Science and Psychology

Karl Popper considered that psychology and sociology are not sciences. He said Darwinism is not a science either, since it does not match his criteria for being a science. Kuhn states something similar about psychology and sociology, according to his own criteria (the existence of paradigms conducive to experiments which, after many results are collected that contradict the starting point paradigm, overturn the paradigm in favor of a new one). Wilson, in his Sociobiology, says that psychology (and, I think, sociology as well) will be swallowed by biology, which will explain everything through its own frameworks. His entire career is an attempt to explain behavior through Darwinism. Although I was once seduced by this idea, now it seems to me that it has progressed towards incredible aberrations. Is it time for Darwinism to be overturned? I would say yes…
But what do we put in its place? First of all, Darwin’s theory, actually modern synthesis (Darwinism plus mutations), needs to be amended in light of new discoveries. This theory should be itself engulfed into something more complete,
for which Darwinism is what Newton’s theory is for relativity. Let’s just say that I am working on this larger theory. In fact, it has already been sketched out. Now I am at the stage of verifying predictions, because it has predictions, it is falsifiable, and everything else Popper wished for. Everything started from the idea in my book Civilizația, but if we look even further back, it started from a conversation over a cup of coffee. Coffee is the best invention! I tried to generalize the idea in Civilizația to other species, not just humans. It works, everything seems so simple to me now, how come I didn’t think of this before?
People I have told about my new evolutionary theory say that it resembles certain theories in economy, newer and older. The subject is beyond my grasp.
In any case, this theory could have many applications; it could offer models for understanding social phenomena, from history to sociology. When I was writing Civilizația, I was thinking that many ideas contained in the book might appeal to Marx, but also Hitler, there was something for everybody. But more about that in a future article… What is most important is that there are models for mental illnesses, which are typically human, from autism to schizophrenia and affective disorders, all the way to types of dementia. There is only a short road to walk from this point to the development of new approaches in psychotherapy that would correct the corresponding biochemical deficiencies, starting from these models.
But first, where do mental illnesses come from? When I was writing Civilizația, many ideas came to me along the way. Actually, most of these ideas are predictions stemming from the basic hypothesis, and they were immediately or
eventually proven to be accurate. Many times I have had the sensation that nature was behaving in such a way as to prove my falsifiable results. If a biochemical hypothesis explains humanization, it should also account for the characteristics that are typical for our species, such as mental illnesses, starting with those of childhood, through those of adult age, to those associated with old age, like dementia. In species closely related to us, these illnesses, along with other degenerative diseases, either do not exist or are present in a very small proportion. It seems incredible, but the biochemical pathway that is very important in the process of humanization is also the one involved in mental illnesses. In all of them, regardless of the age of onset. Furthermore, a then recent study on autism shed a new light on brain growth in humans. Most autistic people have bigger brains. I have often used diseases to explain evolution, and some pathological mechanisms can be very inspiring.
I went even further, trying to explain consciousness and other functions specific to the human brain, such as symbolic thinking. And it worked; once again things seemed to unfold the way the hypothesis predicted. Consciousness in humans, compared to related species, seems to be a simple question of quantity. It can be said that humans are distinguished by the greatest capacity to look inside themselves. That is was consciousness is, looking towards the inside, and connecting the findings to the outside world. Thus, we can view consciousness as a kind of glorified self-awareness. Relating to the emotional side of an event is looking inside, because affects, which come from impulses from muscles and the viscera, are about the internal functioning. The construction of consciousness is
an energy-consuming process that depends on continuous investment. How do we invest? Through memory. Indeed, short-term memory, also called working memory, is affected in mental illnesses like dementia. This type of memory helps us not only to learn things; the greater its capacity the greater our simultaneous access to a lot of information from the outside environment, and also from our own internal environment (old memories).
Indeed, consciousness is affected through alcohol consumption and in most mental illnesses like autism, schizophrenia, mania, dementia (Alzheimer’s). In the case of alcohol consumption it is said that the phylogenetically newest functions are the first to be affected. The perception of time is also altered.

Longterm behavioral investments are the hallmark of humanity. The same is true about the aforementioned illnesses, which seem to be connected, at least indirectly, to humanization. What is not so well known is that building and maintaining consciousness is energetically costly. In all these illnesses we notice an alteration of a biochemical pathway involved in glucose metabolism, a sort of faucet that controls the introduction and the stockpiling of glucose in cells.
The philosophical and social implications of this phenomenon are easy to trace.
People who come from poor countries and are stressed and marginalized are more inclined towards religion and irrationality, but they are also more immoral and less cooperative. They create worse societies. The difference between societies which favor progress and those that do not lies in the social climate, which can be friendly or more hostile. Policies aiming to change things could take this aspect into consideration. Prison is not the answer to social ills. Clinical data show that a change in social status has better effects on depression than psychotropic drugs.
In the case of stressed people, what is altered is the management of affective energy resources. Consciousness offers a management of knowledge, affects, pleasures, ideas, and so on. When I wrote the book I used to think that there is no evolutionary point to consciousness, and that consciousness is only a by-product of evolution. Now I realize, after several events and after having observed many people, that in fact consciousness has an extraordinary role. It may be that people with very a developed consciousness have fewer accidents, but also fewer…
depressions. Although consciousness allows you to see faults within yourself, society, and life, it keeps you ordered. Paranoid people, and not only them, are obsessed with internal order. If your consciousness is very developed, you are internally ordered.

Paranoid people impose their internal order on the outside world. Actually, this happens in many mental illnesses. The autistic person refuses to accept that the real world is not as their own internal model. The paranoid just behaves as if the real world conforms to their internal model. Schizophrenia saves energy by feeding the person sensorial stimuli that make them perceive the world as it is in their imagination, so they do not have to waste energy on imagination at all.
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The development of imagination is a good place to start, as by working on imagination you work on the development of your consciousness. In addition, it is obvious that imagination can be a great source of pleasure. Indeed, the role of imagination is overlooked. Of course, we must take care not to impose our imagination on the outside world because this might lead us to become paranoid or depressed. The depression comes from comparing our idealized imaginary scenarios with the real world. As long as we learn to keep the two worlds truly separate, we have access to the greatest power tool that creates sources of pleasure almost literally out of nothing… but energy.

A type of psychotherapy that really takes biology and human nature into account should focus on developing a good energetic management of mental resources. I am surprised that Freud did not see this. I am surprised that these ideas did not surface some time ago. And the development of consciousness is an important solution. But what is in complete disagreement with Christian morals (inasmuch as I know about the subject) is that the development of consciousness is related to pleasure. Each new thing we learn is actually a source of pleasure that we access and conquer. Consciousness, though it has its negative or even painful aspects, represents a sum of victories over some unpleasant or painful sensations I have come in contact with. When I was a child I heard an expression that remains with me: that courage is the greatest asset. Indeed, courage is essential for the development of consciousness, as it is the triumph over fear, which plays an important role in conservative thinking and in all manner of other irrational behavior.
In short, a type of modern, scientifically-grounded psychotherapy should not teach people to surrender and comply, as often happens. It should not teach people how to feel and what to desire. People can have the craziest desires, which is, after all, what defines them as humans. A kind of energetic management is offered by Buddhism, but that approach in fact focuses on cutting off all sources of displeasure and it does not bring new sources of pleasure. In fact, in cutting off sources of displeasure, it also destroys sources of pleasure. An efficient psychotherapy, as a correct development of consciousness, should offer sources of pleasure and efficiently associate pleasure with effort.
The right to sources of pleasure should be included in the Declaration of Human Rights.
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Paranoid people impose their internal order on the outside world. Actually, this happens in many mental illnesses. The autistic person refuses to accept that the real world is not as their own internal model. The paranoid just behaves as if the real world conforms to their internal model. Schizophrenia saves energy by feeding the person sensorial stimuli that make them perceive the world as it is in their imagination, so they do not have to waste energy on imagination at all.
****
The development of imagination is a good place to start, as by working on imagination you work on the development of your consciousness. In addition, it is obvious that imagination can be a great source of pleasure. Indeed, the role of  imagination is overlooked. Of course, we must take care not to impose our imagination on the outside world because this might lead us to become paranoid or depressed. The depression comes from comparing our idealized imaginary scenarios with the real world. As long as we learn to keep the two worlds truly separate, we have access to the greatest power tool that creates sources of pleasure almost literally out of nothing… but energy.

 

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