Are all psychological problems only biochemical in nature or do some 'mental' components ( that is some form of conceptual 'conditioning' caused directly or indirectly or 'subconsciously' by the person involved), does this effect the development of an 'abnormal' behavioral pattern. If the 'mind-brain' is really just a 'biochemical' behavioral algorithm management mechanism then this would imply all 'mental' disorders are just biochemical mismanagement problems. So are all psychological problems only biochemical problems?


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At some level, it's true that psychology reduces to biology and chemistry. If it didn't, then the widely-accepted view of physicialism/materialism would be wrong. But just because psychology can (in theory) be reduced to biochemistry, reductionism may not be the most productive way to approach the problem, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The causes of psychological phenomena are likely to require such complex interactions at the level of biochemistry, that by the time you get around to explaining these interactions you're basically back at the level of describing the problem in terms of psychological constructs. Imagine trying to describe something like earthquakes using only concepts from quantum physics. It's theoretically possible, but not productive.

  2. Psychological phenomena may have multiple ways of being instantiated. This is called multiple realizability. The key insight here is that two people may have thought processes that are very similar at a psychological level, but might be instantiated in different ways at a neural level. In such a case, the most productive way to describe the phenomena would probably be at the psychological level, since this is where the commonalities exist.

  • $\begingroup$ Can an 'ongoing' set of psychological states that are 'self-repeating' in some way , or are cyclic actively 're-wire' a so-called 'hardwired' set of 'set-up' cognitive behaviors ? $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Feb 14, 2015 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ Why is it widely accepted that the physicalism/ materialism model is correct concerning the mind-brain? If human behavior was just reducible to biology and chemistry then all celibrated psychological theories are just so much hot air. $\endgroup$
    – 201044
    Feb 15, 2015 at 7:00
  • $\begingroup$ The point of my answer was to show that even though psychology could reduce to biochemistry, it's probably not productive to try and characterize psychological phenomena just in terms of biochemisty. Psychology is describing very complex interactions at the biochemical level, and it is a more productive scientific endeavor to try and describe the system in terms of psychological principles than in terms of biochemistry. Psychological theories are still very useful because they describe important aspects of a physical system. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Feb 15, 2015 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ As for why materialism is generally accepted as correct, this question has some useful answers: http://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/1498/is-there-evidence-that-brain-and-mind-are-separate. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Feb 15, 2015 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ @201044 In the sense that "engineering" is just a placeholder for the underlying quantum mechanical interactions and management of "bridge" systems. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2015 at 14:55

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