One of the problems that psychology has had to face throughout its history is to define what is the starting point from which it begins to investigate mental processes. The difficulty of this first step is that, apparently, the object of study of this science is twofold: on the one hand is the goal, and on the other is the subjective.
Subjectivism is the philosophical position that arises from the way some people decide to respond to this “fork in the road”. In psychology, in particular, the implications of analyzing mental processes based on subjectivism lead to very different conclusions reached by researchers who advocate a goal-centered perspective that can be measured.
It is this article that we will see how subjectivism affects psychology and what are the characteristic problems of this approach.
What is subjectivism?
In short, subjectivism is the belief that reality, in the first place, is formed by the ideas and subjective appreciations that one realizes what is going on in his head. It sounds complicated, but it sounds like lifestyle slogans “Reality is created by our attitude” and other discourses that focus on consciousness and “the mind” to explain the nature of the elements of reality that other people try to know from the objective aspects of these.
Thus, subjectivism is closely related to idealism, which is the belief that ideas exist before matter, and relativism, according to which there is no pre-established reality beyond our various points of view and to many ways faced.
However, what we have seen so far is a dry subjectivism, without entering into the reflection on its effects on a specific scientific intrigue. It is important to note that, for example, it is not the same thing to start from subjectivism in physics and to do it, for example, in sociology. These two disciplines study different things, and so subjectivism also acts on them differently.
But it is in psychology that subjectivism is most likely to wreak havoc. Because? Basically because in this science we are studying something that can be confused with the very source of subjectivity, And this is commonly referred to as “the mind”.
Subjectivism in psychology
As we have seen, psychology has the particularity of being the field of knowledge in which what is studied can be considered as that from which the intention and the action to study reality start, which does not occur in other disciplines. As a result, subjectivism can cause psychology to enter a loop that is difficult to break out of and leads nowhere.
For example, one of the methods that subjectivist psychologists have historically advocated is the introspective method. In this, it is the person studied himself who pays attention to his mental processes (Whether cognitive or emotional) and report it.
Free association as an example of this philosophy
For example, in the free association used by Sigmund Freud (one of the most prominent subjectivists in history), the patient began to speak aloud ideas or words that he thought related to the idea that the psychoanalyst wanted to study. It was up to him to know what information was relevant enough to tell, and it was also up to him to find that “search” through memories and the imagination to find something that could move the session forward.
From subjectivism, in short, it is believed that the subjectivity of each individual is the best source of data on mental processes, on the one hand, and that mental processes are what motivate actions based on movement. For example, someone’s subjective beliefs cause them to forbid a person who appears to be homeless from entering the store, and it is these subjective beliefs that need to be explored.
Is the individual the only one who has access to the spirit?
So, for subjectivists, what we know about our own mind is something separate from our environment and the context we find ourselves in when it comes to valuing our thoughts and feelings internally. A radical distinction is made between the mind and objective actions and it is easy to observe that the person performs, and it is proposed that the important thing is in that which cannot be observed directly by someone other than the person, since it is these internal and subjective aspects that lead to the movement of the person.
This approach, if we don’t fix it, the only thing it does is condemning psychology to not being able to answer any of the questions on human behavior that he intends to address, because he always attributes the cause to an internal and subjective dimension of reality that one can only know about oneself. Not only is it not philosophically supported to deny the existence of objective reality, but it is also unable to come up with useful applications for solving psychological problems.