Thaddus E. Weckowicz

Canadian psychologist

Thaddus E. (Teddy) Weckowicz (c. 19192000) was a Polish-Canadian social scientist, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Theoretical Psychology at the University of Alberta, and Research Associate, Center for Systems Research, University of Alberta.


  • In recent years, the studies of the effects of drugs on the behavior of animals have been playing an increasingly important role. Animal studies have been an advantage over studies with human subjects because better control of experimental variables and a possibility of using a wider range of the doses. It is also permissible to administer toxix compounds to animals. One can interfere surgically with various parts of the central nervous system while investigating the effects of the drugs. The whole field of comparative psychopharmacology has been recently reviewed
    • Weckowicz (1967) "Chapter VI - Animal Studies of Hallucinogenic Drugs" in: Abram Hoffer, Humphry Osmond (1967) The hallucinogens. p. 555

Depersonalization, (1970)

Weckowicz (1970) "Chapter 6. Depersonalization" in: Symptoms of psychopathology: a handbook Charles G. Costello ed.
  • Depersonalization is a concept difficult to delineate. It can be regarded as a symptom or as a loosely associated group of symptoms that occurs in psychiatric patients. It can be induced experimentally and also occurs spontaneously in normal subjects. A major obstacle to clearer definition of this concept lies in the fact that it refers to exceedingly private events in the individual's experience. These prove very difficult to describe by a language geared to the description of public (consensually validated) events or private events, such as pain, that occur usually in clearly defined social settings. When it comes to describing and conveying something as ineffable as depersonalization or derealization, the subject resorts to metaphors, "as if" expressions, and figures of speech. The result is semantic confusion. Different authors mean different things when they use the term depersonalization.
    The concept of depersonalization merges by imperceptible degrees with the concept derealization, the concept of altered body image and self, deja vu, jamais vu, altered time and space perception and so on - the whole gamut of phenomenological description of the experiences of mental patients. Therefore, it is rather difficult to evaluate and to review objectively the psychiatric literature on the phenomena of depersonalization.
    • p. 171
  • There are several definitions of Depersonalization, which are really descriptions of the symptom. The one offered by Schilder (1914) is perhaps most clear and precise. It is given here in a free English translation: The individual feels totally different from his previous being; he does not recognise himself as a person. His actions seem automatic, he behaves as if he were an observer of his own actions. The outside world appears to him strange and new and it has lost the character if reality. The self does not behave any longer in its former way."
    From this definition it can be seen that the core of the symptom is a change in appearance, a "strangeness" of the object of experience: either the self or the external world or both. There is also a disturbance in the subject-object relationship producing perplexity and interfering with the smooth flow of conscious experience. These aspects of depersonalization are stressed in one form or another by all the investigators of this phenomenon.
    • p. 171

Models of Mental Illness (1984)

Thaddus E. Weckowicz (1984) Models of Mental Illness: Systems and Theories of Abnormal Psychology. See also review by Joseph Zubin
  • Grossly oversimplifying, the following models of mind can be discerned in the welter of contemporary psychological theorizing. The first model of the mind is mind as an energy system. This is represented by early psychoanalytical theory, particularly by its dynamic and economic versions. It has also represented by ecologists (Tinbergen, 1951) and by drive reduction theorists. In this model, the stress is on the concept of motivation, conceived as drive. Common to the theories that regard mind as an energy system are the ideas of homeostasis and closed system. The metaphor of energy is often used by motivation theorists who view drives, instincts, and needs as types of forces.
    • p. 102
  • The second model is the functionalist model of mind. The organism through acquired S-R responses or through operations on the environmental manages to stay alive and adjust itself to the environment. The Thorndykian and Skinnerian approaches to learning and the adaptive model of the psychoanalytical theory come under this heading.
    • p. 102
  • The third model regards mind as an information processing system. This is the model of mind subscribed to by cognitive psychologists and also to some extent by the ego psychologists. Since an acquisition of information entails maximization of negative entropy and complexity, this model of mind assumes mind to be an open system.
    • p. 102
  • The fourth model of mind, closely related to the previous one, is the structuralist model, as represented by Piaget, Chomsky, Levi-Strauss, and the structural-developmental version of the psychoanalytical theory. This model assumes the presence of innate structures or potentialities to develop such structures. These structures are not directly experienced or observed; rather, they are inferred from the organization of cognitive processes and behaviour and also from the regularity and orderliness of development. The development proceeds through The development proceeds through well defined stages. There are two versions of the structuralist development model. In the preformist version, the structures exist in potential form at birth and only actualize themselves in the maturation-development process. In the epigenetic version, the structures develop in a dialectic interaction with the environment. The final outcome us not completely determined at births but also depends on the environmental factors.
    • p. 102-103
  • The behaviourist motto is "cure the symptoms and you have eliminated the neurosis." Consequently, the behaviour therapist's approach is straightforward. He deals with definite complaints of patients such as fears of certain situations, tics, or obsessional thoughts, which are considered by him to be bad habits. His remedy for them is to use definite and explicit retraining procedures.
    • p. 138, partly cited in: Erica Cockrell (2013) "Psychodynamic Therapy" at
  • The previous chapters presented models of mental illness that were based on the biological, behavior, and the social sciences. Although in the past two centuries the scientific outlook has had a great appeal, its application to the human mind and society has encountered widespread criticism. The critics often argue that the legal and political system of out society is based on the assumption of individual freedom, moral responsibility, and mutual obligations of its citizens. They argue further that subjective meanings and value judgements are the essential features of human experience.
    • p. 245
  • The models of mental illness to be discussed in this chapter come from different philosophical traditions. They do not conform to one conceptual pattern and do not constitute one particular theory. They have in common an attitude towards the mental patient and his problems.
  • The preceding chapters described various models of mental illness. Seven major varieties of models have been described. Seven major varieties of models have been described. Three are scientific: medical, psychological, and sociocultural. Four are philosophical-moral: hermeneutic-linguistic, phenomenological- existential, humanistic, and moral-legal. Most of these major varieties can be divided into more circumscribed models giving rise to a total number of fifteen. In turn, some of these may be further divided into submodels. Thus, there are three psychodynamic, three behaviouristic, two cognitive, two macro- and two microsocial, two linguistic-symbolic, # two phenomenological, two humanistic, two hypersanity, and three moral-legal submodels. The detailed classification of the models of mental illness is presented in Tabel II.
  • In short, there can be different perspectives, broader or narrower, dealing with particular aspects of people - the biological, psychodynamic, societal, and so on. These perspectives, however are of limited scope and usefulness, although each serves a purpose. Single perspectives do not present the complete view of human beings and do not tell the whole truth about them. Each perspective abstracts certain aspects of the whole person. Each perspective complements one another without exhausting the totality of knowledge about the full meaning of human existence.

Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972) (1989)

T.E. Weckowicz (1989). Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972): A Pioneer of General Systems Theory. Working paper Feb 1989.
  • Ludwig von Bertalanffy, a distinguished biologist, occupies an important position in the intellectual history of the twentieth century. His contributions went beyond biology, and extended to psychology, psychiatry, sociology, cybernetics, history and philosophy. Some of his admirers even believe that von Bertalanffy's general systems theory could provide a conceptual framework for all these disciplines.
    • p. 2
  • There are two kinds of thinkers, scholars and scientists. The first are the 'trail blazers' who propose new revolutionary ideas, point to new directions for scientific and intellectual developments, create new paradigms of science and scholarship, but leave the details to others. The second are those who follow the new trail, carry out careful experimentation and research within the established paradigm, and work out the precise formulations of theories in a particular domain of knowledge.
    • p. 2
  • Thomas Kuhn (1962) in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions divides all scientists into those who create new paradigms of science and those who work within the established paradigms. The same division may be applied to scholars and philosophers, namely into those who create new paradigms and into those who work within the established ones.
    • p. 2, footnote 4.
  • Von Bertalanffy's Ph.D. thesis was on the philosophy of Gustav Theodor Fechner, an epigon of the Philosophy of Nature movement, who was also the founder on psychophysics and experimental esthetics, Fechner, like all the other Philosophers of Nature rejected the reductionist-atomist view of nature. He believed that the universe was a living system existing at a higher level than man. It was governed in addition to the law of causality by the laws of 'stability' and of 'repetition.' These three principles causality, stability and repetition governed biological and psychological phenomena.
    • p. 3
  • During that period von Bertalanffy as a young scholar was not only interested in biology and philosophy of science. He was also interested in history and generally in humanities. He studied Oswald Spengler's theory of history and has written a paper on this topic. His interest in Spengler's theory of history anticipated von Bertalanffy's lifelong attempts to reconcile sciences with humanities.
    • p. 4
  • Von Bertalanffy also studied the works of Nicholas of Cusa, a neo-Platonist Renaissance philosopher, on whom he wrote a book. Cusanus, who had a lasting influence on von Bertalanffy, may be regarded as a precursor of general systems theory. Nicholas of Cusa rejected Aristotelianism dominant in theology and philosophy at the end of the middle ages and adopted neo-Platonist ideas and even went back to the philosophy of Anaxogoras, a pre-Socratic philosopher. Anaxogoras said that 'everything was everything else.' Therefore all categories of thinking were relative and all contradictions only apparent. According to Cusanus the knowledge of infinite God cannot be grasped by human mind it can only be approached from different directions. The idea of God has many aspects which appear to be contradictory. It is similar to a human face which may present different appearances when perceived from different perspectives.
    • p. 4
  • Another influence of that period was the philosophy of Idealistic Positivism of Hans Vaihinger. Von Bertalanffy met Vaihinger in Vienna and for a time, as a student, lived in his house.10 According to the philosophy of Idealistic Positivism absolute truths and ideal norms of human conduct did not exist, rather man created them as fictions important for the individual and social survival. The idea of relativity of truths and norms postulated by Vainhinger bore a similarity to the relativism of different points of view and categories of thinking postulated by Nicholas of Cusa. The philosophies of Cusanus and Vaihinger were undoubtedly instrumental in shaping von Bertalanffy's 'perspectivist' epistemology and his idea of relativity of categories.
    • p. 5

A History of Great Ideas in Abnormal Psychology, (1990)

T.E. Weckowicz, H. Liebel-Weckowicz (1990) A History of Great Ideas in Abnormal Psychology. Elsevier, 23 apr. 1990.
  • As indicated by its title "A History of Great Ideas in Abnormal Psychology", this book is not just concerned with the chronology of events or with biographical details of great psychiatrists and psychopathologists. It has as its main interest, a study of the ideas underlying theories about mental illness and mental health in the Western world. These are studied according to their historical development from ancient times to the twentieth century.
    The book discusses the history of ideas about the nature of mental illness, its causation, its treatment and also social attitudes towards mental illness. The conceptions of mental illness are discussed in the context of philosophical ideas about the human mind and the medical theories prevailing in different periods of history. Certain perennial controversies are presented such as those between the psychological and organic approaches to the treatment of mental illness, and those between the focus on disease entities (nosology) versus the focus on individual personalities. The beliefs of primitive societies are discussed, and the development of early scientific ideas about mental illness in Greek and Roman times. The study continues through the medieval age to the Renaissance. More emphasis is then placed on the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, the enlightenment of the eighteenth, and the emergence of modern psychological and psychiatric ideas concerning psychopathology in the twentieth century.
    • Introduction text.
  • When one turns to psychological models of mental illness, one finds that the psychodynamic model of human mind and of mental disease is also of considerable antiquity. Thus, Empedocles of Agrigentum (490-430 B.C.) from whom Hippocrates took the theory of four elements, stressed the importance of emotions of love and hate as the controlling agents of human behavior and of physiological functions.
    • p. 23
  • Plato (427-347 B.C.) in his philosophical writings, stressed the inner psychological reality in contrast to the reality of the external world. He believed that the human soul consists of three parts. 1) The rational soul, which resided in the brain. 2) The anima soul, controlling emotions and passions, was located in the chest. 3) The vegetative soul, controlling physiological needs, was located in the abdomen, When dreams occurred in sleep, the irrational soul reasserted themselves.
    • p. 23
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