One big risk of psychological reductionism is its allure. The core reductionist belief that all of these complex components can be broken down and understood leads to a shift in focus from larger models of psychological awareness to more specific models, which may not hold the relevance to everyday people. Often, psychological conditions have social impacts as well, which these ideas would have difficulty taking into account. Often, reducing behaviors to specific psychological events can be more difficult than this idea accounts for. In focusing on the processes of the individual only, and not the larger context of family and social interactions, the reductionist approach can often fail to fully envelop the issue at hand.
Furthermore, the reductionist stance is often that psychological conditions can be treated as a type of disease. For this reason, the remedy for these issues becomes the prescription of various drugs. In this way, the reductionist approach often ends in the result of curing the symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself. Drugs are often a response to a particular issue with the body, which itself might be the result of some underlying psychological issue that drugs are not able to correct. In this way, a concern that reductionism can bring about is the issue of whether or not the treatment of physiological conditions will actually lead to the correction of the underlying psychological issue. The risk in this sense, is the redirection of focus from the psychological to the physiological without full evidence that this will actually solve the problem.
In this way, psychological researchers and practitioners should beware of focusing their attention too much on individual processes, while ignoring those related to family, group, and/or social dynamics. If these processes can be reduced to their fundamental levels, then it would be simple to adapt to the issue. “That the fact of a person’s identity over time just consists in facts about ordinary material stuff the kinds of matter our bodies share with non‐living, non‐sentient things” (Zimmerman, 2004). This presents a challenge to the ideas of reductionism, in that the issues of the position present the argument that all of these psychological and societal connections can be reduced to physical matter.
The justification behind this position is primarily the lack of evidence that connects the neurobiological processes to the psychological condition. While these reductionist claims have fit well with science, science has had difficulty providing any clues or insight into these underlying mental states. “An unbiased look at recent scientific findings suggests that no neat linkages between psychology and molecular neuroscience can be found, nor are they likely to be forthcoming soon” (de Jong, 2005). This lack of evidence points to the fact that these reductionist claims have only advanced to the degree to which they have due to their connections with the scientific observations of the physical body. This connection, while important, does not take into account the full scope of the mental realm.
The importance of being able to reduce the psychological processes of an individual lies in the ability to accurately prescribe medical attention to the issue. However, this approach falls short in addressing the underlying conditions of the person’s mental state. This is due to the limitations of reductionist approaches, which have difficulty taking into account complex interrelationships. While there may be links to the physical and mental states of an individual, relying upon these physiological processes to explain psychological symptoms without taking into account the social, familial, or personal relationships of the individual will only fall short of a full examination of the psychological realm.
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