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History of Psychology

History of Psychology

Although Psychology might seem like a new discipline with its inclusion of alternative medicine, psychology has its roots with Hippocrates. It is with living a healthy lifestyle, or being a health nut that is the craze in these modern times, but also in Hippocrates times as well, health, or living with a salubrious and healthy conscious mind was the aim of the day. In the following page, a look at the history of Psychology will be presented, including the following:

  • Where psychology received its roots
  • How Hippocrates devised a healthy lifestyle in his time
  • How body health transfers to modern medicine and psychology

Other alternative medicines and assessments will also be included in the dissection of Psychology. A brief overview of the western approach to medicine, the beliefs and attitudes of alternative medicine and how naysayers and yes-men approach holistic medicine will also be included. There are many factors which are involved in the discipline of Psychology and how it is approached, in what behavioral function and cognitive attitudes that applied will be thoroughly processed.

As the ancestors of modern psychology, early perspectives on psychology offer insight into psychology's theoretical foundation. Although the influence of major players like Freud and Jung are obvious, less known but equally valuable in their own way are the theories of Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and others. The theories of structuralism, functionalism, and psychodynamics for which they are responsible have some similarities, but are more than anything a sort of dialogue amongst the scientific minds of the early twentieth century.

In 1879 Wilhelm Wundt began the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig, Germany, which was a revolutionary act in itself. As a pioneer of treating psychology as a science, he based his theory on rudimentary experiments and the concept of elementism. Calling his theory structuralism, he attempted to experimentally derive elements of consciousness, basic components out of which all human conceptions can be created. Wundt attempted to catalogue these basic pieces of consciousness, using a method called introspection. Through the help of his students, he wrote the results of their attempts to describe objects of consciousness in their most basic terms.


LATE 1950s

Psychology: Dominance of Freudian concepts, but emergence of behaviorism and humanistic psychology.

Political: Mood is still conservative, but this conservatism is eroding at the edges.

Cultural: An era of anxiety ("the Bomb") and mass conformity, but the latter is beginning to diminish

1954 - Maslow uses the term "self-actualization."

1955 - Skinner turns to the study of human behavior.

1956 - Whyte's The Organization Man published.

1957 - Kerouack's On the Road published.

1958 - May's "The Origin and Significance of the Existential Movement in Psychology" published.


Psychology: Behavioral therapeutic techniques of modification and programmed instruction developed. Writings of humanistic psychologists begin to gain a large audience, particularly among the young.

Political: A period of turmoil and upheaval with respect to Civil Rights and the Vietnam War.

Cultural: The rise of a vigorous counter-culture based on an ethos of individualism, humanism, and "freedom."

1961 - Rollo May's Existential Psychology published. Heller's Catch-22 published.

1963 - Project Camelot.

1965 - Large American troop movements to Vietnam begin.

EARLY 1970s

A continuation of the psychological, political, and cultural manifestations of the 1960s, but the intensity of all three diminishes as America winds down the war in Vietnam and the counter-culture fades and becomes quasi-institutionalized. In the later part of the decade a new conservatism reasserts itself and there is a kind of "return to normalcy." However, both behaviorism and humanistic psychology remain in vogue as the psychoanalytical movement begins to fade.

Psychology has been immensely influential on the minds of modern Western society. Although Wundt and James were much less influential over time, their work still stands as a stone in the foundation of modern psychology. Freud, on the other hand, radically altered the world with his theories. An example of just how much the world was changed as a result of Freud's work is to realize that whenever someone talks about doing something "unconsciously" or when someone refers to being "egotistical", s/he is using Freudian terms

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