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Psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and consciousness

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Psychoanalytic View.
  3. The Behavioral Approach.
  4. Conclusion.

The state of consciousness defies definition, but it may involve an awareness of self, dreams, emotions, moods, perceptions, sensations, and thoughts, although not essentially all of these. The issue surrounding the definition consciousness, and in what sense and to what extent this state exists, is the focus of a plethora of studies in psychology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. In psychoanalysis, consciousness includes cognitive processes of the ego (thinking, perception, planning) and some aspects of the superego like moral conscience. Sigmund Freud went on to distinguish unconscious and conscious behavior. However, behaviorists dismiss consciousness as having no use in science

[...] Second, the comparison between consciousness and an external objective physical world independent of human experience is based on the unsupported metaphysical thesis that such a world exists. The introspectionist is not inclined to grant the behaviorist metaphysical theses, for to do so is to exclude phenomenal experience from the purview of science. Conclusion In summary, the war between psychoanalysis and behaviorism lies readily in how consciousness can be observed and scientifically recorded. Psychoanalysts, both early and modern, have recognized the importance of studying consciousness in explaining human behavior. [...]


[...] These circumstances include the person's environment, whether or not they have a normal family life, and their ability to accept the limitations that society puts on satisfying our instinctual wants and desires. The superego consists of our individual value system, which is put into place by our parents' value system, and takes place within the preconscious, conscious, and unconscious states. The superego is where our conscience resides, which is our internal judge that determines what actions are right and wrong. [...]


[...] The dismissal of the concept of consciousness coincides with the following fundamental behaviorist attitudes: suspicion of consciousness and the attitude that psychology should be continuous with the rest of science. For many behaviorists, consciousness, as some nonphysical substance, is to be rejected as a residue from earlier unscientific mystical belief in spirit or soul. The second attitude holds that, all science, including psychology, has the same subject matter, namely the material universe; the various sciences differ only in their area of specialization. [...]

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