Behavioral psychology or behaviorism is a direct descendant of animal psychology. The basic idea is that Man is pretty much like an animal. The acceptance of this view has far-reaching negative implications for Man and his societies. The environment is considered primarily important because in the behaviorist view the environment acts upon the organism (i.e. you) to make you behave the way you do. This is a natural progression from the views of Charles Darwin where the environment was envisioned to be the sole agency responsible for the evolution of all organic life. While Darwin's ideas involved tremendous periods of time to bring about the effect in the biological organism, this theory was directly applied to Man (i.e. behaviorism) with the idea that the response or effect (i.e. behavior) results from immediate or recent environmental forces or causes (i.e. stimuli).
First, Darwin's theories are simply that - theories. They have been accepted widely as fact, but the truth is that until someone can actually go back in time and watch it all unfold, the idea will remain an attractive theory. The modern "scientific" view of Man contains as much arbitrary opinion and belief as any religion. Darwin's view takes the position that biological life constantly adapts to external forces, undergoing a constant process of change in its attempt to survive the best within whatever environment it is a part of. This sounds fine until one notices that if this were true there would be evidence of all the many biological alterations of form and structure which failed and died out - but there is no evidence of these "missing links" - especially with Man. That explains the anthropologists incessant desire to locate evidence of a missing link, so they can prove Darwin's theories once and for all. Fossil remains should show evidence of birds with stubs of wings and only half wings, or salamanders with partial legs and tails. The fossils showing these things are never found. This renders the entire theory suspect. See more on the theory of evolution.
Second, transposing Darwin's idea of evolution, which took thousands to millions of years for results to occur, to a completely different phenomena - specific behavior of organisms occurring over short periods of time - is quite a leap. Psychologists follow in the steps of scientists who want to be able to explain human behavior in the same way the physical scientists explain chemistry, mechanics and electronics. They want to be able to control Man just as the physical scientist controls matter and energy. The key here is the urge to control human beings. This is the most accurate statement of their motivation and of those who support and fund their studies (i.e. corporations and governments). The urge or compulsion to control, which basically manifests in oppressive ways, is a much closer explanation of their intention than any purported aim to understand or gain knowledge. I find this to be the most honest and correct way to understand what drives them. In fact, the urge to control behavior is mentionend often by them when discussing their own subject.
People do react and respond to their environment. That is clearly obvious. There is an observable process of stimulus-response which applies to the animal kingdom and to Man's animal nature (i.e. his physical body). But with their incessant concentration and exaggeration upon the environment as the key element, they neglect that which responds and reacts to the environment - you - a conscious and aware entity. This approach has resulted in a soulless subject which cares more about environmental forces and physical behavior, than anything human - thought, will, intention, responsibility, morality, imagination, and creativity. To them, these things are nothing more than by-products - annoying and not very important by-products.
This current "scientific" view, where every aspect of Man is forced into a mold of biological terminology and explanation assumes that consciousness itself and all related aspects of mind "evolved" through the same process of Darwinian evolution. In other words, your mind and all thought, will and imagination are biological by-products, secondary, and of little importance. Again, this is no more than a notion, a theory, an opinion. There is no proof. In this sense modern sociological and psychological views of Man are based upon ideology and faith as much as any religion. In the "scientific" view of Darwin and behaviorism, thought, will, intention, and imagination are nothing more than the results of the forces of the environment, over the long term and the short term. In the end the behaviorist view always ends up at the position where all Man is, and what he does can be explained by external forces. And since, to them, all Man does and is can be explained by external forces, this naturally leads to the view that it is their job to manipulate the forces and to "force" man to be what they desire. That's why totalitarians simply adore modern psychology and psychiatry. These subjects comprise a major part of their tools of social control. Mental force through psychology and psychiatry; physical force through police and the military.
Man is viewed primarily as an animal - the "being" aspect of a "human being" is dropped from the picture. There is no consideration or allowance for a view of Man as a mind who observes, chooses, decides and initiates action upon the environment (the basis of any philosophy where Man is granted the right and responsibility for his own actions). It's not that Man doesn't have a biological body which responds to environmental forces, he does, but the problem with this approach is that it neglects all that makes Man truly different from the rest of the animal kingdom - his awareness and ability to think. It also devalues what should be considered senior and of primary importance - Man's ability to cause effects in the environment around himself. This view of Man as a causative agent who acts upon the environment is in direct opposition to the behaviorist view which largely maintains that all Man's actions follow direct environmental forces. An accurate understanding would take both positions into account.
The mind of Man alone has brought about advances in civilization and science. The behaviorist would say that somehow the environment acted upon and induced Einstein to develop his theory of relativity, Da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa, and Benjamin Franklin to research electricity and invent the light bulb. The power is always "out there" and not "in here". To the behaviorist the creations of these men, and all results of human creativity and invention, have only to do with environmental factors, and these genius's resultant behavior (i.e. creativity, discovery, inventions) is only an effect. This is ludicrous, but believed, promoted and applied in many theories and methods used in society today. Neglecting the mind of Man is pushing civilization back in the other direction because only the recognition, empowerment and improvement of the mind of Man will take him further along the road of advancing as a civilized being. One must understand the magnitude of the philosophical slant taken by the "modern" fields of sociology and psychology. A proper, decent, empowering and correct philosophy of Man would treat Man as a mind and as an aware, reasoning, creative and responsible being who acts upon the environment to create conditions in the various areas of life. Modern psychology and psychiatry take an opposite approach. This is disastrous for us all.
Whose Who in Behaviorism
Wilhelm Wundt began the trend by asserting "The work which I here present to the public is an attempt to mark out a new domain in science." He sure did start something new, but whether it's a "science" is quite another thing.
During the period before Wundt's ascendancy in the field, psychology was considered to be the study of the soul or mind (psyche). Wundt was to change all that, defining and propagandizing for the materialistic viewpoint that would define the work of successors like Thorndike, Dewey, Pavlov, Skinner, and Watson.
According to researcher Paolo Lionni, "For Wundt, will was the direct result of the combination of perceived stimuli, not an independent, individual intention as psychology and philosophy had, with some notable exceptions, held up to that time." All internal mental states and causes came to be neglected.
Edward Lee Thorndike was trained in the new psychology by the first generation of Wundt's protégés. Thorndike was the first psychologist to study animal behavior in an experimental psychology laboratory and apply the same techniques to children and youths; as one result, in 1903, he published the book Educational Psychology. In the following years he published a total of 507 books, monographs, and articles.
Thorndike's primary assumption was the same as Wundt's: that man is an animal, that his actions are actually always reactions, and that he can be studied in the laboratory in much the same way as an animal might be studied. Thorndike equated children with the rats, monkeys, fish, cats, and chickens upon which he experimented in his laboratory and was prepared to apply what he found there to learning in the classroom. He extrapolated "laws" from his research into animal behavior which he then applied to the training of teachers, who took what they had learned to every corner of the United States and ran their classrooms, curricula, and schools on the basis of this new "educational" psychology.
This is the same approach taken with psychiatry. The story of electric shock began in 1938, when Italian psychiatrist Ugo Cerletti visited a Rome slaughterhouse to see what could be learned from the method that was employed to butcher hogs. In Cerletti's own words, "As soon as the hogs were clamped by the [electric] tongs, they fell unconscious, stiffened, then after a few seconds they were shaken by convulsions.... During this period of unconsciousness (epileptic coma), the butcher stabbed and bled the animals without difficulty...." Animals were observed and these observations directly applied to Man. Why would anyone choose to go to a slaughterhouse, observe the destruction of hogs, and imagine for a second that this would lead to a "new" and "enlightened" understanding of Man? And for what purpose? But this is what was done.
Pavlov studied physiology at Leibzig University in Germany five years after Wilhelm Wundt had a laboratory there. He became famous for his experiments where he got dogs to salivate by ringing a bell.
To Dewey, as to Wundt, man was an animal, alone with his reactions and entirely dependent upon experiential data. He believed that learning occurred only through experience (i.e. environmental stimuli), that the stimulus-response mechanism was basic to learning, and that teachers were not instructors, but designers of learning experiences. Dewey was able to promote the interchangeability of psychology and education. Yet Dewey, the "Father of American Education", was only one of the practitioners of Wundt's revised psychology who critically transformed American education and, consequently, American life.
Following Thorndike came John B. Watson, who is often referred to as the true father of behaviorism. Watson had gotten his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1903 under James R. Angell and John Dewey. He decided to dispense with the human mind altogether. Watson wrote in 1924:
Behaviorism ... holds that the subject matter of human psychology is the behavior of the human being. Behaviorism claims that consciousness is neither a definite nor a usable concept.In the late 1930s, Harvard psychologist (B.F.) Skinner, an unapologetic student of Wundt's theories, and a member of U.S. Army intelligence, fine-tuned the art of human control into what he termed "operant conditioning," becoming a guru to generations of mind shapers that followed. His simple notion was that the reinforcement of a repeated negative stimulus (punishment) or positive stimulus (reward) formed the basis for learned behavior. Skinner's early experiments produced pigeons that could dance, do figure eights, and play table tennis. His experiments did not stop with pigeons. Skinner's most famous invention, aimed at producing a "socialized child," was the environmentally controlled "Skinner box," a crib-sized container into which he put scores of children, including his own. His ultimate aim was not only to control the behavior of isolated persons, but to gain insights into how to control society as a whole.
The Truth About Behaviorism
The approach of modern behavioral psychology throws out any and all concepts of consciousness, awareness, thought, will, responsibility, etc., because to the behavioral psychologist none of these things can be observed by a second party. They don't exist to them. This is absurd because each of us knows full well that we are conscious, have thoughts, act on will and are aware. What kind of world can possibly exist where Man is viewed as an animal with no mind, will, self-control or responsibility? Obviously, not a very good one, yet governments all over the world endorse and extensively fund behavioral psychology.
The US government has spent millions of dollars on behavioral research. Behavioral methods are nothing but about control, and more and more, in accordance with some social scientist's notions of what constitutes an ideal society. Modern educational theories and practices are riddled with this attitude, and it should be no surprise that modern society is deteriorating. The denial of Man's mind, and all this entails - thought, will, reason, imagination, creativity, responsibility, morality, and self-determinism - is a direct cause of modern rampant violence, crime, and immorality.
The modern social scientist claims they are "true" scientists and that they provide the true path to understanding Man and societies. They claim their views and methods will lead to solutions for all Man's problems. They are wrong. Observing the current state of society makes this painfully obvious. When Wilhelm Wundt chose to dispel with the mind of Man as an object of scientific investigation, he set the entire modern world on a collision course with chaos.
Most traditional religious and even modern New Age views consider Man to possess, have or be a soul. Man's essence involves an "inner" personality, invisible to physical detection, but real and substantial nonetheless. This is the "indwelling agent" which upsets B. F. Skinner so much (see above link). Without getting into an argument or discussion about a "soul" or "spirit", it can still be correctly said that thoughts, ideas, feelings and imagination are truly invisible. They can't be seen or detected by anyone except the person who has them, but they are real. An idea can't be weighed, a feeling can't be monitored, the imagination can't be observed, and intention can't be detected - except by the person having these things. These things can be inferred by an observer through the observation of behavior and communication, but they can only be directly experienced by the person themselves.
To anticipate the arguments of proponents of the biological school, yes, there might be some slight correlation between EEG and brain wave tests to thought, emotional states, and imagination, and electrical and chemical forces do effect changes in thought and emotions, but there is a huge difference between detecting relational electrical and chemical processes in a brain, and visa versa, and the actual thoughts, emotions and mental phenomena themselves (as experienced by any person whose thoughts and emotions these are). The objective measuring of mental phenomena via a brain or otherwise using devices and electronic gadgetry can never and will never be the same as the personal experience of the subjective reality. They are of a different order of things. The modern "scientific" view ignores and denies this.
Obviously, if the content of a mind is invisible, so can be the mind itself. What it is, how it functions, and where it is has not been figured out, because taking a purely "scientific" approach as applied to the physical sciences, they have taken the view that if it can't be seen, quantified, and measured with traditional scientific measuring tools, then it doesn't exist, and isn't worth considering, examining or investigating. This is the attitude and approach originally taken by the experimental psychology of Wilhelm Wundt, and it has been followed ever since. But functionally the mind exists and does the things described above, even if the mechanics of it and the actual relationship to the body aren't clearly understood.
What the psychologists propose and promote is absurd. I have a mind. You have a mind. We all know this even though no scientist can ever prove it. A mother loves her newborn child. This "love" cannot be seen or experienced directly by anyone except the mother. She knows it exists. She feels it, and others feel it through physical interaction and her behavior. This argument could go on for many other aspects of human mental activity. But the modern scientist would have us believe it is meaningless and not worthy of examination because it can't be quantified and measured. The realm of mind is interesting in this regard, because while not being open to objective verification or proof, it still very much exists. Lord, how the scientist rebels against that idea. It seems to drive some of them completely mad! What drives them mad is the fact that the mind doesn't seem to be part of or follow in the same manner as how the rest of the experiencable physical universe operates and exists. The true materialist goes quite hysterical when presented with this notion.
The scientific method could be applied to the realm of the mind. It hasn't ever been. Instead it has been ignored. The aspects of mind, such as attention, intention, will, concentration, awareness, belief, imagination and even responsibility need to be examined within their own context. Since they never can be examined objectively with regards to mechanical operation, they need to be dealt with functionally - how these aspects of mind function, what they do, how they do it, how to enhance these things, and how to develop personal control of these things. The modern materialistic approach of science flat out ignores and denies all this. Its a lazy way out, and intellectually dishonest. It ignores what is clearly obvious to any even slightly observant person - we each have a mind, it's invisible for all practical purposes to the physical senses, and it does many things. In fact, it is much more the actual source of social and life conditions than any whacky behavioral notion of environmental forces or a psychiatrist's notions of genetics.
The primary problem is that the mind of Man was forsaken as an object of "scientific" investigation. Instead, Man has come to be viewed solely as a biological organism, to be addressed genetically and in a stimulus-response manner, like any other animal. This is absurd because it is only Man's mind which separates us from the rest of the biological kingdoms. Granted, Man has done some really oppressive things with his mind, from massive annihilation of his fellows to the destruction of a good part of his environment, but this doesn't excuse consigning it to the garbage bin. It is also the source of everything great, decent and wonderful. The solution is not to throw out the mind because it has failed at times, but to dig in, investigate, and solve why it fails, and also to promote and encourage all that is good about it. This is the flaw of modern psychology. They attempt to "solve" Man by neglecting what he or she is at the most fundamental level - a mind. The result is biochemistry, behaviorism, and genetics instead of a true understanding of Man and his mind.
Various subjects, traditionally called religions, although actually dealing more with psychology (a "study of the mind" by definition), have studied this invisible aspect of Man. The Vedic Hymns of the Hindus, Sufism and various segments of Buddhism (i.e. yoga) have examined and produced numerous techniques to become aware of and expand the potentials of a mind. Western thought has systematically ignored these subjects due to a misunderstanding of terms, intellectual bias, cultural prejudice, and also due to a general tendency of these subjects to affiliate themselves with religious opinions and dogma - which has alienated many investigators. Despite all that, these things have never been carefully or honestly examined by any traditional modern techniques utilizing the methods of science. Instead the mind has been forgotten, and we now have biopsychiatry, behaviorism, and whacky psychological theories which somehow aim to "cure mental illness" while ignoring and denying the mind. How can they treat and cure an "illness of the mind" when they quite admittedly deny the very existence of the mind? It's impossible. They aren't dealing with minds - not at all - they deal with other things (i.e. behavior, genetics) while pretending to deal with minds. It's a mammoth fraud and farce.
Realize a large portion of behavioral psychology, especially the basic assumptions, are ideological in nature. They are not based upon firm science, observable fact or provable theories. True scientists welcome dissenting views, and even encourage opposite views as a prod to further research, the formation of new theories, and the expansion of knowledge and understanding. Modern psychologists largely abhor, resist, and actively fight dissent, dissident views and conflicting opinions. They are not true "scientists" and the subjects have little to do with true "science". As with all belief systems based upon ideology, and not science, the adherents resist opposing views. Science always subjects itself to rigorous challenges that seek to falsify its premises, but ideologies can never be proven wrong - they are opinions held with conviction - beliefs not subject to correction or change.
Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, was threatened with getting thrown off his professorship at a major college because he didn't "believe in mental illness". In his book, The Myth of Mental Illness, he had extensive proof, documentation, and presented a very intelligent and logical argument supporting his position. But it didn't matter. He was an ideological heretic. He didn't follow the party line. He had the audacity to disagree with the tenets, dogma and orthodoxy of modern psychiatry. This is an example of just how much more psychiatry (and psychology) functions and exists as an ideology than as any legitimate science, and as such, how it deals little with valid facts about the nature of Man and his mind and more with opinions, bias and prejudice. The concept of Man having, possessing and utilizing his or her mind is not a part of the "modern scientific" view of Man. It isn't allowed. It is frowned upon, ridiculed, and belittled. It is considered uneducated, archaic and amusing. It is quite heretical to the modern rigid materialistic belief system of the social sciences.
Behaviorism is one aspect of the incorrect modern view of Man accepted and endorsed by professionals and members of various academic fields who should know better. That so many don't doesn't portend well for future life on this planet.
Meaning & Motivation - the truth about what really makes people really do things, but more what enables them to live life causatively as a sane and responsible human being.
Taking the "Psyche" Out of Psychology - a history of behaviorism by Jim Keith.
Suggested Reading!The Leipzig Connection by Paolo Lionni
Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal by Bruce Wiseman
About Behaviorism - by B. F. Skinner
Beyond Freedom and Dignity - by B. F. Skinner
Behaviorism - by John Watson
Waldon Two - by B. F. Skinner
Dewey On Education - by John Dewey
Democracy and Education - by John Dewey
The School and Society - by John Dewey
Experience and Education - by John Dewey
Say NO To Psychiatry!
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