Psychology as Storytelling - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin


To qualify as a "psychological" plot, it must be:

All-inclusive (anamnetic) It must encompass, integrate and incorporate allrepparttar facts known aboutrepparttar 126335 protagonist.

Coherent It must be chronological, structured and causal.

Consistent Self-consistent (its subplots cannot contradict one another or go againstrepparttar 126336 grain ofrepparttar 126337 main plot) and consistent withrepparttar 126338 observed phenomena (both those related torepparttar 126339 protagonist and those pertaining torepparttar 126340 rest ofrepparttar 126341 universe).

Logically compatible It must not violaterepparttar 126342 laws of logic both internally (the plot must abide by some internally imposed logic) and externally (the Aristotelian logic which is applicable torepparttar 126343 observable world).

Insightful (diagnostic) It must inspire inrepparttar 126344 client a sense of awe and astonishment which isrepparttar 126345 result of seeing something familiar in a new light orrepparttar 126346 result of seeing a pattern emerging out of a big body of data. The insights must berepparttar 126347 logical conclusion ofrepparttar 126348 logic,repparttar 126349 language and ofrepparttar 126350 development ofrepparttar 126351 plot. Aesthetic The plot must be both plausible and "right", beautiful, not cumbersome, not awkward, not discontinuous, smooth and so on. Parsimonious The plot must employrepparttar 126352 minimum numbers of assumptions and entities in order to satisfy allrepparttar 126353 above conditions.

Explanatory The plot must explainrepparttar 126354 behaviour of other characters inrepparttar 126355 plot,repparttar 126356 hero's decisions and behaviour, why events developedrepparttar 126357 way that they did.

Predictive (prognostic) The plot must possessrepparttar 126358 ability to predict future events,repparttar 126359 future behaviour ofrepparttar 126360 hero and of other meaningful figures andrepparttar 126361 inner emotional and cognitive dynamics.

Therapeutic Withrepparttar 126362 power to induce change (whether it is forrepparttar 126363 better, is a matter of contemporary value judgements and fashions). Imposing The plot must be regarded byrepparttar 126364 client asrepparttar 126365 preferable organizing principle of his life's events andrepparttar 126366 torch to guide him inrepparttar 126367 darkness to come.

Elastic The plot must possessrepparttar 126368 intrinsic abilities to self organize, reorganize, give room to emerging order, accommodate new data comfortably, avoid rigidity in its modes of reaction to attacks from within and from without.

In all these respects, a psychological plot is a theory in disguise. Scientific theories should satisfy most ofrepparttar 126369 same conditions. Butrepparttar 126370 equation is flawed. The important elements of testability, verifiability, refutability, falsifiability, and repeatability are all missing. No experiment could be designed to testrepparttar 126371 statements withinrepparttar 126372 plot, to establish their truth-value and, thus, to convert them to theorems.

There are four reasons to account for this shortcoming:

Ethical Experiments would have to be conducted, involvingrepparttar 126373 hero and other humans. To achieverepparttar 126374 necessary result,repparttar 126375 subjects will have to be ignorant ofrepparttar 126376 reasons forrepparttar 126377 experiments and their aims. Sometimes evenrepparttar 126378 very performance of an experiment will have to remain a secret (double blind experiments). Some experiments may involve unpleasant experiences. This is ethically unacceptable.

The Psychological Uncertainty Principle The current position of a human subject can be fully known. But both treatment and experimentation influencerepparttar 126379 subject and void this knowledge. The very processes of measurement and observation influencerepparttar 126380 subject and change him.

Uniqueness Psychological experiments are, therefore, bound to be unique, unrepeatable, cannot be replicated elsewhere and at other times even if they deal withrepparttar 126381 SAME subjects. The subjects are neverrepparttar 126382 same due torepparttar 126383 psychological uncertainty principle. Repeatingrepparttar 126384 experiments with other subjects adversely affectsrepparttar 126385 scientific value ofrepparttar 126386 results. The undergeneration of testable hypotheses Psychology does not generate a sufficient number of hypotheses, which can be subjected to scientific testing. This has to do withrepparttar 126387 fabulous (=storytelling) nature of psychology. In a way, psychology has affinity with some private languages. It is a form of art and, as such, is self-sufficient. If structural, internal constraints and requirements are met a statement is deemed true even if it does not satisfy external scientific requirements.

Metaphors of the Mind

Written by Sam Vaknin


The brain (and, by implication,repparttar mind) have been compared torepparttar 126334 latest technological innovation in every generation. The computer metaphor is now in vogue. Computer hardware metaphors were replaced by software metaphors and, lately, by (neuronal) network metaphors.

Metaphors are not confined torepparttar 126335 philosophy of neurology. Architects and mathematicians, for instance, have lately come up withrepparttar 126336 structural concept of "tensegrity" to explainrepparttar 126337 phenomenon of life. The tendency of humans to see patterns and structures everywhere (even where there are none) is well documented and probably has its survival value.

Another trend is to discount these metaphors as erroneous, irrelevant, deceptive, and misleading. Understandingrepparttar 126338 mind is a recursive business, rife with self-reference. The entities or processes to whichrepparttar 126339 brain is compared are also "brain-children",repparttar 126340 results of "brain-storming", conceived by "minds". What is a computer, a software application, a communications network if not a (material) representation of cerebral events?

A necessary and sufficient connection surely exists between man-made things, tangible and intangible, and human minds. Even a gas pump has a "mind-correlate". It is also conceivable that representations ofrepparttar 126341 "non-human" parts ofrepparttar 126342 Universe exist in our minds, whether a-priori (not deriving from experience) or a-posteriori (dependent upon experience). This "correlation", "emulation", "simulation", "representation" (in short : close connection) betweenrepparttar 126343 "excretions", "output", "spin-offs", "products" ofrepparttar 126344 human mind andrepparttar 126345 human mind itself - is a key to understanding it.

This claim is an instance of a much broader category of claims: that we can learn aboutrepparttar 126346 artist by his art, about a creator by his creation, and generally: aboutrepparttar 126347 origin by any ofrepparttar 126348 derivatives, inheritors, successors, products and similes thereof.

This general contention is especially strong whenrepparttar 126349 origin andrepparttar 126350 product sharerepparttar 126351 same nature. Ifrepparttar 126352 origin is human (father) andrepparttar 126353 product is human (child) - there is an enormous amount of data that can be derived fromrepparttar 126354 product and safely applied torepparttar 126355 origin. The closerrepparttar 126356 origin torepparttar 126357 product -repparttar 126358 more we can learn aboutrepparttar 126359 origin fromrepparttar 126360 product.

We have said that knowingrepparttar 126361 product - we can usually knowrepparttar 126362 origin. The reason is that knowledge about product "collapses"repparttar 126363 set of probabilities and increases our knowledge aboutrepparttar 126364 origin. Yet,repparttar 126365 converse is not always true. The same origin can give rise to many types of entirely unrelated products. There are too many free variables here. The origin exists as a "wave function": a series of potentialities with attached probabilities,repparttar 126366 potentials beingrepparttar 126367 logically and physically possible products.

What can we learn aboutrepparttar 126368 origin by a crude perusal torepparttar 126369 product? Mostly observable structural and functional traits and attributes. We cannot learn a thing aboutrepparttar 126370 "true nature" ofrepparttar 126371 origin. We can not knowrepparttar 126372 "true nature" of anything. This isrepparttar 126373 realm of metaphysics, not of physics.

Take Quantum Mechanics. It provides an astonishingly accurate description of micro-processes and ofrepparttar 126374 Universe without saying much about their "essence". Modern physics strives to provide correct predictions - rather than to expound upon this or that worldview. It describes - it does not explain. Where interpretations are offered (e.g.,repparttar 126375 Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics) they invariably run into philosophical snags. Modern science uses metaphors (e.g., particles and waves). Metaphors have proven to be useful scientific tools inrepparttar 126376 "thinking scientist's" kit. As these metaphors develop, they tracerepparttar 126377 developmental phases ofrepparttar 126378 origin.

Considerrepparttar 126379 software-mind metaphor.

The computer is a "thinking machine" (however limited, simulated, recursive and mechanical). Similarly,repparttar 126380 brain is a "thinking machine" (admittedly much more agile, versatile, non-linear, maybe even qualitatively different). Whateverrepparttar 126381 disparity betweenrepparttar 126382 two, they must be related to one another.

This relation is by virtue of two facts: (1) Bothrepparttar 126383 brain andrepparttar 126384 computer are "thinking machines" and (2)repparttar 126385 latter isrepparttar 126386 product ofrepparttar 126387 former. Thus,repparttar 126388 computer metaphor is an unusually tenable and potent one. It is likely to be further enhanced should organic or quantum computers transpire.

Atrepparttar 126389 dawn of computing, software applications were authored serially, in machine language and with strict separation of data (called: "structures") and instruction code (called: "functions" or "procedures"). The machine language reflectedrepparttar 126390 physical wiring ofrepparttar 126391 hardware.

This is akin torepparttar 126392 development ofrepparttar 126393 embryonic brain (mind). Inrepparttar 126394 early life ofrepparttar 126395 human embryo, instructions (DNA) are also insulated from data (i.e., from amino acids and other life substances).

In early computing, databases were handled on a "listing" basis ("flat file"), were serial, and had no intrinsic relationship to one another. Early databases constituted a sort of substrate, ready to be acted upon. Only when "intermixed" inrepparttar 126396 computer (as a software application was run) were functions able to operate on structures.

This phase was followed byrepparttar 126397 "relational" organization of data (a primitive example of which isrepparttar 126398 spreadsheet). Data items were related to each other through mathematical formulas. This isrepparttar 126399 equivalent ofrepparttar 126400 increasing complexity ofrepparttar 126401 wiring ofrepparttar 126402 brain as pregnancy progresses.

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