Saturday, 15 October 2016 16:09

Biopsychology and existentialism

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Abstract:

This paper points out that a realistic study of human psychology must study the human body; it is so because body mostly determines the individual's behaviors and personality. The individual responds to what is going on in his body as it tries to adapt to the exigencies of his physical and social world. A psychology that does not study the influence of the entire human body on the self-structure, not just the nervous system, is really not a scientific study, a superficial social study, may be. The individual grapples with the issues of existence. He is born and is acutely aware that to nature he is not special at all. Above all, he is destined to die and his body that he had labored to provide for is eaten by worms. He must find a philosophy to make sense of his existential situation. In the age where, as Nietzsche said, God is dead the individual must have some sort of existential philosophy to make sense of his living in an utterly meaningless universe. Human beings live in organized society, therefore, politics and economics is always a part of their lives. There is no use for psychology pretending that the political and economic order does not affect the individual's psychological functioning. A comprehensive attempt to understand the individual must pay attention to politics and economics and seek what political economy best produces well-functioning human beings. The study of psychology requires the concurrent study of biology, existentialism, politics and economics.

BIOPSYCHOLOGY AND EXISTENTIALISM

Ozodi Osuji

What is currently called psychology must be thrown out and we start afresh and develop a new discipline called biopsychology.  As currently configured, psychology is totally useless. In fact, it does not even pretend to study people but writes academic nonsense and that accounts for its inability to help those it is supposedly there to help.  Because academic psychology has lost its focus it no longer appeals to men who are seeking the truth of who human beings are but instead appeals to folks who are willing to live with the lies that characterize society.

Psychology is now a means of babysitting people rather than a means of understanding them. No wonder men with inquisitive minds have left the discipline; the field now is a female discipline; it appeals to women for it now exists to gratify their narcissism rather than actually say something that remotely reflects efforts to dispassionately understand human nature. All that contemporary psychology does is rationalize extant social masks, approve current hypocrisies called human behavior.

Psychology as currently understood in America is like most things American, a deliberate attempt not to address issues as they are but to avoid talking about the truth and redirect attention to pointless chatter.

America exists to prevent talking about reality as it is but as the gatekeepers of the oppressive and rotten political system want folks to see it; the political system is kept afloat by lies until one day it crashes and implodes and goes out of existence.  Lies can only keep a phony system alive for so long.

In the field of economics, for example, instead of seeking ways to combine socialism and capitalism so as to serve the peoples good, economists fill American academia with useless statistics that do not address the problem of wealth and inequality.

In a competitive society there will be winners and losers so what do we do, ignore the losers so as to tell us that our economics is scientific?  We will keep doing so until the losers in our economic system overcome the fear that holds them down and chop off the heads of the idiots that present a pack of lies as the truth.

Economics is a manmade social construct not a natural phenomenon; as a manmade thing it ought to operate in such a way that most people benefit and not benefit a few and have the many losers.

Psychology, like economics, has refused to study people as they are but, instead, studies nonsense that has no relation to real human beings whatsoever. For example, what is the use of studying family systems (Haley, 1994) if you are not willing to understand the impact of the political and economic system on the family? What evil social system has destroyed the African American family so that 75% of black children are now raised in single parent households? Can children raised in poverty whose Maslow's (1987) basic needs are not met become healthy adults? Can children born in the traumatic environment (Rank, 1944) that is inner city ghetto America become healthy folks? You can teach adults all the supposed good interpersonal relationship skills (Sullivan, 1947) you like but as long as their environment damages them you are really wasting your time.

Human beings are biological entities. They are their bodies before their society; their behaviors are primarily predicated on the state of their physical constitution, and secondarily on their social experience.

By their biological nature, I do not mean just their nervous system, as short sighted psychology studies when it claims to be studying biological psychology; I mean that the entire human body affects the individual's thinking and behavior hence psychology must study the entire human body not just the nervous system.

The field of psychology must be called biopsychology for it must entail the study of the entire human body and how it disposes people to think, behave and form the personalities that they have.

Biology determines human behavior; biology determines personality; biology is fate.

Alfred Adler (1964) was on the right path in his individual psychology that examined how the individual's bodily issues made him respond to stimuli from his physical and social worlds hence determined his lifestyle (what Adler called personality).

However, given Adler's socialist orientation (1979), he saw mental health as deriving from the individual human being serving social interests; that is, socialism is synonymous with human mental health.

Because of his socialism, capitalism worshipping Americans rejected Adler; instead, Americans concentrated on the rubbish that was called Freudian psychoanalysis (1974) and from there on moved to the equal nonsense that was called behaviorism (Watson, 1930; Skinner, 1971) and now to the dangerous practice of loading the bodies of the mentally ill with medications whose values are questionable. Whereas there are biological issues in all mental disorders, one doubts that what is called for is treating them with psychotropic medications; addressing their existential issues would go a long way in helping them more than medications do (Spinelli, 2002).

Psychoanalysis, behaviorism and medicinal psychiatry are attempts to avoid studying real people and understanding them and making efforts to structure society differently to improve people's psycho-social functioning.

America is an intellectual wasteland, literally, not figuratively. America is an intellectual fraud.  Americans are afraid to state the truth for they figure that it could lead to throwing way their oppressive economic and political system that only mostly serve white folks, to the restructuring of their racist society so that it serves all people's interests.

THE PERSONAL ROOT OF BIOPSYCHOLOGY AND EXISTENTIALISM

This afternoon (October 4, 2016) I sat in front of my computer typing multiple choice questions. It is tedious doing this task and I would rather not do it. But I had to do it so I sat right there writing questions and giving four possible correct answers to each question. Some instructors' text books come with questions in a disk that the instructor could choose from but in this case I had to write the questions. It took me five hours to write those questions.

After three hours of performing this detailed chore my body was fatigued, pained and itching all over and essentially asking me to get up and go relax it.

When I was a kid and was forced to perform detailed and or tedious work for an extended amount of time my body would feel pained and I had to stop doing the task to go relax. I could not sit at a place writing for two hours before my hands would feel cramped and tense.

My body does not like doing physical work.  When forced to do physical work the electrical transmissions in my body go haywire, firing at an alarming rate.  My body would feel in perpetual state of electrical shock (if you have been shocked by electricity you get an idea of what I am talking about except that in my case my body just behaves that way, as if it is being shocked by electricity); naturally, I feel uncomfortable and get away from the physical chore that I am doing when my body begins to act out.

This afternoon I had a task to perform, for there will be a scheduled examination in two days so I had to get the questions written. I could not postpone it. Thus, I had to endure five hours of torture before getting the task done.

Upon completing the task I left the computer desk and walked over to a couch and lay on it. I switched on the television and lo and behold the Vice Presidential candidates (Tim Kaine and Mike Pence) were having their debate. I paid attention to what they were talking about until its trivialness bored me and I turned off the television and decided to meditate.

Meditation entails trying to stop thinking. I closed my eyes and tried to stop thinking by negating my thoughts. In Hindu meditation (Bhaskarananda, 2002), one of the Upanishads asks you to say: Neti, Neti; not this, not that. It says that nothing that you can think of with your ego mind can give you the truth, so, why bother with ego thinking; make your mind a blank slate and let the truth dawn on it by itself.

According to Hinduism, ego thinking can only show you the egos world that we live in, a dream world; our world is not the true world and does not show us our true self; our true self is not the ego in body but a different self. You are told to try to silence your ego thinking and remain emptied of all thinking.

If you can stop thinking for an hour and have no thoughts, ideas and concepts in your mind you are told that you will be surprised at what you would see.

Tonight, though, I was not aiming at escaping from our egos world; I simply wanted to relax my mind and body and reduce the tension and pain that I had endured during the five hours that I was typing.

So, I lay on my couch and took deep breathes, in and slowly let them out and soon relaxed my muscles.  I could feel the tension in my legs, trunk, hands, and my entire body go away. This is literal. It is like you crumbled a cellophane paper in your fist and then let go of your fist and see the paper gradually expanding out and make some swishing sound. I could feel my body make swishing sound as it relaxed.  I felt relaxed and tension free.

As these things always happen, soon, an idea came into my mind. When I am relaxed and an idea comes into my mind I let it take me to wherever it wants to go. I neither encourage nor discourage it.

Many people have the illusion that they are in change of their thinking; however, the fact is that your thinking is in charge of you. You do not have as much control over your thinking as you think that you do.

The ego tells you that you are in control of your life and actions but the fact is that you are not. Many things are done by your body involuntarily (such as your heart's pumping and your lungs breathing). Anyway, an idea entered my mind and I let it go where it wants to go. I got out of its way and just allowed the thought to lead me to where it wants to go.

My thinking reviewed what just transpired this afternoon.  I sat on a chair, in front of a computer desk for five hours and typed away. My body felt tense and anxious, as if it was attacked and wanted to get up and get away from the attack but as an adult I forced me to sit right there and do what I got to do to earn my living.  What is worth doing is worth doing well, so, despite pain I forced myself to do a reasonable job of typing the questions.

My mind began wondering why I typed very fast; I can easily type 100 words a minute. I do everything in my life very fast.  I think very fast.  It is as if there is a part of me that says: do whatever odious chore you have to do quickly and get it done and over with and get away before pain overwhelms my body.

Since I was a kid I have always done things quickly, get it done and over with. As you can imagine, if you do things rather hurriedly you tend to make loads of mistakes. It is when you do things calmly, slowly and deliberately that you tend to be methodical and make fewer mistakes.

I do things quickly and generally do them shoddily. If I care to I may go back and redo what I did quickly. For example, I get up in the morning and in an hour or so type five single spaced pages and go take shower and go to work. In the evening, if I have the time, I go over what I typed in the morning and correct the many typographical errors I made.  If I do not go back and correct my writing they have loads of errors in them.

My mind then went from the specific to the general.  It noted that people's bodies affect what they do. In my case my problematic body affects the quality of my work and makes me do it quickly (I have cytochrome c oxidase deficiency, spondylolysis and mitral valve prolapse...inherited medical disorders).

Each of us inherited a unique body; his body affects his behavior and personality.  Each person is doing what his body enables him to do.

My body cannot do well at sports and physical work; my body is not designed to be an outstanding athlete. Some people have types of bodies that dispose them to be very good at sports and physical work. Each person's body suites him to a type of work.

Yes, as Hinduism says, the world probably is a dream. As a dream what is done in it has not been done in reality and does not matter.  Nevertheless, in the dream each person's body, albeit a dream body, disposes him to do certain things well and some not so well.  The individual's body plays a role in what he does well and his choice of vocation.

If you have a healthy body you probably can do tough, physical work; with my crummy body I cannot do any physical work, unless I want to drop dead.

If I stand on my feet for more than two hours my legs experience burning sensation, as if they are on fire and I must go sit down. When I drive cars for an extended period of time, say, over four hours, the legs on the gas pedal picks up electricity from the car and my legs go numb. I have to stop driving, get out of the car and stump my legs on the ground to regain life sensation in them. Indeed, if I sat on a seat, say, in a train or plane for several hours, upon getting to my destination and I try to get up my legs would be dead, and it would take hours to bring life back to them.

Food that people enjoy gives me stomach pains; generally after eating I have to go lie down for a while. I must be very careful what I at for all kinds of food give me stomach pain.

My nervous system works very fast. Electricity fires rapidly in my central and peripheral nervous system. Messages are sent from one neuron to the other (across the synapses) through complex biochemical behavior; that behavior involves the various neurotransmitters (such as Dopamine, Neuropiniphrine, Serotonin, GABA and Acetylcholine etc.) and electrical ions, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphor, sodium ions.

I am at present not here to talk about the nervous system and transmission of messages from one neuron to others; let us just say that my nervous system works very fast. As a result I do things very fast, including thinking very fast and make loads of mistakes.

My quick electrical response system apparently has some advantages for me.  When I was at school I used to be surprised at what other kids find difficult to do.  During examinations the other kids would sit there laboring over the questions and I would quickly do them and hand in my paper and leave the bloody traumatic classroom (as noted, writing traumatizes my hands and body).

Give me a textbook and I lie on my bed and read it from page to page non-stop. Thereafter, I could explain to you what is in the book. Simply put, I did things rapidly and was considered smart.

This evening, my mind rested on the thesis that the individual's profession, vocation, career is shaped by his body.

I concluded that Intelligence is in us and outside us and is everywhere.  Some bodies are dense and as such do not enable their owners to have access to much intelligence.  Some people have more refined and or sensitive bodies that enable universal intelligence to operate through their brains more than is found in average persons. The body each of us inherited is responsible for how universal intelligence penetrates it.

Mental disorders are caused by the individual's inherited body. The mentally and or the personality disordered inherited bodies that distort the workings of intelligence in them. How all these work out I am not currently trying to explain.

In sum, what the individual does in his life, his aptitude and interests are shaped by the nature of the body he inherited. His body shapes his sense of separated self, the ego.

However, the individual probably has a different self that is apart from his body and ego. There seem three levels of the self: the self in our dense bodies (the separated ego self), the self in light bodies (what Christians call the Christ self, Buddhists call the Buddha self and Hindus call the Atman) and the self in formless unified spirit self (our real self, what Christians call the son of God and Hindus call unified Brahman and Atman).

BODY DETERMINES THE INDIVIDUAL'S BEHAVIORS AND PERSONALITY

My problematic body led me to behave as I do and to form my personality. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (2013) and the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) test results I have avoidant personality with features of dependent and obsessive-compulsive; in psychoanalytic language, neurotic.

My personality wishes for a better self, for a better other people, better social institutions and a better world; in a word, my problematic body developed a personality that is idealistic though realistic to its needs: I wish for a better body but wishes will not change my body and give me a better body.

To obtain an ideal self requires one to have a big self hence I have a big (grandiose) self, a self that I hope would enable me to overcome all my physical difficulties but it does not.

The salient point is that my idealistic personality is the product of my pained body; that pained body wishes for an alternative healthy body, an ideal, perfect body. The exigencies of my body produced my idealistic personality, QED.

It is pointless trying to change one's body and become ideal or change other people and make them become ideal.  One has to accept one's body and self as one is and accept other people as they are, without any wish for them to be different and better.

Biology is fate; until we have changed people's bodies we cannot change their personalities.  We can study and understand our bodies and the role they play in our behavior and personalities and live with them realistically. We can help other people to understand the role their bodies play in their behaviors and the formation of their personalities, and encourage them to accept biological realism without the illusion that they can change and become ideal bodies and selves.

In childhood my over pained body made me anticipate more stimuli causing me pain and I avoided as many situations as was necessary. When I was with other kids I anticipated that they would see me as not good enough and reject me. To avoid rejection I withdrew from the other kids and kept to myself. In other words, I was, in everyday language, a shy kid and in psychological language I had avoidant personality; Karen Horney (1950) called rejection of the real self and pursuit of ideal self a neurosis.

People and their world are not going to become ideal just because we wish that they become so; we have to live with our biological realties.

You do not study psychology and or psychiatry with the hope of changing people's behaviors and personalities; you cannot succeed in changing people no matter how much you try.

We can understand the correlation of body with behavior and personality and write about it and live in peace and help people to live in peace by accepting who they are and stop wishing to become perfect persons.

THE MENTAL AND PERSONALITY DISORDERS BRIEFLY SUMMARIZED

The below definition of the various mental and personality disorders are taken from the classification of mental disorders by Kraeplin (2008) and the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (2013).

SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia is most people's understanding of mental disorder. There are many types of it, including disorganized, paranoid, catatonic, undifferentiated and residual. This mental disorder generally occurs in late teenage years and early adulthood. Suddenly, a high school or college student (ages 17-27) begins to hear voices and talks to the voices (auditory hallucination) or sees people and things that people around him do not see (visual hallucination). The disorder may also manifest in any of the other five senses, including olfactory, tactile.


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176