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Psychology of MIND

Phsychology and Method

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With the idea of structuralism and functionalism at a stir in the study of psychology. Another up bring of ideology was introduced in the 1900's by John B. Watson, behaviorism. In definition behaviorism is the act of studying psychology by paying strict attention to observable characteristics. Ergo-abandon the means of analyzing consciousness in regards to the study approach in the field. Watson was strongly opposed to relying on scientific approach (Science of behavior is what Watson believed in). After all, how can one sense another's sense of emotions?

"The time seems to have come when psychology must discard all references to consciousness." (John B. Watson)

Watson also re-evaluated the issue of 'nature versus nurture'. In simplified form, are people made out to be who they are by birth or were they influenced?

 Watson response to 'nature versus nurture'. 

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own special world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at a random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select-doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years."

This of course was never put to the test. Yet the statement endorsed the study of 'behaviorism'.

Behaviorism in depth.

Stimulus-Any detectable input from the environment.

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Stimuli could be anything, a light, a sound, or even words from a newspaper. Behaviorists analyzed the relationship between stimuli and the reaction which has the coined label 'stimulus-response psychology'. Initially the idea of stimulus-response psychology did not receive a warm welcome in the research and academic world, it eventually gained it's foundation.

For an example, Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov concluded that dogs could be trained to salivate in the natural response to an a noise (stimulus).

Afterwards, it was popular to run experiments on animals to test the stimulus-response theory. Psychologists thought this was an effective way since humans were no longer needed to report their mental state. Also consciousness was not a concern at all in these experiments, so it was excluded anyways.

Human subject - 'Sorry-I ran out of gas coming to this experiment of yours. How much am I going to get for this? I have a date at 6, so that's when I have to leave out of here. Also I need to use the bathroom, where is it?'

Rabbit subject - 'help me'

Simply put, only behavior is at the concern. Helpless animals in a controlled environment is much easier to analyze than humans.

Behaviorism eventually came to opposition from different psychological ideology. For one there was Gestalt psychology, who argued the study of psychology should be concerned with the conscious experience rather than behaviorism. Finally there is another alternative approach came from Signmund Freud. (Right side of this page for more detial)

B.F. Skinner and what role did he play in the theory of behaviorism?

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Skinner had some similar ideas of those of Watson. Stating that environment plays a critical role in behavior. Yet he does not deny that from a biological stand point does in fact influence behavior. His sole explanation is that to predict behavior, you do not need to solely resort to physiological explanations. As Skinner stated in one of his documentation...

"Organisms tend to repeat responses that lead to positive outcomes, and they tend not to repeat responses that lead to neutral or negative outcomes."

Such a simple statement, yet he proved his thoery by using rats and pigeons by changing their outcomes of their response. He even made pigeons play ping-pong.

Skinner published a book in 1971, 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity'. Where he had explained that all behavior is predictable governed by external stimuli. For an example, you will have a general knowledge of where an apple will land when it falls from an apple tree. His big idea is that consciousness is mere an illusion, and people do not have the will to control their

 

Signmund Freud

Frued was a very determined physician. He has been noted in dissecting 400 male eels just to prove that they had testes. He mostly treated patients with disorders ranging from irrational fears, anxieties, and obsessions with a radical procedure called 'psychoanalysis'. Not to mention he also used himself to observe his theories against.

the unconscious and what does it mean?

unconscious attains memories, desires, and thoughts that is located below the surface or conscious awareness. It has great influence on behavior overall.

Freud's psychoanalysis theory.

The theory tries to explain motivation, mental disorder, and personality by the means of unconscious determination of behavior. Even though this theory was not really new in the field o psychology, it was a strong theory in explanation of behavior. The psychoanalysis theory gained momentum rather slowly but won acceptance from followers including Carl Jung and Alfred Adler. G. Stanely Hall even invited Freud to give a speech on it in 1909 at Clark University  in Massachusetts. Yet take note, the theory of psychoanalysis still faced doubts from experts around the world. For those who doubted psychoanalysis were quit uncomfortable with the arena of conscious research from subtle research and were still lingering with the subject of observable behavior.

And yet psychoanalysis did not fade away like some had expected it to have!

By the 1940's psychoanalysis gained a tough foothold in the field of psychoanalysis. Yet still it was a controversial topic, it played an important role on psychology research.

A rational man
Aryanpour believed science could explain everything

By Reza Moini
August 7, 2001
The Iranian

Many of you may have heard about the recent passing away of Dr. Amir Hossein Aryanpour, the controversial sociologist and lecturer. I was his student in the early years of my university studies. The following is an expression of my grief at his loss.

Born in a traditional family in Tehran on February 27, 1927, he died from lung complications on July 30, 2001. He was a pleasant man with a big smile and a short body. He was once a champion weight lifter. He received a social science degree at the American University in Beirut in 1944, and a philosophy and political science degree from Tehran University in 1948.

After teaching for two years, in 1951 he went to Princeton for a doctorate degree. That was where he was attracted to left-wing ideas. In 1952 at the height of the McCarthyite witch-hunt, he was expelled from the United States and returned to Iran.

From 1953, after the fall of Mossadegh and the democratic movement, Aryanpour was for many years at the center stage of the student movement and the most popular lecturer at Tehran University. The Shah's government worried about his left-wing ideas and in 1969 forced him to teach English to the theology college. But even there he used his classroom to discuss philosophy and sociology.

Finally, Aryanpour was forced to teach at a teacher training school in Narmak, west Tehran. In 1976 he was dismissed from the theology college, and in1980, retired from teaching and went on to compile his Dictionary of Social Sciences at home. In 1994 he was one of the 134 writers who signed a letter protesting against censorship and demanding freedom of expression.

He was a true scholar; a great teacher loved by many of his students and colleagues alike. His work in sociology, psychology, philosophy, and Persian literature, as well as his work in finding Persian equivalents for foreign terms, won the admiration of many in academia. Much of his work in this area is yet to be published.

Aryanpour always tried to promote social change and dialectic materialism. He always believed science was the basis for explaining everything. Thus he was hated by Islamists, whom, ironically, he was forced to teach at the theology collge. His students learned critical thinking and scientific approach to problems. He believed in "kherad geraaei", or rationalism, and always guided his students toward logical thinking. He taught them to present no case without proof, and to lways search afor the truth.

Aryanpour never took roll call in his classes, but hardly anyone was ever absent. Sometimes we had to stand in his class, as there were no empty chairs. Often students left their engineering classes to attend his class instead. Many of us did the same in the second year of college, even though we no longer had assigned classes with him.

I remember after class he always used to say to us "Rofaghaa (comrades), let's go to the library and get some books to read." On several occasions he took a few of us in his car to Tehran University, gave us the titles to look for, while he choose several books himself, and then drove us back to the Polytechnic Institute and Tehran Institute of Technology (now Amir Kabir University).

In my first year of college, when learned I had completed the Iran America Society's English courses, he instructed me to get a book in English on the Big Bang Theory -- "Afsazneye Afareenesh -- translate it, and give a lecture to students. He kindly corrected my translation and helped me find equivalent Persian words for technical terms. For many of us, myself included, this was the first time we had heard of the Big Bang Theory. We were barely 19- years old.

He was an articulate man, very intelligent, and kind to all of his students, friends and colleagues around him. He was our professor in the engineering school, teaching methodology. He sometimes reminded us, sarcastically, that his official position was professor at Daneshkadeye Maaghool va Manghool (later Elahiyat Theological Faculty). I am told that two of his students at this college were current President Khatami and the the late Ayatollah Beheshti.

As one of his students, I am greatly saddened by his death. I have no doubt this feeling is shared by thousands of his Iranian students and friends alike around the world. He changed the direction of our thinking and the lives of many in the past 45 years, and his articles and works will continue to do so in the future.

I just wanted to express my sorrow and share my memories with you. For his physical loss, my condolences go to his family, to all of academia, and to his former students and my fellow classmates wherever they are around the world.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Reza Moini

What is psychology today?

  1. What does empirical mean? Basically stating that knowledge should be attained by observation. Psychologists ask themselves questions like are men more aggressive than men or what class of people are smarter than others? Researching and attempting to find a logical answer by theories and studies done on paper is not efficient enough. Therefore you would have to observe the actual test and see for yourself what variables are at play and what results may come after. Using the empirical approach by now means is an easy task. For those without skepticism, empirical way of learning is no task for you. You have to ask yourself many questions and analyze a chockfull of data and drill down the information.
  2. Overall you can think of psychology as an umbrella, underneath are a wide variety of theories. By definition a theory is a cluster of interrelated thoughts that are used to explain a set of problem or observations. There are many theories out there, for some this may sound like a weakness when in fact this is a a positive thing. It is said that such diverse groupings of theories eventually meet a comfort zone enabling people to understand complicated behaviors.
  3. The field of psychology is sociohistorical, meaning that it evolves and develops responsive to historical and social events. Take for an example of Freud's belief of the unconscious and the idea that it secretly contributed to human behavior. During that time, people and society in general were some what prud-ish regarding the topic of sex. Or during WW II, when soldiers who were injured from battles needed special treatment beyond injuries to the body but as well as mentally.
  4. As stated before behavior is rather a complex subject to analyze. Behavior can not be explained as a single statement. 'You are hairy because you eat too much beans' to 'You don't watch sports, so you must be a girl.' These simple conclusion are far beyond the truth and psychologists realize that complex behavior involve multi-factorial causation of behavior.
  5. Different culture contributes to the growth of of psychology. By definition, culture is a label given to a set of norms, communities, customs, etc. Here is an example of different culture's way of eating dinner. In the United States, if you invite someone for dinner, the guest is usually expected to eat all of their dinner. However, in the country of India, guests should leave some left over to show appreciation for the host or hostess.
  6. From the initial beginning of psychology specialists and psychologists held strong beliefs that either people are shaped by environment or it is heredity. As B. Watson has implied that behavior is directly related to environment. On the contrary, Sir Francis Galton theorized that personality and behavior depended on genetic heredity. If you look at psychology journals and what you hear about psychology on TV. or radio, heredity and environment are treated practically equally. Both can be utilized in explanation of various branches of psychology.
  7. There is no ONE vision of psychology. People after all see what they expect to see. An example would be two separate drivers who are involved in a car accident. Chances are their statement will contradict each other, for one good reason probably...avoid paying higher car insurance!  This is why one of the reasons we have psychology to save us, why do we think the way we do?

 

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Psychology today and for a better future ahead for the field of psychology!

Currently there are a little over 1800 detailed journals regarding new ideas, theories, and findings in the arena of psychology. It is in fact a growing field with countless people who feed the machine of psychology with material to stay momentum. Today roughly one third of American psychologists are involved in some line of work related to academic. (Universities, school consultant, etc) While the rest of the two third work in a wide array of fields, from police departments, counseling centers, or even a private practice. According to one statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education, one of the ten most popular undergraduate major was psychology between 1999 and 2000! The degree of psychology is broad, and each has their own specialty, since after all, as society moves into a more advanced culture...there are new crisis we face in this busy hectic world.  People are diverse and so is psychology!

 

 

Flesh & blood
About a short story

August 14, 2001
The Iranian

Here is a bit of explanation about my short story, "The man who would sleep with his angel".

The story is Jungian in psychology and mystical in its theology. What we seek in the opposite sex is a union, but a union that divests itself from self-serving ego-based qualities. We love, not a piece of marble chiseled into a perfect statue, nor an angel bereft of warmth: we love whomever we love, warts and all. Anyone who waits for a perfect relationship will have to wait forever, because one can make love to flesh and blood, but not to art.

I guess the following paragraph is a summation:

"She stood still, comfortably naked, but without shame; the natural state was becoming her. Radiant and full of energy, her small, firm breasts full of life, ready to nurture, her body perfectly sculptured, flawless, and that was the catch: She had no imperfections on her body, not at all; either she was a divine creature, he fancied, or she was chiseled from a piece of flawless marble by a master; either way, she was inaccessible. And he remained seated on the couch, fully clothed, aroused, yet wavering in his resolve to possess that flowing form of art which stood passively, awaiting his desires."

The water at the beginning of the story is the surge of the violent sexuality that is inside us all, but at the end there is a calmness, indicating the violence is tamed -- not all, but relatively, and that the man realizes he cannot make love to an angel; beautiful as she is, yet she lack the human warmth and quality.

I wrote this story partially because of so many of your readers (men and women) call each other names and blame each other for the failure of their love-life, all, to my mind, looking for "the" thing that cannot be had.

Simply, human sexuality is a kind of sacrament, with no duration in mind: it can be over one night or a life time, yet it must take the other as an equal and as a living being, not a piece of marble to chisel out what one thinks the lover should be like: creating an angel according to one's imagination. As you can see, it is very hard to put intellectual property into fiction, but I am satisfied that the story conveys this.

And, there is an end: the man realizes that he cannot make love to the angel, although he recognizes her nature too late in the story.

Author

Reza Ordoubadian holds a Ph.D. degree in English and linguistics. He has held a professorship at Middle Tennessee State University and Visiting Professorship at Umea University (Sweden). He has published numerous pieces of fiction and poetry as well as scholarly articles and books on both sides of the ocean. He was the editor of SECOL Review for 18 years.

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Comment for the writer Reza Ordoubadian