Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Old Entry #16: Who I Would Go To for Counseling

I went over some old folders in my hard drive looking to delete unnecessary files and I came across some of the essays I had written in college.

OH MY GOODNESS!  Pretty good insights, this one has -- even for me.  It answers the title question when given seven pioneering scientists in the field of psychology as choices.

Enjoy reading!

This was written on June 14, 2008 as a college essay in psychology.


B.F. Skinner
Erik Erikson
Ivan Pavlov
Jean Piaget 
John B. Watson 
Lawrence Kohlberg
Sigmund Freud

Who I Would Go To for Counseling
by Ludwig Bon Quirog
Saturday, June 14, 2008

Having read the profound leaps in the field of psychology initiated by the seven pioneer psychologists, I would say they are all more than qualified to give me pieces of advice in case I run to them for counseling.  They have quite reputable track records that anyone, whether or not in his/her right mind, would find more than competent enough to trust.  However, the question here is not whether they are capable “enough”.  Rather, the basic shell that needs to be filled is who I would seek first for counseling and why.

The best way to resolve my query is to get counseling from them first hand.  But since time travel is not yet possible, let us just take a less technologically implausible scheme.  A background check of each candidate would fit very much in the category that negates science fiction ideas.

Let us make a series of assessments, then.  To kick things of, let us start with Burrhus Frederic Skinner.  His theory on radical behaviorism is what he would most likely employ to gauge my psychological innards.  Although he has built up quite a reputation during his time of existence and has contributed a lot to modern psychology, I would rather not choose him for counseling and neither would I choose his forerunner, John Broadus Watson.  Since their theories suggest that all organismic action is predetermined and not done out of free will, they are therefore heavily anti-theoretical.  They neglect the role of theory in radically inductive scientific positions, which reject hypothetic-deductive methods and theory construction about things in unobservable, immeasurable places such as the human mind.  With this line of thinking, I do not think I would be having a very healthy counseling session with people who would treat me like an animal whose reactions are all instinctively predetermined by a catalog of “possible” organic brainwave movements.

The basic principle that both scientists in subject abide by, maintain, and I quote, “That behaviors as such can be described scientifically without recourse either to internal physiological events or to hypothetical constructs such as the mind.”  Quoting further, it suggests that, “all theories should have observational correlates but that there are no philosophical differences between publicly observable processes such as actions and privately observable processes such as thinking and feeling.”  Now, I, as a living, breathing, thinking human being cannot scarf up an idea that my mind does not exist.  If I were to ask them about a predicament regarding violent dreams, the explanation they would likely give me is a bogus statement like “they are mere pigments of the fragmented visual interpretations of your surroundings.”  I am an esoterically inclined person and I would not submit myself to a scheme that is structure-centered and that is apathetic of the faculty of the mind.

Moving on, Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory on the stages of moral development as an explanation of the overall development of the human psyche is a viable solution to problems that I may be having.  His likely interpretations of my statements—which he might find problematic—would be inconsistencies in my moral development like an unfulfilled crucial stage or a stage that I may have completely skipped.  Let us use an example for analysis.  Now, I have given dreams as a viable quandary so let us stick with the idea, then.  Suppose I am having disturbing dreams.  What would Dr. Kohlberg likely give me as an explanation?  Now, since the statement “having bad dreams” is quite vague, he would probably ask me to elaborate.  Maybe he would ask me what sort of dreams I was having.  So, for the grace of an example’s sake, let us say I have repeatedly been having dreams about a shooting incident inside one of the bathrooms in the school where I study at.  Now, with the act of open gun firing in public being an example of social divergence, my problem would fall under stage four of his categorized stages.  This stage deals with law abidance and conformity to social expectations.  The question that would likely follow is one that asks for certain recent occurrences in my life I could possibly associate with the images that I saw in my nightmare.

In response to that, I would say that I have constantly been exposed to the sight of a person carrying a gun throughout the duration of my first year in college since a classmate and close friend of mine in the last period of my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes would be carrying a rifle in preparation for her drills on the hour that followed.  That was because she was an officer of the ROTC.  And on one occasion when I was in the dressing area of a washroom inside the gymnasium, some of the officers in the same room were arguing and yelling at each other while holding their wooden rifles.  A regular person would say that my witnessing of that particular incident was what had triggered the scenario in my dream.  However, Kohlberg could have a more elaborate explanation.  Since his theory is not value-neutral, it starts with a stake in certain perspectives that includes a view of human nature and a certain understanding of the form and content of moral reasoning.  Furthermore it includes the relationship between morality and the world, between morality and logical expression, and the role of reason in morality.  Therefore, a lot more than a memory of an argument inside a dressing room had triggered my dreams to occur—not to mention repeatedly.  He would probably tell me that my innate ability to connect images with each other was one factor.  Additionally, my propensity to exaggerate occurrences, leave out details to protect myself, or my tendency to change the story entirely to fit my interest would have something to do with it.  There are a lot of possibilities as to the explanation of my therapist but these are the most plausible ones that I envisage.

So much for him.  Let us go on.  It is Erik Erikson’s turn to give me counseling.  Given that the problem has been opened up and is no longer vague, I do not feel the need to reiterate it.  Now, since Dr. Erikson’s core theory revolves around psychosocial development, I would surmise that he would use its principles in getting to the crux of my problem.  With the dream at hand, he would probably ask me another question pertaining to the incident in the dream.  It would probably be whether or not in my dream I had the initiative to do something about it or remain merely as a spectator.  If my answer is no, he would tell me that the dream keeps repeating itself because I bore the guilt of not having resolved it in the previous instance when I dreamed of it.  It would be an obvious case of an ambiguity in the stage of “initiative vs. guilt” wherein such is not fulfilled, and therefore creates confusion with regard to reaction to a similar incident.  Going back to the episode that had happened in the physical world where I was trapped in a dressing room where people with rifles were arguing, he would, next, ask me if I wanted to do anything about it.  Did I have any purpose, whatsoever, in being there?  Did my presence serve any positive or negative effect as compared to what would have been the case if I had not been around?  He would most probably diagnose my case as a lack of a feeling of purpose or usefulness.

As for Ivan Pavlov, who pioneered the definition of classical conditioning and the reflex system research, his diagnosis would be a more sophisticated version of Skinner’s and Watson’s.  However, it would make more sense since his psychological constituents are described very well.  Being another “instinctive” approach, I would say that it is a rather traditional and less analytical way of determining a problem.  It would entail another locked theory system, which, we now know very well, is not applicable in all psychological cases.  A mere study of a salivating dog does not, to any degree, justify violent human dreams—or give a viable abstract explanation of it.  You simply cannot pair a scheme used on animals to that of people who have advanced and more erudite way of approaching the world.  I do not know with other people.  But, I would rather not gamble my sanity on Pavlov.  It has been said, once, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that, “pure logic is the ruin of spirit.”  I choose to believe this statement.

Jean Piaget, the Swiss philosopher, natural scientist, and developmental theorist who defined the stages of cognitive development, would probably have a more satisfying explanation compared to that of our previous doctor.  He would perhaps tell me that what I am experiencing is a compensative defense mechanism developed by my psyche to fulfill my transition between the concrete operational and the formal operational stage of development.  He would say that I am struggling inside to make a practical decision, thus abandoning egocentrism and at the same time developing an abstract “what if” idea as to what could happen if nothing is done otherwise.  Thus, the violent dream materializes.

Piaget’s may be quite a good way of looking at it.  But what of the last psychologist on my list?  Let us now step inside the office of Dr. Shlomo Sigismund Freud, simply known as Sigmund Freud.  He was the psychosexual scientist who pioneered the definition of the unconscious mind, defense mechanisms, and psychoanalysis.  He is most renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life which is directed towards a wide variety of objects, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires.  Is that not quite a charm for the tormented patient?

After going over the entire problem of mine, he would most probably ask me questions and give me the treatment of free association.  He would let me divulge whatever there is inside my head.  That way, he could best interpret my dream as to his elucidation of how my mind operates on a normal conversational basis.  He would tell me that my dream is a psychological reaction to internal energy that has not been properly channeled into something productive.  It may have little to do with the prior incident in the gymnasium despite the fact that the images I saw were very similar.  It was an overflow of sexual energy that needed re-channeling or a viable outlet.  My mind just needed something aesthetic to associate active emotion with—something to play with visually and to exaggerate.  He would then ask me if these dreams ever result in abrupt waking, to which the answer is “yes”.  And then he would infer that, indeed, I need an outlet for my excess energy.  He would tell me to channel it into something productive like sports or writing, or what not for as long as it gets used.

Of all seven psychologists I’ve gotten therapy from, who would I choose?  Skinner, Watson, and Pavlov are most definitely slashed off.  Kohlberg’s was okay but still a little vague for me to gain useful information from so it is a “no” for him.  Erikson’s [supposed] analysis of purpose based on the situation and imagery would be viable; and Piaget’s theory of compensation is also a good possibility to ponder on.  But the explanation that really satisfied me was Freud’s.  His rationalization to my dream quandary was exceptional and truly different from the others’.  Not that I am just too sexually inclined or anything.  But only my therapy session with him had really given me something to sink my thoughts on.  It was a deep idea for me to brood over— fulfilling, nonetheless.