Phenomenological Psychology

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Review of Joseph Schacter, “Transforming Lives”

September 21st, 2012 · 1 Comment ·

In Transforming Lives [1] the psychoanalyst Joseph Schachter collects case reports of seven analyses of clients by psychoanalysts and, for four of them, client replies. Notably, the case reports are not identified by author. Schachter avers this is to protect confidentiality, however, it lends a pleasant frisson to the text. This is not so much […]

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Freud’s Case of Little Hans versus Watson’s Case of Little Albert – Who’s Right?

September 14th, 2012 · 3 Comments ·

Freud’s interpretation of his Little Hans case is stimulating; if nothing else, it’s an interesting work of literature.  I wonder, though, if it’s possible to come up with a simpler interpretation of the evidence.  As a general principle, simpler interpretations are preferable to more complex ones (cf. “Occam’s Razor”).  What if instead of Freud’s complex psychoanalytic superstructure, […]


Does Freud Attribute Too Much to the Power of Dreams?

September 7th, 2012 · 1 Comment ·

One of the hallmarks of Freud’s approach is his reliance on two mysterious realms: dreaming and the unconscious.  For Freud these were linked together; the former was a mode of access to the latter.  Although (to the best of my knowledge) Freud doesn’t put it this way, the reason why he set the problem up like […]

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Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, Carl Rogers, and the Great La Jolla Love-In

August 5th, 2012 · 2 Comments ·

My parents still live in the same house in La Jolla we moved to in 1963.  When I was in high school I started working on a psychology project and, since it was a time when I knew no limitations, I decided to interview Carl Rogers about it.  Rogers then was associated with the Western […]


Is Psychology an Empirical Science?

October 14th, 2011 · 2 Comments ·

The answer is “yes,” although it is different from physics and chemistry, and historically there has been considerable confusion surrounding this issue.  In 1948 Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim formulated what they called the “deductive nomological model” of scientific explanation (Hempel & Oppenheim, 1948).  A deductive nomological model is one in which a single event […]


Free Will and the 9.11 Hijackers

October 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment ·

The “problem of free will” has vexed psychologists and philosophers for centuries.  In this note I will discuss it briefly and apply it to the dreadful events of 9.11.  Free will presents as a problem because of the apparent tension between determinism and choice.  “Determinism” means one can cite causally sufficient antecedent conditions to explain […]

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Charles Darwin and the “New Darwinists”

October 14th, 2011 · 1 Comment ·

I recently was stimulated to re-read Darwin’s two greatest works, which are On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871).  Without diminishing their importance, Darwin is pervasive in a way that philosophers (Socrates, Plato) or psychologists (James, Hall, Skinner, Freud, Rogers, and Sullivan) aren’t.  Philosophy primarily is speculative and classical psychology […]

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Clinical Impression – A Smart but Acutely Suicidal Adolescent Girl

June 7th, 2011 · 2 Comments ·

Last week I received a call from a leading psychiatrist.  The daughter of one of his friends was in extreme psychological distress.  While writing a 5585 hold was (and remained) a last-ditch possibility, for various reasons both the psychiatrist and the girl’s parents preferred for her to admit herself voluntarily to a locked, acute care […]


Metaphors in Psychology

June 5th, 2011 · 1 Comment ·

People have used metaphors for as long as they have spoken language.  In Expression and Meaning (1985) the Berkeley philosopher John Searle defines metaphor as a species of “as if” discourse: “the utterance of an expression with its literal meaning and corresponding set of truth conditions can, in various ways that are specific to metaphor, […]

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Remarks to a Class of Undergraduate Nursing Students Upon Completing a Day in Group at an Acute Care Psychiatric Facility

April 11th, 2011 · No Comments ·

I gave the following brief remarks this afternoon to a class of a dozen student nurses at an acute care psychiatric facility: We rotated four of you for each of three group sessions today.  I would like to thank you for coming, and for attending carefully to what as going on.  This group was in […]

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