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Dr-A-Greene, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
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A-Greene" Greene, here is another question you might not be

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Hello Dr. Greene, here is another question you might not be asked often.
What is the Soul and Spirit? Are these used in a metaphorical way? We here these to words in spiritual and religious context. Is there a medical explanation to this? I don't know if this is used in psychology training, but I want to know your thoughts on the soul and spirit. Is it something beyond our mind and body or is it just our emotions. Also what is the mind?
I once heard that if you look inside a mirror, you're seeing your own mind. And that the human spirit is a force and the soul is what keeps the force together and creates a division between beings.
I don't know if all of this falls into philosophy and not psychology .

My goodness! If I was a college professor, I could probably have an entire class devoted to this. It's a very tricky question, to say the least!

I would have to say that in the beginning of the profession, there was very little divide for those who were working as the first psychoanalysts. I know that most of them believed in God and that a person had an actual soul. Some even termed the soul the "seat of consciousness" (so, no divide between brain/mind/soul).

Additionally, when neuropsychology began there was a massive effort to actually find this soul. It was hypothesized that the soul would be found in the physical brain (since science had linked thought and emotion to the brain). *note: long before that surgeons looked for the soul in the heart and even in places like the stomach!* However, when early neuropsychologists didn't find anything that they could definitively term a "soul", science began shifting once again.

They kept the concept of the physical brain as being the house for this thing that we call "the self," but they no longer termed it a "soul" - it instead was called "consciousness" (also termed the "mind", as opposed to the brain) It was at this point that the spirituality began to be filtered out of it. You see, back in Freud's day, there was a God and heaven/hell and a soul. But as time wore on, psychology became less philosophy (which is definitely how it started out) and became more of a hard science based upon biology, physiology, and now even genes.

Never before has psychology been so focused on the scientific aspects that can be proven than it is in today's world. Psychology is housed in the science/biology department in universities, the degree is changing from a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) to a PsyD (Doctor of Clinical Psychology, which, incidentally is what I have). And it's main objective is to use treatments with a foreseeable outcome based on studies and statistics. Finally, psychologists are the least religious of all scientist/professors (here is a link to the article about it).

Therefore, an average psychologist these days would say that there is a physical brain which houses (and is biologically responsible for) your mind (your consciousness). End of story.

However, with all that being said - every good psychologist knows that a human - a personality - isn't just made up of their biology/consciousness. There is something that lights up in a patient's eyes when they're coming out of a psychotic fog and they recognize you for the first time, or when a patient with major depression comes out of their darkness to find joy in the world again. There's a light that goes on in there that had been turned off or dimmed. In my opinion, that "light" is what I know of the soul. I can't prove it exists. I can't find it. I can't study it. But I sure as hell know it when I see it.

And it's beautiful.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have further questions!

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