SCA Old SC Psy Critque

Application 4: Sequencing and Comparison and Psychology

My understanding of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior is the product of needing to know the causes of my own thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and the causes of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others for purposes related to ambition in other areas.  

I know why I think what I think, feel what I feel, why I make the decisions I make, and behave how I behave.  In my limited exposure to psychology’s efforts to explain these things, psychology relies on a lot of indirect evidence (behavior), for which it supplies subjective explanations.  The academic incentive to create new conditions based on symptom clusters does more to reduce the understanding of the human mind than it does to enhance it.  I also see the results through people who have used the services of a therapist and I see the inconsistencies in their understanding that would be corrected through understanding Seq Comp.  For these reasons I have a negative opinion of the field.

Therapy generally creates a psychological game of whack a mole, where the faith-based healing of a patient’s undesirable feelings, thoughts, or behavior, inevitably leads to other undesirables that need to be addressed.  What is meant by faith-based healing is psychology has to be bought into, where the individual believes the causation and conclusions he or she is being led to or supplied by the therapist.  In believing you understand why you feel a certain way or behave a certain way it may lead to the ability to correct certain behavior or undesirable sequences of thought, but it may also lead to difficulties in other areas because of how it affects your truth, which affects how you think.       

My experience in understanding the causes of thought, feeling, and behavior, and seeing the results produced by psychology is evidence of the deficiency in its application.  Much of this is probably also related to the varying quality of practitioners.  I imagine there are psychologists who upon meeting a client spend sessions identifying thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and then apply a diagnosis based on the grouping.  Then the psychologist develops a counseling plan based on their experience with other people who they have diagnosed who have responded well to the treatment.  If the client doesn’t respond well to the therapy, the psychologist will consult other psychologists’ cases and apply their treatment methods.  If this fails, the psychologist will reevaluate the diagnosis and see what other diagnosis is applicable to the grouping of thoughts, feelings and behavior, and repeat the process.  If they’re lucky, they may find a grouping that is slightly distinct in diagnosis and treatment from similar diagnosis, they can identify something new and conduct biased research to confirm their new discovery.  There is a career incentive for finding disorders.      

Much of psychology in application seems to be the imposing of preference.  I was looking up the application of normal in psychology, mainly to critique that normal cannot be used as an objective comparison, since normal is the product of social values created from the imposition of subjective preferences inherited from previous generations.  Then I figured for an introductory theory article it doesn’t make much sense to continue critiquing the subject generally.  What I did find was an article that describes baseline in the measure of behavior, and I felt compelled to include a few thoughts on the article because it represents a major problem I have with psychology. (1)  Obviously, I don’t have a problem with establishing a baseline to measure the effectiveness of behavior modification tactics, what I have a problem with is the tactics suggested in the article.     

1: Very Well Mind, 6/7/2019, “How a Baseline Measurement of Behavior Helps Behavioral Intervention”,  Ann Logsdon.

The example provided was a child with ADHD who blurted out the answers in class.  This was hypothetical, not an actual case.  The article explains the teacher may try to positively reinforce the behavior, but if positive reinforcement didn’t work then the teacher would negatively persuade the action through some consequence.  This is the most disgusting, primitive, and detrimental means to achieving a behavioral modification.  It reminds me of what I read years ago by John Dewey, In Democracy and Education, where students are trained like horses instead of educated like human beings.  If I remember correctly this was in the context of a student understanding why they were learning something, how the information was in their self-interest as opposed to learning based on consequence.  (My comprehension skills were underdeveloped when I read the book.  I didn’t understand much of it but did retain some points made based on their context-less merit) 

It is an exact parallel to this approach to behavior modification.  You are associating the sensation of reinforcement or consequence with behavior and the child is making decisions based on understanding the consequence, not his inherent self interest or an intelligent understanding of why he should exhibit the desired behavior.  Perhaps attempts are made to explain the general interest in the desired behavior, how it relates to his education, the efficiency of teaching, how it is disruptive, and how such conduct is not beneficial to him in other social settings.  But you still haven’t activated any understanding in how the behavior relates to his self-interest based on his value of subjects.  This is generally the understanding of the world we live in, where conscious decisions are hardly conscious decisions, decisions are made based on associative value by a species that has conditioned itself not to think.  It is the manipulation of the mind through emotions to modify behavior and such tactics discourage thinking.      

What would I do if I were a psychologist tasked with modifying the behavior of the child in the article?  I’d teach the child how he processes information through sequencing and comparison.  In establishing universal interest, the value that produced the behavior would eventually be checked by his moral value comparison in consideration of his own interest, and he would understand what caused him to behave this way.     

I recently saw a news headline reporting that research found up to 70% of people’s thoughts were negative.  I didn’t read the article or the source study, but if true it made sense because negative thoughts relate to the uncertainty of outcomes.  Naturally, the mind is concerned with reconciling this uncertainty, which includes thoughts concerning what an individual can do to ensure a greater degree of certainty of a desired outcome, and also how an individual will proceed if the undesired outcome occurs.  At the time I saw the headline I was engaged in other matters, but later I googled the statistic to become more familiar with the research and found this article in Psychology Today, (2) and I am using the article as a subject of SeqComp analysis.  

2: Psychology Today, 10/10/2013, “How Negative is Your Mental Chatter”, Raj Raghunathan.

The author begins by mentioning how positivity bias influences people’s perception regarding comparative judgements. Positivity bias is set up to contrast the negative thought findings of his survey, and goes into different aspects of positivity bias: “people think that they are kinder, more trustworthy, and nobler than their peers, a phenomenon known as the “holier than thou” effect.”  Through SeqComp we understand what appears to be a biased judgement producing the “holier than thou effect”, is more likely a legitimate contrast of value.  The conduct of the individual should reflect his or her values of kind conduct which is unlikely to be identical to others.  Therefore, the individual thinks his conduct is kinder than others because his behavior reflects his understanding of kindness, and other people’s behavior reflects their understanding of kindness and the two are not the same.  The same can be said of thinking one is nobler than his peers, he has a subjective definition of what is noble, and his application is more consistent with his understanding of what constitutes noble conduct than his peers who have a different understanding of nobility.

The illusion of control is a product of false sequencing that is accepted as true and should be expected from a species whose understanding of existence is acceptably rooted in superstitions that contradict not only the reality they exist in, but also basic cause and effect relationships.  This is generally acceptable, and because it is normal, it is likely viewed by psychology as an innate psychological need related to ideas of death and morality.  Of course, when I say superstitions, I am primarily referring to religion but other superstitions as well.  Understanding SeqComp provides people with the basic tools to improve their sequencing habits, simplify and anchor their moral code, as well as adjust their values to restore objectivity to their standard of true and false.  Which reduces and eventually eliminates an individual’s belief in superstitions and reduces the prevalence of the illusion of control.    

He states the findings of the survey: 70% of thoughts recorded by participants over a two-week period were negative.  He inserts negativity dominance and describes the inconsistency between the positivity bias and the tendency of people to have negative thoughts concerning themselves and their outlook.  The positivity bias is an obvious value choice because thoughts influence feelings, so there is inherent value in focusing on positive details.  As I mentioned previously negative thoughts related to subjects of desire and the uncertainty surrounding them.  Negative thoughts have value in consideration of fulfilling purposes.  One is a product of how they see themselves and reality for the inherent value of accentuating the positive, and negative thoughts function to facilitate the fulfillment of desire.  The interpretation of the results are incorrect because even if 70% of their recorded thoughts are negative, thinking is constantly taking place and the findings cannot be extrapolated because thought is taking place during interaction, and much these are casual positive thoughts that are unlikely to be remembered or seem significant.  Negative thoughts are more pronounced in memory because they represent uncertainty associated with some interest that is ongoing and requires attention.  Whereas positive thoughts come and go more quickly producing in the moment sensations.   

(ADDITION: Months ago I was at the post office sending out greeting cards I was selling on Ebay.  In the post office I saw someone who looked very familiar.  I couldn’t place him.  I had a brief conversation and he provided the name of his highschool and that he was a wrestler, maybe I knew him from there.  This couldn’t be the case because he was at least 10 maybe 20 years older than I am.  

Later, I remembered him as a correctional officer in the house of corrections.  I think he typically drove the bus between HOC and the County Jail, transport for court from HOC to the Jail and transport for housing from the County Jail to the HOC.  I also remember him working in a dorm.  I thought about why it was so difficult for me to remember who he was.  As I remembered him, I remembered him as being a pretty cool CO, respectful and there were no incidents that jumped out to me.  I realized that it is much easier to recall negative experiences than it is to recall positive experiences, or negative experiences produce deeper impressions.  This story seems somewhat relevant to the informal study mentioned in this application.)  

The article encourages reader participation to record their thoughts for at least two weeks and instructs them not to alter their negative thoughts by steering them in a positive direction.  Whether or not this was included in the instructions provided to the business students the study refers to is not known, as the only details concerning the instruction aspect of the methodology was they were instructed to be “brutally honest”.  If instructed to deviate from their normal thinking habits in recording their thoughts this obviously compromises the findings. 

If the study was published the citation wasn’t provided, but the 70% figure is not reliable based on a lack of diversity in the sample, as well as the small portion of thoughts actually recorded compared to the amount of thinking that occurs throughout a day.  This is not a serious study.  The sample consisted of business students which probably predisposes them to similar habits based on similar interests, a product of similar values, and other similarities in thought based on similar lifestyles centered around the same institution.  Although not a serious study, the average person who stumbled across the article would probably leave having accepted that 70% of people’s thoughts were negative.      

The researcher has much of the same understanding I do regarding the reasons for negative thoughts.  The three main categories of negative thoughts were love, inferiority, and control.  He ascribes the causes of inferiority to the natural human inclination to compare, or determine value, love as a subject imposed by society, and control with “the desire to arrange the world according to our preferences”.  I generally agree with his assessment except for control, where it may be less about imposing preference and more about control regarding the expression of liberty and fulfilling desire.  

These source categories of negative thoughts are a product of desire: superiority, love, and control, he refers to them as people’s perceived means to happiness, and believes these desires undermine happiness.  I don’t see the correlation between feelings of inferiority and a desire to be superior to people.  Feelings of inferiority are a product of assigning value which occurs for many applications and cannot be exclusively assigned to a desire to be superior to others.  Determining proficiency relates to comparative skill.  For example, comedian Joey Diaz told a story that when he was a young comic, he saw Doug Stanhope perform and he wanted to quit comedy because comparatively, he didn’t think his skills possessed enough value for comedy to be a worthwhile pursuit. (3)  If his negative thoughts were included in this exercise, they would be labeled as inferiority and contribute to the conclusion that people who have thoughts of inferiority want to be superior to other people.  These feelings of inferiority were not caused by his desire to be superior to Stanhope, they were caused by his desire to be adequate in comedy.  

3: Youtube 1/17/2017 “Joey Diaz and Ralphie May Tell Doug Stanhope Stories” 3:18 to 3:35 “That time I saw him in June of 96 it threw me off, it threw me fucking off.  I didn’t go back on stage for 2 or 3 fucking days.  It made me think about do I want to keep on doing comedy or do I want to get a day job because I don’t know if I can be that good”.

Universal interest is desire, meaning whether an individual exercises his liberty to the point where it doesn’t interfere with others, or past that point, the ability to control is a means to happiness.  Expressed as the fact 1: all people want to do what they want to do at all times, 2: no person who can do what they want to do is unhappy, 3: any person who cannot do what they want to do is not as happy as they would otherwise be. 4: control over circumstances facilitates the individual to do.  The ability to control doesn’t undermine happiness because happiness requires the ability to do as one pleases and exercise control within his circumstances, which does not necessarily mean control of others, but exchanging with others where people are required for something he wants to do.  

I agree the pursuit of love does undermine happiness, as most of the pursuit of a partner relates to values associated with an idea of happiness, with the actual value of a potential partner undefined in respect to utility for liberty.