I’ve just finished making my notes on ‘Self’ – chapter 5 of the DD307 Social Psychology Matters course book. Again, it’s been an interesting and thought-provoking read. I was particularly taken by the phenomenological approach to self as illustrated by the Ashworth and Ashworth research into how carers can better relate to Alzheimer’s sufferers. It struck me as being an eminently sensible and reasonable approach – and one which was generating “proper” knowledge that was genuinely useful.
However, I found myself sniggering all the way through the case study on “Vince” (and “Esther” too for that matter), which formed one of the examples for the social psychoanalytical approach in the chapter.
I understand the idea that there is more to self than the conscious mind, but what I still can’t quite square off is that Freudian psychoanalysis is founded in anything empirically sensible at all. Surely building a ‘social psychoanalytical’ perspective on such a dubious body of work is rather like building a house on quicksand.
The conclusions in the “Vince” case study may or may not be valid, but I keep on going back to wanting to apply Occam’s razor – “entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity”. In other words, “keep it simple, stupid”. While “Vince” may not have had a condition that could be detected by medical science at the time, the most likely explanation is that he probably did, rather than appealing to some quasi-mysterious (and ultimately unknowable) set of unconscious motivations.
Sigh. I can see I’m going to make a rotten critical social psychology student if the social psychoanalytical perspective in this course doesn’t come up with anything a little more convincing – and fast!