The Atlas Society is proud to announce the second major publication in the psychology career of William Schultz. Schultz is a graduate student pursing at PsyD degree in clinical psychology at The Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. His graduate studies are being supported by a Graduate Scholarship from TAS’s Frank W. Bubb Fund for Objectivist Scholarship.
Schultz’s new publication is “Neuroessentialism: Theoretical and Clinical Considerations.” This essay will be featured in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, in the January, 2016 issue.
“Neuroessentialism,” Schultz explains, “is the view that the definitive way of explaining human psychological experience is by reference to the brain and its activity.” In effect, it is the thesis that scientific psychology should not directly reference the mind or the will as such, but only the neurological states that give rise to them. Schultz’s essay surveys a voluminous methodological and empirical literature, an impressive feat of scholarship in its own right. On that basis, Schultz argues that neuroessentialism leaves out the real causal properties of thoughts and the will. Focusing on the brain alone causes clinicians and patients to over-emphasize the role of medications and to view the patient as more a passive victim than an active participant in his own therapy. Schultz examines the impact of this passive outlook on the treatment of depression, in particular, and concludes that “neuroessentialistic conceptualization of depression can have negative clinical impacts that need to be considered by mental health professionals.”
The fundamental premises of this work are that the mind and will are real phenomena that require scientific study. They play an essential role in psychological treatment, since psychological problems consist of patterns of thoughts and choices. These premises concord with the broader Objectivist principle of unity of mind and body. “It’s very exciting to see serious intellectual inquiry that combines sound scientific method and scholarship with sound philosophical presuppositions,” comments William R Thomas, Director of Programs and a member of the scholarships committee that awarded support to Schultz.
While still in early revisions, Schultz’s paper was featured in the April 23, 2015 Atlas Society Research Workshop, where a group of scholars read it and offered comments. After the workshop, Schultz recounts, “I made a concerted effort to tighten up the language in the philosophy section. It really strengthened the article in the final form.”
This is Schultz’s second major publication, and a third paper of his has already been accepted for publication later in 2016. Schultz’s publication record is remarkable, since he is only in his third year of graduate study. While writing substantial, learned papers that are already making a mark, Schultz is also fully engaged with completing his degree. He is currently interning doing clinical work in the Minneapolis public schools, where he counsels troubled kids in the K-5 grade range. And he is formulating plans for the major required research thesis of his program.
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- Robert James Bidinotto