Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   




  Psychology (Greek psyche, ‘soul’, ‘mind’ + logos, ‘a discourse’), the attempt to understand and conceptualize the workings of the mind, goes back to the time of the shamans and primitive healers. It was a subject given consideration by the ancient Greeks and connected to rituals. Psychology was a branch of philosophy until break-throughs in the 19th century enabled it to lay claim to being a scientific study with practical application and to develop a professional class working with the established schools of thought.

Research has revealed that among ‘primitive’ and ancient peoples there were aspects not dissimilar to modern psychologies. The shaman undergoes a long initiation as an introduction into the spirit world, inhabited by the forces believed to be creators of psychological disturbance. Treatments for finding the lost soul, in exorcism, or for extracting disease ‘objects’ (the cause of symptoms and malaise) contained many ritual elements: the actions themselves were manifestations of a belief system. This operated on the basis of the individual reacting to or being affected by forces from outside only, none (except parasitic demons) from within. Modern psychopathology, the study and theory of abnormal mental functioning looks at mental dysfunctioning and its relation to physical symptoms. Modern psychologists and therapists also require long training in psychological concepts. They are initiated into complex belief-systems which encompass all aspects of mind and its behaviours, and they set up practices which reflect these different sets of ideas in their day-to-day work, that is, the couch (transference), length of session (boundaries), method of reply (interpretation).

Also important both for the shamans of the past and for psychologists and therapists today is the healer\'s faith in his or her abilities after long training in special secret or difficult knowledge and traditions. It is also essential for all the traditions that the definition of mental disease and the acknowledged method of healing are recognized by the social group and that the patients have faith in the healers\' abilities. Psychiatry (medical psychology), psychoanalysis (Freudian psychology), analytical psychology (Jungian psychology), or psychotherapy (drawing on different schools) deal with mental disturbances and illnesses unexplained by physical examination.

The Christian church used what could, by hindsight, be described as psychological ideas and methods to address mental disturbance, which they named obsession and possession. Mental disturbance was seen as a struggle in the individual between opposing divine forces. Ritual, based in a belief in exorcism, and the power of the healing confessional were used to combat evil.

The ancient Greeks were concerned with psychology in their search to define the ideal society and the ideal citizen. The Roman thinker Quintilian (1st century  CE) thought it best to look at the actual nature of developing individuals and to pay attention to their needs and abilities; to beat them less and let them learn through play. This was a precursor of modern developmental psychology, an area of modern research which has produced many different conceptual models of childhood development, drawing on sociological ideas as well as the concepts of the various schools of psychology that have developed since the work of Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939).

Modern psychology starts with the discovery of mesmerism (animal magnetism) which in turn led to the discovery of hypnosis. The phenomenon of hypnosis pointed the way to the scientific discovery of the unconscious and marks the beginning of the great psychodynamic therapies which concieve mind as a dynamic interplay between conscious and unconscious mental processes.

Hypnosis was discovered by a French nobleman Puysequr who investigated the experiments of F.A. Mesmer. By the mid-19th century investigations in hypnotism had established a number of genuine hpnotic effects including amnesia, suggestion, paralysis and anaesthesia. These were later discovered to have a marked similarity to the condition of mental patients suffering from paralysis and hysteria, and this connection was later investigated by the French neurologist Jean Charcot and by Sigmund Freud, the architect of psychoanalysis and the father of all modern psychodynamic, psychological movements.

Psychoanalysis is Freudian psychology. Freud developed its key concepts in the course of fifty years\' work. These concepts are the defence mechanisms, free association, interpretation resistance, transference and unconscious. He discovered that dreams are the ‘royal road’ to the unconscious and was the first person to understand the nature of infantile sexuality found in the reminiscences of his adult patients. Freud\'s model of mind is a scientific, mechanistic one which therefore has elements of determinism. Later theories like those of , Jacques Lacan (1901 - 1981) reinterpreted Freud using linguistic models of thought.

, Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) was a pupil of Freud who widened the concept of the unconscious to that of the collective unconscious. He broke with Freud because of Freud\'s adherence to the exclusively sexual nature of the libido, or psychic energy. Jung saw psychology, not as a struggle with the unconscious but as a process through history which creates archetypes representing the primitive and instinctual self that are experienced through dreams. Other important Jungian concepts are the anima and animus (the male and female parts of the psyche), the development of the self through introversion and extraversion, and the presence of the shadow self.

, Alfred Adler (1870 - 1937), another pupil of Freud, broke off in another direction, regarding human beings as socially oriented and human behaviour as only understandable in the context of the group. He also had a teleological view, identifying people\'s long- and short-term goals. His view was holistic and individual psychology stresses the importance of the mind-body relationship. He maintained that the inferiority complex, which describes a sense of no-place being replaced by a striving for superiority to be behind much neurosis. Adler developed a theory of masculine protest which placed the inferiority complex and other mental problems into anthropological as well as psychological perspective.

The work of Freud and his disciples has been developed by many followers, notably , Melanie Klein (1882 - 1960) whose work in child psychoanalysis led her to develop the concepts of the depressive position and paranoid-schizoid position, which she believed to be the experience of every young infant. , Anna Freud (1895 - 1982) also worked in child analysis, but came to different conclusions and developed an ego psychology, a theory of stages of development.

Behaviourism, a complete departure from the psychodynamic theories of Freud, Jung and Adler, was formulated at the beginning of this century and sees mental disturbance as a form of faulty learning and conditioning. It does not believe in unconscious mental forces, but works instead with behavioural patterns.

Cognitive therapy, which was developed in the 1950s, focuses on the individual as a conscious being, at the mercy neither of unconscious drives nor of the environment. Another major movement was in existential psychology, where psychiatrists such as R.D. Laing used phenomenology as an underlying philosophy to his psychological work.

All these and many other conceptual psychologies, such as gestalt, make up the various conceptual models that inform modern psychology and psychotherapy, and are used in practice both as separate schools and eclectically. MJ

See also anger; anxiety; autism; autonomy; castration anxiety; character analysis; compulsion; counselling; depression; ego psychology; fantasy; fixation; id, ego and superego; infant sexuality; oral, anal and phallic stages; personal construct theory; primal therapy; regression; spiritualism.Further reading Elliott Aronson, The Social Animal; , Henri F. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious; , H.J. Eysenck, Psychology is about People; , L.S. Hearnshaw, The Shaping of Modern Psychology; , E.R. Hilgard and , R.C. Atkinson, Introduction to Psychology.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
Psychology Of Perception


Other Terms : Stoicism | Transformation | Analysis
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us