Even though it can be argued that Psychology has been around for centuries, there is a definitive history over the past two hundred years which shows the formations of psychology as we know it today.
Psychology is one of the ‘Human Sciences’. The other sciences in this category are economics, sociology and anthropology. The present understanding of Psychology has grown from other disciplines such as Philosophy, Psychology and Biology. Although Psychology may be seen as a new subject, but in reality it dates back more than 2,500 years to the days of Greek Philosophers. Socrates famously said ‘Know Thyself’, and that is what Psychology aims to help us do.
Psychology as we know it has been around for about two centuries. Lets have a look at the beginnings of today’s Psychology.
- Structuralism -Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) The attempt to break sown conscious experiences down into objective sensations, such as sight or taste, and subjective such as emotional responses. Structuralists believed the mind functions by combining both objective and subjective elements of experience.
- Functionalism-William James (1842-1910) Functionalists looked at how our experiences would help us function more adaptively to our environments.
- Behaviourism-John B. Watson (1878-1958) Observable behaviour was the focus of the Behaviourists. They defined Psychology as the study of behaviour.
- Gestalt Psychology -Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Kuhler (1887-1967) Gestalts focused on perception and how this would influence thinking and problem solving. Gestalt means ‘pattern’ or ‘organized whole’.
- Psychoanalysis – Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Probably the most famous psychologist who ever lived, Sigmund Freud emphasizes the importance of the unconscious and how it affects motives and conflicts. He is also famous for his theories that sexual desire as the number one motive in humans.
This is just a basic overview of the history of psychology as we know it. We already know that there are different areas of expertise within the field of psychology. Now we know that there are also different beliefs as to what psychology actually is.