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Psychological myths

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Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 03-04-2003 12:01 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

This is just a quick aside but I'm sure many of you know the old divide between East and West or Orient and Occident. The divide usually says the East is emotional (or even irrational) and the West is rational.

I've always argued that while I perfectly agree that the East is irrational, I don't know how anybody could believe that the West is rational.  

Anyway, here's a quick list of things that have been empirically shown to be false:

quote:


Low self-esteem causes aggressiveness, drug use, prejudice, and low achievement.


Abused children almost inevitably become abusive parents, causing a "cycle of abuse."


Therapy is beneficial for most survivors of disasters, especially if intervention is rapid.


Memory works like a tape recorder, clicking on at the moment of birth; memories can be accurately retrieved through hypnosis, dream analysis, or other therapeutic methods.


Traumatic experiences, particularly of a sexual nature, are typically "repressed" from memory, or split off from consciousness through "dissociation."


The way that parents treat a child in the first five years (three years) (one year) (five minutes) of life is crucial to the child's later intellectual and emotional success.


from
http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i25/25b00701.htm


[This message has been edited by Brad (03-04-2003 03:46 AM).]

Ron
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since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
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1 posted 03-04-2003 01:58 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
because everyone knows that "psychological science" is an oxymoron.

At least I found one item in that article with which I can agree.

Okay, I'm being slightly facetious. But I have to also admit that I give greater credence to a scientist who writes scientifically than I do to one who tries instead to write persuasively. Even when she does the latter quite well.

Case in point. Included in her list of "examples that have been shown to be false," is the statement you quoted, Brad. Abused children almost inevitably become abusive parents, causing a "cycle of abuse."

I might argue that whenever you see the words "almost inevitably," you're probably staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, or I might argue that "almost inevitably" doesn't seem to me to be a requirement for a cycle of abuse, but fortunately, I don't need to argue either. Because, later in the same article, the author give a somewhat more balanced and scientific explanation.

When the researchers Joan Kaufman and Edward Zigler reviewed longitudinal studies of the outcomes of child abuse, they found that although being abused does considerably increase the risk of becoming an abusive parent, more than 70 percent of all abused children do not mistreat their offspring -- hardly an inevitable "cycle."

Too bad, even there, she felt compelled to add the adjective "inevitable" to discredit what could still otherwise be seen as a cycle. I'm not aware of anyone who claims that an abused child will "inevitably" become an abusive parent. What many have suggested, and Kaufman and Zigler confirmed, was that an abused child is at CONSIDERABLY greater risk. Seems to me that's enough to make it an important indicator. More important, I should think, than twisting it to get a reader's attention for a few seconds.

How many of her other Myths Revealed are twisted to meet the author's goals? Even though I agree with the writer's underlying premise, and I found myself nodding at many other examples, the bottom line is that the author lost my trust with her flamboyant opening and everything she wrote after that was met with skepticism.

I don't mind being convinced. But please do it with evidence, not theatrics.
serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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2 posted 03-04-2003 03:41 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I have learned to wait for Ron...

"almost inevitably"???? (ooh wait, I want to write that one down)

what is this? Steven Wright's take on therapy?

and oh, this is my favorite:

"Therapy is beneficial for most survivors of disasters, especially if intervention is rapid."

Yeah. Like in BEFORE disaster strikes.

This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a professor of philsophy, after class.
I told him that it amazed me that, "if you state something with enough conviction, quoting enough references, 99% of the time, one would not be disputed."

He nodded and said, "This is true."

To which I replied, impishly, "Y'SEE?"

sigh...thanks, Ron.



Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
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3 posted 03-04-2003 09:22 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, I do think the article has an agenda beyond the empirical/analytical divide, and that agenda is not scientific, it is political (though it may have stemmed from empirical research).

Essentially, what I see both of you saying is that the scientific community can not use persuasive tactics, but apparently non-scientific types (defined in the article) are free to do so (including the use of 'scientific') in order to persuade people to do things they otherwise would not do.

I don't understand why we can't fight back?

The five or so examples that she picked revolve around a kind of two point axis: on the one hand, the idea of the quick fix, on the other, a lack of personal control and responsibility for our actions.

To me, this is a recipe for exploitation.

1. Low self-esteem causes aggressiveness, drug use, prejudice, and low achievement.

No control: you aren't in control of your actions and your esteem but if we help you (compliment instead of criticize), you'll feel better.

2. Abused children almost inevitably become abusive parents, causing a "cycle of abuse."

No control: it's not your fault, it's your parents.

3. Therapy is beneficial for most survivors of disasters, especially if intervention is rapid.

No control: you need help, let me help you.

4,Memory works like a tape recorder, clicking on at the moment of birth; memories can be accurately retrieved through hypnosis, dream analysis, or other therapeutic methods.

No control. It's not your fault and I can help you.

5. Traumatic experiences, particularly of a sexual nature, are typically "repressed" from memory, or split off from consciousness through "dissociation."

No control. It's not your fault and I can help you.

6.The way that parents treat a child in the first five years (three years) (one year) (five minutes) of life is crucial to the child's later intellectual and emotional success.

No control. It's your parents fault and we can help you.

---------------------

Now, the main point is that psycho-therapists don't back up their findings but mask their hypostheses in the name of science. If this is true, then the only people who can contradict them are scientists, but it sounds like you two want scientists to stay in their place. It sounds to me like you want to keep those findings in obscure journals only read by others in that field.

I think she's saying that's already been tried and it's not working.

But this isn't a scientific paper, it is political in nature.

Ron
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4 posted 03-04-2003 11:48 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Essentially, what I see both of you saying is that the scientific community can not use persuasive tactics, but apparently non-scientific types (defined in the article) are free to do so (including the use of 'scientific') in order to persuade people to do things they otherwise would not do.

Allow me to rephrase my complaint, Brad? I give greater credence to a scientists who writes accurately than I do to one who tries instead to write sensationalistic, National Enquirer crap.

Remove the inaccurate twisting of words in the flamboyant opening, and the author would have a fairly balanced -- and even persuasive -- article. But then, I don't think it was an accident that you chose to quote from the flamboyant opening rather than the meat of the piece. It got my attention and provoked a response that a more reasoned approach wouldn't have. That was the author's intention, of course, and it worked, but the cost was her credibility. If she is willing to twist the facts to make her points, why should I trust anything in her article?

At the risk of going off-topic, I think there needs to be a greater separation between "personal control" and "responsibility for our actions." A lack of the former need not lead to a lack of the latter, nor should either be used as an excuse. Much of what happens TO us, from our early upbringing to whether we get MS or not, is beyond our control. What we choose to DO, however, always remains within our own control.

The sins of the father do, indeed, visit each of us. And we are often as responsible for those sins as we are for our own.
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


5 posted 03-04-2003 04:58 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't want to call your reading wrong, if it upset you, it upset you. If her credibility is gone, her credibility is gone. But when she uses 'almost inevitable', you seem to be arguing that she's created a strawman here.

Is nobody saying anything like that?

I don't think she's complaining about something like, "Children who grow up abused have a higher tendency to abuse their own children than those who don't," but that that straightforward statement is then manipulated into the torturous "almost inevitably".

I think she's complaining that this happens, but even if it is a strawman, can we at least say that some people interpret it that way?

I do not think she was intending to deceive, but, yes, she intended to provoke. She's pissed off, I would be too if I thought my research was being misrepresented.

Needless to say (I hope), I was trying to provoke as well by quoting that part.  

But maybe we can balance this out a bit:

quote:
Low self-esteem causes aggressiveness, drug use, prejudice, and low achievement.


It's the other way around. These things cause low self-esteem. But anyway who says high self esteem is such a great thing anyway. Why not accurate self-esteem?

quote:
Therapy is beneficial for most survivors of disasters, especially if intervention is rapid.


She's not saying that therapy can't be beneficial, just that in most cases, it may not be necessary. Is this another example of a strawman?

quote:
Memory works like a tape recorder, clicking on at the moment of birth; memories can be accurately retrieved through hypnosis, dream analysis, or other therapeutic methods.


No balance here. This is just dumb. But are we in complete control of ourselves at all times. Of course not.

quote:
Traumatic experiences, particularly of a sexual nature, are typically "repressed" from memory, or split off from consciousness through "dissociation."


I actually think there is such a thing as repression, it's just not this. In fact, certain types of repression may be good for you.

quote:
The way that parents treat a child in the first five years (three years) (one year) (five minutes) of life is crucial to the child's later intellectual and emotional success.


Sure, if a child were completely ignored for five years, it seems clear that that would influence the child later, but the point in question is the pivotal nature of these first years. I have a few hypotheses about this myself.

Now, I probably haven't been as balanced as I could have been, but in the end I think healthy scepticism is a good thing. If it makes people realize the complexities of themselves and at the same time the role of personal responsibility in all of this, then reading this thread might do some good.

Science is not magic. It cannot make our decisions for us, that is something that ultimately we can only do (a leap across the abyss as Derrida might say). Science is often said to be discredited when two scientists disagree with each other. I think that is science at its healthiest.

At any rate, as a rule of thumb, we should take the law of errors a little more seriously: we take the mean of all the different observations and work from there.

jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


6 posted 03-05-2003 08:42 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

quote:
Sure, if a child were completely ignored for five years, it seems clear that that would influence the child later, but the point in question is the pivotal nature of these first years. I have a few hypotheses about this myself.


The following link probably provides the most extreme examples of the effects of neglect on early child development, but I think it follows that lesser degrees of neglect may have an impact, ranging from slight to profound, on a child's cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development.

http://www.drfederici.com/institutional_autism.htm

That said, when we are speaking in terms of psychological and behavioral theory, I think it is wrong to say something is "inevitable."  Depending on the data, "predictable" or "highly probable" may be justified, but I think you are right on target by asserting that, at least most of the time, we have the capacity to exercise some measure of control.

Thanks for the post.

Jim
JP
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since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


7 posted 03-06-2003 12:37 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Okay now, where to begin?  Personal responsibility?  Self control? lack of control?  so much to say, so little time...

"Remove the inaccurate twisting of words in the flamboyant opening, and the author would have a fairly balanced -- and even persuasive -- article. But then, I don't think it was an accident that you chose to quote from the flamboyant opening rather than the meat of the piece. It got my attention and provoked a response that a more reasoned approach wouldn't have. That was the author's intention, of course, and it worked, but the cost was her credibility. If she is willing to twist the facts to make her points, why should I trust anything in her article?"

The thinking mind weeds through persuasive 'crap' continually, pulling out the shreds of truth and hoarding them, while tossing out the chaff and exposing the untruths... you know this Ron, I think your asking "why should I trust anything in her article?"  is an intentional provocation on your part.

   "quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Low self-esteem causes aggressiveness, drug use, prejudice, and low achievement.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's the other way around. These things cause low self-esteem. But anyway who says high self esteem is such a great thing anyway. Why not accurate self-esteem?"

Actually, it is both ways.  Low self-esteem may help lead someone to substance abuse, etc.  But the cause or the result?  No. Outside influences cannot cause or result in our self-view, but they can be used as a crutch to pass the blame for our own self-defeat.

   "quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Memory works like a tape recorder, clicking on at the moment of birth; memories can be accurately retrieved through hypnosis, dream analysis, or other therapeutic methods.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
No balance here. This is just dumb. But are we in complete control of ourselves at all times. Of course not."

I'm gong to have to go ahead and disagree with you on this one Bob...

Although you did qualify your statement by saying 'complete control' rather than control, I still have to say that you are pushing a fine line.  Yes we are in control, always.  Yes we may snort PCP and do things we cannot recall, but we are in control by proxy, we did not have to do the snorting, and justice should reflect this view - total responsibilty for actions resulting while under the influence of controlled substances. (I may be a bit biased on this because I spent many years trying to loose control and/or awareness by abusing many substances - all it ever got me was a nice buzz to go along with my complete awareness of what I was doing and why I was doing it.)

As for the rest, nothing that happens to us either by our own involvement, or beyond our control, can dictate how or who we are.  We are the sole pilot of our individual vessel (no Valdez jokes please).



Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
Nil Desperandum, Fata viem invenient

[This message has been edited by JP (03-06-2003 12:39 PM).]

Jamie
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since 06-26-2000
Posts 3219
Blue Heaven


8 posted 03-06-2003 11:57 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

There is one part of this article that I can personally attest to. CISD became a very popular program in the emergency services during the 90s. In fact at my department  there was a point in which it became mandatory for everyone who responded to certain incidents to attend, the rational being that if everyone had to be there then the ones who wanted to go couldn't be ridiculed for "needing" help dealing with things they had seen or done.

I can't say one way or the other if anyone was ever helped, only that I felt like I was wasting my time. Additionally I came away feeling a little guilty at times for being skeptical about some people's sincerity when they talked about how they were "affected" by something. Maybe it is good for someone who has nobody at all to talk to about personal issues, but I think most have developed their own 'support network' by now.

just my 1/2 cents worth.

J

There is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar.
byron

Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


9 posted 03-07-2003 03:20 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Although you did qualify your statement by saying 'complete control' rather than control, I still have to say that you are pushing a fine line.  Yes we are in control, always.  Yes we may snort PCP and do things we cannot recall, but we are in control by proxy, we did not have to do the snorting, and justice should reflect this view - total responsibilty for actions resulting while under the influence of controlled substances. (I may be a bit biased on this because I spent many years trying to loose control and/or awareness by abusing many substances - all it ever got me was a nice buzz to go along with my complete awareness of what I was doing and why I was doing it.)


Fair enough, but this doesn't address the issue of memory. Many, I would say all, of our actions are overdetermined and it seems foolish to go looking around for that one idea, that one event, that explains why we are the way we are. This is why it's difficult to change bad habits, but it has less to do with 'secret memory' and more to do with akrasia.

My point is perhaps similar to yours. There are no easy fixes, let's not pretend there are.


JP
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since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


10 posted 03-13-2003 06:41 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

"Fair enough, but this doesn't address the issue of memory. Many, I would say all, of our actions are overdetermined and it seems foolish to go looking around for that one idea, that one event, that explains why we are the way we are. This is why it's difficult to change bad habits, but it has less to do with 'secret memory' and more to do with akrasia. "

Since I am not a clinical psychologist, nor a doctor of psychiatry, I cannot speak eloquently on the idea of "secret memory" or "that one event..."  I can say this about that:  I believe that no one event can shape our lives, we shape our lives and in doing so may choose to shift the blame or praise to an event, or circumstance.  But WE are the shapers...

Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
Nil Desperandum, Fata viem invenient

 
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