Grant Williams's Archive

Third Force Psychology

3 Commentsby   |  04.23.13  |  Student Posts

Third force psychology, for me at least, is a welcomed outlook into the greater field of psychology. It is refreshing to see the positive aspects of humanity like altruism and happiness under the microscope, than the usual depression and anxiety. Unlike the behaviorists focus conditioning, or the focus of psychoanalysis on the sexual and negative emotions, third force psychology offers a more affirming alternative. The other two schools of psychology lack the almost optimistic and more uplifting nature observed in third force psychology.

Third force psychology satisfies the the questions of the soul. The motivation of the existentialist being to overcome the fear of impending death meaninglessness and the humanist drive to achieve self-actualization. The drive to control your own life and become everything you can is something that I truly appreciate about third force psychology. Though, I find third force psychology cannot stand on its own.

Though I can appreciate the work of third force psychology, I believe that the other two schools are equally important to the whole of psychology. Every school has things they are particularly good at, or rather, each of the three schools possesses attributes that can prove helpful in different therapeutic situations. The positivity of third force psychology is its strength, but what would be perceived as a lack of research and inadequate basis of theory serve as a heavy basis for the critique of third force psychology. This accompanied with the ambiguous nature of individualism and subjectivity found in third force psychology make it a difficult school of thought for some to truly conceptualize, and thus enact as a therapy. And these critiques are not without their merits. However, accompanied with the other two schools of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, third force psychology is an excellent tool for helping all those who wish to self-actualize, be all they can be, and find meaning in life.

Blog #4 Behaviorism

1 Commentby   |  04.02.13  |  Student Posts

Classical Conditioning in The Office

In this episode of the Office, Jim conditions Dwight as Pavlov famously conditioned his dog. Every time Jim reboots his computer, Jim gives Dwight an altoid. This fits the framework of classical conditioning perfectly. The altoid is the unconditioned stimulus, the sound of the computer rebooting is the conditioned stimulus. As time goes on and Jim continues to pair the altoids with the computers rebooting chime, while Dwight remains clueless as to what is happening. Eventually, Jim tests the effects of his conditioning on Dwight and finds that it is successful. When Dwight hears the chime, he reaches for an altoid and becomes confused. Dwight is unaware of the effects that classical conditioning has had on him. Dwight then exhibits a conditioned response, reporting that his mouth is dry. This is in line with the observed effects classical conditioning typically exhibits. Though behaviorism has its share of problems as all theories do, the practical applications of conditioning, both classical and operant, can be applied an used in many ways. Effective in both the areas of pranks and treatment of mental disorders, behaviorism has applications that can still be used today.

Blog Post #3

2 Commentsby   |  03.05.13  |  Student Posts

Evolutionary psychology is an interesting topic to many people within the field of psychology. Since Darwin’s theories have been largely solidified and accepted by the scientific community, it is no wonder that placing psychology within an evolutionary context seems so fitting. Evolutionary psychology offers a variety of explanations into various phenomena that are uniquely human. Things such as altruistic behavior, language, and even some phobias have been tackled and some even explained by evolutionary psychologists. Evolutionary psychology goes far in explaining how we have come to be, but it does little to aide us in understanding and creating solutions to various psychological problems.

Take altruistic behavior for example. Though evolutionary psychologists have explained the function of altruism in early humans, they have not explained its inconsistency from person to person. Evolutionary psychology does little to explain the conscious cognitive process that is at the center of altruism. As well as not explaining processes behind many aspects of the human experience, evolutionary psychology does not fully explain the phenomenon of altruism.

Further more, little can be known of our history as a species. Many explanations offered by evolutionary psychologists logically make sense and are possibly true, but little can be known about the historical context of the time that any said evolutionary change took place. For example, take the prevalent phobias of snakes and spiders. Why are those the only organisms that seem to evoke a fear response? Many other animals are poisonous or deadly, yet the fear of them is not as inherent as spiders or snakes. Why do phobias of spiders and snakes seem more prevalent when there are deadlier organisms? Evolutionary psychology does not completely explain many of the theories that it postulates.

Evolution as a theory has completely changed the way scientists look at and study biology. Within the context of psychology, evolution most certainly has its place. Evolution is among the best current theories that explain how we have become the human beings we are today. It is a necessity that psychology take whatever it can away from evolution as a theory. And though the way we have come to exist as human beings can possibly be explained by evolutionary theory, this does not mean that all other areas of psychology are no longer needed. Though evolutionary psychology can reveal much about our past as humans, we need to remain vigilant in other areas of psychology to tackle the larger questions of who we are as human beings now, what makes us uniquely human, and what we are to become in the future.

Blog Post #2

0 Commentsby   |  01.31.13  |  Student Posts

Many Middle-Eastern philosophers left a lasting influence on the West in many ways. Due to the fact that the West has been predominantly Christian, the influence of the Middle-Eastern philosophers is rather subtle. Eventually, the thoughts and theories of Middle Eastern thinkers made their way into the concepts we still learn and study.
Early in the life of Christianity, Plato was more heavily favored over Aristotle. Christians at the time found many of Aristotle’s writings hard to reconcile with their very dogmatic brand of Christianity. The harsh tenants of Christianity at the time prevented the spread of Aristotle’s ideas. But it would be our friends in the Muslim Middle-East who would be able to pair their faith with the teachings of Aristotle. The Middle-East’s study of Aristotle eventually made it into the West and Western philosophy.
Perhaps the most interesting influence of the Middle-East on contemporary thinking is the primitive use of psychological treatment by the Muslim prodigy Avicenna. Avicenna was known to have implored a wide range of both physical and psychological treatments for ailments. He would often scare patients, and he would treat what we know call depression with music or reading. The revolutionary use of psychological treatment as early as 1037 is an astounding achievement.
Psychological treatment before the foundations of psychology had even been laid is impressive, but the Middle-East’s contributions to current ideas go beyond the bounds of soft science. Islam has a history that is more accepting of science than the early Christian Church. Many Muslim philosophers and theologians valued science unlike the Christians of the day. Muhammad even advocated the study of science, along side that of Theology. Some Muslim thinkers even theorized that science and religion were both means to the same end, meaning that science and religion both ended at the same truth. The idea that science and theology could compliment one another is an idea that eventually influenced Christian and other Western thinkers. The idea that religion and the sciences were not at odds with one another is an idea that continues to influence contemporary thinkers.

Grant Williams's Comment Archive

  1. I think your post really speaks to the spirit of third force psychology. I like that you drew comparisons with your experience in home schooling. I would agree with you that the unconditional positive regard you received in your schooling as well as the respect to your individualism has worked well for you. As part of the majority that were in the public school system, it’s always interesting to hear from people who experienced education differently. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think your interpretation of third force psychology is pretty spot on. When you refer to the “AHA” moment, I believe that is what many third force psychologists strive for. They don’t necessarily want to solve peoples problems, but rather allow them to solve their problems for themselves. I also agree that this school of thought may not work well with those who do not have the drive to achieve on their own.

  3. Well articulated man. I agree with what you said a great deal. As you said, evolutionary psychology has some valid points, but I think you went on to describe one of its greatest flaws really well. “The theory works on standardized behavior.” I think that sums it up the best. Evolutionary psychology seems to often explain normal human behavior, but it does little to expound profoundly on the behavior or cognitive processes of the individual.

  4. I agree with a lot of the points you made in your post. The concept of evolutionary psychology does have a lot of merit, but I also liked that you granted that it has its share of limitations. I think I liked your last point best, where you said that “for now we must suffice for the current state of EP.” I would agree that in the future, we will come to understand and explore evolutionary psychology further. But for now the current state of evolutionary psychology will indeed have to suffice.

  5. Grant Williams on Blog Post 2
    11:54 am, 02.01.13

    First, I always love a shout out to Scorsese. Shutter Island is a pretty good movie. In addition to liking Shutter Island, I also enjoyed your post. So lets talk about that.

    The hard logic of the Scholastic’s is definitely something that we still value as a culture and use to this day. The logic of Ockham’s Razor is also something that I think is particularly applicable to our daily life. In fact, I believe I have seen it somewhere else besides Shutter Island.

    I don’t know anyone reading this watches Scrubs, but there is an episode that references Ockham’s Razor (My Own Worst Enemy is the episode). The protagonist (J.D.) is a Doctor and receives a patient he cannot quite diagnose. At first, he believes the patient is suffering from lyme disease. As treatment of the patient progresses he rules out his initial diagnosis of lyme disease, as there are no observable bites on the patients body. Eventually he is stuck and seeks the advice of his mentor, who tells him that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. After his revelation, J.D. shaves the patients head to find the bite, which solidifies his first diagnosis as the right one. He both references Ockham’s razor and is even holding a Razr cell phone (a little over the top, I know).

    I agree Gavin, the influence of the Scholastics is still present to this day. Both in our lives and in our culture, the idea that the simplest answer is often the answer closest to the truth, is something that continues to be important to this very day.