What Will Psychology Become in the 21st Century

Psychology has been around as a formal science for over 100 years. But it hasn’t escaped its original focus. Born in the laboratories of medicine, it has always been defined as the science of psychopathology, meaning what’s wrong with us. Perceived in this way, psychology has never been a major contributor to a general definition of human nature; we think about ourselves psychologically only when something’s gone amiss.Until about 100 years ago it was most common to think of ourselves as creatures of God; a God Who gave us a small but very powerful piece of Himself – His Spirit. We still call this piece our “soul”, meaning the spiritual core of us. Though we don’t easily think of ourselves as possessing – being in charge – of the spiritual entity from which it derives. We usually think of it as something that belongs to some universal Presence or process – which we must obey to become totally and safely in tune. Tyranny survived for centuries basing itself upon this fearful belief.Enter psychology, the secularizing science. What it’s doing subtly, which is not yet fully recognized by us, is one, to claim the soul as belonging to humans; and two, to discard the notion of “psychopathology”. This process emancipates psychological science from the laboratories of medicine and its emphasis upon illness. Though it still presumes to be the parent of psychology, medicine itself lacks a unified theory of how the body functions as an ecosystem. Best illustration: drugs, which produce almost as many problems as they solve. Medicine has potential pieces of this theory, but obviously not the whole. Thus this parent is fundamentally unqualified to define this new psychological aspect of our nature. It hasn’t even got its own understanding in order.In recent times the pathological aspect of psychology is being eliminated in an effort to render everything user-friendly, by discarding – disowning – the negative aspects of human nature. The usual method is to say everything is normal. Though we don’t entirely believe it because we still suffer. This strategy of erasing the bad parts of the equation by will power is too oversimplified, producing the usual solution to this contradictory dilemma: to make spirituality a function of the brain, as if that organ is the seat of the human soul. Our preference has become – fix, or medicate the brain and the problem is solved. Only a mob could have produced such highly oversimplified thinking.We have always tried to explain ourselves most fundamentally as a physical entity, in which all of our parts can be traced to some aspect of the body. What we avoid imagining most of all is that we might be what religion still insists upon for many – an otherworldly creature with a core nature that isn’t corporeal or tangible, but is instead what might legitimately be regarded as a transcendental spirit. Though the human spirit that will evolve in the new century will belong not to God, but entirely to us. Transcendental will not mean surviving death and rising into heaven. It will mean instead existing only in this life, but in the process rising above physical limitations to achieve a new secular dimension of human nature – our transcendental spirit – that is traditionally understood as a part of religion belonging to God.Indeed we are the only creature on this planet who transcends its physical life beyond a primitive self-awareness, by being consciously aware of itself and so much more on many different levels; thus able to produce all of our electronic marvels. It’s that spiritual life of the mind, heart, imagination, intuition, etc., referring here to our real soul – the human psyche – with all of its marvelous parts that enable us to understand, and to make use of, so much of what is happening around us.But there is a huge hurdle for us to circumvent before we achieve this goal. It is our passion for social experience founded upon our firm belief that two or more people together is better than one. When precisely the opposite is true. The genius of the human species is our individuality. All new original things come from one person at a time. Groups of any size only imitate that wisdom – but only after reducing it to its lowest common denominator. Groups dilute everything they touch. It’s both their virtue – giving us respite – and their principle vice – by reducing our genius to the dumb wisdom of a mob.Unlike traditional religion, which partakes of the spiritual as a social event, being individually inventive leaves us fearfully alone with this intangible spiritual power. This is probably why we have always perceived human understanding and its spiritual power to come from the group. When the truth is that the power of the human psyche comes entirely from being individual, though in our fear we like to pretend that it originates in groups of all kinds, cultural, workplace, etc… so we don’t have to experience being alone with it.When there is nothing that happens in our collective experience that isn’t simply an imitation of what we already know as individuals. That group-celebration can be encouraging, supportive and fun. Though in our terror at being so separate and alone as spiritual individuals, we desperately treat the social group as something much more powerful – a parental entity capable of guiding us to better places – the “moral majority”. When this entity is really a headless monster. We pretend to give it a head by providing it leadership; but that’s mostly pretense no matter how clever that person may be. The problem is that groups don’t think; they act. And leaders don’t change that; yet we treat them as if they, by their thinking efforts, can make groups think and produce change.Anything new is hatched only in individual minds. Altogether, we treat groups, including, and most particularly corporations, with far too much reverence; and individual people with far too much mistrust and abuse. When groups of all kinds may sometimes respect individuals, at least to some extent, but the next day they will devour them as they have done, for instance in economic depressions (Article: see an aristocracy of the “Rich Create Depressions”), and in war – both of which have happened for centuries.Groups produce group-talk, in essence all the various forms of social science that define us as a collective entity walking in the same footsteps, having the same motives and needs that can be implemented in the same political rhetoric or acts. In the meantime what’s really going on between the group and the individual is a relationship of mistrust. Groups regard individual differences, and the dissonances they produce as growing pains, as potentially criminal, if for no other reason than simply by being centered-in-self – “selfish” is the usual accusing term.Psychology is changing the way people are talked about. It is replacing the discussion of people and their problems in the aggregate, as a mob moving through time… with describing people as having internal conflicts that motivate their behaviors. So far these internal conflicts have been perceived pathologically, which strongly implies that contradictions within human character border upon some form of deviance or criminality, politely discussed as “illness”. Instead of being perceived in a larger view as legitimate aspects of the evolution of the human psyche… as our individual souls work out their growing pains – which include such symptoms as hallucination and dissociation (see the article “Is Hallucination Normal” and others). These internal contradictions have more individually personal parts, than they have parts in common with others – for centuries our usual way of talking about each other.The huge advantage of addressing human problems in the individual form is beyond comprehension. The most obvious boon of this altered way of coping with human suffering is the elimination of violence. It’s true even today that the extent to which people address their emotional experience internally, instead of inflicting it together, socially upon some issue or cause, measures the extent to which violence has already been partly defeated.Eventually we will realize that studying the self as an ecosystem, which contains both beneficial as well as contradictory parts, is the most important kind of education we will ever undertake or accomplish. This self-learning will no longer have the sting that “illness” attaches to it; thus it will no longer be called “psychotherapy”. Instead it will become the core of all education, funding every other kind of exploration with the wisdom of self-knowledge.So what will psychology become in the 21st century? It will attempt to define a new concept of human nature that is entirely secular; in which the answers to the problems of the world are to be found inside individual people; defined as contradictions of our individual natures, instead of conflicts with the world at large, whether that be our neighbor, or the country next door. Thereby making war irrelevant to the process of problem solving in human affairs. Lets stop trying to explain our problems with group-talk, and start treating whatever problems we struggle with as belonging intimately to each one of us. We can help each other, but only if we can accept and acknowledge responsibility for our own suffering. This new psychology perceives human dysfunction as an internal event, not an external one. That ancient group-perspective is what has always made us so violence-prone.

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