historical context of the biological perspective

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I would like to find information on the historical and cultural conditions that gave rise to the biological perspective. More specifically, what are the scientific discoveries about biological processes that lead to the development of this perspective and in which cultures is the biological perspective accepted and in which it is not?

-- Arianna Karacosta (ari_kara@hol.gr), September 08, 2001


I suppose it depends on which biological perspective you mean. The position Aristotle's lays out in De Anima with respect to the psyche was essentially biological. So was the humoral therory developed by the Hippocratics (probably from earlier "folk" material), and which remained intermittantly popular until at least the enlightenment. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Darwin's theory of natural selection gave new impetus to biological approaches to psychology -- Chicago and Columbia functionalism in particular; eugenics as well. Recent discoveries about neurochemistry and genetics have no doubt contributed greatly to the current popularity of biological theories in psychology.

-- Christopher Green (christo@yorku.ca), September 08, 2001.

Hi Arianna, one biological perspective might be that recently taken by psychiatry after the recent, last 50 years, discovery of - for lack of a better way of expressing myself - "modern drugs." Ironically, among the "scientific discoveries" which lead to these current treatments there were a lot of "accidents" of discovery. The source for this approach, if it looks promising to you, is an undergrad abnormal psych text. Begin with the history of the current med-pill treatments for bi-polar disorder, and constrast that with the previous talking cure explanations. Or look at the current meds for treatment of schizophrenia and contrast this with the previous explanation of the schizophrenigenic-mother. Of course this bio-mechanical perspective is credible within the subsets of people who live in cultures where science is accepted and valued - you should be able to sort this out for yourself, just remember when you are sitting in a restaurant people-watching that perhaps many of them don't accept the mechanical-biological explanation. Best, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), September 09, 2001.

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