четвъртък, 25 юни 2009 г.

Reduction and Independence of psychology. A rapprochement

Personal research on the subject of reduction and independence of cognitive psychology

Performer: Orlin Baev, F32250, New Bulgarian University
Professor: Lilia Gurova, Ph.D.

Reduction and
Independence of
Higher-level Sciences
A Rapprochement

Can psychology be reduced to neuroscience? Let us imagine that neuroscience has progressed immensely and each mental state, phenomena and process has its direct neurological explanation. Than really the independence of psychology would be highly threatened – but how? It would be threatened as an explanation. For example, someone is now thinking about the love and its role in life, its manifestations on cognitive, thought level, as harmonized with the society and ones own personality logical process. If we suppose that at that very moment neuroscience has dived deep enough into the brain mechanisms, it will track exactly the zones involved and the consequences of their change, the biochemical composition in different neural networks, so on. But this very neuroscience, even though quite advanced at the imagined moment, would not be able to say a word about the exact cognitive content of the explored thinking process. So far the cognitive neuroscience, neurology and biochemistry are able to grasp to large extent the perceptual and emotional life in various cognitive biological systems, including the human cognition. Neuroscience might guess indirectly about which exact emotion is triggered at the moment, on the base of its knowledge about the connection between specific subcortical zones, neurotransmitters and certain emotional states. This is enormous achievement and it deepens every year with the advancement of neuroimaging and biochemical research. We certainly already know about our neural and chemical substrates of love, affection, anger, fear, aggression, mood’s ups and downs etc. And if cognition was bounded only on perceptual and emotional levels, neuroscience definitely would replace every so far existing psychological theory as already needless. But this lucubration is pure fiction, of course. If it was so, you, the reader of these rows would see on the screen only some unknown symbols. You would not even know these letters are symbols, but would see them in a way cat see them. If emotions were the peak of our cognitive abilities, no science would exist and no philosophical discussion will be pursued. Who knows, may be somewhere in the huge space there are different lines of evolution, not always obligatory involved in logical thinking… But we can not judge about that solely on imaginary premise. In the domain of cognition, we as a sapient race are too savage and cut off from the immense possibilities of cognitive evolution in the huge space. We can draw conclusions only from our own experience and objective knowledge as sensible human race. Such sane conclusion says that the top of our cognitive abilities is the attentive process plus working memory involved in logical verbal and serial or more intuitive, massive and parallel pictorial information processing – i.e. THINKING. Is neuroscience as it is now able of capturing one single thought? One single verbal, pictorial or mixed thought? How about series of thoughts, as they usually flow naturally? Even though neural imaging techniques might be capable of capturing the activity of prefrontal cortex spatially or temporaly, it is not good enough up to now for both. It will develop, of course and this disadvantage will be resolved and the preciseness for sure will become much greater, the devices much more useful and convenient. But even then, perhaps in at least 10 years from now on, will neuroimaging be so evolved to capture not only the neural correlates of thought, but thought itself? It might be possible, but it most sure requires qualitative brake through that so far is within science fiction. What we can say about memory – one of the main subjects of psychological research? Neuroscience advances and this is great. We already know a lot about hippocampus and its role, about the eventual main location of procedural memory – the cerebellum, the emotional memory – limbic system. Not much, but it is exiting continuous and very promising research. Regarding episodic and semantic memory things are more complicated, namely because it is involved in higher order cognitive process – thinking. Is neuroscience developed enough to research the cognitive content of memory – not only its hardware but its software, all stored episodes and their semantic sense? No, it is not and most likely will not be in the next few decades. Neuroscience can explore the spiking rates of the neurons, the exact kind and quantity of neural mediators acting in certain higher level cognitive process. But neuroscience is completely impotent in grasping even one single thought, mental image, or the way they emerge from neural and biochemical reactions. This emergence so far, from the viewpoint of the contemporary scientific knowledge is pretty much inexplicable and even mystic process. So far. What actually represents our thoughts and memories? May be our subjective reality, i.e. thoughts, memory, so on is solely computation based on the input sensory channels through lifespan. When an infant learns, it gradually enriches its internal representations of the objective outward reality, forms memories and slowly gains cognitive abilities such as analogy based associations of induction and deduction. We can say that brain, using visual, auditory and other sensory inputs and their storage (memories) in form of neural nets connections strengths just transforms them into subjective reality, implicitly perceived as a whole inner world of abstract ideas, rules, norms and understandings - believes. As I mentioned, cognitive science and neuroscience is not very clear about the exact way of transformation and thought emergence. It lacks the bridge links and processes. Of course, neuroscience is everything but stagnant – perhaps it will reveal these bridge processes soon. At least we can hypothesize so. Will this be the death of the psychological independence as a science on its own level with its own methods and terms? No! Why do I think so? Although Bechtel (whose book inspires me write this text) obviously is not enthusiastic supporter of the “Multiple realizability” hypothesis (as I am not very enthusiastic about mechanistic reduction), my opinion differs on that matter. Multiple realizability uses the term “realizer” to designate the mechanism underlying and producing some mental phenomena. It states that one and the same cognitive product can be realized by different, sometimes extremely different realizers. For example the cognitive phenomena pain (Bechtel’s example). In the various organisms such as mammals, reptiles, mollusks, etc. the pain can be produced by very different “realizer”, different neural/ brain mechanisms. Reptiles for instance do not have cortex and mollusks have only limited neural realizers – ganglia. But pain, the final product of these different realizers is still produced in each of these species. Numerous examples can be given. The very first time when I read about “multiple realizibility” I “misunderstood” the concept. I grasped it in reversed way – that one and the same neural/ brain zone or neural network can produce multiple mental phenomena, realizations. Now, having second thought on the subject I am continuing to believe it is important part of the “multiple realizability” conversation and its contributive role for the psychological independence. For example, the very same “realizer”, the amygdale can produce at least two opposite cognitive states: fear and anger. It might be involved in the pleasure and affection states as well. But such example is too crude. Let me go on higher cognitive level to defense my viewpoint. We can have one and the same underlying neural network with exactly the same biochemical reactions – but this same network can realize thousands of different cognitive products: thoughts. Of course, this is just general conclusion, because in each of the different thoughts we will still have small differences in the neurotransmitters and neural connections, hard to measure with the contemporary scientific means.
The “multiple realisability” thought direction in the scientific discourse is used to establish the independence of the higher level sciences, in our case – psychology. If many realizers can produce the same cognitive product than reduction and replacement of psychology by neuroscience is just “tunnel vision” of the eliminative reductionist scientists. Following this reasoning direction, we can say that each of the scientific fields has its own level and has to deal with the processes on that certain level. Neuroscience has its own terminology, research methods as well as psychology does. But this reasoning line has drawbacks – we miss 1) the bridge processes between higher and lower level and 2) the interdependence of both. My view point on “multiple realizability” enriches a bit the philosophical discourse. If we not only have many possible realizers (the classic view), but we assume that one and the same realizer can produce numerous cognitive realizations, this point strengthens psychological independence even more. How can we reduce psychology to neuroscience if we miss the huge variety of cognitive phenomena?

Regarding interdependence between lower and higher cognitive levels, we can consider neurological properties and formations such as brain and the processes within these formations as “low cognitive level”. “High cognitive level” then would be the subjective phenomenological experiences such as feelings, affections and of course, thoughts – pictorial and verbal ones. Considering high cognitive level we can not skip the unconscious, subliminal informational processing. But, just for the sake of convenience, let me focus for the moment on the conscious, traceable processes. How human cognition is interdependently interwoven with its neural correlates? Obviously these two are the very same – just parts of one whole system, operating on different levels. The one influences the other and likewise. Changes within our brain systems – neurotransmitters, brain parts so on have direct impact on the cognition. Likewise, conscious or unconscious changes in cognition triggered by the decision making process, metacognitive intention propelled by subliminal parallel cognitive work or by the environmental context – all of these cognitive “movements” on higher level have direct influence on their biological “hardware”, the brain, nervous system and biological correlates processing them. One successful comparison here is the computer metaphor. If one changes the parameters of hardware, software also changes its functioning – the speed of processing, memory storage, so on. Likewise, the software can have enormous impact on the hardware. Imagine you open your e-mail box and click on some interestingly looking message. If it contains worm or virus, it can damage or disable your hardware parts. Analogically in humans, if some maladaptive subliminal program (cognitive scheme) has infiltrated ones cognitive system (as a result of the early years experience, educational parenting style or other reasons), it can cause not only psychological mood changes or cognitive distortions, but even purely physical malady conditions such as headache, phantom pains, conversive disorder with bodily paralyses, psychosomatic diseases as asthma, gastric ulcer, diabetes and even cancer. As I said, these two cognitive levels: the low neurological and higher cognitive are intrinsically interconnected. None of them is more important than the other.

About the bridge connections between these two levels. One brave hypothesis might be that the bridge is realized on the subliminal, unconscious level, where cognition and its biological processor – the brain neural activities have a close rendezvous. In order this hypothesis to be developed, neither eliminative reductionism of theory reduction nor the more holistic and higher level approach of psychology need to be viewed on their own, but as different levels of functioning of one whole! This is my modest opinion.
But let us hear briefly what the traditional theory reduction perspective says.

Traditional theory reduction perspective

According to the theorists of the theory reduction perspective, it consists of:
Lower-level laws (in the basic, reducing science)
Bridge principles
Boundary conditions
Higher-level laws (in the secondary, reduced science).

Imagine we have complete advanced and definite explanation stemming from the extensive low level neuroscience research and we are fully capable of explanation of every and each cognitive higher level phenomenon in the terms of neuroscience. If it would be possible, higher level science such as psychology will at least loose its independence or even could be expendable. Of course, this speculation is far of the reality as it is. First of all, scientific approach does not have sufficient means to explore the bridge interlevel principles (so far). Secondly, even if we had them, the explanation would look like depicting some interesting story on the computer screen in some very basic computer language as assembler or in 1 and 0 –os. Even the programmers would need appropriate high level translation. And, as I mentioned above, even then we will have equal two way influence and interdependence of both levels. So, please, take a deep breath and slack – there is no way psychology to be deprived of its own level language, laws and independence as science. In my opinion, the low level science, the bridge principles, boundary conditions and high level science model is just perfect, solely the final stage: “Higher-level laws (in the secondary, reduced science).” has to be replaced with “higher level laws in the high level science”. This changes the whole understanding and transforms the reductionist model in reductionist-holistic, without the need one of them to renounce the other. And please, do not be scared of the word holistic. I am using it just to designate the two-way interdependence between low and high level cognition. In the chapter on which I am reasoning, Bechtel mentions that even if low level brain research reaches much of the actual bridge principles and boundary conditions, even then high level psychological approach would be needed as a heuristic for further low level neuroscience research and as a shorthand in the explanation.
Interesting and very valuable suggestion is given by McCauley:

As we see on the graphic above, McCauley suggests that theory evolution in some domain happens horizontally and vertically interdependently. When older theory on lower or higher level is being replaced, it happens with another theory on its own level – low or high. If older neuroscience theory is replaced, it will be with new one neural theory. If older one psychological theory is replaced, it will be from new one psychological theory. On whatever horizontal level change happens: low or high one, this change has direct vertical impact on other level theory and results in change as well. If psychological research reaches some new theory, it will give important clues for the lower level neuroscience research and will result in neural theory change as well. And likewise, if neuroscience achieves new theory, it will inevitably propel psychological theory change too. The levels and their development are interdependent, but each level has its own means and independent research: “the upper-level theory lays out regularities about a subset of the phenomena that the lower-level theory encompasses but for which it has neither the resources nor the motivation to highlight. That is the price of the lower-level theory’s generality and finer grain (McCauley, 1996, p. 31).”


Bechtel begins his mechanistic perspective introduction with the pure and clear stating his preferences of this viewpoint. Afterwards he clarifies the notion of levels. Firstly, are levels defined by the notion of size? No, they are not. Although it seems intuitively proper understanding, as a matter of fact size has nothing to do with levels. If all entities of same size form a level then snowman and a person would be at one level, or the society in some town had to be at the same level with field with rocks with the same size as a town. The size is inappropriate for levels differentiation also because if only the same size entities could form a level, different size entities couldn’t interact. But obviously they can. Elephant can interact with the grass and the louses can interact not only with the elephant skin, but with his mind too. So, which one is of bigger size – the mind or the louses? Apparently, the size is not the best criterion foe level or strata.
“Another proposal involves bringing together two different notions of level in construing phenomena, and considering how this maps onto disciplinary divisions (Abrahamsen, 1987). The mereological notion of level is subordinated to a different notion of levels in which phenomena are grouped in a way that generally corresponds to common academic divisions: ordinary physical phenomena (physical sciences), phenomena of life (biological sciences), behavioral/mental phenomena (behavioral sciences), and phenomena involving products of human behavior/thought (humanities and social sciences). Only within each of these four levels do mereological levels come into play: each has its own part–whole hierarchy that is unlike those at other levels.” This is really interesting proposal and in my own opinion, the closest one to the actual picture of reality that we are trying to represent philosophically. Bechtel infers that “each higher domain is generated from the lower one; entities and processes in the lower domain tend towards increasing complexity, and organized systems emerge for which specialized concepts and explanations appear necessary.” I can say that this is partial view point. If the lower domain entities generate and influence the higher ones, the higher domain entities influence the lower ones reciprocally. Let we have one example: the citizen’s society. If the separate entities/ persons of this society get sick from some pandemy, the whole society will be influenced on higher level, as social organism. Likewise, if the whole social organism on higher level, represented by, let say, the president, take inappropriate decision, the many single entities/ persons will be influenced. Anyway. “The mechanistic account offers no way to evaluate whether the components of a mechanism are at the same level as entities outside the mechanism. For those seeking a global account of levels, this may seem to be a serious limitation. Yet, as I just noted, that view of levels is problematic. Local identification of levels is sufficient for understanding levels in a mechanism and for capturing how mechanistic explanation is reductionist.” Yes, mechanistic account helps, perhaps namely because of its over simplification. It allows the scientists to perform their research having sufficiently good theoretical frame. Not the exact one, but useful one. Bechtel cites two views on emergenism that deserve our attention and conscientious critics: “Damn near everything we know about the world suggests that unimaginably complicated to-ings and fro-ings of bits and pieces at the extreme microlevel manage somehow to converge on stable macrolevel properties. On the other hand, the ‘‘somehow” really is entirely mysterious … (Fodor, 1997, pp. 160–161).”
“The bigger mystery is why this seems at all mysterious. Task analysis of two significantly
different realizations of the kind corkscrew will reveal how it is that each realization is able to remove corks. Once one understands the principles by which waiter’s corkscrews remove corks, and the principles by which double-level corkscrews remove corks, what is so puzzling about how two causally distinct devices
can “do the same thing”? (Shapiro, 2004, pp. 161–162)”

The subject of emergence is bounded with that one of reduction – independence, because of bottom up interlevel causality of emergence. How exactly the mechanistic parts form all these purposeful functioning wholes? If we have for example the machines, programmed by men, the question who gave certain aim assembling the parts is clear. Regarding biological cognitive systems we have only very vague theories such as Darwinian one, often obviously questionable. But is is hazardous that supporters of mechanistic view have taken for example exactly the mechanisms? No, it is not. The mechanistic account is so far very limited, narrow and does not take into account the whole picture in the nature as it is, on any level, between levels and out of certain mechanism and its context influence. That’s why Shapiro gives for example corkscrews, but not human conscious high level cognitive processes. But, to answer to my own critics, the AI research has some role in this discussion: the artificial neural networks exercise completely new behavior and even can learn independently, i.e. new one higher level processes emerge from lower level ones. In reality, the cognitive levels are many. Mechanistic approach sees them as two. Mechanistic reduction links bottom up and top down reactions without causal explanations involved, but just mechanistic reactions. Well, convenient view point, but limited and reflecting the limited understanding of its supporters. Mechanistic point of view does not take into account the multiple realizability fact as well. Namely because it is mechanistic and by definition extremely cut off the whole picture point of view.

My conclusion is as follows. Neither theory reduction perspective, nor mechanistic one represent the things as they are. Perhaps one realistic perspective, wider and encompassing the whole picture is needed to come into the stage! For now, the most appropriate view in my opinion is that one:

Lower-level laws (in the basic, reducing science)
Bridge principles
Boundary conditions
Higher-level laws (in the secondary, high level / instead of low level science as stated originally/ science).

Note: My thoughts are based on the chapter four “ Reduction and Independence of Higher-level Sciences-A Rapprochement “ of William Bechtel’s book “Mental Mechanisms: philosophical perspectives on cognitive neuroscience”.

Orlin Baev,
cognitive psychologist and cognitive psychotherapist

Folk Psychology and Cognitive Science

Personal Research

Folk Psychology and Cognitive Science

Chapter two of the book:
Models and Cognition
Prediction and Explanation in Everyday Life and in Science
Jonathan A. Waskan

Researcher: Orlin Baev, F32250
Professor examiner: D-r Lilia Gurova
New Bulgarian University
Department of Cognitive Science
Sofia, Bulgaria

What Folk Psychology is?

Waskan starts his thoughts about folk psychology citing Paul Churchland, who suggests complete discard of folk psychology due to its inability for correct explanation and prediction of human’s behavior. At least he claims so. Churchland’s filtering the information via his own mind focuses on the fact that folk psychology is unable to explain such phenomena as sleep, mental illnesses, memory, intelligent differences, so on. His critics state it is false even regarding everyday daily behavior. Churchland astonishingly for serious scientist suggests complete elimination of folk psychology from scientific discourse. Is he right? As Waskan says, the role of folk psychology (FP) actually has nothing to do with the above mentioned phenomena. It deals with the desires and believes and is included into the main stream cognitive science in wonderful scientific way.

The second gauntlet thrown in the face of FP is the radical simulation theory, stating that one needs not any desires and believes in order to explain others behavior but does the prediction internally simulating others action. Thus if we do not have hidden underpinnings of behavior such desires and believes, the FP theory is being discarded. Of course, this is just another radical eliminative proposal. According to Waskan the theory of radical simulation is just as much a threat to realism with regard to the folk-psychological ontology. The FP includes so called theory theory (TT) according to which our proficiency at predicting and explaining the behavior of our fellow humans stems from our mastery of a body of laws which specify the relationships between, among other things, particular beliefs, particular desires, and particular behaviors. As Waskan latter claims, the truth is somewhere between these two theories.

Interesting direction of thought is raised by Waskan, as follows:

“Amazingly, even if cognitive science did embrace folk psychology and its ontology, this, in and of itself, would not justify realism with regard to the folk-psychological ontology. After all, as Dennett (1991) points out, we still have the option of various shades of irrealism, including instrumentalism.
Beliefs and desires might, for instance, turn out to be like centers of gravity. As one version of the argument goes, although there are no such things as centers of gravity—after all, they take up no space and engage in no causal interactions we gain a great deal of inferential leverage by acting as if there were. Perhaps a similar set of claims can be supported with regard to the folk-psychological ontology.”
What is real as a matter of fact? Does impossibility of measuring centers of gravity makes them unreal? Is everything as hard and limited as it is in the minds of some so called scientists? I do not thing so. Of course, science needs stable measurable base to proceed forward, but often because of this fact cognitive science attracts researchers denying the enormous human potential bringing it to their own projections of limited understanding. But anyway…let me continue as a modest student and keep thinking within the cognitive railings.

Waskan mentions that there has been argued that contents of mental states have no legitimate role to play in any of the sciences of the underpinning human behavior. If I understand properly, this argument supposes that the sciences about the human knowledge have nothing to do with the states of mind and their content. If this is so, I could argue that such science misses the most important subject, which is presumably obliged to explore. Every unprejudiced observer would immediately see one excessive eliminative materialism in cognitive science. If one honestly track the roots of this hard materialism, it is clearly seen it lays no elsewhere but in the very mind of the scientists. It is observable how these scientists purposely take into account just those authors and approaches that match their own unconscious basic believes – no more, no less. Have you ever met cognitive researcher mentioning Shankaraacharya or Nagardjuna? I have not! Cognitive science claims that philosophy is within its scope and is its base. But which philosophy and authors? Only those satisfying the basic believes of the scientists – the narrow materialism. For me even raising the point about the importance of the contents of states of mind within the cognitive research is preposterous. These contents have to be the goal of every cognitive exploration. I will use metaphor to visualize my viewpoint. Sometimes cognitive scientists and psychologists resemble very much termites quoting just other termites and building their own castles of knowledge that does not take into account any other system of knowledge having broader approach. Introspection might not be the proper method for investigation of inner processes for the average person, but it might has enormous potential in case of specially trained individuals, passing through decades of training. The very fact that cognitive science excludes the eastern philosophical wisdom, intricately interwoven with the eastern religious systems is very demonstrative by itself… But as we see further, Waskan just tosses the opinions on the FP subject and later explains its central role within the cognitive science.

There are two distinctive theories about content fixation in FP – internalist and externalist. There are, on the one hand, internalist theories of content fixation according to which what is inside of an individual’s head fixes the contents of their mental states. There are, on the other hand, externalist theories according to which facts about what is going on, or has gone on, outside of an individual’s head determine what their thoughts are about. The arguments against the scientific legitimacy of contents (and, thereby, of folk psychology) are often directed at specific versions of one or the other of these theories of how contents are fixed. Both theories have opponents. For example Stich (1989) and Fodor (1994), say roughly as follows: “The primary goal of cognitive science—or any science, for that matter—is to formulate laws. Since doxastic surrounding varies from individual to individual, mental contents vary from individual to individual. There can thus be no laws that quantify over mental contents, and so cognitive science must eschew mental contents.” Waskan replies that cognitive research is not necessarily aimed in reaching general laws. I could reply that yes, cognitive science should be focused in reaching general laws stemming as natural conclusions by the research results. But I would disagree that if mental contents and states are hard to be measured and tracked by the so far existing scientific means, it does not mean they have to be eschewed. Here we reach one very basic point of misunderstanding widely accepted in cognitive science: the introspection. In some eastern systems of cognitive exploration introspection is the main contrivance of research. Its degree of reliability can reach complete certainty. The mind itself becomes the researcher, the experimental ground and the experimental means and conditions. This surely sounds strange for some reductive materialistically oriented scientist, but denying it would be simply protective mechanism (denial, dissociation) and tunnel vision. Anyway, it is too broad discussion to start it here… live and let live.

And more “arguments” against the mental states and their contents in FP: “Folk psychology individuates mental states on the basis of their contents. However, contents can differ even while the causes of behavior remain unchanged, so contents do not track the causes of behavior. There is, then, no place for mental
contents in cognitive science. This poses a threat to folk psychology because folk psychology adverts to properties that have no legitimate role to play in cognitive science.” – What an “arguments”, wow… Behavior is the final result, but do we return back to the behaviorism? I hope not! Does not cognition by itself worth the effort of exploration?

Further on, Waskan tries to explain one general mistake (mistake in his view point) of the philosophical wisdom about the relation between cognitive science and FP. He says that philosophers expect cognitive science to make high level generalizations coming out of its research. Generalizations much similar to those typical for the FP approach. According to Waskan philosophers are mistaken. He affirms that the goal of cognitive science is the research itself and the research explananda. He says that cognitive science does not need to resemble FP approach at all, but just uses FP implicitly within its frame.
My own modest opinion on that matter is that Waskan is not completely right. Making high level generalizations stemming from the research would be natural conclusion, just following the natural inductive properties of the thought. The generalizations on their turn would serve as deductive laws, stable stakes for further research. Call it categorization and learning process if you want. If the goal of cognitive research is not reaching general conclusions (laws), but the research itself, it would be break down in the normal cognitive process of human thinking.

Waskan discusses another pillar of the FP: planning. In FP it is described in intuitive manner, as process of adjusting our desires and believes to new ones as they actually become such behaviorally. As it stands, this model is highly schematic. It supplies only a very broad functional breakdown of the underpinnings for certain human behaviors. It entails no commitments regarding the structure of beliefs or desires. It has, however, long since been adopted, refined, and vindicated by cognitive science. Decision making and planning is well studied and included within cognitive research long ago.

Waskan suggests just for a moment to suppose that the mainstream cognitive science is mistaken. If it is so and it requires abandonment of FP, this would strike at its very foundation and necessitate a revolution that spans several disciplines. It would, for instance, require that we give up on the encoding specificity hypothesis, on the idea that short-term memory is the locus of inference, on the proposal that the hippocampus consolidates declarative memories, and on the Wernicke-Geschwind model of language comprehension and production. What the eliminativist advocates, in other words, is the abandonment of decades of fruitful interdisciplinary research on the bare promise that something better is around the bend. The instrumentalist simply overlooks this research.

Further on Waskan comes back to the role of contents in cognitive science and FP as inclusive part of it. The arguments against the FP internalism are clearly premised on the aforementioned misconceptions regarding the predictive and explanatory practices of cognitive science. The first such argument is clearly premised on the mistaken assumption that cognitive science is primarily interested in formulating laws—specifically, laws that specify the relationships among particular stimuli, particular internal states, and particular behaviors. As we have seen, the search for such laws is no part of the ongoing activities of cognitive science. Cognitive science does not deal with the personal differences in the believe systems, but focuses on the underlying cognitive structures. The fact that individuals have different belief networks does not belie the claim that they share mechanisms of belief formation, memory, inference, language production and comprehension, and so on.
The second argument against internalism is that cognitive science is
committed to the computational theory of mind. Well it is not. The computational theory is just one of the streams, no more, no less.

I want to hold my attention on these words of Waskan:

“Kuhn took a step back and caught sight of a process of theory change that was not as cold and rational as it was commonly believed to be. What he saw, instead, were large groups of people unified by their endorsement of broad theoretical frameworks and by their commitment to a distinctive set of research activities. Theory change, as Kuhn saw it, was driven more by the old dying off than it was by any special mode of reasoning employed by scientists. Thus, these broad theories and their concomitant research techniques looked as though they merely afforded different ways of seeing and going about things, where no one way could be said to be preferable to any other.22 Kuhn’s proposals convinced many that science itself is just one of countless, equally viable ways of dealing with the world—that, in other words, there is nothing about scientific thinking that makes it more rational than any other mode of thought, nor anything about scientific theories that makes them better justified than theories of any other sort. This, of course, is a bunch of hooey—reducing, as it does, everything that has transpired in the sciences since the start of the Enlightenment to a series of intellectual fads—but it does force us to ask what it is about science that makes it so special.”
Well, “bunch of hoe” – are these fear words of unprejudiced scientist? Kuhn has his viewpoint and it is as valuable as any other. It really diminishes the enormous role of scientific development, but nevertheless it is interesting view point.
What is so distinctive about the scientific approach? It is the objective logic, the provable results that can be traced and repeated. It is simultaneously advantage and disadvantage. Advantage because the scientific progress is very reliable, stable and gradual. Disadvantage, because the existing scientific means limit up to enormous degree the free thought and very limited scope of hypotheses can be researched and justified through these extremely limited scientific contrivances. Especially in the field of human cognition. Thus the rigid cognitive research often, very often lays insurmountable barrier before the free creative thinking process. Anyway, Waskan is right that the position of Kuhn sets the science among the many other approaches of knowledge grasping and thus belittles its main importance within the human knowledge development. Waskan even claims that certain degree of dogmatism is necessary for stable scientific development. It is may be so. I would like just to mention that this “certain degree of dogmatism” often is too certain and presents an extremely narrow thinking range for the creative thinker. But he is right generally. Otherwise the scientific research would be as uncertain as the heavenly clouds above our heads… Further on Waskan proves that folk inspired cognitive science is not just one of the many cognitive directions of research, but the main one.

Orlin Baev, cognitive psychologist and cognitive psychotherapist

вторник, 16 юни 2009 г.

Его, Суперего, То

Реферат върху първите три глави от книгата „Аз и То” на Зигмунд Фройд

В присъщия си поразяващо прецизно – умозрителен стил, този гений на психологията от първата половина на 20-ти век – Фройд, се спира на собствените си психодинамични концепции за съзнавано, несъзнавано и предсъзнавано, като ги обогатява с топичните компоненти на Его, То и Суперего.

Съзнание и несъзнавано

В първата глава на труда си „Аз и то” Зигмунд Фройд обобщава накратко резултатите от 25 годишната си психоаналитична работа (материалът е издаден през 1923г.) по отношение на използваните дотогава от него понятия.
Егото (в българския превод на книгата „Отвъд принципа на удоволствието” са използвани понятията Аз и Свръхаз, но аз ще използвам термините Его и Суперего, като по-точно отговарящи на семантичната наситеност на материала) според Фройд е центърът на съзнанието, на съзнателния живот на човека. За разлика от господстващата дотогава философска мисъл, той не надценява неговите възможности и място в цялостния психически живот на човека. Авторът твърде подходящо използва древната метафора за коня (несъзнаваното/То) и ездача (съзнанието/Его), за да илюстрира взаимоотношението между двете. Съзнанието е само една малка част от несъзнаваното, образувана от него под въздействието на принципа на реалността. Малка част, намираща се във взаимодействие както с външната реалност чрез петте сетивни канала на възприятието, така и подложена на въздействието на несъзнаваното, функциониращо на принципа на удоволствието (впоследствие бива добавен и нагонът към смъртта). Според доктор Фройд съзнанието няма своя собствена психична енергия, но заема сили за съществуването си от несъзнаваното.
Фройд споделя, че наличието на несъзнаваното не подлежи на съмнение за всеки, занимавал се с психоанализа, хипноза или въобще психотерапия. В хода на изследването на сънищата и психопатологиите терапевтът просто е принуден да приеме такова виждане, налагащо се с очебийното си присъствие. Според Фройд несъзнаваното бива латентно несъзнавано или предсъзнавано и несъзнавано, до което може да се достигне само след премахване на съпротивите, породили изтласкване на психични съдържания.
Латентното несъзнавано или предсъзнаваното, транслирано на езика на съвременната когнитивна наука, би било дългосрочната памет – епизодична и семантична, до чиито паметови следи работната памет с помощта на вниманието (а двете образуват това, което наричаме съзнание) достига сравнително безпрепятствено с помощта на свързващи асоциации или податки (cues). Психичното или същностното несъзнавано освен въпросните изтласкани психични компоненти, съдържа и всички базисни нагони и се явява склад за либидния пълнеж на индивида. Частта от несъзнаваното, наситена с изтласкани от съпротивата психични катексиси на езика на когнитивната наука би се нарекла капсулирана дългосрочна памет.

Аз и Tо

Четейки втората глава от „Аз и то”, където Фройд започва изложението си с опити за вникване в паметовата познавателна система, начините за извличане на паметови следи, превръщането на съзнаваното възприятие, тоест на работната памет, в латентно несъзнавано – предсъзнавано – човек неволно се пита какъв ли би бил подходът на този гениален ум днес? При съвременните постижения на когнитивната наука и невронауките вече са направени хиляди експерименти по въпросите, над които Хер Фройд брилянтно, но единствено на базата на собствената си субективна емпирия спекулира. Каква ли би била терминологията, която Фройд би използвал ако твореше днес? Какъв ли би бил психотерапевтичният метод на този мощен пионер на съвременна психотерапия, ако разполагаше с данните на съвременната наука и повече от сто години опитност в световен мащаб в полето на психотерапията? Не би ли бил предложеният от него метод по-структуриран, по-кратък, по-функционален и практически действен, по-научно доказуем и обосновим? Човек не може да не се за замисли как такива съвременни психоаналитици като Уилма Бучи, Джефри Йънг, Арън Бек поставят психоанализата на нова мощно действаща основа, обличат парадигмата и в подходяща научна терминология, оптимизират и конкретизират работните и методи до времево, финансово и методически адекватни параметри.
Фройд твърди, че словесната памет е свързана със слуховите възприятия. Действително, съвременната наука потвърждава, че декодирането на речта се осъществява в темпоралния лоб, непосредствено до слуховата зона, в т.н. зона на Вернике. Брилянтният учен, баща на съвременната психотерапия разсъждава върху визуалната памет – предмет, който понастоящем се изучава емпирично от когнитивната наука в многобройни експерименти и за който сега се знае много. Фройд твърди, че мисленето на базата на визуални образи, за разлика от мисленето, облечено в символите на думите, е възможно, представлява прототип на вербалното разсъждение и го предхожда онтологично и филогенетично, бидейки връзка с предсъзнаваното и несъзнаваното и по-близо до него топично.
Една от основните хипотези, издигнати от автора, е тази за икономическия компонент на психическия апарат в лицето на психическата енергия. Тази теза по-късно е многократно отхвърляна от психоаналитиците от различни направления или е недооценявана стойностно. Според моето скромно мнение с тази си теза великият учен поставя фундамента за бъдещи научни изследвания върху действието на когнитивния апарат. Изследвания, до които засега научната мисъл не е стигнала поради липсата на подходяща методология и апаратура, която обективно да фиксира и проследи движенията и количествените стойности на психичната енергия. Но, както обикновено се случва, гениалната мисъл изпреварва времето си с поне две столетия. Аз съм сигурен, че не е далеч времето, когато научният напредък ще даде възможност за емпирични изследвания в областта на психичната енергия. Според автора, чието мнение споделям напълно, психичната енергия е актуална наличност и съществуването и трябва да бъде приемано буквално, а не единствено в ролята на алегорична теоретична постановка.
След разглеждане на психичните движения между Егото и несъзнаваното „друго” в контекста на перцепцията от външната среда и натиска на това „друго” отвътре, Фройд решава да го нарече „То”, заимствайки от книгата на Г. Гродек: „Книга за То”. Фройд отново се спира на концепцията си за изначалната всеобхватност на „То”, от която се оформя „Егото” под влиянието на външната реалност.
Егото функционира на принципа на външната реалност, принципа на реалността, а То на принципа на удоволствието и е вместилище на страстите и нагонните пълнежи, както и на изтласканите паметови следи. В следващата страница от главата Хер Фройд разсъждава за връзката между Егото, То и психофизиологията. В светлината на съвременната наука точно тези разсъждения на автора не биха могли да впечатлят учен от началото на 21 век. Но – да не забравяме, че превъзходният интелект на този лекар е сътворил трите разисквани глави преди 86 години, когато когнитивната наука още не е съществувала. Според психоаналитичката Уилма Бучи, Фройд с неговата теория всъщност полага една добра база, която дава условията за бъдещото появяване и развитие на когнитивната наука. Предложеният от Фройд психодинамичен и топичен модел на психично функциониране спокойно могат да бъдат разглеждани като символичен когнитивен модел, част от науката за когнитивното моделиране. Според У. Бучи бъдещето на психоанализата – понастоящем неприемана сериозно от науката (твърдението е на У. Бучи), е в еволюиране както на парадигмата, така и на психотерапевтичните и методи и поставянето им в научна светлина. Според Уилма Бучи терапевтичните сесии от друга страна представляват незаменима среда за когнитивни експерименти, въвеждащи когнитивната наука в реален контекст.
На фона на заченатите от Фройд предположения относно мястото на То и Егото в контекста на реалното мозъчно и психофизическо функциониране, възприятие и памет, мога само бегло да загатна огромния напредък осъществен от неврологията и когнитивната наука по тези въпроси. Фронталният лоб, както по всичко личи от изследванията при мозъчна визуализация с ядрено магнитен резонанс е централният процесор, съзнателният център, ядрото на човешкото Его. Старите мозъчни структури на подкорието и лимбичната система успешно могат да бъдат аналогизирани с тази част от „То”, която произвежда нагонните импулси, предизвиква базисната дихотомия на нагона към живота и нагона към смъртта. Първият очевидно се предизвиква в ядрата на септума с неговата допаминова верига на оргазмено възнаграждение, а вторият в амигдалата с двойствените си импулси на агресия или страх, борба или бягство. Последното между другото доказва физиологически добре известната теза, че агресията е само другото лице на страха. Разбира се, „То”, доколкото има отношение към изтласканите паметови следи, според съвременните разбирания би се разпростряло в комплексната паметова корова дейност: вербална, визуална, словесна, сензорна, аудиторна, офлакторна и т.н. дейност на мозъчните дялове на кората, както и в имплицитния работен процес на асоциативните церебрални зони.

Азът и свръхазът (азовият идеал)

В третата глава на „Аз и то” авторът изследва формирането на характера на детето във връзка с психосексуалното му развитие и взаимоотношенията с родителите и по-конкретно ролята на едиповия комплекс, неговото успешно или не изтласкване и сформирането на психичната инстанция, която Фройд нарича Суперего или Его – идеал.
Присъствието на съзнавано и несъзнавано, последното описвано като подсъзнание, свръхсъзнание и т.н., са психични феномени, известни на човешката мисъл не от вчера. Тези въпроси се разискват в индийските Веди, а по-късно Упанишади – текстове, датиращи на повече от 10 000 години. В народопсихологията в глобален мащаб винаги е присъствало известно познание относно ролята на родителския характер, стил на възпитание и взаимодействие с децата във връзка с формирането на характера на растящия човек. Това знание обаче винаги е било фрагментирано, откъслечно и несистематизирано.
С въвеждането на психичната инстанция Суперего, по мое мнение австрийският психиатър прави фундаментално важна крачка в цялостното познание за душевните процеси на индивида. Както ще видим, тази ключова психическа структура играе роля във всички вътрешно психични и социални човешки процеси. Тя представлява его – идеалът на човешката съзнателност.
В процеса на интроекция на родителското поведение и идентификацията с единия или другия родител, с неговия характер, изисквания и същност, детето сформира своят его – идеал. Той е предсъзнаван исе проявява като предсъзнавани правила, идеали, норми на психиен и поведенчески живот. Норми, често прекалено високи за постигане, но служещи като цели, винаги стоящи пред съзнанието на индивида.
Фройд спекулира върху ролята на едиповия комплекс, желаната идентификация с бащата при момчето и с майката при момичето при разрешаване, изтласкване на комплекса. Разсъжденията протичат през усложняващото обстоятелство на конституционната бисексуалност на всяка личност, което прави въпросните идентификации амбивалентни и противоречиви. Бащата на психотерапията Фройд с помощта на кристално ясната си и проникновена мисъл проследява ролята на първите детски обектни фиксации и последващото изоставяне на техните пълнежи, което отпечатва в дотогава двоичната психика на детето (Его и То) един трети компонент, който оставя незаличими следи за цял живот – Суперегото. Действието на Суперегото се преживява като морална цензура, съвест, стремеж към дадени идеали, етични норми и чувство за вина при неуспешното изпълнение на техните изисквания.
Зигмунд Фройд твърди, че при изоставяне на обектните либидни обекти, протича процес на интроекция и идентификация с тези обекти, което оказва силно влияние върху развитието и оформянето на характера на съзнателното Его. Това влияние е най-силно в ранните детски години, когато залаганите модели в Суперегото биват гравирани за цял живот. Авторът говори за наличието на индивидуална скала на устойчивост при възрастните индивиди спрямо влиянието на еротичните обектни избори и отбелязва интригуващия факт, че в чертите на характера на жените с богат сексуален опит лесно се забелязват следите от обектните пълнежи от различните им връзки. Последният факт е изключително колоритно представен в народопсихологията с метафоричното сравнение на подобни жени с битовите предмети за почистване на повърхности ... Изказана е хипотеза за хомосексуалността, при което се твърди, че такава се развива при опит за преодоляване на кастрационния комплекс, като враждебното отношение към бащата се заменя с любовно в опит за омилостивяването му.
По-нататък в изложението е представена кратка, но твърде интересна представа за психичната сублимация. При нея Егото изоставя обектни отношения, за да насочи либидото към интрапсихичните отношения между него и То, като обектните избори се заменят с известен вторичен нарцисизъм, прехвърлящ нагонните импулси на вътрешно психично ниво. Егото сякаш се предлага на То, твърди Фройд. Аз бих добавил, че Егото също така един вид се влюбва в То, както и че процесът на сублимация е много възможно да бъде направляван от Суперегото, от азовия идеал. Ако тук си позволим да съчетаем тази хипотеза с контрасексуалните психични конструкти на Карл Юнг: Анимус и Анима и тяхната централна роля в сексуалната сублимация, картината на процеса ще бъде обогатена почти до завършеност, поне теоретично. Практическото усвояване на изкуството на сублимацията, този истински ефективен защитен механизъм, е нелека задача, която обаче определя качеството на психичния и социален живот на Homo Sapiens.
Въвеждането на Суперегото обяснява с потресаваща откровеност механизма на съществуването на това, което наричаме религия. Един съвършен Небесен Баща или Божия Майка, изискващи от нас идеални ценности и морални стандарти, коит ое почти невъзможно да бъдат задоволени, което на свой ред създава автоагресията на вината. Небесни родители, които представляват проекция на заложените в Суперегото когнитивни модели, съвест и цензура. Религиозният модел, какт ознаем, представлява прекрасен механизъм за манипулация, тъй като работи директно върху вътрешно психическата структура на Суперегото, а външните суеверни предписания, задоволяващи нечии интереси за контрол, кореспондират директно с вътрешните ограничаващи функции на азовия идеал.
Според Зигмунд Фройд религията такава, каквато я познаваме в масовия и вид, може да се разглежда като натрапчива невроза (обсесивно – компулсивно разстройство) и притежава същия механизъм на действие като това невротично разстройство.

Орлин Баев, психолог

The Psychotherapy as an applied field in Cognitive Psychology

Applied Cognitive Psychology

The Psychotherapy as an applied field in Cognitive Psychology

Psychology is interdisciplinary field by presumption. Each subdivision in the broad psychological field is normal up to the degree to provide advancement in certain area of interest. Every psychological domain is just a branch in the bigger tree of the all encompassing knowledge about the human knowledge, intelligence. Cognitive psychology, neuro – psychology, clinical psychology, humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, psychodynamic psychology, social psychology, so on, are only different approaches toward the human psyche. The important point here is that if each branch is viewed as separate and detached from the others independent field – then it would represent merely immensely incomplete, partial, narrowed and crippled point of view regarding the man’s cognition.
In order to have the whole picture, we need the entire knowledge of each and everyone approaches and psychological branches. All of the psychological subdivisions originally stem from the same cognitive system, they are being studied by the same cognitive system (metacognition) using different methods according to the concrete approach and this very cognitive system depicts the studied subject – the human cognition, according to the contrivances employed by every distinctive psychological branch.

As a matter of fact – nowadays scholars from very different fields of science more and more realize the impossibility to continue their researches without interconnection and integration with the others scientific areas – because each scientific domain: physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, psychology, artificial intelligence, astronomy, quantum physics, so on, so forth – represents solely a small particle of the interdependently functioning indivisible whole. The only division is within the imperfect human mind, unable to encompass the whole knowledge – but all changes, all evolves. The human mind develops its cognitive abilities in a degree unknown before – and realizes the need of integration between the scientific fields. Of course, each scholar has his specific interests in one or several scientific areas – but the novel here is that more and more the scientists manage to expand ones mind up to the degree to grasp the main discoveries of every scientific branch and thus to observe the whole picture of the human knowledge. And of course, this viewpoint widening starts with the expanding ones knowledge within the scientific field of primal interest.

Regarding contemporary psychology: It is still very young science – I can compare all the psychological branches with bunch of adolescents, barely entering upon the new stage of puberty. Just like every teenager, every branch claims confidently he has best understanding of the human mind, denies the achievements and the immense wisdom of the millenniums old psychology of the ancients, even denies the existence of this ancient psychology and rediscovers the wheel through its own stumbling.

One very promising field in the modern psychology is the “Cognitive psychology”. It paces confidently to the secrets of human knowledge abilities, grounding its advancement on the stable experimental ground. Cognitive psychology is extremely wide field, working with the core processes and capbilities such as memory, attention, perception, learning, knowledge presentation – modeling, etc. Cognitive psychology is open minded discipline, attracting inventive, brave and free thinking researchers with different interests in many directions. Highly scientific by nature, cognitive psychology does not neglect the other psychological approaches, such as clinical, social, behavioral, humanistic, psychodynamic, etc, but puts them on scientific base and raises their findings and paradigmatic theories on higher degree of representational models, terminology and understanding.

Psychotherapy as an applied Cognitive Psychology

Psychotherapy is by itself extremely broad field and consists of about 300 psychotherapeutic approaches, originating from various areas: behaviorism, clinical psychology, psychodynamic psychology, religion and different holistic systems, eastern philosophy, developmental psychology, neurosciences, linguistics, art – theatre, drawing, dance, sociology and social psychology (systems interactions), evolutionary psychology etc.
The psychotherapist could derive from wide area of academic education, preferably, but not mandatory from humanistic sciences. Further on, the prerequisite for being psychotherapist is passing long (4-10 years), demanding (financially and as a personal development) post graduate study in one of the psychotherapeutic approaches, each of them closely connected and stemming from one of the scientific areas or psychological schools mentioned above.

One of the most successful, rapid and scientifically based psychotherapeutic approaches is the “Cognitive psychotherapy”. It uses the cognitive paradigm and represents the mental processes and disorders in the language of the cognitive science / psychology.

Cognitive Therapy is a type of psychotherapy developed by psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. Becoming disillusioned with long-term psychodynamic approaches based on gaining insight into unconscious emotions and drives, Beck came to the conclusion that the way in which his clients perceived and interpreted and attributed meaning — a process known scientifically as cognition — in their daily lives was a key to therapy. Albert Ellis was working on similar ideas from a different perspective, in developing his rational emotive behavior therapy. Beck initially focused on depression and developed a list of "errors" in thinking that he proposed could cause or maintain depression, including arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalization, and magnification (of negatives) and minimization (of positives). Cognitive therapy seeks to identify and change "distorted" or "unrealistic" ways of thinking, and therefore to influence emotion and behavior.
Beck outlined his approach in Depression: Causes and Treatment in 1967. He later expanded his focus to include anxiety disorders, in Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders in 1976, and other disorders and problems. He also introduced a focus on the underlying "schema" — the fundamental underlying ways in which people process information — whether about the self, the world or the future. Treatment is based on collaboration between client and therapist and on testing beliefs.
The new cognitive approach came into conflict with the behaviorism ascendant at the time, which denied that talk of mental causes was scientific or meaningful, rather than simply assessing stimuli and behavioral responses. However, the 1970s saw a general "cognitive revolution" in psychology. Behavioral modification techniques and cognitive therapy techniques became joined together, giving rise to cognitive behavioral therapy. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with cognitive therapy, since cognitive therapy has always included some behavioral components, but advocates of Beck's particular approach seek to maintain and establish its integrity as a distinct clearly-standardized kind of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Further on the “Schema focused approach” was developed by the former psychoanalyst and A. Beck’s pupil Jeffrey Young in his “Schema focused cognitive therapy”, emphasizing on the early years engraved cognitive schemas and the cognitive reconstruction:

Early Maladaptive Schemas
Schema Domains


(Expectation that one's needs for security, safety, stability, nurturance, empathy, sharing of feelings, acceptance, and respect will not be met in a predictable manner. Typical family origin is detached, cold, rejecting, withholding, lonely, explosive, unpredictable, or abusive.)


The perceived instability or unreliability of those available for support and connection.
Involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable (e.g., angry outbursts), unreliable, or erratically present; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the patient in favor of someone better.


The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or "getting the short end of the stick."


Expectation that one's desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
A. Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
B. Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure, or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
C. Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.


The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one's perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (e.g., selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (e.g., undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).


The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community.


(Expectations about oneself and the environment that interfere with one's perceived ability to separate, survive, function independently, or perform successfully. Typical family origin is enmeshed, undermining of child's confidence, overprotective, or failing to reinforce child for performing competently outside the family.)


Belief that one is unable to handle one's everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (e.g., take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.


Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fears focus on one or more of the following: (A) Medical Catastrophes: e.g., heart attacks, AIDS; (B) Emotional Catastrophes: e.g., going crazy; (C): External Catastrophes: e.g., elevators collapsing, victimized by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.


Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents), at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by, or fused with, others OR insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and floundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one's existence.


The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one's peers, in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, ignorant, lower in status, less successful than others, etc.


(Deficiency in internal limits, responsibility to others, or long-term goal-orientation. Leads to difficulty respecting the rights of others, cooperating with others, making commitments, or setting and meeting realistic personal goals. Typical family origin is characterized by permissiveness, overindulgence, lack of direction, or a sense of superiority -- rather than appropriate confrontation, discipline, and limits in relation to taking responsibility, cooperating in a reciprocal manner, and setting goals. In some cases, child may not have been pushed to tolerate normal levels of discomfort, or may not have been given adequate supervision, direction, or guidance.)


The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; OR an exaggerated focus on superiority (e.g., being among the most successful, famous, wealthy) -- in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward, or domination of, others: asserting one's power, forcing one's point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one's own desires---without empathy or concern for others' needs or feelings.


Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one's personal goals, or to restrain the excessive expression of one's emotions and impulses. In its milder form, patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort-avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or overexertion---at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.


(An excessive focus on the desires, feelings, and responses of others, at the expense of one's own needs -- in order to gain love and approval, maintain one's sense of connection, or avoid retaliation. Usually involves suppression and lack of awareness regarding one's own anger and natural inclinations. Typical family origin is based on conditional acceptance: children must suppress important aspects of themselves in order to gain love, attention, and approval. In many such families, the parents' emotional needs and desires -- or social acceptance and status -- are valued more than the unique needs and feelings of each child.)


Excessive surrendering of control to others because one feels coerced - - usually to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment. The two major forms of subjugation are:
A. Subjugation of Needs: Suppression of one's preferences, decisions, and desires.
B. Subjugation of Emotions: Suppression of emotional expression, especially anger.
Usually involves the perception that one's own desires, opinions, and feelings are not valid or important to others. Frequently presents as excessive compliance, combined with hypersensitivity to feeling trapped. Generally leads to a build up of anger, manifested in maladaptive symptoms (e.g., passive-aggressive behavior, uncontrolled outbursts of temper, psychosomatic symptoms, withdrawal of affection, "acting out", substance abuse).


Excessive focus on voluntarily meeting the needs of others in daily situations, at the expense of one's own gratification. The most common reasons are: to prevent causing pain to others; to avoid guilt from feeling selfish; or to maintain the connection with others perceived as needy . Often results from an acute sensitivity to the pain of others. Sometimes leads to a sense that one's own needs are not being adequately met and to resentment of those who are taken care of. (Overlaps with concept of codependency.)


Excessive emphasis on gaining approval, recognition, or attention from other people, or fitting in, at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self. One's sense of esteem is dependent primarily on the reactions of others rather than on one's own natural inclinations. Sometimes includes an overemphasis on status, appearance, social acceptance, money, or achievement -- as means of gaining approval, admiration, or attention (not primarily for power or control). Frequently results in major life decisions that are inauthentic or unsatisfying; or in hypersensitivity to rejection.


(Excessive emphasis on suppressing one's spontaneous feelings, impulses, and choices OR on meeting rigid, internalized rules and expectations about performance and ethical behavior -- often at the expense of happiness, self-expression, relaxation, close relationships, or health. Typical family origin is grim, demanding, and sometimes punitive: performance, duty, perfectionism, following rules, hiding emotions, and avoiding mistakes predominate over pleasure, joy, and relaxation. There is usually an undercurrent of pessimism and worry---that things could fall apart if one fails to be vigilant and careful at all times.)


A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation-- in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations -- that things will eventually go seriously wrong, or that aspects of one's life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to: financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because potential negative outcomes are exaggerated, these patients are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.


The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication -- usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one's impulses. The most common areas of inhibition involve: (a) inhibition of anger & aggression; (b) inhibition of positive impulses (e.g., joy, affection, sexual excitement, play); (c) difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating freely about one's feelings, needs, etc.; or (d) excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotions.


The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in: pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
Unrelenting standards typically present as: (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one's own performance is relative to the norm; (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.


The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punitive, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one's expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others, because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.

Of course, here we can not present the entire therapeutic approach, but we can have a glimpse on its basic key positions:

What is the origin of early maladaptive schemas?
The three basic origins are:
1. Early childhood experiences.
2. The innate temperament of the child.
3. Cultural influences.
It is believed that the combination of these three lead to early maladaptive schemas.

What type of early childhood experiences lead to the acquisition of schemas?
The child who does not get his/her core needs met. The child needed affection, empathy and guidance but didn’t get it etc (neglecting parenting style).
The child who is traumatised or victimised by a very domineering, abusive, or highly critical parents (authoritarian parenting style).
The child who learns primarily by internalising the parent’s voice. Every child internalises or identifies with both parents and absorbs certain characteristics of both parents, so when the child internalizes the punitive punishing voice of the parent and absorbs the characteristics they become schemas.
The child who receives too much of a good thing. The child who is overprotected, overindulged or given an excessive degree of freedom and autonomy without any limits being set. (Overprotective, overindulgent parenting style)
Therefore Early Maladaptive Schemas began with something that was done to us by our families or by other children, which damaged us in some way. We might have been abandoned, criticized, overprotected, emotionally or physically abused, excluded or deprived and, consequently, the schema becomes part of us. Schemata are essentially valid representations of early childhood experiences, and serve as templates (frames, scripts) for processing and defining later behaviors, thoughts, feelings and relationships with others. Early maladaptive schemas include entrenched patterns of distorted thinking, disruptive emotions and dysfunctional behaviors. These schemata become fixed when they are reinforced and/or modeled by parents.
Long after we leave the home we grew up in, we continue to create situations in which we are mistreated, ignored, put down or controlled and in which we fail to reach our desired goals.
Schemata are perpetuated throughout one’s lifetime and become activated under conditions relevant to that particular schema.
It is important to realize that schemas can be functional or dysfunctional and are core cognitive constructs in what is typically referred to as our personality style. For example, someone may have a schema of personal incompetence, from which his or her actions are consistently interpreted as “not good enough". Someone else may have a schema of mistrust, from which all interpersonal actions by others are seen as suspicious. A third person may have a dependency schema and feel unable to function alone without help. Even when presented with evidence that disproves the schema, individuals distort data to maintain its validity.
Some schemas are developed in the preverbal period and therefore the most central core early maladaptive schemas are the ones developed in the preverbal stage. It is these preverbal schemas that tend to be entrenched and absolute, whilst the later ones tend to be conditional.
Early maladaptive schemas are typically unconditional themes (entrenched beliefs and feelings) held by individuals, which are often linked to the individual’s self-concept and that of the environment. Because of this concept, together with the fact that schemata begin so early in life, people feel secure in knowing who they are and what their world is like. This sense of secureness and predictability is comfortable and familiar, making it difficult to change without therapy.

How are schemas maintained?
Once a childhood pattern is established we tend to repeat it over and over. Freud called this ’repetition compulsion'. It refers to the universal tendency of individuals to repeat in their lives distressing or even painful situations without realizing they are doing so, or even understanding they are bringing about the recurrence and repeating in their current situations the worst times from the past. Somehow people manage to create, in adult life, conditions remarkably similar to those that were so destructive in childhood. An example is a woman who took emotional care (self-sacrifice or subjugation) of her father who was emotionally depriving. Later in life the tendency could be to go after a man who in one way was unavailable or emotionally unstable, unaware of the similarity with her father. A schema is all the ways in which we recreate these patterns.
The above example explains why individuals are likely to be drawn to partners where there is a high degree of chemistry, as this triggers their schemas, even when they are not objectively healthy for them. People with (EMS) tend to be drawn to partners who trigger their core schemas and that maladaptive partner selection is another strong mechanism through which schemas are maintained.
There are three broad coping styles, which ultimately reinforce the schemata through avoiding experiencing painful emotions associated with schema activation. These coping styles are processes that overlap with the psychoanalytical concepts of resistance and defense mechanisms:
Schema surrender – everything the person does to keep the schema going, by remaining in the situation and doing things to keep the schema going, e.g. if someone has a defectiveness schema and they stay in a relationship with someone who has criticized them, they are surrendering to the schema, they are staying in the situation but allowing themselves to be criticized thus enhancing the schema.
Schema avoidance is avoiding the schema either by avoiding situations that trigger the schema or by psychologically removing yourself from the situation so you don’t have to feel the schema. An example of avoidance might be the person with a mistrust schema who avoids making friendships because of the fear of being hurt or taken advantage of. This action only tends to reinforce the belief when others pick up the coolness and distance themselves.
Schema overcompensation is an excessive attempt to fight the schema by trying to do the opposite of what the schema would tell you to do. So if someone has a subjugation schema, they might rebel against the people who are subjugating them. If the overcompensation is too extreme it ultimately backfires and reinforces the schema. A form of overcompensation is externalizing the schema, by blaming others and becoming aggressive. Another way can be achieving at a very high level, whereby, a person who feels defective works 80 hours a week to overcompensate.
The Schema-Focused model of treatment is designed to help people break these maladaptive coping styles which perpetuate negative patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving, so that individuals can get their core needs met.
Cognitive Research into Trauma
The EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing – Rapid eye movement technique, used to unlock the encapsulated repressed traumatic long term memories) processing of traumatic events is supported by the latest Cognitive Neuroscience Model. According to Dual Representation Theory (DRT), proposed by Professor Chris Brewin, (University College London), the situationally accessible memory system (SAM), which is located in the emotional part of the brain called the amygdala, interferes with hippocampal function, disrupting encoding in Verbally Accessible Memory (VAM). It is this impairment in VAM that accounts for increased intrusions. EMDR plays a critical role in transferring information from the non-hippocampally (amygdala) dependent SAM memory store to the hippocampally-based VAM and completing the processing of the trauma.
In terms of DRT, dissociation can be thought of as impairing the formation of a normal autobiographical narrative. This phenomenon can be witnessed in minor traumas such as panic attacks, whereby, the client misinterprets the physical sensations of panic in a catastrophic fashion, without checking out checking out the negative interpretation, which maintains the panic. EMDR can often be used to process early negative memories, and help weaken early maladaptive beliefs which appear resistant to change.

Cognitive Distortions:
All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing things in black-or-white categories that exist on a continuum.
Mental Filter: Dwelling on a single negative detail, instead of seeing the whole picture.
Over-generalization: Seeing one negative event as a never-ending pattern of 'always', or 'never'.
Jumping to conclusions: Interpreting things negatively when there is no evidence to support it.
- Mind reading: Guessing the content of someone else's thoughts, without checking it out.
- Fortune-telling: Predicting the future in a negative way, without any supporting evidence.
Discounting the positive: Positive experiences are dismissed, as 'not counting'.
Magnification: Magnifying ones problems and shortcomings, or minimizing one's positive qualities.
Imperative statements: Rigid, absolute demands about oneself, others or the world taking the form of should, must, ought, have to, or awfulising, catastrophising, leading to "' I can't stand it".
Emotional reasoning: Assuming negative emotional thinking reflects reality. i.e. '"I feel it".
Labelling: Attaching a negative label to an action i.e. I'm a failure, instead of, I made a mistake.
Personalisation: Holding oneself responsible for an event outside one's control.
Tunnel vision: Seeing only the negative aspects of a situation.
Research has shown that specific patterns of thinking are associated with a wide range of emotional and psychological problems. These negative or extreme thought patterns have frequently become so habitual that they are experienced as automatic and go unnoticed by the individual.
Cognitive Restructuring
Cognitive Therapy treats emotional problems by changing or restructuring maladaptive patterns of thought. Clients are taught how to uncover and re-examine these negative beliefs, and replace them with more adaptive ways of viewing life events. Through this process, clients learn self-help techniques that can produce rapid symptom shifts, solve current life problems, and improve self-esteem. These negative patterns of thought are called negative automatic thoughts and can be thought of as automatic representations of deeper cognitive structures - schemas.

Decision making in psychotherapy
Cognitive psychotherapy is the most scientific and empirically studied psychotherapeutic method. It utilizes the already existing knowledge of the other methods, but heightens up their approaches and terminology up to more structural degree of presentation. Moreover, cognitive psychotherapy introduces numerous paradigmatic and practical innovations distinguishing it from all the rest of therapies.
Cognitive schemas – cognitive schemas are concept of the symbolic cognitive modeling. In the topic view of the mentality, as it is seen in the psychodynamic psychology, cognitive schemas would represent the concept of “ID”. These schemas subliminally take part in all human choices and decisions. They are like unconscious cognitive filter through which we take our decisions. One can take adequate and appropriate decision up to the degree he has realized and worked through his cognitive schemas so that he can see the circumstances via clear “eye glasses”.
Automatic rules and thoughts – in cognitive science automatic thoughts represent procedural declarative long term memory. In psychodynamic psychology automatic ruled and thoughts correlate to the topic construct of super – ego (pre – consciousness) – censure resulting from the early years – product of the cognitive schemas.

Metacognition – it is the ability to observe one’s own cognition, affects and behavior.
In psychoanalyses this ability is attributed to the Self – feeling of oneself, the integrative cognitive principle, the leader of the mental processes. In the analytical psychology (C. Jung) it is also called Self. In transpersonal psychology metacognition is named inner Self, inner observer, the witness within, the controller. What is of paramount importance here is the ability of the metacognition to observe consciously, change and guide the cognitive processes, which is of huge importance regarding all mental abilities distinguishing us as an intelligent creatures. Metacognition plays enormous role in the course of psychotherapy, providing stable inner integrative pillar, converging all the rest of the cognitive abilities around itself and thus forming healthy strong mental structure.
Metacognition is the core cognitive construct in the process of decision making. It is the Decision Maker itself.


1. Fear and the Human Amygdala. Ralph Adolphs,’ Daniel Tranel,’ Hanna Damasio1s2 and Antonio R. Damasio1’2
‘Department of Neurology, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City,
Iowa and ‘The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California
2. Age of Onset in Different Phobias. Lars-Goran Ost
Psychiatric Research Center, University of Uppsala, Sweden
3. A Contemporary Learning Theory Perspective on the
Etiology of Anxiety Disorders. It’s Not What You Thought It Was. Susan Mineka Northwestern University
Richard Zinbarg Northwestern University and The Family Institute at Northwestern University
S. RACHMAN. Psychology Department, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park. London
SE5 8AF, England
5. http://www.schematherapy.com/ ; http://www.beckinstitute.org/Library/InfoManage/Guide.asp?FolderID=198&SessionID={86173AE3-77EA-447E-A43E-F79DE94DBC64}

Author: Orlin Baev