Portal:Psychology

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International Psychoanalytic Congress, 1911
Human brain, lateral view, with brainstem

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.


Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion (affect), intelligence, phenomenology, motivation (conation), brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science" in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draws directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.


While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.

Selected article

Self-inflicted cuts on the forearm
Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue most often done without suicidal intentions. These terms are used in the more recent literature in an attempt to reach a more neutral terminology. The older literature, especially that which predates the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), almost exclusively refers to self-mutilation. The term self-harm is synonymous with the term self-injury.

The most common form of self-harm is skin-cutting but self-harm also covers a wide range of behaviors including, but not limited to, burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing (dermatillomania), hair-pulling (trichotillomania) and the ingestion of toxic substances or objects. Behaviours associated with substance abuse and eating disorders are usually not considered self-harm because the resulting tissue damage is ordinarily an unintentional side effect. However, the boundaries are not always clearly defined and in some cases behaviours that usually fall outside the boundaries of self-harm may indeed represent self-harm if performed with explicit intent to cause tissue damage. Although suicide is not the intention of self-harm, the relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex, as self-harming behaviour may be potentially life-threatening. There is also an increased risk of suicide in individuals who self-harm to the extent that self-harm is found in 40–60% of suicides. However, generalising self-harmers to be suicidal is, in the majority of cases, inaccurate. (Full article...)

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Reification.jpg
A demonstration of reification in perception
image credit: Slehar (The World In Your Head, S. Lehar (2003))

Quotes

  • "Rationalization may be defined as self-deception by reasoning." — Karen Horney

Selected biography

Jean Piaget in Ann Arbor.png
Jean Piaget (French: [ʒɑ̃ pjaʒɛ]; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".

Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that "only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual."

Piaget created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 and directed it until his death in 1980. The number of collaborations that its founding made possible, and their impact, ultimately led to the Center being referred to in the scholarly literature as "Piaget's factory."

According to Ernst von Glasersfeld, Jean Piaget was "the great pioneer of the constructivist theory of knowing." However, his ideas did not become widely popularized until the 1960s. This then led to the emergence of the study of development as a major sub-discipline in psychology. (Full article...)

Did you know...

Walter Bowart
  • ...that race car journalist and former race car driver Dr. Dick Berggren decided to stop teaching college psychology after he was called into the college president's office because he parked his racecar in the faculty parking lot?

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