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Types of Dualism

One form of dualism, called interactionism, claims that the mind and body interact. That is, the mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind. According to this interactionistic conception, the mind is capable of initiating behavior. This was the position taken by Descartes. The psychoanalysts, from Freud to the present, are also interactionists. For them, many bodily ailments are psychogenic, caused by mental events such as anxiety or depression.

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Another popular way of explaining mind–body relationships is through emergentism, which claims that mental states emerge from physical brain states. A common analogy is how the unique qualities of water (its wetness, its boiling point, its density, etc.) emerge when hydrogen and oxygen combine— elements without those qualities. The emergent properties of water then are analogous to mind, as something that arises from the right sort of physical substrate (brain). One kind of emergentism claims that once mental events emerge from brain activity, the mental events can influence subsequent brain activity and thus behavior. Because of the postulated reciprocal influence between brain activity (body) and mental events (mind), this kind of emergen- tism represents interactionism. Nobel-prize winner Roger Sperry (1993), for example, advocated this kind of emergentism.

Another form of emergentism that is not interactionist is epiphenomenalism. According to the epiphenomenalist, the brain causes mental events, but mental events cannot cause behavior. In this view, mental events are simply by-products (epiphenomena) of brain processes with no abil- ity to exert any influence.

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