An Internet Journal devoted to the Psychology of Personal Constructs

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Vol. 17




Rue L. Cromwell

University of Kansas, USA



About one-half century following turmoil in physics, a similar dispute occurred in psychology over what concepts are acceptable. In all disciplines concepts should be measurable in an objective time and space. Their usefulness depended upon how well they portended or explained future events. Logical errors of dualism occurred whenever events metaphysical, i.e., unobservable, were linked by cause to events observable. Logical errors of reductionism occurred when events described with molecular constructs were seen as basic to or causing events described in more molar terms.

Psychology is different from the other disciplines of science in that it not only has a specialized reporting language as part of the scientific end product but also the full spectrum of language as part of the initial subject matter. Psychology is the same as the other disciplines of science in that the investigators have a fraction of their observation where they can reach consensual agreement with fellow observers and a portion that is privy only to themselves as individuals. This portion of each person’s private experience cannot be breeched. If an observer attempts to share with another his or her private world, it immediately becomes verbal report. That portion not shared from the other may be correctly guessed, fraudulently guessed, or remaining unknown. From these fractions come the majority of logical errors in science.


About the author

Rue L. Cromwell began training in psychology at Indiana University. As assistant to W. N. Kellogg he aided in surgery or anesthesiology as classical conditioning was attempted on the surface of dogs’ brains. The Korean War began as he graduated and entered the Air Force as a second lieutenant. A national crisis was announced when understaffed VA hospitals were overfilling with aging neuropsychiatric casualties of World War II.
Cromwell was called from the military into graduate training at The Ohio State University. Master’s degree was completed with George A. Kelly and Ph.D. with Julian B. Rotter. Hospital internship was completed at Chillicothe VA Hospital, and psychotherapy internship was completed at Columbus (Ohio) VA Mental Health Clinic. He then worked as a child clinical psychologist at the Ohio Bureau of Juvenile Research, founded by Henry Goddard. Returning to graduate school he became Assistant Instructor and Clinic Coordinator of the Ohio Psychological Clinic. He administered the Clinic, did intake on all the admissions, and prepared the cases for Professor Kelly’s rotation as practicum supervisor.
After PhD Cromwell accepted an assistant professorship at Peabody College in a special NMH program to train psychologists with research skills in mental retardation. Eventually this position merged with becoming Professor and Director of Research in Psychiatry and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He then left Nashville to become Chief, Division of Psychology, Lafayette Clinic, Detroit. Then he became Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. In this position he was director of the longitudinal study of offspring of parents with schizophrenia. Finally, he became the M. Erik Wright Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Kansas. Retirement came with the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York, and he found time to write.

Contact: cromwell@ku.edu



Cromwell, R. L. Dualism and reductionism: The elephant in the Psych Lab and Clinic. .
Personal Construct Theory & Practice, 14 (Suppl. No 1), 158-171,  2017

(Retrieved from http://www.pcp-net.org/journal/pctp17/cromwell17.pdf)


ISSN 1613-5091

Last update: 7 December 2017