Reductionism

Here is another term for the method of cause and effect. Most approaches to psychology share this one overriding approach. Can the human psyche be completely explained by breaking it down into one or two general principles? (See teleology and the humanistic approach for the opposite to reductionism).

All of the aforementioned approaches share one appeal: their thinking abides by the law of cause and effect or reductionism; the cause of psychic behaviour is either in the environment, the body or a specific element of the psyche itself.

But there are psychologists who consider cause-effect itself too incomplete to encompass the diversity of the human psyche. They argue that cause-effect methods reduce, or narrow down, complex phenomena to general factors (in the sense they apply to everyone) which are at the same time too elementary: an environmental reward as with behaviourists, a neurotransmitter as in Neuroscience, or unconscious wishes as with psychoanalysis.

As part of its reductionism, these approaches are also ultimately historical rather than prospective; they trace complex phenomena back to the first rewards (behaviourism), genetics (Neuroscience) or to instincts of an ultimately infantile nature (psychoanalysis).

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