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1999 - Volume 20, Number 2, Spring

Self-Deception in Neurological Syndromes
Israel Nachson, Bar-Ilan University
Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, Pages 117–132, ISSN 0271–0137

One of the traditional views of self-deception has been in terms of a dynamically-driven defense mechanism which is employed in order to enhance self-esteem by denying contradictory evidence. Denial is evident during stressful events in everyday life, as well as in cases of mental and somatic impairments. A detailed analysis of a specific neurological syndrome, prosopagnosia, where covert recognition of familiar faces may coexist with lack of overt recognition, demonstrates the inapplicability of the dynamic interpretation of self-deception in terms of denial to some neurological syndromes, and the usefulness of a new conceptualization of this process in terms of dissociation between modular and central processes. It is proposed that self-deception be considered a complex process which may be conceived of as a defense mechanism in everyday life, and as a product of functional dissociation in neurological syndromes.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Israel Nachson, Ph.D., Department of Criminology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel.

A Critique of the Finnish Adoptive Family Study of Schizophrenia
Jay Joseph, California School of Professional Psychology
Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, Pages 133–154, ISSN 0271–0137

This paper evaluates the ongoing Finnish Adoptive Family Study of Schizophrenia. The Tienari, Lahti et al. (1987) study is the most recent attempt to use adoptees as a way of testing the hypothesis that schizophrenia carries a genetic component, and the purpose here is to present what is probably the first in-depth critical analysis of its findings. The published reports of Tienari and associates are the primary focus of analysis, while problems with other schizophrenia adoption studies using similar research designs are also discussed. Because of factors including the selective placement of adoptees, the low variance explained by the two major hypothesized predictor variables for schizophrenia, the invalidity of the schizophrenia spectrum concept, and the failure to find an index schizophrenia rate greater than general population expectations, it is concluded that the Finnish study cannot be regarded as having produced evidence in favor of the genetic theory of schizophrenia.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Jay Joseph, 2625 Alcatraz Avenue, #328, Berkeley, California 94705 or Email: jayjoseph2@aol.com

A Commentary System for Consciousness?!
Thomas Natsoulas, University of California, Davis
Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, Pages 155–182, ISSN 0271–0137

Critically considered here is a proposal that Weiskrantz has advanced in a recently published book on brain-damaged individuals. It is a proposal regarding the locus, nature, and character of consciousness in general. Every instance of being conscious, or aware, or having experience of anything (O), is supposed to be identical to either one of three kinds of activity of a commentary system in the brain that correspond to the Skinnerian distinction between overt, covert, and incipient responses. Any human or animal who is experiencing O at the present moment is therein either (a) commenting on O to someone else, (b) commenting on O to himself or herself, overtly or covertly, or (c) occurrently tending to comment on O, overtly or covertly, either to someone else or to himself or herself. This third form of experience of O is made up of a certain portion of a process in the commentary system that constitutes overt or covert commenting on O.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Thomas Natsoulas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616–8686. Email: tnatsoulas@ucdavis.edu

Some Contributions of Philosophy to Behavioral Sciences
Hayne W. Reese, West Virginia University
Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, Pages 183–210, ISSN 0271–0137

Philosophical analyses can aid scientists in several ways. For example, (a) they can help resolve disagreements among scientists about issues such as the relative value of facts versus theories and observations versus inferences; (b) they provide historical descriptions of how science went when it went well or badly and scientists can imitate these descriptions as though they were prescriptive rules; (c) they identify “families” of theories and methodologies on the basis of common uses of key words, which can help scientists understand theories and methodologies other than their own; and (d) they can provide essential backgrounds for scientists’ debates about issues such as final causality, chance causality, and context effects. However, philosophical analyses cannot provide support for empirical findings or theoretical concepts.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Hayne W. Reese, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 6040, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506–6040. Email: hreese@wvu.edu

Beyond the Fringe: James, Gurwitsch, and the Conscious Horizon
Steven Ravett Brown, University of Oregon
Journal of Mind and Behavior, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, Pages 211–228, ISSN 0271–0137

All our conscious experiences, linguistic and nonlinguistic, are bound up with and dependent on a background that is vague, unexpressed, and sometimes unconscious. The combination of William James’s concept of “fringes” coupled with Aaron Gurwitsch’s analysis of the field of consciousness provides a general structure in which to embed phenomenal descriptions, enabling fringe phenomena to be understood, in part, relative to other experiences. I will argue, drawing on examples from Drew Leder’s book, The Absent Body, that specific and detailed phenomena can and should be interrelated through James’s and Gurwitsch’s analyses. I am proposing first that phenomenological descriptions in general could benefit from explicit consideration of the context of the phenomena within the totality of the field of consciousness, and second, that establishing that context requires a general structural model of that field, similar to that provided by Gurwitsch.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Steven Ravett Brown, 714 Ingleside Drive, Columbia, Missouri 65201. Email: ravett@ibm.net


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