In this article I will briefly explore the basic vantage point from which psychology research and psychiatry is pursued – meaning, I will discuss that the perspective from which these fields operate supports the idea of a god creator. In my educational background I have studied a subfield of psychology, and I see the contributions of psychology as the main resource for the development of applied psychiatry. Psychiatry is concerned with the diagnosis of mental disorders, and follows the widely proliferated ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ to pinpoint what seems to be an individual’s mental problem. Therefore, to understand what can be classified as disorder, the prerequisite is to know what ‘order’ means in this context, which is also known as an individual’s normal functioning mental processes. Disorders are seen as having their origin in the interplay between developmental processes, neurological processes, genetics and personal experience. The various subfields of psychology that focus on humans deliver the basis for a general understanding of an individual’s healthy mentality from which disorders are analysed.
The overarching premise that situates these subfields in their investigation of biological, cognitive, perceptual, and social processes in humans is that these are partially learned behaviours and partially they are “human nature”. An indicator for “human nature” are behaviours that are universal. In the strand called evolutionary psychology this might be expressed through the understanding that we have, over time, psychologically adapted. Trendy outlooks in the strand of cognitive psychology share the understanding that our minds are ‘extended’ into the environment where our thinking is shaped by artefacts and environmental structures that serve as scaffolding in enabling us to think. The strand of social psychology focusses on the intrapersonal phenomenon, or how people interact with their fellow humans from the point of thoughts and feelings. An example for universality in humans is the Stanford Prison experiment followed up by events at Abu Ghraib. Many investigations in these subfields centre on 1) understanding what is learned and what is “human nature”; and 2) on differentiating individual difference from what is universally extant across cultures and races.
To make my point about the god creator concept ‘orientating’ everyone in these scientific endeavours, I must invite you to briefly look at Charles Darwin with me. In 1859 Darwin, the wealthy and deeply religious naturalist, wrote a book called “On the Origin of Species”. This book marked the turning point in human intellect to have found an answer that dispelled the origin of life on the planet as a form of divine intervention. The new concept that was to explain our existence was natural selection, which promoted the idea that life evolves and specimen with the most effective adaptation strategies will survive and breed. Natural selection became the concept from which life sciences were to conduct their investigations. There are many more fine-grained nuances to this concept which do not factor into the common sense that I am addressing here.
Darwin himself stated many times that this “wonderful” universe could not have been produced entirely by chance, and though he might have been disenchanted with Christianity and traditional religion, god as creator was not discarded in his natural selection concept. In the sense that the creator does not overtly or literally intervene but he does so in a covert and latent manner. He is the one who ‘set it all up’ because from Darwin’s perspective, god created primal forms of species which were capable of self-development. Darwin even stated: “By nature, I mean the laws ordained by God to govern the Universe”
Although the idea of natural selection does not hold the same scientific potency today as it did at Darwin’s time, we see that the starting point of god-given laws is true today as it was then. In the practice and research of psychology and psychiatry, universal mental processes are classified as “human nature” and those who deviate are either seen as exhibiting individual differences, or as not functioning in ‘order’. Therefore, psychology and psychiatry still operate from the notion that we are not responsible for the types of mental processes and behaviours we produce, that they were given to us by laws or evolutionary forces that constitute our “human nature”.
What psychology and psychiatry fail to address is the global societal system we live in, a self-created system which we refuse to change by taking responsibility for it. A system that we all participate in through our various roles, cultures, educational and child-rearing approaches. A system that since we have written records has always entailed daily competition, hierarchical placement, fear of survival, war, abuse, deception and addictions. How can we expect to produce humans that act any differently from those hundreds of years ago if we don’t take up our responsibility in changing this self-created system?
Psychology and psychiatry rely for their existence on the current economic system, so it seems reasonable from this perspective to state limits in what humans are capable of, and justify that we need conflict and fear to experience the world. Those who can’t deal with it, who produce dis-orders in the announced order, we just medicate so that we can continue to keep this self-created system alive.
What psychology understands as universal behaviours are, plainly put, the results of a self-created system where group behaviour exemplifies the overall character of social engagement perpetuated by conditions put in place through economics. In every instance of social engagement, large or small, abuse, fear and deception come to the forefront. This will not change unless we change our economic approach where we create an environment with equal conditions for everyone. An equal economic system will move us forward in developing social behaviours that are no longer steeped in competition and deception, breeding fear and abuse in the struggle of survival. When this happens, and I have no doubt that it will, it will be the beginning of the end of psychology and psychiatry because the social character of an equal money system will create an unprecedented understanding of our capabilities to care for each other. It will show us that we, in the way we relate our mental processes, are unlimited in creating the best possible living conditions for all species on the planet.
Taking self-responsibility is something humans have to learn by becoming aware of who we are, each one of us in the context of our lives. We at Desteni learn this through the DesteniIprocess, we learn to understand where our thoughts and feelings originate and how we can learn to function from a place that is impartial, a place that is truly objective and is no longer driven by polarisation or momentary sways of likes and dislikes. In other words, we are no longer limiting ourselves on the basis of accepted god-given laws but we stand up and take responsibility for everything we think, do, and feel on a breath-by-breath basis.
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Darwin quote: Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection, Being the Second Part of his Big Species Book Written from 1856 to 1858, ed. R.C. Stauffer (Cambridge 1975), 224