The Growth Of Psychology

2927 mots 12 pages
The growth of psychology

Psychology broke away from philosophy and physiology and emerged as a separate discipline just over 100 years ago. In the past century, this young and fertile discipline has undergone a series of expansions in both subject matter and research methods. The tremendous growth of psychology is perhaps best portrayed y examining a few of the major ideas about its fundamental nature as they have been elaborated over the years.

1. Psychology as the study of conscious experience

Psychology had its formal beginnings in Leipzig, Germany, where Wilhelm Wundt founded the first psychological laboratory in 1879. Wundt is regarded as the first psychologist, as opposed to the philosopher or physiologist who was also interested in psychology. He stringently limited the subject matter to the study of conscious experience. Wundt believed that all our conscious experiences are merely intricate combinations of elemental sensations- that is, intellectual towers made of sensory buildings blocks. Wundt attempted to use introspection to find the basic sensations. He trained people carefully in the technique of introspection, teaching them to observe and report the “content” or “elements” of awareness in a particular situation. In essence, Wundt’s approach to establishing a discipline of psychology was confined to analysing detailed descriptions of how people perceive things in the world, and psychology was formally defined as the study of conscious experience.

2. Psychology as the study of unconscious processes

For Sigmund Freud, a physician who practiced in Vienna until 1938, conscious experiences were only the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the surface, he believed, lay primitive biological urges that seek expression but are in conflict with the requirements of society and morality. According to Freud, these unconscious thoughts and actions; they are thus responsible for much human behavior, including many of the physical symptoms that troubled Freud’s

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