1: Brief History

As it turns out, I’m taking AP Psychology this year. The topic of psychology, I think, interests a lot of people, so I thought I might share some of my notes here for the viewing enjoyment of whatever public actually reads my blog. C:

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Below is a brief history of pre-scientific psychology.

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Stone Age
Belief: people attributed irregular behavior to the work of “evil spirits”
Solution: some societies chiseled holes into the affected persons’ skulls in order to release the demons

Ancient Egypt
Belief: humans are inhabited by “Ka” — a metaphysical manifestation of the human mind, described as a tiny human figure that can be seen by staring deeply into a person’s eyes

Ancient Greece
Famous Person: Hippocrates, “father of medicine”; first to view the mind + body as connected entities
Belief: human body + behavior is ruled by the four humours (body fluids) — blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile
Explanation: reason for mental abnormality is a chemical imbalance
Contribution: first step to a scientific approach of psychology

Middle Ages
– a step backwards
Belief: people attributed irregular behavior to the work of “evil spirits”

(1800’s)
Trend: phrenology, the study of bumps on the human head; correlated to human behavior

(1850’s)
Famous Person: Darwin sailed the world to observe animals + their environment
Contribution: first theory that environment affects behavior

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To be continued…

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~ by sublunaryxsoul on September 7, 2008.

3 Responses to “1: Brief History”

  1. Re: psychoanalysis. It is not that psychoanalysis is “nonscientific.” It is that all explanations of mind as determined by inner causes are unproveable by controlled studies. All the evidence is internal and can only be felt, thought, and talked about–through words and metaphors. Psychoanalysis may or may not contain useful ideas, but if science must have external proofs, then it is easy to dismiss and discredit it as nonscientific. Most people in the talking therapy business are using ideas from psychoanalysis to very good effect.

  2. No, the practice and theories of psychoanalysis are nonscientific. “Scientific” would be defined as an objective investigation of phenomena in which concrete evidence or observations can be collected. As you’ve said, the “evidence” for psychoanalysis is subjective and personal, pertaining only to those who are willing to believe it. For example, there is no concrete proof of an “unconscious mind,” and for those who choose not to believe that it exists, it doesn’t. There is no concrete, physical, or logical evidence that can be shoved in their faces to prove its reality. Likewise, there’s no assurance that “uncovering unconscious conflicts” will solve a problem — in fact, it is possible that these “painful” truths will only make the condition worse. Psychoanalysis is largely based on theory, conjecture, and perspective; the results of psychoanalysis are not guaranteed or backed by concrete scientific proof.

    Thus, psychoanalysis /is/ nonscientific, for the most basic reason that its principles cannot be proven using observable or logical evidence. That said, it’s not to say that psychoanalysis is complete bull crap and must be disregarded. It does have some useful theories, and it does offer possible methods of correcting psychological problems — but, again, these are only /theories/, and these solutions are only /possible/.

  3. Psychoanalysis is nonscientific. However, “nonscientific” is not equivalent in meaning to “useless” or “disregardable.”

    But, thanks for the comment. I wasn’t aware that people actually /read/ my useless and disregardable bloglets. C:

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