The topic of my paper is the relationship between the mind and the body. The mind-body problem is one of the oldest issues in Western culture, and many thinkers sought answers to it. Since the emergence of psychology as an academic discipline, this problem has become an issue asked about in psychology, not only in philosophy. In this paper, I will provide reasons for my choosing this topic, explain how it aligns with my specialization, provide some preliminary thoughts on the topic, and show how the philosophical and applied aspects of the psychological school of thought I have chosen for my research align with this problem,
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I have chosen to study this topic because answering questions related to it may help us better understand what has been called “human nature.” Also, such knowledge can be useful in a wide range of spheres, such as law (for instance, Díaz (2011) researches the psychobiological grounds for violence and aggression, which might help to determine whether a person who behaved violently should face legal penalties, and to rehabilitate them afterward), medicine (e.g., Tops et al. (2007) study the biological and psychological basis of burnout and how to counter it. In contrast, the findings of Alim et al. (2012) might be used to counter substance addiction), education (for example, the study of De Bellis (2005) can help to minimize the adverse effects of child neglect), and many other areas; at the same time, it is my opinion that the knowledge of particular issues related to the mind-body problem should be complemented by more general information. Therefore, I believe that a general study, such as the one I am planning to conduct, can help a wide range of professionals.
The mind-body problem is rather a general topic (even though it can have numerous specific uses) because it studies the mind in general in the light of its relationship to its “carrier,” the body. The questions about the origins of our emotions and psychological experiences, such as love and attachment (Hofer, 2005; Stein & Vythilingum, 2009), anxiety (Kim & Gorman, 2005), pleasure and the absence of it (Martinotti et al., 2012), religious experience (Nencini & Grant, 2010), and many others, all fit within the topic of the mind-body relationship. Therefore, this topic aligns well with my specialization, general psychology, even though particular issues that fit within it can also be studied in other, more specific psychology areas.
The topic of the relationship between the mind and the body dates back to ancient times. Still, it is my opinion that the very distinction between the two is somewhat artificial. I believe that the mind and the body are two different aspects of a single entity. However, it appears (from our point of view, at least) that there exists a significant qualitative difference between these aspects, and we cannot yet completely explain the mechanisms using which they align. Therefore, the preliminary answer that I would give to the mind-body problem is that they are a single entity. However, I wish to study the mechanism of their alignment, and that requires additional research.
I have chosen to use the achievements of the school of psychobiology for my research. Its principles and values are suitable for researching my topic. For instance, psychobiologists were those who developed the idea that psychological phenomena are based on biological factors. Because they study the interdependence of psychological and physiological factors, it is clear that they believe that there exists an important relationship between the body and the mind, and they study it. Also, it can be said that there is an important rule for the representatives of this school of thought to include both the psychological and the biological variables in their research (like, for instance, Stein (2009) does while exploring the neurological causes of resilience). Therefore, both values and principles of the school of psychobiology fit the topic of my research well. They make it so that most studies conducted within the psychobiology school can contribute data to my topic.
As for the research methods of psychobiology, this school usually uses experimental methods for its studies. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches can be employed; see, for example, Gomez-Marin, Paton, Kampff, Costa, and Mainen (2014). For my research, both types’ data might be useful, though it is my opinion that I will be inclined towards qualitative research. Because the questions asked by the representatives of the school are usually connected with the concrete aspects of the mind-body correlation, and their research can often be called a part of “hard science,” the achievements of this school will provide me with highly warranted information about numerous concrete aspects, permitting me to draw more general conclusions within my study.
To sum up, it should be noted that I have chosen this topic because such a study can answer some important problem about what might be called “human nature,” as well as be useful in a variety of areas. The mind-body problem is rather a general topic, perhaps one of the core issues in psychology. Though it can be applied to numerous spheres, it can also be studied in general psychology. I believe that the mind and the body are a single entity, but for our view, they are qualitatively different, and it is important to study how exactly they correlate. Because it might be said that the psychobiological school of thought deals with concrete issues related to the mind-body problem, and uses “hard science” to find answers to them, I believe that their achievements will provide me with highly reliable data for my study.
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