Friday, September 17, 2021

Psychologists claim that we do now know ourselves

David Brooks writes:
One of the most unsettling findings of modern psychology is that we often don’t know why we do what we do. ...

We have a conscious self, of course, the voice in our head, but this conscious self has little access to the parts of the brain that are the actual sources of judgment, problem-solving and emotion. We know what we’re feeling, just not how and why we got there.

No, this is ridiculous.
In the first place, humans have made enormous progress in understanding the roots of their behavior. If you fear intimacy and tend to be emotionally avoidant, you can consult attachment theory to gain insight into how the attachment model you learned as a toddler is influencing your relationships today. Moreover, if you look at the patterns of your life — you tend to get dumped about three months into a relationship — you can discern the underlying causes. You’re doing something off-putting at three months for a reason, and you can gradually come to discern the source, the “why,” of that pattern.
Psychologists can make big claims for attachment theory as the most scientific work in the whole field, it is almost completely worthless. It is pseudo-science. It seems like science because it has some experiments that can be replicated, but those experiments don't really tell anything about adult relationships or anything useful.

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