Ultimacy and Triviality in Psychotherapy

By Ernest Keen | Go to book overview

Furthermore, the abstraction "murderer" is, of course, far from everything such a person is, and to ignore the rest and reify his or her having killed someone as her or his essence is an invitation to misunderstand who and what he or she is.

Both natural and scientific language operate in these ways. But natural language allows retreat into particularity more naturally than does scientific language. In the natural language of a narrative, a context is created for every human act, and that context adds to our understanding of the person by understanding the act. In diagnostic language, the categories scientifically name diseases, in terms of symptoms present or absent. This is a reification of abstractions, and it carries with it the authority of the most successful intellectual adventure of the modern age: science.

Current scientific opinion clearly tends toward reduction of experiential language to scientific language. We are in danger of believing that science can homogenize the world. No one wants to eliminate science, and yet science does not and cannot speak for our particularity. No one wants to eliminate natural language and replace it with scientific language, and yet natural language does not offer us the intellectual advantages of scientific language.

I have no quick solution. But it is clear that the absurdities will continue to multiply until we begin taking this conundrum clearly into account. Intellectual rigor must take the social construction of meaningful reality seriously, and it must recognize not only the social construction of knowledge but also the way that our reifications, again and again, prevent us from being aware of the problem of our own incoherence. Indeed, awareness of the problem, which is historical and to which we are condemned by our position in history, is our only recourse if we are to take seriously the fraudulence and absurdity of modern mental science.


NOTES
1
Although diagnosis is a scientific procedure, no less a scientist than Healy ( 1997) argues that diagnoses have been "marketed" by pharmaceutical corporations for years, with the full complicity of the psychiatric profession. He points out that for over thirty years, since the work published by Schildkraut ( 1965), the "catacholamine hypothesis of depression" has been enormously popular, even though there are many things wrong with it. One of the keys is that doctors, who are not research experts but are nevertheless popular authorities, pick up phrases like "the catacholamine hypothesis" and use it with patients who are unfamiliar with the difficulties of interpreting the actual findings. The presence of pharmaceutical in

-58-

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Ultimacy and Triviality in Psychotherapy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • PART I - Theoretical Incoherence 1
  • Chapter 1 - Critical Reflections on Psychopharmacology 3
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Neurons and Narratives 19
  • Notes 28
  • Chapter 3 - Explorin Theoretical Incoherence 31
  • Notes 43
  • Chapter 4 - Wider Echoes of the Incoherence 45
  • Notes 58
  • PART II - Ultimacy and Trivialit 61
  • Preface to Part II 63
  • Chapter 5 - Narrative, Coherence, and Ultimacy 65
  • Notes 81
  • Chapter 6 - Discourse, Therapy, and Science 83
  • Notes 93
  • Chapter 7 - Trivialization, Ultimacy, and Discourse 95
  • Notes 107
  • Chapter 8 - Triviality and Ultimacy in Therapy 109
  • Notes 122
  • References 125
  • Name Index 131
  • Subject Index 133
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