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The Destructiveness of Mechanistic-mystical Thinking in Psychiatry

In the lead article of the Review section, September 14-15 issue of The Wall Street Journal entitled, ‘Will Your Uploaded Mind Still Be You?’, the author, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Princeton University attempts to compare the natural science of psychiatry with the operation of a mechanical computer to provide an understanding of how the brain works. He postulates that structural causes in the brain are sufficient to explain biological functions and equates the structure of the brain with the human mind (a psychic function). As a neuroscientist, he is convinced that the brain is comparable to a computer and that “mind uploading,”…”preserving a persons consciousness in a digital afterlife,” will one day happen because “there are no laws of physics that stand in the way.” It just depends on technology that has not yet been invented.

This is an illustration of how the mechanistically oriented scientist resorts to mystical thinking to support his preformed mechanical hypothesis that requires an explanation: The neurons of the brain are “working parts” that are used over and over to “create complexity” …”Information” flows … through “vast connected networks in complex and unpredictable patterns, [somehow] creating the mind” (italics added).

The error of applying mechanistic-mystical thinking to biological functions has been a stumbling block in psychiatry for ages. It will continue until human beings are capable of thinking functionally. The error consists in believing that the structure of the brain determines its biological function. In fact, the reverse is true; biological function determines the brain’s organization. The persistence of this erroneous idea results in scientists remaining clueless about the fact that their armored way of thinking is itself a dead-end. The latest example of this mechanical thinking is that the functioning of the brain is compared to the operation of a machine-like computer.

Armored people will go to any to means to defend themselves from emotionally experiencing their biological roots even to the extent of identifying themselves with robotic computers. The destructive consequences of reducing human life to a machine passes by completely unnoticed.

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