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History of Psychology as a Science

What is the history of psychology as a science and what is its importance - read in our article.

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The history of psychology as a science has long roots, but the main contribution to its development was made by scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries, who were able to study the human psyche as extensively as possible, but still not to the end.

History of Psychology from Antiquity to Modern Times

At different historical stages, researchers have understood various phenomena-including the soul, consciousness, behavior, etc.-as the subject of psychology.

The first attempts to study the human psyche can be observed in antiquity. It was from that time that the understanding of psychology as the study of the soul came, and this definition was held until the eighteenth century.

For example, the materialist Democritus believed that the soul consisted of atoms and was subject to the laws of nature because it was part of nature. The idealist Plato believed the soul to be immortal and incorporeal. His writings made it possible to apply the psychological approach to many religious, pedagogical, and philosophical movements. The famous work of the time was Aristotle’s “On Soul”, in which he systematized the ideas of ancient scientists, understanding under the soul something incorporeal, due to which a person is able to think and feel.

The medieval scientists Avicenna and Leonardo da Vinci viewed the human psyche in the context of anatomico-physiological structure.

The second period in the development of psychology belongs to the New Age (seventeenth and nineteenth centuries), when they began to study consciousness rather than the soul.

The works of René Descartes, who studied human behavior by analogy with the laws of mechanics, were of great importance. He is also credited with the notion of reflex. Benedict Spinoza, John Locke and their contemporaries were interested in how consciousness works, how memory, emotions and sensations affect it.

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History of psychology from the nineteenth century to the present day

History of psychology from the nineteenth century to the present day

The third stage is characterized by the emergence of science as a distinct experimental vector, which occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

The foundation of experimental psychology was laid by Wilhelm Wundt, who opened a psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig. Wundt was interested in psychology through the prism of anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. His ideas were reflected in the studies of Edward Titchener, who laid the groundwork for structural psychology.

As can be seen from the definition, Titchener studied the structures and elements of consciousness. His opponent, William James, believed that psychology had a functional purpose and therefore needed to study the functions of consciousness, through which the body’s adaptation to the world takes place.

In psychology, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the following current trends had taken shape: behaviorism, psychoanalysis, and Gestalt psychology.

Behaviorism as a trend was developed by John Watson, who focused on behavior as the body’s response to external stimuli. The father of psychoanalysis is traditionally considered Sigmund Freud, whose followers developed and supplemented his ideas – Alfred Adler, Erich Fromm, Erik Erikson and others. Psychoanalysis explored three spheres of the psyche: the conscious, the unconscious and the subconscious.

Gestalt psychology was discovered by Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler, who studied the psyche in terms of gestalts as holistic structures.

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