A review of the 2006 book publication ‘Irreducible mind: Towards a Psychology for the 21st Century’ written by Ulrich Mohrloff
Because I believe that Mohrloff’s words are ageless I do not see the fourteen year time gap between when he wrote his review and today as being relevant.
In my opinion this book review by Mohrloff is a must read for readers who seek to better understand and appreciate the original corner stones of contemporary psychology and psychiatry. Mohrloff talks at great length about what he sees are the two founding ‘fathers’ of these two mental health disciplines of medicine. These persons are Myers and James.
For the purposes of this blog I have linked psychology and psychiatry in the manner that I have as a matter of convenience. In my opinion they are much the same. I say this in the sense that neither of these disciplines accept the fact that the real world, together with our presence in it are by nature ‘flippant’ and unpredictable. In other words what is the ‘normal’ yard stick upon which we may observe and measure our every day life attitudes and subsequent behavior? This is whether they be socially correct (moral) or otherwise.
I think that it is this unpredictability surrounding our lives that Mohrloff is drawing our attention to. He seems to be saying that life should be considered to exist in the continuum of some sort of wider holistic whole that we have minimal control over yet at the same time this whole is like the grand concert master of every aspect of our lives. For example I will quote a few lines from chapter 2 of Mohrloff’s review…
“The second chapter (by Emily Williams Kelly) summarizes the theoretical and empirical contributions of Myers to the investigation of the mind-body relation. His huge body of published writings is essentially an elaboration of the view that certain phenomena of psychology, particularly of abnormal psychology and psychical research, demonstrate that human personality is far more extensive than we ordinarily realize. According to Myers, our normal waking consciousness (which he calls the supraliminal consciousness) amounts to a relatively small selection of psychological elements and processes from a more extensive consciousness (which he calls the Subliminal Self), and the biological or-ganism, instead of producing consciousness, limits and shapes ordinary waking con-sciousness out of this larger, mostly latent, Self. In Myers’s view, evolution has a subjective element from the start. It began with an un-differentiated sensory capacity,… (now quoting Myers)
“… which possessed the power of responding in an indefinite number of ways to an indefinite num-ber of stimuli. It was only the accident of its exposure to certain stimuli and not to others which has made it what it now is. And having shown itself so far modifiable as to acquire these highly specialised senses which I possess, it is doubtless still modifiable in direc-tions as unthinkable to me as my eyesight would have been unthinkable to the oyster. (Myers, 1889, p. 190) …”
Myers believed in the metaphysical elements existing in the wider world around us. James paid tribute to Myers in his eulogy to Myers in 1901.