“We can argue forever what personhood means, but there is no empirical or logical way to prove it. It’s the beginning of the argument, not the endpoint.” The Wizard of Oz
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia
A relative, who has studied psychology, said something which suprised me: that some psychology uses mathematical formulae to understand the human mind (something that he didn’t agree with by the way).
I sort of knew it, but… I mean… I’m… it’s… I mean… REALLY!?
Ok, maybe you can get some idea of how some things work in the human mind like that, it might be worth an experiment in the name of science, but… really?!
The problem, sorry, the “problem” with this approach is the human mind is better understood qualitively than quantatively. Is a person a nice predictable, defineable quantity that can easily fit into mathematical formula? ………. R E A L L Y ? !
Head. Brick wall. Head. Brick wall.
Personhood may not be an empirically proveable reality, as in when you take apart all those neurons and when you start dissecting personhood with words and formulae it disappears. Personhood is a gut feeling, it’s a reality of human perception. When I point at “you” there is a curious and very concrete reaction within the lump of meat encased in a skull. “You” know exactly what I mean and it needs no formal explanation to understand. Without it we’d be robots, programmed along predictable lines and would not be such a challenge to the filing system of bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy is a symptom of having a very large, unwieldy, convoluted and messy society. It’s a way of keeping it organised and balanced in its daily functioning. But it is impersonal and quantitive and is not made for “persons”. Reducing the study of the human mind into something logical is a symptom of this impersonal system and, I think, detached from the real human perception of personhood. It’s not something that shouldn’t be studied, it could prove to be useful in its place. But human psychology cannot be reduced to that, and I suppose that the people that do this “mathematical” type of psychology know that (or if they don’t they’re in for a nasty shock lol).
In working with persons, there has to be a basic value: that of valuing personhood, of respecting it and of understanding it in the way it can be understood. Personhood, in my opinion, is something sacred, and it should not be reduced to a “mere” quantity. And perhaps this is why many people just aren’t interested in it, because the way it sometimes works just doesn’t value a person enough. *
One film I recommend (though with some caution, it is quite hard) is Family Life by Ken Loach. It has a good example of the different approaches in psychology, one being a more human form of therapy and another which looks more traumatic than therapeutic. One treats the person, the other treats the behaviour and puts the person on hold. Check out this IMDb link here.
And that’s why I hate paper work. Just saying it I get a bad taste in my mouth. Seriously, I could have half-filled in application forms for various works sitting in a drawer for months. I could never explain why I didn’t like it, especially as people would say “You’ve got to do it, you can’t avoid it.” But now I know, it’s because I’m more person than robot LOL.
But that’s another rant…
*I had two councellors in my teenage years. One good and one bad. The “good one” spoke to me as a human being. It was like having a “chat”, though a chat about important stuff. The “bad one” asked fairly formulaic questions, repeating “How did that make you feel?” type questions that didn’t really me tounderstand myself. Those questions are designed to help you reflect on your thoughts and feeling – hahaha :-/