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Featured Theoretical Psychology

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by zozie, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,

    It has been extremely busy over here so I've been less active in the forums than usual. Did you know that there's such a thing as a "theoretical psychologist"? I did not until my General Psych professor announced that he was one.

    Theoretical psychology challenges the mainstream methods and modalities of therapy, testing, diagnosing, assessment, etc. It marries philosophy with psychology and argues that psychology as a field has lost its sense of direction, confusing the "brain" with the "mind", and arguing that "consciousness" is biological (among other arguments). Theoretical psychologists deal in subjective experience—phenomenology—instead of averages, standardization, and so forth. It is a fringe approach, for sure, though one might argue that it acts as a balancer for what has become a hyper-empirical field, and as such is not fringe at all.

    I love this so I thought I would share. I did not know these people existed, but now that I do, my life is very much enriched, and I hope yours is, too.
     
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  2. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I didn't know this existed either. I don't know enough to have an opinion of it specifically, but in general, I think it could be a good thing. The problem with a lot of psychology is that it seems to think that everyone is more or less the same, and that what works for most people will work for everyone. As a result a lot of people are given unhelpful or even harmful treatments. (I strongly suspect that percentage is higher in the neurodiverse community because we're, well, neurodiverse. Our brains literally aren't wired that way.)

    Since there aren't yet concrete tests that can determine psychology (or most neurology) - it's not like there's a blood test for neurodiversity - it's all on a doctor's opinion of your presentation to decide whether a treatment will work for you or not. (As many of us have seen, you go to three different doctors and get three different diagnoses, and even the "experts" don't seem very credible.)

    Because of this, I actually think that subjective experience is incredibly valuable when dealing with issues of the mind. After all, many, if not most, mental health conditions are born out of a lifetime of subjective experiences intertwined with any number of a vast array of neurological conditions. Trying to boil that down to a few profiles/treatment options seems to me to be highly illogical.
     
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  3. Ronin82

    Ronin82 Dog Trainer Extraordinaire

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    See, I've been so traumatized by mainstream psychology that I had given up my dreams of being a therapist. I frequently describe myself as a theorist, not a therapist, since I love the theory of psychological principles, but HATE the cult of "evidence-based practice" that it has become. Not to mention the fact that I can't interact with people on a full-time basis in a therapeutic manner. Thanks for letting me know there's an actual field for me to pursue! Now if I could just get out of the brain-fog and Aspie burnout... it would seem I've been moving towards theoretical psychology as a natural instinct I'm hard-wired for. Are there any ways to get a graduate degree in this? Would I be relegated to just teaching or publishing to make money? How does this field work??
     
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  4. HidinginPlainSight

    HidinginPlainSight Well-Known Member

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    As a discipline how would one quantify a subjective experience? On some level everyone's subjective experience is different. This is a philosophical problem that dates back to Miletus, that being: is the world fundamentally false if we do not all experience it the same way?

    However, this raises the issue of how to make sense of this experience without averages and empirical data? I suppose you could create a therapy on an independent basis, but then is this repeatable? Or does it naturally evolve into averages (the therapy that works best on most)?

    Philosophy is a discipline ignored far too often by scientists in general and in fact most do engage in it without their explicit knowledge that they do. The explicit integration is an interesting concept, but I'm not sure how it would be applied without becoming sprawling and undisciplined. Certainly psychology is far from perfect.
     
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  5. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Seeing how the DSM continues to evolve, I can only surmise that the study of psychology, psychiatry and even neurology is all theoretical at one point or another in time.

    Otherwise it may all amount to just another debate in semantics. :oops:
     
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  6. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    sigmund_freud_1926-1.jpg

    This guy is considered one of the pioneers. I wonder if he was aware of his expression. ;)
     
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  7. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    Wow, so what questions to answer first? Let me see.
    Yes yes yes I relate to moving towards it naturally. As for whether or not one can get a graduate degree in it, that is my next question to this professor, who teaches it on an undergrad level, though I do believe he is trying to carve out a master's degree that may be related.

    This is I have learned about what this professor does: He teaches, he conducts phenomenological research and presents it at conferences "where few people attend my lectures" because he regularly pisses off the more empirically-minded psychologists, and he also contributes to a practice (though at one point I do believe he had a private practice of his own) at a rehab center nearby.

    So, since I want to become a theoretical psychologist as well, I assume that I will be doing those three things: teaching, research, clinical practice.

    As for how the field works, it seems that the research regularly critiques the methods used now, that favor shoving people into boxes. How that looks on a pragmatic level, I don't know (yet). I'll be sure to share my findings as I learn more!

    More replies to questions to come!
     
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  8. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    A lot of good questions in this reply, but this one seems at the heart of it. So what I'm learning is that quantifiable data is not the aim of theoretical psychology. Numbers are actually (usually, I think) counterproductive to the goal, and that's what gets so many other psychologists in a tizzy. How to gather qualitative data is something I'm still learning about, but I'd assume that collecting stories, noticing patterns between them, with heavy emphasis on experience over experiment, is how this discipline operates. It defies our current metrics of measurements on purpose, and as such, is quite difficult to understand in those (generally empirical) terms.
     
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  9. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    Too true, and the risk of debating semantics, or falling into a meaningless dialogue because there's little practice to ground the theory, seems to be ever present. But I'm just barely learning about this field, so I am sure this risk is accounted for. Certainly as a philosophy graduate, I know all too well the futility of nit-picking semantics, for sure.
     
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  10. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    That's a good question about his expression, haha.
     
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  11. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    For me personally, such dynamics really represent and resonate a scary reality that few at the professional level are willing to acknowledge.

    -THAT AS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, THEY TRULY DON'T KNOW WITH ANY CERTAINTY.

    All the way back to Dr. Sigmund Freud.
     
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  12. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    One might argue all the way back to Plato and his forms, they being absolute knowledge that never change (that is the claim, anyway). I heartily agree with you about the dangers of assuming the ability to know absolutely. Even a phenomenologist who studies subjective experience must be very careful to keep their assumptions at bay, or at the very least, to acknowledge how they influence the exchange.

    I doubt theoretical psychology is without its problems, as all -ologies are wont to be, but at least this field, influenced by philosophy, is adamant about asking the hard questions and challenging the nature of "medical knowledge". It's a place to start, in any case.
     
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  13. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    I should probably add that in the case of Dr. Freud I very much enjoy his teachings, whether deemed theoretical or not.
     
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  14. Wolfgangus Faldestolius

    Wolfgangus Faldestolius Little notes from an armchair

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    I'm informally using mainly tertiary and secondary sources (dictionaries and commentaries serendipitously come by) to nose out what topics fascinate me. I love what I call "big logic". Would anyone feel free to PM me.

    Many philosophers had brilliant insights but go adrift in parts of their detailed argumentation and / or expression.

    I read Huw Price, and Deleuze (on Bergson) simultaneously: the anthropic principle in physics is to do with human turning contingency (what I might do) into necessity (what I can't undo) (I thought so before I read them). To Quine apparently (according to one Noonan), identity in time is a kind of continuously fresh and multi-layered thing.

    Meantime I'm not expressing these things well. I neglected study for too long when I'd have had more chance, but am so glad I'm trying now. My ambition might be to post short essays on a blog I might start (I was perpetually a year off from having a short talk ready), but citing prior literature is complicated.
     
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  15. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    This all reminds me of this book I read, especially the talk of rejecting empirically-based methods:

    "The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Suffering presents a variety of approaches to psychotherapeutic work with suffering people, from the perspectives of both Jungian and psychoanalytic psychology. An important theme of the book is that suffering may be harmful or helpful to the development of the personality. Our culture tends to assume that suffering is invariably negative or pointless, but this is not necessarily so; suffering may be destructive, but it may lead to positive developments such as enhanced empathy for others, wisdom, or spiritual development. The book offers professionals in any helping profession various frameworks within which to view suffering, so that the individual's suffering does not seem to be random or meaningless. Cognitive-behavioral approaches, the approach of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric association, and the promise of evidence-based strategies may or may not be applicable to the unique circumstances of the suffering individual. These approaches also ignore the unconscious sources of much suffering, its implications for the ongoing development of the personality, and the nuances of the therapeutic relationship. We cannot objectify or measure suffering; suffering is best viewed from within the individual's perspective, because people with the same diagnosis suffer in unique ways."
     
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  16. Ronin82

    Ronin82 Dog Trainer Extraordinaire

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    I legitimately have PTSD that is triggered by CBT and CBT-based approaches. I had to find a therapist who is based on experiential, attachment-based, somatic, and Buddhist psychology theory to get any help. Insurance won't cover it, but I've seen so much progress from this approach! I love delving into the philosophical basis of life experiences and my conversations with my T often revolve around reframing experiences in philosophical terms (along with learning how to be a G-D human...). CBT alone keeps things too clinical, too cerebral, too logical for me to make any progress in learning how to be human. Theoretical psych has been a god-send for me, and is totally the only way I look at all life now. It's opened my inner world and helped me be a more recognizably empathetic person than I have ever been. No mainstream Western therapist could ever HOPE to help me if they can't see outside the medical model box. Such a fascinating field.
     
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  17. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    You raise a good point about insurance - a lot of therapies are the only ones offered or available because they're the only ones insurance will pay for (and therefore the only ones certain doctors will even offer because they're the ones they get paid for).

    My experience with CBT wasn't a good one. Granted, that particular counseling center was not good or even adequate...so CBT *might* work better if it were properly administered, but somehow I think it probably wouldn't. It's not that I don't know my thoughts/feelings/reactions aren't logical - I do know that they aren't logical, and I feel a decent amount of shame about illogical reactions that I can't control. So a therapy that's based around making the client understand that their reactions are illogical is almost sure to backfire.
     
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  18. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    This reminds me of Philosophical Counseling.But it does seem this is a little less rigorous and less academic than Theoretical Psychology. I can't tell. Does anyone know if these are linked or totally separate?

    About Us - NPCA

    Home - APPA

    And I think this guy started it:

    Plato Not Prozac! - Lou Marinoff
     
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  19. phantom

    phantom New Member

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    Honestly a lot of psychology seems like complete nonsense, especially psycho analysis, people just believing things because they sound logical and true. Hell i don't even believe in free will or the sub conscious. A lot of people will use psychology to just make blatantly false assumptions about what goes in someones mind, and when the person they make those assumptions about believes them they think they are correct, creating some feedback loop of gas lighting. It is very easy to make many theories about the same behavior that all sound logical and true.

    Before we found the link between autism and genetics people believed it was caused by cold mothers, imagine the guild and shame those innocent mothers must have felt, that is what happens when you go and philosophize without have any real science to back it up. And no, studies that show some correlation or an avg and than draw an incorrect conclusion is not real science. Psychology is essentially just philosophy backed up with some studies that show some correlation or an avg pretending to be a science.

    Especially if you have autism and have dealt with people making very incorrect assumptions about your mind you should be against baseless theorizing what goes on in the minds of others.

    Reading about philosophy has mostly just made me more paranoid and miserable anyway.
     
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  20. zozie

    zozie Well-Known Member

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    The following in my tongue-in-cheek response to your bit about philosophy. A study shows that those who are highly intelligent are also more prone to depression. One of my philosophy profs noted that it's not depression -- it's seeing the world as it is, not as one wishes it would be. So this is me commiserating with your misery, as I get that way when I read certain thinkers.

    As for "baseless theorizing what goes on in the minds of others", this is, I believe, a very important point to make. What I will say is that the figure who calls himself a "theoretical psychologist", my current psych professor, would whole-heartedly agree with you.

    What he would say, I believe, is that the task of theoretical psychology is to rigorously and continuously question whether or not we will ever be able to know what goes on in the minds of others, and rather delightedly/cantankerously poke at the assumptions he sees other psychologists making in the name of their personal theories, and what not. So the "theorizing" that is going on is concerning the nature of the mind as it relates to the field of psychology (not the brain), to doggedly pursue a sense of not-knowing, and to be more humanistic in approach, that is, to be less of a box-checker and more of a curious, caring, and deeply skeptical believer in helping people.

    Theoretical psychology actively attacks psychology as a practice in order to root out its faulty practices and make space for new and better ones. But mostly, it asks questions instead of assigning answers. Questions of psychology, is what I mean, not questions of others' minds. I hope this serves to clarify and doesn't come across as overly enthusiastic.
     
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