Cognate Renunciation: A Reassessment of Psychological Theorists, Theories, and the Therapeutic Value of Not Self

Submitted for:
Washington State University
Professor Jesse Byrd


This paper was written in a response to a request of an overview of favorite and least favorite theorists (Byrd, 2021). However, in order to effectively meet the qualification of favorite and least favorite, an operational definition of favorite and least favorite is best put forward by this bio-organic system qualified as “author”. Without this definition, hidden biases of defense behaviors, conditioned contingencies, and other psychologies could be at play. This task is dependent on a measure of esteem, where measure is a negative to positive range. What range would this measure? One possible measure is chosen to address underrepresentation of alternative, yet original perspectives, namely therapies of mind and consciousness, pre-dating and external to imperialist cultures, namely in the form of religion, and in this case, Buddhist concepts of anatta (not-self), not in the realm of meditation, but in the realm of what could come under a category of cognitive therapy. 

A theory is offered, and a methodology is addressed to measure esteem as correlated to interchangeable indicators of historical theorists and theory. This is noteworthy, as the subject of this article is an outcome of personal work executed by Grounded Theory methodologies and relates to occasional efforts by historical psychologists to remove “self” from the field of psychology. This paper will address anatta as it relates to theoretical perspectives of maps of psyche, and application in the therapeutic behaviors wherein the map provides guides. For purposes of brevity, case studies of individual psychologists will be omitted in these relations, focusing on theory and therapy.


Within the religion of Buddhism, one of the most compelling schemas produced and passed from generation to generation relates to varying theoretical conveyances of a principle of anatta (not-self), and while there is much academic research and discussion on these topics, studies of Buddhist meditation techniques receive a majority of attention. There seems to be little research into cognitive therapies professed by Buddhist traditions in minimizing affliction both recorded in historical contexts passed down in sutta (historical manuals) and oral traditions, and recent commentaries and dialogues between Buddhists and the scientific community. Unfortunately, great records of historical ascetic practices and strict adherence to oral traditions of renouncing atta (self-view/perspective) seem to have been lost as a result of wars and conflicts, in favor of surviving in contexts where self-view is not only maintained, and expected, but also subordinated to “us”.

While “self” permeates significant psychological literature, it is important to step back and consider that this may be a reflection of dominant ethnocentric cultural bias. Some languages have significant variation in linguistic expression of a concept of self, where the Japanese, for example, may refrain from using varying forms of “I” in common daily speech, as it is typically explained as implicit, though one could find a strange serendipity in this, with respect to the arrival of Buddhism, its concept of anatta, and rapid assimilation of it within religious, spiritual contexts, martial arts and combat sports (MACs), and eastern movement forms (EMFs) (Jennings, 2014). 

Albert Bandura’s concept of reciprocal determinism is where determinism defines events as causes of effects, as opposed to prevailing views of fatalism of a pre-determined nature (Bandura, 1978, p. 344). Bandura is reasonable in assuring that the production of effects is through external effects probabilistically interacting through cognition (Bandura, 1978, p. 344). Probability, affect behavior, and intermediate cognitive processes are then the stage within which Bandura recognizes, “the extraordinary capacity of humans to use symbols… to engage in reflective thought, to create, and plan foresightful courses of action in thought rather than having to perform possible options and suffer the consequences of thoughtless action.” (Bandura, 1978, p. 344). Bandura’s events and effects seems to resonate well with the pre-Buddhist and Buddhist concept of samsara (to flow with), kamma (cause; volition; psychic-momentum), and vipaka (effect; results; psychic-trails). 

Bandura further describes that through an ability to influence environments, “cognitive self-inducements” through arrangements of incentives, individuals are as much part of determining outcomes as environmental influence (Bandura, 1978, p. 344). This is the foundation for the concept of reciprocal determinism that Albert Bandura launched into the psychological and scientific community at large. While the theory is a fit description based in scientific methods, the reality of it is empirical and prior to any theoretical conceivance by a scientist or layman, and up for observation by any member of an intelligent species, to say otherwise is to predicate intelligence upon socially approved group norms of communicative assembly. This is not the case as written, for various societies have arrived at similar, if not complementary conclusions, separate from each other.

Reciprocal determinism is an excellent bridge for estimating anatta and its potential for application as a therapeutic practice of intelligent beings capable of reasoning via conceptualization and meaning making, where this practice of renouncing self-identification will be titled under a category of behavior named, cognate renunciation.


It is hypothesized that a function of cognate renunciation, applied in traditionally Buddhist contexts, where its application is proportional will be found, proportional to effective therapeutic practices of psychological theories and theorists with patients/clients. It is further hypothesized that it is the application of in-situ non-verbal depersonalization that contributes to the esteem of the therapist to be modeled by the patient/client who generates positive regard. As an unintended consequence, associated theories, and herd behavior fixated on oralities, post-treatment, due to social conditioning, and faulty attribution, attribute esteem to theories and theorists rather than events, and effects of positive regard in safely removing metabolically costly self-identification processes from chaotic networks of reciprocal determinism, which leads to an extinction of negative afflict behaviors, where extinction of these behaviors result in optimal homeostasis flow.


First, an operational definition of cognate renunciation is offered, within which fit, relevancy, and modifiability will be determined between cognate renunciation and the theoretical framework of each psychological theory, wherein it will be determined if the theory is acceptable in aspects of or entirety in offering 1) validation of cognate renunciation in theoretical conceptions, and 2) validation in of cognate renunciation in therapeutic practice. Falsifiability will be determined through offering 1) falsifiability of cognate renunciation in theoretical conceptions, and 2) falsifiability of cognate renunciation in therapeutic practice. 

Any evidence of cognate renunciation, even at the evidence of falsifiability does not imply cognate renunciation is invalid, only that it is applied preferentially, and this is where the measure of esteem will be ordered, where greater application of cognate renunciation in theory and therapeutics will be ordered higher than the lesser application of cognate renunciation, thus offering sortability with reference to theoretical and therapeutic congruence with anatta. 

While this methodology is more of a thought experiment, there are no case studies, psychometrics, nor experiments to objectively back these claims, except for theoretical sampling of literature review in published psychological theories, theorists, and conceptual elaboration by a lineage of academic, clinical, and experimental practitioners in the field.

Note that true testability and falsifiability would be in the outcomes of cases to death through longitudinal studies and potentially familial surveys. Short of funds and latitude in such endeavors, a reasonable effort has been made to estimate this through textual assessments, though future study would be recommended.

Cognate Renunciation 

Regarding cognitive behavioral therapy (CT), treatment is defined as “goal-oriented, time-sensitive, educative, and collaborative, and it is based on an information-processing model” where the model “posits that the way people perceive their experiences influences their emotional, behavioral, and physiological reactions” (Beck, 2010, p. 1). As Bandura puts it, there is an environmental influencing “cognitive self-inducement” of beneficial incentives (Bandura, 1978, p. 344), where in this case, the benefit is as a hyper-iterative doubling down on inter- and intra- relational afflict resolution processes via a phenomenon of hyper-attenuated ability to shunt near-initial genesis of emergent cognition. The defense mechanism of sublimation is a close approximation of cognate renunciation, though differing in the channel through which psychic energy is manifest. Psychic-energy of the renunciation process is channeled into homeostatic postural management alone, thus resulting in reduced individual/environmental energy demands, reduced loads on environmental resources, maximized perceptual capability in problem solving localized challenge, and maximized storage and recall of Bandura’s proposed events (causes, conditions) and effects, where events and effects are inclusive of cognitive processes.

It might be useful to consider that cognition forms memetic systems (Dawkins, 1976) of individuals, groups, and brands—functioning, interacting, and conflicting (Colomy, 2001) with each other. Cognate renunciation is therefore that mechanism which reduces conflict, minimizes interaction, and unbinds highly entropic function. Cognate renunciation is proposed to reduce anxiety and offers freedom to see phenomena sans an identification process of taking these very aspects of phenomena, and remnant effects as “self”, as “me”, as “I”, not in the past, not in the future, and not because, where cognate renunciation achieves exponentiation in “we”, “us”, and “people”, and results in minimization of vs. mentality, and the results of aggression, and hyper-competitive behavior.

Buddhism offers numerous examples of cognate renunciation where one of the most enumerated and typified examples of this is passed down from the First Buddhist Council (483 BCE) in the Taṇhā Sutta of the Angutarra Nikaya whereby one-hundred eight variances of expressions of atta in Pali is described as “craving: the ensnarer that has flowed along, spread out, and caught hold, with which this world is smothered & enveloped like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds” (p. 486). These expressions are to be refrained from by ascetics, as these are considered to be generative of negative affliction, and this therefore is considered, and recommended to be seen as a historical form of psychological therapy.

Crude variances of cognate renunciation are exemplified by comments from meditative instructors as “stop thinking”, “let it go”, “move without thinking”, “that’s not you”, yet are poor examples of the actual application of skilled practitioners in providing effective instruction. In what could be described as cognate renunciation therapy, renunciation is operationalized as a variance of in-flight anatta realization, “this is not me”, “that is not they”. Higher skill in this realization is less linguistic, and more physiological, where super-positioned primary and secondary reinforcers are experienced following annata realization, in-situ alongside known causes of afflictive behaviors, namely what could be called early-stage, middle-stage, and late-stage conceit, here, a mistaken belief that the phenomena is who or what one truly is. 

Mastery of the application of anatta is exemplified best when a teacher in martial arts, is able to, as a warrior on the battlefield, immediately strike down the cause of aggressive behavior, by applying the antidote of cognitive renunciation to conceit precisely as conceit is emerging, not by using strength (repression, etc.) to fight it, but by allowing it to come, and go, without harm (Ueshiba, M., 1992, p. 45). The earlier this emergence is detected, the better cognate renunciation is, in providing therapeutic outcomes of removing binary worldviews of non-dialectic perception.

It is no small wonder that a key line in aikido is masagatsu agatsu, katsu hayabi, which translates as “true victory is self-victory, quick victory”, where self-victory is beyond victory in the conventional sense, but victory over a very strongly conditioned cognizing process that generates “self”, which is professed in religious therapies as a tremendous cause of human anxiety and suffering. Why would a simple message like this have spread throughout early India and around the world if it did not have a benefit, therapeutically, for thousands of years, and before Buddhism, for thousands, if not ten thousand more, orally passed from one generation to the next? 

An Analysis of Psychological Theories

To study Cognate Renunciation, it is useful to utilize Theories of Personality (Ryckman, 2012) as a benchmark for constant comparison, along with theorist texts, as these are a fitting treatise containing a summary of psychological theories, theorist history offering case studies for understanding theoretical inception and potential bias, and the convenient classification of perspectives that each imposed. 

As this exercise is essentially a theoretically sampling from earlier works of psychological theorists and theories, it will consist of those offering early sampling of cognate renunciation, in seeking for a better pointer to what a therapist actually conceptually does obscured by descriptions of the conceptual doings, and categories of these doings. Many theorists and theories may be examined, but as this is an abbreviated sampling, only five have been selected. 

First, Freud will be extensively addressed, as the psychodynamic perspective offers the grounds through which many others followed, as the demand in the public for therapeutics and general understanding of the mind and its behavior was initially created by Freud’s works. Carl Jung, and Adler, while helpful, for sake of brevity, will be skipped, and seconded by Horney in the neo-psychodynamic for a specific noteworthy contribution congruous to cognate renunciation. Following is B.F. Skinner whose publicly perceived extreme view of moving away from concepts of an autonomous man, reveal strong congruence with cognate renunciation. Julian Rotter will then be shared for a rounding out of scientific perspective, continuing to Albert Bandura whose contribution of reciprocal determinism, aforementioned seems appropriate. Rounding out with Carl Rogers, who, in seeming opposition to Skinner’s rejection of autonomous man, offers credibility to Cognate Renunciation in practice. Finally, a brief note on Rollo May and existential psychology will be considered as it offers another entry into the practice of cognate renunciation in therapeutic efforts for the orally fixed.

Theorists, Theories, and Analysis

Sigmund Freud. Freud’s apparent freedom from the absence of a pre-existing psychological field, institutional inertia and literature review seems to have allowed him tremendous latitude to explore and assemble widely influential cogent theories that were accepted, applied, and later challenged, extended, and modified in the field. This spark of initial intelligence and understanding, gave rise to the burgeoning field of psychology, psychodynamics, and application in psychoanalytic therapy amongst early male-dominant imperialist ethnocentric cultures. While his theories have challenges, there is benefit in learning them in more detail as its vernacular continues through nearly all psychological clinical practices and experimentation to present.

Freud believed that beings were moved namely by unconscious wants, needs, and drives, and that these unconscious desires were then met by finding ways to individually satisfy them, as constrained through social norms within which an individual operated. It was Freud’s view that the individual, then developed mechanisms through which they could defend themselves from anxieties of these wants, needs, and drives, when navigating not only the world, but also internal thought processes, and even dreams. He felt that if he could help patients in becoming more aware of these unconscious and conscious behaviors, often developed in early childhood, he could help individuals overcome their ignorance of behavior and find fruitful living.

Theoretical Contributions. Freud’s theory centered around unconscious needs, motives, and desires as it drives the majority of life, where the energy which translates these motives and desires is sexual in nature, though later in Freud’s career, he expanded this translation to include feelings. Freud believed that repressive behaviors formed a core of issues, and the function that therapy addresses, dubbed psychoanalysis is helpful to beings suffering from mental ailments (Ryckman, 2012, p. 30). Freud’s theoretical framework addresses core categories: cognition, motivation, and dynamics of these.

Cognition. Core categories of the topics of main concern of cognition, are broken into conscious, preconscious, and unconscious experience (Ryckman, 2012, p. 26). Freud posited that conscious awareness, while minimally influential of behavior, works with a preconscious in recalling unconscious experience, and it is here in the unconscious, that the movements of a majority of personality is contained, out of view, influencing experience (Ryckman, 2012, p. 26). Freud maintained that bringing awareness to antecedents of unconscious needs and desires would allow an individual to achieve clarity in the workings of a being’s experience.

Motivation. Freud leaned on Greek concepts which further illuminated unconscious motivation, that of 1) eros, responsible for life preservation (life), 2) libido, the kind of energy to maintain life (largely sexual, yet later to be seen to include feelings), and 3) thanatos, the dissolution of life (death) (Ryckman, 2012, p. 27). Freud believed life’s goal is to arrive at death, which seems stunningly obvious, yet seems to be oft forgotten in the course of intelligent affairs. These motivations come into contact and may contribute to or go against society (Ryckman, 2012, p. 27).

Dynamic. To account for the interaction of cognition and motivation, Freud posited that these dynamics may be categorized as 1) id, biological impulses, 2) ego, which organizes and finds routes to the satisfaction of id’s impulses via control, and 3) super-ego, which serves as a social ego and generates restraining conscience through parental punishment, and the reorients targeting ideals through parental reward (Ryckman, 2012, p. 28-29). This restraining and targeting function thereby guide the super-ego’s influence of ego’s work to satisfy id’s impulses via learned socially congruent controls.

A topological tension between super-ego and ego is correlated with anxiety (Ryckman, 2012, p. 29). Freud also realized categories of behavior that served as defense mechanisms which allow for the minimization of pain (Ryckman, 2012, p. 29). What if these defense mechanisms may be in effect, a result of behavioral development, biophysiology, or conditioned, as a kind of script behavior correlated with biological activity associated with ego?

Perhaps libidinal energy directed by the super-ego and ego may find correlation with executive function; Baumeister of Case Western Reserve University offers confirmation of correlation between ego depletion and self-control (Baumeister, 2002). It is interesting that the central executive is responsible for temporal tasking allocation (Baddeley, 1986, p. 252) and neurologically further demonstrates dual tasking capability (Alsop et al., 1995). By extension, are defense mechanisms strategically emergent and conditioned behaviors in the management of libidinal entropy, entropy of which Jung later focuses (Ryckman, 2012, p. 55). Is it possible to generalize these defense mechanisms as basically “inter-fluid” dynamics between endocrine and neural systems? If so, is cognate renunciation a defense mechanism management behavior?

Varying defense mechanisms service to minimize pain (Ryckman, 2012, p. 29), come in a variety of forms of skills in controlling libido to surmount challenges (this will appear again, in another psychologist’s work). Repression prevents id’s thoughts interrupting awareness, suppression arrests id’s thoughts increasing anxiety, denial arrests the translation of painful reality to awareness, displacement is a temporal compromise of satisfaction of impulse, sublimation is a translation of impulse, regression recalls earlier defense topologies, projection inverts insights into behavior onto others, reaction formation inverts impulse, rationalization stereotypes behaviors (often inaccurate conjectures), intellectualization increases distance between thoughts and feelings,  undoing zero-sums undesired behavior with desired behavior, compromise formation zero-sums undesired behavior with desired artistry, identification enacts idealized forms, and fixation zero-sums general anxiety with general and specific repetitive pleasure inducing behaviors (Ryckman, 2012, p. 29-32). 

Defense mechanisms, and subsequent classification of stages of development within which defenses develop, do seem a part of an arsenal that the central executive has at its disposal, and may, deploy and abort a variety of them not only in sequence, but maybe even simultaneously (Baddeley, 1986, p. 252). Regarding sublimation and compensation, one wonders if the development of these is as a bubble, requiring a constructive environment of earlier defense mechanisms in order to produce the defense machination of sublimative and compensative behaviors, and if neurosis in “fixedness” of stages is a result of obstruction of producing biophysiology capable of executing more mature defenses. Wouldn’t it be great to find evidence of a biophysiology of defense mechanisms? Cramer, at Williams College seems to have some insight in this area confirming the case (Cramer, 2003).

Development. Freud’s main concern also addressed the development of being through several stages of emergence from expanding individual to social frames of reference: 1) oral stage, where individuals learn control in ingesting the environment, 2) anal stage, where individuals exert control in digestive expulsion of said environment, 3) phallic stage, where individuals exert control on localized pleasure, 4) latency stage, where individuals exert control in navigating social environments, and 5) genital stage, where individuals express socially procreative function (Ryckman, 2012, p. 32-35)

It is here, that I feel that quite possibly, as a fish in water, Freud may have arrived in a kind of functional fixation with these five stages, and perhaps may himself been beholden to fixation in genital stage behavior, within which subsequent psychologists progressed, or perhaps, that Freud’s genital stage is more accurate and precise though the term libido and its correlated sexual behavior is actually a parapraxis accompanying a defense mechanism, while underneath it, there is something more correlated to physiology of individuals and potentially the sociology of herds.

Character. To Freud, the dynamic interaction between id, ego, super-ego, transference, and defense mechanisms develop character, of which due to possible defense mechanisms may be fixated, where typologies are associated with stages of development: 1) oral, where unordered control over the ingestive of environment is fixed in behavior, 2) anal, where attachment and progressively ordered control over the exgestive environment is fixed in behavior, 3) phallic, where control over libido, channeled to localized sexual pleasure is fixed in behavior, and 4) genital, where control of libido, channeled through individual-social sexually appropriate behavior. The final genital stage represents socially appropriate behavior in relationship with a significant other in happiness and joy (Ryckman, 2012, p. 35-36).

Regarding character, stages and behaviors seem, as a matter of fact, analogous in that the stages represent movements, and the character represents manifestation. That said, regarding earlier commentary on Freud, in the author’s view, most likely suffered conditioned fixation in the genital stage. Regardless of this fixation it may be fact that a new valence configuration understanding of cognition, inclusive of a dynamic environment of cognition and motivation, allows for ego, along with super-ego, through the energies of id, to co-evolve with biological growth in a form of Bandura’s reciprocal determinism, and is ultimately part of Darwin’s conceptualization of evolutionary processes.

Therapy. Freud believed in assisting an individual through stages of development by way of resolving transference, repressive defense mechanisms, and fixation through understanding and insight into reality (Ryckman, 2012, p. 44). The essential therapeutic efforts of Freud are 1) free association, the allowance of individuals to explore thoughts in a safe environment set forth by a therapist, where parapraxis may reveal unconscious desires and defense mechanisms at play, 2) dream analysis, where Freud believed that dreams veiled the imaginative attempts at satisfaction of unconscious and unacceptable desires, and 3) transference, where movements of sexual impulses and feelings “transfer” upon the therapist, and where the therapist makes a firm commitment to avoid counter-transference in order for the patient to explore and develop understanding (Ryckman, 2012, p. 43).

Within a general field of therapy, it is most interesting in exploring the shunting of therapist counter-transference that seems to be a close approximation of cognitive renunciation. A sublimative compromise formation where therapeutic conditioning on behalf of a therapist redirects libido in support of patient connection, and through compromise formation essentially swallows artistic defense mechanisms, of which brings a kind of joy for a therapist, in knowledge that they are less influenced by automatic reactions of their own in-situ experience.

One should pause here, because this cognitive renunciation, most likely is conditioned, and in the psychodynamic perspective, therapists’ cognitive renunciative efforts have 1) progressed beyond oral fixation in the movements of speech and facial gestures, 2) progressed beyond anal fixation typified by seating adjustments, and 3) progressed beyond phallic fixation having finally shunting any and all maintenance of joy in recycling experiences of an ability to abort counter-transference itself, 4) progressed beyond latent fixation, having moved beyond patience in the shunting process, and for the astute therapist of which Freud may not have progressed till much later 5) progressed beyond genital fixation, where the therapist has realized that the play of eros, libido, and thanatos, are mere plays of phenomena, leading to the realization of further psychological theories.

It seems possible that cognate renunciation may also operate on a super-ego level shunting herd level transference and counter-transference behavior, in essence presenting a kind of possible meta-ego, putting the break on metabolic entropic expenditure for the purpose of a manifest invitation to satiation of latent valences of being arriving at B.F. Skinner’s (1971) operantly conditioned perceptions of freedom and dignity without punishment nor reward, and moving chiefly from this position as a form of cultural meta-therapy. This would be very beneficial in the management of psychosocial/ecological conflict, and the current climate emergency.

Summary. This is why Freud is very interesting to me, because the entirety of the psychodynamic theory seems to have congealed around Freud’s discovery of something altogether more valuable than the theory, hence the continued interest in his work, that of stopping transference and counter-transference, and this is highly congruous to cognitive renunciation. It seems Freud tried to teach this stopping capability to others within the framework of psychodynamic theory, thinking that awareness of internal activities was sufficient for it to be learned, though with much controversy as there had been missing elements of therapy (i.e., fixation on sexuality to the exclusion of other energetics). Psychotherapy most likely became an oral tradition that, while later obfuscated by textual description, Jung, Adler, and others picked up. These disciples of Freud also extended and offered corrections to Freud’s work. Freud therefore receives the highest marks in esteem related to cognitive renunciation in terms of benefit in training therapists in shunting transference and counter-transference. There are also high marks in esteem related to cognitive renunciation in terms of depersonalization of psychological phenomena, yet low marks in esteem due to personification of character types. Overall, this leaves Freud with high esteem.

Karen Horney. Horney provides a very compelling insight into this very cognitive renunciation element of aborting countertransference, and a brief overview of Horney is due, and now that the psychological terms of Freud have been laid out extensively, this can be done in short order. While other psychologists such as Jung and Adler could be reviewed, for the purposes of brevity, the contribution of Horney stands out in the development of a feminine psychology, and through her realizations that it applies to all, to forming a neo-psychodynamic perspective, where else is the feminine voice to be heard in the times of Freud and peers? She also disfavored and resisted the idea of Freud’s sexual obsession with regard to a sexual primacy to subconscious drives, yet I wonder if a some of this was a reaction formation.

Theoretical Contributions. Horney’s active interest in hyper competitiveness and competition avoidance are very valuable to the field of psychology. Perhaps this came through direct in person study in as a result of competing in an all-male psychological field where a woman presented objective and possibly threatening material to the building and maintaining identities of those present. Horney also became very interested in neurosis, and psychosis, and as a result expanded the field tremendously in these areas. A few key concepts of Horney shall be addressed.

Competition. Horney felt that hyper competitiveness contributed to neurosis, in society, while on the other hand, that competition avoidance was also potentially neurotic (perhaps hypo competitiveness could have been used for simplicity) (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 99-102). Horney’s theory proposed that there is healthy competition, and that healthy competition enjoys the mastery of work (Ryckman, 2013, p.102), which seems congruous to Csikszentmihalyi’s modern day flow state theory which serendipitously is correlated to absence of identification (Csikszentmihalyi, 2013, p. 141).

Neurotic Strategies. Horney also proposed that a basic anxiety arises from childhood, and that through these anxieties and behaviors of parents and society with children, different forms of strategies emerge in order to manage these anxieties. These ranged from need for affection and approval, for another to take over one’s life, for power, for exploiting others, for recognition and prestige, for personal admiration, for ambitious personal achievement, for self-sufficiency and independence, and for perfection and unassailability (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 103-106). Horney relates these needs to the earlier experience of the undermining of self-esteem and self-reliance (Ryckman, 2013, p. 103). As an aside, I am curious if these are possibly the results of geometries of defense mechanisms and which may oddly be inversely correlated by resolutive progression in the bhumis of enlightenment.

Neurotic Trends. These neurotic strategies accompany what Horney classified as neurotic trends, where the neurotic strategies at play accompany presenting behavior that is compliant, aggressive, or detached. Horney associates generalized characteristic behaviors of these individuals as moving toward, moving against, and moving away from people, where the strategies deployed are most likely conditioned behaviors in response to unresolved childhood experiences, for example, a compliant type may not have been provided love and attention, an aggressive type may have been provided a distrust and hostility, and a detached type may present aloof, unconforming behavior (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 106-107).

Tyranny of Should & Ideal Self. Horney does propose the concept of an idealized self, where an ideal self emerges out of neurotic strategies, where compulsions to propel the realization of this ideal self are presented in a “tyranny of should” (Ryckman, 2013, p. 111), that is, where a barrage of continual thoughts of “I should…” persist in presenting neurotic needs and generalized as neurotic trends. A good follow on question is, is any “should” neurotic?

Other Concepts. Horney proposed additional defense mechanisms to Freud’s original set that are helpful for the field of psychology (i.e., compartmentalization, rationalization etc.), the concept of blind spots where deficiencies are unable to be perceived, cynicism, elusiveness, arbitrary rightness, excessive self-control, and externalization (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 112-113). In particular externalization is interesting because it is congruous to transference, however in this case, Horney perceived the transference of internal processes to external processes, which seems an early precursor to internal/external orientations (Ryckman, 2013, p. 113).

Summary. Karen Horney, while swinging hard toward processes of identification in studying neuroticism, does exhibit another character trait of a well-developed therapist, the depersonalization of the tyranny of should. This most likely benefitted Horney, and most likely patients, and it seems congruent with cognate renunciation. While the precise mechanism of liberation from this identification is unknown, it may benefit from a physiological investigation. The mechanism of liberation from the tyranny of should is nonetheless valid and congruent with cognitive renunciation, therefore Horney receives esteem, however in theoretical explanations, Horney receives low marks in encouraging and disseminating a concept of “real self” (Ryckman, 2013, p. 111). Overall Horney receives high marks with regard to stopping neurotic tendencies via tyranny of should, and uncovering additional defense mechanisms, yet low marks on missing the fact that real self’s neuroticism may be revealed in its over-consumption of resources with respect to planetary resources in its making.

B.F. Skinner. Perhaps one the greater psychologists in driving a scientific understanding of psychology. B.F. Skinner, who through objective reasoning and analytical thinking rejected the notion of an autonomous man(Skinner, 1971, pp. 19-25) stating that the psychological field is obsessed with mentalism (Ryckman, 2013, p. 362), perhaps he was referring to self-absorbed behavior. Skinner placed the majority of emphasis of conditioning on environmental conditioning, so much, that a backlash occurred, wherein Skinner took liberty in addressing this very backlash in Beyond Freedom & Dignity (Skinner, 1971). 

It’s not that Skinner objected to cognitive phenomena, he objected to the idea to change behavior through change in attitudes, he suggested changing environments. The backlash makes sense in an environment of growing consumerism in the 1970s and growing movements in embracing expression of self-identity through consumer products, services, goods, and therapeutic intervention. A movement supported by U.S. policy makers interested in preventing a repeat of World War II through the use of the progenitor of public relations, Edward Burnays’ (nephew to Freud) efforts to build a compliant self-realizing society through the satisfaction of idealized selves (Lambert, 2002).

Theoretical Contributions. Skinner focused exclusively on a science of behavior and is labeled a radical behaviorist as a result (Ryckman, 2013, p. 364). That said, this scientific perspective was validated, in studying the genesis of behavior, where Skinner dubbed this operant conditioning.

Operant Conditioning. Skinner’s operant conditioning conveyed a concept whereby behavior is conditioned by way of contingencies, where there is an environment of stimulus, an expressed behavior within it, and an expressed reinforcement within it (Ryckman, 2013, p. 365). If an individual can discriminate certain stimulus and behavior with reinforcements (positive [adding pleasant stimulus] or negative [removing unpleasant stimulus]), then there can be learning of behaviors which connect stimulus to reinforcement. An example of positive reinforcement is a candy bar in an aisle, a crying child, and the mother giving the child the candy bar, which may lead to a situation where the baby associates crying primarily with receiving the pleasure associated with dopamine releases as a result of the candy bar. The candy bar in this case would be a primary reinforcer (though seems short sighted of Skinner, most likely the line had to be drawn somewhere), whereas the positive reinforcement of “good boy” after the quiet baby is called a secondary reinforcer.

Operant Extinction. Skinner presented evidence that behaviors can be extinguished through the removal of continual reinforcement (Ryckman, 2013, p. 370). 

Shaping. Combinations of operant conditioning and operant extinction are then applied, historically by Skinner with rats, whereby he could train behaviors in rats to present trained behaviors by guiding animals into successive approximations of idealized behavior (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 370-371, pp. 382-383). It is interesting to note, that this seems reminiscent, of the strategies employed of Horney’s neurotic needs to realize idealized self.

Scheduled Reinforcements. One of the most compelling parts of Skinner’s work in operant conditioning is understanding of impacts on behavioral conditioning and extinction with respect to schedules of reinforcements within an environment of stimuli and shaping behavior. While outside the scope of this paper, it is notable that rewarding behavior intermittently, in an unpredictable way, seems most effective at shaping behavior (variable-ratio) (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 373-364).

Behavior Modification. Utilizing the learnings of scientific inquiry, and theories, and concepts aforementioned, generated out of evidence, practices of modifying behaviors has met with success (Ryckman, 2013, p. 375-383). That said, serious implications of the truth of biological neural networks are at play with Skinner’s work, as ethical concerns along with an environment of the 1960s and 1970s, then into the 1980s continually celebrated and embraced an economy catering to and growing on the back of ideal self-realizing satisfying, ever growing, consumptive consumer behavior much to the detriment of environments deemed by many to be not as controlling of human behavior as Skinner professed, yet maybe, it is.

Summary. Skinner receives the highest marks in regard to validating cognitive renunciation, as he, himself had been conditioned by the environment so as to renounce autonomous man. While socially on the receiving end of contempt, Skinner seems to have stood by his findings, and position. This is admirable given the conditioning qualities of socio-political movement during his time, one could possibly say that Skinner was highly skilled in moving away, from people, no pun intended, in Horney’s assessment. The fact that Skinner and other contemporaries, such as Rogers engaged in dialogue, is very revealing, and offers insight to what a depersonalized scientific environment may engender. Overall Skinner receives the highest marks in esteem in cognate renunciation and must have been a force not only in the field, but in therapeutic, or in one-on-one discussions with peers.

Julian Rotter. Rotter’s contribution of social learning theory (Ryckman, 2013, p. 395) offered much to the field of psychology and while he expanded more scientific methodologies to the field, one of his major contributions are the concepts of behavior potential, expectancy, reinforcement value, and locus of control. These contributions continued to assist the field in searching for more testable and valid theories evidenced through more scientific rigor, and straight forward vernacular.

Theoretical Contributions. Behavior potential is based in probability, in considering the likelihood of behavior rather than whether or not behaviors occur. This continued a theme of probability and statistics permeating all aspects of science in Rotter’s time which greatly moved all fields forward together. While behavior potential is measured by the observer, expectancy is the subjective potential sensed by the participant to lead to a particularly valued reinforcement, where there may or may not be correlation in the behavior potential and expectancy. 

One of the interesting aspects of expectancy is the concept of minimal goal, that is, what is the minimal value assigned to a particular reinforcement for expectancy. A good example of expectancy is evidenced in an earlier example of Skinner’s operant conditioning, where the baby presents crying in order to receive the dopamine pleasure released by ingesting a candy bar though the baby does not yet have the words. In this case, an older child might still expect to receive candy by throwing tantrums for said candy bar. In this case however, Rotter focused on goaled behavior, which makes sense now why academic environments focused on goal-reward conditioning rather than carrot-stick conditioning. Additional concepts were contributed by Rotter, a few are to follow.

Internal/External Control (I-E). Another compelling aspect of Rotter’s theories lies in the concept of locus of control of reinforcement (Ryckman, 2013, p. 400-408), which is rather a mouthful and abbreviated I-E. While earlier theorists addressed aspects in writings, for example Horney held a concept of externalization where an individual projected internal mentality onto an outside world, Rotter’s concept is more scientifically evidenced through statistical research utilizing participants in questionnaires. Rotter held that individuals may be more or less influenced by internal or external reinforcement. This spectrum of control has correlated costs and benefits to individuals as to where they fall on these spectrums.

 Individuals with a strong internal locus of control are perceived as self-motivated, intrinsically motivated, and may blame internalities, whereas individuals with a strong external locus of control are perceived as other-motivated, extrinsically motivated, and may blame externalities. There is a correlation between locus of control and success in childhood, in education, religion, perceived responsibility, career/status, physiological health, and mental health (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 401-406). More often than not, while stronger internal locus of control seems to have more positive outlook in, there can be neurotic behavior if it is too strong to acknowledge external environmental influences or if the need to control is unreasonable in its want to control bodily functions like vomiting (Ryckman, 2013, p. 406).

Summary. Rotter’s further contribution to empirical evidence driven scientific inquiry in the field of psychology is welcome, in addition to Skinner. Further research into behaviors and orientation of reinforcements on the I-E spectrum offered quite a bit more to an emerging field of psychometrics in support of general psychology. Rotter used multiple methods in working with patients (Ryckman, 2013, p. 399), and while still using interviews in therapy, also relied on psychometric tests grounded in evidence, this really helped the field move forward.

The further de-personalization of behaviors and highlighting of childhood on developing I-E orientation and research demonstrating behavioral conditioning, continues to demonstrate Skinner’s claim for the absence of an autonomous man, though Rotter did not seem to work against the prevailing vernacular of humanity as Skinner, his work continued to chip away at the concept of self, exposing the conditioning of socialized human behavior. In light of these facts, Rotter deserves high esteem in providing evidence of environmental conditioning, highlighting cognitive processes, though medium to low marks in associating conditioning to other people which seems an inverse of self, which may explain the advent of the I-E spectrum.

Bandura.  Bandura’s major contribution to the field of psychology seems to be in the field of modeling theory, in offering triadic reciprocal determinism, which embraced the work of prior psychologists in realizing that aspects of personality, behaviors, and environment all are influential (Ryckman, 2013, p. 414), yet perhaps super positionally influential. One may side with Skinner in that personality and behavior are also at play in environmental conditions.

Theoretical Contributions. Bandura’s work in exploring reciprocal determinism led to the discovery that modeled behavior of external social behavior influences an individual, and can do so without reinforcements (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 414-415). Bandura pioneered research in video games conditioning aggressive behavior, just as his earlier research demonstrated with modeling of aggressive behavior being replicated in front of children (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 418-419). While still controversial, empirical evidence is strongly in favor of Bandura’s findings, where Bandura strongly emphasizes recommendations to stem the tide of aggression modeling video games (Ryckman, 2013, p. 420).

Self-Efficacy. Bandura proposed a perception of self-efficacy, that is, the perception that one can reasonably accomplish a task or skill (Ryckman, 2013, p. 420-421). This perception is correlated with efficacy expectation, which is the belief in these tasks or skills (Ryckman, 2013, p. 421). These percepts, contribute to decision making on engagement with tasks or environments, and determine effort application, and presupposes that high efficacy expectation seeks more challenging tasks (Ryckman, 2013, p.421). These findings seemed to have been adopted in industrial and economic environments where workers are continually challenged, and if not challenged are perceived to seek advancement elsewhere. Regarding efficacy, it is possible, as Bandura discovered, that individuals may achieve higher self-efficacy expectation through vicarious reinforcement, that is, seeing others do it (i.e., modeling), being persuaded by others, or through relaxed/moderate emotional arousal (Ryckman, 2013, p. 422). 

Summary. It would seem Bandura’s findings have been applied not only in industrial areas, but also commercial applications, and generalized decentralized governed control of populous behavior, as one need only look at the modeling behaviors amongst distributions of chaotic network effects across a distribution of advertisements (adverting mentality), the persuasions within them, and the relaxed/moderate emotional arousal in the actors in said advertisements. In this way, it seems Skinner’s work is alive, though rejected because if it was accepted, then humanity would have to come to terms with the fact that consumerist behavioral conditioning is not faring well for the planet and its precious resources, with its modeling of self-actualizing contingency reinforcing behaviors.

Bandura receives high marks in further validating cognate renunciation, however caution is urged as with Horney on the higher valence as applied to socialization where the implication of “they” conditioned it, or “they” caused it through conditioning may engender a “we” vs. “them” mentality, for this, lower marks are achieved. Falsification of cognate renunciation could not be interpreted from Bandura’s surface investigation. Overall Bandura receives middling marks in the generalized sense because of a lingering “we” and “them” position, and the highest mark in the specific sense of reciprocal determinism. While most of Bandura’s work seems in experimental psychology, his positions on therapy centered around assessment and behavioral change (Ryckman, 2013, p. 428), therefore applied cognate renunciation is unknown for Bandura until further theoretical sampling of his written material is executed.

Carl Rogers. Rogers’ main concern was the bona-fide experience of an individual, rather than the measure of historical antecedents leading up to the experience with the therapist (Ryckman, 2013, p.319). Rogers felt that individuals had a self-actualizing tendency (Ryckman, 2013, p. 319), that is, a motivation to fulfill potentials. It should be stated that other psychologists also expressed these, and one could say even Freud expressed this, though his emphasis was on id’s fulfillment of potentiality of sexual behaviors, however over time psychologists such as Rogers expanded the definition of an understanding of human potential. Rogers’ focus on the subjective experience of an individual lead to truly in-situ therapeutic behaviors on behalf of a therapist, in order to bring about change to allow individuals to better realize potential (Ryckman, 2013, p. 326).

While some of Rogers’ theories have issues in validation, like the proposal of an organismic valuing process, which is where the physiology itself understands what it needs in order to achieve homeostasis (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 320-321), it has not met with empirical validation. However, invalid it has been shown, the credibility of the valuing process itself as it pertains to iterative levels of subjective perception applies, especially considering historical perspectives of other psychologists. Rogers’ belief in this organismic valuing process may have led him to one of the most influential aspects that has impressed upon the field of therapy, perhaps he thought he could present an environment that allowed individuals shed obstructions to this process and arrive as a fully functioning emergent person (Ryckman, 2013, pp. 321-322).

Theoretical Contributions. Rogers’ conception of a fully functioning person is open to experience, existential living, trust of body, creativity, enriched lives, honesty, indifference to materiality and reward, caringness, and distrust exploitative cognitive based science and technologies, and distrust of external authorities (Ryckman, 2013, p. 323) is his definition of an emergent person, and he felt these individuals were important, though rare, in influencing the future of the world (p. 323).

Unconditional Positive Regard. Rogers’ resolve toward client relationships, rather than patient relationships, placed a relationship at the forefront of therapy (one could say, neighborly wisdom). Rogers felt that self-concept is reliant on conditions of worth (Ryckman, 2013, p. 323). This unconditional positive regard is a perspective that exhibits genuine care and utter lack of judgement (p. 342) that is a major part of the therapeutic process. Rogers even goes so far as saying that client-centered therapy may be perceived as cult like and that it operates on faith (Rogers, 1965, p. 22), though results in case studies speak to the power of this in therapeutic practice (p. 23). 

Social Self/True Self, and Congruence. Rogers’ emphasis on congruence between a true self and a social self (Ryckman, 2013, p. 323) is an interesting aspect of psychology that remains in many discussions today. A further concept extremely useful in psychology is congruence, that is, the experiential alignment with self-image, where strained alignment can lead to negative behaviors.

Summary. While Rogers’ works are replete with self/atta attestation, and personified with regard to qualities of a therapy, counter-intuitively Rogers receives the highest esteem regarding cognate renunciation. The incongruence therefore between self/identity in Rogers’ theory and practice, while seemingly at odds, presents evidence for cognate renunciation in the moment of unconditional positive regard, the actual therapy seems congruent to anatta in its ability to “evaporate” transference and counter-transference behavior, and inversely proportional to identification behaviors. In this regard it would seem as if, like other therapists, separateness and togetherness, is gone beyond, leaving a quality of unconditional positive regard renouncing judgement and holding objective/subjective phenomena in esteem, therefore Rogers receives the highest mark in esteem in a specific case and a middling mark in the general sense due to thick densities of self-view riddling behavioral activities.

Rollo May. May’s interest in and application of existentialism to psychology is highly beneficial in the field. While additional details will be withheld for future study, considering that existentialism questions the very objective/subjective experience of living beings, it is very compatible with cognate renunciation as any investigation here would theoretically continue the theme of increasing magnitude and direction of depersonalization, therefore no further analysis of May’s will be reviewed, or is necessary, at this time. 


Overall, it would seem that the “behind the scenes” therapy sessions are more valuable in the evidence of authentic in the moment applications of what-a-therapist-actually-does, rather than a cogent theory within which concept and description may offer reasonable explanations and ability to predict outcomes of individual and social behaviors, as a result of its stimulus intervention and contingency reinforcements, and the resulting social-aggregations of these as functions, interactions, and conflicts, borrowing from the three sociological perspectives (Witt, 2017). 

Freud’s realization of stopping countertransference, Horney’s stopping of the tyranny of should, Skinner’s objective realization of a sea of environmental condition, Rotter’s realization of conditioning, Bandura’s realization of reciprocal determinism, Rogers’ application of unconditional positive regard, and May’s realization of the value of existential inquiry into who one truly is are all valuable in supporting cognate renunciation. It would seem that these are arriving in anatta, and validate the renunciation of identification processes, right in the moment to arrive at liberation from ignorantly taking behavior as who one is; this is quite a contingency on cooling a planet.

On the flipside, falsifiability of anatta seems to come via false attribution in that some psychologists and theories assert self/atta, though how could the falsifiability be truly proven, when Skinner, Rotter, and Bandura, amongst others demonstrate quite empirically, that cognitive thoughts arise from environmental conditioning (inclusive of one’s physiology and cognitions). It would seem the proof is in the proverbial pudding of psychology is not in the description, but in the arrival, right in the room of a therapist and a client modeling neighbors establishing healthy friendship, and the outcomes of letting go of any and all form of identification of identities, as these change as the friends of psychosocial dynamic face challenges of daily life together in coming, and apart in the going. Where redirecting energy to healthy management of challenges and skills of living, respect to individual, herd, society, and environment is conditioned, gone beyond identity. Therefore, in final assessment, all psychotherapists reviewed receive high marks in assisting to exemplify a procedure of cognate renunciation, though some reformulate self-view with respect to positive social (“we”) benefitting cognitions. Yet, as is seen in history, “we” implies a “they”. Negativity and high energy consumption in adorning, maintaining, and marketing a positive “I” and a positive “we” in conflict with a perceived negative “you” and “they”. It would seem that the behavioralists, such as Skinner seemed most keen, rejecting all matter of self-making, favoring low entropic expenditures in living, protecting the environment, and each other, just as Buddhist monks, Christian ascetics, Muslim mystics, Taoist sages, and Native shaman had realized for tens of thousands of years, without imperialist psychodynamic theories yet fully aware of a practice gone beyond attachments to identity, and removing, and uprooting, any, and all form, of conceit, of self, and to those rare, of even we.


It is a sincere wish, truly, that this is beneficial to limitless beings, because the damage of automation in servicing the demand to more rapidly change the surfaces of atta by way of a marketplace of conceits consuming untoward amounts of energy to arrive right back where beings started, to encourage the process again, seems terribly wasteful and profitable to the diminishing few. Professing favorites and unfavorites here would only exacerbate afflictive behavior and seem to cause more harm than good, so this has been refrained from, instead, favoring objectivity rather than emotive sensitivity. Now, what’s going to be interesting to research, and study, is if, on a meta-level, in the field of psychosocial behavior, is there a functional equivalent of a sympathetic and parasympathetic aspect to psychosocial dynamic? If so, do the majority of theories as organized around cognate renunciation (deaxialized self/we/brand) demonstrate correlation between perceived and observed afflict, in seeking an optimal diminishment velocity of cognate renunciation within distributions of therapeutic theater. I am reasonably confident that it is the case, and I cannot eject, nor wish to, deny spiritual tradition; as above, so below.

It is within this cognitive frame of relativity with every permutation of personality, that each being operates upon and that psychologists and psychiatrists manage for those that so desire assistance with. Now, it would be ignorant to claim that the field of psychology doesn’t help those that do not desire it, for one need only visit a business section of a bookstore, study psychology, and look around, and realize, that the world has been and is heavily influenced by theories, and changes reciprocally. Even today’s economic system of leadership behavior has been influenced by psychological theories, and entire enterprises are moved in the wakes of policies and procedures of them. The social psychologist is urged to step back further and look at the influence of theoretical dramas and plays projected of its theories onto society, and realize, that it is, just as much part of, and conditioning the reality, terrible, or great that the world is, today, where psychology stands in the judgements of results, rather than its inheritance of esteem, misattributed. It’s not as if Skinner’s messaging didn’t provide ample warning.

I would urge future studies in the area of cognate renunciation, and offer, with regard to Baddeley and Hitch’s (1974) working memory model, that it seems plausible that cognate renunciation is a skill modeled to and from the central executive as a weapon against ignorance and is thereby tasked to inversely edit operations in the phonological loop and visio-spatial scratch pad so as to model Roger’s emergent being. This changing of perspective is presumed kaleidoscopic, in that the shifting of percepts in examining phenomena realizes that none of this is actually “us”, and the entire conversation of “we” as a factoral valence of self, and other, is most likely the correlate of the greater ills of “us” vs. “them”. Minimizing the genesis of identity forming thoughts, may ultimately arrive in the newly designed world of Skinner’s (1971) better designed environments rather than ecologically damaging (p. 82) ever-increasing transactions in search of better and more frequent changes of selves free, and we’s dignified, only to be at the hand of Skinner, skinned, revealing truly, at last, that the emperor has no clothes; imperialist psychology overheats planets, it’s time to let it go, and be satisfied with biological evolution rather than technological evolution.


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