Well, they are “psychological” from the perspective of modern psychology. But given that there is no distinction between thoughts, emotions, and feelings in Pāḷi I’m not sure that “psychological” is applicable here. I’m not sure that there is a “the mind” that “has qualities”.
I just mean psychological in a broad sense, as in the account/order of the mind- the logos of the psyche. I don’t know a whole lot about modern psychology.
But anyway, the mind has qualities in some sense, perhaps I could find a better phrase but the satipatthana sutta instructs us to know a mental state characterized by greed, hate, and delusion as such:
Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu citte cittānupassī viharati? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu sarāgaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘sarāgaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (1)
Vītarāgaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘vītarāgaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (2)
Sadosaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘sadosaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (3)
Vītadosaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘vītadosaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (4)
Samohaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘samohaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (5)
Vītamohaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘vītamohaṃ cittan’ti pajānāti. (6) - MN10
I did read your blog the other day about how mind as a container metaphor doesn’t work for early buddhism, but in any case certainly there are mental events that include greed etc. within them or as a characteristic of them in some sense.
What you are describing are mental events that arise and cease in the moment. You cannot destroy something which is so very contingent to start with. What you do is prevent them from arising in response to sense contact.
The suttas define nibbana like this:
Katamañca, bhikkhave, nibbānaṃ? Yo, bhikkhave, rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo—idaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, nibbānaṃ.
“And what, bhikkhus, is extinguishment? The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this is called extinguishment. - SN43.34
Khaya, the term translated as destruction in the Pali Dictonary:
Khaya [Sk. kṣaya to kṣi, kṣiṇoti & kṣiṇāti; cp. Lat. situs withering, Gr. fqi/sis, fqi/nw, fqi/w wasting. See also khepeti under khipati] waste, destruction, consumption; decay, ruin, loss; of the passing away of night VvA 52; mostly in applied meaning with ref. to the extinction of passions & such elements as condition, life, & rebirth - Dictionary
As for preventing them from arising:
Kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu suvimuttapañño hoti? Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ‘rāgo me pahīno ucchinnamūlo tālāvatthukato anabhāvaṅkato āyatiṃ anuppādadhammo’ti pajānāti, doso me pahīno … pe … ‘moho me pahīno ucchinnamūlo tālāvatthukato anabhāvaṅkato āyatiṃ anuppādadhammo’ti pajānāti. Evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu suvimuttapañño hoti. (10)
(10) “And how is a bhikkhu well liberated by wisdom? Here, a bhikkhu understands: ‘I have abandoned lust, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising; I have abandoned hatred … abandoned delusion, cut it off at the root, made it like a palm stump, obliterated it so that it is no more subject to future arising.’ It is in this way that a bhikkhu is well liberated by wisdom. - AN10.20
It seems that there is a sense in which the unwholesome roots persist as an underlying tendency which is why they needed to be rooted out and destroyed. And it also seems that the unwholesome roots have been permanently removed by the arahant, there is nothing further to be done according to the suttas, no need to prevent them from arising. This is the definition of nibbana and liberation.
I’m just not sure that describing this process as “psychology” is meaningful because the modern concept of psychology is so very far removed from the Iron Age worldview of the suttas.
To me that’s a minor point, I take it that the meaning of a word is its use, so if we use psychology as a term in a way compatible with the worldview of the suttas then great, but if it is too confusing since the dominant use is too caught up in modern notions, then I’m fine with shying away from that term.