Discover more from Dr Bob Johnson’s simple science of sanity
What are minds for?
As mentioned in an earlier post, I join some 350 other psychiatrists around the world in a “Critical Psychiatry Network”, when Clive, one of my fellows, asked me what minds are for.
I responded to him, as follows.
Too many people spend too long wondering what the mind actually IS, let alone what it does.
Too many words befuddle the mind, instead of making it clearer.
So let’s get elemental.
EMOTIONS – these are so amorphous, many dismiss them as unscientific, and will have nothing further to do with them. Which is unfortunate, since there are no thoughts without emotion, and no emotions without thought. They are integral to how and what we think about.
So having accepted, as I do, that certain vital elements of the human being are too elusive to measure, define, or even to describe succinctly – then especial care is called for in dealing with the wobbly words we do have. Descartes made the mistake of trying to be mathematically precise as to what the mind or existence REALLY was.
We shall never know. Just as there are innumerable mysteries about life and living organisms – but that does nothing to stop us having a go, provided always we work on the principle that since words are fallible, we have to repair them and their slippery meanings, every step of the way. Once we assume our words matter more than our meanings, we’re sunk. “First define your terms” is a certain recipe for disaster, as Wittgenstein found to his, and many others’, cost.
So given these multiple provisos, the mind is the organ of socialising. Dolphins have enormous cerebrums – because they have innumerable other dolphins to keep tabs on – and they are almost as cantankerous as we are. Foibles – don’t they just get you down? So to keep abreast of our fellows, to benefit from socialising, which is what minds are for, then grit your teeth, use crumbly words, and smile.
In my recent University acceptance speech, I claimed that minds were made for mingling – in fact that’s what they do best, and indeed that’s what they’re for. A mind on its own is prone to any number of issues – smiles, contacts, social supports, approbations, encouragements, help with sorting out life’s innumerable challenges – now that’s talking, that’s living, that’s rocking on.
Hope this helps
Friday, 4 August 2023.
Professor Bob Johnson, DSc(hon), MRCPsych, MRCGP, PhD(med computing), MA (Psychol), MBCS, DPM, MRCS, School of Psychology, University of Bolton, BL3 5AB, UK. GMC num. 0400150