Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Psychology has dramatically changed the world in virtually every aspect imaginable. From the way that we view criminal behavior to the role that dreams play in our waking life, psychology has revolutionized human behaviors and interactions. This kind of progress would certainly not be possible without the practitioners whose research have been driving this science forward. From scientific to metaphysical speculation, the approaches of psychologists have been dramatically diverse throughout the history of psychology.
The Father of Modern Practice
Sigmund Freud is often known by the above title. His pioneering investigation into the roles that sexuality and our relationships with our parents play in our daily decision-making process has made invaluable contributions to psychological insight. Despite the fact that he receives some abuse for his extreme emphasis on the role of sexuality, our understanding of important psychological factors such as repressions and sublimation would not be what they are today without his influence. Other members of the Freud family became influential as well. His daughter became well-known in the area of child psychology and his son was a successful portraitist.
Genius on the Fringes of his Field
Carl Jung has been extremely influential in this field regardless of the fact that his writings are left out of many of today's classrooms. He had a long relationship with Freud until they had a fallout concerning theories of roots causes for a large number of illnesses. Rather than focus on the role that sexuality could play in mental illness, Jung developed writing on an understanding of the collective unconscious and its role in inhibiting the ability of the individual to “actualize” themselves in contemporary society. Many of the techniques that formed the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous were also based on the ideas of Jung.
Ivan Pavlov laid the foundations for for what we now know to be behavioral therapy and cognitive/behaviorist analysis. By conditioning dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell through associating food with this audio stimulus, Pavlov demonstrated the strength in the relationship between stimulus, our actions, and the memory of our responses to certain stimulus in the past. Though technically not a psychologist, Pavlov's research has changed the face of modern psychology.
The Mind of a Child
Any childhood education major will be familiar with the name Jean Piaget. His investigations into childhood development have governed many of the techniques used to educate children in the classroom. From developmental skills to cognitive abilities, he helped to establish the stages of development that allow us to understand the limitations of learning for specific age groups from a technical standpoint. Erik Ericson also made considerable contributions to this area of study. However, Piaget's efforts more clearly linked these stages of development with the concept of identity that children cultivate as they develop. Piaget was also the first practicing psychologist to state that children think in ways that are vastly different from adults.
Shifting the Paradigm
Carl Rogers picked up where the Greeks and early Renaissance left off in a certain sense, shifting the focus of psychoanalysis from the Freudian model to that of a more Humanist perspective. He believed that the people being treated, rather than the prominent theory of the day, should be the focus of treatment. In other words, the patients were responsible for guiding the direction of sessions and ultimately responsible for their own healing. The client-centered counseling was revolutionary at the time. It was somewhat controversial due to the fact that it slightly undermined the stature of the practitioner. Giving power over to the patient flew in the face of the notion that the psychologist alone possessed expertise and that their methods were absolutely unquestionable.
School counselor Jen Dover enjoys sharing some of the roots of psychology as well as some of the more modern theories with her readers. Jen is also a contributing writer at School Psychologist Files, a terrific resource for those interested in becoming a school psychologist.