Theories of Mind

Unit-Wide Questions:

  • How do we understand behavior and feelings? Are they separate pieces that can be altered one by one? Are they part of a holistic system?
  • What methods do these different theorists use to gain knowledge? Do their methodologies reflect their theories?
  • Which methodologies and theories are still used today? Which aren’t?
  • What other researchers or thinkers do each group cite? Are these things different? Do they line up with their methodologies and theories? For instance, why does Freud cite philosophers and literature?
  • How would these different theories of mind translate into practice? What kind of therapy would you develop if you believed in each theory of mind?
  • Is there a singular self? What is it? How do we come to know it or know about it?
  • Which of these ways of thinking about the mind is most familiar to you? Which have entered popular culture?
  • Which of these ideas allows you to explain yourself, your experiences or your behavior best? Does this line up with which idea has the most empirical support?

September 9: Behaviorism & Conditioning


Optional reading: B.F. Skinner’s “Behaviorism at Fifty” (1963)

September 11: Freud & Psychoanalysis

Before you start reading: list everything you know about Freud here. The results will display as a word cloud, so please use one word answers (or if you have to use two words, smush them together.)


Optional reading:


  • If Freud was wrong about a lot of things, if his research can’t be replicated, if he wasn’t always good for his patients, does that mean his ideas are completely worthless? What can or should we still take from Freud?
  • What value does metaphor and imagination have in a field like psychology, particularly as it becomes more and more empirical and research-driven?
  • Compare Freud to the behaviorists here; does one of these appeal to you more when thinking about how to explain yourself? Is the more appealing one the more empirical one?

September 16: Phenomenology & Altered States


Optional reading:

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