Cartesian Compromise

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Cartesian Compromise:
Bridging Psyche and Soma

Fionna Larcom

History and Systems of Psychology

Cartesian Compromise:
Bridging Psyche and Soma
Introduction
In 1995, Blaine M. Yorgason published the true story of his adopted daughter, Charity. One Tattered Angel captures the Mind/Body Problem, proclaiming the existence of the spirit (mind) and challenging the connection to the body. On August 31, 1988 the Yorgason family was asked whether they would foster a newborn who “has some health problems.”(Yorgason, 1995, p. 28) Yorgason’s first impression description of Charity is that of a tiny, adorable infant, who was perfect – at least on the outside. The family agreed to take her into their home - following some medical tests ordered by social services. The nature of Charity’s health issue was revealed accidentally by a family friend. When Kathy told her we had a new foster baby, she began waxing eloquent over a tiny baby that had been born at her hospital a couple of days before. “She was so cute!” she exclaimed. “Even though she didn’t have a brain, she was the most alert baby in the nursery, holding her head up and looking around just like she knew what she was doing.” (Yorgason, 1995, p.34)

Charity had been born without a brain but with an intact brain stem. The autonomic nervous system, used exclusively by newborn babies, is controlled by the brain stem. This was what gave Charity the illusion of normality; an illusion which would shatter in a few short weeks when function control would shift to the two hemispheres of the brain. Philosophical Mind- Body Dualism

From the Materialist perspective, a perspective that denies the existence of a psyche, Charity’s physical limitations would suggest no mind, thus no spirit, no personality; Yorgason would disagree. In her seven years of life, Charity defied the medical assertion that she “has very little potential for development beyond the infant stage.” (Yorgason, 1995, p....
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