In my presidential speech delivered at the 8th Biennial Conference of the Bangladesh Psychological Association in July 1994, I said that the objective of Psychological research during the first Quarter of the 21st century should be to "know the human mind, discover its boundary". In this paper, I have tried to develop and elaborate this idea further, because it is related to the welfare of mankind in general and human resource development in particular.
Twentieth century witnessed the development and use of nuclear weapons, two world vars. and a world divided into several blocks. Man is fast losing control over the technological development. Air, water and land have been polluted. The Psychological balances have been seriously threatened. Man's knowledge of technological advancement has far exceeded his knowledge of himself. Mankind is about to enter into a state of technological determinism, a situation where human destination would be determined more by technological consideration than by human values, happiness, and quality of life. Never in history was mankind so close to its total destruction as it is today. This is because man has more knowledge about and more control over matter and material well-being, but very little knowledge about and less control over his mind and Psychological well-being. Even Psychologists, at the beginning of the present century, started doubting the existence of mind and replaced it by behavior.
From early thirties. Psychology laboratories in almost all the major universities of the world concentrated exclusively on the study of behavior. Mind was regarded as too much abstract to be studied scientifically. It was also argued that mind expresses itself through behavior, and if behavior is understood mind can be realized. But soon it was realized that the mind- behavior equation is not simple. Behavior could be deceptive and modern civilized behavior is really deceptive. Modern civilization and urban life have made human behavior artificial and deceptive. In many situations behavior does not reflect what is there in the mind. Research in social Psychology has shown that "social desirability effects" produce deceptive behavior in many occasions. Psychologists are therefore turning back to mind and mental processes.
Mind and mental processes
Mind represents the integrated functions of our biological and Psychological processes, and behavior is its external expression. Although mind expresses itself through behavior, mind cannot be equated with behavior. Brain is the hardware through which mind works. Human mind is not unreal. It is as real as our existence. A greater part of the mind is, however, unconscious, and therefore unknown, but it is not unknowable. The inner dimension of mind, which is mostly unconscious, is a world of infinite power and potentiality. It is full of stimulating ideas and intuitive impressions. It is capable of generating new ideas and thoughts. It initiates actions, develops alternatives and selects the best and sometimes the worst ones. Research in these areas will help us to understand the human decision making process. It may further reveal how mind operates in generating new ideas, analyzing problems critically, initiating new actions, and finally organizing free thinking.
Mind is also full of turbulent emotions and unsuitable desires at times with violent and uncontrolled outbursts. Mind is a reservoir of psychic energy and guidance. Ignorance about these forces and energies might create problems not only at personal levels, but also at social, national and international levels. Research into mind's inner dimension is likely to help us in identifying man's inner forces, good or bad, and in measuring the inner strengths and weaknesses of individuals.
Human mind possesses some characteristics which we call good qualities. These qualities are love, kindness, sympathy, philanthropy, honesty, aesthetic sense, to mention few names only. Research in these areas might help us to understand how these qualities are developed.
Mind also possesses such human characteristics as greed, jealousy, hate, prejudice, fear, rage, tendencies to dominate and exploit others, destroy, kill and be killed. Research into these mental characteristics might help us to understand the dynamics of these characteristics and tendencies and how these characteristics develop in children. Research might also help us in developing new techniques to create better minds and rectify the corrupted ones.
Human mind also expresses itself through originality, creativity and intelligence. Research into these areas might enable us to discover how human intelligence, creativity and originality grow and develop. This might help us in bringing up brighter children.
Human mind is also fallible. Human fallibility is expressed through mistakes, errors, forgetting, misperception, miscalculation, misinterpretation, etc. Research in these areas might help us in understanding the factors underlying human fallibility and thereby reduce areas of human mistakes and errors.
Finally, research on mind and mental processes might enable us to discover the genetic, social, environmental, geophysical and Psychological factors which shape human mind which guides and regulates human behavior.
What is a better mind ?
I have tried to outline the contour of human mind and its contents. In order to create better mind, we should have a clear conception about better mind. Operationally defined, a better mind is one which is capable of leading a normal healthy life without causing any harm to oneself and to others. We have noticed above that there are two opposing forces operating in the human mind, one is constructive and the other is destructive. A better mind is one which is capable of controlling the destructive and the negative forces and guiding human behavior for leading a healthy, peaceful and happy life without causing any injury to oneself and others.
How to create better mind ?
Human mind dose not follow the all-or-none law with reference to becoming good or bad. It means that we cannot say that a person is good absolutely, or another person is bad absolutely. I have mentioned that there are two opposing forces operating in the mind. One characteristic of these forces is that perhaps these are biologically determined and not socially learned. Another characteristic of these forces is that one can overpower or control the other temporarily, but cannot destroy or eliminate completely. It means simply that we cannot, even if we want, make a person good one hundred percent and another bad one hundred percent. When we talk about creating better minds, we should keep these facts in mind.
When the basic tendencies in the mind are biologically determined, we cannot eliminate them completely. What we can do is to manipulate and modify the environment, living conditions and improve the quality of life in order to neutralize or minimize the negative forces and reinforce the positive forces in the mind. This will create a condition in which the mind will operate guiding the individual to lead a healthy, both physically and psychologically, peaceful and happy life without causing any injury to oneself and others.
Education trains a mind. A parent is the best teacher that a child can have. Parental influence will have a lasting effect on the inner tendencies of a child. The parent also acts as a role model for the child. Early education, specially during pre-school period, and school education will have strong effects on shaping human minds.
2. Adult education, opportunities for meaningful employment, economic and social securities, freedom, and quality of life achieved through one's work life and general life experiences will generally create conditions conducive to the growth and development of good qualities in the mind and neutralize the bad characteristics.
3. Opportunities for self-actualization :
Individuals after meeting the basic needs of life tend to explore the opportunities for self-actualization. It is a tendency to express oneself through creative activities. Individuals who have achieved a stage of self-actualization are usually happy and satisfied persons with better minds.
The Spiritual well-being of an individual transcends his physical and Psychological well-being. Spiritual development of an individual involves in transforming his belief and action system in order to enable him to achieve a universal humanistic attitude, a mental state of loving and caring and seeking for the truth and a longing for the union and harmony with the creator. Through a spiritual development an individual can free himself from the narrow limit of materialistic outlook and satisfaction. Such an achievement is likely to help an individual conquer the destructive forces in the mind.
There has been a tremendous development in science and technology during the 20th century Quick transportation and rapid communication across the world have narrowed down distance. Computer, Fax, E-mail, Internet, Mobile-phone, etc. have opened a new direction of information technology. Time has, however, come to review whether all this development has increased peace, happiness and prosperity, and improved the quality of life of the people in the world.
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