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The Mission of the 116th Congress

January, 2019

“I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any hon. Gentleman will question it.”

― John Stewart Mill

[John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington, May 31, 1866.]”

 

Introduction

 

The voters of the 2018 mid-term elections have spoken and have made an important move toward restoring democracy in America. It is now time to focus on an agenda for the new 116 Congress. This Congress will convene on January 3, 2019 perhaps even before noon.

It is one thing for candidates in a campaign mode to make promises in order to get elected; it is quite another thing to now face the reality of actually having to govern. Now that the Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, everyone is anxiously awaiting the results of the Mueller investigation. As they say, “Inquiring minds want to know.”

A wrench was thrown into the Muller investigation on November 6, 2018 when interim Attorney General Mathew Whitaker was appointed by Donald Trump to replace fired Attorney General Sessions. Unfortunately, the new interim A.G. possesses a strong ideological tie to Donald Trump.

It terms of legal precedent and the United States Constitution, Whitaker’s beliefs about established law make him something of an odd-ball. His fitness for the job has yet to be determined, although there is the strong suspicion he is not qualified and should not be appointed permanent Attorney General. He is also currently under F.B.I. investigation. This is about his involvement as a member of an advisory board for World Patent Marketing (WPM). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently shut down WPM for fraud and scamming people. Some of these people were disabled veterans who were scammed out of their life savings. Whitaker also made legal threats against litigants wishing to sue WPM. Whitaker’s lack of professionalism and history of this company will likely end his position as the interim United States Attorney General.  We’ll just have to wait to see how all of the interactions between Mueller and Whitaker play out during the weeks ahead. I’m hoping that Whitaker too will be indicted by the Mueller team for obstruction of justice if he makes any move to undermine the future indictment of the President of the United States, or any in his administration or family members.

Now What?

In the meantime, the 116th Congress needs to develop and carry out specific goals and objectives to achieve over the next 2 years and beyond. I am going to suggest in the pages ahead what their platform ought to be. They need to be successful in order to convince the American public that they are capable of real change. They need to convince the American public that voting Republican in 2020 would be as catastrophic as it was in 2016. Aside from differing value judgments this is because Republicans seldom succeed at what they undertake.

Why did Republicans nearly always fail during the last 20 years? What is holding back Republicans more than anything else are the groups within the party known as the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus. Belonging to these groups must be a “sweet job.” They get paid for putting up roadblocks to everything, then sit back and collect their paychecks all for doing nothing.

Conservatives as a group are historically almost always on the wrong side of history. Just consider at a minimum the issue of Integration back in the 1950s and putting up roadblocks to enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935. On August 14, 1935 The Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, and aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind and the physically handicapped.

This was a monumental piece of legislative reform the likes of which the world could only imagine. It was a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress who spearheaded the creation and passage of the Social Security Act of 1935. Republicans could have been part of this landmark historical achievement. Instead, they sat on the sidelines during this whole event in American History.

The following should be the goals and objectives of the 116th Congress:

Goals

Return Democracy to America

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

 

The Nature of Goals

Goals tend to be end states, the thing one wants to aim for, achieve and bring about. Granted, the above goals need to be more specific, and measurable. Otherwise, goals are simply value judgements and lacking concrete steps and specificity to know when one arrives at the final destination. However, life is seldom clear-cut and well-defined. Ambiguity, normlessness and vagueness are all-to-often our reality when setting goals.

Nevertheless goals, however nebulous at times, can still provide a direction and be something to work for and move toward when trying to achieve that “end state.”  Not to burden my reader with the complexities of goal setting, let me give an example: I want to buy a new jaguar car in January, 2019. This goal is specific, has a time line, and is measurable (either you buy it or you don’t). Compare this goal to one that is more diffuse or vague in nature. “I want to save the world.” This goal is terrible. How does one define “save”? There is no time line and measuring it is not defined or specified, and there is total ambiguity; that is, what does that goal really mean in the first place?

In the world of American party politics goal planning can be very unwieldly, especially when parties are constantly re-defining themselves. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the real motivations and values underlying the goal planning process.

Objectives

Objectives lead one to the strategies or methods developed to achieve one’s stated goals. In January, 2019 the 116th Congress will convene to begin the difficult process of governing by undoing certain things that have been implemented by the Trump Administration. In addition, they will need to simultaneously forge ahead with their own agenda for change and their own set of goals, objectives (including methods and strategies). It is a job of great importance and awesome responsibility. And, leadership will be crucial at every step.

The purpose of this Blog is to explain what I think their goals and objectives ought to be. As a progressive with ultra-liberal values [90% of the time] yet sometimes conservative on national defense and military issues [10% of the time] the following are the objectives I think this new Congress should work on, support and achieve.

 

Goal

Return Democracy to America

Objectives

Impeach Trump

As the late Howard Cosell used to say, “Tell it..Like..It is” Well, enough has already been written about Donald Trump. But I do have something to say about his immoral character. Cutting to the chase, he is a psychiatrically and intellectually challenged individual. He is naïve, dishonest and a gifted liar. He is a classic ego-maniac, narcissistic insecure white racist, and a misogynistic degenerate. He is a sociopathic bully, a phony, a con man, a charlatan who lies every time he opens his mouth. Donald Trump of course only does two things wrong in life: everything he says and everything he does.

To say that he suffers from feelings of inadequacy or inferiority is to point out the obvious. More importantly, he is a criminal, a traitor to his country and deserves to be behind bars. Said another way; he is a menace to civilized society. If that wasn’t enough—just consider the following. He is also the most incompetent, unknowledgeable buffoon to ever be elected to public office in the United States. (Now, I’d like to tell you what I really think of him, but civility demands that I not use any expletives and/or rhetorical commentary). From my perspective as an artist (color me blue) he needs to be in an orange jump suit or a white straight jacket.

The late Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” As we all know, Will Rogers never met Donald Trump. Impeaching Donald Trump is the most important objective for the 116th Congress to address. His removal from Office of the presidency is long overdue.

Eliminate Gerrymandering in the United States

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of voting boundaries to benefit a particular political party. Both gerrymandering and cheating are perpendicular in definition. Although Gerrymandering provides benefits by packing district votes, the method utilizes dishonesty.

In an article by  the AP on June, 25, 2017 a very convincing argument was made that gerrymandering helped the Republican Party in 2016 more than it did the Democrats. It was achieved by political cheating and voter disenfranchisement all in deference to political party. Here is an abbreviated part of this article:

“Analysis: Partisan gerrymandering has benefited Republicans more than Democrats

The 2016 presidential contest was awash with charges that the fix was in: Republican Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged against him, while Democrats have accused the Russians of stacking the odds in Trump’s favor.

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it — in the drawing of lines for hundreds of U.S. and state legislative seats. The result, according to an Associated Press analysis: Republicans had a real advantage.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. It’s designed to detect cases in which one party may have won, widened or retained its grip on power through political gerrymandering.

The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

The AP analysis also found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.”

Reverse Trump’s Executive Orders

His entire barrage of Executive orders need to be (on day one) reversed and an assessment report undertaken to report all damages done to people and resources. Go to court if necessary to get this objective done.

Create Laws to eliminate all Money from Politics

If this objective is achieved, it will help to finally elevate the status of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to a status like that of the United States Supreme Court. No more will Americans be able to say, “We have the best politicians money can buy.” Money has tainted politics in America from the very beginning. If politicians ever want to achieve any degree of respectability, they need to eliminate all money in politics.

Eliminate the Electoral College in deference to popular vote only

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The Electoral College is an arcane process for electing a president. The election of 2016 is filled with irony. It is incredibly ironic because the Founding Fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. Why? Because they feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power. So, the Electoral College, no matter how originally perceived, has now failed in the 21st Century to prevent a tyrant from becoming President of the United States.

The Electoral College also created the primacy of its own electoral process, over that of the popular vote. It renders popular vote more symbolic than real or significant. In the 2016 election some 3 million voters were disenfranchised by this arcane Electoral College system. The popular vote should have made Hillary Clinton President of the United States.

The time has arrived for a new Constitutional Amendment on electing presidents. If we pay lip service to the idea that every person’s vote count, then we as a nation ought to damn well mean it. The Electoral College flies in the face of any notion of a true democratic process. Real democracy is not static or immutable; real democracy is capable of counting every vote and making every vote count.

Initiate a new Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

It’s been nearly 100 years since women first earned the right to vote. It was called the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As a nation we are long overdue for an Equal Rights Amendment.

Make sure 50% of the leadership roles such as Heads of Committees are held by women

Given the opportunity to show the country just how much more capable Democrats are than Republicans it’s time to set in stone a new egalitarian standard for the nation. Women are truly equal with men. What differences there are between men and women such as height, weight, and muscle mass or “perceived privilege” has absolutely no relevance when compared to innate intelligence, thinking ability or leadership qualities.

Reopen the case against Supreme Court associate justice Brett Kavanaugh. This time a real investigation will be conducted

Although I am in favor of liberal judges rather than conservative ones, the real issue here is trust. During the early part of his confirmation hearing Nominee Kavanaugh said some things that convinced me, when he talked about how he analyzes judicial cases, he seemed very reasonable and objective. He was on point.

It must be pointed out that judicial or legal reasoning is not like any other way of thinking. Legal thinking and analysis needs to be fact-driven and respectful of legal precedent. Highly intelligent judges tend to put their biases aside when analyzing data and the law. I would direct you to previous blogs where I discussed various theories of judicial reasoning and analysis, especially with respect to how the United States Constitution is interpreted.

Sometimes judges on the U.S. Supreme Court change political stripes. And it is true that historically more conservative judges leaned to the liberal side once they were on the highest court, much more than the reverse where a former liberal Court of Appeals judge turned conservative once they were elevated to the highest court.

The following is an interesting article written by Jon D. Hanson and Adam Benforado,

For the Boston Review, dated April 9, 2016.

It is titled, “THE DRIFTERS: Why the Supreme Court makes justices more liberal.”

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Boston Review. At the time of original publication, Antonin Scalia was still alive. Scalia died this year.

“When Justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor left the bench last year, conservatives were in an anxious mood: though pleased at the prospect of shifting the Supreme Court to the right, they were worried by the record of past Republican appointments. The refrain in conservative commentary, repeated with special intensity during the Harriet Mires affair, was: Not another Souter. Not another Kennedy. Not another O’Connor. And they might have added: Not another Blackmun. Not another Stevens. Not another Warren.

They were right to be concerned. While there have been a number of relatively reliable conservative justices over the years—Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Rehnquist being prime examples—and some important right-shifting exceptions—notably Felix Frankfurter, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Byron White, appointed by John F. Kennedy—the tendency in recent decades to drift leftward has been strong enough to gain both popular and scholarly attention. Indeed, Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, has suggested that about one quarter of confirmed nominees over the last half century have wound up “evolving from conservative to moderate or liberal.”

 

Richard Nixon, for instance, thought he was getting solid right-wingers when he appointed Harry Blackmun and Lewis Powell, only to find, several years later, Blackmun authoring Roe v. Wade and Powell swing-voting to permit affirmative action in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Coincidentally, in Bakke, Justice John Paul Stevens—then a recent Gerald Ford appointee—wrote a dissent joined by the court’s most conservative members, though a few decades later he would emerge as the most consistently liberal voice on the bench.

Justices O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy—though they remain tied to their conservative mainstays on certain issues, such as federalism—both seem to have embarked on similar leftward journeys, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, O’Connor struck a resoundingly conservative chord in her early opinions on women’s and racial-minority rights, only to join with liberal colleagues in cases touching on the same issues over the last 15 years—most strikingly in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe’s central holding, and Grutter v. Bollinger, which vindicated a law-school affirmative-action program. Kennedy, also a Reagan appointee, was initially celebrated by conservatives as “Bork without the beard.” Yet he later provided key votes to knock down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas and overturn the death penalty for juveniles in Roper v. Simmons—prompting Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, to rechristen him “the most dangerous man in America.”

There is no doubt that the presidential nomination process greatly influences the large-scale jurisprudential trends in expected directions. Still, that a Supreme Court appointment is both so important—in President Bush’s words, “one of the most consequential decisions a president makes”—and so scrutinized, casts the many examples of unpredicted drift as a real mystery. Why are presidents, and other backers, so often disappointed by the eventual performance of their nominees? And why do so many Supreme Court justices drift to the left, especially on matters of individual rights?

One fashionable theory is that, in our post-Borkean world, presidents must put forward nominees who can survive the contentious confirmation process—thus, ones who have shorter paper trails and less ideological baggage. This “advice and consent” bottleneck allows through only candidates with unpredictable judicial dispositions.

While this has some validity, presidential buyer’s remorse is as old as the process itself and may develop even when a president nominates a lifelong ally or a well-known public figure. By the time of his nomination, Earl Warren had established himself as a dedicated conservative: he had been the attorney general and three-term Republican governor of California and Thomas Dewey’s running mate in the famously narrow loss to Harry Truman and Alben Barkley. In short, Earl Warren hardly seemed an unknown quantity when Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him as Chief Justice in 1953; and yet it was Earl Warren—the same Earl Warren who as attorney general during World War II backed the internment of Japanese citizens —who as chief justice inaugurated a liberal revolution on the court and became a champion of minority rights.”

To read the full body of the article just go online and use the article’s title as your search term.

Now, back to judge Kavanaugh:

That having been said earlier I still think it is important to know if Judge Kavanaugh has any skeletons hanging in his closet. The testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was very compelling to say the least. In this situation a real investigation needs to be carried out if not by the FBI then perhaps in conjunction with a Congressional investigating committee. Perhaps then either Judge Kavanaugh will be vindicated or he won’t. As Sgt. Joe Friday said in Dragnet long ago, “Just show me the facts, ma’am.”

After the 2020 election install new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court for a total of 15 justices. It’s also important to require a 2/3 vote in the Senate in order to confirm and approve any nominee for the highest court in the land

Rationale

When Roosevelt was reelected in 1936 he had to deal with a Supreme Court that wouldn’t pass his New Deal legislation. He did this by getting passed the 1937 Judicial Procedures Reform Bill. What this bill did was to require all justices on the court to retire at age 70.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about how many justices can compose the court. The number of justices we have now is simply based on prior arbitrary decisions of the U.S. government. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t necessarily have to be composed of just 9 justices.

Roosevelt’s “packing the court plan” worked and a host of New Deal legislation was subsequently approved by the highest court. One could argue that Roosevelt’s political interference to subvert the highest court in the land isn’t any different than current Republican attempts to pack the court with ultra-conservative tainted judges. They’ve done everything they can to subvert an honest process by having no real investigation done by the FBI, hiding Kavanaugh documents during his time with the Bush administration, and only half-heartedly, if at all, showing respect toward witnesses and victims of sexual battery, lewd licentious behavior, and attempted rape.

Goal   

Improve the Over-all Well Being of Americans

Objectives

Create a New Tax Plan for the Country

All individual tax rates should be 10%. All Corporate tax rates should go back to 35%. Since January 1, 2018 corporate tax rates are a flat 21%. We can thank the Trump tax plan for that boondoggle. If one adds corporate tax monies that are hidden overseas a lot of tax money is lost by the American people.

All small businesses’ tax rates should be 10%. However, a corporation or small business could reduce their tax burden conditional upon the number and percent of new hires over the number and percent of new hires in the previous tax year. The greater the number and percent of new hires—the greater the tax relief provided.

In these two types of business entities taxes are conditional on results, not promises. In this way all businesses would be incentivized because of conditionality. I recommend small business owners bear a much smaller tax burden since they employ the vast number of workers in this country. Simultaneously, the minimum hourly wage should become $20 an hour, effective January 1, 2020.

Enact a Brand New Immigration Policy with an Ellis Island Approach to integrating non-citizens into society and help them become American citizens.

Under this plan racial or religious profiling as criteria for admission to the United States is dead. Unlike Ellis Island in New York during the early 1900s and before, the 21st Century will require one Processing Center to be along the Canadian border, another in El Paso, Texas, and a third Processing Center near Los Angeles, California.

Develop a Proven and Effective Ground to Air and Sea to Air Missile Defense Program

There is a great need for the 116th Congress to play a leadership role with respect to a viable effective Missile Defense Program. This issue has been a bi-partisan issue that both Democrats and Republicans have worked toward.

The new Congress needs to stay on top of this issue. Given the importance of protecting the nation during an actual nuclear strike by a foreign power, efforts must proactively be implemented including the once defunct Star Wars Program originally proposed by President Reagan. However, it’s time to come into the 21th Century. Call such a program the new Strategic Missile Defense Program or NSMDP. A broader title might be SHIELD, which could apply to all systems directed at countering incoming missiles.

Create a One-Payer Health Care System for all Americans

Currently, Medicare is a single-payer national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U.S. federal government.

It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older who have worked and paid into the system through the payroll tax. It also provides health insurance to younger people with some disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Medicare is currently funded by a combination of a payroll tax, premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, and general revenue.

Under this objective the Bernie Sanders model should be enacted into law. It will include a viable and enriched health care benefit system and put every citizen under Medicare. In addition, affordable supplemental insurance could augment anyone’s Medicare program especially for long term care and in-home health care services.

A new enriched Medicare program must provide all medical services from Surgery to Psychiatry. In addition, all drugs, especially ground-breaking experimental cancer drugs will be free-of-charge to everyone covered under Medicare or Medicaid. The federal budget for all medical research should also be quadrupled over current governmental allocations. This is America; therefore we ought to have the best healthcare in the world bar none

Now money is realistically always an issue. I recommend a very first time ever federal national sales tax of 5 percent. Why? The GDP in 2020 will be an estimated 22.23 trillion dollars. Using a 2020 time frame a 5% sales tax would annually raise 1.1115 trillion dollars. But as everyone knows, health care costs are estimated to be 17.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

That 17.9 percent would represent about 3.3 trillion dollars in 2020. Said another way, health care in this country is astronomically expensive. However, mandatory spending cuts by the Trump administration had eliminated a net $2,033 billion (B) over the 2018–2027 periods. This included reduced spending of $1,891B for healthcare, mainly due to the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). Republicans failed to repeal the ACA.

Doing the math 1,891 billion is actually 1.891 trillion dollars. When you add this amount to my sales tax plan, we now have 3.002 trillion dollars which comes close to the 3.3 trillion in healthcare costs. Last year under the Trump administration corporations paid only approximately $400 billion in taxes when corporations still had a tax rate was 35%.  Going back to a 35% tax rate for corporations would close the gap or short-fall. Theoretically, the 3.4 trillion in revenues could be dedicated exclusively to healthcare.

However, obviously my “steal from Peter in order to pay Paul” idea does need a lot of work. Anyone with viable ideas would be welcome to express them in some kind of forum. But this is getting to the heart of what politics is really all about—making hard decisions about scarce resources; it is an ominous responsibility.

Whether one is a Democrat, Republican or Independent, we all need good quality healthcare. Therefore, the 116th Congress has got its work cut out for it. I wish I had better more definitive answers for my readers on the issue of health care and its cost, but I don’t. It is a hard nut to crack. It is doable but will require really tough resource and tax decisions.

Institute a New National Call-in Center for Identifying Hate Groups and White Nationalists

This Call-in Center needs to be directly under the Control of the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The “eyes and ears” of 300+ million citizens is much better than a simple string of agency generated leads or criminal acts or events after the fact. In particular, people in rural areas of the country will be pivotal to detecting and reporting hate militia groups hiding in the forests or mountain areas of the U.S. landscape.

Pass a New Law for all 50 states to adopt the Gun Law Restrictions of California and/or Massachusetts

As a registered gun owner from California I can say I had to jump through a bunch of hoops in order to buy my guns. I use my guns primarily for target practice and home protection.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with strong gun laws. Guns should not be in the hands of everybody. And safety is job one for me. Massachusetts has the best most restrictive gun laws in the nation; California is second. Guns are never going to disappear as they are protected by the Second Amendment. You should read former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s case response to District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008). This was a landmark case that made a lot of sense. The Associated Press reported the following back in 2015 following Scalia’s death:

“Opponents of a ban on the kinds of military-style weapons often used in spree killings – most recently in San Bernardino – often say that denying civilians the right to own such guns would violate their Second Amendment rights, or that it is not possible in any case to define such weapons in law.

So let’s turn to an undisputed conservative – one who opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action and so many other liberal agenda items. Is it possible to define the kinds of weapons that should not be in civilian hands, and does regulating them violate the Second Amendment?

Here is Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court reversed a long-held position and ruled that the Second Amendment did give Americans individual right to own firearms. The court said the District’s ban on handguns in private homes went too far, but that regulation of gun ownership was compatible with the Second Amendment:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. ‘Miller’ said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ 307 U.S., at 179, 59 S. Ct. 816. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

 

Justice Scalia also wrote:

 

“It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service — M-16 rifles and the like — may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

The prefatory clause, to which the justice refers, of course, is the one about “a well-regulated militia.” The AR-15, used in San Bernardino, is an M-16 knockoff. unusual’ and subject to regulation or an outright ban under the Second Amendment.” So rather than saying “assault weapons,” in the future perhaps we should say “the kinds of weapons that Justice Antonin Scalia has defined as ‘dangerous.

The Mission of the New 116th Congress will be to bring suit where necessary when dangerous weapons are involved. This tact of specificity when creating regulatory legislation (with citations referring to District of Columbia vs. Heller) just might bear fruit.

 

 Double or triple the resources of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in order to investigate all civilian shootings by a Police Officer in the United States

Nearly 1,000 people are killed by police every year in the United States. Putting local police or local district attorneys in charge of investigating their own is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house. It makes no sense at all. All investigations of these killings need objectivity and impartiality. The FBI has several thousand agents nationwide. If they need more agents to investigate killings by police officers—then so be it!

 

Goal

Regain International Status and Respect as a Nation

Objectives

Make a Formal Apology to our Allies

In addition, after Trump is removed by the 116th Congress it needs to make an unprecedented gesture to the world—a heartfelt apology to all our allies around the world for our countries colossal error in judgment for electing a total buffoon to the White House. Both a verbal and written proclamation of regret needs to be promulgated to the entire world, and in a timely manner.

Institute a strong policy of coordination among the Congressional Judiciary Committee and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to surveil all U.S. Congressmen, Senators, and Federal Court Judges for any corruption.

In conjunction with this, a new Cabinet level Czar of Government Ethics needs to be created with powers of investigation, promulgation of facts, and the authorization to censor, terminate employment, or otherwise convene a grand Jury to charge those whose ethics violations rise to the level of criminality.

In addition any current statutes on Moral Turpitude would now include crimes of omission as well as crimes of commission. As an example of moral turpitude involving crimes of omission consider the example of Representative Jim Jordan failing to report sexual abuse of young collegiate wrestlers at Ohio State University during his tenure there as a wrestling coach.

Convince the United Nations to eliminate all countries to the UN that are based on a dictatorship. Work to destroy all dictatorships in the world and their leaders (tyrants)

The United Nations is an institution that needs to defend its own Declaration of Human Rights, a landmark post-World War II proclamation that was passed back in 1948. It was one of the  most prodigious accomplishments of this multi-nation organization. The HR Proclamation laid out what the world needs to stand for. The United Nations stands as a beacon for the world in spite of the fact some countries are unwilling or unable to adopt the explicit Human Rights Declaration that was promulgated to the world.

It is from the pulpit of the U.N. that it needs collectively to stand up for what it believes in. As a world body of nations, it needs to demonstrate real courage. They could make a too long overdue commitment to oust dictatorships from the United Nations, to isolate and topple them from the rest of humanity. That is the goal. One objective that would follow would be to eliminate all dictators and dictatorships altogether from the face of the earth.

Final Thoughts

Having the power to make societal change is an awesome responsibility especially during an era of so many attacks on Democracy and democratic institutions. I can only hope that the gravity of the situation in American, with its utter lack of leadership in Washington D.C. will soon change course. I hope that the new 116th Congress will show real courage, and act quickly, decisively and responsibly.

 

 

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A New Social Psychology Theory of Human Need Fulfillment

“Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.” ― Erich Fromm

 

Purpose of Blog    

     The purpose of this blog is to set the stage for a new theory of human need fulfillment in social psychology. It will be known as “A New Social Psychology Theory of Human Need Fulfillment.”  One of the important existing theories in psychology that deals with human needs is Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.

     I find the motivational theory of Abraham Maslow relevant in modern society and, therefore, generally reasonable. Human needs were articulated and well-described by Maslow many decades ago. The needs Maslow discussed come down to survival, basic and social needs.

However, it is important now to move ahead and articulate what it takes to fulfill a person’s needs. Basically, the question is what factors or variables are responsible in an individual that creates the conditions whereby one’s needs are met?

     How does one even begin to approach thinking about how needs are satisfied? Theoretically this is a huge undertaking. In this author’s opinion there are five macro level social domains or categories that might capture the variables involved in human need acquisition. These five categories include:

Broad-Based Social/Structural Forces

     These are societal broad-based sociological forces such as: economy, national, state and local laws and policies, and war.

Categorical Characteristics of the Individual

     These are variables like age, race, and gender, level of education, income level, being married, divorced or single, current social class, and social class and marital status of one’s parents.

Intra Psychic/Psychiatric Characteristics of the Individual

     These are variables like self-esteem, self-image, interpersonal relationships, one’s outlook on life, capacity to love, extent of feelings of confidence and/or competence, level of emotional stability and mental maturity.

Fortuitous Events

     These are variables like accidents and unexpected life changes like sudden disability, losing a job, or unusual events like winning the lottery or death/disability of a family member.

Inherited Characteristics of Individuals

     These are variables like intelligence, special talents, body type, blood type, birth weight and any disabilities or diseases at birth.

     Proposed Research Question

     I propose this primary question for study: What variables (among the five macro level social domains or categories) best explain human need fulfillment. Although Abraham Maslow told us what our needs are, both independent and dependent variables need further explanation. What explains the degree of success in meeting one’s needs during a lifetime? What makes all this incredibly complex is that an individual’s needs can change over time. For example, certain needs may need to be “put on hold” if one is going through a rough patch in life.  

Prior Research and Assumptions

     Looking at the five domains of variables I am going to suggest theoretically that not all domains are likely to predict or explain success in meeting one’s needs. I preliminarily hypothesize that human need fulfillment is best explained in terms of Carl Rogers concept, a fully functioning person. This leads one to ask what is a fully functioning person?

What is a Fully Functioning Person?

     According to Carl Rogers, a fully functioning person is one who is in touch with his or her deepest and innermost feelings and desires. These individuals understand their own emotions and place a deep trust in their own instincts and urges. Unconditional positive regard plays an essential role in becoming a fully functioning person.

     Rogers suggested that people have an actualizing tendency, or a need to achieve their full potential – a concept that is often referred to as self-actualization. Rogers believed that a fully-functioning person is an individual who is continually working toward becoming self-actualized. This individual has received unconditional positive regard from others, does not place conditions on his or her own worth, is capable of expressing feelings, and is fully open to life’s many experiences.

Defining the Fully Functioning Person

“Essentially, the fully functioning person is completely congruent and integrated. Such a person, Rogers believes, is able to embrace ‘existential living.’ By this he means they are able to live fully in the here and now with personal inner freedom, with all its accompanying exciting, creative, but also challenging, aspects.” (Freeth, 2007)

“Such a person experiences in the present, with immediacy. He is able to live in his feelings and reactions of the moment. He is not bound by the structure of his past learnings, but these are a present resource for him insofar as they relate to the experience of the moment. He lives freely, subjectively, in an existential confrontation of this moment in life.” (Rogers, 1962)

“The fully functioning person has a flexible, constantly evolving self-concept. She is realistic, open to new experiences, and capable of changing in response to new experiences. Rather than defending against or distorting her own thoughts or feelings, the person experiences congruence: Her sense of self is consistent with her emotions and experiences. The actualizing tendency is fully operational in her, and she makes conscious choices that move her in the direction of greater growth and fulfillment of potential.” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2006)

The Characteristics of a Fully Functioning Person

Characteristics of a fully functioning person include:

  • Openness to experience
  • Lack of defensiveness
  • The ability to interpret experiences accurately
  • A flexible self-concept and the ability to change through experience
  • The ability to trust one’s experiences and form values based on those experiences
  • Unconditional self-regard
  • Does not feel the need to distort or deny experiences
  • Open to feedback and willing to make realistic changes
  • Lives in harmony with other people

     Rogers also developed a form of therapy known as client-centered therapy. In this approach, the therapist’s goal is to offer unconditional positive regard to the client. The goal is that the individual will be able to grow emotionally and psychologically and eventually become a fully-functioning person.

     The primary question posed in this Blog is related to Maslow’s work. That is, if one can’t fulfill needs he/she is unlikely to become a fully functioning person. Accordingly, if one becomes a fully functioning person, it increases the probability one is likely to fulfill their needs. Yet, there is always the possibility that a fully functioning person might not meet all their needs, while some individuals, not yet a fully functioning person, may nonetheless meet all their needs (perhaps fortuitous events intervene in a person’s life). Said another way, I believe there is an interrelationship between striving toward becoming a fully functioning person, and meeting one’s needs in life. But what can clarify this interrelationship between need fulfillment and the fully functioning person is a research study. Until then it is theory in need of empirical evidence.  

     One day in the future it may be possible for an individual to keep score as to how well they are progressing toward becoming a fully functioning person. Before one gets to the pragmatic implications of a new theory—the theory of human need fulfillment of Abraham Maslow must first be articulated.

Human Need Fulfillment

     Human need fulfillment is the process of satisfying one’s basic and social needs. This goal of fulfilling needs is a lifetime endeavor for all of us, and can be thought of as a constant approach/avoidance conflict.  Approach-avoidance conflicts as elements of stress were first introduced by psychologist Kurt Lewin, one of the founders of modern social psychology. It’s important to note early that during one’s lifetime there are many variables or factors that contribute or detract (obstacles) from meeting one’s social, physical or safety needs.

     But first, describing a new theory will need to be done in stages. There are certain areas of knowledge about psychology one needs to be aware of before one can fully understand a new theory within the context of social psychology.

 

Preliminary Contextual Framework

     What is an Approach Avoidance Conflict?

     “Approach-avoidance conflicts occur when there is one goal or event that has both positive and negative effects or characteristics that make the goal appealing and unappealing simultaneously.

     For example, the popular culture construction of marriage is a momentous decision/goal/event that has both positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects, or approach portion, of marriage are togetherness, sharing memories, and companionship; however, there are negative aspects, or avoidance portions, including money issues, arguments, and mortgages.    

     The negative effects influence the decision maker to avoid the goal or event, while the positive effects influence the decision maker to want to approach or proceed with the goal or event. The influence of the negative and positive aspects creates a conflict because the decision maker either has to proceed with the goal or event or not partake in the goal or event at all.

     To continue with the example of marriage, a person might approach proposing to a partner with excitement because of the positive aspects of marriage: having a lifelong companion, sharing financial responsibilities. On the other hand, he or she might avoid proposing due to the negative aspects of marriage: arguments, money issues, joint decision making.

     The approach side of this type of conflict is easy to start toward the goal, but as the goal is approached the negative factors increase in strength which causes indecision. If there are competing feelings to a goal, the stronger of the two will triumph. For instance, if a woman was thinking of starting a business she would be faced with positive and negative aspects. Before actually starting the business, the woman would be excited about the prospects of success for the new business and she would encounter (approach) the positive aspects first: she would attract investors, create interest in her upcoming ideas and it would be a new challenge.

     However, as she drew closer to actually launching the business, the negative aspects would become more apparent; the woman would acknowledge that it would require much effort, time, and energy from other aspects of her life. The increase in strength of these negative aspects (avoidance) would cause her to avoid the conflict or goal of starting the new business, which might result in indecision.

     Research pertaining to approach and avoidance conflicts has been extended into implicit motives, both abstract and social in nature.”

     It should be added that the approach/avoidance conflict may not be consciously recognized by many people. People often set unrealistic goals only to discover later the negative sides of goal acquisition. The more equipped people are in meeting their goals, the more likely they will succeed. The best way to be equipped, so a person can meet their needs, is to be or become—A Fully Functioning Person.

     I’d like to point out before describing my testable hypotheses that scientists need to further refine any testable hypotheses with operational definitions for terms such as self-actualization, self-esteem, self-image, mental maturity, ego-ideal, interpersonal relationships, beliefs, values, achievement, etc. Also, readers need to understand the basics of this scientific process. Here is a definition of variables and their needed operational definitions:

     Variables are anything that might impact the outcome of your study or can take on different values (primarily numbers or categorical values as well.) An operational definition describes exactly what the variables are and how they are measured within the context of one’s study. For example, if you were doing a study on the impact of sleep deprivation on driving performance, you would need to operationally define what you mean by sleep deprivation and driving performance.

     In this example you might define sleep deprivation as getting less than seven hours of sleep at night, and define driving performance as how well a participant does on a driving test.

     What is the purpose of operationally defining variables? The main purpose is control. By understanding what you are measuring, you can control for it by holding the variable constant between all of the groups or manipulating it as an independent variable. I want to point out that operationally defining the outcome (dependent variable) will not only be important but a great challenge as well.

     Sigmund Freud presented to the world some amazing concepts based on the cornerstone of all science, observation. But Sigmund Freud did not carry out any kind of systematic social research using statistics and statistical analysis. What I’m proposing in the way of testable hypotheses are ideas to be tested in future social research. The ideas themselves are the easy part. Creating operational definitions for variables and carrying out the proper statistical analysis may be the hard part.

Introduction

     Everyday observation suggests that some individuals are very successful in meeting their needs, while others seem like they just can’t catch a break no matter what they do. The purpose of developing a new social psychology theory of human need fulfillment is to: (1) improve upon Abraham Maslow’s Theory, A Hierarchy of Needs, (2) explain the variables or factors that either lead to human need fulfillment, or cause needs not to be fulfilled, and (3) suggest two types of research studies in which questions proposed might be answered.

Background for a New Theory in Psychology

     One of the most important theorists on human needs was Abraham Maslow whose theory, A Hierarchy of Needs, became widely accepted both inside and outside the field of psychology. Before describing the set of facts that pertain to this theory, it is necessary to provide the reader with background on what theory is and what makes a good theory.

What is a theory?

     A theory is much more than a guess or a hunch. A theory both describes a phenomenon and should make statements of prediction about future behaviors. The term theory is used with surprising frequency in everyday language. It is often used to mean a guess, hunch or supposition. You may even hear people dismiss certain information because it is “only a theory.” It is important to note as one studies psychology and other scientific topics, that a theory in science is not the same as the colloquial use of the term.

    A scientific theory is based upon a hypothesis and backed by evidence. A theory presents a concept or idea that is testable. In science a theory is a reasoned explanation for some phenomenon. In the simplest terms: A theory is a fact-based framework for describing a phenomenon. In psychology, theories are used to provide a model for understanding human thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

     A good psychological theory has two key components: (1) it must describe a phenomenon, and (2) it must make predictions about future behaviors. Ahead I will present Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, provide a critique of Maslow’s Theory, then produce a set of theoretical propositions regarding the questions I earlier proposed.

Early Origin of an Idea

     When I was a freshman in high school I read books on psychology in my spare time. One of the psychology books had a section on Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist. He hypothesized a pyramid of human needs. The hierarchy of human needs model suggests that human needs must be fulfilled one level at a time.

     According to Maslow’s theory, when having fulfilled all the needs in the hierarchy, a human being may eventually achieve self-actualization. Late in life, Maslow came to conclude that self-actualization (to be explained below) was not an automatic outcome of satisfying the other human needs.

Human needs as identified by Maslow:

  • At the bottom of the hierarchy are the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being: food, water, sleep and sex.
  • The next level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability”. These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more.
  • The third level of need is “Love and Belonging”, which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends.
  • The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.
  • Then there is the “Cognitive” level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore.
  • After that is the “Aesthetic” level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty.
  • At the top of the pyramid, “Need for Self-actualization” occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential. Once a person has reached the self-actualization state, they focus on themselves and try to build their own image. They may look at this in terms of feelings such as self-confidence or by accomplishing a set goal.

 

     Maslow’s ideas have been criticized for their lack of scientific rigor. He was criticized by American Empiricists as scientifically too soft. In 2006, conservative social critic Christina Hoff Summers and practicing psychiatrist Sally Satel asserted that, due to lack of empirical support, Maslow’s ideas have fallen out of fashion and are “no longer taken seriously in the world of academic psychology.” Positive psychology takes a different view. Positive psychology spends much of its research looking for how things go right rather than the more pessimistic viewpoint, how things go wrong.

     Furthermore, the Hierarchy of Needs has been accused of having a cultural bias—mainly reflecting Western values and ideologies. From the perspective of many cultural psychologists, this concept is relative to each culture and society and cannot be universally applied. Maslow’s concept of self-actualizing people was later united with Piaget’s developmental theory.

     While some research showed some support for Maslow’s theories, most research has not been able to substantiate the idea of a needs hierarchy. Wahba and Bridwell reported that there was little evidence for Maslow’s ranking of these needs and even less evidence that these needs are in a hierarchical order.

     Other criticisms of Maslow’s theory note that his definition of self-actualization is difficult to test scientifically. His research on self-actualization was also based on a very limited sample of individuals such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt.

     Regardless of these criticisms, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs represents part of an important shift in psychology. Rather than focusing on abnormal behavior and development, Maslow’s humanistic psychology was focused on the development of healthy individuals.

     While there was relatively little research supporting the theory, hierarchy of needs is well-known and popular both in and out of psychology. In a study published in 2011, researchers from the University of Illinois set out to put the hierarchy to the test. What they discovered is that while fulfillment of the needs was strongly correlated with happiness, people from cultures all over the world reported that self-actualization and social needs were important even when many of the most basic needs were unfulfilled.

Observations

   For two and one half years I’ve been playing international chess against players all over the world. We all strive for excellence in playing chess. Few of us will ever achieve the pinnacle of perfection. Only a handful out of the 7.5 million players on the web will ever be another Bobby Fischer or a Magnus Carlson in today’s chess world. Trust me. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs applies to most everyone in affluent, industrialized nations, regardless of their general culture.

     Nevertheless, with chess players there is a “selection bias” when trying to generalize. Many populations in the world spend their entire lives just trying to secure their safety and basic needs for food, water, sleep and sex. There are always individual exceptions when it comes to striving for higher levels of human need, but the reality is a high percentage of people in many countries live below the poverty line. Their basic modus operandi is plain and simple—survival and the acquisition of basic human needs. However, as the 2011 study from the University of Illinois suggested, social needs and self-actualization were considered important even when many of the most basic needs were not (just consider the starving artists of the 1930s).

A Critique—Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

     In general I think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, despite some possible cultural bias, is a reasonable theory of human motivation. The one major criticism I do have of Maslow’s theory is that, in terms of absolute priority or need levels described in his theory, I think our safety/survival needs most often take precedence over the basic needs of food, water, sleep, and sex. Also, at any point in time safety/survival needs may take precedence over all higher level needs as well. Example: You may be polishing up a paper that will award you the next Nobel Prize in Particle Physics. But if your house is suddenly consumed in fire the safety/survival need kicks in and you flee from your house. Your self-actualizing moment of writing a paper worthy of the Nobel Prize will have to wait.

     Nevertheless, there are exceptions. We are all constantly trying to satisfy our needs or the needs of those we love. In fact, higher level needs (particularly love, belonging, self-image and self-esteem) may override one’s need to survive or risk one’s safety in deference to saving loved ones over one’s own survival.

     Terrible threats directed at oneself or family members often cause individuals to take flight or to fight and perhaps risk great harm. Most people tend to take flight (example—people running away from a shooter in a mall or on a college campus). Yet, some individuals would rather fight by disarming or killing the assailant. Said another way—a social need may take priority over one’s personal safety. That social need might best be described as a kind of social survival where values and beliefs play an important role.

     Another example is this. Everyone wants to survive, but during military combat operations, frequently, individuals will protect or defend their buddies even when such actions may put them in harm’s way.

     In other words, even the survival need is socially evaluated and determined, i.e., survival does not always control human actions. And one’s intrinsic values may influence behavior more than mere survival. What values you ask? How about values such as honor, duty, country or protecting one’s immediate family and loved ones from harm?

     Now, the psychological need for self-actualization is very compelling in otherwise superior individuals. However, for some individuals, achievements, or self-actualization, may not be important at all. Rather, some people would prefer to acquire or achieve status, position, or wealth than to engage unnecessarily, or strive for, self-improvement or acquire skills to realize one’s own full potential.

     Our basic “fight or flight mechanisms” generally overrule all other human considerations most of the time. It gets very complex even here when social needs (see above) come into play. Meeting human needs is not orderly or hierarchical in real life; human behavior is much more complex. Everyday life and the meeting of our needs at all levels are always momentarily “conditional.”

     Our brain is constantly organizing, re-organizing and prioritizing our physical and social needs and their conditional nature at every moment (conditional in the sense of making choices and evaluating one’s physical and social needs).

     Understanding how the brain operates in this need striving/conditional environment requires a social construct known as the “mind.” For this author there is no mind/brain dichotomy. The mind (complex parts of the brain and neural structures) and the body are physically the same. However, as social scientists, we make use of a social construct in order to understand the complex workings of the brain. As said above, that social construct is called the “mind.”

     While the brain is constantly mediating priorities in fulfilling our needs, one might legitimately ask, from a scientific perspective, what really underlies all such brain-activated mediation?

     In statistics, a mediation model is one that seeks to identify and explicate the mechanism or process that underlies an observed relationship between an independent variable and a dependent variable via the inclusion of an explanatory variable (s), known as a mediator variable(s). This explanatory variable or variables is crucial to all decision-making.

     There are two aspects to a mediator variable(s): (1) the process of evaluation itself (conditions, evaluation, what-if questions) and (2) the additional sensory input used to make a decision. In other words, variables or factors in a mediation model dictate our behavioral choices at any point in time.

     This gets very complicated (when one is talking about thinking) because the mediating process itself of evaluation is always influenced by our feelings and emotions. A cognitively rational decision isn’t always the decision people make. The brain may decide, following all sensory input, (despite looking at conditional aspects, evaluation, or internally answering what-if questions) that the best decision isn’t necessarily a rational one. We are not machines. We are endowed with all sorts of sensory input including psychological variables like feelings, perceptions and emotions.

     Rather than hypothesizing a direct causal relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable, a mediational model hypothesizes that the independent variable influences the mediator variable(s), which in turn influences the dependent variable.

     Thus, the mediator variable(s) serves to clarify the nature of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Once again, mediating relationships occur when a third variable or set of variables plays an important role in governing the relationship between the two other variables. I want something (a personal decision to fulfill a need). The “wanting” serves the role of the independent variable. The dependent variable is the result (actually meeting or satisfying the need).

     The brain however says, “Wait a minute.” The brain then initiates or introduces the mediating process variable(s) (evaluation, conditions, and what-if questions). In addition, other sensory or perceptual variables may come into this process. These may be variables like self-esteem, self-confidence, self-image, feelings, values and/or beliefs to name a few.

     Overview of Theory

     I am proposing a new theory of human need fulfillment predicated on knowing what variables predict human need fulfillment. First and foremost, fulfilling any need does not occur in a social vacuum. Therefore, I predict the domain known as [Intra Psychic/Psychiatric Characteristics of the Individual] will better predict human need fulfillment than any other domain. The variables I believe that best determine whether one’s needs are met are: self-esteem, self-image, interpersonal relationships, one’s outlook on life, capacity to love, feelings of confidence or not, extent of competence (social or intellectual), emotional stability, and mental maturity.

    The concept of a fully functioning person was first articulated by Carl Rogers (1966). All striving after human need fulfillment (this author’s opinion) is based on an Approach/Avoidance Conflict. Values, beliefs, psychological make-up, and prior social learning cause one to strive to meet human needs (whether they are survival/safety, basic or higher level needs).

     The Five domains and their variables can be used to answer the primary hypothesis mentioned earlier. Initially, there may be hundreds of variables that have some predictive power in correlating with a well-defined output variable, such as need fulfillment. There may be stages of life related to age that may differ as to outcome since people usually move forward as they age. Needs differ at each stage of life, because individuals may simply redefine what their needs are.

   Given the importance of developing a better explanation of what causes our needs to be fulfilled, it is crucial to determine what variables are most highly correlated with the dependent variable (human need fulfillment).

   Once the data are available, one of the early steps in a research study will be to generate a correlation matrix. This must occur prior to any attempt to reduce the number of predictive variables to the parsimonious few. This is the point at which factor analysis and other multivariate approaches become very useful to this type of analysis of variable reduction.

     In terms of the parsimonious few, who knows, perhaps employment status, good health, strong interpersonal relationships and support systems (friends, significant others) , and self-esteem will best predict the outcome variable. But this is only an assumption, and it could be wrong. This is why research is the most exciting detective work of all. As Tom Hanks said in the movie, Forrest Gump, “You never what you’re going to get.”

   As said earlier, a good psychological theory has two key components: (1) it must describe a phenomenon and (2) it must make predictions about future behaviors. By prediction I mean there must be testable hypotheses.

     It is my evaluation, based on prior research, that the most predictive variables (to be determined through factor and multivariate analysis) will turn out to be, at an individual level—self-esteem, self-image, interpersonal relationships,one’s outlook on life, capacity to love, feelings of confidence or not, extent of competence (social or intellectual), emotional stability, and mental maturity.

 These are the variables that really matter when it comes to fulfilling one’s needs and whether one becomes a fully functioning person or not.

                                         

Testable Hypotheses

 

  • The greater the amount of self-esteem one has, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The better a person’s self-image, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The greater one’s interpersonal relationships are, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The more positive a person’s outlook on life, the greater one’s needs will be met

 

  • The greater one’s capacity for love, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The better one has feelings of confidence/competence, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The greater one is emotionally stable, the greater their needs will be met

 

  • The more mentally mature one is, the greater their needs will be met

 

 

     All that I’ve suggested up to this point is to initiate a preliminary set of steps toward developing a new theory in social psychology. I alluded to the possibility that some day it may be possible for someone to walk into a psychologist or school counselor’s office, sit down and take a battery of tests that will not only tell a person where they are in life, but be given a detailed plan as to how to get back on track (i.e., what an individual needs to do).

     But, before we get to that pragmatic stage of psychological services (no person left behind) much research needs to be done on need fulfillment.

     There are many ways to research or answer the questions posed in this Blog. I will write, in the future, more topics in the field on psychology (the fears in our lives, the Mind/Body Dichotomy, etc.). In the meantime, I have some suggestions as to how a new theory in psychology needs to be researched.

How best to test this theory scientifically

     There are two special ways to test hypotheses in research: (1) sampling and taking measurements at one point in time, and (2) conducting research with a longitudinal cohort study. Both approaches have research value.

   The value of the first approach is obtaining early clues on prediction of the outcome variable(s). The value of a longitudinal cohort study is understanding variables and their interactions over time i.e., as things change. My preference is to conduct both types of studies. With the longitudinal approach two studies come to mind: The Farmington Heart Study and another longitudinal study known as Delinquency in a Birth Cohort developed by the famous sociologist Marvin Wolfgang.

     The Farmington Heart Study of Cardiovascular Disease has been going on for 65 years. In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study embarked on an ambitious project in health research to identify the common factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease by following its development over a long period of time among a large group of participants.    

     The study conducted by Wolfgang, Figlio and Sellin was known as “Delinquency in a Birth Cohort.” It was conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1945 and 1963. The purpose of this study was to investigate the history of delinquency in a birth cohort–in particular, the age of onset of delinquent behavior and the progression or cessation of delinquency. Data were collected on a cohort of males born in 1945 and residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Information provided in the study includes demographic characteristics of the individuals studied, academic performance, offense information, demographic characteristics of victims of offenses, and other variables.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the history of delinquency in a birth cohort–in particular, the age of onset of delinquent behavior and the progression or cessation of delinquency. Data were collected on a cohort of males born in 1945 and residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Information provided in the study included demographic characteristics of the individuals studied, academic performance, offense information, demographic characteristics of victims, and criminal incident information.

     For any researchers out there who think studying how a person becomes fully functioning would be worthwhile, the data collection aspect of a study demands operationally well-defined input and output variables, perseverance and proper funding. As social scientists we have many clues, mostly socio-demographic, psychological and psychiatric, that can identify why people fail during their lives, or are unable to lead fruitful lives. Like Abraham Maslow we need to look at the positive side of the ledger, i.e., why people succeed.

     Imagine what findings from this type of study might do to assist politicians, and give them direction as to how best to help their fellow citizens achieve their goals and objectives in life. What better role might a politician play than meeting, or helping to meet, the needs of their constituents?

     In the spirit of positive psychology and Abraham Maslow, it’s time to create a new chapter on why people succeed or fail in life. But also it is very important to discover why many individuals who experience great difficulties in life, nevertheless are tenacious enough to succeed anyway. Such a study, looking at three sides of a coin (top, bottom, and its edge) might generate incredibly important information for society.  

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A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Your Life Cycle Stages

The Pioneer Work of Sigmund Freud

Part II

Freud’s Theory of the Conscious and Unconscious Mind

Psychoanalytic theory of the conscious and unconscious mind is often explained using an iceberg metaphor. Conscious awareness is the tip of the iceberg, while the unconscious is represented by the ice hidden below the surface of the water. Many of us have experienced what is commonly referred to as a Freudian slip. These misstatements are believed to reveal underlying, unconscious thoughts or feelings. Freudian slips can also apply to conscious thoughts and feelings as well. Quite often these feelings, whether conscious or unconscious, are ambivalent feelings. Consider the following example:

James has just started a new relationship with a woman he met at school. While talking to her one afternoon, he accidentally calls her by his ex-girlfriend’s name.

If you were in this situation, how would you explain this mistake? Many of us might blame the slip on distraction or describe it as a simple accident. However, a psychoanalytic theorist might tell you that this is much more than a random accident. The psychoanalytic view holds that there are inner forces outside of your awareness that are directing your behavior. For example, a psychoanalyst might say that James misspoke due to unresolved feelings for his ex or perhaps because of misgivings about his new relationship.

The founder of psychoanalytic theory was Sigmund Freud. While his theories were considered shocking at the time and continue to create debate and controversy, his work had a profound influence on a number of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, and art.

The term psychoanalysis is used to refer to many aspects of Freud’s work and research, including Freudian therapy and the research methodology he used to develop his theories. Freud relied heavily upon his observations and case studies of his patients when he formed his theory of personality development.

Before we can understand Freud’s theory of personality, we must first understand his view of how the mind is organized.

According to Freud, the mind can be divided into two main parts:

  1. The conscious mind includes everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally. A part of this includes our memory, which is not always part of consciousness but can be retrieved easily at any time and brought into our awareness. Freud called this ordinary memory the preconscious.
  2. The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges [including fantasies], and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict that is yet to be revealed to those around us. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences. Parenthetically, we may be consciously aware of our fantasies; however, many of these consciously circulating thoughts and feelings may not necessarily generate conflict that would create anxiety. Fantasies in the conscious reahlm can indeed be very pleasant experiences. However, the superego [see concept below] still keeps a close check on those who want to act out their fantasies.

Personality Development

According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, personality is composed of three elements. These three elements of personality are known as the id, the ego and the superego. They work together to create complex human behaviors.

The Id

The id is the only component of personality that is present from birth. This aspect of personality is entirely unconscious and includes all of the instinctive and primitive behaviors. According to Freud, the id is the source of all psychic energy, making it the primary component of personality.

The id is driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires, wants, and needs. If these needs are not satisfied immediately, the result is a state of anxiety or tension. The Id doesn’t necessarily try to resolve the tension.

For example, an increase in hunger or thirst should produce an immediate attempt to eat or drink. The id is very important early in life, because it ensures that an infant’s needs are met. If the infant is hungry or uncomfortable, he or she will cry until the demands of the id are met. By age 3 or 4 a child will begin to delay gratification, i.e., the demands are seen as not having to achieve immediate satisfaction. Immediately satisfying these needs is not always realistic or even possible. If we were ruled entirely by the pleasure principle, we might find ourselves grabbing things we want out of other people’s hands to satisfy our own cravings. This sort of behavior would be both disruptive and socially unacceptable. According to Freud, the id tries to resolve the tension created by the pleasure principle through the primary process which involves forming a mental image of the desired object as a way of satisfying the need.

The Ego

The ego is the component of personality that is responsible for dealing with reality. According to Freud, the ego develops from the id and ensures that the impulses of the id can be expressed in a manner acceptable in the real world. The ego functions in all aspects of the mind: the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious mind.

The ego operates based on the reality principle, which strives to satisfy the id’s desires in realistic and socially appropriate ways. The reality principle weighs the costs and benefits of an action before deciding to act upon or abandon impulses. In many cases, the id’s impulses can be satisfied through a process of delayed gratification–the ego will eventually allow the behavior, but only in the appropriate time and place. Or, the ego allows for the behavior of the id in a disguised or sublimated form in addition to delay.

The ego also discharges tension created by unmet impulses through the secondary process, in which the ego tries to find an object in the real world that matches the mental image created by the id’s primary process.

The Superego

The last component of personality to develop is the superego. The superego is the aspect of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards and ideals that we acquire from parent(s) as well as society–our sense of right and wrong. The superego provides guidelines for making judgments. According to Freud, the superego begins to emerge at around age five.

There are two parts of the superego:

  1. The ego ideal includes the rules and standards for good behaviors. These behaviors include those which are approved of by parental and other authority figures. Obeying these rules leads to feelings of pride, value and accomplishment.
  2. The conscience includes information about things that are viewed as bad by parents and society. These behaviors are often forbidden and lead to bad consequences, punishments or feelings of guilt and remorse.

The superego acts to perfect and civilize our behavior. It works to suppress all unacceptable urges of the id and struggles to make the ego act upon idealistic standards rather that upon realistic principles. The superego is present at many levels of the mind including the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

The Interaction of the Id, Ego and Superego

With so many competing forces, it is easy to see how conflict might arise between the id, ego and superego. Freud used the term ego strength to refer to the ego’s ability to function despite these dueling forces. A person with good ego strength is able to effectively manage these pressures, while those with too much or too little ego strength can become too unyielding or too disrupting.

According to Freud, the key to a healthy personality is a balance between the id, the ego, and the superego.

Freud’s Concept of Defense Mechanisms

The concept of defense mechanisms can be attributed to Sigmund Freud. Later, Anna Freud also made great use of these concepts in her work in child psychiatry and child psychology. What is a defense mechanism? A defense mechanism is a strategy used to cover up or change unconscious desires and wishes that may be inappropriate or difficult to express.

In psychodynamic psychotherapy for PTSD, bringing about change in symptoms or behavior requires getting in touch with and “working through” those painful unconscious feelings. To do this, a therapist will assist the patient in recognizing the defense mechanisms being used, what they are being used for (to avoid painful feelings in the unconscious mind often stemming from a traumatic experience) and connecting with and appropriately releasing those feelings and thoughts that were previously being avoided.

Because of anxiety provoking demands created by the id, superego and reality, the ego has developed a number of defense mechanisms to cope with anxiety. Although we may knowingly use these mechanisms, in many cases these defenses work unconsciously to distort reality.

While all defense mechanisms can be unhealthy, they can also be adaptive and allow us to function normally. The greatest problems arise when defense mechanisms are overused in order to avoid dealing with problems. In psychoanalytic therapy, the goal may be to help the client uncover these unconscious defense mechanisms and find better, more healthy ways of coping with anxiety and distress.

Researchers have described a wide variety of different defense mechanisms. Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud described ten different defense mechanisms used by the ego.

Defense Mechanisms and Ego Anxiety

Most notably used by Sigmund Freud in his psychoanalytic theory, a defense mechanism is a tactic developed by the ego to protect against anxiety. Defense mechanisms are thought to safeguard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with. In some instances, defense mechanisms are thought to keep inappropriate or unwanted thoughts and impulses from entering the conscious mind.

In this blogger’s opinion, the concept of defense mechanisms demonstrated the absolute creative insights of Sigmund Freud. Why do I feel this way? Because I see them operate on a daily basis in myself and everyone I come in contact with. Where people with low or non-existent ego strength is concerned [unable at all to deal with ego anxiety], they often become victims of suicide, or have a complete mental breakdown where they must be institutionalized.

For example, at a less extreme level, if you are faced with a particularly unpleasant task, your mind may choose to forget your responsibility in order to avoid the dreaded assignment. In addition to forgetting, some other defense mechanisms include rationalization, denial, repression, projection, rejection and reaction formation.

The term “defense mechanisms,” or ways that we protect ourselves from things that we don’t want to think about or deal with, got its start in psychoanalytic therapy, but it has slowly worked its way into everyday language. Think of the last time you referred to someone as being “in denial” or accused someone of “rationalizing.” Both of these examples refer to a type of defense mechanism.

In Sigmund Freud’s topographical model of personality [if you recall earlier], the ego is the aspect of personality that deals with reality. While doing this, the ego also has to cope with the conflicting demands of the id and the superego The id seeks to fulfill all wants, needs and impulses while the superego tries to get the ego to act in an idealistic and moral manner.

What happens when the ego cannot deal with the demands of our desires, the constraints of reality and our own moral standards? According to Freud, anxiety is an unpleasant inner state that people seek to avoid. Anxiety acts as a signal to the ego that things are not going right.

Freud identified three types of anxiety:

  1. Neurotic anxiety is the unconscious worry that we will lose control of the id’s urges, resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior.
  2. Reality anxiety is fear of real-world events. The cause of this anxiety is usually easily identified. For example, a person might fear receiving a dog bite when they are near a menacing dog. The most common way of reducing this anxiety is to avoid the threatening object.
  3. Moral anxiety involves a fear of violating our own moral principles.

In order to deal with this anxiety, Freud believed that defense mechanisms helped shield the ego from the conflicts created by the id, superego and reality.

Defense Mechanisms in General

Denial

Denial is probably one of the best known defense mechanisms, used often to avoid conscious fears and describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. “He’s in denial.”). Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. Drug addicts or alcoholics often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred.

Denial functions to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.

Repression

Repression is another well-known defense mechanism. Repression acts to keep information out of conscious awareness. However, these memories don’t just disappear; they continue to influence our behavior. For example, a person who has repressed memories of abuse suffered as a child may later have difficulty forming relationships.

Sometimes we do this consciously by forcing the unwanted information out of our awareness, which is known as suppression. In most cases, however, this removal of anxiety-provoking memories from our awareness is believed to occur unconsciously.

Displacement

Have you ever had a really bad day at work and then gone home and taken out your frustration on family and friends? Then you have experienced the ego defense mechanism of displacement. Displacement involves taking out our frustrations, feelings and impulses on people or objects that are less threatening. Displaced aggression is a common example of this defense mechanism. Rather than express our anger in ways that could lead to negative consequences (like arguing with our boss), we instead express our anger towards a person or object that poses no threat (such as our spouse, children or pets).

Sublimation

 

Sublimation is a defense mechanism that allows us to act out unacceptable impulses by converting these behaviors into a more acceptable form. For example, a person experiencing extreme anger might take up kick-boxing as a means of venting frustration. Freud believed that sublimation was a sign of maturity that allows people to function normally in socially acceptable ways.

 

Projection

 

Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people. For example, if you have a strong dislike for someone, you might instead believe that he or she does not like you. Projection works by allowing the expression of the desire or impulse, but in a way that the ego cannot recognize, therefore reducing anxiety.

Intellectualization

Intellectualization works to reduce anxiety by thinking about events in a cold, clinical way. This defense mechanism allows us to avoid thinking about the stressful, emotional aspect of the situation and instead focus only on the intellectual component. For example, a person who has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness might focus on learning everything about the disease in order to avoid distress and remain distant from the reality of the situation.

Rationalization

Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. For example, a person who is turned down for a date might rationalize the situation by saying they were not attracted to the other person anyway, or a student might blame a poor exam score on the instructor rather than his or her lack of preparation.

Rationalization not only prevents anxiety, it may also protect self-esteem and self-concept. When confronted by success or failure, people tend to attribute achievement to their own qualities and skills while failures are blamed on other people or outside forces.

Regression

When confronted by stressful events, people sometimes abandon coping strategies and revert to patterns of behavior used earlier in development. Anna Freud called this defense mechanism regression, suggesting that people act out behaviors from the stage of psychosexual development in which they are fixated. For example, an individual fixated at an earlier developmental stage might cry or sulk upon hearing unpleasant news.

Behaviors associated with regression can vary greatly depending upon which stage the person is fixated at:

  1. An individual fixated at the oral might begin      eating or smoking excessively, or might become very verbally aggressive.
  2. A fixation at the anal stage might      result in excessive tidiness or messiness.

 

Reaction formation

Reaction formation reduces anxiety by taking up the opposite feeling, impulse or behavior. An example of reaction formation would be treating someone you strongly dislike in an excessively friendly manner in order to hide your true feelings. Why do people behave this way? According to Freud, they are using reaction formation as a defense mechanism to hide their true feelings by behaving in the exact opposite manner.

Other Defense Mechanisms

Since Freud first described the original defense mechanisms, other researchers have continued to describe other methods of reducing anxiety. Some of these defense mechanisms include:

  • Acting out – The individual copes with stress by engaging in actions rather than reflecting upon internal feelings.
  • Affiliation – Involves turning to other people for support.
  • Aim inhibition – The individual accepts a modified form of their original goal (i.e. becoming a high school basketball coach rather than a professional athlete.)
  • Altruism – Satisfying internal needs through helping others.
  • Avoidance – Refusing to deal with or encounter unpleasant objects or situations.
  • Compensation – Overachieving in one area to compensate for failures or inadequacy in another. Control freak.
  • Humor – Pointing out the funny or ironic aspects of a situation.
  • Passive-aggression – Indirectly expressing anger or just opposition.

While defense mechanisms are often thought of as negative reactions, some of these defenses can be helpful. For example, utilizing humor to overcome a stressful, anxiety-provoking situation can actually be an adaptive defense mechanism.

 

CONCLUSIONS

I spent a great deal of time in one of my undergraduate psychology classes several decades ago studying Sigmund Freud. Freud was a practitioner of psychoanalysis, theoretical scientist, and an author producing many books. I suggested before that Sigmund Freud was one of the greatest theoretical minds of the 20th Century; it’s absolutely true.

Criticizing Freud for lack of hypothesis testing is a mistake and it misses what science as a concept is really all about. Science is composed of four major components, although they may differ somewhat as to their relative importance to the scientific process of discovery. These components include: theory development (explanations with or without confirmation by testing) formal hypothesis testing, and the most important aspect of all science—observation. Observation is the cornerstone of all science. Part of observation is a fourth component, i.e. accidental or fortuitous findings (Think of Flemming’s discovery of penicillin, or Alexander Graham Bell’s experiments). All four components comprise the enterprise of science. All four components contribute to scientific discovery.

As most people know, Albert Einstein is regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century with his theories of special and general relativity. Yet, he left mostly to others to confirm his theories. Steven Hawking has never experimentally tested his ideas (except conceptually through mathematics) about Black Holes. Yet, some think he is the greatest living scientist alive today. Earlier in this blog I reported on an important quote from Freud himself on these notions of accepting tested probability statements as “truth.” Probability statements are not truth. What they consist of are stepping stones necessary for reaching agreement in theory development. Truth is what we agree it is—nothing more and nothing less. Once the testing is done someone must still put together the findings within a theoretical framework, meaning the scientific process is never ending. All science is conditional and all theories are subject to revision.

The greatest scientists however have never been those who simply test other’s hypotheses, but rather those who invent explanations for the behavior in question before the confirmations. The exception to what I’ve just said is Edward Hubble who used the telescope to confirm his own hypothesis that the universe is not static, but has been expanding since the “Big Bang.”

All I’m saying is that for an activity to be scientific it will involve one or more of these major components described above. Once again, there is hypothesis development (theories) and hypothesis testing (like in a laboratory or with statistics) or observation of raw data before theories or testing, and there are also accidental, serendipitous, or fortuitous discoveries as part of observation.

For example, digging up a brand new ancestor in the evolutionary line would require re-evaluation of existing theories on human evolution. That is, how does the new information fit with existing knowledge or theories on evolution? This might be followed by laboratory testing of the human remains. Presumably new theories would need to be generated that might alter our current understanding of human evolution based on the new find.

Often times those who develop explanations of human behavior (or the cosmos) leave such testing to others. Freud approached his work without statistical testing of large groups. He did conduct case studies and came away, through astute observation and insight, development and refinement of original concepts (or hypotheses to be tested) about human behavior.

Not everything Freud proposed (his later ideas about the death drive or instinct) has curried favor with the public or those in the scientific community. Freud believed very strongly in man’s contradictory tendency toward self-destruction as well as self-preservation. For Freud, it manifested itself outwardly at society in terms of aggression. There is great complexity in many of Freud’s concepts.

Given society’s collective aggression toward others (international conflict and the potential for human annihilation with a nuclear war) there is pause to wonder if man might not harbor a self-destructive instinct. Perhaps one day someone will find a way to empirically find such an instinct, or perhaps not. Perhaps the drive toward self-destruction doesn’t arise in the human psyche, but is the sociological nature or consequence of group interaction, cultural values, and sometimes unpredictable historical events. Only time will tell if Freud was on to something few of us really understand.

In this author’s opinion there are other reasons Freud’s work had obstacles to acceptance besides lack of extensive empirical research. I believe people often hated or despised Freud because his ideas conflicted with their puritanical social ideas of what is appropriate or moral behavior, for example the Oedipus complex or childhood sexuality. Our Victorian roots as a society are still with us, although often disguised as something else.

I think that Freud’s work is also rejected because it might have gotten close to the truth of why collectivities, such as groups, behave, particularly with reference to use of defense mechanisms. That is, groups use defense mechanisms as well as individuals [denial, rationalization, etc]. For example, some groups collectively use the sugar-coated notions of religion to deal with their internalized fear of the finality of death.  And governments engage in defense mechanisms, all the time, by denying their own culpability in generating armed conflict with other nations.

Final Thoughts

 

Ironically, as said before in Connections, it was a movie about Freud I saw in 1962 (with Montgomery Cliff as Freud) that motivated me to consider psychology as a major in college. In many ways I have Sigmund Freud to thank for my career. From my standpoint, his legacy is definitely assured in the scientific literature on human behavior.

Next time in Part III—I will describe eleven written works of Sigmund Freud including: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Civilization and Its Discontents, The Ego and the Id, The Future of an Illusion, The Interpretation of Dreams, Introduction to Psychoanalysis, On Narcissism, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Studies of Hysteria, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Totem and Taboo.

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A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Your Life Cycle
Stages

The Pioneer Work of Sigmund Freud

 

Part I

 

Introduction

This Blog has an erudite, lofty title but it really is just a review of basic concepts and basic approaches taken by one of the greatest theoretical giants of the 20th Century—Sigmund Freud.

 

This Blog is written in three parts because Freud’s contributions to psychoanalysis were so many including: Psychosexual Stages of
human development, the conceptual framework for understanding conscious and unconscious behavior, and the importance of understanding defense mechanisms as a way of averting or avoiding problems of anxiety or conscious feelings of guilt. Freud was a prolific writer.

Part I will emphasize the pioneer work of Sigmund Freud, who is the father of psychoanalysis, as it relates to his theory of life cycle stages. Part II will present his discoveries on conscious and unconscious behavior and the defense mechanisms we all share in common, although their use may differ from individual to individual. Part III will present a detailed synopsis of Freud’s major works.

Connections

Indirectly, I have to say that when I was young, Sigmund Freud had an impact on my future academic career. How did this occur? During my
freshmen year of high school, I began reading books on psychology. I knew about the work of Abraham Maslow, Sigmund Freud, B. F. Skinner and, what psychology was all about long before I entered college. This opened up a new world to me. The pioneer work and importance of Sigmund Freud’s theories were described in great detail in many of the books I read. And, I was impressed by what I read; I
was intrigued by the field of psychology.

Later, when I was a sophomore in college (age 19) I was beginning to have to make decisions about my career one day. I knew back then,
as did every other college student, the major I chose would be extremely important as to what career would likely unfold. During college I liked to go to the movies. Back then I was dating my pretty and highly intelligent 18 year old girlfriend who also had a similar interest in outstanding movies of an intellectual or socially relevant nature. I took her to see Lawrence of Arabia and David and Lisa, the latter being a psychiatric-oriented movie—but that’s another story. One night early in our relationship I took her on a date to see (this was 1962) a movie, titled Freud. It starred Montgomery Cliff. This was, of course, a dramatic interpretation of Freud’s life, but nonetheless it was a turning point for me. My decision was made—I’d major in psychology.

Based on that decision I went on to earn 24 undergraduate units in psychology and an additional 12 units in sociology. In graduate school I
would later go in the direction of public administration and criminal justice, but I built my foundation of knowledge from that early decision to study psychology; I have never regretted that decision. In terms of career choices, I ended up being a social scientist, criminologist, and criminal justice administrator, collectively for 32 years. Amazing how small decisions early in life can later influence making bigger ones.

 

The Theories of Sigmund Freud

The Scientific Process

The work of Sigmund Freud, the Austrian founder of psychoanalysis, marked the beginning of a modern, dynamic psychology by providing the first well-organized explanation of the inner mental forces determining human behavior. While Freud brought us concepts like the Id,
Ego and Superego, the importance of the unconscious mind in human behavior, and a terminology of significant “defense mechanisms,” Freud also created a theory of human and personality development, with an emphasis on the psychosexual nature of human behavior. Part I explains what some of these concepts are all about. Sigmund Freud wasn’t just a very bright man—Freud was a conceptual genius who used the cornerstone of all science to help him in that conceptual process; that cornerstone of science is known as observation. Observation has led to more discoveries in science than any other process. However, the process of scientific discovery and validation is more complex
than observation alone. That is, there is an interrelationship between four major elements of science.

Interrelationships form in the process of science between observation, theory development and a third element known as hypothesis testing. Hypothesis testing, of course, does not occur in a scientific vacuum, because someone already has a theory or observation in the first place. This creates the context in which someone formulates a hypothesis later to test. Hypothesis development itself might precede observation or theory, but the more likely scenario is the other way around. But, as we all know, scientific discovery is more than the orderly process of three major elements. There is an added feature to the business of science that also contributes to scientific discovery. Scientific discovery sometimes occur through rather fortuitous or serendipitous events [we call them accidental discoveries]. In this author’s opinion Freud used primarily observation as his basic method of scientific inquiry. This in turn often led to his theoretical development or explanations for human behavior. And, it may be that accidental discovery may have played a role in some of his discoveries (I mean by this he likely saw or observed something unexpectedly in his patients that helped him formulate a particular theory).

However, Freud left to others the business of hypothesis testing. I surmise this would have been very difficult for him to perform given the small number of patients he saw. However, lack of quantitative hypothesis testing in his work in no way diminishes the important work of this theoretical genius. This is because valuable empirical evidence can result from case studies in producing very valid qualitative data on the nature of human behavior. Both qualitative and quantitative measures are important to scientific discovery. Truth is often talked about in many circles as something that is absolute in nature. Problem is there is no such thing as “absolute truth.” Truth in reality is what we agree it is, nothing more and nothing less. All scientific knowledge is conditional and always subject to change. Results in science based on degree of outcome probability is not truth; probability statements and statistical significance are best understood as stepping stones in the process of  building a consensus of agreement regarding the meaning of findings. Also, creating operational definitions for variables from complex concepts is always difficult work.

One way (although perhaps debatable) of going about the business of testing Freud’s concepts (however complex) is to develop proxy
measures for some of his supposedly un-measurable variables. Case in point: the Libido. If one defines Libido as sexual interest, sexual drive, or sexual energy one can create measures to tap into this variable. If I were trying to assess Libido I would use a combination of physical and psychological measures to tap into creating a proxy measure for Libido. In men, it might be testosterone level and a “pencil and paper” test of attitudes about their sexual life. Time and space does permit me the luxury of a full explanation of this. Therefore, I will continue to describe Freud’s contributions and what I believe his legacy to be. But rest assured some of the criticisms of Freud’s work may be unfounded based on a lack of understanding as to what the scientific process is really all about.

Sigmund Freud’s Legacy

Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939), was an Austrian neurologist who founded the
discipline of psychoanalysis. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the mechanism of repression, and for creating the clinical method of psychoanalysis for investigating the mind and treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient  and a psychoanalyst. Freud postulated that sexual drives were the primary motivational forces of human life, developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association, discovered the phenomenon of transference in the therapeutic relationship and established its
central role in the analytic process; he interpreted dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. He was an early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy, and a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture. 

The Growth of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud was the very first psychoanalyst. Many of his insights into the human mind, which seemed so revolutionary at the turn of the 20th century, are now widely accepted by most schools of psychological thought. Although others before and during his time had begun to recognize the role of unconscious mental activity, Freud was the preeminent pioneer in understanding its importance. Through his extensive work with patients and through his theory building, he showed that factors which influence thought and action exist outside of awareness, that unconscious conflict plays a part in determining both normal and abnormal behavior, and that the past shapes the present.

Although his ideas met with antagonism and resistance, Freud believed deeply in the value of his discoveries and rarely simplified or exaggerated them for the sake of popular acceptance. He saw that those who sought to change themselves or others must face realistic difficulties. But he also showed us that, while the dark and blind forces in human nature sometimes seem overwhelming, psychological understanding, by enlarging the realm of reason and responsibility can make a substantial difference to troubled individuals and even to civilization as a whole.

Like any other field of inquiry, the ideas of psychoanalysis did not “freeze” with the work of the field’s founder a century ago. Building
on the foundational ideas and ideals of Freud and his contemporaries, psychoanalysis has continued to grow and develop as a general theory of human mental functioning, while always maintaining a profound respect for the uniqueness of each individual life. Ferment, change, and new ideas have enriched the field, and psychoanalytic practice has adapted and expanded. But psychoanalysts today still appreciate the persistent power of the irrational in shaping or limiting human lives, and they therefore remain skeptical of the quick cure, the deceptively easy answer, the trendy or sensationalistic. Like Freud, they believe that psychoanalysis is the strongest and most sophisticated tool for obtaining further knowledge of the mind, and that by using this knowledge for greater self-awareness, patients can become free from incapacitating suffering, and improve and deepen human relationships.

Psychoanalysis it is said may have a double identity. It is a comprehensive theory about human nature, motivation, behavior, development and experience. And, it is a method of treatment for psychological problems and difficulties in living a successful life.As a general theory of individual human behavior and experience, psychoanalytic ideas enrich and are enriched by the study of the biological and social sciences, group behavior, history, philosophy, art, and literature. As a developmental theory, psychoanalysis contributes to child psychology, education, law, and family studies. Through its examination of the complex relationship between body and mind, psychoanalysis also furthers our understanding of the role of emotions in health as well as in medical illness.

APsaA’s publication, “About Psychoanalysis,” is a valuable reference tool. The psychoanalytic framework stresses the importance of understanding: (1)   that each individual is unique, (2)   that there are factors outside of a person’s awareness (unconscious thoughts, feelings and experiences) which influence his or her thoughts and actions, (3)   that the past shapes the present, and (4) human beings are always engaged in the process of development throughout their lives.

Personality basically established by Age Five

According to Sigmund Freud, the main features of personality are mostly established by the age of five. Early experiences play a large role
in personality development but personality is not static; Many factors, mostly of a social nature, continue to influence human behavior later in life.

 

FREUD’S
THEORY OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development is one of the best known, but also one of the most controversial. Freud believed that personality develops through a series of childhood stages during which the pleasure-seeking energies of the id become focused on certain erogenous areas. This psychosexual energy, or libido, was described as the driving force behind behavior. If these psychosexual stages are completed successfully, the result is a healthy personality. If certain issues are not resolved at the appropriate stage, fixation can occur. A fixation is a persistent focus on an earlier psychosexual stage. Until this conflict is resolved, the individual will remain “stuck” in this stage. For example, a person who is fixated at the oral stage may be over-dependent on others and may seek oral stimulation through smoking, drinking, or eating.

It’s important to let the reader know that Freud was assisted in his theory of psychosexual theory development by Karl Abraham and
Saxhfa Ferenz, two other Freudian psychoanalysts. They developed “character types” of individuals at the oral, anal, and phallic stages of development. I need to make clear that the following psychosexual stages outlined in Freud’s theory, although delineated within a certain time frame, often overlap. For example, the oral stage often goes beyond the first year of life. How long this developmental stage will last depends on the weaning process itself. Because of this, a longer oral stage would most likely impact the onset of other stages. Below I describe what happens if fixation occurs at any of the stages of psychosexual development.

The Oral
Stage

Age Range: Birth to 1 Year

Erogenous Zone: Mouth

During the oral stage, the infant’s primary source of interaction occurs through the mouth, so the rooting and sucking reflex is especially important. The mouth is vital for eating, and the infant derives pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting
and sucking. Because the infant is entirely dependent upon caretakers (who are responsible for feeding the child), the infant also develops a sense of trust and comfort through this oral stimulation. The primary conflict at this stage is the weaning process–the child must become less dependent upon caretakers. If fixation occurs at this stage, Freud believed the individual would have issues with dependency or aggression. Oral fixation can result in problems with drinking, eating, smoking or nail biting.

The Anal
Stage

Age Range: 1 to 3 years

Erogenous Zone: Bowel and Bladder Control

During the anal stage, Freud believed that the primary focus of the libido was on controlling bladder and bowel movements. The major conflict at this stage is toilet training–the child has to learn to control his or her bodily needs. Developing this control leads to a sense of
accomplishment and independence. According to Freud, success at this stage is dependent upon the way in which parents approach toilet training. Parents who utilize praise and rewards for using the toilet at the appropriate time encourage positive outcomes and help children feel capable and productive. Freud believed that positive experiences during this stage served as the basis for people to become competent, productive and creative adults. However, not all parents provide the support and encouragement that children need during this stage. Some parents’ instead punish, ridicule or shame a child for accidents. According to Freud, inappropriate parental responses can result in negative outcomes. If parents take an approach that is too lenient, Freud suggested that an anal-expulsive personality could develop in which the individual has a messy, wasteful or destructive personality. If parents are too strict or begin toilet training too early, Freud believed that an anal-retentive personality develops in which the individual is stringent, orderly, rigid and obsessive.

The Phallic Stage

Age Range: 3 to 6 Years

Erogenous Zone: Genitals

During the phallic stage, the primary focus of the libido is on the genitals. At this age, children also begin to discover the differences between males and females. Freud also believed that boys begin to view their fathers as a rival for the mother’s affections. The Oedipus complex describes these feelings of wanting to possess the mother and the desire to replace the father. However, the child also fears that he will be punished by the father for these feelings, a fear Freud termed castration anxiety. The term Electra complex has been used to describe a
similar set of feelings experienced by young girls. Freud, however, believed that girls instead experience penis envy. Eventually, the child begins to identify with the same-sex parent as a means of vicariously possessing the other parent. For girls, however, Freud believed that penis envy was never fully resolved and that all women remain somewhat fixated on this stage. Psychologists such as Karen Horney disputed this theory, calling it both inaccurate and demeaning to women. Instead, Horney proposed that men experience feelings of inferiority because they cannot give birth to children. Of course, in the case of both Freud and Karen Horney, where is the empirical evidence?

Speaking only as a man I have to say that most men don’t feel inferiority because they cannot give birth. Quite the contrary. What they do feel is relief and appreciation of the fact they were born as a male. What most men really feel is relief that they don’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of both pregnancy and the extreme pain of giving birth. Karen Horney may simply have been over-reacting to the rather bold statements coming from Sigmund Freud. If Karen Horney truly believed what she was saying, then would she have also hypothesized that women who couldn’t conceive or experience motherhood would also feel inferior to women who could? This is where researchers might start to generate empirical research into the assumptions that have been made regarding this aspect of psychosexual development. Perhaps some enterprizing researcher can send me a comment that outlines the currrent status of research on this topic. Those who frequent my blog would also appreciate being so informed.

The Latent
Period

Age Range: 6 to Puberty

Erogenous Zone: Sexual Feelings Are Inactive

During the latent period, the libido interests are suppressed. The development of the ego and superego contribute to this period of calm. The stage begins around the time that children enter into school and become more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies and other interests.

The latent period is a time of exploration in which the sexual energy is still present, but it is directed into other areas such as intellectual pursuits and social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social and communication skills and self-confidence.

The Genital Stage

Age Range: Puberty to Death

Erogenous Zone: Maturing Sexual Interests

During the final stage of psychosexual development, the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. This stage begins during puberty but last throughout the rest of a person’s life. Where in earlier stages the focus was solely on individual needs, interest in the welfare of others grows during this stage. If the other stages have been completed successfully, the individual should now be well-balanced, warm and caring. The goal of this stage is to establish a balance between the various life areas.

 

Criticisms
of Freud’s Psychosexual Stage Theory

There have been several criticisms of Freud’s Psychosexual Stage Theory. In many cases such criticisms have been unwarranted. Freud himself offered an explanation why empirical research is not the “all-end-all” of scientific inquiry. But first here are some criticisms:

  • The theory is focused almost entirely on male development
    with little mention of female psychosexual development.
  • His theories are difficult to test scientifically.
    Concepts such as the libido are impossible to measure, and therefore cannot be
    tested. The research that has been conducted tends to discredit Freud’s theory.
  • Future predictions are too vague. How can we know that a
    current behavior was caused specifically by a childhood experience? The length
    of time between the cause and the effect is too long to assume that there is a
    relationship between the two variables.
  • Freud’s theory is based upon case studies and not
    empirical research. Also, Freud based his theory on the recollections of his
    adult patients, not on actual observation and study of children.

Freud’s quote follows that addresses some of these criticisms:

It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one. Science in its catechism has but few apodictic precepts; it consists mainly of statements which it has developed to varying degrees of probability. The capacity to be content with these approximations to certainty and the ability to carry on constructive work despite the lack of final confirmation are actually a mark of the scientific habit of mind.

 

 — Freud

In another month Part II of this three part series will be presented. At that time I will report my conclusions on the work of Sigmund Freud. Although I’m not a psychoanalyst I do have something to say about the scientific process and how Sigmund Freud’s work fits into that process. All I can say now in that regard is that Sigmund Freud, although relying heavily on observation of a limited number of patients, was
nonetheless a theoretical genius, whose legacy is assured in the canons of scientific literature. Looking outward to the universe, theoretical scientists like Hubble, Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking come to mind. However, Freud’s work was mostly about looking inward to the human mind and behavior.

Looking the other way, inside the mind of man, there is no one who has ever surpassed Freud’s scientific theoretical achievements where human behavior is concerned.

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One of the most difficult tasks for a parent to do is come up with a name for their future offspring. Yet, it is a necessary and critically important task, given that an offspring will carry his or her name for a lifetime. The best advice I can give is to be considerate in naming your newborn. Think about how a name can affect a person later in life. Naming a newborn isn’t about you; it’s about them. Usually, well meaning family members want to be involved and make suggestions, some serious, some not, but ultimately—parents need to take sole responsibility for naming their newborn.

 My daughter is expecting her first child in late February, 2011.  She wants to be surprised as to the baby’s gender. So, she and her partner must go about the business of making lists for both males and females.

 Last November the entire family was sitting around the Thanksgiving table coming up with names for the newborn. Everyone had suggestions, few of which I liked.  Listening to family members is seldom the answer. Everyone had suggestions and their own preferences soon crept into the conversation (including my own).

I suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that my daughter ought to name her newborn, if it’s a male, after Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Otherwise known as Mahatma Gandhi). Mahatma Gandhi was an iconic symbol of non-violent protest and a great spiritual leader in India. I also suggested the name Paris if it’s a girl, and thought Sarah was also a beautiful name.

I also thought, if the newborn is male, it might be named Crixus, after the gladiator opponent in the TV series, Spartacus. Based on a picture I saw from a Baby Sonogram the head image looked like it was sporting a crew cut, and looked just like the TV character, Crixus. I really wasn’t serious about any of my suggestions (like Mahatma or Crixus) because I knew names can have consequences.

Fortunately, my daughter just smiled politely at all the suggestions and told everyone that she and her partner hadn’t made any firm decisions yet. This, of course, means their difficult task of naming their soon-to-be newborn—remains ahead. This all begs the question, how should one proceed to do the task of naming a newborn?

NAMING A NEWBORN AND ITS PROCESS

I’ve thought a great deal about this. I soon realized that naming a newborn is more about exclusion of names rather than inclusion. I also discovered that besides names, exclusion rather than inclusion, also applies to the very process of how to name a newborn. For example, naming a newborn after some recognized infant behavioral characteristic (Happy, Smiley, or Sleeper) may be a misplaced convention since a newborn’s normal and enduring patterns of behavior may not be observed until years after its birth, and even then maybe not at all. Also, more importantly names, for legal purposes, are usually required before a newborn leaves the hospital. Nick-names of course will surface during childhood, but often no one has any inkling of what they might be, and certainly very little control over them.

Sometimes parents like gender-neutral names like Shelly, Elliott, Francis, Dale, Lynn, Marion, and Leslie. These names are all perfectly good names. But, because of the newborn’s actual gender, gender neutral names may present awkward moments later on in life.

In the early1950s my sister Dale actually received a draft notice from Uncle Sam to report for basic training with the U.S. Army during the Korean War. In one sense this was quite funny (my sister thought it was funny but my parents were less amused) and in another sense it was just plain embarrassing. So, if you choose a gender-neutral name a word to the wise—consider your choice very carefully. Just remember Johnny Cash’s famous song—a boy named Sue. 

 

WHAT NORMALLY HAPPENS

What normally happens is that parents tend to rely on books with 5,000 baby names. With baby-name books in hand, often there is simply a feeling about names that strike us first. To be brutally honest, the names of people a parent had a negative relationship with growing up (or simply currently doesn’t like) are eliminated from the get-go.  

Sometimes, public figures from culture form the basis of our choices, such as first names like Elvis or Cher. Sometimes a cultural icon, historical or otherwise, is combined with the family name like creating Marlin Brando Jones, David Copperfield Smith, or Marilyn Monroe Cantrell.  

Another common way people go about naming a newborn is to tie one’s offspring name with a racial or ethnic identity. One could argue that creating such names is more about valuing or protecting the parent’s group identity than it is concern for the newborn’s individualistic name.  For example, Chinese families tend to choose Chinese first names; Hispanics tend to choose Spanish names; whites tend to choose European names, most often English, French, Italian or German.

There is nothing unusual about this. However, on the one hand as a society, we value diversity and equality and pay tribute to our country as the great American melting pot. We also manifest beliefs about the importance of the individual, regardless of ethnicity or race, as having universal worth or value. Yet, despite this egalitarian ethic, people seem to want to fall back to placing greater value with maintaining the legacy of their own racial or ethnic group. I have no answer for this typical convention in naming a newborn. I may hope for a singularly American identity, but alas—none can be found since we are a nation of immigrants, legal or otherwise.

My own preference (again tongue-in-cheek) is to adopt the child naming convention of the American Indian during the 18th and 19th centuries. That is, they liked to name a brave or squaw after who they became, or after some animate or inanimate object, or some combination of same. Some might have acquired rather dramatic names like Running Bear, Silent Wolf, Eagle’s Eye, Lion Heart, Summer Fawn, or perhaps a made-up name like Princess Summer Fall Winter Spring (After Howdy Doody fame).

There are times when I wish my parents followed the name conventions of the American Indian and named me Iron Man or Brave Heart. That way, my older brother might have been named Mad Dog, or Running-off-at-the-Mouth (Just kidding brother!).  

If the parents of republicans currently elected to Congress this last election had adopted the same idea, they might have given their children names like Cry Baby, Dirt Bag, Underhanded, Greedy, Get Nothing Done and son of Get Nothing Done, Wrong Way, Ms. Take and Indecisive, Gridlock, Stalemate and Pass-the-Buck. These are all good names for republicans. For democrats this term in Congress, their parents might have named them Big Spender, Pet Project, Ms. Take and Indecisive (also republican names), Two-faced, and my favorite—Robin Hood (steal from the rich and give to the poor).  

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

With all the caveats how should one seriously approach the problem of naming their newborn? What do the experts say?

It turns out many parents often tend to name their newborn after a loved, but nevertheless deceased, grandparent either with first, middle, or even a made-up nick-name. Others like to name their newborn after celebrities or even politicians. For example, after the 2008 presidential election many parents named their newborn Barack or Obama, Michelle, Sasha, or Melia. Were it not for the election results in 2008, we might have had names like John McCain or Sara Palin running around a lot more now. No, I won’t make a joke about that!

Tips on Naming the Newborn

In searching the internet I found the following suggestions on how to approach the problem of naming a newborn. Here are a few name-choosing tips to help you find the right name for your baby.

Put In a Lot of Thought

A name to be proud of is a name well thought out. When choosing a name give yourself a lot of time to think of what you would like your child’s name to be. One pointer would be to find some significance to your child’s name. Avoid choosing a name just because it sounds right.

In the past, parents would choose names that would describe their children or the circumstances regarding their birth – hence names such as Grace (believing their child to be given by grace), Hope, Red, and others. Names surrounding circumstances are also good starting points. Names such as Serendipity, however tortuous, still make a unique sounding name. You will want to avoid names such as Running Dog and Hot Summer, though.

Some will choose a name based on people they want their children to be like – John (after St. John), Mary, Peter, Errol (Yes, Errol Flynn), Angel and the ever-popular Junior. You will want to stay clear of names that might bring to mind unsavory historical figures of infamy (Adolph?).

Put Yourself in Your Child’s Shoes

Constantly ask yourself the question, will this name cause me a lot of grief in school? Try avoiding names that are hard to spell and write. That would make it a problem in the future with documents and correspondence that are mislabeled due to confusing names. For example, if you name your child Mychael instead of Michael, people will still think Michael is the right spelling. While Mychael is quite a unique choice, it could lead to a lot of confusion.

Also test if the name you chose will be the source of teasing and rhyming at school. Find a name that is less likely to be used in teasing (which is terribly hard – you can never underestimate the creativity of grade school kids). You will have to think well and hard to avoid names that would create that kind of childhood torture. Consider your family name when doing so. The way your family name and the name you choose go together will determine whether your kid arrives home crying every day or not.

As a general rule try avoiding having names where vowels and consonants run into each other. If the name you choose ends with a vowel and your family name starts with a vowel, it could create the illusion that the full name is a single word. For example, Lei Orr doesn’t quite sound right does it? Nathan Matterhorn is a little confusing isn’t it? Also as a general rule try avoiding tongue twisters – that probably removes Peter Piper from your list.

Consult and Consider

Consulting a baby name book can yield some pretty interesting results. The advantage of these books is that they also give the meaning of the names they list. This makes it easier to find a name that best describes what you would want for your baby. Relatives and friends will want to suggest names, let them do just that—- suggest.

But in the end, the decision is yours. It’s a decision they will not live with, so make sure you still have the final say. If you would like more information on choosing a name for your newborn, then visit http://caringforyournewborn.myreferenceguide.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alicia_McWilliams

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