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Ongoing Reflections on Various Topics

Dr. Tory Hoff, Psychologist

Historical

It seems to me that Christ included just about everyone in his community, except the arrogant.

I perceive a parallel between some theological concepts out of the Judeo-Christian tradition and current psychological theory. For instance, the idea of original sin now has its manifestation as the psychoanalytic concept of primary narciissism. Also, the Old Testament prohibition against idolatry now appears within attachment theory. Idol worship involved what in psychological language is called a bad and unhealthy attachment with an object, one which takes the place of an attachment to an intangible being. Modern attachments to things that we make are misguided if we end up understanding ourselves in terms of the things that we make. On one hand it was useful to understand brain function in terms of the telephone system including the switchboard, and it has become useful to understand  brain function in terms of the computer software that some of us make. On the other hand, however, something is lost if our primary way of comprehending ourselves is in terms of the things we make.

The above reflections presume that during the last three thousand years of Western history, theological thought and its language have evolved into psychological thought at its language. As I indicate above, they are in some cases referring to the same phenomenon in human experience but from different perspectives. To elaborate further, private psychological experience of the kind we know today did not occur the further back in Western history we search. As others such as Julian Jaynes have noted, people were apt to experience their thoughts as due to external forces. A person  was a locale for thinking and feelings, but such experience was not necessarily attributed to oneself. For lack of better words, thinking and feeling was attributed to intangible forces or beings, sometimes conceived as being spirits. As this kind of personal experience slowly became less communal and more private, and as self reflection and self observation developed over the centuries, thinking and feeling became more attributed to oneself. This resulted in the slow emergence of  a psychological perspective. at the core of humanism.

Philosophical


Clinical




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