Re: Sex, authority, and social norms

Anders Sandberg (
08 Feb 1998 20:55:39 +0100

Yak Wax <> writes:

> I'm not completely sure how emotional readiness is founded in biology,
> but psychology is a different matter. Psychology is the understanding
> of the mind by diversity from what is considered normal.

Not necessarily. One can do useful psychology by just discussing (say)
"Do these persons like the mental states they find themselves in?" and
similar questions. You are right in that a very large amount of work
has gone into studying non-normal psychology, especially since most of
the non-normal mental states are distressing to be in (and to some
extend distressing to others). There is a much smaller subset of work
dealing with positive mental states, without necessarily defining
"normal == good" (e.g. Csíkszentmihályi's work on flow, which is
rather different from the usual mental states we have).

> It is based
> on the very same social biases that cause the problems it tries to
> understand. We then use therapy to try and solve these problems, but
> never in this process to we question "normal." It is merely based on
> social trends and has no grounding in scientific fact. So if my
> comments are unfounded in psychology, it's because psychology is a
> product of the problem.

The problem seems to be that since normal in most cases is a rather
good mental state to be in compared to the alternatives (with a bias
since psychologists are much more likely to meet depressed patients
than self-reliant happy people with no need for help) that it forgets
that it would concentrate on optimization of mental states instead of
just normalizing them.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y