Essay: Foundations of Psychology

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¶ … psychology: A brief history of the discipline

Psychology is technically classified as a social science. However, the scope of the discipline of psychology encompasses the work of Freud, whose emphasis on myth and the unconscious has lead him to be more often studied in literature classes -- and neuroscience, which encompasses the knowledge gleaned from the natural sciences (Nyman 2010). Psychology is thus broad in its sweep, even though the degree to which biology, sociology, or individual personality differences is emphasized varies from school to school.


All histories of the modern study of the human mind begin with Freud: Freud first conceptualized the notion of the unconscious mind, or the idea that the mind had 'secrets' the individual was not necessarily aware of, until prompted by the techniques of free association. Freud's elaborate conception of the self as structured according to the primal, desiring id; the ego which strove to actualize the id's desires, and the superego, which socially regulates human impulses; has often been criticized as scientifically unsubstantiated.

Major school 2: Behaviorism

Behaviorists like B.F. Skinner focused on observable, learned behaviors. Conditioning through stimuli, either negative or positive, was the focus of the behaviorist school of psychology. Environmental shaping, rather than cognitive structuring, was the focus of behaviorism. Behavior is 'learned' and behavior that cannot be observed and tested is irrelevant, in the behaviorist's view.

Major school 3: Humanism

In striking contrast to Skinner, humanistic psychologists such as Karl Rogers stressed the need for self-actualization in the therapeutic process. Rather than direct… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Foundations of Psychology."  April 15, 2010.  Accessed September 20, 2019.