IMAGE:  February 2003 GRAPHIC:  University of Chicago Magazine
Volume 95, Issue 3
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"From encouraging terror to wasting pages"

Simple truths?
As I read “The Complexity Complex,” my thoughts went to the concept’s relevance to the workings of the mind. Attempts to reduce or simplify processes to neurological or biochemical factors are, in my opinion, a manifestation of a flight from complexities that confound clinicians and nonclinicians. At the level of pop psychology we read that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, as though this simplification would explain (and thus make controllable) the complexities of interpersonal relationships.

In the same issue (“Investigations”) Professor Michael Silverstein is reported to believe that people may be “grasping for a biological anchor for the existence of culturally and linguistically different groups” as an easy solution to the inequities in the world. What aspect of the human mind could be more uniquely complex than language through which it expresses itself?

Too often I find that the clinicians I teach and supervise seek, and almost demand, simple explanations of what makes their clients or patients so difficult to understand, work with, and help. Psychologists jump to the medical model and so join the regiment of drug-prescribing mental-health professionals. Despite the rich (and complex) literature I put before them, they want easy answers and resist the mentally taxing work of the scholarship their profession demands.

Althea J. Horner, SB’52
Pasadena, California


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