Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Understanding and Controlling Dysfunctional Behavior

The following is my letter posted in the Yahoo Group "Indian Psychologists":

The only Science of the body, the physics and chemistry of the body, is
biophysics, also called physiology. And the only science of the psyche/mind is
psychophysics, also known as sensory psychology.
Unfortunately both these sciences are not being used by healthcare providers

Physicians are basing their art on the subject of pharmacology, a subject on the
working of drugs manufactured by pharmaceuticals, whose survival depends on
people remaining sick. If doctors were to experts in physiology they would
primarily be maintaining our health with proper nutrients, while eliminating
toxins. But as a paper in the 1998 American Journal of Clinical Nutritionists
said 'Less than 6% of graduating physicians have any formal training in
nutrition.' The supply of specific amino-acids that produce each of the
important neurotransmitter -- dopamine from L-tyrosine, serotonin from
L-tryptophan, GABA from L-glutamine or glutamate, etc, -- in the brain is vital
for avoiding mood, substance use and behavioral disorders. And because the
medical industry has kept this a secret from the common man, they start
suffering from mental health problems, which the psychologists are asked to deal

Psychology got its scientific standing around 1880 after Wundt started
conducting experiments in psychophysics and brought out the Journal of
Psychology. Around the year 2000 Freud started his psychoanalysis therapy
helping many psychiatric patients. Although his theories may not have been based
on clinical observations, he used them so as to help his clients. But he knew
about the importance of sensory psychology, which is evident from his writings:

'"The source of a drive is a process of excitation occuring in an organ and the
immediate aim of the drive lies in the removal of this organic stimulation"
[Three Essays on Sexuality (1905):83]...
...He states unequivocally that the ego "is first and foremost a bodily ego...
ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the
surface of the body." [The Ego and the Id (1923):364] The ego, in other words,
is a psychological version of the skin -- a protective organ that gives shape
and definition to the whole.' [Body Psychotherapy by Tree Staunton (2002):9]

A hundred years back the procedure for observing body sensations was not known.
So Freud did bring in the concept of 'mind' and 'unconscious.' This did make the
domain of psychotherapy into a philosophy or an art. But Freud had hoped that
one day, when neuroscience advanced, psychology would become a true science.

But later day psychologists have allowed psychology to remain a philosophy, in
spite of great strides in neuroscience and sensory awareness techniques. This,
I'm afraid, is the state of western psychology today.

Indian psychology is actually the Buddhist or Upanishad meditative techniques.
Both are the same, although most people have not yet realized this. Gita is the
quintessence of the Upanishad. In it the first thing that Krishna tells Arjuna
to do is to observe the impermanent nature of his sensations and bear them
patiently, after telling him that sensations of heat and cold, pleasure and pain
arise only from the contact of the senses with their object (Gita 2.14). This is
exactly what is called Vipassana by the Buddhists. And in the next verse, 2.15,
we are told that the person who does not get disturbed by these sensations
becomes balanced in pleasure and pain, and a calm person who alone is fit to
attain 'amrit'. (Amrit means deathless. It is a deathless state of
consciousness, where nothing arises or passes away, a consciousness without
fluctuation, which is the definition of 'yoga' given in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

Thus you can see that Indian psychology is actually psychophysics. The efficacy
of this method can be seen in the transformation that have been recorded in
inmates of Tihar Jail and of The Donaldson maximum security prison of Alabama,
USA, where regular Vipassana courses are being conducted. It is so beneficial to
children that all BMC school students are now taught Vipassana's 'anapana'
technique. So you can see that it is about time for psychology to adopt the
Indian psychology of psychophysics.

My Paper titled "Understanding and Controlling Dysfunctional Behavior" has has
been accepted for presentation and subsequent publication in the UGC Sponsored
National Conference on MENTAL HEALTH: ROLE OF EDUCATION, October 1 -2, 2011,
organized by the Gokhale Education Societ's College of Education and Research,
Parel, in collaboration with Seth G.S. Medical College & KEM Hospital, and
Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, Mumbai Branch.

The paper deals with the above two issues of biophysics and psychophysics, and
also explains a new insight psychotherapy that I have developed, a brief
psychodynamic therapy specifically to overcome anger and resentment conflicts,
and to change negative attitudes.


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