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The Historical Development of Psychology

I will be looking at the history of psychology, and by using a few examples, try to explain some of the theories that leading psychologists and scientists have concluded in their experiments and scientific studies. Psychology is, in fact, the study of the mind, how it works and what effect it has upon an individual’s thoughts and general functions, the processes of the mind will never be fully understood. Still, there has been a great breakthrough over many years, although the mind has many parts that never truly understand.

The first example I am going to look at is behaviourism; Wittgenstein (1889-1951) believes what is in mind as “over and above behaviour” He believes that if everyone were to have a box that held a beetle, and only they were allowed to look in their own box, people will talk about their boxes and perceive them to stand for a beetle as that is how they associate their boxes, he believes the boxes are like the mind, everyone has one, they are alike, but no one actually knows what either person looks like as you cannot compare them just like the mind no one knows what exactly is in them.

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The most famous experiment looking into behaviourism is by the Russian scientist I.P Pavlov (1849-1946) in which he found that by ringing a bell every time he fed the dogs in his lab, he realized that the dogs learned to associate the bell with food so therefore salivated, eventually, the dogs would salivate without the need for food as the simple ringing of the bell was enough for them to assume that the bell meant food. Therefore, salivation would occur. Not only does this form of behaviourism work with animals, but it also has the same effect on humans. Therefore it proves that a behaviour can be learned without action if you already associate that behaviour with something that you unconsciously learned before.

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There is also a psychoanalytic perspective in which Freuds(1856-1938) theory on the unconscious mind is a typical example, he believes that you must reach three elements, which are ID, EGO, and Superego which briefly explained are ID stage, he believes this is our unconscious impulse to seek instant gratification, in a way our selfishness and need for attention from others, this is also known as the Pleasure Principle, there is then the Ego Freud’s reality principle, which is the mediator between the Id and reality what we want and what we have. Finally, the Superego suppresses the Id and the Ego; it’s known as the Guilt principle, which is part of our mind that makes us feel guilty for selfish acts. Freud concludes it as the conflict theory: ID= I want biological- instinct, EGO = I can see psychological- intelligence, Superego = I ought to add social/moral – institutional v individual.

Freud also believes that we go through Psych Sexual stages from birth, which are Oral (birth), the stage at which you start suckling, Anal (2-3). This is associated with the fascination with feces potty training stage, Genital/phallatic (3-4) where children are fascinated with their genitals, Latency/forgetful (5yrs to puberty), where you forget psychosexual desires until you reach Puberty when you experience normal sexual behaviour. However, there has been criticism over Freud’s work focussing on the fact that he cannot really prove his theories, for in fact, who can really predict the unconscious mind if we ourselves cannot even do so.

The final part of psychology I am going to be looking at is Humanism, and a prime example of this is Maslow (1908-1970); Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model, which he researched between 1940-50, is still used today for understanding human motivation, basically, he put the needs of an individual into a table consisting of 5 stages. The first stage he calls Physiological needs, which is our basic needs, for example, warmth, comfort, food e.t.c, then came the second stage Safety needs, which are commonly seen in children, the need for security, protection and stability, the third stage is Love and Belongingness needs which is being loved and accepted, being able to give and take affection and feeling accepted in daily life as well as having your own identity, the fourth stage is Esteem needs, being accepted and looked up to, holding a respectable place in society and being happy with your own achievements, and finally the fifth stage Self-actualization needs, the feeling of fulfilment in life, reaching your goals and being happy with your life as a whole.

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Although people will argue the final stage because no one can ever really reach it, after all, no matter what you achieve in life, there is always something else a person will strive for as this is human instinct because no matter what you have they’ll always be something bigger and better you will want as well. Maslow said, “that the needs must be satisfied in the given order.” This study gave people a further understanding of the psychological needs of a person and their minds to survive. So as you can see from looking at a few examples of psychology and its history, it is a fascinating world of what really goes on in people’s minds; in fact, a mind is a mysterious place in which no one will ever truly understand but will continue to study. Nevertheless, the mind is the key to our existence, and without its functions, we could not survive.

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The Historical Development of Psychology. (2021, Sep 03). Retrieved July 7, 2022, from