No biomarkers

27 08 2014

There are no biomarkers
We can’t treat it
Not so! Said the psychiatrist
Here, we have tears
They are easy to treat
This pill dries them up

But that’s treating the
Symptom not the cause
Not so! Said the psychiatrist
Crying is diagnosed by DSM
You are Crying if
You are crying

Stop crying, pleaded the psychiatrist
Giving her a hug.

Advice to empiricists from Alan Grafen

20 08 2014

Spotted in Grafen, A. (1987). Measuring sexual selection: why bother.


Some claims psychology students might benefit from discussing

18 08 2014
  1. It’s okay if participants see the logic underlying a self-report questionnaire, e.g., can guess what the subscales are. It’s a self-report questionnaire — how else are they going to complete the thing? (Related: lie scales — too good to be true?)
  2. Brain geography is not sufficient to make psychology a science.
  3. Going beyond proportion of variance “explained” probably is necessary for psychology to become a science.
  4. People learn stuff. It’s worth explicitly thinking about this, especially for complex activities like reasoning and remembering. How much of psychology is the study of cultural artifacts? (Not necessarily a criticism.)
  5. Fancy data analysis is nice but don’t forget to look at descriptives.
  6. We can’t completely know another’s mind, not even with qualitative methods.
  7. Observation presupposes theory (and unarticulated prejudice is the worst kind of theory).
  8. Most metrics in psychology are arbitrary, e.g., what are the units of PHQ-9?
  9. Latent variables don’t necessarily represent unitary psychological constructs. (Related: “general intelligence” isn’t itself an explanation for anything; it’s a statistical re-representation of correlations and these correlations need to be explained.)
  10. Averages are useful but the rest of the distribution is important too.

Individuals versus aggregrates

5 08 2014

“Winwood Reade is good upon the subject,” said Holmes. “He remarks that, while the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.”

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (hat-tip MP)

Did You Used to be R.D. Laing? (Full Documentary)

3 08 2014

“… something more besides [psycho]analysis…”

31 07 2014

“When the ego has taken its defensive measures against an affect for the purpose of avoiding unpleasure, something more besides analysis is required to undo them, if the result is to be permanent. This child must learn to tolerate larger and larger quantities of unpleasure without immediately having recourse to his defense mechanisms. It must, however, be admitted that theoretically it is the business of education rather than of analysis to teach him this lesson.”
—Anna Freud (1966, pp. 64-65)


Freud, A. (1966). The ego and the mechanisms of defense (revised ed.). New York: International Universities Press.

Hypotheses for forces affecting use of routine outcomes monitoring in psychotherapy

27 07 2014

Big diagram in PDF over there


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