Psychology as a study discipline

Psychology is the science of mind, brain and behavior. In other words we can say Psychology is the science of mental life. Psychology is an academic as well as applied discipline. The study of psychology involves systematic study of mental functions and behavior. People who study Psychology are called Psychologists. Research in Psychology strives to understand and explain thought, emotion and behavior.

Psychology is very much like Biology, a study area in natural sciences discipline. Like Biologists (people who study Biology), Psychologists also study the abilities, requirements, and behavior of human beings and other animals. Psychologists emphasize more on functionalities of nervous system, primarily the brain.

In social sciences category Psychology relates with Anthropology and Sociology. Like Anthropologists and Sociologists, Psychologists study the human behavior in social contrast, i.e. how the attitude and behavior of individual affects human society. Psychologists mainly focus on individual human behavior, the beliefs and feelings, which especially affects an individual’s actions. 

Psychology also relates with Psychiatry, which is a medical science.    

Like many other study areas Psychology have broad and diverse study fields. Following are mentioned some major study and research areas of Psychology-

Abnormal Psychology- this branch of psychology studies abnormal human behavior and psychopathology. Special focus is given to different sorts of mental problems. This sub field of psychology also relates with psychotherapy and clinical psychology. Mental health professionals uses the Diagnosistic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) to diagnose mental disorders

Biological Psychology- this branch of Psychology also known as biopsychology focuses on biological processes which influences the mind and behaviors. Closely related with neurosciences this area uses like MRI and PET scans to find brain disorders.

Clinical Psychology – This branch of Psychology focuses on assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders.

Cognitive Psychology- This branch of Psychology teaches topics such as attention, memory, perception, decision-making, problem solving, and language acquisition.

Comparative Psychology- This branch of Psychology study psychology related with animal behavior. The systematic study of animal behavior leads to better understanding of human psychology.

Developmental Psychology- This branch of psychology studies human growth and development over the life span. Emphasis is given on cognitive abilities, morality, social working, identity and many other areas of life.

Forensic Psychology- this is an applied area of psychology and focuses on using results from psychological researches in the legal and criminal justice system.

Industrial Psychology- this is an applied area of psychology. The study encompasses work efficiency, right selection of employees, enhancing product design and widening product usability.    

Personality Psychology- this branch of Psychology focuses on various aspects of an individual’s persona.

School Psychology- this branch of psychology teaches how to help learners with emotional, social and academic issues.

Social Psychology- this branch of psychology studies range of subjects including group behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior, conformity, aggression, and prejudice.

The systematic study of brain, mind and behavior started in ancient Greece. Well-known Greek Philosopher Aristotle believed that body was separate entity from the mind. He propagated the thought that mind makes people to reason and hence mind is the source of highest human qualities. This is how psychology begins. In Greek Language psyche means mind or soul and logia means study that’s how the term Psychology derived. During middle age scholars studied psychology from religious viewpoint and not scientific; philosophers of 16th and 17th centuries contributed immensely for the development of psychology.

Rene Descartes, a French Philosopher, Mathematician and Politician defined the body and mind as separate entities that strongly affect each other. He observed that the communication involving body and mind took place in the pineal gland, a tiny organ in the brain. Thinkers including Thomas Hobbes and John Locke of England, David Hume of Scotland, and George Berkeley of Ireland, believed the mind is empty at birth.

In the mid-1800's, two German scientists--the physiologist Johannes P. Muller and the physicist and physiologist Hermann L. F. von Helmholtz—started the first systematic studies of sensation and perception. These scientists first showed that the physical developments underlying mental activity could be studied scientifically. Through the work of these scientist the psychology started getting recognition as a science subject. However, till late 18th century it has not developed as a complete scientific subject based on observations and experiments.

In 1875, the American philosopher William James founded the world's first psychology laboratory. Later in 1879 Wilhelm Wundt established a similar laboratory and published the first journal of experimental psychology. The findings of James and Wundt marked the beginning of psychology as a diverse field separate from philosophy. From the late 1800's until the 1930's four major areas of psychology developed. These schools were (1) structuralism, (2) behaviourism, (3) Gestalt psychology, and (4) psychoanalysis.

John B. Watson, an American psychologist, introduced behaviourism in 1913. During the mid-20th century, the American psychologist B. F. Skinner gained popularity for his behaviourist ideas. Freud developed numerous procedures to carry repressed feelings to the level of conscious awareness. Modern psychology has included numerous teachings from the past.

In educational settings psychology taught right from the school and available as a study subject generally from class 11th standard onwards. Different universities teach psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate level and awards degree like bachelor in arts, master in arts, doctor of philosophy etc. Psychology is equally popular among sciences and humanities group learners. Psychology learners after successful completion of course work gets opportunities to work with different government and private agencies.

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