Dangerous words, why psychology is impossible

“But profound as psychology is, it’s a knife that cuts both ways (…). I have purposely resorted to this method, gentlemen of the jury, to show that you can prove anything by it. It all depends on who makes use of it. Psychology lures even most serious people into romancing, and quite unconsciously.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

“The confusion and barrenness of psychology is not to be explained by calling it a “young science”; its state is not comparable with that of physics, for instance, in its beginnings… For in psychology there are experimental methods and conceptual confusion… The existence of the experimental method makes us think we have the means of solving the problems which trouble us; though problem and method pass one another by” (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1968, II xiv, 232e).

We tend to believe that words are not that real or important, in our physical world, an apple in my hand is solid, the word ‘apple’ is simply to name it. Logic and math-like formulas are much better and more real than daily language. Speaking of people, thoughts, and spirits, and hearts and something inside, something even beyond language is the most real thing, words are just tools that are not so good to use, to try to describe the real thing, let alone people keep telling lies. Psychology is based on this temptation, to find something deeper and inside and real.

Bear in mind, that the tendency of believing that we already going “deeper”, or being “scientific”, still needs to be based on our language. We always remain in the language we use. The feeling of going deeper is the grammar and feature of our language itself, not that we actually find anything deeper in most cases. “Evidence-based” is just another word, though people usually treat it as God’s Word in old days, while ignoring today’s evidence-based conclusion may be the exact opposite one from yesterday’s.

The whole modern conception of the world is founded on the illusion that the so-called laws of nature are the explanations of natural phenomena. Thus people today stop at the laws of nature, treating them as something inviolable, just as God and Fate were treated in past ages. And in fact both were right and both wrong; though the view of the ancients is clearer insofar as they have an acknowledged terminus, while the modern system tries to make it look as if everything were explained. — Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 6.371-2

Language is much more powerful than what we usually think of, thus very dangerous as well. Let’s have a look at some treading podcasts name, “The Science of happiness”, “Science VS”, “How to build a happy life” with scientific discussions by psychologists, “The Happiness Lab with…”…

I heard from some so-called evidence-based studies, they already proved “self-love” is within our DNA, and “selfishness” as well somehow. One biggest difference between psychology and other scientific objects is that at the first step, it needs to stand on a concept of our daily language, and that’s where mistakes already are made.

I did a look at many scientific methods to treat what they called depression, while they keep telling us again and again, that it’s different from our daily up-and-down feeling but serious etc. So how do they treat them, still by talking(CBT therapy), encouraging people to do exercises, plus the combination of different medicines that they usually don’t know how they work.

A person without any psychological knowledge may know as well people need friends and exercise. People stop going to church or asking questions from pastors, and think they can live a happy life with scientific methods, while in the same century we have probably much more depressed people than in history.

Psychology, in a nutshell, is an inward-looking approach to the interpretation of life. The discipline of describing, interpreting, predicting, and controlling sensations or behaviours by describing and establishing an internal “mechanism” that explains the generation of feelings or behaviours, thereby establishing a state of well-being, based on the belief that happy life comes from the understanding of internal mechanisms, and the manipulation of this kind of technology.

Old picture: an abnormal feeling that the existing language game cannot handle -> this is because the person has a unique inner abnormality -> insight into the inner abnormality and solve the problem.

A person becomes abnormal for various reasons, and this abnormality causes him problems.

New picture: an abnormal feeling that the existing language game can’t handle -> find a new perspective, still interpret this feeling as an external problem, and it becomes a normal problem. -> Solve this external problem.

A man is a man, and in normal circumstances and understanding, he becomes normal.

Ludwig used as the epigraph for this second book a line from the Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy:

“The trouble about progress is that it always looks much greater than it really is.”

Related: 5-love-languages and Extrovert only exist in our language