Psychic Determinism

Is there an unconscious psyche which causes what we otherwise believe to be our conscious free will?

One might ask, how much knowledge of the psyche can be exhausted by the use of quantitative methods? Some investigators prefer the philosophical assumption that the causes (determinism) of all conscious phenomena are to be found, not in the external environment or the body, but in the unconscious psyche.

In its broadest outline, this view is called the psychodynamic approach, the assumption being, that there are important aspects of the psyche that cannot be accessed, even indirectly, through limiting investigation to measurement of the environment and behaviour.

These investigators often study only a few individuals, but in depth, and then develop an elaborate, comprehensive theory to explain the psyche as a whole; in other words, the case study methodology is intensive rather than extensive.

Sigmund Freud’s work is an example. His is a psychology of the irrational, which has its roots in Friedrich Nietzsche’s explorations of unconscious motivation in the late nineteenth century. Although Freud’s case study methods are criticized from the point of view of the experimental approach, his theory’s profound relation to art, literature and philosophy in the twentieth century suggests the importance of Freud’s ideas for human psychology in a broad cultural sense.

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