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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Phenomenology’

Suicide? #2

  PART 2 The social construction of suicide Scientific and quantitative methods are completely rejected by some Phenomenologists. J Maxwell Atkinson (1978) does not accept that a ‘real’ rate of suicide exists as an objective reality waiting to be discovered. According to Atkinson, behavioural scientists who proceed with this assumption will end up producing ‘facts’ on suicide that have nothing to do with the social reality they seek to understand. By constructing a set of criteria to categorise and measure suicide – in scientific language, by operationalising the concept of suicide – they will merely be imposing their ‘reality’ on the social world. This will inevitably distort that world. As Michael Phillipson (1972) observes, the positivistic methodology employed by Durkheim and other researchers “rides roughshod over the very social reality they are trying to comprehend”. Suicide is a construct of social actors, an aspect of social reality. Official statistics on suicide, therefore, are not ‘wrong’, ‘mistaken’, ‘inaccurate’ or ‘in error’. They are part of the social world. They are the interpretations, made by officials, of what is seen to be unnatural death. Since, Phillipson argues, the object of Sociology is to comprehend the social world, that world can only be understood… Read More

Suicide?

Updated: 20 July 2013 Early in 2013 The Guardian’s James Meikle, based upon data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reported that 6,045 suicides were recorded in the UK among people aged 15 and over during 2011. This figure represented a significant rise that, unfortunately, was part of an upward trend. (In 2001, Kevin Brewer noted that suicides in the UK were about 4,000 per year.) The suicide rate was 11.8 deaths per 100,000 people, the highest since 2004. In England, the suicide rate was 10.4 deaths per 100,000; highest in the north-east, at 12.9, and lowest in London, at 8.9. In Wales, the suicide rate was 13.9, up from 10.7 in 2009. Meikle acknowledged that suicide rates were slightly lower in Northern Ireland  – ie: 289 suicides in 2011, down from 313 in 2010 – and Scotland, though clearly still concerning. The ONS figures reveal an effect of age and gender:- The male suicide rate in 2011 was the highest since 2002, and among 45-59-year-old men the highest since 1986. For men, the suicide rate was 18.2 per 100,000 population. The rate was highest among males aged 30-44, at 23.5 per 100,000. Among 45-59-year-old men the figure was 22.2… Read More

A Biological Basis for vMEMES…?

Updated: 16 November 2015 vMEMES, the motivational systems identified in the Gravesian approach and termed such in Spiral Dynamics, clearly have to have a neurological basis. Whatever your views on Dualism and the ‘Mind-Body Debate’ – whether or not we think there is a ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ distinct from the brain – the motivational effect we recognise as the product of what we call a ‘vMEME’ has to have a concomitant pattern of neural activity. So where is it? Or: where are they…the 8 vMEMES identified so far from Clare W Graves research, that is? When Graves career’ imploded in 1978 (due to major health problems), CAT scans – the first technique for providing truly detailed images of the brain – were only just coming onstream and research into the brain was still relatively primitive. With exceptions such as the remarkable mapping of motor and sensory areas of the brain by Wilder Penfield – Wilder Penfield & Edwin Boldry (1937), Wilder Penfield & Theodore Rasmussen (1950) – research was largely dependent on invasive surgery on animals, post-mortems and cognitive and behavioural studies of brain-damaged patients. Early in the 21st Century, the technology to ‘look inside’ the brain is considerably more advanced… Read More

The ‘Gay Cure’: was Spitzer right to recant?

Robert L Spitzer is one of the giants of modern Psychiatry, a scientific philosopher as much as a hands-on medical man. He’s been a fearless opponent of too-easily-accepted givens, notably challenging some of David Rosenhan’s conclusions in his 1973 study, On Being Sane in Insane Places. However, Spitzer really made his mark by leading the campaign to have homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a psychiatric disorder – which it was in 1973. So the news last week that Spitzer had ‘recanted’ a study he had carried out in 2000-2001 and had published in 2003 caught my eye – especially as I had referenced that same study in a lengthy letter I had published in Therapy Today, the journal of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy, in 2009. My letter, titled ‘An Imposed Etic’, was published as ‘An Imposed Ethic’ – presumably the editor thought ‘etic’ was a spelling mistake and didn’t get the sense I was trying to convey through the use of the term ‘imposed etic’. My point was that particular, localised values and norms were being applied as though they were universals, without empirical justification. I had been somewhat concerned by John Daniels’ article,… Read More