Arguments against behavioral psychology come down to an argument of what actually motivates a person and how. The traditional behaviorist view maintains that the environment acts upon the organism to coerce or induce it to act. They proclaim, "control the environment and you make the man!" Negative reinforcement results in inducing things not to be done, and positive reinforcement compels things to be done. For a certain limited and very confined aspect of human life this may be true, but these concepts are incapable of understanding or explaining other, much larger, activities of Man such as duty, sacrifice, hard work with little apparent "return", and Man's complex relationships with all aspects of life such as family, jobs, hobbies, politics and religion.
The language itself confuses the issue. The entire unliving world of matter, chemistry, energy, physics and electronics follows the idea that behavior of matter and energy follow other earlier events (or causes). Behavior in this field always follows external factors that initiate other actions.
Examples of unliving, pure matter:
Centuries of rain eroded away the topsoil. ("The topsoil was removed by centuries of rain.")
The wind blew away the dead leaves. ("The leaves were blown away by the wind".)
The force of the blow felled the old tree. ("The tree was knocked down by the force of the blow".)
The meteor's impact sent debris flying far and wide. ("Debris flew far and wide upon the meteor's impact".)
The brick was crushed by the heavy falling I-beam. ("The I-Beam fell and crushed the brick".)
Current was induced in the circuit when the magnet was moved past the wire coil. ("The motion of the magnet past the wire coil induced a current in the circuit".)
The chemical reaction could only be forced by raising the temperature to 200 degrees. (Raising the temperature to 200 degrees brought about the chemical reaction".)
The rolling ball was prevented from going any further by the wall ("The wall stopped the rolling ball".)
In the world of unliving, raw matter and energy, which is the object of study for the physical sciences, the law of cause and effect is absolute. Behavior of everything and anything follows directly from immediately preceding events and situations. Because of this the physical sciences enjoy a high degree of success in understanding, predictability of results, and control. From the point of view of this discussion, as far as the subject matter of the physical sciences go, the behavior of specific events and situations follows directly from preceding or external factors. Effects follow causes, in the same way, and every time. Behavior never misbehaves if the causes are properly controlled. This is what is expected by and of the physical scientist - 100% predictability of results. That is fine and as it should be. With the social sciences and people, this isn't as it should be.
Examples of living things:
The plant was torn out of the ground by the tornado. ("The tornado tore the plant out of the ground.")
The algae was reduced by the continual cloud cover. (The cloud cover reduced the algae".)
The worn was washed away by the flood. (The flood washed away the worm".)
The tree was filled with fruit following months of rain and sunshine. (The months of rain and sunshine filled the tree with fruit.")
The seed was carried afar by the wind. (The wind carried the seed afar.")
The shrub grew steadily for 10 years due to good soil, plentiful rainfall, and routine sunshine. (The good soil, plentiful rainfall, and routine sunshine made for a steadily growing tree for 10 years.")
Plant life also pretty much responds to external factors, both positive and negative, in consistent and predictable ways. If the right type of soil, rain and sunshine are provided to similarly healthy seeds, the resulting plants should be nearly similar. In actual practice this is not quite so. The plants don't look exactly the same, not ever, due to a combination of inherent subtle differences, and variations in environmental factors such as wind, and natural protection. No botanist can make any two seeds sprout and grow, much less develop and look exactly the same no matter how controlled the experiment (i.e. the environment). And while botanists do much to enhance and extend plant life, it is absurd to think they have an ability of control anywhere approaching the physical sciences described above. This only gets more complicated as the form of life becomes more advanced. It gets absurd when a mind enters into the equation and similar control is desired or attempted.
Examples of animals:
The approaching lion forced all the smaller animals into hiding. ("The smaller animals were forced into hiding by the approaching lion".) *"The smaller animals hid from the approaching lion."
The bird was threatened by the large snake and rapidly flew away. ("The large snake threatened the bird and forced it to rapidly fly away.") *"The bird flew away to avoid the threat of the large snake."
The scarecrow prevented birds from attacking the corn field. ("The birds were prevented from attacking the corn field by the scarecrow".)
The noise of the truck scared away the squirrels. ("The squirrels were scared away by the noise of the truck".) *"The squirrels ran away from the loud noise of the truck". *"The squirrels quickly moved away from the loud truck due to its irritating loud noise".
The eggs were encouraged to hatch by three weeks of controlled warm temperature in an incubator. (Three weeks of controlled temperature in an incubator encouraged the eggs to hatch".)
The hungry fox forced the gopher to duck into his hole. (The gopher was forced to duck in his hole by the hungry fox.") *"The gopher ducked in his hole to avoid the hungry fox".
The warm sunshine persuaded the turtle to relax on the log. (The turtle was persuaded to relax on the log by the warm sunshine) *"The turtle relaxed in the warm sun". *Because the turtle enjoyed the feeling of warmth on its shell, the turtle crawled into the warm sun and relaxed on the log".
The question of cause and decision begins to now get quite hazy. It is true that the lion motivates the smaller animals into hiding, the large snake encourages the bird to fly away, the scarecrow inhibits the birds from eating the corn, the noise of the truck acts to induce the squirrels to leave the area, the incubator caused the eggs to hatch, the hungry fox was the motivation for the gopher to duck down in his hole, and the sunshine motivated the turtle to lay on the log.
But do each of these, in every case, equally and to the same degree, actually cause the later effect? There are other ways to look at each. In the preceding examples, when an alternate possible view on what is occurring with the motivation is possible I have written this example after the others, preceded by a star (*).
In the example with the lion, the smaller animals could just have well sensed the presence of the lion, via sight or sound, and due to past experience with lions and similar predators, chosen to hide and extend their life. This would imply some level of understanding within the animals that few of us assign to them. What actually seems to be occurring is that the small animals have learned to hide when lions appear. The small animals don't even require experience with lions to develop the habit of hiding from lions - they simply know to do it when the situation arises. This is called genetic endowment, hereditary learning, or instinct. Truthfully, modern scientists don't know how instincts came about. They have never observed any developing, and they aren't able to alter or produce instincts at will in organisms. The truth is that what instincts are and how they develop are anybody's guess. Some may proclaim evolution as the explanation but the Darwinian theory itself is largely suspect.
Similarly the bird noticed the large snake and flew away. Saying it was "threatened" involves a bit of anthropomorphosization (to ascribe human attributes to animals, plants, or unliving things). We don't know if the animal was threatened, or felt its survival endangered. It sensed the large snake and it flew away. Did it know the snake was a snake, and that it could kill it, or was this more a case of an instinctual action where the bird simply flies away whenever it senses anything presenting a possible danger? Did the snake make the bird fly away, as a cause? Was the bird's behavior a direct result of the snake as a stimulus?
The scarecrow seemed to "scare" away the birds. It did look like a man, with head, arms and legs, and even clothes, and birds routinely fly away from people when they see them. Is this because people have attempted to catch and have shot arrows and bullets at birds for hundreds or thousands of years and so birds now stay away? I doubt it, because some birds have no or little experience with humans and fly away anyway as an automatic response to the sight of a human. It seems to be another case of instinctual activity where the animal simply bolts to remove itself from potential danger. The animal doesn't necessarily understand any of this, and has no notion of concepts such as "man", "danger", "survival", "safety" and "scarecrow", and in this sense its behavior has very little to do with intelligence, thought, will or determination as we experience these things.
To say, "The determination of the bird to escape the predator was admirable" is more anthropomorphization. "Determination", as it is understood as a human concept and with regards to humans, most likely doesn't exist in any animal. They may "look like" they are "determined", because the lips of their mouth seem tightly pursed, or it may act in a "determined way" by refusing to back off and continuing to attack at an enemy, but these behaviors are definitely not due to anything we know as determination - a power of mind, mental capability, an indwelling factor such as resolve or will. Many aspects of living and unliving things are perceived and discussed within an anthropomorphic context - it's almost impossible not to do it. What occurs here is we all, chronically, apply human analogies or metaphors to inanimate or living things, which don't have any of these capabilities or qualities - we have them, we recognize them in ourselves and others, and we transfer them to everything around us via our language. Poetry is filled with this type language, but so is regular language.
In all cases the animals or things are ascribed qualities, which they most likely do not possess, at least not as we experience and understand them. It is safe to say that for most animals the action of behavior is instinctual and automatic. It doesn't involve thought or decision. Its like when a match is brought near your hand and you react and pull it away. Bang! Automatic, with no thought. It's an instinct.
Animals can be taught tricks, generally by positive reinforcement. Give a dog treats and you can have it rolling over and playing dead in no time. But all dogs can't do it, and all people can't teach those that can. There is more going on here than meets the eye. Also, apes learn basic things such as eating habits. This is evidenced because the same type ape, living only a hundred miles part in Africa, eat different things and even use different techniques when eating. The young are presented with these behaviors and they seem to pick them up by observation. I wouldn't say it's positive or negative reinforcement, other than they do it after seeing it enough times.
Interestingly, animals survive the best when left alone and not tampered with. We have all heard the story of the injured deer that was taken in by a family, cared for, fed, and then released only later to be quite unable to survive because it has been "trained", "domesticated", and couldn't seem to be able to differentiate valid danger such as predators and hunters. There are not any methods of any behavioral engineer anywhere in the world that has been able to alter the behavior of any animal, which results in it being better able to compete or survive. Their tinkering actually decreases the ability of the animal to survive in its natural environment. They are making rats run in circles, dogs salivate, chickens dance, and hamsters pound on a bar to get food pellets. Where do they get off assuming they will be able to induce Man to survive better if they can't even do it with simple animals? Unless their goal is more along the lines of also making us all dance in circles and dance to their whims. And who decides which circles, how large and what dances to dance?
The motivation of animals seems to be quite instinctive. Psychologists can make them do dumb things through positive and negative reinforcement, but these never increase the survival potential of the animals. The question begs to be asked - then why bother? What is being investigated? What is being understood? What purpose does it all have? Especially, why bother to transpose the theories and practices to humans? But let's now look at humans, the actual subject of all this.
Examples of people:
His mother's love and care through many years determined his own outlook and so it was natural for him to act with care and love to his own children.
The new bonus system encouraged him to meet his sales quotas.
The thief's threat of violence to his child compelled him to hand over all his money.
The threat of further pain forced the spy to tell his interrogator the secrets he was withholding.
The torrential rain kept us inside all day.
Of course the mother's love affected her son. We are all affected by everything around us. But 10 different people could respond ten different ways to the same mother's exact love. Did the mother's love cause her son's same love? I would say it is more accurate to say the consistent and quality love she surrounded her son with acted upon his mind, in such a way that he noticed, appreciated, and came to understand her love, and also consciously chose to act similarly to his own children years later. But to say "acted upon" again imbues the external factor with too much over-exaggeration of power and influence. Yes, of course, without the love he would have nothing to observe and experience, nothing to draw from, and no personal example to emulate. The best way to look at life experiences, external forces, and situations is as "food for thought". The specific situation, of course, by its very nature, and the nature of the person themselves, implies certain given possibilities of response. The exact response taken or chosen though depends upon a large number of factors such as intelligence, experience, tendencies, habits, goals, sense of responsibility, morals, will, intention, creativity, imagination and ability. The mental sphere of each person contains a large potential arsenal of tools and ways to deal with life situations, problems or stimuli.
Due to the wording, the new bonus system is taken to be the cause of his high sales. But this sentence could be re-stated, "He met his sales quotas by understanding the new bonus system, practicing his sales techniques daily, spending two extra hours at work each day for the past two weeks, and through a firm intention to reach his goal." The man's understanding of the bonus system resulted in him choosing to practice, spend more time at work, and intending to reach his sales goal no matter what (i.e. firm resolve or will). In this sentence, while the bonus system does act as an initiator of events, it doesn't necessarily cause them. Five different salesman can react and respond in five different ways to the new bonus system. It's not the bonus system that causes anything specifically. The language used above makes it seem that way, but it's not so. It may initiate a further sequence of events, but the new sequence is largely dependent on the mind of the person related to the new bonus system and how they choose to respond to the information. Obviously, without the bonus system nobody could excel from it or by it, but once it's there it's up to the salesman to take initiative and action, and also realize, some salesmen will do quite well even without the bonus system, because they already do what they need to do to achieve their desires and goals. It would be better to view the bonus system as "information", which the person "processes" with their mind, to use a computer analogy, and then in accordance with their own individual values, purposes and goals the person initiates actions upon the surrounding environment as a self-determined response. This is far different from what modern psychology asserts is occurring.
The thief's threat of harm to the man's child would have a dramatic effect on his behavior, but only if he considered his daughter's life and safety important. The man's entire view of life, himself, his daughter, and all the related values and meanings attached to these things come into play. There may well be some fathers who would refuse to hand over the money, putting their own daughter's life in danger, because they don't value life, don't have much meaning attached to their children or children in general, are thoroughly confused from drug use, or any number of other factors. Again, the thief's threats initiate a sequence of responses, but the responses would vary from person to person according to each person's values, goals, purposes, intentions and understanding of many things, including the thief (how sincere or crazy does he appear to be), his child (is she calm, is she nervous, what are his concepts and values regarding her), his money (how much is it, his relative value for money, the meaning he attaches to the specific money in his pocket, what it was intended for), where the crime scene is taking place (are cars nearby, are people nearby, are police nearby), and numerous other things. Obviously there is more "information" available to the man than just "he is being robbed", and his ability to observe and utilize the immediate information of the situation, and effectively communicate with his daughter and the thief, may have much to do with whether he and his daughter survive the ordeal. The situation is dynamic and involves a tremendous amount of factors. In a sense the situation with the thief caused the man to hand over the money, but in another sense it didn't - the man's decision and choices, based upon his values and meaning, were the actual determinants. The robbery was a situation, information, or data. He chose to respond to it in his own unique manner. This one example shows how many factors come into play in a short-lived situation. It is not just a matter of reacting or behaving to external stimuli. Reducing it to such a simplistic view is very short-sighted and invalid for a true understanding of human interactions with life.
In 1984 I drove a taxi cab in NYC for a few years. A friend of mine was murdered driving a cab, having been held up by a passenger. I don't know what he did, how he responded, or what happened, but I do know he was prone to excitement and inability to pay much attention to people and things. I picked up a passenger one evening. He asked me to take him to a very bad neighborhood. I "felt" something very wrong. I immediately attempted to talk to the guy because I knew that if I could get him to talk to me that he would have a harder time viewing me as a non-entity who he could rob or kill. My attempts to get him to talk about something kept failing until I finally mentioned the subject of fishing. He brightened up for a second, and I dove into this area by talking and questioning. By the time we got to the destination we were involved in a very lively discussion. When I stopped he pulled out a gun and told me he had intended to rob me, but wasn't going to because I was "all right". He paid me and even tipped me.
The point is that I used my own awareness, intuition, observation, communication skills, and determination to handle the situation. No behavioral approach would or could explain what I did. Yes, I did learn everything I used in the situation, but it was through personal work at striving to understand people and from the study of many books and subjects. It wasn't from some behavioral manipulation of external events and experiences that provided me with my skills. It was from an active desire and ability to pay attention, observe, study and learn. What saved me were various qualities of a mind, not some behavioral response to a dangerous situation.
The appeal to torture and pain in the spy example involves appealing to the imagination and fears of the spy in the threatened implementation of the painful stimuli (i.e. an electric shock to the genitals). It is usually the spy's recall of past pain, possibly recently experienced, coupled with the vivd imagination of further pain brought about by the interrogator's methods, and the desire not to experience any more that creates the effect. On this bare physical level of extreme pain, there is little room for thought, will, imagination and responsibility in any positive sense. But the language implies the threat held all the power and result. It's not that simple. Behaviorists make the most sense when dealing with simple situations like the use of pain, food deprivation or other techniques of torture. This is why governments experiment with these methods. But these cases involve brute force where Man is reduced to not much more than an animal striving to guarantee its basic biological survival. Torture and brain washing techniques, aspects of applied psychology and psychiatry, rely on reducing Man to this level of raw animal instinctual survival. This involves the application of brute force to the organism and this seems to be where psychiatry and psychology have their greatest success. This doesn't say much for them as legitimate studies in the understanding of what's decent and positive about people. The problem is that life, to most people, is much more than simply an interest in raw, basic biological survival. Basic survival is necessary, but once that has been achieved, which is common for most of us, we involve ourselves with other interests that cannot be explained or understood from the level of raw animal survival, which is the primary domain of the behaviorist.
I wouldn't say that the torrential rain held a complete cause quality. To people who don't like to get wet or who consider rain an impediment to playing tennis, it may seem to have induced them to stay indoors. More accurately, they took the data of the torrential rain, and in accordance with their own goals, intentions, ideas and considerations decided upon a course of action - not to go out. But there are people who love to walk in the rain, and who would have a great time playing a very messy game of tennis in the pouring rain. The rain is a situation. It's not a cause or stimuli as explained and understood by the behaviorist. The people respond to and initiate a sequence of actions dependent upon their mindset, considerations, values and meaning attached to all the various topics involved (i.e. rain, getting wet, what they planned to do, etc.).
In all cases the language makes it sound like the external event or situation holds the upper hand and is the determining factor of cause, inducing, forcing or coercing the person to specific behavior. The attention is placed on the external event as the primary element of cause, with the response of the person an effect. Because much of the human language deals with states, conditions and motion of physical objects and things (i.e. their behavior), it makes sense that much of the terminology used to explain anything, including Man, would fall within this context. This is a mistake. But this bias of language makes it both difficult to discuss invisible inner states and processes of the mind, and tends to explain away mental processes as something else more related to the world of the behavior of and relationships between physical things. The behaviorist feels home in this context, but it is a very limited way to view and understand Man and all he does.
Primitive people often attributed "spirits" and "souls" to everything around them - trees, rocks, animals, the wind, planets, stars, etc. This was probably simply another case of Man's tendency to use the language of anthropomorphism. Man's first association with cause involved his decision to move something and then it moved. Early Man probably assumed that if his action to move things is controlled by an invisible entity (i.e. himself), so must everything else be. As Man advanced he shed his tendency to personify the actions of the physical universe in this way, but even physics had a tendency to attribute the actions of things to wills, impulses, feelings, purposes and other attributes of an indwelling spirit. According to Butterfield, Aristotle argued that a falling body accelerated because it grew more jubilant as it found itself nearer home. Modern science tore away this false understanding of the physical universe. The behavioral scientist makes the mistake of trying to remove the mind of Man from the equation in their attempt to emulate the actions of the physical scientists by removing all sense of inner motivation and cause.
Complexity of Behavior
It is a tremendous leap to go from making a rat or chicken run in circles through behavioral techniques to inducing an actual human being to "care for the environment", "love his fellow Man", "show up at work on time", "get along with others", "contribute to one's family", "act responsibly for one's health", and "act lovingly to children". It is important to keep in mind that the behavioral engineer refuses to appeal to arguments, reason, logic or anything related to the inner subjective state of the person as a way to alter behavior - they only deal with environmental forces and factors. The notion of discussing, appealing to intelligence, and logical argument with the aim to bring about a change in behavior through the willing and self-determined intention and resultant actions of a person is anathema to them. They would much rather "trick" you into complying than grant the you the ability, right and power to learn, change your own mind, and act in a new way.
The idea of setting up an entire society with a complex series of enforcers, designed to elicit specific behaviors from all people at all time, is completely ludicrous. First, this would be impossible. Second, the idea of this results from taking the notion of simple experiments with animals and nonchalantly transposing this notion to an entirely different type of organism (Man), and on a completely different scale of magnitude (i.e. one rat in one cage compared to an entire company, population or society). Obviously the concepts involving the larger complex arrangement of people and societies have absolutely no basis in fact or observation. It's a much too loose transference of ideas from one system or activity to another completely different set where the concepts then rapidly enter the realm of imagination, flights of fancy, wishful thinking, theories and fairy tales. They call this "science" but it is no such thing. People aren't rats, and the complexity of a group of human beings is extremely different from a few dancing chickens.
Motivation as an Internal Process
People do respond and react to the environment. Life is nothing but responding to, dealing with, handling, and solving situations that present themselves to us each in the environment. As mentioned earlier, situations and events present themselves, but these don't cause specific outcomes as much as they simply initiate sequences of actions dependent upon the decisions and thoughts of specific people. It's easy to fall for this attitude because all any of us actually see are the situations and the behaviors of people in response to them. We experience other people's behavior, which while being the results of their own unique thought processes we don't personally experience these thought processes. We can infer these in other people only because we can observe them in ourselves. Possibly the psychologists have a hard time noticing their own internal world of thought, and simply assume nobody else can have these things because they don't themselves - at least as far as they are concerned. The only way to understand what is going on is to become aware of your own personal internal world of thought. That is the only world of thought any of us can ever truly understand because it is the only world of thought we are intimately and directly associated with and can personally experience.
Survival, interpreted as raw biological survival is far from the whole picture of life. Survival applies to very many things above and beyond biological survival of our own body and includes such things as a friends, relationships, hobbies, pets, family, groups, clubs, the environment, the ozone layer, even to Mankind, and our personal relation with all these things. These things survive with respect to quantity (size and over time) and quality (achievements, success, manner of existence or operation). Behaviorism applies only to the smallest aspect of self-awareness (the body, its pleasure, its existence as a physical thing, its needs). Modern humanistic psychology concerns itself largely with only this also, and in doing so grossly limits the sphere of human involvement and true concern for survival. "Self-expression", "self-realization", and "expansion of self" used to refer to one's involvement with all the various aspects of life, but within these subjects has deteriorated into selfish personal concern. Individual personal survival has become a battle against everything else - family, one's job, friends, the environment, race, and religion. Expression of self has come to mean freeing oneself from the limiting and harmful influences of all these other things, whereas expression and expansion of self should mean the acceptance, participation in, and willing responsibility for these things.
The body and physical organism gets all the attention because it is the only thing that is tangibly there, which can be perceived with the physical senses. To the modern social scientist, influenced by behaviorism, your attitudes and values can't be detected about anything accurately, but your behavior can, so that's all they address. A family, group, or environment doesn't exist in the same way as one's body. To some degree, the understanding of these involve abstractions and concepts, but they are also very much experienceable. Whenever you talk to a single human being, that human being is right there, in the same form they always are in - the appearance is consistent, and they tend to act fairly consistent. This gives an apparency of stability and sameness over time. Because the other forms of existence, such as friends, hobbies, pets, family, groups, clubs, political parties, and religion don't exist in a constant never-changing form we have a tendency to ignore them as real things. But they are real. Why? Because we each consider them to be so. And because we do assign all these things meaning, importance and value, we experience them as such. For example, if a person has no care or concern for children, he won't have a family even if he has children. It means nothing to that person. Life takes on its various forms for each of us in exact proportion to the meaning and significance we attach to these things. They don't exist in themselves. Let's take the example of a family and take a closer look at this.
First, we have the simple definition of a group of people, usually a husband and a wife, often with children, including grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. The "close" family is usually understood to mean mom, dad and the kids, and sometimes the grandparents. When we talk about family we usually refer to the group of individuals made up of these parts - father, mother, and children.
Second, beyond this simple definition there is an infinite variety of possibilities for how any family manifests. A family is not usually experienceable as a family except when all its members are together at one time in the same place. Then the family can be directly observed and experienced. But the concept of a family gets to be such a complex thing, spread over time, spread over space, and involved with many relationships, values and meanings. It obviously doesn't exist in the same way that an individual exists, but it exists nonetheless. How does it exist?
A family exists to the degree that each member considers it to exist, no more and no less. What it is, how it is, and how it is experienced by any member has to do only with the concepts, meaning and value each member has about their personal concept of family as a whole, and as regards each unique member of one's own family. Obviously the analysis of this can get quite complex in a very short time.
An outside observer can also observe the family by talking to its members, and by watching various members in action with each other and with others outside the family. But how the observer views the family will have much to do with how he understands the concept of family, but more, what values and meaning he attaches to the concept of family.
Let's say we go to observe and learn about a family. There is Sally, the mom, Bill, the dad, and Rusty the 6-year old child. Initially we will deal with raw facts such as their ages, jobs, where they live, how much money they make, and what their hobbies are. This seems clear cut and simple enough, but let's say Sally is 57 years old and Bill is 26. Many of us would immediately begin discussing whether this age difference can work. Questions will be asked such as, "is it fair for Sally to have a child at such an old age when she may die while the child is still young?", "is Bill after her money?", "how does Rusty react to the extreme age difference between his parents?", "can this really be an honest loving relationship?", and hundreds more. The discussion moves very quickly from basic facts to questions of right and wrong, should and shouldn't, and underlying motivations. In other words the discussion has jumped right into questions of meaning and value. Each observer has their own concept of what constitutes a family, but more, what comprises a legitimate family, a workable family, and a successful family, and also a dysfunctional family, a failing family, and a bad family. The point is that what a family is has more to do with what individual people conceive it to be than any actual objective thing. To try to deal with the concept of a family "objectively" or "scientifically" in an unbiased, value-free approach is absurd. It can't be done, at least not in any way that results in any useful understanding or means to assist a family to survive better. The observable fact is only that a family is a grouping of people, usually a husband and a wife sometimes with children, and all else about families is largely opinion, ideas and personal notions of meaning and value about the subject of families and their own family. The actual facts or truth of anyone's experience of a family involves non-objective and largely unobservable aspects of the human mind.
The same is true for each family member. Each member has a different combination of concepts about the family, its members, the relationships between them all, and different relative meaning and value attached to a tremendous number of notions about families in general and their family in specific. A valid "scientific" approach to a family would have to address the concepts, meanings and values people hold about families. That would involve the facts of what is involved with any family, its manifestation, and its success or failure. The survival of any family, with quality and over time, has much more to do with each member's personal attitudes, values and meaning than anything else. Concentrating on the behavior of people in families is a useless venture, except as an index to understanding underlying attitudes, values and meaning.
This is true for everything. A friend, hobby, boy scout troop, bowling league, school, class, job, company, the environment, one's race, one's religion, and even Mankind and the planet. We each have generally agreed-upon meanings of what each thing means, by definition, but outside of that we each have a tremendous number of concepts, meanings and values, and relative importances attached to each thing or concept. Out of this manifests the constantly changing ebb and flow we experience as life. Only by addressing the mind of Man - one's thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, meaning and values - in relation to these things will lead anywhere positive, because this is the true nature and basis of life and personal experience. Life isn't behavior, its personal meaning, significance and value about the various aspects of life. Behaviorism doesn't deal with life. It deals with the by-products of what actually brings about life and experience. It deals with a symptom and not an actual cause. This is why psychiatry is doomed to fail. It also deals only with symptoms of actual underlying mental causes, which are ignored and never dealt with. This is also the approach of modern medicine, which is not very successful - it deals with symptoms and not actual causes. It attempts to attack the symptoms of illness with drugs and surgery instead of attempting to understand causes, which would involve prevention of illness.
One person has the hobby of fishing, loves it, reads magazines about it often and spends time at it every week-end. Another likes fishing but does it twice a year and rarely reads about it. Another has never fished in their life, wouldn't want to if you gave him a free fishing trip, but instead is an avid collector of 17th century silverware. Again, this gets incredibly complex in a very short time upon the analysis of more than a few people - and the world is made up of many more than only a few people. One could attempt to understand what they do by observing their behaviors and trying to understand the environmental forces, which supposedly induced them to do these things, but I propose this is invalid for the reasons stated above. But there is even more to it.
Identifying With Things Larger Than One's Biological Body
A man or woman with a successful family considers themselves to be the family. The family is a living extension of themselves. The happiness of the other members is also their own happiness to the degree the member conceives themselves to be the family. Envision a person as a mind, as an invisible entity who identifies with numerous aspects of life. The person usually, without any difficulty identifies with their own body. Most people would have a hard time imagining how they could not identify with their own body. But additionally, the mind also can and does identify with many other aspects of its life and experience. A person who really enjoys their participation in a club considers themselves to very much be the club. The more they consider this to be true the more responsibility, concern and care do they take for the club. It's not just something they are a part of, it is something they are, which they exist as. To them there is no self-sacrifice in devoting time to their club, while a self-centered person who solely identifies with only their body and its immediate sense gratifications will not understand this person and see them as possibly crazy and in a condition of self-abnegation.
Identifying with things outside of one's physical body is known as having a concern for things larger than oneself. Their sphere of identification and responsibility is wider and greater. Selfish people can't understand this. A major problem with much of modern psychiatry and psychology is that it conceives Man only to be an individual body or a biological organism. This is far from a complete picture of what people actually do and how they involve themselves with life. Much of modern psychology such as humanistic psychology, New Age therapies and behaviorism views you as a biological organism with feelings, personal needs and desires. The measuring stick is personal happiness and satisfaction of the body alone. This is an extremely limited view and cuts Man off from a major segment of what comprises actual worthwhile life involvement and experience.
Modern educational methods, such as values clarification and sex education programs, which are developed by psychologists, endlessly concern themselves with appeals to one's personal feelings about what makes the student happy, including sex, entertainment, activity and personal interests. The students are told there is no ultimate right or wrong and that it's up to them to decide what is right for them. That is fine in itself, but without any education into everything covered above, along with examples and a direct experience of these things in positive ways, it deteriorates into selfish concern for limited personal gratification. The view is that you are solely an animal organism only needing food, sex, shelter and fun.
A person is only as healthy and successful as he or she can expand and encompass activities outside their own limited personal biological sphere of activity. Another way to see this is to envision each person as a source of creativity. The individual mind can associate with various activities and things such as family, groups, race, the environment, and religion, to name only a few, and act creatively to assist the survival of these things. That is a more accurate way to perceive survival. The family, club, company, race, group, or religion survives to the degree each member acts causatively and creatively for it, and to the degree they each conceive themselves to be each of these things. Limiting the notion of survival to a single biological organism is absurd. That is not the way most of us approach, deal with or experience life. It is true some people are only concerned with their own personal needs, and appeal to their personal feelings as the only barometer of success. I maintain this is a degraded and collapsed condition of existence, and approaching the subject only with this understanding acts to bring about more degraded conditions of existence. This is another reason why modern psychiatry and psychological methods fail so consistently and actually make things worse. They reduce the scope and vision of Man, and leave him nothing more than a selfish physical body of personal desires and sense gratifications. That's not to say one shouldn't be concerned with their own health, well-being, personal interests and pleasures. They should, but these things are far from the whole picture. In fact, without successfully meeting personal requirement to some acceptable degree people have a hard time moving on and upward to larger spheres of interest and involvement. Satisfying personal needs is best looked as a minimum prerequisite in life, necessary as a starting point to expanding into a more responsible and creative person participating in various aspects of life. How exactly each person does this is up to them, but it involves more than only the selfish concern for one's sensual concerns. Much more.
People are motivated by everything in their environment, but the sanest and most effective response to life involves embracing things larger than oneself (where "self" is meant to be the human biological organism). This naturally involves the concepts, meaning, significance and values each person attaches to the various aspects of life. Only an education into these things and this process itself can bring about a concern for and self-determined acceptance of responsibility for these larger aspects of life. No brain washing techniques, behavioral approach or psychiatry of drugs and electric shock treatments will ever do this. These subjects have reduced Man to a biological organism without a mind, with the sole concern on organic satisfaction, environmental forces, biochemistry and genetics. They are soulless pursuits leading nowhere.
The goal shouldn't be to induce or coerce people to behave in specific ways but to encourage them to accept responsibility and self-determined cause throughout life as a creative being through education and good examples. There is no need to understand this in a spiritual manner, but functionally the mind of Man, however you conceive it, acts upon the environment as described above. Acknowledging and empowering Man as a mind will only lead to bettered people, social conditions and civilizations.
True motivation comes from within, not from without, except where examples from without are positive and encourage the acceptance and practice of these ideas. The details of how to do this are numerous and varied. People do it everyday without even knowing what it is they are doing. Families succeed to the degree each member conceives it to be important and how well the parents impart these ideas and values to their children. The same is true for any club, group, race, religion or concern, whether that be a hobby, the environment, or the planet. The survival of each depends solely on these things.
Behavioral psychology ignores all this. Modern psychological theories and practices largely ignore all this and concentrate on self-gratification. Psychiatry harms the mind and all it can and should do as explained above through the use of drugs, electric shock "therapy", and brain surgery (i.e. lobotomy). All of them deny the mind as a basic factor within their ideologies. These subjects need to be jettisoned once and for all as they lead no where and harm people and society.
Say NO To Psychiatry!
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