The study to be reported here is unusual in various ways. It was not planned as an ordinary research; it was not a social venture but a private one, motivated by my own curiosity and pointed toward the solution of various personal moral, ethical, and scientific problems. I sought only to convince and to teach myself (as is quite proper in a personal quest) rather than to prove or to demonstrate to others. For this reason, it has no “design.”
Quite unexpectedly, however, these studies have proved to be so enlightening, and even startling to me (and a few others), that it seems fair that some sort of report should be made to others in spite of this and other shortcomings.
At first I had thought that I could present the lessons I had learned, without reference to their technically questionable source, simply by a series of discrete and independent “theoretical” papers. Some of these have appeared and more will in the future. But even these papers suggested that it would be more honest to indicate the “data” from which they sprang, for in actuality I considered them empirical reports rather than theoretical constructions.
Finally, I consider the problem of psychological health to be so pressing, that any leads, any suggestions, any bits of data, however moot, are endowed with a certain temporary value. This kind of research is in principle so difficult — involving as it does a kind of lifting oneself by one’s axiological bootstraps — that if we were to wait for conventionally reliable data we should have to wait forever. It seems that the only manly thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually. At present the only alternative is simply to refuse to work with the problem. Accordingly, for whatever use can be made of it, the following report is presented with due apologies to those who insist upon conventional reliability, validity, sampling, etc. Continue reading