issues, across the board science is self reaffirming, the side effects to drugs are a necessary evil. I accept that medication helps a lot of people yet its no cure perticulary for psychology.

    Now I agree you have to take a measured educated view on this. For example media usually portrays mental hospitals as being full of crazy violent people drugged up to their eyeballs.

    The reality is entirely the opposite, yet at the same time there is a grain of truth as some Doctors do play god and heavily drug people up.

    Granted there is a classification between psychology and abnormal psychology and other related fields such neurology... although again the general masses are not interested, psychology to them is the study of weak girly emotions and evolutionary rejects.

    Psychology and science in general is suffering as we progressively live in a culture that promotes childishness and ignorance.

    An inherent problem is underestimating the power of ignorant people. I’ve come across plenty of intelligent successful people who are riddled with ignorance.




    “Know thyself” :P
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    [quote="kstephens8"]
    As someone who has been through the college process twice now, Freud has massive influence on what psychology studies and is still relevant to a lot of psychology. Most psychologists just like to call it something else and forget the Freud did it correctly first. He wasn’t right on everything but for personality theory, Freud laid the foundation. Stages of development, everyone still uses that (without the fixations). Freud was first and got most things right. He started psychotherapy which is still practiced today and he created defense mechanisms. He also start to test the effects of psychotropic drugs (look at his work on cocaine, not a lot but it is still there) before most others. There were very few things he was fundamentally wrong on and he is still used by many psychologists.
    I think there is a wide range of psychology programs. I understand that at some schools, Freud is still popular. I can assure you that at the major research institutions (Harvard, UPenn, Stanford, MIT, etc.), Freud is rarely if ever mentioned, much less studied.

    As far as defensive mechanism, maybe it has some historical effect on some research in psychology, but psychology is the study of all of behavior. What you are talking about is a subfield of a subfield. Just for evidence, you can flip through the research interests of the faculty at Harvard: http://wjh.harvard.edu/psych

    Or you can drop by my web-based lab and look at the experiments: http://coglanglab.org.

    Even if Freud were taken seriously today, there's just little room for his ideas in the mainstream of experimental psychology.
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