Archive for Bowlby Less Traveled
As a graduate student studying counseling psychology I was provided with information on such individuals as Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, Jean Piaget, and John Bowlby. What I wasn’t provided with was information on how these individuals were part and parcel of specific conceptual revolutions.
- Sigmund Freud was caught up within the hydraulic conceptual revolution
- B.F. Skinner was a loud voice advocating for the behaviorism conceptual revolution
- Carl Rogers was greatly influenced by and a staunch supporter of the postmodern conceptual revolution
- Jean Piaget was closely associated with the developmental conceptual revolution
- John Bowlby embraced the ethological and organismic biological conceptual revolutions
Theories (and theorists) are held by conceptual frameworks. You really cannot separate the two. Sadly though, the two regularly are separated (and my masters experience mentioned above would be an example). You may well ask, “So what’s the harm in separating the individual from conceptual framework?” Simply put, conceptual frameworks give rise to such things as entailments and assumptions. Let me give you a quick example.
The 2005 edited volume Critical Thinking About Psychology—Hidden Assumptions and Plausible Alternatives (American Psychological Association Press) does a great job comparing and contrasting the Christian religion conceptual framework and the developmental conceptual framework. Here’s an excerpt from my partial summary of Critical Thinking About Psychology (use the Contact Us link above to request a copy):
Welcome to part 2. Lets get started with a second example of conservative blowback in response to liberal framings of psychological norms. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you may wish to start with part 1. If you enjoy a state of confusion, then, by all means, forge ahead.
If you’re a student of the development of systems theory (as I am) then you will most certainly wish to read Deborah Hammond’s 2003 book The Science of Synthesis—Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory. At the risk of reducing Hammond’s work to the point of libel, Hammond suggests that there are effectively two forms of systems theory and systems thinking: a naturalistic form, and a mechanistic form. Arguably the father of the naturalistic form of systems theory and thinking is Ludwig von Bertalanffy. Arguably the father of the mechanistic form of systems theory and thinking is Norbert Wiener. The mechanistic form of systems theory also goes by the name cybernetics. In essence, Hammond’s book looks at the development of both approaches to systems: naturalistic and mechanistic. (As I have mentioned many times before, Bowlby was very influenced by the naturalistic systems frame while maintaining an awareness of what was going on in the mechanistic systems realm.) To say that these two approaches (and their chief animators, such as Bertalanffy, Wiener, Ralph Gerard, Anatol Rapoport, James Grier Miller, and Kenneth Boulding) have had a tempestuous “love-hate” relationship would be an understatement. (As Hammond points out, the naturalistic camp was so disgusted that mechanistic systems theory was being used to further the WWII war effort—guided missile systems would be an example here—that many of them eventually left the US in protest and moved to places such as Canada.) When you boil it down, though, there seems to be one overarching rub: in the mechanistic school, systems are guided from without; in the naturalistic school, systems are guided from within. See a pattern here? The former school believes in natural purpose whereas the latter school believes in purpose from a higher power, a power that in essence lords over the system so-to-speak. So, we’re right back to “natural purpose versus God’s purpose” (as described in part 1). Read More→
Hopefully it will come as no surprise that I tend to lean left of center. In all likelihood I use George Lakoff’s Nurturant Parent Cultural Cognitive Model (“Nurturant model” for short) to guide me through life. As Lakoff points out in his work (see his book Moral Politics for an example) empathy is part and parcel of the Nurturant model. This focus on empathy within the Nurturant model has an upside and a downside. The upside? Most agree that it is a good thing to be empathetic. President Obama made empathy a central theme of his presidential campaign. But this leads to the downside. If you are truly empathetic, then you must act empathetically toward those cultural cognitive models that you may not particularly care for let alone use actively. Read More→