Essay // Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution

Hampstead dpurb-com Psychoanalysis

Photographie: Danny D’Purb © 2008

History and Background

In contemporary psychology, the psychoanalytic movement’s place is both unique and paradoxical. Focussing on the study of the mind as a “software” running on the brain as the “hardware”, psychoanalysis remains the only discipline that truly focuses on the mechanism and processes behind our thoughts. Unlike empirical behavioural science and other “cogno-sciences” that can be fairly barbaric and obstinate in the forced application of the rigid mathematical and systematic procedures embedded in the classic scientific method when dealing with an entity as complex and organic as the human mind; psychoanalysis has remained focussed in understanding human psychology by capturing it in all its details, depths, dimensions and linguistic aspects.

The scientific method although a proven mathematical approach to inquiries in the hard sciences [e.g. physics, medicine, chemistry and material science], shows its limitations when used as a tool for psychological inquiry in the measurement of variables that are incredibly hard to measure such as emotions, values, motives, desires, libidinous intensity or dreams. It is also fair noting that humans are different from simple organisms, molecules or robots, hence psychoanalysis remains the only discipline focused on the mind [the software] assuming that most human beings have a physiologically healthy brain [the hardware].

However, modern sciences have discovered how abnormalities in the brain’s physiology due to birth defects or injury may result in behavioural problems linked to a deficient mind due to the defective brain [hardware] at its disposal. Hence, nowadays most good intellectuals in the field of psychoanalysis would likely be a better psychologist with an in-depth knowledge of the physiology of the brain, i.e. the major areas affecting core functions such as speech [Wernicke and Broca’s], vision [the occipital lobe], and motor abilities [parietal lobe], etc.

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This is because some psychological problems may on rare occasion be caused by brain injuries or physiological abnormality due to virus, trauma, stroke or injury. In those cases where such a scenario materialises, the psychotherapist may refer the patient to a neurosurgeon who may be more appropriate to inspect the extent of the problems on the defective brain [hardware] which may lead to a clearer perspective of the limitations being imposed on the mind of the affected individual and how it impacts processes such as the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious [based on Sigmund Freud’s 1st ground breaking theory of mental life, the Topographic Model, which was also adopted by Jacques Lacan who argued convincingly that post-Freudian psychoanalysts had swayed too far from the fundamental concepts and turned psychoanalysis into a confusing genre].

However, as we are in the developmental stages of conception of the organic theory, a theory that takes the focus on the individual organism’s creative ability to another level, we are going to remain focussed on the mind. The organic theory was inspired by the brain’s magnificent ability to learn any age, and thus give the individual human organism the ability and freedom to define, create, redefine, recreate and shape itself based on its inherited and acquired abilities, desires and personal constructionist developments throughout its life – yes, the individual does have choices and these impact the person’s internal working model of mental life and the person as a whole along with his or her environment.

While psychoanalysis remains one of the most widely known schools of psychology it is perhaps not universally understood. The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is perhaps one of the most famous psychologist of the last century even if his chosen discipline, psychoanalysis, has little in common with the other schools of thought and psychology.

Psychoanalysis views the mind as an active, dynamic and self-generating entity, and this is in the German tradition of mental life [it was also a founding assumption for Jean Piaget as he developed his Theory of Cognitive Development in Children]. It is also important to note that Freud was trained in hard sciences, yet his system shows little appreciation for systematic and reductionist empiricism. As a physician, Freud used his observational skills to build his system within a medical framework, basing his theory on individual case studies. He did not depart from his understanding of 19th-century science in the effort to organise his observations, neither did he attempt to test his hypotheses rigorously through independent verification. As he testified, he was psychoanalysis and did not tolerate dissension from his orthodox views. Nevertheless, Freud had a tremendous impact on 20th century psychology, perhaps more importantly, the influence of psychoanalysis on Western thought, as reflected in literature, philosophy and art, significantly exceeds the impact any other system of psychology.

 

The Active Mind

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Photographie: Danny D’Purb © 2012

Going back to the philosophical foundations of modern psychology in Germany during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, we found that the tradition of Leibniz and Kant clearly emphasised mental activity. This is in contrast to British empiricism, which assumed the mind to be a passive entity [such as a sponge that simply soaks in what is thrown at it]. The German tradition held the most logical and creative assumption that the mind itself generates and structures human experience in characteristic ways [being « active »]. Whether through Leibniz’s monadology or Kant’s categories, the psychology of the individual could be understood only by examining the dynamic, inherent activity of the mind.

Throughout the years, as psychology evolved into an independent discipline in the latter part of the 19th century under Wundt’s tutelage, the British model of mental passivity served as a guiding philosophy. Clearly, Wundt’s empiricistic formulation was at odds with German philosophical precedents, recognised by both Stumpf and Brentano. Act psychology and the psychology of non-sensory consciousness represented by the Würzburg School were closer to the German philosophical assumptions of mental activity than to Wundt’s structural psychology. The Gestalt movement encompassed these alternatives to Wundt’s psychology in Germany. Eventually, as the rational outcome guided intellectuals, Wundt’s system was replaced by Gestalt psychology, turning into the dominant psychology in Germany prior to World War II – one based on a model of the mind that admitted inherent organisational activity.

The assumptions underlying mental activity in Gestalt psychology were highly qualified, where construct for mind involves the organisation of perception, based on the principle of isomorphism, which resulted in a predisposition toward patterns of personal-environmental interactions. The focus on organisation meant that the way of mental processes, not their content, was inherently structured. In other words, individuals were not born with specific ideas, energies, or other content in the mind; rather, the organisational structure was inherited to acquire mental contents in characteristic ways. Accordingly, the Gestalt movement, while rightly rejecting the rigidity of Wundt’s empiricistic assumptions and concepts, did not reject empiricism completely [as a technique to study some basic and easily defined variables (such as traits) and their relation(s) to others]. Instead, the Gestaltists advocated a compromise between the empiricist basis of British philosophy and the German model of activity. Consequently, this opened psychological investigation to the study of complex problem-solving and perceptual processes.

Consistent with the Gestalt foundations, psychoanalysis was firmly grounded in an active model of mental processes, however it shared little of the Gestalt commitment to empiricism. Freud’s views on personality were consistent not only with the activities of mental processing suggested by Leibniz and Kant, but also with the 19th century belief in conscious and unconscious levels of mental activity. In acknowledging the teachings of such philosophers as Von Hartman and Schopenhauer [Read the Essay on our Review of « Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung »(The World as Will and Idea), Freud developed motivational principles that depended on energy forces beyond the level of self-awareness.

Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)

Moreover, for Freud, the development of personality was determined by individual, unconscious adaptation to these forces. The details of personality development as formulated by Freud are outlined below; however, is also important to recognise the fundamental basis of Freud’s thinking. Psychoanalysis is based on the implication of mental activity further than any other system of psychology. As a major representative of a reliance on mental activity to account for personality, psychoanalysis is set apart from other movements in contemporary psychology. In addition, psychoanalysis unlike the other branches of psychology, did not emerge from empirical academic research; rather it was the product of the applied consequences of clinical practice [i.e. it was a force that was born on the field to treat mental problems as they surfaced throughout human history].

 

The Treatment of Mental Illness

Besides being the founder of the psychoanalytic movement in modern psychology, Freud is also remembered for his efforts in pioneering the upgrade in the treatment of mental and behavioural abnormalities, and was instrumental in psychiatry’s recognition as a branch of medicine that specifically deals with psychopathology. Before Freud’s works in attempting to devise effective methods of treating the mentally ill, individuals who deviated from socially acceptable norms were usually treated as if they were criminals or demonically possessed. Although shocking controversies in the contemporary treatment of mental deviancy appear occasionally, not too long ago such abuses were often the rule rather than the exception.

The treatment of mental illnesses was never a pleasant chapter in Western civilisation and it has been pointed out many times that abnormal behaviour is often mixed up with criminal behaviour as with heresy and treason. Even during the period of enlightenment during the European Renaissance, the cruelties and tortures of the inquisition were readily adapted to treat what we nowadays qualify as mental illness. Witchcraft continued to offer a reasonable explanation to such eccentric behaviour until recent times. Prisons were established to house criminals, paupers, and the insane without any differentiation. Mental illness was viewed as governed by evil or obscure forces, and the mentally ill were looked upon as crazed by such weird influences such as moon rays. Lunatics or “moonstruck” persons, were appropriately kept in lunatic asylums. As recently as the latter part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the institution of for the insane in Utica, New York, which was progressive by the standards of the time, was called the Utica Lunatic Asylum. The name reflected the prevailing attitude toward mental illness.

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« Dr. Philippe Pinel at the Salpêtrière », 1795 by Tony Robert-Fleury. Pinel ordering the removal of chains from patients at the Paris Asylum for insane women

Reforms in the treatment of the institutionalised insane were slowly introduced during the 19th century. In 1794, Philippe Pinel (1745 – 1826) was appointed the chief of hospitals for the insane in Paris, and managed to improve both the attitude toward and the treatment of the institutionalised insane. In the United States, Dorothea Dix (1802 – 1887) accomplished the most noticeable reforms in the treatment of the mentally ill. Beginning in 1841, Dix led a campaign to improve the condition of indigent, mentally ill persons kept in jails and in poorhouses. However, these reforms succeeded in improving only the physical surroundings and maintenance conditions of the mentally ill; legitimate treatment was minimal. [Even today, in 2018, the US seems to have more people with eccentric behaviours and with questionable mental stability, for example, Donald Trump, who has been singled out as being mentally ill by more than one. See: (1) The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, (2) Trump Is ‘Mentally Ill’ Says Former Vermont Governor and Doctor Howard Dean, (3) American psycho? Donald Trump’s mental health is still a question, (4) Psychiatrist: Trump Mental Health Urgently Deteriorating and (5) Stanford’s Zimbardo asks: Is President Trump mentally ill?]

Confidence in US

Around the world, favorability of the U.S. and confidence in its president decline / Source: Pew Research Center

The US has more women in prison than China, India & Russia combined

According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, nearly a third of all female prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the United States of America. There are 201,200 women in US prisons, representing 8.8 percent of the total American prison population. / Source: Forbes

Most people in prison

Highest to Lowest – Prison Population Total / Source: World Prison Brief

Efforts to develop comprehensive treatments were plagued by various quacks, such as the pseudoscience developed by Mesmer that dealt with the “animal spirit” underlying mental illnesses [although it may be true today if expressed as a metaphorical description to some of the behavioural manifestations of some mental disorders in some individuals].

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« White Dogs and Tootsie Pops » by Marie Hughes

Similarly, the phrenology of Gall and Spurzheim advocated a physical explanation based on skull contours and localisation of brain functions – which was of course also wrong.

Gradually however, attempts were made to develop legitimate and effective techniques to treat emotional and behavioural abnormalities. One of the more productive investigations involved hypnotism and was pioneered by a French physician, Jean Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893). Charcot gained widespread fame in Europe, and the young Freud amazed by his abilities, studied under him, as did many other talented physicians and physiologists. He treated hysterical patients with symptoms ranging from hyper-emotionality to physical conversions of underlying emotional problems that the patient could not confront when conscious.

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Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière (1887) » with Jean Martin Charcot in Front (A Clinical Lesson at the Salpêtrière) par André Brouillet à l’Université Paris Descartes

Another French physician in Nancy, namely Hippolyte Bernheim (1837 – 1919), developed a sophisticated analysis of hypnosis as a form of treatment, using underlying suggestibility to alter the intentions of the patient. Finally, Pierre Janet (1859 – 1947), a student of Charcot, used hypnotism to resolve the forces of emotional conflict, which he believed were basic to hysterical symptoms. However, it was Sigmund Freud who went beyond the techniques of hypnotism to develop a comprehensive theory of psychopathology from which systematic treatments evolved.

 

A Biography of Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) / Image: Freud Museum London

Since psychoanalysis as we know it today is hugely influenced by the foundations laid by Sigmund Freud, it is worthwhile to have an understanding about the major points in his life. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) was born on the 6th of May 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia, at that time a norther province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today a part of the Czech Republic.

Freud was the eldest of 8 children, and his father was a relatively poor and not very successful wool merchant. When his business failed, Freud’s father moved with his wife and children [as many jews are accustomed to migrating to better places in the quest for a better life and income] first to Leipzig and then to Vienna when Freud was 4 years old. The young Freud remained in Vienna for most of the rest of his life, and his precocious genius was recognised by his family, and he was allowed many concessions and favours not permitted to his siblings. For example, young Freud was provided with better lighting to read in the evening, and when he was studying, noise in the house was kept to a minimum so he would not be disturbed.

Freud’s interest were varied and intense, and he showed an early inclination and aptitude for various intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately, Freud was a victim of the 19th century Jew-dislike which was obvious and severe in central and Eastern Europe after the numerous accounts of Jews being banished from places all over Europe due to their occult and violent religious practices on Christian infants [e.g. human sacrifices] along with their known habits in monopolising the majority of the press businesses to then distort news and heritage to their agendas and economic advantage.

However, although Freud was an atheist and more scientifically minded, his Jewish birth precluded certain career opportunities, most notably an academic career in university research. Indeed, medicine and law were the only professions open to Vienna Jews.

Freud’s early reading of Charles Darwin intrigued and impressed him to the point that a career in science was most appealing. The closest path that he could follow for training as a researcher was an education in medicine. Hence, Freud entered the university of Vienna in 1873 at the age of 17. However, because of his interests in a variety of fields and specific research projects, it took him 8 years to complete the medical coursework that normally required 6 years.

Eel

In 1881, he received his doctorate in medicine. While at university, Freud was part of an investigation of the precise structure of the testes of eels, which involved his dissecting over 400 eels. Later, he moved on to physiology and neuroanatomy and conducted experiments examining the spinal cord of fish. While at Vienna, Freud also took courses with Franz Brentano, which formed his only formal introduction to 19th century psychology.

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After waiting for Freud for about 4 years, his fiancée, Martha Bernays, a jewish girl from a business family and the grand-daughter of a famous Rabbi in Hamburg, married him. While she did not show great interest in Freud’s intellectual pursuits, her younger sister Minna became a very close intellectual partner of Freud. Carl Jung one of Freud’s intellectual ally who would become one of his firmest critic would even later say that he learned from Minna that Freud was in love with her and their relationship was very “intimate” – although we have no factual confirmation of such. She was so close to the young couple, that she moved in with them in the 1890s to set up was has been “jokingly” called a “ménage a trois”. As for Martha, she was also a charmer, intelligent, well-educated and fond of reading who as a married woman ran her household efficiently and was almost obsessive about punctuality and dirt. Firm but loving with her children, French analyst René Laforgue said that she spread an atmosphere of peaceful joie de vivre through the household. Shortly after Freud’s wedding, he recognised that a scientific career would not provide adequate income, since anti-Jewish sentiments were strong around Europe and this worked against Jewish advancement in academia even if Freud himself was not a practising Jew or had any religious sentiments. So Freud reluctantly decided to begin a private practice. Although the young couple were very poor in the early years of their marriage, Freud was able to support his wife and his growing family, which eventually included 6 children. The early years in private practice were very difficult, requiring long hours for a meagre financial reward that basically did not challenge him. Freud was also an atheist and did not want psychoanalysis to be seen as a purely Jewish endeavour, and his close network although were mainly Jewish later slowly grew to incorporate European intellectuals where some of the most significant would disagree with some of his assumptions and leave his circle after keeping only a few of his fundamental concepts about the theory of the mind.

During his hospital training, Freud had worked with patients with anatomical and organic problems of the nervous system. Shortly after starting private practice, he became friendly with Josef Breuer (1842 – 1925), a general practitioner who had acquired some local fame for his respiration studies. This friendship provided needed stimulation for Freud, and they began to collaborate on several patients with nervous disorders, most notably the famous case of Anna O., an intelligent young woman with severe, diffuse hysterical symptoms. In using hypnosis to treat Anna O., Breuer noticed that some specific experiences emerged under hypnosis that the patient could not recall while conscious. Her symptoms seemed to be relieved after talking about these experiences under hypnosis. Breuer treated Anna O. daily for over a year, and became convinced that the “talking cure”, or “catharsis”, involving discussion of unpleasant and repulsive memories revealed under hypnosis, was an effective method in alleviating her symptoms. Unfortunately, Breuer’s wife became jealous of the relationship; that would later be called “positive transference of emotional feelings to the therapist” [this would later be explained as patients falling in love with the new object at which they had redirected feelings and desires retained in childhood] at characteristic stages of therapy, this looked suspicious to her. As a result, Breuer terminated his treatment of Anna O. Freud was also very professional with his clients and never had any mistresses or took advantage of his female patients.

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Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893) / Charcot first began studying hysteria after creating a special ward for non-insane females with « hystero-epilepsy ». He discovered two distinct forms of hysteria among these women: minor hysteria and major hysteria. His interest in hysteria and hypnotism « developed at a time when the general public was fascinated in ‘animal magnetism’ and ‘mesmerization' », which was later revealed to be a method of inducing hypnosis.
Charcot argued vehemently against the widespread medical and popular prejudice that hysteria was rarely found in men, presenting several cases of traumatic male hysteria. He taught that due to this prejudice these « cases often went unrecognised, even by distinguished doctors » and could occur in such models of masculinity as railway engineers or soldiers. Charcot’s analysis, in particular his view of hysteria as an organic condition which could be caused by trauma, paved the way for understanding neurological symptoms arising from industrial-accident or war-related traumas.

In 1885, Freud received a modest grant that allowed him to go to Paris to study with Jean-Martin Charcot for 4 and half months. During that time he not only observed Charcot’s method of hypnosis [which he never managed to master as Charcot did] but also attended his lectures, learning about the master’s views on the importance of unresolved sexual problems in the underlying causality of hysteria. When Freud returned to Vienna, he gave a report of his work with Charcot to the medical society, but its cold reception left him with resentment that affected his future interactions with the entrenched medical establishment and its rigid and reductionist methods at understanding and solving the problems of the mind.

Freud continued his work with Breuer on hypnosis and catharsis, but gradually abandoned the former in favour of the latter, being not very gifted with hypnotic techniques, but also for 3 major reasons regarding its effectiveness as a treatment with general applicability. First, not everyone can be hypnotised; hence its usefulness is limited to a select group. Second, some patients refuse to believe what they revealed under hypnosis, prompting Freud to conclude that the patient must be aware during the step-by-step process of discovering memories hidden from their accessible consciousness. Third, when one set of symptoms were alleviated under hypnotic suggestibility, new symptoms often emerged. Freud and Breuer were moving in separate directions, and Freud’s increasing emphasis on the primacy of sexuality as the key to psychoneurosis contributed to their break. Nevertheless, in 1895 they published Studies on Hysteria, often cited as the first work of the psychoanalytic movement, although it sold only 626 copies during the following 13 years – perhaps due to the lack of sophistication and interest in the workings of the mind at that particular point in history, or the level of the academic discussions that may not have been adequate for the intellect of the average mind at the time.

Freud’s preferred method of treatment, catharsis, involves engaging with patients and encouraging them to speak of anything that comes [occupies] their mind, regardless of how discomforting or embarrassing it might be. This “free association” took place in a relaxed atmosphere, usually on the classic psychologist couch in a reclined position to promote comfort. The main reason behind the logic of catharsis and free association is that – like hypnosis – it would allow hidden thoughts and memories to manifest in consciousness. However, in contrast, to the method of hypnosis, the patient would be aware of these emerging recollections. Another ongoing process during free association is “transference”, which involves which involves emotionally laden experiences that allow the patient to relieve earlier, repressed episodes. Since the psychoanalysis is often part of the transference process [as mentioned earlier where the repressed emotions are often redirected onto] and is often the object of emotions, Freud recognised transference as a powerful tool to assist the patient in resolving sources of anxiety.

In 1897, Freud began a self-analysis of his dreams, which evolved into another technique important to the psychoanalytic movement. In the analysis of dreams, Freud distinguish between the manifest content [the actual depiction of the dreams] and the latent content, which represented the symbolic world of the patient. In 1900, he published his major work, The Interpretation of Dreams. Although it sold only 600 copies in eight years, it later went through eight editions in his lifetime. In 1901, he published The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, the book in which his theory began to take shape. Freud argued that the psychology of all people, not only those with neurotic symptoms, could be understood in terms of the unconscious forces in need of resolution.

When his reputation as a pioneer in psychiatry started to grow due to his prolific writings, Freud attracted admiring followers, among them was the notable Carl Jung. In 1909, G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University, invited him to the United States to give a lecture series as part of that institution’s 20th anniversary. The lectures were published in the American Journal of Psychology and later in book form, serving as an appropriate introduction to psychoanalytic thought for American audiences.

As psychoanalysis was perceived as radical by the medical establishment, early believers form their own associations and found the journals to disseminate their competing views. However, Freud’s demand for strict loyalty to his interpretation of psychoanalysis led to some discord within the movement [perhaps for the betterment of the field itself as many branches kept the fundamental concept of unconscious (Id), pre-conscious (SuperEgo), and conscious (Ego) but fused other theoretical and scientific perspectives to explain and treat a range of mental illnesses]. Carl Jung broke away in 1914, so that by the following year, three arrival groups existed within the psychoanalysic movement. Nevertheless, Freud’s views continued to evolve. Impressed by the devastation and tragedy of World War I, Freud came to view aggression, along with sexuality, as a primal instinctual motivation. During the 1920s Freud expanded psychoanalysis from a method of treatment for mentally ill or emotionally disturbed persons to a systematic framework for all human motivation and personality.

In 1923, Freud developed cancer of the jaw and experience almost constant pain for the remaining 16 years of his life. He underwent 33 operations and had to wear a prosthetic device. Throughout this ordeal however, he continued to write and see patients, although he shunned public appearances. With the rise of Hitler and the anti-Jewish sentiments that arose with his campaigns with the National Socialists, Freud’s works were unfortunately singled out as they were not seen as a scientific endeavour but rather as a Jewish science, and his books were burned throughout Germany. However, Freud resisted fleeing from Vienna. When Germany and were politically united in 1938, the Gestapo began harassing Freud and his family. Pres Roosevelt indirectly relayed to the German government that Freud is intellectual must be protected. Nevertheless, in March 1938 some thugs invaded Freud’s home. Finally, for the efforts of friends, Freud was granted special permission, but only after promising to send for his unsold books in Swiss storage so that they could be destroyed. After he signed a statement saying that he had received good treatment from the police, the German government allowed him to leave for England, where he died shortly after, on September 23, 1939.

 

An overview of the Psychoanalytic System based on Freud’s Research

Before our in depth examination of psychoanalytic theory, it is important to recognise that the theory has an unusually broad focus. Psychoanalysis contains a theory of personality, but it also offers theoretical tools for understanding culture, society, art and literature. It is also a clinical theory that aspires to explain the nature and origins of mental disorders, and that is associated with an approach to their treatment. To give some more sense to Freud’s breadth, consider that he wrote on topics as diverse as the meaning of dreams and jokes, the origins of religion, Shakespeare’s plays, the psychology of groups, homosexuality, the causes of phobias and obsessions, and much more besides. Even as a theory of personality, psychoanalysis is primarily an account of the processes and mechanisms of the mind, rather than an account of individual differences.

In addition to its breadth of focus, the psychoanalytic theory has many distinct components that have also been modified and explored by a range of skilled psychoanalysts, making it hard to integrate into a single unitary model of the mind since they are inter-connected in complex ways.

Freud’s views evolved continually throughout his long career in the collective result of his extensive writings as an elaborate system of personality development. Personality was described in terms of an energy system that seeks an equilibrium of forces. This homeostatic model of human personality was determined by the constant attempt to identify appropriate ways to discharge instinctual energies, which originate in the depths of the unconscious. The structure of personality, according to the psychoanalytic model consists of a dynamic interchange of activities energised by forces that are present in the person at birth. This homeostatic model was consistent with the prevailing views of 19th-century science, which saw the mechanical relations of physical events studied by physics as the term of scientific inquiry. Freud’s model for psychoanalysis translated physical stimuli to psychic energies or forces and retained an essentially mechanical description of how such forces interact.

As the writings on the dpurb.com website are the foundations for the Organic Theory of the mind, we are going to be focused not on the later structural model which repositioned the Unconscious, Conscious and Pre-Conscious across the Id, Ego and SuperEgo, but with the first topographic model (1900 – 1905) adopted by both Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan. This model, has been more influential and is more flexible in accommodating competing view points about the structure of mental life across individuals.

The topographic model refers to the levels or layers of mental life. Freud proposed that mental content – ideas, wishes, emotions, impulses, memories, and so on – can be located at one of the three levels: Conscious (later known as the Ego), Preconscious (SuperEgo), and Unconscious (Id). It is important however, to understand that Freud use these terms to describe degrees of awareness and unawareness, but also to refer to distinct mental systems with their own distinct laws of operation. Unconscious cognition is categorically different from Conscious cognition, in addition to operating on mental content that exists beneath awareness. To convey this point, the three levels of the topographic model was referred to as the ‘systems’ Cs., Pcs., and Ucs.

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The Conscious (which would later be known as Ego with a partial unconscious side, and also “Le Moi” in Lacanian Theory)

Consciousness is merely the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’ of mental activity. The contents of the Conscious are simply the small fraction of things that the person is currently paying attention to: objects perceived, events recalled, the stream of thought that we engage in as a running commentary on everyday life. [This is the main focus of most other branches of Psychology such as Biological Psychology and Cognitive Psychology]

 

The Preconscious (which would later be known as the Super-Ego)

Of course, not all of all mental life happens under the spotlight of awareness and attention. There are many things to which we could readily be attention to but do not, such as ideas or plans we have set aside all memories of what we were doing last week or yesterday. Without any great effort these things or events, which in the present out of consciousness, can be made conscious. Those form the domain of the Preconscious.

The boundary between the Conscious (Ego) and the Preconscious (Super-Ego) is a permeable one. Thoughts, memories and perceptions can cross without great difficulty according to the momentary needs and intentions of the individual. They also share a common mode of cognition, which in psychoanalysis is known as the ‘secondary process’. Secondary process cognition is the sort of everyday, more or less rational thinking than generally obeys the laws of logic.

 

The Unconscious (which would later be known as the Id)

The Unconscious (Id) is perhaps one of the most celebrated theoretical concepts in Freud’s legacy. However, he did not invent or discover the unconscious as is sometimes claimed – versions of the concert had been floating around intellectual circles for some time – but he gave it a much deeper theoretical analysis than anyone before him. Freud distinguished between mental contents and processes that are descriptively unconscious and those that are dynamically unconscious. The descriptively unconscious simply exists outside consciousness as a matter of fact, and therefore include Preconscious material that can become conscious if it is attended to. Freud’s crucial contribution was to argue that some thoughts, memories, wishes and mental processes are not only descriptively unconscious, but also cannot be made conscious because of a countervailing force keeps them out of awareness. In short, mental life that is dynamically unconscious is a subset of what is descriptively unconscious, one whose entry to consciousness is actively thwarted. The Freudian unconscious corresponds to the dynamic unconscious in this sense.

Freud held that the Unconscious contains a large but unacknowledged proportion of mental life that operates according to its own psychological laws. The barrier between the Unconscious (Id) and the Preconscious (SuperEgo) is much more fortified and difficult to penetrate than the border between the Preconscious (Super-Ego) and Conscious (Ego). In addition, it is policed by a mental function that Freud likened to a “censor”. The censor’s role is to determine whether the contents of the Unconscious would be threatening or objectionable to the person if they became conscious. If the censor judges them to be dangerous in this type, the person will experience anxiety without knowing what caused it. In this case, these thoughts come wishes and so on, will normally be repelled back into the Unconscious, in a process referred to as “Repression” [it is fundamental and very important to understand that Repression is something else than a judgement which rejects and chooses, repression is unconscious]. Unconscious material, by Freud’s account, has an intrinsic force propelling it to become conscious. Consequently, repression required an active opposing force to resist it, just as effort is required to prevent a surf board made of white foam to rise to the surface when it is submerged in the ocean.

Under the constant pressure of Unconscious material bubbling towards the Preconscious, the censor cannot possibly bar entry to everything. Instead, it allows some Unconscious material to cross over the barrier after it has been transformed or disguised in some way so as to be less objectionable. This crossing might take the form of a relatively harmless impulsive behaviour, or in the form of private fantasy, the telling of a joke, or in a slip of the tongue, where the person says something ‘unintentionally’ that reveals to the trained eye and mind the repressed concerns and wishes [such as that of a psychoanalyst – as Jacques Lacan proposed: repression can take the form of a metaphor and the brilliant psychoanalyst must be able to decipher a chain of clues with a great deal of verbal dexterity where crossword puzzles may help in training]. Psychoanalytic training teaches how phenomenal such as these can be interpreted, the process that involves uncovering the unconscious material that is concealed within their “disguises” [i.e. forms].

To Freud, dreams represent a particularly good example of the disguised expression of the Unconscious wishes. They offered, he wrote, “the royal road to the Unconscious”. One reason for this is that during sleep, the sensor relaxes and allows more repressed Unconscious material to cross the barrier. This material, transformed into a less threatening form by a process referred to as the “dream-work”, then takes the shape of a train of images in the peculiar form of consciousness that we call dreaming. It is believed, that each dream has a “latent content” of Unconscious wishes that is transformed into the “manifest content” of the experienced dream. This transformation has to allow the Unconscious wishes to be fulfilled while concealing the elements of threat they contain. If the latent content is not concealed sufficiently through the “dream-work” process, the sleeper will register the threat and be awoken [sometimes in shock and sweat]. To avoid this the dream-work may alter the identities of the people represented in a wish. For example if a person has an Unconscious wish to harm a loved one, the dream work might produce a dream in which the individual instead harms someone else or in which the loved one is harmed by another person. Neutralised in this way, the Unconscious wish finds conscious expression.

Dreams also showcase the distinct form of thinking that operates in the Unconscious. “Primary processthinking, unlike the secondary process than governs the Conscious (Ego) and Preconscious (Super-Ego), shows no respect for the laws of logic and rationality. In primary process thinking, something can stand for something else, including its opposite, and can even represent two distinct things at once. Contradictory thoughts can coexist and there is not orderly sense of the passage of time or of causation. Basically, primary process thinking captures the magical, chaotic quality of many dreams, the mysterious images that seems somehow significant, the fractured storylines, the impossible and disconnected events. To Freud, dreams are not simply night-time curiosities, but reveal how the greater part of our mental life proceeds beneath the shallows of conscience.

 

Foundations of the later “Structural” model: concepts to consider and synthesise with the Topographic Model

We are now going to have a look at the later version of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory where the Unconscious [this time referred to as the Id] is still the fundamental concept, however decades later in 1923, another 3-way dissection of the mind was proposed. This time Freud called it the Psychic Apparatus and the 3-way dissection of the mind was defined in terms of distinct mental functions instead of levels of awareness and their associated processes. In original German, the terms das Es (Id), Ich (Ego) and Über-ich (Super-Ego) were used. As we take a look at these structures, it is important to remember that they were not proposed as real underlying entities, but rather as a sort of conceptual shorthand for talking about different kinds of mental processes. Our aim here is to synthesise the logical concepts of the Structural Model with the Topographic Model of the Unconscious (Id), the Conscious (Ego) and the Preconscious (Super-Ego), however although it is convenient to talk about the Id, Ego and Super-Ego “doing” such-and-such or being “in charge of” so-and so, it is important to remember that they were not intended to refer to distinct sub-personalities within the individual.

Structural Model_Id_Ego_SuperEgo_IcebergModel_dpurb_1200

The Id [completely/dynamically unconscious] represents the part of the personality that is closely linked to the instinctual drives that are the fundamental sources of motivation in Freudian theory. According to Freud, these drives are chiefly sexual and aggressive in nature. On one hand we have the “life instincts” concerned with preserving life and binding together new “vital unities”, the foremost expression of this concern being loving sexual union. Opposed to these life instincts, on the other side, we have the set of “death instincts”, whose corresponding concern is with breaking down life and destroying connections, its goal is a state of entropy or nirvana, where there is a complete absence of any form of tension [motivation]. The most obvious form of these instincts were aggressiveness expressed inward towards the self or outward towards others. Freud proposed that the instinctual drives were powered by a reservoir of instinctual “psychic energy” grounded in basic biological processes. The sexual form of this energy was referred to as libido.

Although Freud proposed that the Id is a biological underpinning, its contents are psychological phenomena such as wishes, ideas, intentions, and impulses. These phenomena are therefore sometimes described as “instinct- derivatives”. Some of these phenomena are innate, whereas others have been consigned to the Id by the process of repression. All of the Id’s contents, however are unconscious.

Freud proposed that the Id operated according to what he called the “pleasure principle”. Simply stated, this principle states that the Id’s urges strives to obtain pleasure and avoid “unpleasure” without delay. Pleasure, in Freud’s understanding, represented a discharge of instinctual energy which is accompanied by a release of tension. In short, the Id strives to satisfy its drives enabling immediate, pleasurable release of instinctual energy. It is the most primitive and least accessible structure of personality. As originally described by Freud, the Id is psychic energy of an irrational nature and sexual character, which instinctually determines unconscious processes. The Id is not in contact with the environment, but rather relates to the other structures of personality that in turn must mediate between the Id’s instincts and the external world. Immune from reality and social convention, the Id is guided by the pleasure principle, seeking to gratify instinctual libidinal needs either directly, through a sexual experience, or indirectly, by dreaming or fantasizing. The latter, indirect gratification was called the primary process. The exact object of direct gratification in the pleasure principle is determined by the psychosexual stage of the individual’s development [as explained in 3rd part of the essay on The 3 Major Theories of Development].

The Ego, is another mental function and complicates this picture of immediate gratification. This “psychic agency” arises over the course of development as the child learns that it is often necessary and desirable to delay gratification. The bottle or breast does not always appear the instant that hunger is first experienced, and sometimes it is better to resist the urge to urinate at the bladder’s first bidding if one is to avoid the unpleasure of wet pants, embarrassment, and a parent’s howls of dismay. The Ego, often called the “executive” of personality because of its role in channeling Id energies into socially acceptable outlets [ego is believed to start developing between the ages of 1 and 2 as the child confronts the environment]. The Ego crystallises out this emerging capacity for delay, and in time becomes a restraint on the Id’s impatient striving for discharge. However, it cannot be an inflexible restraint. Its task is not to delay the fulfilment of wishes and impulses endlessly, but to determine when and how it would be most sensible or prudent to do so given the demands of the external environment at a particular time. It operates, that is, on the “Reality principle”, which simply requires that the Ego regulate the person’s behaviour in accordance with external conditions [at a given time or place according to certain rules or laws or conventions, and of course this changes as society redefines “reality” in terms of what it acceptable and not].

Freud emphasized that the Ego is not the dominant force in the personality [unlike Ego psychologists in the US has stated], although he believed it should strive to be. A famous statement of Freud regarding the goal of Psychoanalytic treatment is “Where Id was, there Ego shall be”. By his account, the Ego not only emerges out of the Id in the course of development – beforehand, the infant is pure Id – but it also derives all of its energy from the Id. Freud had a gift for metaphor, and he likened the Ego’s relation to the Id as a rider’s relation to a wilful horse. The horse supplies all of the pair’s force, but the rider may be able to channel it in a particular direction.

Fortunately, this “rider” has a repertoire of skills at its disposal. Freud proposed that the Ego could employ a variety of “defence mechanism” in the service of the reality principle. These mechanisms come in a diverse range, and all represent operations that the Ego performs to deal with the threats to the rational expression of the person’s desires, whether from the Id or the external environment. These Ego defence mechanisms are common processes in everyday mental life, and many of them are carried out by the Ego unconsciously, showing that there is an unconscious part in the Ego.

The Ego being governed by the reality principle, is aware of environmental demands and adjusts behaviour so that the instinctual pressures of the id are satisfied in acceptable ways, and the attainment of specific objects to reduce libidinal energy in socially appropriate ways was called the “secondary process” [the “primary process” being the Unconscious (Id)].

Some of the most well known defence mechanisms are denial, isolation of affect, projection, reaction formation, repression and sublimation.

Finally, the differentiation of the structures of personality, called the Super-Ego, is believed to start appearing by the age of 5. In contrast to the Id and Ego, which are internal developments of personality, the Super-Ego is an external imposition. That is the Super-Ego is the incorporation of moral standards perceived by the Ego from some agent of authority in the environment, usually an assimilation of the parents’ views as the child develops – both positive and negative aspects of these standards. The Super-Ego’s emergence complicates the task of the Ego in regulating the expression of the Id’s impulses in response to demands and opportunities of the external environment. The Super-Ego represents an early form of conscience, an internalised set of moral values, standards, and ideals. These moral precepts are not the sort of flexible, evolving, reasoned, and discussable rules of conduct that we tend to imagine when we think of adult morality, however, instead they tend to be relatively harsh, absolute and punishing; adult morality as refracted through the immature and fearful mind of a child. The Super-Ego therefore represents the shrill voice of societal rules and restrictions, a voice that condemns and forbids many of the sexual and destructive wishes, impulses and thoughts that emerge from the Id.

The positive moral code is the Ego ideal, i.e. a representation of behaviour for the individual to emulate. The conscience embodies the negative aspect of the Super-Ego, and determines which activities are to be taboo. Conduct that violates the dictates of the conscience produces “guilt” in healthy individuals. Hence, the Super-Ego and the Id are in direct conflict, leaving the Ego to mediate. The Ego now becomes the servant of three masters: the Id, the Super-Ego and the External Environment [Societal Rules]. It is now not enough to reconcile what is desired with what is possible under the circumstances. The Ego now also needs to take into consideration what is socially prohibited and impermissible. Instinctual drives must still be satisfied; which is a constant, however the Ego now attempts to satisfy them in a way that is flexibly “realistic” – that is, in the person’s best interests under current conditions – but also “socially” permitted. These prohibitions are often very unreasonable and inflexible, rejecting any expression of the drive with an unconditional “NO”, either because the moral structures of a particular “culture” are intrinsically rigid, atavistic or unsophisticated, or because the child’s internalisation of these structures is simply black-and-white, without any grey area to compromise for an adequate expression of the drive. Thus, the Super-Ego imposes a pattern of conduct that results in some degree of self-control through an internalised system of rewards and punishments.

Given the demands that it faces, the Ego can either find a way to express the Id’s desires successfully, or its attempts to arbitrate can fail. In this case, psychological trouble is likely to follow. If the Id wins the struggle, and the desire finds expression in a more-or-less unaltered and primitive form, the person may experience guilt or shame: the Super-Ego’s sign that it has been violated, and may also have to pay the price of a short-sighted, impulsive action. If on the other hand, the Super-Ego wins the struggle and dominates a person excessively, that individual may become overly rigid, rule-bound, uncreative, unquestioning, anxious and joyless. The forbidden desires may well go “underground” and manifest themselves in symptoms such as anxieties, compulsions or in occasional “out-of-character” impulsive behaviour or emotion.

The major motivational constructs of Freud’s theory of personality was derived from instincts, defined as biological forces that release mental energy. Hence, from the account of the Unconscious (Id), the Conscious [and partly unconscious, Ego) and the Preconscious (Super-Ego), it implies that conflict within the mind’s opposing forces is inevitable, because the demands of society – or “civilisation” – are generally opposed to our natural instincts and drives. Indeed, intrapsychic conflict is one of the fundamental and defining concepts of psychoanalysis. Conflict within the mind is at the root of personality structure, mental disorder, and most psychological phenomena [e.g. artistic expressions of various forms]. The goal of personality is to reduce the energy drive through some activity acceptable to the constraints of the Super-Ego [Preconscious].

Freud classed inborn instincts to life (eros) and death (thanatos) drives. Life instincts involve self-preservation and include hunger, sex and thirst. The libido is that specific form of energy through which life instincts arise in the Id. The death instinct (Thanatos) may be directed either inwards, as in suicide or masochism, or outwards, as in hate and aggression. The notion that personality equilibrium must be maintained by discharging energy in acceptable ways, leads to anxiety which plays a central role. Essentially the view is that anxiety is a diffuse fear in anticipation of unmet desires and future evils. Given the primitive character of Unconscious (Id) instincts, it is unlikely that primary goals are ever an acceptable means of drive reduction; rather they are apt to give rise to continual anxiety in personality. Freud described three general forms of anxiety.

(i) Reality (or Objective) Anxiety
(ii) Neurotic Anxiety
(iii) Moral Anxiety

Reality or objective anxiety, is a fear of the real environmental danger [e.g. heights, depth, fire, etc] with an obvious cause; such fear is appropriate as it has survival value for the organism. Neurotic anxiety comes about from the fear of potential punishment inherent in the goal of instinctual gratification. It is a fear of punishment for expressing impulsive desires. Finally, moral anxiety is the fear of the conscience through guilt or shame in healthy individuals. In order to cope with anxiety, the Ego develops defence mechanisms, which are elaborate, largely unconscious processes that allow a person to avoid unpleasantness and anxiety-provoking events. For example, an individual may avoid facing anxiety by self-denial, conversion, or projection, or may repress thoughts that are a source of anxiety the unconscious. Many defence mechanisms are described in the psychoanalytic literature, which generally agrees that although defence mechanisms are typical ways of handling anxiety and maintaining a sense of psychological stability, they must be recognised and controlled by the individual himself/herself for psychological health.

 

Denial Refusing to acknowledge that some unpleasant or threatening event has occurred; common in grief reactions
Isolation of Affect Mentally severing an idea from its threatening emotional associations so that it can be held we are experiencing it unpleasantness; common in obsessional people
Projection Disavowing one’s impulses thoughts and attributing them to another person; common in paranoia
Reaction formation Unconsciously developing wishes or thoughts that are opposite to those that one finds undesirable in oneself; common in people with a rigid moral codes
Repression Repelling threatening thoughts from consciousness, motivated forgetting; common in post-traumatic reactions
Sublimation Unconsciously deflecting sexual aggressive impulses towards different, socially acceptable expressions; central to artistic creation and sports.

 

Freud placed great emphasis on the development of the child because he was convinced that neurotic disturbances manifested by his adult patients had origins in childhood experiences. And as the last model proposed by Freud, the Genetic Model, explains, the psychosexual stages are characterised by different sources of primary gratification determined by the pleasure principle. Freud basically wrote that the child is essentially autoerotic. The genetic model has been previously described in the 3rd section of the essay, The 3 Major Theories of Childhood Development. [Please refer for more details]

However, the genetic model in psychoanalysis has been extensively revised and most of the concepts are not considered as reliable nowadays due to other theories that have shown how personality continues to evolve and only stabilises around the age of 30. However, the genetic model laid the groundwork for other theorist such as John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth who based their guiding principles to uncover the theory of attachment on pre-oedipal developments first mentioned by Sigmund Freud. These attachment types have been discussed in the Essay, The 3 Major Theories of Childhood Development, and although it may not be completely true for all people, the logic behind the psychosexual stages should always be considered to some extend when analysing clients along with attachment types – not to forget to assess the self-reflective abilities of the person, since this has been proven to have more impact on adult personality, emotional intelligence and attachment types.

 

The Relationship between the Topographic Model and the Structural Model

It is important to assimilate the knowledge from the structural model and synthesise them with the topographic model. It can be seen that although the later model is conceptually distinct from the first model, they do map onto one another to some degree. The content of the Id, of course, lies firmly within the Unconscious, and is forbidden from entry to the consciousness unless disguised in the form of dreams, slips of the tongue, symptoms, and so on. However the Ego is not completely conscious unlike many ego psychologist may claim along with cognitive psychologist, as it has a strong Unconscious component, given that a great deal of psychological defence mechanisms are conducted instantly out of awareness, and hence is sometimes inaccessible to introspection by the patient – hence requiring a skilled psychoanalyst to guide therapy and treatment. The Super-Ego also has an Unconscious fraction, reflecting as it does and often “primitive” and irrationally punishing morality at least as much as it reflects our reasoned beliefs and principles. Although many concepts have been revised and alternative treatments relating to mental illness have also been devised by other schools of thought in psychology, the sheer complexity and uniqueness of the psychoanalytic system has formed a remarkable achievement. Indeed, Freud even had to invent new terminology to express his thoughts, and these terms have become an accepted part of our vocabulary.

 

Psychoanalytic Evidence: From the perspective of Empirical Methodology (Mainstream Science)

Freud ardently believed along with all good psychoanalysts that psychoanalysis is a science, not an empirical science, but a science of the mind that slices not with blades or questionnaires, but with concepts through the linguistic and philosophical realm of a patients subjective reality. It is also fair to consider that Freud himself was an accomplished biological scientist before he developed psychoanalytic theories. Biological ideas are interwoven in his work, as is his concepts of drive, instinct, and psychic energy. Nevertheless, the methods that he used to obtain evidence for the psychoanalytic theory were very different from the reductionist and empirical methods used by the laboratory scientists or the statistical psychologists with their quantified questionnaires exploring basic “traits”. As an anatomist and physiologist, Freud made systematic observations of living and dead organisms, and conducted controlled experiments. Hence, he must have come to the same conclusion as ourselves, which is, mental life cannot be fully explained by the mechanical explanations, although a lot can be learnt from understanding the physiology of the brain, but the “software” itself, that generates the mind, is an entity that empirical science comes short in terms of its methodologies. Hence, as a psychoanalyst, Freud introspected and speculated about his own mental life, and listened closely to what his patients told him during sessions of psychoanalytic therapy. If is quite clear, that dissecting an eel is completely different from dissecting a personality with all its complexities, and that observing the stream of one’s consciousness or another’s speech is very different from conducting a controlled experiment with observable variables. So, psychoanalytic evidence is clearly unlike the evidence on which most “hard physical sciences” are based.

However, it is important to understand that the critique of psychoanalysis from the methodology of empirical science may not be rational. Because psychoanalysis was never intended to be a mechanical science, although it learns from neuroscience of certain aspects of the physiology of the brain. These questions about Empirically Supported Treatment (EST) came to the forefront of psychotherapy literature in 1993, when Division 12 of the American Psychological Association worked to publish a list of criteria for what constitutes EST (Chambless, et al., 1996; Task Force on Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures, 1995; Taskforce on Psychological Intervention Guidelines, 1995). A list of treatments were published that we empirically supported and very few psychodynamic treatments were included, nor were interpersonal or humanistic therapy included. Not surprisingly, these guidelines and list became anything but unifying for psychotherapists and psychotherapy researchers.

Westen, Novotny and Thompson-Brenner (2004) made some important critiques of the literature on ESTs. They noted that ESTs are often designed for a single, Axis I disorder, and patients are screened to maximise their homogeneity and to minimise their diagnostic comorbidity. Treatments are manualised and brief, and outcomes are assessed often by reductions in the primary symptom reduction for that particular disorder. Westen et al. suggested that EST researchers always tend to assume the following:

  • Psychopathology is highly malleable
  • Most patients can be treated for a single problem or disorder
  • Psychiatric disorders can be treated without much attention to underlying personality factors
  • Experimental methodology used to develop ESTs has ecological validity in clinical practice

Westen et al. (2004) basically contended that these assumptions are not valid, not to say wrong. There is considerable diagnostic comorbidity, making most patients ineligible to participate in EST research trials. There also is considerable stability of psychopathology of psychiatric symptoms, even after “successful” completion of EST. And clinicians of all theoretical orientations see patients well beyong the time allotted in treatment manuals (see Morrison, Bradley, & Westen, 2003; Thompson-Brenner, Glass, & Westen, 2003; Westen & Morrison, 2001 for an excellent review of these issues).

Norcross (2002a) offered an additional perspective on why the EST literature has been so controversial. First, he explained that EST research rarely addresses the fact “that the therapist is a person, however much he may strive to make himself an instrument of the patient’s treatment” (Orlinsky & Howard, 1977, p.567 as cited by Norcross 2002a). This idea has been demonstrate very well in empirical literature. For example, Wampold (2001) concluded in a meta-analysis of psychotherapy studies that the qualities of the therapist play a much stronger role in the outcome of treatment that does the treatment itself. Second, Norcross stated that therapy research has savagely neglected the important question of studying the therapy relationship. Instead, the focus has been more on the application and mastery of a technique (not a relationship). Third, who the patient is affects treatment outcome. As attention has been directed towards the study and implementation of psychotherapy techniques to different categories of disorders, small attention has been given to the patient characteristics that affect outcome, such as comorbid conditions, capacity for insight, and a history of interpersonal relatedness.

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies certainly are related to these issues. Analytic and Dynamic models of therapy are very focused on the behaviour and qualities of the therapist, with special attention to issues of the therapeutic alliance, neutrality, transference, and countertransference.

Freud's Couch at Freud Museum London

The couch that started everything: Freud’s psychoanalytic couch at the Freud Museum in London

It is important to also consider that one’s training in how to conduct psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy is focused on how therapists present themselves and how patients respond to this. Such a focus automatically puts the therapeutic alliance at the centre of attention, something that has taken on more interest over the years (Fairbairn, 1952; Greenberg, 1986, 2001a; Pine, 1998; Stolorow, Atwood & Brandchaft, 1994; Wallerstein, 2002). Psychoanalysts have also recognised that the personality and qualities of the patient affect how therapy should be conducted (e.g., Gabbard, 2000, 2004); that is, one approach to working with patients does not fit all patients. Furthermore, many psychotherapists have been reluctant to allow their therapy relationships to be subject to empirical investigation (Bornstein, 2005), as a form of respect for the privacy of their clients, making it very hard to provide more objective data that the support the validity of psychoanalysis. In contrast, other schools of thoughts derived from the behavioural school and the medical fields have very willingly offered their data for empirical investigations.

Often accompanying this philosophical criticism regarding scientific testability is a factual criticism that psychoanalysts have seldom tried to test their theories scientifically. This criticism may have some truth to it, however many psychoanalysts have responded to the call for more scientific inquiry by asserting that it is unnecessary and that clinical evidence of the treatments curing mental illness of various types is quite sufficient.

FIGURE B - SUCESS RATES WITH ADULTS & CHILDREN

Success Rates of Psychotherapy with adults and children, and Therapy from other schools of thought [traditions] based on Effect Sizes from Meta-analyses / Source: dpurb.com

Other psychoanalysts have argued that scientific support for their theories is irrelevant. Psychoanalysis, they suggest, is not an empirical science, but a science of subjective experience and linguistic dissection, so it is inappropriate to judge it by the mainstream reductionist empirical scientific standards of modern day academia.

Many see psychoanalysis as a “hermeneutic” discipline, an approach to interpretation which is rather like a school of literary criticism or biblical scholarship. To them, psychoanalytic theory is a way to decipher mental life, an interpretative technique for uncovering meaning. Its goal, they say, is to understand psychological phenomena in terms of their underlying reasons rather than explaining them as objective science in terms of causes. Some have gone so far as to suggest that the goal of psychoanalytic understanding is not to ascertain literal or scientific truth – for example, what “truly happened in a person’s past to make them the way they are today” – but instead to formulate “narrative truth”, a story that gives coherent meaning to the person’s experiences [from their perspective in terms of what matters to them] (Spence, 1980).

LePromeneurSolitaire-dpurb-com-1200

Photographie: Danny D’Purb © 2018

It would also be fair to acknowledge that there is something quite “special” about psychoanalytic evidence, for all its empirical flaws. A completed psychoanalytic treatment may sometimes [depending on the type of patient] occupy four or five sessions each week over a period of several years, amounting to perhaps 1000 hours in which the analyst listens closely to the patient’s innermost thoughts. These thoughts, often too intimate and raw to be shared even with loved ones, range widely over the patient’s personal history and lived experiences. They are recounted in a wide variety of mood-states and frames of mind. These millions of spoken words and feelings may not represent the kind of systematically and objectively collected data on which the scientific theory of personality [that the hardcore empiricist loves] can easily be built. However, it is hard to declare that the analyst does not understand the patient’s personality better than someone who might interpret the patient’s responses, dashed off in a matter of minutes, to a trait questionnaire.

Indeed, there is something valuable about psychanalytic evidence, but it is very hard to build an empirical theory out of it since we are not dealing with matters of hard sciences [e.g. biology, physics, chemistry, or astronomy], but the mind of human beings that embodies their whole existence and worlds.

 

Empirical Evidence for the Existence of Unconscious Processes

More and more psychoanalytic thinkers and sympathisers are starting to find creative ways to test psychoanalytic hypotheses in rigorous empiricistic ways to conform with academic science, despite all the difficulties that this involves. This research is now very extensive, and therefore difficult to summarise. However, two very broad conclusions can be drawn from it. First, specific Freudian claims typically fail to receive experimental support but do work in treating mentally ill patients in clinical practice. For example, repression, castration anxiety and penis envy [although Adler suggested that this should be expressed symbolically as women’s frustration at not being able to match male dominance in society] cannot be experimentally demonstrated. Dreaming does not seem to preserve sleep by disguising latent wishes, and there is very little evidence to back up the theory of Psychosexual stages, although it influenced the Theories of Attachment devised by John Bowlby. However, more general Freudian concepts have often received a good deal of scientific support.

There is today, plenty of evidence to suggest the existence of unconscious mental processes, for the existence of conflict between these processes and conscious cognition, and for the existence of processes resembling some of the defence mechanisms. 2 illustrative studies can support his work. First, Fazio, Jackson, Dunton and Williams (1995) found that people who sincerely profess to having absolutely no racial prejudice can be shown to associate negative attributes with Black faces more than White faces in a laboratory task. This finding which has been replicated countless times by social cognition researchers, shows that the conscious attitudes of individuals may conflict with their “implicit” attitudes [unconscious]. Second, Adams, Wright and Lohr (1996) hooked male subjects up to a daunting instrument called the penis plethysmograph, which measures sexual arousal by gauging penile circumference. It was found that men who reported strong anti-gay (homophobic) attitudes demonstrated an increased arousal when shown videos of homosexual acts, whereas non-homophobic men did not. This finding seems to reveal some form of defence mechanism consistent with the psychoanalytic view that homophobia is a reaction formation against homoerotic desires. However, none of these illustrative studies can be considered as completely conclusive, and all have been controversial and subjected to various interpretations. For example, anxiety, shock, or anger rather than sexual arousal may have caused the increased penile blood flow of Adams et al.’s homophobic subjects.

These experiments prove that with enough creative ingenuity, some psychanalytic propositions can be scientifically tested. Doing so should contribute to the important task of sifting what is worth retaining in psychoanalytic theory for strict empiricists of the hard sciences.

 

Unconscious Processes: Integrating Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychodynamic Theory

In various ways, the evidence for the existence of mental processes that are outside of direct conscious awareness are apparent in every scenarios of life. Here are some examples:

  1. We sometimes cannot remember the name of a particular person of importance, only to be able to recall it hours or days later at a time and place when knowing the name is not required
  2. Despite one’s intention to offer some control over the process, dreaming appears to occur at its own timing and pace.
  3. On September 11, 2001, and the days following, many Americans watched hours of news report focussed on the same attacks on the United States. Although deeply upset by the contents, many individuals could not stop themselves from watching these videos, saying that it was as if something in them drew them to reports in spite of conscious awareness of disbelief and outrage
  4. Many patients who seek psychotherapy are unable to stop unwanted behaviours or interpersonal problems, despite conscious awareness of their harmfulness to them and their life. These problems range from relatively simple [e.g. drinking too much alcohol] to relatively complex [e.g. placing oneself in situations in which one is often taken advantage of or obsessing about one’s body image if certain kinds of fattening foods are consumed].

Other examples are evident too, simple exercises that can be easily performed. For example, consider when 3 lines are drawn in the shape of a triangle with the ends of each line however, not touching one another, leaving a small gap between all their extremities. We can come to realise that, depending on the space between the lines, the image is instantly perceived as a triangle by the individual, a triangle with missing edges; 3 lines that are coming together like a triangle, or just 3 lines at different angles.

When taking into consideration perceptual phenomena such as this [i.e. an example of the Gestalt principle of closure], it is evident that the mind does the following very quickly, without conscious awareness of how the process occurs, yet meaning and understanding are formed.

  • Takes in sensory information
  • Determines what the information is
  • Assembles the information in such a way that a percept or concept is formed
  • The percept or concept is “perceived” and “understood”

The evidence for the existence of unconscious processes is widely known in cognitive psychology. In a seminal paper in the American Psychologist, Shevrin and Dickman (1980) demonstrated how conclusions from the studies of selective attention, cortical evoked potentials, and subliminal perception provide support for the concept of an unconscious mind and posit that “no psychological model that seeks to explain how human beings know, learn, or behave can ignore the concept of unconscious psychological processes” (p. 432). They also noted that the initial stage for processing all stimuli occurs outside of consciousness and that is affects what is known consciously. This early stage is different in how it operates from conscious cognition, and conscious cognition necessarily occurs after considerable preconscious processing. Years, later, their conclusions and ideas appear to be no less true.

 

Empirical and Cases Studies Demonstrating Unconscious Processes

In studies of subliminal perception, which began in 1950s, the processing of unperceivable stimuli and its effect on behaviour has provided interesting results about the unconscious mind. Shevrin and Fisher (1967) subliminally presented participants with a picture of a pen and knee just prior to falling asleep. When they awoke from rapid eye movement (REM; dream stage) sleep, participants’ associations to their dreams were of a pen or knee or included less rational kinds of associations (a finding that had been well demonstrated in past sleep studies). These included words that sound like pen or knee, such as pennant, hen, or neither. In contrast, those who awoke during non-REM sleep, which had been associated with few dreams or dreams that were more rational, had associations such as penny (pen + knee) or related words, such as nickel and dime.

Shevrin (2006) noted that this study demonstrated that 2 levels of unconscious processing – irrational and rational – were taking place. He deduced that once inhibitions [e.g. defences] weaken – in this case, being awakened from sleep – more rational processes overtaken by irrational ones. Surprisingly, the more irrational process observed in this study produced content similar to what was found in severe types of psychopathology: repetition and clanging. In a follow-up study with the same methodology, Shevrin (1973) presented participants with the same stimuli, this time while they were fully awake and more proximal  to entering the sleep state. Again, they found a similar pattern of results in which the type of associations produced varied depending on when participants were awakened.

Even more interesting results were described by Shevrin and colleagues (Shevrin, 1988; Shevrin, Bond, Brakel, Hertel & Williams, 1996; Shevrin et al., 1992), who set out to demonstrate that unconscious and conscious processes operate differently. In these studies, patients were selected who had either pathological phobic reactions or extended grief. They were then assessed via interview, and 4 psychoanalysts listened to the interviews carefully. By way of consensus, the psychoanalyst researchers derived a conceptualisation of the core conflicts for each patient; then went on to select the patients’ words that they believed captured the patients’ conscious experience of the symptoms and words that represented unconscious conflict. These words along with unrelated words were then presented both subliminally and supraliminally to the patients, who were then asked to classify them as belonging together. Using event-related potentials to detect patients’ ability to classify or respond to words in similar ways, the researchers found that words representing unconscious conflicts were correctly classified only when presented subliminally and that the reverse was true for supraliminally presented words; they were correctly classified only when presented supraliminally. Here, we find some sense to Lacan’s deductions regarding the unconscious being structured like language and the linguistic dexterity that psychoanalyst should be able to handle to decipher and understand the fullness of the patient’s mind [conscious and unconscious].

Shevrin (1996) concluded, “…When [these studies are] taken in combination, [they] show that unconscious psychological causes affect consciousness in a qualitatively different way… and that unconscious conflict has an existence independent of the of the psychoanalyst’s inferences from conscious manifestations, an independence supported by brain correlates” (p. 591, italics in original). Shevrin also published reviews of research showing an association between subliminal perception and dreaming (Shevrin, 1986) and subliminal perception and repression (Shevrin, 1990).

In a more recent meta-analysis from more than 100 studies of subliminal perception, Weinberger and Hardaway (1990) found that psychodynamic material presented subliminally had a noticeable and predictable effect on behaviour, suggesting very clearly that unconscious processes affect overt behaviour. For instance, studies by Silverman and colleagues (Silverman, 1983, 1986; Silverman, Bronstein & Mendelsohn, 1976; Silverman, Kwawer, Wolitzky & Coron, 1973; Silverman, Lachman & Milich, 1982; Silverman, Ross, Adler & Lustig, 1978) found that subliminally presented messages of Oedipal content (e.g., “Beating dad is okay”) to male participants yielded more competitiveness in a subsequent dart-throwing game than non-Oedipal messages. [Note: Freud proposed that at the Oedipal stage, a competition between father/son and daughter/mother takes place, before it is resolved in the child gradually adopting the same-sex parent’s values as his/her own in the development of an early form of Conscience (Super-Ego/Preconscious)]

Bradley and colleagues (Bradley, Mogg & Millar, 1996; Bradley, Mogg and Williams, 1994, 1995) performed a series of studies in which words related to depression (e.g. misery, grief, despair) are subliminally presented to individuals who fall into 3 groups: those meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for major depression, those with subclinical levels of depression and those operating as controls. They consistently found that on implicit memory tests, depressed and subclinically depressed individuals correctly identity words related to depression more often than those who are not depressed. Although their findings have not been consistently replicated for patients suffering with anxiety, studies with depressive patients suggest that a level of processing occurs below conscious awareness that increases individuals’ awareness of and identification of depressive material. Clinically, it would suggest that to effectively treat and manage depression, addressing issues related to unconscious sensitivity to depressive material is very important. Given the relatively high relapse rates for depression and other disorders that are treated with methods focussing more on conscious awareness – via cognitive and behavioural therapies (Westen & Morrison, 2001) – it seems that attention to unconscious processes has the potential to effectively address some depressive disorders.

Eagle (1987) provided support for the notion of unconscious processing in studies of perceptual illusions and dichotic listening, a type of selective attention task. For instance, in the Ames room experiment (Ittleson & Kilpatrick, 1951), the ceiling and floor were not parallel, and the 2 subjects stood either towards the front or back of the room. This led perceivers to believe that the people very different in size , despite the fact that they were not. In the dichotic listening task (Lewis, 1970), individuals heard 2 different messages in each ear but were trained to attend to just one of those messages. When asked to repeat what was heard in the trained ear, individuals had less of a reaction time in producing the words when the words in the other ear were semantically similar [the meaning was synonymous / it meant the same thing]. This means that, there was a facilitative effect on performance when a semantically similar word was processed (unconsciously) in the “unattended” ear.

Further studies of patients who have experienced brain injuries provide interesting clinical observations that support the presence of unconscious processes. Milner, Corkin and Teuber (1968) reported the famous case of a patient known as H.M., who had undergone surgery on his medial temporal lobes to control very severe seizures. We nowadays know that just below the this part of the cortex lies the hippocampus, which is considered as an important anatomical locus for learning new information and storing it in working and long-term memory. Because of the damage done to the medial temporal lobes by the procedure, H.M. failed to remember anything that was new to him past surgery. H.M. however could remember information if he rehearsed it, although it was quickly lost if he was interrupted.

One interesting consequence of this procedure was that H.M. appeared not to have lost all “affective” components of certain experiences. For instance, H.M. had the occasion to visit his mother, who was hospitalised. After leaving the hospital, he had no recollection of visiting her, although he had the idea that something may be wrong with her. H.M. experienced other events like this, demonstrating well that implicit learning was still occurring for “affectively charged” situations and that the unconscious effects of this learning could be identified in everyday life.

Later studies of unconscious affective processing have suggested that there are at least 2 neural pathways that process affective information (LeDoux, 1989, 1995, as cited in Westen, 1999). One of these pathways originates in the thalamus and transmit sensory information to other brain regions, whereby emotional meaning is attached to the information. The other pathway, also originating in the thalamus, sends the sensory information to the cortex, where higher levels of emotional processing and emotional meaning are executed.

Mark Solms has reported some exciting work on the effects of unconscious processes on commonly observed clinical syndromes (e.g., Solms, 2000a, 2000b, 2001, 2002, 2004). Solms has taken a very active role in recent times in integrating the findings of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, which has created a relatively new discipline of study known as neuro-psychoanalysis. An interesting set of case of studies has been provided (Solms, 2000a) on patients who have experienced a strike on the right temporal lobe in the region, where the middle cerebral artery lies. In these case studies, psychoanalytic theory and treatment is integrated into the neurological understanding of the deficits the patients are experiencing.

Right hemisphere syndrome is a neurological disorder consisting of 3 major symptoms: ansognosia, neglect and spatial perception and cognition deficits. Anosognosia is the indifference or outright denial of an illness, which in the present case was the loss of the use of the patient’s left arm and side. Neglect occurs when patients ignore their paralysed limb and side. Patients often feel disgust when they are compelled to attend to the left side of the body, sometimes experiencing a sense of revulsion.

The spatial and cognitive deficits observed consist of defective facial recognition, imperceptions of facial emotion, environmental disorientation, and various kinds of apraxia [the inability to complete an activity involving muscle movement]. There are various theories about the emotional deficit in patients with right hemisphere syndrome. One theory suggests that the stroke affects attentional arousal that is mediated through activity in the right perisylvian region of the temporal lobe, which consequently gives rise to anosognosia and neglect. Another theory has focused on the fact that the left hemisphere is more involved with positive emotional processing and the right with more negative emotional processing. Since, the right hemisphere is damaged in this case, anosognosia and neglect occur because there is little to no processing of negative effect in the right hemisphere. A final theory states that it is the right hemisphere that is dominant for the perceptual representation of bodily states, which include more somatic or visceral perceptions. When this part of the brain is damaged or compromised, the bran can only rely on past somatosensory representations of bodily states, which provide the patient that there is no deficit or problem.

Solms (2000a) described Mr.C., a 59-year-old engineer who experienced right hemisphere syndrome after complications from a mild stroke. Only part of the visual field of the patient was remaining and he would not attempt to compensate for it [i.e. neglect], and he also ignored sensory stimulation that occurred on the left side of his body [anosodiaphoria]. He ignored and minimised his paralysed left arm, referring to it as being “like a dead piece of meat, but not it’s just a little bit lame and lazy” (p.71). Other deficits existed due to right parietal damage.

Mr.C. was “aloof, imperious and egocentric” (Solms, 2000a, p.72). He seemed unconcerned about others and would sit blankly at times staring into space. However, on occasion he would burst into tears or look as if this were the case. These periods however, were brief yet stood in stark contrast to the emotional coldness that he often presented with. During one physical therapy session, Mr. C. was making very little progress in learning how to walk. The physiotherapist reported to the treating psychologist that Mr. C. seemed “indifferent to the errors he was making, and he simply ignored her when she pointed them out to him” (p.74). In a session next day, Mr. C. told the psychologist that the physiotherapist indicated that he had been making mistakes, sounding as if he was confession something. Then, he said that another therapist had asked him to do some activities with blocks but that he could not do it. At this point, the therapist replied to Mr. C.:

 

“…it was difficult for him to acknowledge the problems his stroke had left him with, but it seemed that he was now more able to see them. Mr.C., carried on… [saying] his physiotherapy was “okay” but that his arm had not progressed to the degree that he required. Then, at this point, he suddenly  withdrew from conversing… and began to exercise his left hand and arm with the right one. [The therapist] commented that is seemed as if he could not bear the wait, and wanted his arm to be completely better instantly… [He replied] “I just don’t want my left arm to get weak from non-use.” [The therapist then replied] perhaps it was too painful for him to acknowledge what he was on the verge of recognising a moment earlier – namely that his arm really was completely paralysed – and that the question of whether it would recover or not was largely beyond his control. This comment provoked an instantaneous crumpling of his face and a burst of painful emotion accompanied by pre-tearfulness. [Turning to the therapist] he said in desperation “but look at my arm [pointing to his left arm] – what am I going to do if it doesn’t recover? (pp. 74-75)

 

Solms (2000a) noted that this case demonstrates how unconscious material that was too painful to acknowledge was accessed through careful interpretations. Furthermore, the case example controverts the theory that these patients lack negative emotions or have no awareness of their bodies and their deficits. In Mr. C’s case, it is clear that implicit processes were at work and that the emotional response originated out of the complex, associative networks were formed by this patient’s unconscious processing of the painful loss of his bodily integrity.

Transference phenomena can also be better understood in the light of recent findings in cognitive psychology. To understand transference phenomena, Westen and Gabbard (2002b, pp. 103-104) highlighted important ideas in recent studies of cognitive processing.

  1. More representations consist of memory traces that are multimodal, which include semantic, sensory and emotional components.
  2. Representations of self and other exist as potentials for activation. Because there are potentials, they are subject to modification, which will interact with new knowledge, further developing the self and other representations.
  3. Memory networks consist of semantic, episodic and procedural knowledge, along with differing affects and motives.
  4. Unconscious procedures to manage emotions are defences and may be triggered outside of awareness. Co-occurring motives and affects may also be activated, such that the person may not be aware of either one or the defence being used.
  5. Conscious representation are some of many representations that get activated. Consciousness is a serial processing system, whereas multiple parallel processes get activated that are not available to consciousness.

As may be observed in these principles, Westen and Gabbard (2002b) suggested that transference phenomena represent a dynamic, ongoing process that occurs at the conscious and unconscious level. Because multiple cognitive events occur at one time, transference phenomena can be highly complex phenomena and can represent one of many possible reactions to the therapist, as well as other meaningful individuals in the patient’s life. In fact, multiple transferences can occur. For instance, a patient may feel particularly challenged by his work and may experience some feedback from his female supervisor about his recent difficulties with his job. Suppose the patient’s mother took great strides to help him whenever he felt frustrated in his school activities or work, such that he came to unconsciously expect her to provide assistance during challenging times. At work the patient may have experienced the supervisor’s comments as an invitation for help and assistance. Should no help be forthcoming, the patient would become irritated and disappointed with such a difficult supervisor. Likewise, suppose that this patient’s father was unavailable to help him. He may have to come to view male authorities as uncaring and disinterested in his plight. Thus, in his present treatment, the patient may find himself feeling scared and anxious towards his male therapist when talking about his recent disappointment with the supervisor. An exploration of his interaction with his supervisor may elicit anxiety in the patient towards his therapist whom he experiences as a disinterested and uncaring male. Likewise, he may feel very frustrated towards the therapist  who is not willing to tell him how to manage his interactions with his supervisor, reflecting a maternal transference to the therapist who unconsciously should be offering help and assistance quickly and without much effort on the patient’s part.

 

The Psychoanalytic Account of Motivation

The account of human motivation, resting on sexual and death instincts, has been a big talking point for critics of psychoanalysis from the very beginning. Jung’s departure from the psychoanalytic movement was largely caused over disagreements over the motivational concepts. Jung questioned the centrality of sexuality and argued the importance of spiritual motives. Alfred Adler on the other hand proposed a basic desire for social superiority and a “will to power”. Later writers within the psychoanalytic tradition also sought to expand the theory of motivation to include drives for mastery and competence, and for interpersonal relatedness.

In general, there has always been 2 major issues, the first is whether the sexual and death instinct are plausible sources of human motivation. Second, whether they are sufficient explanations of motivation, or whether additional motives that are not reducible to these drives are needed.

With respect to the first issue, it may be hard to deny [from a universal and organic standpoint] that sexual wishes and drives are powerful sources of motivation, especially if we include “sexual” desires as a part of loving relationships and for bodily pleasure. From a biological and evolutionary perspective it could not be otherwise, since reproductive success is the basic currency of individual genetic fitness, not to mention species survival [in all species including primates and mammals].

From this perspective, the psychoanalytic emphasis on sexual drives – an emphasis shared by no other personality theory – is a very strong point of the psychoanalytic theory, even if we are allowed to disagree and investigate some particular claims that may not apply to some individuals regarding the effects of the Psychosexual stages in childhood as proposed by Freud [which inspired John Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment], or discuss the other drives that are non-sexual [e.g. Romantic love and its expressions].

272 Nat Museum of Women in Art 215_1000_dpurb

From the same evolution standpoint, a death instinct directed inwards towards self-destruction is questionable. However, this negative judgement on the death instinct, which is shared by many contemporary psychoanalysts, does not mean that we need to dispense with the idea of aggressive drives. Aggressiveness could be theorised not as a form of self-destructiveness, but rather as a way to strive for social dominance [among a particular frame, circle or group], i.e. to fend off “attackers” in defence of one’s own “territorial grounds” or to assert one’s personal choice or interest.

The second issue is whether sexual and perhaps aggressive drives are broad enough to capture the full range of human motivations. The answer, is clearly not. Since, we also have drives for achievement, approval, non-sexual relatedness, creativity, self-esteem, and so on? The other question is biologically-based motives that “push” us towards certain kinds of behaviour enough? Do future-oriented motivational concepts, like goals and personal ideals not “pull” us towards desirable endpoints? When these questions are raised, basic Freudian account of motivation may seem limited in their scope, leaving out motives that are socially shaped or personally determined. However, the issue is not so easily resolved, since psychoanalysts may agree that motivations beyond the instinctual drives are required to describe how our behaviour is guided, however it may still be argued that all these motivations are simply multiple layers of the very same instinctual drives. For example, achievement striving could be described psychoanalytically as a socially shaped motive that is underpinned and powered by aggressive urges [that are applied in different forms to achieve our goals, i.e. not in a physically violent manner, but competitively in multiple sophisticated social ways]. On the same note, creativity might be understood as a sublimated expression of our sexual drives [e.g. artistic creations], based on some unconscious desire for unifying and making connections that Freud saw as the hallmark of life instincts.

Victor Hugo La Musique

Traduction(EN): « What we could not say and what we could not silence, music expresses. » -Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)

However, even if the claim that human motivation is ultimately based on a few instinctual drives that govern all living organism, it would still be more enlightening and accurate to patients to describe their motivation in a more complex way, i.e. expressed to meet the sophisticated and multi-layered human societies we live in. So, in the end there is no objective or empirical way to establish the question of motivation with a clear “true or false” – we will have to use logical reasoning and theories about what drives “life” forward.

 

The 2 Major Disciples of Freudian Theory: Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan

The psychoanalytic movement was largely the invention of Sigmund Freud, and his influence far exceeds that of his early followers who subsequently tried to modify psychoanalysis. The major principles of psychoanalysis were redefined and reinterpreted until by 1930 the movement was fragmented into competing views. Nevertheless, those writers were departed from Freud’s speculation retain the basic model of psychoanalysis that conceived of personality in terms of an energy reduction system with three levels of awareness that is the conscious [that contains the Ego], preconscious [that holds the Super-Ego] and the unconscious [the wild Id]. The psychoanalytic movement has been very active since Freud’s death in 1939, and has led to many new theoretical developments influencing all schools of psychology rather than standing still as we have just seen regarding the reconciliation of some fundamental concepts with Cognitive psychology and Neurosciences.

 

Carl Jung (1875 – 1961)

Carl Jung

One of the most fascinating and complicated scholars of this century, Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) was born to a poor family in a northern Swiss village. He managed to gain entrance to the University of Basel and received a doctorate in medicine in 1900. Jung spent most of the rest of his life in Zürich, teaching, writing and working with patients. After reading The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900, Jung began corresponding with Freud and finally met him in 1907. Eventually he accompanied Freud to America in 1909, where he also lectured and introduced his own work to American audiences. However, Jung began to apply psychoanalytic insights to ancient myths and legends in search for the key to the nature of human psyche. Such independent thinking did not meet with Freud’s approval, and there is also some speculation that the Jung made a critical analysis of Freud’s personal life that may have contributed to tensions between them. Freud secured the post of the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association for Jung in 1911, but by this time their rift was beyond healing. Finally, in 1914, Jung withdrew from the Association and severed all interactions with Freud due to the over-emphasis of the defining stages of infant sexuality among other aspects of pure Freudian theory.  Jung continued his own interpretations of psychoanalysis and made several expeditions to study primitive societies in Western United States, Africa, Australia and Central America. His prolific writings on subjects ranging from anthropology to religion provided novel insights to age-old problems of human existence from the psychoanalytic perspective.

Jung’s “Analytical psychology” refined many Freudian concepts and emerged as the first major alternative to Freudian theory (1900); however, Jung retained Freud’s terminology [Unconscious, Conscious and Preconscious], and as a result the same terms often carry different meanings. Jung (1912) renamed the Id as the Personal Unconscious, the Ego as the Personal Conscious [although the term Ego also appears in some of Jung’s writings], and the Super-Ego as the Collective Conscious [although the term Persona also appears in some of his writings]. After that Jung (1912) analytical psychology also added the Collective Unconscious to Freud’s (1900) structure of personality which is part of the Id.

Jung, like Freud, believed that the central purpose of personality is to achieve a balance between conscious and unconscious forces within the personality. However, Jung described two sources of unconscious forces. What is the personal unconscious, consisting of repressed or forgotten experiences similar to Freud’s preconscious level. The contents of the Personal Unconscious [Id] are accessible to full consciousness. Jung’s Personal Unconscious held complexes, which were groups of feelings with a defined theme than give rise to distorted behavioural responses. According to Hall and Lindzey (1970), “… a [complex] is an organised group or constellation of feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and memories which exists in the Personal Unconscious” (p.82). Unlike archetypes [which reflect the cumulative experiences of the entire human race, Homo Sapiens], Complexes reflect each individual’s unique experience. For example, a boy who repressed negative emotions about his mother could become an adult with the complex, experiencing intense feelings and anxieties when images or stimuli associated with motherhood are encountered [because they are dominated by their mothers (e.g. some mothers might offer nourishment only after – not before – their babies stop crying, thus communicating the unconscious message that the mothers are all-powerful].

The second source of unconscious forces, you need to Jung’s theory, is the Collective Unconscious, more powerful source of energy that contains inherited contents shared with other members of a particular group, i.e. it consists of aspects of personality, common to all humans, that we have inherited from our ancestors. Jung here was talking about individual similarities and not differences in personality. As the personal unconscious has complexes, the collective unconscious has archetypes, defined as primordial images evolved from human beings primitive ancestry of specific experiences and attitudes passed on over centuries [after all humans did evolve from basic primates to the sophisticated beings were now are]. Hall and Lindzey (1970) define archetype as “…a universal thought form (idea) which contains a large element of emotion” (p.84). Although modern science has shown that direct environmental influences has more power in shaping the individual mind, some aspects may be retained from evolutionary psychology although it is important to consider the fact that human societies are constantly evolving in more ways than one. At the time that Jung devised his theory however, he listed such archetypes as birth, death, unity, power, God, the devil, magic, the old sage and the earth mother. As Weitz (1976) noted, according to Jung’s Analytical Psychology, archetypes equip humans to interact with particular aspects of their physical and social worlds in a particular manner, thus archetypes are adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint. For example, Jung (1912) contended that all humans possess a “mother figure” archetype that not only gives them readily accessible image of a generic mother at birth but also predisposes them to interact with their actual mothers in a particular manner [e.g. crying, sucking]. Solomon (2003) noted that in Jung’s Theory, collectively experienced archetypes provide basic themes around which personally experienced complexes are organised. For example, all individuals are born with a readiness to seek nourishment from their mothers (the mother archetype), some individuals may find that their mothers use this readiness against them (mother complex).

The notion of a collective unconscious in personality that provides the individual with patterns of behaviour fits well with Jung’s preoccupation with myths and symbols. Jung believed that the adequacies of a society’s symbols to express archetypal images are an index of the progress of civilisation. [A good example would be the Ancient Greeks who after sophisticating their society through the evolution of their values, philosophy & educational system, saw peasants turn into conquerors, sculptors, poets and artists who even went on to colonise countries that later changed the history of those who colonised them in timeless ways / See: L’épopée de la Grèce antique (2016)].

Jung focussed on the middle years of life, when the pressures of sexual drives supposedly give way to anxiety about the more profound philosophical and religious issues of the meaning of life and death. By reinstating the notion of the spiritual soul, Jung argued that the healthy personality has realised the fullness of human potential to achieve self-unity and complete integration. According to Jung, this realisation occurs only after the person has mastered obstacles during the development of personality from infancy to middle age. Failure to grow in this sense results in the disintegration of personality. Accordingly, the person must individualise experiences to achieve a “transcendent function” by which differentiated personality structures are unified to form fully aware self.

Both Jung (1921) and Freud (1905) wrote about libido, or psychic energy, that presumably fuels individuals’ behaviour, however Jung viewed libido in a less sexualised form. Jung redefined libidinal energy as the opposition of introversion – extraversion in personality, bypassing Freud’s extreme sexual emphasis. Extraversion forces are directed externally of the people and the environment, and then nurture self-confidence. Introversion leads the person to an inner direction of contemplation, introspection and stability. Jung (1921) believed that all individuals are capable of experiencing introversion as well as extraversion over time, however, individuals at any particular point in time may be characterised as experiencing either introversion or extraversion. The opposing energies must be balanced for the proper psychological functioning sensation, thinking, feeling and intuition. An imbalance between extraversion introversion is partly compensated for in dreams. Indeed, for Jung dreams have important adaptive value in helping the person maintain equilibrium. Jung has been praised for developing a dichotomy of flow of psychic energy [i.e. introversion vs extraversion] that has been recast as one of the major personality traits in various trait theories [for empiricists who believe the main focus should be the “conflict-free” conscious part of the ego, to which many basic concepts of Cognitive Psychology can be applied].

In addition to introversion versus extraversion as a pair of opposing directions of flow of psychic energy [i.e. inwards versus outwards], Jung (1921) postulated that thinking vs feeling and sensing vs intuition represent 2 pairs of opposing modes of adaptation and functioning.

As Jung grew older, his writings increasingly came to emphasise mysticism and religious experiences, domains usually ignored by mainstream empirical psychology. Out of all the early founders of psychoanalysis, Jung held views in sharpest contrast to those of empiricism. However, he offered a unique treatment of critical human issues that had not been systematically studied by psychologists and still remain in the realm of speculative philosophy. Perhaps Jung was more of a philosopher than a psychologist, and he provoked and confronted issues not readily accommodated in other systems of psychology.

 

Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981)

Jacques Lacan

One of the most famous post-Freudian development, especially popular in Europe and South America, was initiated by the colourful French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Lacan developed psychoanalytic theory in radically new directions that relied heavily on linguistic theory and other intellectual trends in the late 20th-century France, such as the structuralist movement. It was proposed that the Unconscious is structured like a language, so that its operations can be likened to linguistic phenomena [e.g. repression was likened to a metaphor]. Hence, to uncover unconscious material the psychoanalyst must decipher a chain of clues with a great deal of verbal dexterity. Lacan also held that the ego, although conscious and able to orchestrate a wide range of operations, is not a complete organ of self-control as ego psychologists from the US maintained, but largely also an unstable and ultimately illusory sense of personal unity. To Lacan, our sense of wholeness is a fiction and our selves are profoundly “de-centred” around a tissue of identifications with people [and characters] we have known [directly or indirectly exposed to – this extends to the arts, fictional characters, mentors, etc].

According to Lacan’s (1973/1977) version of Psychoanalytic Theory, Ego Psychologists [e.g. Anna Freud, Heinz Hartmann, Erik Erikson] and Object Relations Theorists [e.g. Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Ronald Fairbairn] had strayed too far from Freud’s original (1900, 1923) original version of psychoanalytic theory. This is even in direct contrast to Jacques Lacan’s own mentor, Ego Psychologist Rudolph Loewenstein who was also a close associate and collaborator of Ego Psychologist Heinz Hartmann.

Lacan, however, seems to have set the record straight in accentuating the fundamental and widely accepted foundations of psychoanalysis by advocating a “return to Freud” [not Anna Freud’s (1923) version of Ego Psychology], but rather to Sigmund Freud’s Topographic Model of the 1900 that defined the mind into 3 levels of awareness, i.e. the Unconscious, the Preconscious and the Conscious.

Rocha (2012) noted that Lacan (1973/1977) was especially concerned with the Unconscious [l’inconscient] as the “ideal worker” within individuals’ personality structures. In a 1973 television interview, Lacan famously argued that the Unconscious does not “think, nor calculate, nor judge; the unconscious simply works!” Lacan contended that like the ideal worker in a capitalist society, the Unconscious generates a product in compliance with rigid, hierarchical rules and regulations – in particular, the product of unthinking and unquestioning fulfilment of individuals’ desire – which seems like something psychoanalysis should address and change for a humane, intelligent and creative civilisation.

As for dreams, Lacan argued convincingly that dreams are important products of the Unconscious that allow individuals to “feel” [at least during the sleeping state] that they have fulfilled their desire, however, dreams may also contain anxiety-provoking contents that individuals do not desire. As Meyer (2001) interestingly pointed out, in Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory, the problem of the Unconscious (Id) in finding expression is the problem of discourse with the “Other”. Indeed, infants enter the world without knowing how to communicate their desire to caregivers via language, with its own rules and structure. It is also to be noted that in Lacanian Theory of Psychoanalysis, infants’ desire arises from the “loss and longing” that they experience when they are separated from their caregivers [especially their mothers] – precisely the person from whom the infants first learn early forms of communication [language]. Waintrater (2012) also pointed out that in Lacan’s Theory, individuals’ desire are not solely tied to infantile sexuality. If anything, Lacan’s concept of unconscious desire complements John Bowlby’s (1969) concept of infants’ need for attachment.

Malin (2011) pointed out that in Lacanian Theory, a major event in infants’ personality and social development is the mirror stage, when infants enter into language as a uniquely human form of interaction with all caregivers in the child’s environment [although infants are not likely to consciously experience language prior to age 2]. As Luepnitz (2009) noted, Lacan believed that infants often enter into language at a crucial point when they literally recognise themselves in a mirror, with caregivers [i.e. can include others such as teachers rather than direct parents] pointing to the reflection and approvingly saying to the infants, “Look, that’s you!” – even if infants are unlikely to remember the event in itself.

Rene Magritte - Not To Be Reproduced (1937)

« Not to be reproduced » by René Magritte, 1937

And as Hivernel (2013) noted, the 2 major outcomes of the mirror stage are the emergence of the Subject (i.e., individuals’ gradual awareness regarding their uniqueness) and the Other (i.e. individuals’ gradual awareness regarding the rest of humanity, to whom they are connected to varying degrees). A further major outcome of the mirror stage is the birth of the Ego, and infants may experience joy at this moment, which occurs (and, in fact, is necessary) before infants can truly understand the power of symbols in language. However, as already mentioned, one of the unfortunate outcomes of the mirror stage was that infants gradually begin to look outward, and not inward in search for identity; and such external orientation toward individuals’ own identity is doomed to fail. This seems to make perfect sense even from the objective and mechanistic outlook that the Organic Theory considers; i.e., any organism whose reality or sense of it is based on the geographical mental conditioning of a group of organisms [about 4 or 5] will have a limited perspective of reality and lack a wider outlook of the world as it truly is.

Gillett (2001) noted that, in Lacan’s view, language does not perfectly convey individuals’ desire to other persons, partly because individuals do not fully understand their own desire, and partly because language is an inherently social medium that can lead to misunderstanding as well as understanding between individuals and other persons. Language however is a very powerful social medium [as can be seen also from the essay, The Concept of Self]

Le Langage et la Réalité dpurb 1200

Traduction(EN): « There has always been something special about language because language creates reality. Language reveals the truth of the subject and adds to reality what was not there before. Hence, the difference between truth and reality is that truth adds to reality what was not there before. Empiricists who study traits should remember that constructs would not exist if they had not first been created through language. Hence language, creates reality! » -Danny J. D’Purb

Lacan proposed that the unconscious is structured like language. In the unconscious as well as in the acquisition of language, individuals may follow rules regarding the use of symbols without having deliberately learned [and without having overtly been taught] those rules [something “special” and even “mystical” about language]. In addition the unconscious [like language] is regarded as a “network of signifiers” with the term signifier (le significant) referring to any symbol that is used [on its own, or in combination with other symbols] to stand in for, or to represent, something else [the signified – le signifié].

The Symbolic [which is constructed largely via language] is one of the aspects of the Subject that is revealed via individuals’ dreams. Other structural components [or registers] of the Subject that are revealed via dreams are the Imaginary and the Real. Lacan argued that the psychanalyst’s interpretation of dreams can be viewed as analogous to a linguist’s translation of a language, unearthing the meaning that particular symbols hold for an individual [e.g. a client in psychotherapy].

Lacan noted that a specific difficulty that arises when psychoanalysts interpret the content of clients’ dreams is that, by the time the clients have awakened a large portion [if not most or all] of the dream has vanished, and this can be problematic if clients are reflecting on dreams that they experienced several year (decades?) ago. According to Lacanian Theory, Marder (2013) noted that dreams are oriented towards future interpretation, by dreamers themselves or by someone else (e.g. Psychoanalysts). Hence, truly important content are likely to survive clients’ transition from sleeping to waking states.

Lacan argued as Stockholder (1998) noted, that Freud’s (1923) Structural model, i.e. the later version of his Psychoanalytic Theory with its dictinctions among Id, Ego and Super-Ego, had distorded the true meaning of the first Topographic Model. And perhaps rightly observed, since the Ego was found to have an unconscious element in generating defence mechanisms outside the awareness of the patient when before it was just an element of the Conscious, i.e the Ego, le Moi, was a component of the Conscious, as a level of consciousness and not dissected into distinct mental functions. However, they can be synthesised and enhanced, as we are doing with Freud, Jung and Lacan along with other discoveries in the realms of Neuroscience and Cognitive-Psychology to explore the psychology of the singular organism and its powers of definition to a level that no other psychologist has attempted to before our endeavour.

Lacan’s theory indeed, does not place great emphasis on the personality structures of Id, Ego and Super-Ego, but rather relocates the Ego and Super-Ego across the Unconscious, Preconscious and Conscious, referring to the Ego as “Le Moi” in some of his writings. And unlike US Ego psychologists who considered the Ego as the dominant component that should be worked on, Lacan argued against such irrational therapy to declare that the true goal of psychotherapy should be therapists’ unearthing the clients’ unconscious desire via the “talking cure” of psychoanalysis – not strengthening the Ego [mindlessly, as this may leave individuals in a state of delusion without an ego adjusted to their abilities – and may even lead to individuals allowing their Ego to dominate the Super-Ego and favour irrational release of the Id’s psychic energy without any remorse or rational control].  This is in direct contrast to the Ego Psychologists’ perspective. To Lacan, psychoanalyts should adopt the role of the Other as a counterpart to the clients’ Subject, thus making it possible for clients to peer beneath their own conscious (typically not completely true) narratives, into their unconscious (and “true”) desire(s) [and perhaps guide or help the patient to realise their dreams within the realms of reality within civilised society] and this should consequently adjust their Ego accordingly [to their world(s)].

Lacan was also innovative and challenged the established procedures of Psychoanalytic practice [which promoted multiple sessions lasting an hour or more apiece, across several years] to advocate brief, impromptu [i.e. unscheduled] therapy that could be completed in a matter of minutes. This seems logical since the main factors that influence successful therapy are the relationship between the therapist and the client, but also the aptitudes of the client [which varies from one individual to another depending on their reflective abilities, intelligence and will power]. Since Lacan’s theory is mainly based on French society – one with a history of challenging the limits of the individual in the name of excellence – it seems fair to acknowledge his opinions [in a sense that not all patients require multiple sessions depending on their individual characteristics and response to the relationship with the psychoanalyst and their understanding of their own mental condition and desires] as rational, economical, time-saving and flexible to accommodate individual differences.

However, partly as a reaction to Jacques Lacan’s criticism of Ego Psychoogy [as practiced in the United States], and partly as his advocacy of brief, impromptu therapy, the US-oriented International Psychoanalytic Association barred Lacan from training future psychoanalysts. Despite [or perhaps because of?] the IPA’s decision to bar Lacan from training future psychoanalysts, the proportion of Psychoanalysts adopting a Lacanian perspective has only grown since Lacan’s death in 1981with half or more of the world’s psychoanalysts adopting some Lacanian concepts. Jardim, Costa Pereira and de Souza Palma (2011) applied Lacanian Theory to understanding the personality disorder of Schizophrenia [formerly known as “madness”], interpreting a case study [along with fictional examples from literary works] in terms of failure to achieve an integrated Ego from infancy onwards. Furthermore, McSherry (2013) argued that Lacan’s Theory of Psychoanalysis could benefit mental health nursing practice since various forms of personality disorders [including but not limited to Schizophrenia] can be understood readily in terms of Lacan’s theory.

Malone (2012) noted that Lacan was ambivalent towards the growing tendency for empirical clinical psychologists to align their discipline with the hard sciences [e.g. Biology, Medecine, Physics, Chemistry, etc] and not with the humanities [e.g. Literature, Poetry, Theatre, Drama, Art, etc], and viewed psychoanalysis as ideally informed by both the humanities and by the sciences.

Lacan has been hailed as the “French Freud” who has established a tradition of French psychoanalysis that rivals American and British psychoanalysis in terms of international influence. Although Lacan’s theory has been cast as a uniquely French theory [culturally and linguistically speaking], it has nonetheless struck a chord with many [and, perhaps, most] of the world’s influential modern day psychoanalysts, shattering perceptions across languages and cultures worldwide. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a decade later, much psychoanalytic research in the US itself will seem to confirm Lacan’s perspectives as discussed above.

LesFrancaisNapproventPasLaPolitiquedesUSA

A majority of 80% of French citizens are wary of the US and do not approve its politics / Source: Le Figaro

 

Conclusion: Legacy, Impact & Evolution

Psychoanalysis is a unique movement in psychology that grew out of the same German model of mental activity that produced act psychology and the Gestalt movement. However, psychoanalysis received its immediate expression through the needs of the mentally ill. It was born as a clinical discipline, not an academic development based on empirical methodology to fit a particular field’s reductionist requirements for acknowledgement. For this reason, psychoanalysis, especially as proposed by writers after Freud, gives the impression of an ad hoc movement that develops as particular problems arise – it could be seen as adaptive and constantly evolving. Psychoanalysis did not adhere to the commitment to methodology expressed in those mechanical systems generated by academic research. Hence, there was and still is little interaction between psychoanalysis and those systems grounded on empiricism and reductionist methodologies that are stubborn in trying to capture an entity as the mind when most of the constructs cannot be seen or touched, or accurately measured. Stated quite simply, psychoanalysis and the other schools of psychological models do not speak the same language.

Although different and hardly understood, let alone accepted by common mainstream empirical and academic psychology, psychoanalysis did assume a dominant role in psychiatry. This is completely understandable in light of the origins of psychoanalysis as a response to clinical problems as they manifested themselves. Indeed, psychoanalytic writings enjoyed an almost exclusive position in psychiatry and clinical psychology until the 1960s, when behaviour modification and Pavlovian derivatives based on Behaviourism [such as Cognitive Psychology] began to compete as an alternate model of therapy [Read: the Essay on the Origins of the Cognitive Behavioural Model: Biological Constraints in Learning, which also suggests an unconscious drift in other animals].

Pavlov Dog Labs

Psychoanalysis continues to exert a marked influence on art, literature, and philosophy. This influence reflects major contributions of Freud: his comprehensive analysis of the unconscious. On the same line, literary and artistic expressions are interpreted in light of the unconscious activities of the artist as well as the unconscious impressions of the perceiver. Psychologists today may choose unconscious motivations or simply to refer to subliminal or subthreshold activities. However, any truly comprehensive theory of psychological activity can no longer be limited to conscious aspects of behaviour. Although some psychologists may disagree with some Freudian concepts and interpretations, Freud did identity some dynamic processes that influence the activity of the individual: processes that psychology cannot ignore anymore.

As mentioned earlier, psychoanalysis has a unique position in the history of psychology. Freud did not develop a theory that generated testable hypotheses or other empirical implications. Yet, on another level, Freud accomplished what few other theorists have: He revolutionised attitudes and created a new set for thinking about personality. The findings of other more empiricist theories of personality disturbance have often confirmed many of Freud’s observations. If his views do not meet the criteria of empiricistic study, they nevertheless mark a man of genius and insight, whose influence pervades people’s thinking about themselves in ways that few others have achieved.

The psychoanalytic theory is an enormously complex and ambitious one, and it aims to make sense of a much broader array of psychological and social phenomena than other theories, and does so with a collection of explanatory concepts. Hence, the sheer range and scope of psychoanalytic theory, and its aspiration to be a total account of mental life, should be recognised and applauded. In comparison, all other schools of psychology to study personality look decidedly timid and limited in focus. Even if other approaches tend to have more empirical foundations and hence more credential in academic psychology, they tend to leave out much of what we might want to include in a comprehensive theory of human behaviour. To many intellectuals and lay people alike, any account of personality that does not acknowledge that humans are like psychoanalytic theory portrays us, i.e., driven by deeply rooted motives, inhabiting bodies that bring us pleasure and shame, shaped by our early development, troubled by personal conflicts, and often a mystery to ourselves – is fundamentally limited.

While the empirical limitations are a fact, some of these problems are due in part to the intrinsic difficulty of what psychoanalytic theory tries to explain. Others could be partially overcome if researchers made a more concerted effort to determine which psychodynamic ideas stand up to closer, “scientific enquiry”. However, psychoanalysis cannot be judged only by empirical perspectives, and it would be a mistake to abandon it impatiently, given how much a suitably revised and empirically updated theory of psychodynamics in the future might deepen the studies of personality.

Even for all its failings to the empirical scientist, on some aspects, psychoanalysis is at least partly responsible for several important and scientifically respectable ideas that has always had a kernel of truth and was later developed by other researchers. While Freud’s idea of the dynamic unconscious remains controversial, it can no longer be disputed today that unconscious cognition is now a fact and an uncontroversial idea in cognitive and social psychology, where huge volumes of research now explore non-conscious or “implicit” attitudes.

*****

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Mis-à-jour le 27 Novembre 2018 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

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Essay // History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation

Essay-History-dpurb

Part I: Western Philosophy

The fact that philosophy’s focus has never remained static over time makes its history very complex with the added possibility that most of the early writers may have even been philosophers before historians. The world’s main philosophical trends and traditions can however be traced with a decent amount of precision while considering that the ruling philosophy of any period is determined by the socio-cultural climate and economic context [when it was written and published].

The first Western philosophers, starting with Thales of Miletus (c.620-c.555BC), were cosmologists who made inquiries about the nature and origin of all things; what defined them particularly as a new type of thinkers was that their speculations unlike those before them were purely naturalistic and not based on or guided by myth or legend. The traditions of Western philosophy originates around the Aegean Sea and southern Italy in the 6c BC in the Greek-speaking region which saw its philosophical traditions and teachings blossom with Plato (c.428-c.348BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), who have remained highly influential in Western thought, and who probed virtually all areas of knowledge; no distinction separated theology, philosophy and science then.

As the centuries came, Christianity grew as a major religious and socio-cultural force in Europe (2-5c), and apologists such as Augustine de Hippo (354-430) started to synthesise the Christian world-view with ancient philosophy, a tradition that continued with St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and throughout the Middle Ages.

As the 16c and the 17c were the years that experienced the Scientific Revolution, the physical sciences started to assert their authority as a field of their own and grow separate from theology and philosophy. A new age of Rationalist philosophers, notably Descartes (1596-1650) started their works based on the minute analysis and interpretation of the philosophical implications of the ground-breaking new scientific discoveries and knowledge of the time. The 18c produced the empiricist school of thought of John Locke and David Hume (1711-1776) in the search for the foundations of knowledge, to conclude the turn of the century with Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who developed a strong synthesis of rationalism and empiricism as a school of philosophy. Further, the development of positivist philosophy in the 19c was inspired and based solely on the scientific method and American pragmatism [with the competing philosophy of Utilitarianism and Marxism]. Later, the individual experienced the philosophy of existentialism based on the works of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and in the 20c the discipline of psychology had firmly invented itself as a field separate from philosophy [including many branches such as neuroscience, psychiatry, psycho-analysis, etc].

 

The 20c and Western Philosophy’s influence across civilisation

Perhaps due to its wide use in maintaining reason among intellectuals and society, philosophy had fragmented into different precise and specific branches by the 20c [philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of medicine…]. However at its core, the emphasis of philosophy remained on the analytics and linguistic philosophy due to the huge influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).

Indian philosophy for example shares similarities with some aspects of Western philosophy in its foundations based on the development of logic from the Nyaya School, founded by Gautama (fl. 1c). The tenet of most schools were codified into short aphorisms (sutras) commented upon by later philosophers in the Southern parts of Asia, and India. More specifically the emphasis on linguistic expression and the nature of language which is believed to be similarly important as in the West, but different in theme as India’s language was greatly enhanced by the early development of linguistics or Sanskrit grammar, and the nature of knowledge and its acquisition. In modern times, Indian philosophy has seen an increasing Western influence especially from the social philosophies of utilitarian schools which inspired a number of religious and socio-cultural movements, such as the Brahmo Samaj. The 20c saw the Anglo-American linguistic philosophy form the basis of research, with added influence from European phenomenology present in the works of scholars such as KC Bhattacharya. The trend of Western philosophy as inspiration continued to be disseminated by intellectuals in the East, and Chinese philosophy too which first made its appearance during the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256BC) later experienced Western influence in the 20c, most notably in the introduction of the leftist branch of Marxism which became China’s official political philosophy. Around the same period, a New Confucian movement rose, attempting to synthesise the traditions of the West and the East [traditional Confucian values with Western democracy and science].

As for the African continent, starting from the Middle-East and North-Africa, it may be unsurprising that Western values or philosophy had no major influence in the Islamic territories and Muslim world who had been subjugating non-Muslin civilisations with violent wars [jihad] in the name of their God. The major European incursions and hence influence in the Arab world comes from the time of Napoleon I’s invasion of Egypt (1798) which led to the promotion of Western philosophy in the area for a short time before a backlash from Islamic circles called for a religious and politically-oriented philosophy to counter foreign domination.

Regarding African philosophy, it is to this day a subject of intense debates among intellectuals and cultured circles whether such a thing exists, along with the definition that ‘African philosophy’ may include: for example, many scholars associate the term to communal values, beliefs and world-views of traditional Black African oral cultures, highlighting the rich, long and sometimes violent tradition of indigenous African philosophy [stretching back in time] with tales of supernaturalism and communally-derived ethics by tribes. What seems to be a certitude is that African philosophy is unlike Western, Indian, Chinese and Arabic traditions as there is very little in terms of African philosophical traditions before the modern period. However, the logical question remains, and that is: if African philosophy are works that were created within the geographical area that constitutes Africa, then perhaps all of the writings of ancient Egyptians may quality as African, and also Christian apologists of the 4-5c period like St Augustine de Hippo. Indeed, to further the argument of logic, the whole world’s culture and societies could all be qualified as African, since it has recently been proven scientifically that all humans evolved after leaving Africa.

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Part II: Religious Cultures

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Image: The Atlantic

SigmundFreudOnReligion

The main driving power behind the psychological movement focused on the « Human Mind », Sigmund Freud, was an atheist unlike Isaac Newton who was a devout Christian with complex and heterodox private beliefs

The world’s cultures are generally classified into the five major religious traditions:

  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Hinduism
  • Judaism
  • Christianity

 

Buddhism

The tradition of Buddhism which is made up of thought and practice originates in India around 2500 years ago, it was inspired by the teaching of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). The concept of Buddha is explained in the ‘Four Noble Truths’, which concludes by the claim of a path leading to deliverance from the universal human experience of suffering. One of its main tenet is the law of karma, which states that good and evil deeds result in the appropriate reward or punishment in life or in a succession of rebirths. 

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Dharma day commemorates the day when Buddha made his first sermon or religious teaching after his enlightenment

Division

Dating from its earliest history, Buddhism is divided into two main traditions.

  • Theravada Buddhism adheres to the strict and narrow of early Buddhist writings, where salvation is possible only for the few who accept the severe discipline and effort necessary to achieve it.
  • Mahayana Buddhism is the more ‘liberal form’ and makes concession to popular piety by seemingly diluting the degree of discipline required for salvation, claiming that it is achievable for everyone instead. It introduces the doctrine of bodhisattva (or personal saviour). The spread of Buddhism lead to other schools to expand, namely Chan or Zen, Tendai, Nichiren, Pure Land and Soka Gakkai.

 

Theravada Buddhism in South and South-East Asia

While being nearly eradicated in its original birthplace, the practice of Theravada Buddhism has turned into a significant religious force in the states of Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Traditionally, it is believed that missions in the area by the emperor of India, Ashoka in the 3c BC introduced Buddhism. While the evidence lacks the consistency to be conclusive, it is assumed and believed by most that many different variations of Hindu and Buddhist traditional movements were present, scattered across South-East Asia up to the 10c. Theravada Buddhism eventually acquired more influence from the 11c to 15c as it experienced growing contacts with Sri Lanka where the movement was outward looking. In Burma (now Myanmar), Buddhist states arose and soon others followed, namely Cambodia, Laos, Java and Thailand, including the Angkor state in Cambodia and the Pagan state in Burma. During the modern period [at the exception of Thailand which was never colonised], the imperial occupation, Christian missionaries and the Western world-view challenged Theravada Buddhism [the strict version of Buddhist philosophy] in South=East Asia.

 

Mahayana Buddhism in North and Central Asia

The Mahayana which is the form of Buddhism commonly practised in China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, Korea and Japan dates from about the 1c when it arose as a more liberal movement within the Buddhist movement in northern India, focussing on various forms of popular devotion.

Tibetan Buddhism

Orthodox Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism (a Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism) had been transmitted through missionaries invited from India during the 8c in Tibet. Today’s popular Tibetan Buddhism places an emphasis on the appeasement of malevolent deities, pilgrimages and the accumulation of merit. Since the Chinese invasion in 1959 and the Dalai Lama’s exile from India however, Buddhism has been repressed drastically.

Chinese Buddhism

China’s introduction to Buddhism from India happened in the 1c AD via the central Asian oases along the Silk Route. It had surprisingly established itself as a reasonable presence in China by the end of the Han Dynasty (AD 220). Buddhism had become so successful by the 9c that the Tang Dynasty saw it as ‘an empire within the empire’ and persecuted it in 845 after which the Chan and Pure Land Schools only remained strong, drew closer and found harmony with each other. Buddhism and other religions however was nearly subjugated by the attempts of the Marxist government of Mao Zedong (1949 onwards) when the lands of China were nationalised and Buddhist monks forced into secular employments. Since 1978, the Buddhist movement and other religions have seen a revival in China.

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Allah

Islam

Islam is simply Arabic for ‘submission to the will of God (Allah)’ and the name of the religion which was founded in Arabia during the 7c throughout a controversial prophet known as Muhammad. Islam relies on prophets to establish its doctrines which it believes have existed since the beginning of time, sent by God like Moses and Jesus, to provide the necessary guidance for the achievement of eternal reward; and the culmination of this succession is assumed by Muslims to be the revelation to Muhammad of the Quran, the ‘perfect Word of God’.

Beliefs and traditions

There are five religious duties that make up the founding pillar of Islam:

  • The shahadah (profession of faith) is the honest recitation of the two-fold creed: ‘There is no god but God’ and ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God’.
  • The salat (formal prayer) must be said at fixed hours five times a day while facing towards the city of Mecca
  • The payment of zakat (‘purification’) [a form of religious tax by the Muslim community] which is regarded as an act of worship and considered as the duty of sharing one’s wealth out of gratitude for God’s favour, according to the uses laid down in the Quran [such as subjugation of all non-Muslims, the imposition of violent and controversial Sharia law (a section of Islam as a political ideology which dictates all aspects of Muslim life with severe repercussions if transgressed), learning to adapt behaviour to protect Islam at all cost even if it means deceiving (‘Taqqiya’), etc]
  • There is an imposition regarding fasting (saum) which has to be done during the month of Ramadan.
  • The pilgrimage to the Mecca, known as the Haji is part of the sacred law of Islam which applies to all aspects of Muslim life, not simply religious practices. The Haji is described as the Islamic way of life and prescribes the way for a Muslim to fulfil the commands of God and reach heaven, and must be performed at least once during one’s lifetime. The cycle of festivals such as Hijra (Hegira), the start of the Islamic year, and Ramadan, the month where Muslims fast during daytime are two of the most known practices still misunderstood by mainstream media.

Divisions

Although all Muslims believe in the ideology of Islam and its teachings from Muhammad, two basic and distinct groups exist within Islam. The Sunnis are the majority and acknowledge the first four caliphs as Muhammad’s legitimate successors. The other group, known as the Shiites make up the largest minority movement in the Muslim world, and view the imam as the principal religious authority. A number of subsects and derivatives also exist, such as the Ismailis (one group, the Nizaris, regard the Aga Khan as their imam), while the Wahhabis, a movement focussed on reforming Islam begun in the 18c.

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Islam remains a priority in matters of identity for most Muslims, unlike Westerners who tend to have more nationalistic feelings

Today Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions – probably due to the high birth rate of third world North Africa where it originates along with the strong impositions it inculcates in its adepts such as the subjugation of all non-Muslims into slaves, sexual slavery, forced conversation, childhood indoctrination, honour killings and jihad (a war in the name of Islam that guarantees salvation along with mass migration to promote Islam) – and today about 700 million Muslims exist throughout the World. The constant clash with enlightened movements of the Christian West, with intellectuals such as Dr Bill Warner who initiated the movement for the study of political Islam to help break down and propagate important facts about the ideology of Islam’s political techniques in subjugating global non-Muslim societies, have started to gain major attention from the intellectual crowd [who are active on media platforms such as Twitter, a controversial platform that uses its administrative rights dictatorially, known to restrict freedom of speech, research & factual information that oppose liberal opinions, and many researchers from accessing their archived ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets’, affecting their work and research – a direct breach of Human Rights as specified by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998 – and many have questioned the practice over possibilities of World War III being caused by the USA’s unethical technological monopoly over other Western nations data. Saddam Hussein was assaulted militarily by the UN after breaching human rights]

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Status of Women in the Hadith [purely based on the life, habits & actions of Muhammad]

Islam remains a controversial religions tradition while also being the only religion with a “manual to run a civilisation” as Dr. Bill Warner phrased it, in the Sharia [an Islamic set of doctrines in managing a civilisation – politics, culture, philosophy and economy] which at its deeper core includes the war on other civilisations through jihad, the subjugation of all non-Muslims, the destruction of all non-Islamic historical heritage, forced circumcision of both sexes and a whole set of violent and radical forms of Islamic lifestyle requirements that include violent and sometimes fatal repercussions [for ‘transgressing‘]. Repeatedly France has profoundly rejected Islam as a dangerous religious practice and culture that is incompatible with the values of French society & culture; however the obsolete system of management that is politics remains an atavistic barrier to banning Islam due to the concept of ‘political correctness’ – an invalid ideology created by the most corrupt & untrustworthy adepts of the obsolete practice of ‘politics’ [for reasons that are now being scrutinised in the name of change]. The late Christopher Hitchens was also a prominent speaker on secularisation and particularly focused on countering the atavistic Islamisation of the West which threatens personal liberty, freedom of expression, education, innovation, development, cohesion and socio-cultural creativity due to its rigid doctrines.

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Hinduism

Hinduism does not trace its origin to a particular founder, does not have any prophets, no set creed, and no institutional structure, but instead focuses on the ‘right way of living’ (dharma) rather than a set of doctrines. It embraces a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Variations exist across different parts of India where it was founded, differences in practice can be found even from village to village in the deities worshipped, the scriptures used, and the festivals observed. Those of the Hindu faith may be either theists or non-theists, and revere one or more gods or goddesses, or none, and instead represent the ultimate in personal (e.g. Brahma) or impersonal (e.g. Brahman) terms. Over 500 million Hindus exist today.

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Beliefs

Most forms of Hinduism assume and promote the idea of reincarnation or transmigration. The process of birth and rebirth continuing for life after life is a process referred to and termed ‘samsara. The state of rebirth (pleasant or unpleasant) is believed to be the results of karma, the law by which the consequences (good or bad) of actions reflect when life is transmigrating from one form to another which influences its character. Hindus’ ultimate spiritual goal is maksha – release from the cycle of samara.

 

Literature

No specific text is regarded as specifically authoritative unlike any other religion, Hinduism is based on a rich and varied literature with the earliest dating from Vedic period (c.1500-c500BC), known collectively as the Veda. Later (c.500BC-AD500) the religious law books (dharma sutras and dharma shastras) surfaced; they codified the classes of society (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama), and formed the basis of the Indian caste system. The great epics were added to these, notably the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which includes one of the most influential Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita.

Caste

The concept of Hinduism is founded centrally on the caste system which is believed to have been structured since the first Aryans came to India and brought a three-tiered social structure of priests (brahmanas), warriors (Kshatriyas), and commoners (vaishyas), to which they added the serfs (shudras), the indigenous population of India which may have been hierarchically structured. The Rig Veda (10.90) gives sanction to the class system (varna), describing each class as coming from the body of the sacrificed primal person (purusha). Orthodox Hindus regard the class system which is derived from the caste system as a sacred structure in harmony with natural or cosmic law (dharma). The system of class developed into the caste (jati) system which exists today and there are thousands of castes within India based on inherited profession and concepts of purity and pollution. The upper castes are generally regarded as ritually and philosophically purer than the lower ones. While this practice was outlawed in 1951, a number of castes are still considered so ‘polluting’ that their members are known as ‘untouchables’ [too ‘polluting’ to be touched or meddled with], thus marriage between castes is forbidden and transgressors have been known to be harshly punished.

Gods

Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma are the main chief gods in Hinduism, and together form the triad (the Trimurti). Many lesser deities also exist, such as the goddesses Maya and Lakshmi. It is common to most Hindus to go on pilgrimages to local and regional worship sites with an annual cycle of local, regional and all-Indian festivals.

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Like Christianity & the other major religions, Hinduism too gradually spread in influence across the globe. However, 94% of people who practice Hinduism  are the native Hindi-speaking population of India

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judaism

Judaism

Judaism is the religion of the Jews where the central belief in one God is the foundation. The primary source of Judaism is the Hebrew Bible, with the next important document being the Talmud, which consists of the Mishnah (the codification of the oral Torah) along with a series of rabbinical commentary. Jewish practice and thought however would be shaped by later documents, commentaries & the standard code of Jewish law and ritual (Halakhah) produced in the late Middle Ages.

Communal Life

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Peinture: Sandrine Arbon

Most Jews see themselves as members of a group whose origins lie in the patriarchal period – however varied the Jewish community may be. There is a marked preference for expressing beliefs and attitudes more through rituals that through abstract doctrine. In Jewish rituals, the family is the basic unit although the synagogue too has developed to play an important role in being a centre for community study and worship. The Sabbath, a period starting from sunset on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday is a central part of religious observance in Judaism with a cycle every year comprising of festivals and days of fasting, the first of these being Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s Day; in the Jewish year, the holiest day is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – others include Hanukkah and Pesach, the family festival of Passover.

 

Divisions

Rabbinic Judaism is the root of modern Judaism with a diverse historical development. Most Jews today are the descendants of either Ashkenazim or Sephardim, while many other branches of Judaism also exist. The preservation of ‘traditional’ Judaism is generally linked to the Orthodox Judaism movement of the 19c. Other branches, such as Reform Judaism attempt to interpret Judaism in the light of modern scholarship and knowledge, a process pushed further by Liberal Judaism – unlike Conservative Judaism which attempts to emphasise on the positives of ancient Jewish traditions in attempts to modify orthodoxy.

Modern Controversies

Waves of anti-Semitic prejudice and persecution during World War II have been regular features of Western media outlets’ [mostly Jewish owned] focus, who throughout history have clashed with the Christian influenced heritage of European civilisations, and this ongoing tension between Semitic traditions/philosophies/beliefs and Western Christian-influenced cultures was to take a turn when the rise of a form of « patriotic socialism » [neither left or right, but all encompassing] nationalism across Europe was marked by the spectacular election of the talented Adolf Hitler, who had been the leader of the National Socialist party [Nationalsozialismus later tarnished as « NAZI » by a jew known as Konrad Heiden from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)] in Germany, and implemented the core ideologies of National Socialism [a focus on self-sustainability and socio-cultural and economic independence while creating a healthier – psychologically & physically – nation] with Darwinian influence on health policies, and the arts and a scientific culture of research as an integral part of its core.

The lies surrounding the event known as « the holocaust » based on Communist propaganda, Global Zionist interests, along with the credulity of mediocre politicians across the globe, has today been unfairly implanted in the minds of the ignorant mass media consumer as being the « dark legacy » of a talents such as Adolf Hitler. This exaggerated picture that the media had already been circulating to the disapproval of some leading world figures such as John Kennedy and Gandhi [Article: Quand Gandhi écrivait à son « cher ami »… Adolf Hitler], is still being reviewed by a wave of daring, talented and modern historians of whom many have denied accusations of gas chambers that were not present or inadequate to be used as gas chambers on all of German soil. More testimonies of camp survivors gave notes of swimming pool, orchestras, shower rooms and even a canteen, without ever mentioning gas chambers. Others explained how the media propaganda videos of mass deaths with emaciated bodies were due to the outbreak of Typhus carried by lice which was caused by low hygiene due to the Allied bombing of train tracks which restricted many cities from supplies of food, medicines & sanitation; causing the starvation and death of not only camp detainees but many German men, women and children who were scavenging the streets for food. The shower rooms in the camps on German soil were also documented as working shower rooms that were vital for hygiene and the delousing process.

English historian David Irving was jailed for his revision of events linked to Adolf Hitler while other ground breaking documentaries such as ‘The greatest story never told’ by Dennis Wise keep spreading the real facts that are never part of mainstream media to the new generation of the internet era who seek factual analysis over historical controversies, such as the 150 000 Jews who gave up their heritage and had firmly assimilated German society in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and served loyally against Bolshevism & Communism until the very end.

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The 1290 Edict of Expulsion from England, the expulsion from France in 1306 to name a few & the Chart showing all the times throughout human history that the Jews have been expelled from the locations they had migrated to. Many books over some despicable practices regarding human sacrifices have been written by a range of  non-Jewish intellectuals and thinkers who opposed such vile ancient traditions.

However, the mainstream mind set remains stuck on the theory of the ‘gassing of the Jews by the Germans’ for most, with urgency being given to the Zionist movement, established by the World Zionist Organisation for the creation of a Jewish homeland, which is still pivotal in most relations between Jews and non-Jews to this day, with over 14 million Jews scattered around the world.

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christianity

Christianity

Christianity is a religion that developed out of Judaism, centred on the life of Jesus of Nazareth in Israel. Jesus is believed to be the Messiah or Christ promised by the prophets in the Old Testament, and in a unique relation to God, whose Son or ‘Word’ (Logos) he was proclaimed to be. He selected 12 men as his disciples during his life, who after his death by crucifixion and his resurrection, formed the very nucleus of the Church as a society of believers. Christians gathered together to worship God through the risen Jesus Christ, in the belief of his return to earth and to establish the ‘kingdom of God’.

Despite sporadic persecution, the Christian faith saw a quick progression and spread throughout the Greek and Roman world through the witness of the 12 earliest leaders (Apostles) and their successors. In 315 Christianity was declared by Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The religion survived the Empire’s split and the ‘Dark Ages’ through the witness of groups of monks in monasteries, and made up the basis of civilisation in Europe in the Middle Ages.

The Bible

Christian scriptures are divided into two testaments:

  • The Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) is a collection of writings originally composed in Hebrew, except for sections of Daniel and Ezra which are in Aramaic. The contents depict Israelite religion from its roots to about the 2c.
  • The New Testament, composed in Greek, is called so in Christian circles because it is believed to represent a new ‘testament’ or ‘covenant’ in the long history of God’s interactions with his people, focussing on Jesus’s ministries and the early development of the apostolic churches.

Denominations

Differences in doctrines and practices however have led to major divisions in the Christian Church, these are the Eastern or Othodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, which recognises the Bishop of Rome (the pope) as head, and the Protestant Churches stemming from the break-up with the Roman Catholic Chuch in the Reformation. The desire to convert the non-Christian world and spread Christianity through missionary movements led to the establishment of numerically strong Churches in developing economies such as Asia, Africa and South America.

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Image: Jim Caviezel as « the Lord Jesus Christ » in Mel Gibson’s « Passion of the Christ (2004) » [An extract from the incredible depiction of Jesus Christ’s journey can be viewed here]

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Part III: Science

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‘Science’ derives from the Latin Scientia, ‘knowledge’, from the verb scire, ‘to know’. For many centuries ‘science’ meant knowledge and what is now termed science was formerly known as ‘natural philosophy’, similar to Newton’s work of 1687, Naturalis Philosophiae Principia Mathematica (‘The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’). In can be argued that the word ‘science’ itself was not widely used in its general modern meaning until the 19c, and that usage came with the prestige that the scientific method and scientific observation, experimentation and development had by then acquired.

Early Civilisations

The first exact science to emerge from ancient civilisations is astronomy. Astronomical purposes were the guiding force that led to studying the heavens – so that the ‘will of the gods’ may be foreknown – and in order to make a calendar [which would predict events], which had both practical and religious uses. The seven-day week for example is derived from the ancient Egyptians who although not known as excellent mathematicians, had wanted to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. Chinese records and observations provide valuable references in modern times for eclipses, comets and the positions of stars. In India and even more so in Mesopotamia, mathematics was applied in creating a more descriptive form of astronomy. The ancient Mesopotamian number system was based on 60, thus from it the system of degrees, minutes and seconds was developed.

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The Ancient Greeks

It is to be noted that in all these civilisations, the emphasis had been on observation and description, as the tendency was to explain phenomena as being ‘the nature of things’ or the ‘will of the gods’. The Greeks, who had been looking for more immediate explanations, instead relentlessly examined phenomena and the theories propounded by other earlier thinkers critically. Thales of Miletus initiated the study of geometry in the 6c BC.

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Thales de Miletus (c.620-c.555BC)

At the similar period, Pythagoras had been discovering the mathematical relationship of the chief musical intervals, crucially relating number relationships to physically observed phenomena. Early Greek natural philosophers (today known as ‘scientists) passed on two major concepts to their successors: the universe was an ordered structure, and the ordering of it was organic not mechanical; all things had a purpose and were imbued with the propensity to develop in accordance with the purpose they were fated to serve.

The main voice for such ideas to later ages was Aristotle (384-322BC), who provided a cosmology with the earth at its centre in which everything above the moon was subject to circular motion, and everything beneath it [on earth] was composed of one of the four elements: earth, air, fire or water. The whole system was believed to be set in motion by a ‘prime mover’, usually identified with God.

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This concept was later given a Mathematical basis by Ptolemy (c.90-168AD), an astronomer and geographer working in Alexandria, whose main work [a solar system with the earth at its centre], the Amagest, was revered until the 17c. Aristotle also taught that living creatures were divided into species organised hierarchically throughout creation and reproducing unchangingly after their own kind – an idea that remained unchallenged until the great debate on evolution in the 19c. For Aristotle, scientific investigation was a matter of observation. Experimentation, by altering natural conditions, falsified the ‘truth of things’.

Archimedes (c.287-212BC) was Ancient Greek’s most famous and influential mathematician, who founded the science of hydrostatics, discovered formulae for areas and volume of spheres, cylinders and other plane and solid figures, anticipated calculus, and defined the principle of the lever. His principal contribution to scientific advancement lies perhaps in demonstrating how physical properties can be rendered in terms of mathematics and how formulae thus produced can be subjected to mathematical manipulation and the results translated back into physical terms.

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Archimedes Thoughtful by Domenico Fetti (1620)

The Middle Ages

The pursuit of mathematical theory and pure science was not of great importance to the Romans, who preferred practical knowledge and concentrated on technology. After the fall of the Roman Empire, ancient Greek texts were preserved in monasteries. There the number system, derived from ancient Hindu sources, had given more flexibility to mathematics than was possible using Roman numerals. It was combined with an interest in astronomy and astrology, and in medicine.

Aristotelian thought made an emergence in Christian West in large measure through the work of St Thomas Aquinas in the 13c. Christianity assimilated what it could from Aristotle, as Islam had done some centuries before. Scientific knowledge was still regarded as part of a total system embracing philosophy and theology: a manifestation of God’s power, which could be observed and marvelled at, but not altered. Eventually, Aristotle was proclaimed as the ultimate authority and last word in natural philosophy. His enormous prestige combined with the conservatism of academics and of the Church laid something on the progress of science for several centuries. In the later medieval era and the Renaissance period however, ancient Greek scientific thought was refined, and advances were made both in the Christian Mediterranean and in the Islamic Ottoman Empire. The European voyages of exploration and discovery stimulated much precise astronomical work, done with the intention of assisting navigation. Jewish scholars who could move between the Christian and Muslim worlds were often prominent in this work.

The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution of the 16c and 17c remain up until this day the most defining era in science, and it happened just after the renaissance, where the conduct of scientific enquiry in the West underwent an incredible change. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) refuted many aspects of the already established Ptolemaic model of the solar system where the earth is at the centre of everything in astronomy – where he redefined the system with sun instead at the centre.

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A German mathematician, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who was also influenced by his work concluded that the movements of planets’ orbits around the sun are elliptical rather than circular. Galileo Galilei who is now championed by many intellectuals as the father of modern science was an Italian philosopher, mathematician and scientist in those days who improved on the telescope that had been invented in Holland, and used it to make observations that included the Milky Way and Jupiter’s satellites. Later, his further research convinced him of the truth in the new Copernican system [with the sun at the centre], but under threat from the Inquisition he recanted.

In England, William Gilbert (1544-1603) established the magnetic nature of the earth and was the first to describe electricity; William Harvey (1544-1603) explained the circulation of blood; and Robert Boyle (1627-91) studied the behaviour of gases under pressure – all in the early 17c.

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Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who was to replace Aristotle as the leading authority in natural philosophy for the next two centuries also came from England. He established the universal law of gravitation as the key to the secrets of the universe. In 1687, he published his ground breaking work entitled Principia, which stated his three laws of motion. Alongside Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) he invented calculus, and he also did incredibly influential work on optics and the nature of light.

Cooperation and discourse among scientists and intellectuals had been fostered by the creation of societies where meeting and discussions about their work could take place: for example, the Royal Society in London established in 1662, and the Académie des Sciences in Paris, founded in 1666. Discoveries made by various scientists were used by others in science to advance faster to new theories, leading to science obtaining more status and prestige as a driving force in society.

The 18-19c

The 18c Enlightenment saw its writers play a major part in bringing the scientific advances of the previous century to the wider public and further enhancing the prestige of science as a reliable driving force of civilisation. The scientific method – observation, research, even experimentation and the use of reason, unfettered by preconceptions or dogma to analyse the findings – was applied to almost all aspects of human life.

Chemistry saw significant advances in the latter part of the century – notably the discovery of oxygen by Lavoisier in France, Priestley in Britain and Scheele in Sweden. The Industrial Revolution was a substantial contribution of scientific knowledge’s impact on society and a variety of minds from various fields with various intentions. The discovery of the dye, aniline led to a ‘revolution’ in the textile industry – an example of science’s usefulness to the ‘eyes of the public’, which gradually led to more public support and hence government funding. The École Polytechnique was founded in France in 1794 to propagate the benefits of scientific discovery throughout society. Elsewhere, technical institutions followed that were funded for scientific work – the new era of the professional in science had begun.

Throughout the 18c, botany also advanced when Linnaeus invented his system of binomial nomenclature (1735), while ever growing interest was aroused by the great variety of new species of plants and animals being discovered by explorers, particularly by Captain Cook.

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The French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s (1749-1829) work foreshadowed Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution and made the first break with the notion of immutable species proposed by Aristotle. That particular moment in time also saw geology develop into a science: William Smith (1769-1839), ‘the father of English geology’, was drawn to investigate strata while working as an engineer on the Sommerset coal canal to eventually become the first to identify strata by the different fossils found in them. The epoch-making conclusions of Darwin’s (1809-1882) work on his theory of evolution was accepted by almost all biologists upon its publication as The Origin of Species in 1859, which however did clash with the ideologies promoted by the church. The laws of heredity that had been the work of Gregor Mendel (1822-84) was unfortunately not appreciated in his lifetime – to only later become the founding stone for genetic research. The germ theory of disease was also formulated by the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) who moved into biology.

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Physics also evolved from tremendous advances in the 19c, as the Italian, Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) developed the current theory of electricity, and invented the electric battery and electrolysis [a study which he formulated in French and sent as a letter to the Royal Society later]. Michael Faraday (1791-1867) carried out experiments with magnetism and electricity, and enabled the building of generators and motors. James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) proposed the field theory of electromagnetism which mathematically related the phenomena of electricity, magnetism and light. The existence of radio waves was also predicted by him, which was eventually demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894).

Although science itself had not been of major importance in the very early stages of the Industrial Revolution in 18c Britain, technology by the end of the 19c – influenced by the works of scientists – had led to the development of most of the machines and tools that were to transform life for most of humankind in the developed world in the following century. Germany as a single nation excelled and innovated for the time between 1870 and 1914, where scientific education and applied science became major parts of the educational system, all the way up to the tertiary level. A research culture, with the ability to generate change became instilled and institutionalised to become part of German education, culture & philosophy.

 

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The Reichsadler or Emblem of the Deutsches Reich (1933–1945) with the Swastika symbol

Atomic physics and relativity

The theory that all matter is made up of minute and indivisible particles known as atoms was proposed by the ancient Greeks, and various early 19c scientists such as Newton, John Dalton (1766-1844), Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856) and William Prout (1785-1850) made significant contributions in refining the concept of the atom and the molecule, and in 1869 Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907) conceived the periodic table classifying the chemical properties of each known element to their atomic weight.

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An Atom

Albert Einstein’s (1879-1955) theoretical work gave way to the development of the quantum theory in the early 20c. Einstein’s theory of relativity would incorporate Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory and Newton’s mechanics, while also predicting departures from the classical behaviour of materials at velocities approaching the speed of light. The century’s most famous formula was also provided by Einstein – E = mc 2 – to define the mass equivalence of energy. The postulation of the existence of subatomic particles, the building blocks of atoms and their nuclei, was also made after a series of experiments with ionising radiations. The large energy release created by the splitting of the atomic nucleus predicted by Einstein was demonstrated by Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) in 1919. Force fields and their subatomic particles were studied further in the second half of the 20c through the use of large particle accelerators [up to 27km/17mi in length] with a view to forming a unified theory that would describe all forces including gravity.

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What the laboratory could not provide in terms of information was gained through astronomical observations which would lead to complementary information in understanding the universe on a microscopic and cosmic scale.

The understanding of the atom in terms of a heavy nucleus surrounded by light electrons has led to a deeper knowledge of the chemical and electronic properties of materials and ways of modelling them. Near the end of the 20c, such advancement enabled the ‘tailor-making’ of materials, substances and devices exploited in chemical, pharmaceutical and electronic products.

Genetics and beyond

The study of the basic building blocks of organic life was largely influenced by the study of the atom of the 20c. Research into understanding the nature of the chemical bond and molecular structure applied in biology led to the work on DNA. Investigation by Francis Crick (1916-2004), James Watson (1928- ) and Maurice Wilkins (1916-2004) in the early 1950s revealed the famous helical structure, which has a particular structural feature in that it is composed of four types of proteins, which proved the existence of a genetic code.

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A surge in genetic science was the reality of the latter second half of the century, suddenly unlocking the possibility of cloning and even more controversially, ‘tailor-making’ or ‘engineering’ living beings.

The pace of scientific development has definitely been progressing since the Renaissance and the ongoing Scientific Revolution started in the 16c and 17c. In the 20c, the revolution was exponential, and new information gained from research and experiment is still being used in the applied sciences and technology in the search for newer and more efficient modes of power, tools, and to meet the ever increasing demand for useful and smarter environmentally friendly materials to meet the demands of civilisation while maintaining the fragile balance of our environmental ecosystem due to excessive exploitation and fossil fuel use. The public perception of science is unfortunately only based on its practical applications in everyday life and not on the more life changing matters such as atomic physics or genetics – which are as remote from the average citizen as they have ever been.

Similarly to religion, science arose out of the desire to explain the world around us. The fierce clashes between both institutions have been hard fought, although by the 20c science was crowned as the dominant orthodoxy in guiding civilisation. Yet, with the existence of uncertainty factors and the development of chaos theory, science may be less dogmatic since the Renaissance.

The Scientific Revolution of the 16c & 17c: where science was established as a driving force

scientific-revolution

The Scientific Revolution could be qualified by many scientists, intellectuals and historians as an era born of a thirst of development and knowledge since it started just after the Renaissance, near the end of the 15c to give birth to science as it is known today. Perhaps its lasting appeal to the world is that it helped refine intellectual thoughts and establish the basis for the founding methods of investigation still used by all fields of science today. In fact, the Scientific Revolution is the name given to change in the nature of intellectual inquiry – the way in which civilisation thought about and investigated the natural world. This wave of scientific revolution began near the end of 15c Europe, and until it was accomplished or at least under way, it could be easily argued whether any of the thinkers, intellectuals and scholars of Christian Europe could properly qualify themselves as ‘scientists’.

The medieval mind set

Although the middle ages lacked the sophistication of today’s society, original thinkers did exist. It may be true however to say that scholasticism – the term given to theological and philosophical thought of the period operated within a tightly structured and closed system: the universe was God’s creation where the primary truths revealing its nature and workings were only found in the Bible. As knowledge, the Bible was also supported by the writings of selected authors of immemorial and unimpeachable authority, namely Galen, Aristotle and the Church Fathers. If one wanted to establish the truth in any matter, one would first seek support from such an authority, and if support was found, the case would be closed. The desires to critically challenge while pushing the boundaries was clearly not present as many may have believed. Most attempted rather to move closer to the supposedly ‘true meanings’ of the already authoritatively established or formulated. When Bishop James Ussher as late as the 1650s tried to investigate the age of the world, his attention went no further than the Holy Scripture, and by voraciously studying Biblical chronology, concluded at a precise date for the Creation – 4004BC.

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The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (part of the Sistine Chapel painted in 1508-1512)

Moreover, it was also axiomatic for the times and the credibility of such a powerful voice as the church for no loose ends to be present in God’s original ‘perfect Creation.’ Although the Fall of Man had created feelings of uncertainty into the cosmos, evidence of the intended order was still arguable – there was an underling order, pattern and correspondence everywhere. Things could – in most cases – best be understood or described by analogy with another. Assuming that the one who governs the universe is God, the Sun would therefore be most powerful of all the planets circling the earth, so the king is chief ruler among men, so reason should rule over the inner life of humankind, and even more so the lion must be the king of beasts. Nowadays, it would simply not be revealing much about the lion to claim that its position on the scale of nature in the animal kingdom is equivalent to that of a king among men or the sun among the planets; in medieval times the conversation would be closed here without any space for questioning or clarifying.

The Renaissance and the Reformation

The process of modernising and opening up the workings of the closed system began with the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the voyages of exploration and discovery. Those living during the Renaissance had then possessed new knowledge or had new access to old sources. Many thinkers and intellectuals of the time believed themselves to be part of a movement that was making a significant break with the past to pave the way for a new era of modern knowledge. A process of secularising knowledge was started, prising it away from its basis in theology, and making the study of subjects such as science and mathematics a thing of value in its own right. In northern Europe the Reformers rejected the authority of the Church and instilled in believers the confidence to study the Word of God – and, by extension, His works – for themselves. Voyages of discovery finally made known the existence of new worlds entirely unsuspected by the ancients on earth, leading to the questioning of not only the value of geographical authorities but of other authorities as well.

Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo

The Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) completed his work De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres’). It represented the mature expression of an idea expressed earlier in a brief commentary, namely, that the sun was the centre of the universe and the earth and the other planets revolved around it. The work was published as a book in Frankfurt in 1543 by a Lutheran printer, shortly after Copernicus’s death.

Copernicus’s theory, if accepted, not only destroyed the old earth-centred system devised by Ptolemy, but also made obsolete all the analogies based on that cosmology. The new model however was accepted by few, not even by the popular Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), who himself contributed hugely to astronomy during the 16c through his observations of the stars and their movements. De Revolutionibus was banned by the Roman Catholic Church and remained so until 1835 [292 years].

The Copernican theory was however accepted by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), a German mathematician and astronomer who was Tycho Brahe’s assistant and on his death succeeded him as the imperial mathematician and court astronomer in Prague. Intensive works on planetary orbits done by Kepler helped develop the theory further and provided it with a mathematical foundation. Kepler’s findings on the laws of planetary motion, published in Astronomia Nova (‘New Astronomy’) in 1609 and Harmonice Mundi (‘The Harmony of the World’) in 1619, formed an essential foundation for the later discoveries of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Further significant discoveries in optics, general physics and geometry was also made by Kepler. It may also be noted while considering the still fragile and transitional status of science in the 17c, that he was appointed as astrologer to Albrecht Wallenstein, the Catholic general who commanded the Thirty Years’ War. Newton too was a student of alchemy.

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

The Copernican theory was also accepted by Johannes Kepler’s (1571-1630) older Italian contemporary, Galileo, who first took issue with Aristotle while studying in Pisa. When he was made Professor of Mathematics there in 1589, he disproved Aristotle’s theory regarding the assumption that the speed of an object’s descent is proportional to its weight – a presentation he made to his students to demonstrate the phenomenon, by releasing objects varying in weight from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After his Aristotelian colleagues pressured him into giving up his professional chair, Galileo would make his way to Florence, by the same time he had also inferred the value of a pendulum for the exact measurement of time, created a hydrostatic balance, and written a treatise on specific gravity. From 1592 to 1610 when he was a Professor of Mathematics in Padua, Galileo modified and perfected the refracting telescope after learning of its invention in Holland in 1608 and used – a powerful tool denied to Copernicus and Tycho Brahe – to make remarkable discoveries, notably the four moons of Jupiter and the sunspots, which further confirmed his acknowledgement of the Copernican system which stated that the earth moved around the sun in an elliptical orbit, a system first formed in 1595. However Galileo’s daring conclusions at the time lead to conflicts not only with traditionalist academics, but also more seriously with the Church due to his writings when he was employed as the court mathematician in Florence in 1613. A warning from Cardinal Bellarmine in 1616 instructed the mathematician that his support of the Copernican system should be dropped as the belief in a moving Earth contradicted the Bible. After several years of excruciating silence, in 1632 he published Dialogo sopra I due massimi sistemi del mondo (‘Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems’) in which, in the context of a discussion of the cycles of tides, he concluded with supporting Copernicus’s system of the solar system. The savage religious laws of the times saw Galileo compelled to abjure his position and sentenced to indefinite imprisonment – a sentence commuted immediately to house arrest. After abjuring he is believed to have murmured ‘eppur si muove’ (‘it does move nonetheless’).

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More Progress

The 16c saw major strides in all branches of science, the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) became one of the first scientists to dissect human cadavers. Based on his professional observations, he published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543, ‘On the Structure of the Human Body’), the very same year that Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus appeared. The anatomical principles of Galen were repudiated, and paved way for William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood, explained in a book in 1628. The works of Galileo however had not only had an impact on knowledge itself but on many other intellectuals such as Evangelista Torricelli (1608-47), the inventor of the barometer [a vital equipment for experimentation], and the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1693), the inventor of the pendulum clock, the discoverer of the polarisation of light and the first to put forward the idea of its wave nature

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De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius (1543)

At the similar period, the Irish experimental philosopher and chemist, Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the formulator of ‘Boyle’s Law’, was studying the characteristics of air and vacuum by means of an air pump, created in partnership with his assistant Robert Hooke (1635-1703). The anti-scholastic ‘invisible college’ meetings of Oxford intellectuals, a precursor of the Royal Society, saw Boyle play an active part – his air pump became a powerful symbol of the ‘experimental philosophy’ promoted by the Royal Society since its founding in 1660. In 1662, Robert Hooke became the Royal Society’s first curator of experiments.

The Royal Society gradually provided a forum and focus for scientific discussions and a means of discussing scientific knowledge – its Philosophical Transactions became the first professional scientific journal. Together with other comparable institutions in other countries, such as the Académie des Sciences of Paris, founded in 1666, the systematisation of the scientific method and the way in which experiments and discoveries were reported were promoted. The importance of plain language in the detailed & systematic description of experiments for reproducibility was emphasised. The creation of prominent scientific associations also marked a cornerstone for the socio-cultural acceptance of science.

Newton

The Scientific Revolution’s culmination is believed to lie in the work of Isaac Newton, where his early mathematical studies led to the invention – simultaneously with Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) – of differential calculus. While focussing on the behaviour of light and prisms, he created the first reflecting telescope, a pivotal tool to the astrologers who followed. In 1684, Newton published his theory of gravitation, and in 1687 his famous Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (‘Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy’), which stated his three laws of motion, would become the founding stone of modern physics – unchallenged until the arrival of Einstein in the early 20c.

Most importantly, Newton’s universal law of gravitation not only explained the movements of the planets within the Copernican system but it even gave an explanation to such humble events as the fall of an apple from a tree. But more surprisingly, it never excluded God from the universe since all of Newton’s work was undertaken within the framework of a devout Christian, though his private beliefs were complex and heterodox.

By the time of his death in 1727, the scientific method was firmly established, and the thinkers, intellectual and writers of the Enlightenment acknowledged that an era had dawned where observation, experiment and the free application of human reason were the foundation of knowledge. In fusing science with culture and spreading knowledge through various themes and outlet of the discoveries made from previous centuries, the writers of the Enlightenment helped to firmly establish the prestige that science and its affiliates and practitioners have inherited and enjoyed down to the present day.

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Part IV: Medicine

medicine

From the earliest times of human civilisation, all societies seem to have had a certain amount of knowledge of herbal remedies and to have practised some folk medicine. Most patients in the earliest days were treated with the objective of regaining the favour of the gods or to ‘release’ the evil from the body, therefore the cause of illness was believed to be rooted in supernatural causes. In early civilisations such as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, salves were used as part of medical practice which included divination to obtain a prognosis and incantation to help the sufferer. In the East, many commonly occurring diseases were documented by doctors in India and where they used some drugs still exploited by modern medicine; they also performed surgery that included skin graft. In some parts of the world, some societies banned the cutting of dead bodies due to religious beliefs and policies fused with the law. Unsurprisingly however, knowledge of physical anatomy was incredibly basic. Early Chinese society also banned the desecration of the dead and this resulted in Chinese concepts of physiology not being based on observational analysis. A developed medical tradition flourished in China however from the earliest times to the present day, with special focus placed on the pulse as means of diagnosis.

yinyang

In Chinese medical philosophy, the objective is to balance the yin (the negative, dark, feminine, cold, passive element) and the yang (the positive, light, masculine, warm, active element), and the pharmacopoeia for achieving this: vegetable, animal and mineral. Similarly important is the practice of acupuncture, where needles are used to alter the flow of ch’i (energy) that is believed to travel along invisible channels in the body (meridians). Anaesthesia puts the efficacy of acupuncture to the test – being its most widespread use.

The sophistication of modernity in the West started to set a new course to medicine when it was partially rationalised by the Greek philosophers, since before this it was mainly an aspect of religion.

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Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine

In ancient Greece for example, people suffering from illness would go to the god Asclepius’s temple for incubation – a sleep during which the god would visit in a dream which would then be interpreted by the priests to reveal the diagnosis or advice for the cure. Empedocles later came up with the idea that four elements exist – fire, air, earth and water, which when applied to the human body turned into blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile – which must obey certain rules to be maintained in harmonious balance. That concept was further reinforced when it was adopted by Aristotle (384-322BC) and remained a founding pillar of Western medicine until the new discoveries of the 18c. From the viewpoint of a biologist, Aristotle observed the world, performing dissections of animals and learning more of anatomy and embryology.

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After his death, the main learning centre in Greece became Alexandria, where principles expounded by Hippocrates (c.460-c.377BC) were upheld and obsolete ideas such as illnesses caused by the gods were rejected, instead he made and raised a new school of thought where his diagnosis and prognosis were made after careful observation and consideration. Today, Hippocrates is regarded as the ‘father of medicine’, and sections of the oath attributed to him are still used in medical schools to this present day.

Galen (c.130-c201), a Greek doctor, was the next major and defining influence on Western medicine who studied at Alexandria and later went to Rome. Galen gathered up all the existing writings of Greek doctors, and emphasised on the importance of anatomy to medicine. He used apes to find out about the ways the body worked since dissection of human bodies were then illegal. Although his daring efforts were justified for medicine, his reports contained many mistakes on anatomical points which included the circulation of blood around the body, which he described instead to have ‘ebbed and flowed’.

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Surprisingly, the point worth noting is that although the people then were living in the early times of human history, Rome had already developed an excellent culture with high regards for public health; more strikingly perhaps is also the fact that they even had clean drinking water, hospitals and sewage disposal – which was never developed or adopted by any civilisation until the 20c.

After the Roman Empire fell, the practice of medicine resided in the infirmaries of the monasteries. In the 12c century, medicine was developing as an important necessity in society from the lower to the upper end, and the first medical school was established at Salerno. Many other medical schools in Europe followed, namely: Bologna, Padua, Montpellier and Paris. Mondino dei Liucci (c.1270-1326) published the very first manual of anatomy after carrying out his own dissections in Bologna. The most major advancement in medicine however came from the Belgian Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) who contributed through incredibly detailed sketches, descriptions and drawings published in 1543, correcting the errors of Galen. The Inquisition sentenced him to death for performing human dissections [once again an occasion where religious traditions came in the way of reason and research], however a new wave of inquisitive intellectuals had already surfaced abroad who could not be stopped.

A better and more precise knowledge of anatomy led to an improvement in techniques used in surgery, and surgeons, the long considered as inferior practitioners by physicians, began to be recognised as a major part in medicine and its procedures. The huge increase in the armies of Europe in the 16c and 17c created greater demands for effective surgery in the military departments. Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) reformed surgical practice in France, sealing and stopping the cauterising of wounds, while in the United Kingdom, more collectives of medicine intellectuals were formed which later became the College of Surgeons.

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French nobleman and chemist Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) and his chemist wife Marie-Anne (1758-1826)

In 1628, the theory of the circulation of blood was formulated by William Harvey’s experiments in the 17c, which was reinforced by Marcello Malpighi’s work. However, it took more than a hundred years for medicine to fully understand the purpose of circulating blood up until Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794), a French chemist discovered oxygen which has to be transported to various parts of the human body through blood. A new approach to obstetrics was also invented at that time, along with the growth of microscopal studies, and by the end of the 18c Europe was introduced to vaccines which helped to eradicate previously deadly diseases such as smallpox in the 20c.

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Biologist and physician, Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

In the 19c scientific research generated new knowledge about physiology and medicine saw refinements to aid diagnosis, such as the invention and introduction of the stethoscope and chest percussions. The field of bacteriology was also born out of the work of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) after the latter established the germ theory of disease transmission. This had a major impact and transformed safety for all patients, for example in the field of obstetrics where women had been dying regularly from puerperal fever before it was investigated to find out that doctors were transmitting bacteria from diseased patients to healthy ones. The first use of ether as a drug in the USA in 1846 and of chloroform in Scotland in 1847 made way for another major advance in surgery when their use as anaesthetic gases opened new doors to minute, longer and more complicated surgical sessions to be initiated.

The wave of cutting edge and precise research continued into the 19c with the recognition and detailed description of many conditions now available to medical education for the first time. Precautions were taken to halt the propagation of malaria and yellow fever after it was revealed that insect bites could transmit them. At around the end of the 19c, the birth of psychology as the study of the ‘mind’ was taking place with Sigmund Freud’s work, and Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays along with Pierre and Marie Curie’s radium provided new diagnostic tools to medicine.

The 20c continued to flourish with progress when the haphazard discovery of bacteria-killing organism were made, most famously Alexander Fleming, the scottish Bacteriologist and Nobel prize winner who discovered Penicillin in 1928 and also served during the First World War in the Army Medical Corps. After qualifying with distinction in 1906, Fleming went straight into research at the University of London. One of the most important discoveries in medicine would eventually be made by a him in 1928 over a simple observation. Fleming observed that the mould that had accidentally developed on a set of culture dishes used to grow the staphylococci germ had also created a bacteria free circle around itself. After careful observation and research, the substance that repelled bacteria from the mould was named Penicillin. The drug would later only be developed further by two other scientists, Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, a refugee from Nazi Germany [all three shared the Nobel Prize in medicine]. Although the first supplies of Penicillin were limited, by the 1940s the pharmaceutical industry had made it a top priority and it was mass produced by the American drugs industry.

The era also spectated the growth of advanced technology and the further development of various forms of drug treatments, such as sulfonamides when they were discovered, followed by streptomycin, the first effective antibiotic against tuberculosis which was fatal until then similarly to diabetes which was also explored and treated with the discovery of insulin, thus halting its former reputation as deadly into a controllable condition – a new breed of surgeons are claiming to have found surgical methods to completely reverse the Type-2 Diabetes that affects most.

Typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough and polio were mostly eradicated in the West as the 20c was marked by improved public health services, living condition and nutrition along with well devised campaigns with the sound backing of science to promote immunisation campaigns for children. The West was also freed of diseases such as rickets and scurvy as new discoveries were made on the role and importance of vitamins which also led to the mitigation of beriberi in Africa and Asia early in the century.

Malaria, yellow fever and leprosy were also found to curable, and now that with all the advancement in medicine most people live longer in developed economies [at the exception of some that have mediocre policies due to their mediocre management system, e.g. politics], the chief causes of death nowadays have so far been cancer and heart disease.

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Life Expectancy in the United Kingdom / Source: OurWorldinData.org

 

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Life Expectancy Global / Source: OurWorldinData.org

Unleashing the power of genetics against cancer

Source: Cambridge University

In the field of cancer research, advancement in new therapies involving various techniques are now available and continuously being developed; with the most recent being the promising CRISPR, which involves using a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer, using a particular type of immune cell known as the T cell. The logic behind it explores the usual purpose of those T cells in the human body which involves surveying the body to seek out and destroy abnormal cells that have to potential to turn cancerous- detected by T cells due to the presence of strange proteins on their surface [signs that the T cell knows as ‘dangerous’]. Surprisingly cancer has evolved a cat-and-mouse game to evade T cells by developing the ability to ‘switch off’ any T cell that gets in their way, effectively blocking their healing attack. The most effective cancer therapies try to counteract this response by abnormal and cancerous cells by boosting the immune system.

CRISPR: the promising new cancer treatment

In 2015, a study used an older, less efficient gene engineering technique known as the ‘zinc finger’ which led to nucleases that give T cells better fighting ability against HIV – the therapy was well tolerated in a 12-person test group. A further study used reprogrammed T cells from multiple myeloma patients in the specific recognition of cancer cells which shrank the tumours initially while the T cells gradually withered and lost their ability to regenerate themselves – a common issue that new trials hope to solve in the near future. Perhaps one of the most unfortunate part of the story with CRISPR despite being a promising cell therapy is that it is often offered and used on patients with relapsing diseases. Other genes can also be ‘tweaked’ for the particular protein PD-1 with the CRISPR method that counter the problem of T cells losing their ‘intensive ability’ as these new tweaked genes help prolong the lifespan of the modified T cells while simultaneously enhancing their cancer fighting ability since the PD-1 protein sits on the surface of T-cells and helps dampen the activity of the cancer cells after an immune response [tumours found ways to hide by flipping the PD-1 switch themselves, thus drugs that block PD-1 from this immune suppression have been proven to be a promising immunotherapy cancer treatment].  Researchers are currently carrying intensive research to understand the deeper mechanics of CRISPR by removing T cells from patients of cancers that have stopped responding to normal treatments, and using a harmless virus, deliver the CRISPR machinery into the cells, and perform three gene edits on them. The first gene edit will insert a gene protein called the NY-ESO-1 receptor, a protein that equips T cells with an enhanced ability in locating, recognising and destroying cancerous cells [the NY-ESO-1 displaying tumour]. The T cells have a native trait that is unfortunately unsupportive in this process as it interferes with this process of added protein, so the second edit will be to remove these inhibitors so that the engineered protein will have more efficiency against cancer. The final and third edit gives the T cell longevity by removing the gene that allows recognition as a cancer suppressor by cancer cells that disable the PD-1 protein, thus countering its attack while remaining active due to the added guide RNAs which would tell the CRISPR’s DNA-snipping enzyme, Cas9, where exactly to cut the genome. However, since CRISPR is not always effective, not all cells will receive the genetic modification, thus making the engineered cells in the end, a mixture with various combinations of proposed changes to balance the reaction into the desired one. Only 3-4% may contain all three genetic edits. After the edits, the researchers would generally infuse all the edited cells back into patients and monitor for issues closely. One of the main concerns with CRISPR is that it may inadvertently snip other genes potentially creating new cancer genes or trigger existing ones, and these side effects are planned for monitoring by a team expected to measure the growth rate of engineered T cells and carry test for genomic abnormalities. However, the concluding outlook on CRISPR is very bright, in a pilot run carried out by using T cells from healthy donors, the researchers checked for 148 genes that could be snipped by mistake, and the only faulty cut that was detected was deemed as harmless. Another major concern is the fear of activating the body’s immune system against the engineered T cells since the enzyme Cas9 originates from bacteria and is essential for the cancer cutting process CRISPR relies on – although ways exist to prevent the immune system from destroying engineered Cas9 T cells, the possibility remains.

Gene therapy trials have suffered a recent setback with the death of the young patient Jessie Gelsinger during a trial. Further investigation revealed that some of the researchers failed to disclose the side effects observed in animals and some of the investigators had financial incentive for the trial to be a success. Extra precaution is being taken by UPenn who pioneered the treatment to ensure the smooth progression of medicine in genetics. As Stanford bioethicist Dr. Mildred Cho said, “Often we have to take a leap of faith.”

Cancer research and treatment on the whole has seen innovations in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, a combination of the mentioned and the new promising method involving gene editing Cas9 based T cells with the CRISPR technique. All these together have and are increasing the prognosis for some sufferers, and in cardiology too, new treatments stunned the world, notably angiograms, open-heart surgery and heart transplants. The process of organ transplant has gradually been extended to lungs, livers and kidneys, and artificial joints for the hips and knees have also been improved.

Further education on family planning has been available and constantly updated since the 1960s where methods of contraception had first been marketed to the wider public [such as the oral contraceptive pill for women]. The controversial act of abortion too with the scientific legitimacy was made safer and legalised in many developing economies and at the other end of the scale couples unable to conceive benefited of fertility drugs and in vitro fertilisation provided many with the choice of starting a family.

With the growing discoveries and nearly godly feats of medicine, public perception of the field also changed and many soon started to entertain the belief that a cure exists for every ill. Unfortunately this is not true, as many complicated diseases such as cancer continue to defy knowledge and scientific research and new diseases and complications continue to emerge such as Ebola, HIV and antibiotic resistance. The constant struggle for 3rd world economies to keep up with medical cost has also led to major culturally destructive waves of migration that have very quickly turned out to be unsustainable for most major Western economies along with the religious and socio-cultural clashes being a constant topic of debate in most educated circles and the connected alternate media alike across Europe [to counter some of the extreme liberal & atavistic views promoted by the mainstream media fuelled by ruthless & scrupulous globalists].

The economic grip of pharmaceutical companies on the world’s economy has been a central issue for many concerned scientists and intellectuals of the times constantly questioning the responsibility of funding and providing cutting edge and hygienic health services for the people; while on the other hand other controversial but vital access to organs for transplantation have caused major social debates regarding the future cultural behaviour regarding the organs of the dead and the provision of a constant supply of fresh organs for the Western economies’ major health requirements.

While the Western model of medicine is the most effective, researched, respected and taught on earth, other sub disciplines of medicine that many medical empiricists consider to be complete lies continue to prosper at a medium scale for a surprisingly constant demand for folk and herbal medicines. In the urban areas of non-Western societies the trend is at a larger scale since Western medicine has still not made a significant impact to the adepts of traditional practices. Medically unproven and scientifically void practices such as chiropractic, aromatherapy, auto-suggestion, homoeopathy, osteopathy and hydrotherapy still exist in the West under the classification of ‘complementary medicine’ where many of the practitioners do not require any degree or certificate to ‘practice’ [a documentary by Dr. Richard Dawkins was aired on the BBC on this topic]. Most of those treatments that have no scientific grounding somehow all have long histories, and a chosen few such as acupuncture, have been fused into Western orthodox medical practice in countries such as the UK.

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Part V: Secularisation

Secularisation may be defined as the process of change where authority passes from a religious source to a secular one. This may turn into an issue or a need only where religion and the religious have gained considerable power or a dominant position in society and penetrate all aspects of life, including the government. For instance, in ancient Greece and Rome, religion does not seem to have ever dominated the state. The main religious officers was shared by the same men who held political office [religion may have been seen as simply a part of national culture]. While virtue consisted of piety and observance to the gods were expected, religion was rarely a primary focus for society. Furthermore, polytheism provided flexibility to the system as new gods and goddesses would be added to the pantheon to accommodate local cults, and an individual would have the freedom to choose a deity as his or her special patron. However, prudence demanded that other divinities not be neglected, and none of this was of major concern to the state.

Yet, as the petty logic of majority in many cases comes into conflict with strategy, the great monotheistic proselytising religions of Christianity and Islam saw a great rise and the situation and relationship with the state started to change. Now, as a matter of righteousness and justification as a moral authority, the state had to go with the religious beliefs that ruled most of the West. This led to the state having to ensure salvation, which became the founding pillar of ‘right religion’. Consequently, this acceptance and spread led to the increased power and influence of Christian kings who with them emerged a body of clerical men who claimed to exercise the spiritual ministry of the most almighty of beings, God, on earth. This led to large amounts of money, land and property being donated by individuals, organisations and Christian rulers to the Church in the hope of maintaining a good relationship and being protected. This also increased the overall influence of the power of the Church which however owed so much to the Crown in terms of donations and freedom that they gradually tended to act as its propagandists and servants. The term and principle of ‘Caesaropapism’ was accepted by the Church in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which simply proved their acceptance of subordination to an Emperor who was thought of as an ambassador of divine authority on earth. However, this claim of a supreme imperial being at the top of the religious scale soon led to conflicts with the popes of the West who were unhappy with such imposition in regards to their contribution to the works of God and soon, conflicts began between the sovereigns and the papacy over the limits and jurisdiction of royal and papal power – both, of course claiming to be guided by the divine mandate.

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Perhaps one of the most famous of these clashes happened between Henry II of England and his Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. At that time the Church’s power may have been at its peak, during the pontificate of Innocent III, who claimed that the Holy Roman Emperor was subordinate to him. Later, Innocent III pushed for Emperor Otto IV to be deposed, forced Philip II of France into reinstating his divorced second wife, Ingeborg of Denmark. He also placed England under an interdict, and had King John (Lackland) excommunicated to be able to secure the office of Archbishop of Canterbury for his candidate, Stephen Langton. Those clashes of power and interest saw a decrease however, when in the following years the papacy was in dire need of royal help to defeat the Conciliar Movement – a movement in Western Europe in the 14c and 15c of the Roman Catholic Church which believed that final authority in spiritual matters resided with the Church as a company of Christians, embodied by a general church council, not solely with the Pope [a movement started by Pope Innocent III and is still used today in France].

In other civilisations in the Middle-East, such as in Islamic territory that obeyed the laws of Islam’s sharia, conflicts between the professional religious classes and the rulers tended to be avoided since Islam has no priesthood. Religion and state were unified in the pursuit of what the Quran and the life of Muhammad qualified as the ‘pursuit of Islamic righteousness’. This however includes violent subjugation of all non-Muslims, oppression of women, obsolete traditions in direct conflict with modern human rights in all modern Western nations in relation to restrictions to women and indoctrination of violent political ideologies that are connected to the political teachings of Muhammad, mostly found in the sharia. Thus, the constant links between extremist groups promoting violence and major governments in the Middle-East with Islam as the main religious faith are a constant topic among cultured circles. Most Muslims however are similar in many ways, even on the borders of Europe, in Turkey similar to Saudi Arabia, most adhere and believe in the same ideology that Islam and the Sharia promotes and teaches, unsurprisingly many Islamic scholars too have turned out to have very dangerous views on Islam’s war on non-Islamic civilisations and non-Muslims. The Caliph claim was made in Istanbul by the Ottoman Sultan, or supreme head of all Sunni Muslims (Sunnis). The Shia form of Islam (Shiites) was ultimately associated and identified with the Safavid Sultans in Iran.

In Tibet, where Buddhism had been flourishing, monastic donations and a huge increase in the number of dedicated monks subsequently gave monastic cultural leaders who were regarded as the incarnations of the Buddha, such as the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, ruling powers in their country. In China and Japan situations differed, as instead, religious beliefs tended to reinforce loyalty to the ruler; in China for example, Buddhism, and more particularly, Confucianism, taught civic virtues which were also taught by Buddhism and Shinto in Japan.

The Reformation

When the payments of annates to Rome was abolished by Henry VIII of England as he denied the authority of the pope upon proclaiming himself supreme head of the Church of England (1534) to further supress the monasteries, the new King was simply carrying to extremes the true traditions of his predecessors across Europe. Divine Right Kingship, that was what Henry’s Reformation was essentially, an assertion of complete power and trust in his legitimacy as an extension of God’s ministry. It is worthy to note that Henry VIII would deal as harshly as advocates of Lutheranism as with those who supported the pope as he had no doctrinal differences with Rome, he simply believed in the King as the only vice-regent of God on earth. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation revived the influence and power of religion in the domestic and international socio-cultural debates of the Western world, and for the time, turning the concept of a purely ‘secular’ power completely unconceivable and unthinkable. Yet, as the years went by the intended and expected clashes reached unprecedented heights as a result of competition between religious factions.

The wars that religion brought to humankind

In the Western Christian world, the wars of religion quickly turned into a common phenomenon or justification to shed blood and die for, and they were all based on the firm religious belief that the opposing religious civilisation had no claim to existence and even more importantly should not have any jurisdiction let alone religious or cultural control over some very specific geographical points, as these were believed to have specific powers that could be manipulated for socio-cultural advantages, for example, the ‘crusade’ against the Albigenses in Southern France was simply justified as the French crown simply trying to extend its power. The movements known to most historians as ‘The Crusades’ were in fact directed against the Islamic Middle East who had been subjugating Western Europe & Christians for hundreds of years through deadly wars where many Christian women were raped, tortured and turned into sexual slaves while many Christian leaders were beheaded others forced into Islam. Religious motives in 16c and 17c even led to violence against fellow Western Christians, and as the years went wars were endless, reaching lethal genocidal levels where whole civilisations were wiped out – the remaining joining, converting to or being enslaved by the dominant [a seemingly ruthless spectacle where the cycle of evolution may have simply been the driving force among societies who were less sophisticated and more primal – or in touch with their aggressive instincts in matters of survival and conquest].

Even with all the death in the name of religion, societal events did not persuade the current societies to perceive a possible atheistic lifestyle or system; and this endured even late in the 17c. However, private and secret groups such as ‘The Family of Love’ (of whose members many were close to Philip II of Spain, a leading figure of the Counter-Reformation) had started to spread the seeds of doubts over the particular motive and purpose of having to identity state power and dogmatic religious beliefs and traditions.

An Enlightened, educated and revolutionary civilisation

The only faith with intellectuals who stood with reason without showing any preference for any other school of thought, particularly religious ones, were Christians of the Western world in Europe and it began in the 18c where the term secularisation could only be discussed in European-derived state systems. The practice of secularisation started by individuals who originally came from different schools of thought and were seeking to be guided by a more stable doctrine than religion or traditions. Others like Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, were dedicated Christians who disagreed with the state being the authority for moral policing or to conscience regulation [quite a perceptive stance judging the questionable reputation and credibility – in terms of morals and ethics – of practitioners of the obsolete discipline that is today still termed ‘politics’]. Even more curiously, the reasoning and avant-garde [at the time] clergy of the Church of Scotland agreed, and set their focus on the barbaric violence of the 17c religious wars as a blasphemous parody of Christianity. Furthermore, the growing movement fuelled and guided by the scientific and intellectual developments of the late 17c and the spirit of the Enlightenment remained sceptical about religion and its revelations, even Voltaire was a deist.

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Religious Scale by GDP per capita

The Cult of Reason was further sponsored as a replacement for Christianity when the Jacobins under Robespierre came to power in France, suggesting that the Gregorian calendar be replaced by a revolutionary and republican one where the year 1783 would be the Year 1. As the era developed, the first ‘secular’ state in the Christian West became the federal government of the USA after 1783, a reason somehow that may have been more due to the lack of options as the foundation of the society in the states was mainly composed of immigrants deeply divided by religion where many were persecuted and faced death in the countries they were escaping from who back in those times had no peace keeping military conventions to protect or sanction the State on the grounds of human rights.

Corruption at the top was also very much present as it still is today in politics in most non-Western societies, especially in Islamic territory where many States are strictly combined with the doctrines of Islam and its violent religious law, sharia, leading to many cases of State connections to extremist terrorists operating under the guise of Islam to protect and propagate the Islamic way of life and eventually subjugate all non-Muslims[with techniques used to abuse diplomacy and the dangerous concept of ‘political correctness’ to slowly infiltrate the law and system of other Western economies to prepare and push for Islamic doctrines to be applied on Western soil]. A situation getting worse today, as obsolete politicians lack the knowledge and education to understand and cope with the techniques of Political Islam which has long been the topic of Dr. Bill Warner’s work – to protect and prevent the atavistic and dangerous Islamisation of the West.

Logically, it seems obvious to most that 3rd world traditions would clash with First World values and individualism and today, many intellectuals and growing movements are beginning to support the complete separation of religious traditions and cultures through geographical relocation and diplomatic arrangement between States of various nations to work on solutions at the source and on location and completely stop the unsustainable and clearly abused systems of refugee relocation as Western societies are at their limits with major socio-cultural clashes and disruptions to First world national communities sparking major concerns over the security of women, children and the vulnerable older people faced with 3rd world migrants with a completely different school of thought, crowding many Western cities and locations where the never-ending clash of values, education, philosophy, language and culture seem to leave authorities contemplating at the only solution that may come with radical policies to preserve the socio-cultural make up and identity of their nations in the face of a destabilizing overgrowth of population from African and the 3rd world Islamic territories and the failure of Western States to adopt appropriate and if necessary tough measures to alleviate and balance the situation while securing their own systems and providing security for their people against socio-economic and cultural degradation.

The 19c

After the final defeat of Napoleon I at the end of the 18c, the conservative climate that followed led to the Catholic Church regaining a lot of credibility that it had lost and the identification and association of Church and State was seen by many intellectuals and movements of the Enlightenment as a bulwark against freedom and revolution. This resulted to the developing climate where bourgeois liberalism rose due to its tendency towards anticlericalism and its strong belief in a new system with a secular state with no sectarian affiliations, based on the US federal model.

France saw the growing clashes over education between Church and State similar to most major Christian Western nations throughout the 19c. In 1829, the Test Act of 1673 was repealed, now not requiring holders of public office [including military officers and elected regional representatives in Parliament] to be active members of the Church of England. Eventually, reason also won in France where education became ‘compulsory, free and secular’ under the Third Republic after a series of acts passed between 1878 and 1886 with Jules Ferry as the main agitator to spearhead the change. Other economies in South America such as Mexico, with an established and influential colonial Church saw that post-independence liberal views tended to demand secularisation of the State.

As the 19c century was ending, secularism and anticlericalism grew in strength and supporters in many nations of the modern world spectated a rise of different branches of « Socialist » influenced movements.

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For example, the late American George L. Rockwell initiated a National Socialist movement in the US, and even gave some brave speeches about Jews and Negroes at Brown University & embraced the derogatory term « NAZI » for its shock value. Although the American agitator clearly drifted far from the refined version of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism, which initially emphasised strong moral/ethical philosophies, shared communal values at every level of society & synchronised psychosocial unity, Rockwell’s version of National Socialism seemed more appropriately adjusted to the industrialised society of America, focusing on the identity of the average hardworking American citizen and his/her relationship to the unscrupulous economic model that is at the foundation of the « Wild West », i.e. the USA.

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Photo: American Workers

Rockwell remains one of the only US public figures to have proposed a straightforward, practical & ethical direction in finding a harmonious solution to the Negro population problems affecting the US (which is now along with other foreign populations growing faster than the original white US population). George Lincoln Rockwell‘s vision matched that of the prominent visionary & avant-garde Black nationalist, Marcus M. Garvey, who founded the Pan-Africanism movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and the African Communities League (ACL).

MarcusGarvey

Marcus M. Garvey, Jr. (1887 – 1940)

Garvey also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African people to their ancestral lands. « Garveyism » wanted all people of Black African ancestry to « redeem » the nations of Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave the African continent. Marcus Garvey’s essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in « Negro World » entitled « African Fundamentalism« , where he wrote: « Our [negroes] union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… »

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Unknown Painting of a Negro man

Darwinism and National Socialism  gave society an explanation of human rights and human history, and a model for progress where religion was not vital [but optional] and thus not a major concern. In France, the Dreyfus Affair united all the radical progressive elements and the leftist movements in French society against the then major section of the Right: the Catholic Right. The separation of Church and State finally happened in 1905.

The 20c

During the USSR right after the Russian Revolution, the development of socialist-inspired secularism could be seen in their secular state; however, the lack of vision, philosophy and fine management eventually led to its downfall.

One of the most innovative and stunning secular changes in the Muslim world came from Turkey’s founder who believed in secular western systematisation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who in a revolutionary wave abolished the Sultanate and in 1924 abolished the office of the Caliph, the former spiritual head of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk continued this avant-garde wave of secular changes by closing down all religious schools in Istanbul, and removed the Minister for Religion from the cabinet. Even more confidently, among the changes the modern and westernising founder made was the repealing of the provision in Turkish constitution that made Islam the state religion. From then, deputies would cease to take oaths in the name of Allah, but instead made a secular affirmation. However today with Turkish national representatives such as Recep Erdogan, the forward-thinking, productive and modernising changes of Ataturk have all been reversed and ruined by Erdogan’s atavistic policies that are oriented towards the Islamisation of the whole system and has even been linked and found to be unresponsive towards major anti-Western Islamic Jihadists who spread terror and violence across Western societies without any disregard for children. The retrograde and deluded Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has also played a major part in the Islamisation of Western Europe by successfully being manipulated by Islamic territories’ humanitarian departments to take in excessive numbers of Muslim refugees [by the millions] for resettlement which have mainly been healthy Muslim males with no other objectives but to find support on the welfare systems of the West while also contributing in the Islamic doctrines that promote migration [hijra] in the name of Allah for the process of Jihad [which is a process that involves multiple techniques to subjugate all non-Muslim societies to gradually allow Islam’s doctrines to take over], in the ongoing war for the Islamisation of the West. This continued clash of values makes the secularisation of Turkey by Ataturk particularly striking since Islam’s ideologies continue to control most indoctrinated minds in the vast Islamic territory that continues to promote 3rd world ideologies and show firm stance against secularisation in Muslim countries and perhaps even more shockingly, in some parts of the West where urban and uncultured low-skilled Muslim communities have amassed – a known recruiting field for many extremist Middle-East groups such as ISIS [Daech, Islamic State] and a known breeding place for rapists who in many cases justify their heinous acts as religiously valid, being the teachings of Muhammad on the treatment of non-Muslims, who are deemed spiritually ‘inferior’ beings similarly to the teachings of Judaism where all non-Jews are believed to be inferior, destined to serve the Jewry and are completely disposable, perhaps more shockingly: non-Jews should even be killed. These two 3rd world religions have doctrines of behaviour towards other groups that are rooted in hate and violence. Hence, the early expulsion of the Jewish communities globally much before the Nazi regime or any of its founders were even born. A practice known as holocaust done in the name of the Jewish god Baal, involved sacrificing young male babies was hated by many non-Jewish intellectuals and societies throughout Western history. However, today the atavistic process that should have been inexistent or even annihilated, is ironically happening to modern societies at the verge of being completely secularised after their independence such as in the West: the process of Islamisation. Islamisation of the West which was founded and evolved on Christian values, and famous deist intellectuals such as Voltaire who placed reason before irrational claims of God [although not denying the existence of powers that may be Godly], are being forced into accepting millions of Muslim refugees known to be part of the process of Islamisation linked to major extremist and pro-Muslim association such as the Muslim Brotherhood [a group heavily linked with Barack Obama] who have links to the extreme left leaning seats in the United Nations. These dangerous extreme-left [not socialist] movements with religious affiliations have been finding ways to loosen the security of the West’s defence to infiltrate the ideologies of Islam through the process of cultural Jihad, which involves using techniques such as diplomacy, and twisting arms with the unscrupulous use of ‘political correctness’ to further the purpose of Islam, aided by the act of Taqqiya, which is promoted by Islamic ideology to deceive, lie and act in whatever way it may be required to promote Islam and eventually subjugate non-Islamic societies.

One of the most recent example of complete Islamisation is Iran in 1979 where the overthrow of Shad Muhammad Reza Pahlavi ushered in an Islamic republic. This seemingly Islamic ‘success’ in the Iranian Revolution led to Islamic Fundamentalists in other undeveloped economies such as Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria to believe in their possible future, already being part of economies where governments make concessions to religious militants as they both are supporters of the ideology of Islam.

In some countries, many Islamic terrorists have justified their acts as populist alternatives to what they perceive as corrupt, dictatorial regimes that lack compassion and righteousness. Others have questioned righteousness from the perspective of Islamic ideologies that involve beheading, mass terror and other inhuman practices on non-Muslims in the name of Allah as the teachings of Muhammad, a controversial prophet who consummated a marriage to a 6-year old when the latter was nine [even the practice and promotion of what most Western minds would perceive as paedophilia has seen a near complete silence from most authorities in the west for fear of repercussions such as accusations of racism, lack of political correctness or xenophobia, all forms of speech suppression that have started to raise more voices among many people who believe that Islamisation is incompatible, dangerous and unsustainable – massive causes of systematic socio-cultural and economic degradation].

Lhomme Papillon (1858)Caricature of Jules Didier by Claude Monet (1840 - 1926)

L’homme Papillon (Butterfly Man) / Caricature of Jules Didier by Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

In order to move towards a system of management that includes government to replace the obsolete concept of politics and reinstate credibility in decision making based on reason and science, balanced with the right philosophy to fit the appropriate expectations at a given time, the mainstream mind set will have to accept reason as a more fitting compass to guide a civilised society instead of religion.

Although most [mentally sound individuals] should have the freedom to choose where to place their faith [religion, science, philosophy, etc], secularisation would at least ensure that the state balances its priorities appropriately without discriminating those who should be prioritised.

The State may initiate a workable but firm control over the appropriate influx of immigrants by specific religious groups to maintain and not discriminate the national cultural identity of the foundation [religion would simply be a part of culture and not a reigning authority synthesised with most departments of the state] while adapting to changes that socio-cultural economic developments and research lead to [however careful consideration over the purpose and benefits must remain of vital importance and focus].

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As the system of democracy still gives voices to the masses, it is also fair noting that majority votes do not decide or confirm the degree of righteousness in a particular thought or decision. In fact, majority debates in choice simply conclude the general ‘views on a specific topic’ of a particular group of human organisms from a particular geographical location on earth. In cases such as medicine, physics, chemistry and other science based studies majority votes lead to and mean nothing, in those disciplines only reason wins, with the conclusion based on logic. Certainly what a perfect secular state may include could be a decision making department that bases every decision based on the required concept that applies to it, i.e. for e.g. matters of professional disciplines could be approved by the required boards of professionals (by their field), and decisions on socio-cultural matters would benefit from public opinion, further matters of economy would be supervised by the board of economy, etc, and this may eventually lead to a system that relies on only democratic values and management, and hardly any politics [if regional representatives by area could have a better description].

The USA’s secular government has so far demonstrated to be far from perfect with major differences in opinion on a range of issues regarding military ethics during World War 2 where Eisenhower sadistically allowed thousands of Germans to die in starvation in his very own ‘death camps’, and other claims of secrecy with Churchill & Stalin in a German boycott along with the ongoing national socio-cultural conflicts with the Islamisation of the USA by the Obama regime – open promoters of Muslims and Islam in the West. The deistic Founding Fathers of the USA’s secular government would definitely be surprised at the influence of orthodox, evangelical Christianity of various kinds in the modern but over-liberal republic. Although it may if appropriate to consider the fact that secular states will somehow forever have religious roots, and while some may not be practising Christians, most of Western literature are full of biblical references. Major festivities such as Christmas have turned into a symbol of celebration and gifts for Western societies more than a religious observance, and it unites and benefits more than only Christians in many major societies of the West – especially economically for most businesses.

santahat

Secularisation in everyday life in an increasingly post-Christian Europe

Nowadays most educated societies in the developed nations of the West are partially entrapped in the global economy and a great section of the people have looked for alternative context for their life, alternative ways to make rites of passage and more importantly other doctrines to be cultured and guided by, and the importance of religious dimensions in public and private life today has decreased considerably.

Munich.jpg

Munich by Harry Schiffer

Major changes in Britain saw the 1836 Marriage Act which for the first time allowed marriages to be solemnised in Britain by other practices besides a religious ceremony. On 1 July 1837, six hundred district offices opened as the act came into force along with an ongoing set of necessary changes. By 1857, divorce was obtainable in the UK by other means than the Act of Parliament – although not easily and only when requested by husbands. These changes along with the liberalised attitude on legislations such as abortion has long been opposed by the Church however, especially in Catholic countries. Nowadays, the growing number of people relying less on religion as guide is ever increasing, notably in developed economies with decent education systems supported by the newly developed Internet of Tim Berners-Lee since the early 1990s. Thus, the knowledge of science has become more widespread, along with its application to modern culture – leading to a new orthodoxy.

theinternet

The triumphs of technology have also made life for the secular minds fairly comfortable and safe in the developed world [although a lot of work remains to be done at the systematic level regarding economic policies, socio-cultural and philosophical beliefs and directions in some atavistic States of the West to counter the now dangerously increasing waves of Islamisation].

Perhaps a painful reality to most of those raised in a sophisticated science-oriented philosophical circle, or tutored with a conservative education but a liberal outlook from the West or Western derived systems, or in the ever more secular societies of the UK, France and Western Europe, is that so far we are the ‘minority’ and are seen as an ‘exception’ when compared with the majority in terms of humans living on earth globally.

That may send visions of the inundation of migrants from poorly managed nations of the 3rd world Middle-East and Africa who also play a major part on the low socio-economic birth rate explosion and consequent socio-cultural burden on global humanitarian budgets expected to cause major economic and socio-cultural unrest for the West in the coming future if situations do not change. Sadly for the secular intellectuals today is the fact that in most lesser developed societies of the world, the great religions, the smaller ones, and a series of traditional beliefs [some as illogical and ridiculous to reason or intelligence] continue to give a reason to live and subsequently meaning to the lives of many communities who are born and live in a completely different psycho-social reality fused with religious beliefs of ancient cultures [specially in the 3rd world and/or Islamic territories].

The progressive & ethical solution to deal with the alarming situation

Since, engineering environmentally also applies to the human organism, maximising the potential of humans according to their best environmental (socio-cultural) fit would seem like the most globally progressive philosophy. However, engineering our planet in terms of human abilities would also side with relocating populations to alleviate their own stress caused by incompatibility in terms of culture, language, identity and skills – a process that goes in line with evolutionary logic, but also fosters a harmonious human ecosystem with less tension, thus less stress [mental health & health].

RichardDawkinsEvolution

Cooperation on matters beneficial for both states would be achieved from synchronised work from respective locations [e.g. nature, environment, climate change, business, etc]. This would alleviate systems that lack stability due to massive population imbalance and socio-cultural conflicts caused majorly by uncontrolled geographical shifts and the birth rates that follow, leading to ‘organisms’ [from an objective perspective] that do not ‘identify’ with the system that they were born into, but see themselves as part of an ‘external system and its school of thought’, who mostly earn and live to promote the latter system and flood the current one with further external and incompatible organisms.

This continuous unregulated & unsustainable process of mass-migration & mass low-SES births add to the ongoing burden of socio-cultural conflict and economic degradation due to the sole motivating factor being foreign interest [mostly 3rd world & developing economies] in economic resources from Western systems while remaining ‘foreign’ and indifferent to public/civic expectations socio-culturally [due to a lack of linguistic proficiency and other low-SES complications such as quality education, linguistic acculturation, etc]. Such issues in uncontrollable amounts that reflect in most aspects of a society have shown to lead to systemic instability, fragmentation and low social-cohesion mostly linked to differences in belief systems created by heritage or indoctrination of beliefs from incompatible systems through exposure.

ksdam8f

Top Minority Languages by Country

mostusefulforeignlanguageforpersonaldevelopment

Foreign Language people consider the most useful for Personal Development

Once more, from an objective perspective and through the humble logic of observation, any system from any part of the world would face degradation with excessive sections of their population not focused in contributing in its protection, promotion, strength and stability – a simple matter of factual reasoning, an e.g. of such a statement would be « If an egg is released from a metre on hard floor, it will fall and break. ».  With geographical engineering, it seems to simply be a matter of re-assessing and replacing  ‘organic units’ with ones that are reliable in terms of stability, compatibility and long term development [experience] – a clear example of progressive innovation. A simple case of synthesising the knowledge gained from science and applying its philosophy to prevent further catastrophes while correcting the dangerous path of the present.

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regionalpopulationchangeforecast

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Exposition Victor Hugo - une exposition sur Victor-Hugo

« History has for sewers times like ours. » -Victor Hugo

PublicTrustInGovernmentUK

A New Era for Management may be near: UK & France rank low for trust in government

Updated: 24th of September, 2018 | Danny J. D’Purb | DPURB.com

***

Reference

Lenman, B. and Marsden, H. (2005). Chambers dictionary of world history. Edinburgh: Chambers.

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While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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Essay // Fight Club Creator Chuck Palahniuk Spoils Fans With New Projects

1st Rule of Fight Club
When it comes down to modern literature, our generation seems blessed with more than enough ways to feed a reader (or two). Quality on the other hand remains hidden in the far away kingdom of Hard-to-find. As with most things, quantity and quality look likely to remain very far from each other. Yet, Chuck Palahniuk manages to impose his enigmatic stand in the world of modern art; and its darker part. Sombre, twisted (sometimes), thought provoking, passionate, heart breaking, gut-wrenching and the list goes on…

Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club - Our War

All we’ve come to realise after years of Palahniuk, is that the Washington born author has a prodigious literary touch, and a fine taste for the darker arts… [CONTINUE READING]


21.02.2013 | Danny J. D’Purb | WhatCulture.com

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While the aim of the community at dpurb.com has  been & will always be to focus on a modern & progressive culture, human progress, scientific research, philosophical advancement & a future in harmony with our natural environment; the tireless efforts in researching & providing our valued audience the latest & finest information in various fields unfortunately takes its toll on our very human admins, who along with the time sacrificed & the pleasure of contributing in advancing our world through sensitive discussions & progressive ideas, have to deal with the stresses that test even the toughest of minds. Your valued support would ensure our work remains at its standards and remind our admins that their efforts are appreciated while also allowing you to take pride in our journey towards an enlightened human civilization. Your support would benefit a cause that focuses on mankind, current & future generations.

Thank you once again for your time.

Please feel free to support us by considering a donation.

Sincerely,

The Team @ dpurb.com

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