In Admirable Evasions, Theodore Dalrymple explains why human self-understanding has not been bettered by the false promises of the different schools of psychological thought. Most psychological explanations of human behavior are not only ludicrously inadequate oversimplifications, argues Dalrymple, they are socially harmful in that they allow those who believe in them to evade personal responsibility for their actions and to put the blame on a multitude of scapegoats: on their childhood, their genes, their neurochemistry, even on evolutionary pressures.
Dalrymple reveals how the fashionable schools of psychoanalysis, behaviorism, modern neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology all prevent the kind of honest self-examination that is necessary to the formation of human character. Instead, they promote self-obsession without self-examination, and the gross overuse of medicines that affect the mind.
Admirable Evasions also considers metaphysical objections to the assumptions of psychology, and suggests that literature is a far more illuminating window into the human condition than psychology could ever hope to be.
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