On This Day … 21 February

People (Births)

  • 1892 – Harry Stack Sullivan, American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (d. 1949).
  • 1914 – Jean Tatlock, American psychiatrist and physician (d. 1944).
  • 1961 – Elliot Hirshman, American psychologist and academic.

Harry Stack Sullivan

Herbert “Harry” Stack Sullivan (21 February 1892 to 14 January 1949) was an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who held that “personality can never be isolated from the complex interpersonal relationships in which [a] person lives” and that “[t]he field of psychiatry is the field of interpersonal relations under any and all circumstances in which [such] relations exist”. Having studied therapists Sigmund Freud, Adolf Meyer, and William Alanson White, he devoted years of clinical and research work to helping people with psychotic illness.

Jean Tatlock

Jean Frances Tatlock (21 February 1914 to 04 January 1944) was an American psychiatrist and physician. She was a member of the Communist Party of the United States of America and was a reporter and writer for the party’s publication Western Worker. She is most widely known for her romantic relationship with Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project’s Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II.

The daughter of John Strong Perry Tatlock, a prominent Old English philologist and an expert on Geoffrey Chaucer, Tatlock was a graduate of Vassar College and the Stanford Medical School, where she studied to become a psychiatrist. Tatlock began seeing Oppenheimer in 1936, when she was a graduate student at Stanford and Oppenheimer was a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a result of their relationship and her membership of the Communist Party, she was placed under surveillance by the FBI and her phone was tapped.

She suffered from clinical depression and committed suicide on 04 January 1944.

Elliot Hirshman

Elliot Lee Hirshman (21 February 1961) is an American psychologist and academic who is the president of Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Maryland since 03 July 2017. Prior to Stevenson University he served as president at San Diego State University and served as the provost and senior vice president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

On This Day … 12 February

People (Births)

  • 1861 – Lou Andreas-Salomé, Russian-German psychoanalyst and author (d. 1937).
  • 1918 – Norman Farberow, American psychologist and academic (d. 2015).

Lou Andreas Salome

Lou Andreas-Salomé (born either Louise von Salomé or Luíza Gustavovna Salomé or Lioulia von Salomé, Russian: Луиза Густавовна Саломе; 12 February 1861 to 5 February 1937) was a Russian-born psychoanalyst and a well-travelled author, narrator, and essayist from a Russian-German family. Her diverse intellectual interests led to friendships with a broad array of distinguished thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Paul Rée, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Norman Farberow

Norman Louis Farberow (12 February 1918 to 10 September 2015) was an American psychologist, and one of the founding fathers of modern suicidology. He was among the three founders in 1958 of the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Centre, which became a base of research into the causes and prevention of suicide.

Career

Farberow served as a World War II Air Force Captain. The war years were a time in the United States of relatively low suicide rates, a wartime phenomenon commonly observed when a nation’s armed forces and citizens unite under feelings of common purpose and mutual goals.

After completing his tour of duty in World War II, Farberow enrolled in the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA’s doctoral programme in psychology afforded Farberow an opportunity to study suicide against centuries of shifting attitudes. With few relevant references to draw upon for his 1949 dissertation, Farberow saw the potential for reawakening “interest in a long-neglected, taboo-encrusted social and personal phenomenon.” Farberow earned his doctoral degree from UCLA in 1950 while working with veterans in the Veterans Administration Mental Hygiene Clinic. He helped found the suicide prevention centre along with Robert E. Litman.

In the decade after the war, suicide rates rose quickly as the sense of unity and shared purpose began to disappear. Wrenching social and personal readjustments were often needed, and these needs were further complicated by the emotional distress and mental health problems of returning veterans. Many expressed their deepening inner turmoil in unhealthy ways, through suicidal impulses and acts. Suicide’s continuing taboo, embedded in cultural and religious condemnations of shame, guilt, self-blame and cowardice, magnified an underlying sense of worthlessness and hopelessness.

Farberow saw the effects of these dynamics and how they compounded the misery of those who were suffering. His vision for solutions grew to include fundamental and humanitarian changes to the way in which communities treated the suicidal. Soon his time as a psychotherapist became eclipsed by his continuing research on suicide with Dr. Edwin Shneidman, a colleague equally passionate about changing the understanding and prevention of self-inflicted death.

During the 1950s, the men worked together at the Veterans Administration (VA) in Los Angeles and sought answers for another jump in suicide rates – the sudden doubling of suicides among the VA’s neuropsychiatric hospital patients. At the same time, a survey they had conducted of L.A.-area hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms revealed that no provisions existed for the follow-up care of suicide attempters. Farberow and Shneidman shared their findings with the National Institute of Mental Health and the VA and proposed the creation of two agencies: a community-based Referral Centre for treating the psychological problems of the suicidal, and a Central Research Unit for assessing and investigating suicide among veterans within the VA.

On This Day … 11 February

People (Births)

  • 1925 – Virginia E. Johnson, American psychologist and academic (d. 2013).

People (Deaths)

  • 1958 – Ernest Jones, Welsh neurologist and psychoanalyst (b. 1879).

Virginia E. Johnson

Virginia E. Johnson, born Mary Virginia Eshelman (11 February 1925 to 24 July 2013), was an American sexologist, best known as a member of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team. Along with her partner, William H. Masters, she pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response and the diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunctions and disorders from 1957 until the 1990s.

Early Life

Virginia Johnson was born in Springfield, Missouri, the daughter of Edna (née Evans) and Hershel “Harry” Eshelman, a farmer. Her paternal grandparents were members of the LDS Church, and her father had Hessian ancestry. When she was five, her family moved to Palo Alto, California, where her father worked as a groundskeeper for a hospital. The family later returned to Missouri and farming. Virginia enrolled at her hometown’s Drury College at age 16, but dropped out and spent four years working in the Missouri state insurance office. She eventually returned to school, studying at the University of Missouri and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and during World War II began a music career as a band singer. She sang country music for radio station KWTO in Springfield, where she adopted the stage name Virginia Gibson.

Johnson moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she became a business writer for the St. Louis Daily Record. Eschewing a singing career, Johnson enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis, intending to earn a degree in sociology but never attaining one.

Sexological Works

Johnson met William H. Masters in 1957 when he hired her as a research assistant at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis. Masters trained her in medical terminology, therapy, and research during the years she worked as his assistant. Together they developed polygraph-like instruments that were designed to measure sexual arousal in humans. Using these tools, Masters and Johnson observed and measured about 700 men and women who agreed to engage in sexual activity with other participants or masturbate in Masters’ laboratory. By observing these subjects, Johnson helped Masters identify the four stages of sexual response. This came to be known as the human sexual response cycle. The cycle consists of the excitement phase, plateau phase, orgasmic phase, and resolution phase. In 1964, Masters and Johnson established their own independent non-profit research institution in St. Louis called the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation. The centre was renamed the Masters and Johnson Institute in 1978.

In April 2009, Thomas Maier reported in Scientific American that Johnson had serious reservations about the Masters and Johnson Institute’s programme to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals, a programme which ran from 1968 to 1977.

Personal Life

By her early 20s, Johnson had married a Missouri politician; the marriage lasted two days. She then married a much older attorney, whom she also divorced. In 1950, Johnson married bandleader George Johnson, with whom she had a boy and a girl, before divorcing in 1956. In 1971, Johnson married William Masters after he divorced his first wife. They were divorced in 1993, though they continued to collaborate professionally. Johnson died in July 2013 “of complications from several illnesses”.

Masters, who married again after his divorce from Johnson, died in 2001.

In Popular Culture

The American cable network Showtime debuted Masters of Sex, a dramatic television series based on the 2009 biography of the same name, on September 29, 2013. The series stars Lizzy Caplan as Johnson.

Ernest Jones

Alfred Ernest Jones FRCP MRCS (01 January 1879 to 11 February 1958) was a Welsh neurologist and psychoanalyst. A lifelong friend and colleague of Sigmund Freud from their first meeting in 1908, he became his official biographer. Jones was the first English-speaking practitioner of psychoanalysis and became its leading exponent in the English-speaking world. As President of both the International Psychoanalytical Association and the British Psycho-Analytical Society in the 1920s and 1930s, Jones exercised a formative influence in the establishment of their organisations, institutions and publications.

Early Career

After obtaining his medical degrees, Jones specialised in neurology and took a number of posts in London hospitals. It was through his association with the surgeon Wilfred Trotter that Jones first heard of Freud’s work. Having worked together as surgeons at University College Hospital, he and Trotter became close friends, with Trotter taking the role of mentor and confidant to his younger colleague. They had in common a wide-ranging interest in philosophy and literature, as well as a growing interest in Continental psychiatric literature and the new forms of clinical therapy it surveyed. By 1905 they were sharing accommodation above Harley Street consulting rooms with Jones’s sister, Elizabeth, installed as housekeeper. Trotter and Elizabeth Jones later married. Appalled by the treatment of the mentally ill in institutions, Jones began experimenting with hypnotic techniques in his clinical work.

Jones first encountered Freud’s writings directly in 1905, in a German psychiatric journal in which Freud published the famous Dora case-history. It was thus he formed “the deep impression of there being a man in Vienna who actually listened with attention to every word his patients said to him…a revolutionary difference from the attitude of previous physicians…”

Jones’s early attempts to combine his interest in Freud’s ideas with his clinical work with children resulted in adverse effects on his career. In 1906 he was arrested and charged with two counts of indecent assault on two adolescent girls whom he had interviewed in his capacity as an inspector of schools for “mentally defective” children. At the court hearing Jones maintained his innocence, claiming the girls were fantasising about any inappropriate actions by him. The magistrate concluded that no jury would believe the testimony of such children and Jones was acquitted. In 1908, employed as a pathologist at a London hospital, Jones accepted a colleague’s challenge to demonstrate the repressed sexual memory underlying the hysterical paralysis of a young girl’s arm. Jones duly obliged but, before conducting the interview, he omitted to inform the girl’s consultant or arrange for a chaperone. Subsequently, he faced complaints from the girl’s parents over the nature of the interview and he was forced to resign his hospital post.

Psychoanalytical Career

Whilst attending a congress of neurologists in Amsterdam in 1907, Jones met Carl Jung, from whom he received a first-hand account of the work of Freud and his circle in Vienna. Confirmed in his judgement of the importance of Freud’s work, Jones joined Jung in Zurich to plan the inaugural Psychoanalytical Congress. This was held in 1908 in Salzburg, where Jones met Freud for the first time. Jones travelled to Vienna for further discussions with Freud and introductions to the members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Thus began a personal and professional relationship which, to the acknowledged benefit of both, would survive the many dissensions and rivalries which marked the first decades of the psychoanalytic movement, and would last until Freud’s death in 1939.

With his career prospects in Britain in serious difficulty, Jones sought refuge in Canada in 1908. He took up teaching duties in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Toronto (from 1911, as Associate Professor of Psychiatry). In addition to building a private psychoanalytic practice, he worked as pathologist to the Toronto Asylum and Director of its psychiatric outpatient clinic. Following further meetings with Freud in 1909 at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Freud gave a series of lectures on psychoanalysis, and in the Netherlands the following year, Jones set about forging strong working relationships with the nascent American psychoanalytic movement. He gave some 20 papers or addresses to American professional societies at venues ranging from Boston, to Washington and Chicago. In 1910 he co-founded the American Psychopathological Association and the following year the American Psychoanalytic Association, serving as its first Secretary until 1913.

Jones undertook an intensive programme of writing and research, which produced the first of what were to be many significant contributions to psychoanalytic literature, notably monographs on Hamlet and On the Nightmare. A number of these were published in German in the main psychoanalytic periodicals published in Vienna; these secured his status in Freud’s inner circle during the period of the latter’s increasing estrangement from Jung. In this context in 1912 Jones initiated, with Freud’s agreement, the formation of a Committee of loyalists charged with safeguarding the theoretical and institutional legacy of the psychoanalytic movement. This development also served the more immediate purpose of isolating Jung and, with Jones in strategic control, eventually manoeuvring him out of the Presidency of the International Psychoanalytical Association, a post he had held since its inception. When Jung’s resignation came in 1914, it was only the outbreak of the Great War that prevented Jones from taking his place.

Returning to London in 1913, Jones set up in practice as a psychoanalyst, founded the London Psychoanalytic Society, and continued to write and lecture on psychoanalytic theory. A collection of his papers was published as Papers on Psychoanalysis, the first account of psychoanalytic theory and practice by a practising analyst in the English language.

By 1919, the year he founded the British Psychoanalytical Society, Jones could report proudly to Freud that psychoanalysis in Britain “stands in the forefront of medical, literary and psychological interest” (letter 27 January 1919 (Paskauskas 1993)). As President of the Society – a post he would hold until 1944 – Jones secured funding for and supervised the establishment in London of a Clinic offering subsidised fees, and an Institute of Psychoanalysis, which provided administrative, publishing and training facilities for the growing network of professional psychoanalysts.

Jones went on to serve two periods as President of the International Psychoanalytic Association from 1920 to 1924 and 1932 to 1949, where he had significant influence. In 1920 he founded the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, serving as its editor until 1939. The following year he established the International Psychoanalytic Library, which published some 50 books under his editorship. Jones soon obtained from Freud rights to the English translation of his work. In 1924 the first two volumes of Freud’s Collected Papers was published in translations edited by Jones and supervised by Joan Riviere, his former analysand and, at one stage, ardent suitor. After a period in analysis with Freud, Riviere worked with Jones as the translation editor of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis. She then was part of a working group Jones set up to plan and deliver James Strachey’s translations for the standard edition of Freud’s work. Largely through Jones’ energetic advocacy, the British Medical Association officially recognised psychoanalysis in 1929. The BBC subsequently removed him from a list of speakers declared to be dangerous to public morality. In the 1930s Jones and his colleagues made a series of radio broadcasts on psychoanalysis.

After Adolf Hitler took power in Germany, Jones helped many displaced and endangered Jewish analysts to resettle in England and other countries. Following the Anschluss of March 1938, Jones flew into Vienna at considerable personal risk to play a crucial role in negotiating and organising the emigration of Freud and his circle to London.

The Jones-Freud Controversy

Jones’s early published work on psychoanalysis had been devoted to expositions of the fundamentals of Freudian theory, an elaboration of its theory of symbolism, and its application to the analysis of religion, mythology, folklore and literary and artistic works. Under the influence of Melanie Klein, Jones’ work took a new direction.

Klein had made an impact in Berlin in the new field of child analysis and had impressed Jones in 1925 when he attended her series of lectures to the British Society in London. At Jones’s invitation she moved to London the following year; she soon acquired a number of devoted and influential followers. Her work had a dramatic effect on the British Society, polarising its members into rival factions as it became clear that her approach to child analysis was seriously at odds with that of Anna Freud, as set out in her 1927 book An Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis. The disagreement centred around the clinical approach to the pre-Oedipal child; Klein argued for play as an equivalent to free association in adult analyses. Anna Freud opposed any such equivalence, proposing an educative intervention with the child until an appropriate level of ego development was reached at the Oedipal stage. Klein held this to be a collusive inhibition of analytical work with the child.

Influenced by Klein, and initiating what became known as the Jones-Freud controversy, Jones set out to explore a range of interlinked topics in the theory of early psychic development. These included the structure and genesis of the superego and the nature of the feminine castration complex. He coined the term phallocentrism in a critique of Freud’s account of sexual difference. He argued together with Klein and her Berlin colleague, Karen Horney, for a primary femininity, saying that penis envy arose as a defensive formation rather than arising from the fact, or “injury”, of biological asymmetry. In a corresponding reformulation of the castration complex, Jones introduced the concept of “aphanisis” to refer to the fear of “the permanent extinction of the capacity (including opportunity) for sexual enjoyment”.

These departures from orthodoxy were noted in Vienna and were topics that were featured in the regular Freud-Jones correspondence, the tone of which became increasingly fractious. Faced with accusations from Freud of orchestrating a campaign against him and his daughter, Jones sought to allay Freud’s concerns without abandoning his new critical standpoint. Eventually, following a series of exchange lectures between the Vienna and London societies, which Jones arranged with Anna Freud, Freud and Jones resumed their usual cordial exchanges.

With the arrival in Britain of refugee German and Viennese analysts in the 1930s, including Anna Freud in 1938, the hostility between the orthodox Freudians and Kleinians in the British Society grew more intense. Jones chaired a number of “extraordinary business meetings” with the aim of defusing the conflict, and these continued into the war years. The meetings, which became known as the controversial discussions, were established on a more regular basis from 1942. By that time, Jones had removed himself from direct participation, owing to ill health and the difficulties of war-time travel from his home in Elsted, West Sussex. He resigned from the presidency of the British Society in 1944, the year in which, under the presidency of Sylvia Payne, there finally emerged a compromise agreement which established parallel training courses providing options to satisfy the concerns of the rival groups that had formed: followers of Anna Freud, followers of Melanie Klein and a non-aligned group of Middle or Independent Group analysts. It was agreed further that all the key policy making committees of the BPS should have representatives from the three groups.

Later Life

After the end of the war, Jones gradually relinquished his many official posts whilst continuing his psychoanalytic practice, writings and lecturing. The major undertaking of his final years was his monumental account of Freud’s life and work, published to widespread acclaim in three volumes between 1953 and 1957. In this he was ably assisted by his German-speaking wife, who translated much of Freud’s early correspondence and other archive documentation made available by Anna Freud. His uncompleted autobiography, Free Associations, was published posthumously in 1959.

Jones was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in 1942, Honorary President of the International Psychoanalytical Association in 1949, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree at Swansea University (Wales) in 1954.

Jones died in London on 11 February 1958, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium. His ashes were buried in the grave of the oldest of his four children in the churchyard of St Cadoc’s Cheriton on the Gower Peninsula.

What is Object Relations Theory?

Introduction

Object relations theory in psychoanalytic psychology is the process of developing a psyche in relation to others in the childhood environment. It designates theories or aspects of theories that are concerned with the exploration of relationships between real and external people as well as internal images and the relations found in them. It maintains that the infant’s relationship with the mother primarily determines the formation of its personality in adult life. Particularly, the need for attachment is the bedrock of the development of the self or the psychic organisation that creates the sense of identity.

The Theory

While object relations theory is based on psychodynamic theory, it modified it so that the role of biological drives in the formation of adult personality received less emphasis. The theory suggests that the way people relate to others and situations in their adult lives is shaped by family experiences during infancy. For example, an adult who experienced neglect or abuse in infancy would expect similar behaviour from others who remind them of the neglectful or abusive parent from their past. These images of people and events turn into objects in the unconscious that the “self” carries into adulthood, and they are used by the unconscious to predict people’s behaviour in their social relationships and interactions.

The first “object” in someone is usually an internalised image of one’s mother. Internal objects are formed by the patterns in one’s experience of being taken care of as a baby, which may or may not be accurate representations of the actual, external caretakers. Objects are usually internalised images of one’s mother, father, or primary caregiver, although they could also consist of parts of a person such as an infant relating to the breast or things in one’s inner world (one’s internalised image of others). Later experiences can reshape these early patterns, but objects often continue to exert a strong influence throughout life. Objects are initially comprehended in the infant mind by their functions and are termed part objects. The breast that feeds the hungry infant is the “good breast”, while a hungry infant that finds no breast is in relation to the “bad breast”. With a “good enough” facilitating environment, part object functions eventually transform into a comprehension of whole objects. This corresponds with the ability to tolerate ambiguity, to see that both the “good” and the “bad” breast are a part of the same mother figure.

Brief History

The initial line of thought emerged in 1917 with Ferenczi and, early in the 1930s, Sullivan, coiner of the term “interpersonal”. British psychologists Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott, Harry Guntrip, Scott Stuart, and others extended object relations theory during the 1940s and 1950s. Ronald Fairbairn in 1952 independently formulated his theory of object relations.

The term has been used in many different contexts, which led to different connotations and denotations. While Fairbairn popularised the term “object relations”, Melanie Klein’s work tends to be most commonly identified with the terms “object relations theory” and “British object relations”, at least in contemporary North America, though the influence of ‘what is known as the British independent perspective, which argued that the primary motivation of the child is object seeking rather than drive gratification’, is becoming increasingly recognised. Klein felt that the psychodynamic battleground that Freud proposed occurs very early in life, during infancy. Furthermore, its origins are different from those that Freud proposed. The interactions between infant and mother are so deep and intense that they form the focus of the infant’s structure of drives. Some of these interactions provoke anger and frustration; others provoke strong emotions of dependence as the child begins to recognise the mother is more than a breast from which to feed. These reactions threaten to overwhelm the individuality of the infant. The way in which the infant resolves the conflict, Klein believed, is reflected in the adult’s personality.

Freud originally identified people in a subject’s environment with the term “object” to identify people as the object of drives. Fairbairn took a radical departure from Freud by positing that humans were not seeking satisfaction of the drive, but actually seek the satisfaction that comes in being in relation to real others. Klein and Fairbairn were working along similar lines, but unlike Fairbairn, Klein always held that she was not departing from Freudian theory, but simply elaborating early developmental phenomena consistent with Freudian theory.

Within the London psychoanalytic community, a conflict of loyalties took place between Klein and object relations theory (sometimes referred to as “id psychology”), and Anna Freud and ego psychology. In America, Anna Freud heavily influenced American psychoanalysis in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. American ego psychology was furthered in the works of Hartmann, Kris, Loewenstein, Rapaport, Erikson, Jacobson, and Mahler. In London, those who refused to choose sides were termed the “middle school,” whose members included Michael Balint and D.W. Winnicott. A certain division developed in England between the school of Anna Freud and that of Melanie Klein, which later influenced psychoanalytic politics worldwide. Klein was popularised in South America while A. Freud garnered an American allegiance.

Fairbairn revised much of Freud’s model of the mind. He identified how people who were abused as children internalise that experience. Fairbairn’s “moral defence” is the tendency seen in survivors of abuse to take all the bad upon themselves, each believing he is morally bad so his caretaker object can be regarded as good. This is a use of splitting as a defence to maintain an attachment relationship in an unsafe world. Fairbairn introduced a four-year-old girl with a broken arm to a doctor friend of his. He told the little girl that they were going to find her a new mommy. “Oh no!” the girl cried. “I want my real mommy.” “You mean the mommy that broke your arm?” Fairbairn asked. “I was bad,” the girl replied. She needed to believe that her love object (mother) was all good, so that she could believe she would one day receive the love and nurturing she needed. If she accepted her mother was bad, then she would be bereft and alone in the world, an intolerable state. She used the Moral Defence to make herself bad, but preserve her mother’s goodness.

Kleinian Object Relations Theory

Unconscious Phantasy

Klein termed the psychological aspect of instinct unconscious phantasy (deliberately spelled with ‘ph’ to distinguish it from the word ‘fantasy’). Phantasy is a given of psychic life which moves outward towards the world. These image-potentials are given a priority with the drives and eventually allow the development of more complex states of mental life. Unconscious phantasy in the infant’s emerging mental life is modified by the environment as the infant has contact with reality.

From the moment the infant starts interacting with the outer world, he is engaged in testing his phantasies in a reality setting. I want to suggest that the origin of thought lies in this process of testing phantasy against reality; that is, that thought is not only contrasted with phantasy, but based on it and derived from it.

The role of unconscious phantasy is essential in the development of a capacity for thinking. In Bion’s terms, the phantasy image is a preconception that will not be a thought until experience combines with a realisation in the world of experience. The preconception and realization combine to take form as a concept that can be thought. The classic example of this is the infant’s observed rooting for the nipple in the first hours of life. The instinctual rooting is the preconception. The provision of the nipple provides the realisation in the world of experience, and through time, with repeated experience, the preconception and realisation combined to create the concept. Mental capacity builds upon previous experience as the environment and infant interact.

The first bodily experiences begin to build up the first memories, and external realities are progressively woven into the texture of phantasy. Before long, the child’s phantasies are able to draw upon plastic images as well as sensations – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, touch, taste, smell images, etc. And these plastic images and dramatic representations of phantasy are progressively elaborated along with articulated perceptions of the external world.

With adequate care, the infant is able to tolerate increasing awareness of experience which is underlain by unconscious phantasy and leads to attainment of consecutive developmental achievements, “the positions” in Kleinian theory.

Projective Identification

As a specific term, projective identification is introduced by Klein in “Notes on some schizoid mechanisms.”

[Projection] helps the ego to overcome anxiety by ridding it of danger and badness. Introjection of the good object is also used by the ego as a defence against anxiety. . . .The processes of splitting off parts of the self and projecting them into objects are thus of vital importance for normal development as well as for abnormal object-relation. The effect of introjection on object relations is equally important. The introjection of the good object, first of all the mother’s breast, is a precondition for normal development . . . It comes to form a focal point in the ego and makes for cohesiveness of the ego. . . . I suggest for these processes the term ‘projective identification’.

Klein imagined this function as a defence which contributes to the normal development of the infant, including ego structure and the development of object relations. The introjection of the good breast provides a location where one can hide from persecution, an early step in developing a capacity to self-soothe.

Ogden identifies four functions that projective identification may serve. As in the traditional Kleinian model, it serves as a defence. Projective identification serves as a mode of communication. It is a form of object relations, and “a pathway for psychological change.” As a form of object relationship, projective identification is a way of relating with others who are not seen as entirely separate from the individual. Instead, this relating takes place “between the stage of the subjective object and that of true object relatedness”.

The Paranoid-Schizoid and Depressive Positions

The positions of Kleinian theory, underlain by unconscious phantasy, are stages in the normal development of ego and object relationships, each with its own characteristic defences and organizational structure. The paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions occur in the pre-oedipal, oral phase of development.

In contrast to Fairbairn and later Guntrip, Klein believed that both good and bad objects are introjected by the infant, the internalisation of good objects being essential to the development of healthy ego function. Klein conceptualised the depressive position as “the most mature form of psychological organisation”, which continues to develop throughout the life span.

The depressive position occurs during the second quarter of the first year. Prior to that the infant is in the paranoid-schizoid position, which is characterised by persecutory anxieties and the mechanisms of splitting, projection, introjection, and omnipotence – which includes idealising and denial – to defend against these anxieties. Depressive and paranoid-schizoid modes of experience continue to intermingle throughout the first few years of childhood.

Paranoid-Schizoid Position

The paranoid-schizoid position is characterised by part object relationships. Part objects are a function of splitting, which takes place in phantasy. At this developmental stage, experience can only be perceived as all good or all bad. As part objects, it is the function that is identified by the experiencing self, rather than whole and autonomous others. The hungry infant desires the good breast who feeds it. Should that breast appear, it is the good breast. If the breast does not appear, the hungry and now frustrated infant, in its distress, has destructive phantasies dominated by oral aggression towards the bad, hallucinated breast.

Klein notes that in splitting the object, the ego is also split. The infant who phantasies destruction of the bad breast is not the same infant that takes in the good breast, at least not until obtaining the depressive position, at which point good and bad can be tolerated simultaneously in the same person and the capacity for remorse and reparation ensue.

The anxieties of the paranoid schizoid position are of a persecutory nature, fear of the ego’s annihilation. Splitting allows good to stay separate from bad. Projection is an attempt to eject the bad in order to control through omnipotent mastery. Splitting is never fully effective, according to Klein, as the ego tends towards integration.

Depressive Position

Klein saw the depressive position as an important developmental milestone that continues to mature throughout the life span. The splitting and part object relations that characterise the earlier phase are succeeded by the capacity to perceive that the other who frustrates is also the one who gratifies. Schizoid defences are still in evidence, but feelings of guilt, grief, and the desire for reparation gain dominance in the developing mind.

In the depressive position, the infant is able to experience others as whole, which radically alters object relationships from the earlier phase. “Before the depressive position, a good object is not in any way the same thing as a bad object. It is only in the depressive position that polar qualities can be seen as different aspects of the same object.” Increasing nearness of good and bad brings a corresponding integration of ego.

In a development which Grotstein terms the “primal split”, the infant becomes aware of separateness from the mother. This awareness allows guilt to arise in response to the infant’s previous aggressive phantasies when bad was split from good. The mother’s temporary absences allow for continuous restoration of her “as an image of representation” in the infant mind. Symbolic thought may now arise, and can only emerge once access to the depressive position has been obtained. With the awareness of the primal split, a space is created in which the symbol, the symbolised, and the experiencing subject coexist. History, subjectivity, interiority, and empathy all become possible.

The anxieties characteristic of the depressive position shift from a fear of being destroyed to a fear of destroying others. In fact or phantasy, one now realises the capacity to harm or drive away a person who one ambivalently loves. The defences characteristic of the depressive position include the manic defences, repression and reparation. The manic defences are the same defences evidenced in the paranoid-schizoid position, but now mobilised to protect the mind from depressive anxiety. As the depressive position brings about an increasing integration in the ego, earlier defences change in character, becoming less intense and allowing for in increased awareness of psychic reality.

In working through depressive anxiety, projections are withdrawn, allowing the other more autonomy, reality, and a separate existence. The infant, whose destructive phantasies were directed towards the bad mother who frustrated, now begins to realise that bad and good, frustrating and satiating, it is always the same mother. Unconscious guilt for destructive phantasies arises in response to the continuing love and attention provided by caretakers.

[As] fears of losing the loved one become active, a very important step is made in the development. These feelings of guilt and distress now enter as a new element into the emotion of love. They become an inherent part of love, and influence it profoundly both in quality and quantity.

From this developmental milestone come a capacity for sympathy, responsibility to and concern for others, and an ability to identify with the subjective experience of people one cares about. With the withdrawal of the destructive projections, repression of the aggressive impulses takes place. The child allows caretakers a more separate existence, which facilitates increasing differentiation of inner and outer reality. Omnipotence is lessened, which corresponds to a decrease in guilt and the fear of loss.

When all goes well, the developing child is able to comprehend that external others are autonomous people with their own needs and subjectivity.

Previously, extended absences of the object (the good breast, the mother) was experienced as persecutory, and, according to the theory of unconscious phantasy, the persecuted infant phantasies destruction of the bad object. The good object who then arrives is not the object which did not arrive. Likewise, the infant who destroyed the bad object is not the infant who loves the good object.

In phantasy, the good internal mother can be psychically destroyed by the aggressive impulses. It is crucial that the real parental figures are around to demonstrate the continuity of their love. In this way, the child perceives that what happens to good objects in phantasy does not happen to them in reality. Psychic reality is allowed to evolve as a place separate from the literalness of the physical world.

Through repeated experience with good enough parenting, the internal image that the child has of external others, that is the child’s internal object, is modified by experience and the image transforms, merging experiences of good and bad which becomes more similar to the real object (e.g. the mother, who can be both good and bad). In Freudian terms, the pleasure principle is modified by the reality principle.

Melanie Klein saw this surfacing from the depressive position as a prerequisite for social life. Moreover, she viewed the establishment of an inside and an outside world as the start of interpersonal relationships.

Klein argued that people who never succeed in working through the depressive position in their childhood will, as a result, continue to struggle with this problem in adult life. For example: the cause that a person may maintain suffering from intense guilt feelings over the death of a loved one, may be found in the unworked- through depressive position. The guilt is there because of a lack of differentiation between phantasy and reality. It also functions as a defence mechanism to defend the self against unbearable feelings of sadness and sorrow, and the internal object of the loved one against the unbearable rage of the self, which, it is feared, could destroy the internal object forever.

Further Thinking Regarding the Positions

Wilfred Bion articulates the dynamic nature of the positions, a point emphasised by Thomas Ogden, and expanded by John Steiner in terms of ‘”The equilibrium between the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions”‘. Ogden and James Grotstein have continued to explore early infantile states of mind, and incorporating the work of Donald Meltzer, Ester Bick and others, postulate a position preceding the paranoid-schizoid. Grotstein, following Bion, also hypothesizes a transcendent position which emerges following attainment of the depressive position. This aspect of both Ogden and Grotstein’s work remains controversial for many within classical object relations theory.

Death Drive

Sigmund Freud developed the concept object relation to describe or emphasize that bodily drives satisfy their need through a medium, an object, on a specific focus. The central thesis in Melanie Klein’s object relations theory was that objects play a decisive role in the development of a subject and can be either part-objects or whole-objects, i.e. a single organ (a mother’s breast) or a whole person (a mother). Consequently, both a mother or just the mother’s breast can be the focus of satisfaction for a drive. Furthermore, according to traditional psychoanalysis, there are at least two types of drives, the libido (mythical counterpart: Eros), and the death drive, mortido (mythical counterpart: Thanatos). Thus, the objects can be receivers of both love and hate, the affective effects of the libido and the death drive.

Ronald Fairbairn’s Six Ego Positions

Fairbairn posited six ego positions or inner voices, or 3 pairs:

  • The Whole Ego relating to the Good Object, is the healthy inner child relating to the patient and nurturing inner parent.
    • This is the part of the inner world that object relations therapists try to expand and grow.
  • The Antilibidinal Ego relating to the Bad Object, is the depressed, angry or hopeless inner child relating to the rejecting or neglectful inner parent.
    • Whenever someone speaks in a tantrum-like way they are speaking from the Antilibidinal Ego, and they are speaking to the Bad Object.
    • Whenever someone is overly critical and harshly judgmental they are speaking from the Bad Object part of their personality, and are speaking to the Antilibidinal Ego (hopeless inner child).
  • The Libidinal Ego relating to the Exciting Object, is the gullible and overly hopeful inner child relating to the exciting over-promising inner parent.
    • Whenever a person goes back to their cheating or abusive spouse they are operating from their Libidinal Ego and relating to the Exciting Object in their inner worlds.
    • Whenever they are in an addiction they are treating whatever they are addicted to as if it were an Exciting Object.

The Fairbairnian object relations therapist imagines that all interactions between the client and the therapist are occurring in the client’s inner object relations world, in one of the three dyads. If the client thinks the therapist is wise and compassionate the therapist sees this as an interaction between the client’s Libidinal Ego and Exciting Object. If the client is angry at the therapist for not meeting the client’s needs, the therapist might see it as an interaction between the client’s Antilibidinal Ego and the Bad Object. The therapist might ask the client if this particular interaction reminds the client of something from childhood.

The Fairbairnian object relations therapist also uses his/her own emotional reactions as therapeutic cues. If the therapist is feeling irritated at the client, or bored, he/she might interpret that as a re-enactment of the Antilibidinal Ego and the Bad Object, with the therapist cast in the role of Bad Object. If the therapist can patiently be an empathic therapist through the client’s re-enactment, then the client has a new experience to incorporate into their inner object world, hopefully expanding their inner picture of their Good Object. Cure is seen as the client being able to receive from their inner Good Object often enough to have a more stable peaceful life.

The Fairbairnian object relations Therapist also uses their mistakes in the therapy. If the therapist has absent mindedly made a mistake that hurts the client, the therapist admits the mistake, and empathizes with the client’s pain, but instead of apologising, the therapist asks: How did this mistake in therapy re-enact a childhood scene?

Numerous research studies have found that most all models of psychotherapy are equally helpful, the difference mainly being the quality of the individual therapist, not the theory the therapist subscribes to. Object Relations Theory attempts to explain this phenomenon via the theory of the Good Object. If a therapist can be patient and empathic, most clients improve their functioning in their world. The client carries with them a picture of the empathic therapist that helps them cope with the stressors of daily life, regardless of what theory of psychology they subscribe to.

Continuing Developments in the Theory

Attachment theory, researched by John Bowlby and others, has continued to deepen our understanding of early object relationships. While a different strain of psychoanalytic theory and research, the findings in attachment studies have continued to support the validity of the developmental progressions described in object relations. Recent decades in developmental psychological research, for example on the onset of a “theory of mind” in children, has suggested that the formation of the mental world is enabled by the infant-parent interpersonal interaction which was the main thesis of British object-relations tradition (e.g. Fairbairn, 1952).

While object relations theory grew out of psychoanalysis, it has been applied to the general fields of psychiatry and psychotherapy by such authors as N. Gregory Hamilton and Glen O. Gabbard. In making object relations theory more useful as a general psychology N. Gregory Hamilton added the specific ego functions to Otto F. Kernberg’s concept of object relations units.

What is the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association?

Introduction

The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association is a bi-monthly peer-reviewed healthcare journal covering all aspects of psychoanalysis and is the official journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

Details

  • 1953 to present.
  • Bi-monthly.
  • English language.

Abstracting and Indexing

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association is abstracted and indexed in, among other databases: SCOPUS, and the Social Sciences Citation Index.

According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 0.538, ranking it 4th out of 12 journals in the category “Psychology, Psychoanalysis”, and 130th out of 142 journals in the category “Psychiatry (SSCI)”.

Website

What is Integrative Psychotherapy?

Introduction

Integrative psychotherapy is the integration of elements from different schools of psychotherapy in the treatment of a client.

Integrative psychotherapy may also refer to the psychotherapeutic process of integrating the personality: uniting the “affective, cognitive, behavioural, and physiological systems within a person”.

Background

Initially, Sigmund Freud developed a talking cure called psychoanalysis; then he wrote about his therapy and popularised psychoanalysis. After Freud, many different disciplines splintered off. Some of the more common therapies include: psychodynamic psychotherapy, transactional analysis, cognitive behavioural therapy, gestalt therapy, body psychotherapy, family systems therapy, person-centred psychotherapy, and existential therapy. Hundreds of different theories of psychotherapy are practiced (Norcross, 2005, p.5).

A new therapy is born in several stages. After being trained in an existing school of psychotherapy, the therapist begins to practice. Then, after follow up training in other schools, the therapist may combine the different theories as a basis of a new practice. Then, some practitioners write about their new approach and label this approach with a new name.

A pragmatic or a theoretical approach can be taken when fusing schools of psychotherapy. Pragmatic practitioners blend a few strands of theory from a few schools as well as various techniques; such practitioners are sometimes called eclectic psychotherapists and are primarily concerned with what works. Alternatively, other therapists consider themselves to be more theoretically grounded as they blend their theories; they are called integrative psychotherapists and are not only concerned with what works, but why it works (Norcross, 2005, p.8).

For example, an eclectic therapist might experience a change in their client after administering a particular technique and be satisfied with a positive result. In contrast, an integrative therapist is curious about the “why and how” of the change as well. A theoretical emphasis is important: for example, the client may only have been trying to please the therapist and was adapting to the therapist rather than becoming more fully empowered in themselves.

Different Routes to Integration

The most recent edition of the Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (Norcross & Goldfried, 2005) recognized four general routes to integration: common factors, technical eclecticism, theoretical integration, and assimilative integration (Norcross, 2005).

Common Factors

The first route to integration is called common factors and “seeks to determine the core ingredients that different therapies share in common” (Norcross, 2005, p.9). The advantage of a common factors approach is the emphasis on therapeutic actions that have been demonstrated to be effective. The disadvantage is that common factors may overlook specific techniques that have been developed within particular theories. Common factors have been described by Jerome Frank (Frank & Frank, 1991), Bruce Wampold (Wampold & Imel, 2015), and Miller, Duncan and Hubble (2005). Common factors theory asserts it is precisely the factors common to the most psychotherapies that make any psychotherapy successful.

Some psychologists have converged on the conclusion that a wide variety of different psychotherapies can be integrated via their common ability to trigger the neurobiological mechanism of memory reconsolidation in such a way as to lead to deconsolidation (Ecker, Ticic & Hulley 2012; Lane et al. 2015; Welling 2012 – but for a more hesitant view of the role of memory reconsolidation in psychotherapy see the objections in some of the invited comments in: Lane et al. 2015).

Technical Eclecticism

The second route to integration is technical eclecticism which is designed “to improve our ability to select the best treatment for the person and the problem…guided primarily by data on what has worked best for others in the past” (Norcross, 2005, p.8). The advantage of technical eclecticism is that it encourages the use of diverse strategies without being hindered by theoretical differences. A disadvantage is that there may not be a clear conceptual framework describing how techniques drawn from divergent theories might fit together. The most well known model of technical eclectic psychotherapy is Arnold Lazarus’ (2005) multimodal therapy. Another model of technical eclecticism is Larry E. Beutler and colleagues’ systematic treatment selection (Beutler, Consoli, & Lane, 2005).

Theoretical Integration

The third route to integration commonly recognised in the literature is theoretical integration in which “two or more therapies are integrated in the hope that the result will be better than the constituent therapies alone” (Norcross, 2005, p.8). Some models of theoretical integration focus on combining and synthesizing a small number of theories at a deep level, whereas others describe the relationship between several systems of psychotherapy. One prominent example of theoretical synthesis is Paul Wachtel’s model of cyclical psychodynamics that integrates psychodynamic, behavioural, and family systems theories (Wachtel, Kruk, & McKinney, 2005). Another example of synthesis is Anthony Ryle’s model of cognitive analytic therapy, integrating ideas from psychoanalytic object relations theory and cognitive psychotherapy (Ryle, 2005). Another model of theoretical integration is specifically called integral psychotherapy (Forman, 2010; Ingersoll & Zeitler, 2010). The most notable model describing the relationship between several different theories is the transtheoretical model (Prochaska & DiClemente, 2005).

Assimilative Integration

Assimilative integration is the fourth route and acknowledges that most psychotherapists select a theoretical orientation that serves as their foundation but, with experience, incorporate ideas and strategies from other sources into their practice. “This mode of integration favours a firm grounding in any one system of psychotherapy, but with a willingness to incorporate or assimilate, in a considered fashion, perspectives or practices from other schools” (Messer, 1992, p.151). Some counsellors may prefer the security of one foundational theory as they begin the process of integrative exploration. Formal models of assimilative integration have been described based on a psychodynamic foundation (Frank, 1999; Stricker & Gold, 2005) and based on cognitive behavioural therapy (Castonguay, Newman, Borkovec, Holtforth, & Maramba, 2005).

Govrin (2015) pointed out a form of integration, which he called “integration by conversion”, whereby theorists import into their own system of psychotherapy a foreign and quite alien concept, but they give the concept a new meaning that allows them to claim that the newly imported concept was really an integral part of their original system of psychotherapy, even if the imported concept significantly changes the original system. Govrin gave as two examples Heinz Kohut’s novel emphasis on empathy in psychoanalysis in the 1970s and the novel emphasis on mindfulness and acceptance in “third-wave” cognitive behavioural therapy in the 1990s to 2000s.

Other Models that Combine Routes

In addition to well-established approaches that fit into the five routes mentioned above, there are newer models that combine aspects of the traditional routes.

Clara E. Hill’s (2014) three-stage model of helping skills encourages counsellors to emphasize skills from different theories during different stages of helping. Hill’s model might be considered a combination of theoretical integration and technical eclecticism. The first stage is the exploration stage. This is based on client-centred therapy. The second stage is entitled insight. Interventions used in this stage are based on psychoanalytic therapy. The last stage, the action stage, is based on behavioural therapy.

Good and Beitman (2006) described an integrative approach highlighting both core components of effective therapy and specific techniques designed to target clients’ particular areas of concern. This approach can be described as an integration of common factors and technical eclecticism.

Multitheoretical psychotherapy (Brooks-Harris, 2008) is an integrative model that combines elements of technical eclecticism and theoretical integration. Therapists are encouraged to make intentional choices about combining theories and intervention strategies.

An approach called integral psychotherapy (Forman, 2010; Ingersoll & Zeitler, 2010) is grounded in the work of theoretical psychologist and philosopher Ken Wilber (2000), who integrates insights from contemplative and meditative traditions. Integral theory is a meta-theory that recognises that reality can be organised from four major perspectives: subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective. Various psychotherapies typically ground themselves in one these four foundational perspectives, often minimising the others. Integral psychotherapy includes all four. For example, psychotherapeutic integration using this model would include subjective approaches (cognitive, existential), intersubjective approaches (interpersonal, object relations, multicultural), objective approaches (behavioural, pharmacological), and interobjective approaches (systems science). By understanding that each of these four basic perspectives all simultaneously co-occur, each can be seen as essential to a comprehensive view of the life of the client. Integral theory also includes a stage model that suggests that various psychotherapies seek to address issues arising from different stages of psychological development (Wilber, 2000).

The generic term, integrative psychotherapy, can be used to describe any multi-modal approach which combines therapies. For example, an effective form of treatment for some clients is psychodynamic psychotherapy combined with hypnotherapy. Kraft & Kraft (2007) gave a detailed account of this treatment with a 54-year-old female client with refractory IBS in a setting of a phobic anxiety state. The client made a full recovery and this was maintained at the follow-up a year later.

Comparison with Eclecticism

In Integrative and Eclectic Counselling and Psychotherapy (Woolfe & Palmer, 2000, pp.55 & 256), the authors make clear the distinction between integrative and eclectic psychotherapy approaches: “Integration suggests that the elements are part of one combined approach to theory and practice, as opposed to eclecticism which draws ad hoc from several approaches in the approach to a particular case.” Psychotherapy’s eclectic practitioners are not bound by the theories, dogma, conventions or methodology of any one particular school. Instead, they may use what they believe or feel or experience tells them will work best, either in general or suiting the often immediate needs of individual clients; and working within their own preferences and capabilities as practitioners (Norcross & Goldfried, 2005, pp.3-23).

References

  • Beutler, L.E., Consoli, A.J. & Lane, G. (2005). Systematic treatment selection and prescriptive psychotherapy: an integrative eclectic approach. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.121-143). New York: Oxford.
  • Brooks-Harris, J.E. (2008). Integrative Multitheoretical Psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
  • Castonguay, L.G., Newman, M.G., Borkovec, T.D., Holtforth, M.G. & Maramba, G.G. (2005). Cognitive-behavioral assimilative integration. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.241-260). New York: Oxford.
  • Ecker, B., Ticic, R. & Hulley, L. (2012). Unlocking the Emotional Brain: Eliminating Symptoms at Their Roots Using Memory Reconsolidation. New York: Routledge.
  • Forman, M.D. (2010). A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy: Complexity, Integration, and Spirituality in Practice. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Frank, J.D. & Frank, J.B. (1991). Persuasion and Healing: A Comparative Study of Psychotherapy (3rd Ed). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
  • Frank, K.A. (1999). Psychoanalytic Participation: Action, Interaction, and Integration. Mahwah, NJ: Analytic Press.
  • Good, G.E. & Beitman, B.D. (2006). Counseling and Psychotherapy Essentials: Integrating Theories, Skills, and Practices. New York: W.W. Norton.
  • Govrin, A. (2015). Blurring the threat of ‘otherness’: integration by conversion in psychoanalysis and CBT. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration. 26(1), pp.78-90.
  • Hill, C.E. (2014). Helping Skills: Facilitating Exploration, Insight, and Action. 4th Ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Ingersoll, E. & Zeitler, D. (2010). Integral Psychotherapy: Inside Out/Outside In. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Kraft T. & Kraft D. (2007). Irritable bowel syndrome: symptomatic treatment approaches versus integrative psychotherapy. Contemporary Hypnosis, 24(4), pp.161-177.
  • Lane, R.D., Ryan, L., Nadel, L. & Greenberg, L.S. (2015). Memory reconsolidation, emotional arousal and the process of change in psychotherapy: new insights from brain science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, pp.e1.
  • Lazarus, A.A. (2005). Multimodal therapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration. 2nd Ed. pp.105-120). New York: Oxford.
  • Messer, S.B. (1992). A critical examination of belief structures in integrative and eclectic psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross, & M. R. Goldfried, (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (pp.130-165). New York: Basic Books.
  • Miller, S.D., Duncan, B.L. & Hubble, M.A. (2005). Outcome-informed clinical work. In J.C. Norcross, & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp. 84-102). New York: Oxford.
  • Norcross, J.C. (2005). A primer on psychotherapy integration. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.3-23). New York: Oxford.
  • Norcross, J.C. & Goldfried, M.R. (Eds) (2005). Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed). New York: Oxford.
  • Prochaska, J.O. & DiClemente, C.C. (2005). The transtheoretical approach. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.147-171). New York: Oxford.
  • Ryle, A. (2005). Cognitive analytic therapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.196-217). New York: Oxford.
  • Stricker, G. & Gold, J. (2005). Assimilative psychodynamic psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.221-240). New York: Oxford.
  • Wachtel, P.L., Kruk, J.C. & McKinney, M.K. (2005). Cyclical psychodynamics and integrative relational psychotherapy. In J.C. Norcross & M.R. Goldfried (Eds), Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd Ed, pp.172-195). New York: Oxford.
  • Wampold, B.E. & Imel Z.E. (2015). The Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.
  • Welling, H. (June 2012). Transformative emotional sequence: towards a common principle of change. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 22(2), pp.109-136.
  • Wilber, K. (2000). Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy. Boston: Shambhala.
  • Woolfe, R. & Palmer, S. (2000). Integrative and Eclectic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

On This Day … 22 January

People (Births)

  • 1913 – Henry Bauchau, Belgian psychoanalyst and author (d. 2012).
  • 1932 – Berthold Grünfeld, Norwegian psychiatrist and academic (d. 2007).

Henry Bauchau

Henry Bauchau (22 January 1913 to 21 September 2012) was a Belgian psychoanalyst, lawyer, and author of French prose and poetry.

He became a trial lawyer in Brussels in 1936 and was a member of the Belgian Resistance in the Ardennes during World War II.

Berthold Grunfeld

Berthold Grünfeld (22 January 1932 to 20 August 2007) was a Norwegian psychiatrist, sexologist, and professor of social medicine at the University of Oslo. He was also a recognised expert in forensic psychiatry, often employed by Norwegian courts to examine insanity defence pleas.

Grünfeld was born in Bratislava in what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1939, when he was seven, he and 34 other Jewish children were separated from their families in an attempt by Nansenhjelpen to rescue them from the early manifestations of the Holocaust. The group of children was sent by train to Norway via Berlin, after having been told they would never again see their parents.

Once in Norway, Grünfeld was first placed at the Jewish children’s home in Oslo, then lived as a foster child with a Jewish family in Trondheim before returning to the orphanage. During the occupation of Norway, Grünfeld avoided capture and deportation by fleeing with members of the Norwegian Resistance in 1942 to neutral Sweden, where he stayed until the war ended. He returned to the children’s home in 1946. The Jewish community funded his education.

Berthold Grünfeld earned his medical degree in 1960, when he also met his future wife Gunhild. He was awarded his doctorate in medicine in 1973 based on a dissertation on abortion. In 1993, he was made professor of social medicine at the University of Oslo.

Grünfeld was noted for his academic contributions within sexology, on the issues of abortion and euthanasia, and within forensic psychology. In addition to his advocacy and teaching, he acted as an expert witness in criminal cases, and as a consultant on human relations and sexology for Oslo Helseråd. His dissertation influenced the reform of abortion laws in Norway.

Grünfeld and his wife had three children and six grandchildren. In 2005, his daughter Nina Grünfeld made a film, Origin Unknown, about her efforts to research her father’s background and heritage. Among other things, she found that his mother had worked as a prostitute and was murdered in the death camp at Sobibor.

On This Day … 17 January

People (Deaths)

  • 1881 – Harry Price, English psychologist and author (d. 1948).
  • 1887 – Ola Raknes, Norwegian psychoanalyst and philologist (d. 1975).
  • 1945 – Anne Cutler, Australian psychologist and academic.

Harry Price

Harry Price (17 January 1881 to 29 March 1948) was a British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing fraudulent spiritualist mediums. He is best known for his well-publicised investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.

Ola Raknes

Ola Raknes (17 January 1887 to 28 January 1975) was a Norwegian psychologist, philologist and non-fiction writer. Born in Bergen, Norway, he was internationally known as a psychoanalyst in the Reichian tradition. He has been described as someone who spent his entire life working with the conveying of ideas through many languages and between different epistemological systems of reference, science and religion (Dannevig, 1975). For large portions of his life he was actively contributing to the public discourse in Norway. He has also been credited for his contributions to strengthening and enriching the Nynorsk language and its use in the public sphere.

Raknes was known as a thorough philologist and a controversial therapist. Internationally he was known as one of Wilhelm Reich’s closest students and defenders.

Anne Cutler

(Elizabeth) Anne Cutler (1945 to Present) FRS is a Research Professor at the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, Western Sydney University and Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen.

On This Day … 14 January

People (Deaths)

Harry Stack Sullivan

Herbert “Harry” Stack Sullivan (21 February 1892 to 14 January 1949) was an American Neo-Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who held that “personality can never be isolated from the complex interpersonal relationships in which [a] person lives” and that “[t]he field of psychiatry is the field of interpersonal relations under any and all circumstances in which [such] relations exist”.

Having studied therapists Sigmund Freud, Adolf Meyer, and William Alanson White, he devoted years of clinical and research work to helping people with psychotic illness.

Early Life

Sullivan was a child of Irish immigrants and grew up in the then anti-Catholic town of Norwich, New York, resulting in a social isolation which may have inspired his later interest in psychiatry. He attended the Smyrna Union School, then spent two years at Cornell University from 1909, receiving his medical degree in Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery in 1917.

Work

Along with Clara Thompson, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, Otto Allen Will, Jr., Erik H. Erikson, and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, Sullivan laid the groundwork for understanding the individual based on the network of relationships in which they are enmeshed. He developed a theory of psychiatry based on interpersonal relationships where cultural forces are largely responsible for mental illnesses (see also social psychiatry). In his words, one must pay attention to the “interactional”, not the “intrapsychic”. This search for satisfaction via personal involvement with others led Sullivan to characterise loneliness as the most painful of human experiences. He also extended the Freudian psychoanalysis to the treatment of patients with severe mental disorders, particularly schizophrenia.

Besides making the first mention of the significant other in psychological literature, Sullivan developed the idea of the “Self System”, a configuration of the personality traits developed in childhood and reinforced by positive affirmation and the security operations developed in childhood to avoid anxiety and threats to self-esteem. Sullivan further defined the Self System as a steering mechanism toward a series of I-You interlocking behaviours; that is, what an individual does is meant to elicit a particular reaction.

Sullivan called these behaviours Parataxical Integrations and he noted that such action-reaction combinations can become rigid and dominate an adult’s thinking pattern, limiting their actions and reactions toward the world as the adult sees the world and not as it really is. The resulting inaccuracies in judgment Sullivan termed parataxic distortion, when other persons are perceived or evaluated based on the patterns of previous experience, similar to Freud’s notion of transference. Sullivan also introduced the concept of “prototaxic communication” as a more primitive, needy, infantile form of psychic interchange and of “syntactic communication” as a mature style of emotional interaction.

Sullivan’s work on interpersonal relationships became the foundation of interpersonal psychoanalysis, a school of psychoanalytic theory and treatment that stresses the detailed exploration of the nuances of patients’ patterns of interacting with others.

Sullivan was the first to coin the term “problems in living” to describe the difficulties with self and others experienced by those with mental illnesses. This phrase was later picked up and popularised by Thomas Szasz, whose work was a foundational resource for the antipsychiatry movement. “Problems in living” went on to become the movement’s preferred way to refer to the manifestations of mental disturbances.

In 1927, he reviewed the controversial, anonymously published The Invert and his Social Adjustment and in 1929 called it “a remarkable document by a homosexual man of refinement; intended primarily as a guide to the unfortunate sufferers of sexual inversion, and much less open to criticism than anything else of the kind so far published.”

He was one of the founders of the William Alanson White Institute, considered by many to be the world’s leading independent psychoanalytic institute, and of the journal Psychiatry in 1937. He headed the Washington, DC School of Psychiatry from 1936 to 1947.

In 1940, he and colleague Winfred Overholser, serving on the American Psychiatric Society’s committee on Military Mobilisation, formulated guidelines for the psychological screening of inductees to the United States military. He believed, writes one historian, “that sexuality played a minimal role in causing mental disorders and that adult homosexuals should be accepted and left alone.” Despite his best efforts, others included homosexuality as a disqualification for military service.

Beginning on 05 December 1940, Sullivan served as psychiatric adviser to Selective Service director Clarence A. Dykstra, but resigned in November 1941 after General Lewis B. Hershey, who was hostile to psychiatry, became the director. Sullivan then took part in establishing the Office of War Information in 1942. Beginning in 1927, Sullivan had a 22-year relationship with James Inscoe Sullivan, known as “Jimmie”, who was 20 years younger than Sullivan.

Although some contemporaries and historians have regarded Inscoe as an unofficially adopted son, and Sullivan as closeted, one should remember that to be open about it would have made his professional interest in the area and further research very difficult. His colleague Helen Swick Perry’s biography of Sullivan mentions the relationship and it is clear his close friends were well aware they were partners.

Writings

Although Sullivan published little in his lifetime, he influenced generations of mental health professionals, especially through his lectures at Chestnut Lodge in Rockville, Maryland, outside Washington, DC. Leston Havens called him the most important underground influence in American psychoanalysis. His ideas were collected and published posthumously, edited by Helen Swick Perry, who also published a detailed biography in 1982 (Perry, 1982, Psychiatrist of America).

Works

The following works are in Special Collections (MSA SC 5547) at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis: Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry, Soundscriber Transcriptions (February 1945 to May 1945); Lectures 1-97 (begins 02 October 1942); Georgetown University Medical School Lectures (1939); Personal Psychopathology (1929-1933); The Psychiatry of Character and its Deviations-undated notes.

His writings include:

  • The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry (1953).
  • “The Psychiatric Interview” (1954).
  • Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry (1947/1966).
  • Schizophrenia as a Human Process (1962).

Associates

After Sullivan’s death, Saul B. Newton and his wife Dr. Jane Pearce (a psychiatrist who studied with Sullivan in the late 1940s) established the Sullivan Institute for Research in Psychoanalysis in New York City.

What is Psychology?

Introduction

Psychology is the science of mind and behaviour. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuro-scientific group of researchers. As a social science, it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases. Not to be confused with psychiatry.

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

Psychologists explore behaviour and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, 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 psychologists and counselling 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, counselling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behaviour, 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.

Etymology and Definitions

The word psychology derives from Greek roots meaning study of the psyche, or soul (ψυχή psychē, “breath, spirit, soul” and -λογία -logia, “study of” or “research”).The Latin word psychologia was first used by the Croatian humanist and Latinist Marko Marulić in his book, Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae in the late 15th century or early 16th century. The earliest known reference to the word psychology in English was by Steven Blankaart in 1694 in The Physical Dictionary which refers to “Anatomy, which treats the Body, and Psychology, which treats of the Soul.”

In 1890, William James defined psychology as “the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and their conditions”. This definition enjoyed widespread currency for decades. However, this meaning was contested, notably by radical behaviourists such as John B. Watson, who in his 1913 manifesto defined the discipline of psychology as the acquisition of information useful to the control of behaviour. Also since James defined it, the term more strongly connotes techniques of scientific experimentation. Folk psychology refers to the understanding of ordinary people, as contrasted with that of psychology professionals.

Brief History

The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, India, and Persia all engaged in the philosophical study of psychology. In Ancient Egypt the Ebers Papyrus mentioned depression and thought disorders. Historians note that Greek philosophers, including Thales, Plato, and Aristotle (especially in his De Anima treatise), addressed the workings of the mind. As early as the 4th century BC, Greek physician Hippocrates theorised that mental disorders had physical rather than supernatural causes.

In China, psychological understanding grew from the philosophical works of Laozi and Confucius, and later from the doctrines of Buddhism. This body of knowledge involves insights drawn from introspection and observation, as well as techniques for focused thinking and acting. It frames the universe as a division of, and interaction between, physical reality and mental reality, with an emphasis on purifying the mind in order to increase virtue and power. An ancient text known as The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine identifies the brain as the nexus of wisdom and sensation, includes theories of personality based on yin-yang balance, and analyses mental disorder in terms of physiological and social disequilibria. Chinese scholarship focused on the brain advanced in the Qing Dynasty with the work of Western-educated Fang Yizhi (1611-1671), Liu Zhi (1660-1730), and Wang Qingren (1768-1831). Wang Qingren emphasized the importance of the brain as the centre of the nervous system, linked mental disorder with brain diseases, investigated the causes of dreams and insomnia, and advanced a theory of hemispheric lateralisation in brain function.

Distinctions in types of awareness appear in the ancient thought of India, influenced by Hinduism. A central idea of the Upanishads is the distinction between a person’s transient mundane self and their eternal unchanging soul. Divergent Hindu doctrines, and Buddhism, have challenged this hierarchy of selves, but have all emphasized the importance of reaching higher awareness. Yoga is a range of techniques used in pursuit of this goal. Much of the Sanskrit corpus was suppressed under the British East India Company followed by the British Raj in the 1800s. However, Indian doctrines influenced Western thinking via the Theosophical Society, a New Age group which became popular among Euro-American intellectuals.

Psychology was a popular topic in Enlightenment Europe. In Germany, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) applied his principles of calculus to the mind, arguing that mental activity took place on an indivisible continuum – most notably, that among an infinity of human perceptions and desires, the difference between conscious and unconscious awareness is only a matter of degree. Christian Wolff identified psychology as its own science, writing Psychologia empirica in 1732 and Psychologia rationalis in 1734. This notion advanced further under Immanuel Kant, who established the idea of anthropology, with psychology as an important subdivision. However, Kant explicitly and notoriously rejected the idea of experimental psychology, writing that “the empirical doctrine of the soul can also never approach chemistry even as a systematic art of analysis or experimental doctrine, for in it the manifold of inner observation can be separated only by mere division in thought, and cannot then be held separate and recombined at will (but still less does another thinking subject suffer himself to be experimented upon to suit our purpose), and even observation by itself already changes and displaces the state of the observed object.” In 1783, Ferdinand Ueberwasser (1752-1812) designated himself Professor of Empirical Psychology and Logic and gave lectures on scientific psychology, though these developments were soon overshadowed by the Napoleonic Wars, after which the Old University of Münster was discontinued by Prussian authorities. Having consulted philosophers Hegel and Herbart, however, in 1825 the Prussian state established psychology as a mandatory discipline in its rapidly expanding and highly influential educational system. However, this discipline did not yet embrace experimentation. In England, early psychology involved phrenology and the response to social problems including alcoholism, violence, and the country’s well-populated mental asylums.

The Beginning of Experimental Psychology

Gustav Fechner began conducting psychophysics research in Leipzig in the 1830s, articulating the principle (Weber-Fechner law) that human perception of a stimulus varies logarithmically according to its intensity. Fechner’s 1860 Elements of Psychophysics challenged Kant’s stricture against quantitative study of the mind. In Heidelberg, Hermann von Helmholtz conducted parallel research on sensory perception, and trained physiologist Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt, in turn, came to Leipzig University, establishing the psychological laboratory which brought experimental psychology to the world. Wundt focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components, motivated in part by an analogy to recent advances in chemistry, and its successful investigation of the elements and structure of material. Paul Flechsig and Emil Kraepelin soon created another influential psychology laboratory at Leipzig, this one focused on more on experimental psychiatry.

Psychologists in Germany, Denmark, Austria, England, and the United States soon followed Wundt in setting up laboratories. G. Stanley Hall who studied with Wundt, formed a psychology lab at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, which became internationally influential. Hall, in turn, trained Yujiro Motora, who brought experimental psychology, emphasizing psychophysics, to the Imperial University of Tokyo. Wundt’s assistant, Hugo Münsterberg, taught psychology at Harvard to students such as Narendra Nath Sen Gupta – who, in 1905, founded a psychology department and laboratory at the University of Calcutta. Wundt students Walter Dill Scott, Lightner Witmer, and James McKeen Cattell worked on developing tests for mental ability. Catell, who also studied with eugenicist Francis Galton, went on to found the Psychological Corporation. Wittmer focused on mental testing of children; Scott, on selection of employees.

Another student of Wundt, Edward Titchener, created the psychology program at Cornell University and advanced a doctrine of “structuralist” psychology. Structuralism sought to analyse and classify different aspects of the mind, primarily through the method of introspection. William James, John Dewey and Harvey Carr advanced a more expansive doctrine called functionalism, attuned more to human-environment actions. In 1890, James wrote an influential book, The Principles of Psychology, which expanded on the realm of structuralism, memorably described the human “stream of consciousness”, and interested many American students in the emerging discipline. Dewey integrated psychology with social issues, most notably by promoting the cause progressive education to assimilate immigrants and inculcate moral values in children.

A different strain of experimentalism, with more connection to physiology, emerged in South America, under the leadership of Horacio G. Piñero at the University of Buenos Aires. Russia, too, placed greater emphasis on the biological basis for psychology, beginning with Ivan Sechenov’s 1873 essay, “Who Is to Develop Psychology and How?” Sechenov advanced the idea of brain reflexes and aggressively promoted a deterministic viewpoint on human behaviour.

Wolfgang Kohler, Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka co-founded the school of Gestalt psychology (not to be confused with the Gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls). This approach is based upon the idea that individuals experience things as unified wholes. Rather than breaking down thoughts and behaviour into smaller elements, as in structuralism, the Gestaltists maintained that whole of experience is important, and differs from the sum of its parts. Other 19th-century contributors to the field include the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneer in the experimental study of memory, who developed quantitative models of learning and forgetting at the University of Berlin, and the Russian-Soviet physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who discovered in dogs a learning process that was later termed “classical conditioning” and applied to human beings.

Consolidation and Funding

One of the earliest psychology societies was La Société de Psychologie Physiologique in France, which lasted 1885-1893. The first meeting of the International Congress of Psychology sponsored by the International Union of Psychological Science took place in Paris, in August 1889, amidst the World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution. William James was one of three Americans among the four hundred attendees. The American Psychological Association (APA) was founded soon after, in 1892. The International Congress continued to be held, at different locations in Europe, with wider international participation. The Sixth Congress, Geneva 1909, included presentations in Russian, Chinese, and Japanese, as well as Esperanto. After a hiatus for World War I, the Seventh Congress met in Oxford, with substantially greater participation from the war-victorious Anglo-Americans. In 1929, the Congress took place at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, attended by hundreds of members of the APA. Tokyo Imperial University led the way in bringing new psychology to the East, and from Japan these ideas diffused into China.

American psychology gained status during World War I, during which a standing committee headed by Robert Yerkes administered mental tests (“Army Alpha” and “Army Beta”) to almost 1.8 million soldiers. Subsequent funding for behavioural research came in large part from the Rockefeller family, via the Social Science Research Council. Rockefeller charities funded the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, which promoted the concept of mental illness and lobbied for psychological supervision of child development. Through the Bureau of Social Hygiene and later funding of Alfred Kinsey, Rockefeller foundations established sex research as a viable discipline in the U.S.[41] Under the influence of the Carnegie-funded Eugenics Record Office, the Draper-funded Pioneer Fund, and other institutions, the eugenics movement also had a significant impact on American psychology; in the 1910s and 1920s, eugenics became a standard topic in psychology classes.

During World War II and the Cold War, the US military and intelligence agencies established themselves as leading funders of psychology – through the armed forces and in the new Office of Strategic Services intelligence agency. University of Michigan psychologist Dorwin Cartwright reported that university researchers began large-scale propaganda research in 1939-1941, and “the last few months of the war saw a social psychologist become chiefly responsible for determining the week-by-week-propaganda policy for the United States Government.” Cartwright also wrote that psychologists had significant roles in managing the domestic economy. The Army rolled out its new General Classification Test and engaged in massive studies of troop morale. In the 1950s, the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fund research on psychological warfare. In 1965, public controversy called attention to the Army’s Project Camelot – the “Manhattan Project” of social science – an effort which enlisted psychologists and anthropologists to analyse foreign countries for strategic purposes.

In Germany after World War I, psychology held institutional power through the military, and subsequently expanded along with the rest of the military under the Third Reich. Under the direction of Hermann Göring’s cousin Matthias Göring, the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute was renamed the Göring Institute. Freudian psychoanalysts were expelled and persecuted under the anti-Jewish policies of the Nazi Party, and all psychologists had to distance themselves from Freud and Adler. The Göring Institute was well-financed throughout the war with a mandate to create a “New German Psychotherapy”. This psychotherapy aimed to align suitable Germans with the overall goals of the Reich; as described by one physician: “Despite the importance of analysis, spiritual guidance and the active cooperation of the patient represent the best way to overcome individual mental problems and to subordinate them to the requirements of the Volk and the Gemeinschaft.” Psychologists were to provide Seelenführung, leadership of the mind, to integrate people into the new vision of a German community. Harald Schultz-Hencke melded psychology with the Nazi theory of biology and racial origins, criticising psychoanalysis as a study of the weak and deformed. Johannes Heinrich Schultz, a German psychologist recognised for developing the technique of autogenic training, prominently advocated sterilisation and euthanasia of men considered genetically undesirable, and devised techniques for facilitating this process. After the war, some new institutions were created and some psychologists were discredited due to Nazi affiliation. Alexander Mitscherlich founded a prominent applied psychoanalysis journal called Psyche and with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation established the first clinical psychosomatic medicine division at Heidelberg University. In 1970, psychology was integrated into the required studies of medical students.

After the Russian Revolution, psychology was heavily promoted by the Bolsheviks as a way to engineer the “New Man” of socialism. Thus, university psychology departments trained large numbers of students, for whom positions were made available at schools, workplaces, cultural institutions, and in the military. An especial focus was paedology, the study of child development, regarding which Lev Vygotsky became a prominent writer. The Bolsheviks also promoted free love and embraced the doctrine of psychoanalysis as an antidote to sexual repression. Although paedology and intelligence testing fell out of favour in 1936, psychology maintained its privileged position as an instrument of the Soviet Union. Stalinist purges took a heavy toll and instilled a climate of fear in the profession, as elsewhere in Soviet society. Following World War II, Jewish psychologists past and present (including Lev Vygotsky, A.R. Luria, and Aron Zalkind) were denounced; Ivan Pavlov (posthumously) and Stalin himself were aggrandised as heroes of Soviet psychology. Soviet academics was speedily liberalised during the Khrushchev Thaw, and cybernetics, linguistics, genetics, and other topics became acceptable again. There emerged a new field called “engineering psychology” which studied mental aspects of complex jobs (such as pilot and cosmonaut). Interdisciplinary studies became popular and scholars such as Georgy Shchedrovitsky developed systems theory approaches to human behaviour.

Twentieth-century Chinese psychology originally modelled the US, with translations from American authors like William James, the establishment of university psychology departments and journals, and the establishment of groups including the Chinese Association of Psychological Testing (1930) and the Chinese Psychological Society (1937). Chinese psychologists were encouraged to focus on education and language learning, with the aspiration that education would enable modernisation and nationalisation. John Dewey, who lectured to Chinese audiences in 1918-1920, had a significant influence on this doctrine. Chancellor T’sai Yuan-p’ei introduced him at Peking University as a greater thinker than Confucius. Kuo Zing-yang who received a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, became President of Zhejiang University and popularised behaviourism. After the Chinese Communist Party gained control of the country, the Stalinist Soviet Union became the leading influence, with Marxism-Leninism the leading social doctrine and Pavlovian conditioning the approved concept of behaviour change. Chinese psychologists elaborated on Lenin’s model of a “reflective” consciousness, envisioning an “active consciousness” (pinyin: tzu-chueh neng-tung-li) able to transcend material conditions through hard work and ideological struggle. They developed a concept of “recognition” (pinyin: jen-shih) which referred the interface between individual perceptions and the socially accepted worldview (failure to correspond with party doctrine was “incorrect recognition”). Psychology education was centralized under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, supervised by the State Council. In 1951, the Academy created a Psychology Research Office, which in 1956 became the Institute of Psychology. Most leading psychologists were educated in the United States, and the first concern of the Academy was re-education of these psychologists in the Soviet doctrines. Child psychology and pedagogy for nationally cohesive education remained a central goal of the discipline.

Disciplinary Organisation

Institutions

In 1920, Édouard Claparède and Pierre Bovet created a new applied psychology organisation called the International Congress of Psychotechnics Applied to Vocational Guidance, later called the International Congress of Psychotechnics and then the International Association of Applied Psychology. The IAAP is considered the oldest international psychology association. Today, at least 65 international groups deal with specialized aspects of psychology. In response to male predominance in the field, female psychologists in the US formed National Council of Women Psychologists in 1941. This organisation became the International Council of Women Psychologists after World War II, and the International Council of Psychologists in 1959. Several associations including the Association of Black Psychologists and the Asian American Psychological Association have arisen to promote non-European racial groups in the profession.

The world federation of national psychological societies is the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS), founded in 1951 under the auspices of UNESCO, the United Nations cultural and scientific authority. Psychology departments have since proliferated around the world, based primarily on the Euro-American model. Since 1966, the Union has published the International Journal of Psychology. IAAP and IUPsyS agreed in 1976 each to hold a congress every four years, on a staggered basis.

The International Union recognises 66 national psychology associations and at least 15 others exist. The American Psychological Association is the oldest and largest. Its membership has increased from 5,000 in 1945 to 100,000 in the present day. The APA includes 54 divisions, which since 1960 have steadily proliferated to include more specialties. Some of these divisions, such as the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the American Psychology-Law Society, began as autonomous groups.

The Interamerican Society of Psychology, founded in 1951, aspires to promote psychology and coordinate psychologists across the Western Hemisphere. It holds the Interamerican Congress of Psychology and had 1,000 members in year 2000. The European Federation of Professional Psychology Associations, founded in 1981, represents 30 national associations with a total of 100,000 individual members. At least 30 other international groups organize psychologists in different regions.

In some places, governments legally regulate who can provide psychological services or represent themselves as a “psychologist”. The APA defines a psychologist as someone with a doctoral degree in psychology.

Boundaries

Early practitioners of experimental psychology distinguished themselves from parapsychology, which in the late nineteenth century enjoyed great popularity (including the interest of scholars such as William James), and indeed constituted the bulk of what people called “psychology”. Parapsychology, hypnotism, and psychism were major topics of the early International Congresses. But students of these fields were eventually ostracised, and more or less banished from the Congress in 1900-1905. Parapsychology persisted for a time at Imperial University, with publications such as Clairvoyance and Thoughtography by Tomokichi Fukurai, but here too it was mostly shunned by 1913.

As a discipline, psychology has long sought to fend off accusations that it is a “soft” science. Philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 critique implied psychology overall was in a pre-paradigm state, lacking the agreement on overarching theory found in mature sciences such as chemistry and physics. Because some areas of psychology rely on research methods such as surveys and questionnaires, critics asserted that psychology is not an objective science. Sceptics have suggested that personality, thinking, and emotion, cannot be directly measured and are often inferred from subjective self-reports, which may be problematic. Experimental psychologists have devised a variety of ways to indirectly measure these elusive phenomenological entities.

Divisions still exist within the field, with some psychologists more oriented towards the unique experiences of individual humans, which cannot be understood only as data points within a larger population. Critics inside and outside the field have argued that mainstream psychology has become increasingly dominated by a “cult of empiricism” which limits the scope of its study by using only methods derived from the physical sciences. Feminist critiques along these lines have argued that claims to scientific objectivity obscure the values and agenda of (historically mostly male) researchers. Jean Grimshaw, for example, argues that mainstream psychological research has advanced a patriarchal agenda through its efforts to control behaviour.

Major Schools of Thought

Biological

Psychologists generally consider the organism the basis of the mind, and therefore a vitally related area of study. Psychiatrists and neuropsychologists work at the interface of mind and body. Biological psychology, also known as physiological psychology, or neuropsychology is the study of the biological substrates of behaviour and mental processes. Key research topics in this field include comparative psychology, which studies humans in relation to other animals, and perception which involves the physical mechanics of sensation as well as neural and mental processing. For centuries, a leading question in biological psychology has been whether and how mental functions might be localised in the brain. From Phineas Gage to H.M. and Clive Wearing, individual people with mental issues traceable to physical damage have inspired new discoveries in this area. Modern neuropsychology could be said to originate in the 1870s, when in France Paul Broca traced production of speech to the left frontal gyrus, thereby also demonstrating hemispheric lateralisation of brain function. Soon after, Carl Wernicke identified a related area necessary for the understanding of speech.

The contemporary field of behavioural neuroscience focuses on physical causes underpinning behaviour. For example, physiological psychologists use animal models, typically rats, to study the neural, genetic, and cellular mechanisms that underlie specific behaviours such as learning and memory and fear responses. Cognitive neuroscientists investigate the neural correlates of psychological processes in humans using neural imaging tools, and neuropsychologists conduct psychological assessments to determine, for instance, specific aspects and extent of cognitive deficit caused by brain damage or disease. The biopsychosocial model is an integrated perspective toward understanding consciousness, behaviour, and social interaction. It assumes that any given behaviour or mental process affects and is affected by dynamically interrelated biological, psychological, and social factors.

Evolutionary psychology examines cognition and personality traits from an evolutionary perspective. This perspective suggests that psychological adaptations evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. Evolutionary psychology offers complementary explanations for the mostly proximate or developmental explanations developed by other areas of psychology: that is, it focuses mostly on ultimate or “why?” questions, rather than proximate or “how?” questions. “How?” questions are more directly tackled by behavioural genetics research, which aims to understand how genes and environment impact behaviour.

The search for biological origins of psychological phenomena has long involved debates about the importance of race, and especially the relationship between race and intelligence. The idea of white supremacy and indeed the modern concept of race itself arose during the process of world conquest by Europeans. Carl von Linnaeus’s four-fold classification of humans classifies Europeans as intelligent and severe, Americans as contented and free, Asians as ritualistic, and Africans as lazy and capricious. Race was also used to justify the construction of socially specific mental disorders such as drapetomania and dysaesthesia aethiopica – the behaviour of uncooperative African slaves. After the creation of experimental psychology, “ethnical psychology” emerged as a subdiscipline, based on the assumption that studying primitive races would provide an important link between animal behaviour and the psychology of more evolved humans.

Behavioural

Psychologists take human behaviour as a main area of study. Much of the research in this area began with tests on mammals, based on the idea that humans exhibit similar fundamental tendencies. Behavioural research ever aspires to improve the effectiveness of techniques for behaviour modification.

Early behavioural researchers studied stimulus-response pairings, now known as classical conditioning. They demonstrated that behaviours could be linked through repeated association with stimuli eliciting pain or pleasure. Ivan Pavlov – known best for inducing dogs to salivate in the presence of a stimulus previously linked with food – became a leading figure in the Soviet Union and inspired followers to use his methods on humans. In the United States, Edward Lee Thorndike initiated “connectionism” studies by trapping animals in “puzzle boxes” and rewarding them for escaping. Thorndike wrote in 1911: “There can be no moral warrant for studying man’s nature unless the study will enable us to control his acts.” From 1910-1913 the American Psychological Association went through a sea change of opinion, away from mentalism and towards “behaviouralism”, and in 1913 John B. Watson coined the term behaviourism for this school of thought. Watson’s famous Little Albert experiment in 1920 demonstrated that repeated use of upsetting loud noises could instil phobias (aversions to other stimuli) in an infant human. Karl Lashley, a close collaborator with Watson, examined biological manifestations of learning in the brain.

Embraced and extended by Clark L. Hull, Edwin Guthrie, and others, behaviourism became a widely used research paradigm. A new method of “instrumental” or “operant” conditioning added the concepts of reinforcement and punishment to the model of behaviour change. Radical behaviourists avoided discussing the inner workings of the mind, especially the unconscious mind, which they considered impossible to assess scientifically. Operant conditioning was first described by Miller and Kanorski and popularised in the US by B.F. Skinner, who emerged as a leading intellectual of the behaviourist movement.

Noam Chomsky delivered an influential critique of radical behaviourism on the grounds that it could not adequately explain the complex mental process of language acquisition. Martin Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes (“learned helplessness”) that opposed the predictions of behaviourism. Skinner’s behaviourism did not die, perhaps in part because it generated successful practical applications. Edward C. Tolman advanced a hybrid “cognitive behavioural” model, most notably with his 1948 publication discussing the cognitive maps used by rats to guess at the location of food at the end of a modified maze.

The Association for Behaviour Analysis International was founded in 1974 and by 2003 had members from 42 countries. The field has been especially influential in Latin America, where it has a regional organization known as ALAMOC: La Asociación Latinoamericana de Análisis y Modificación del Comportamiento. Behaviourism also gained a strong foothold in Japan, where it gave rise to the Japanese Society of Animal Psychology (1933), the Japanese Association of Special Education (1963), the Japanese Society of Biofeedback Research (1973), the Japanese Association for Behaviour Therapy (1976), the Japanese Association for Behaviour Analysis (1979), and the Japanese Association for Behavioural Science Research (1994). Today the field of behaviourism is also commonly referred to as behaviour modification or behaviour analysis.

Cognitive

Cognitive psychology studies cognition, the mental processes underlying mental activity. Perception, attention, reasoning, thinking, problem solving, memory, learning, language, and emotion are areas of research. Classical cognitive psychology is associated with a school of thought known as cognitivism, whose adherents argue for an information processing model of mental function, informed by functionalism and experimental psychology.

Starting in the 1950s, the experimental techniques developed by Wundt, James, Ebbinghaus, and others re-emerged as experimental psychology became increasingly cognitivist – concerned with information and its processing – and, eventually, constituted a part of the wider cognitive science. Some called this development the cognitive revolution because it rejected the anti-mentalist dogma of behaviourism as well as the strictures of psychoanalysis.

Social learning theorists, such as Albert Bandura, argued that the child’s environment could make contributions of its own to the behaviours of an observant subject.

Technological advances also renewed interest in mental states and representations. English neuroscientist Charles Sherrington and Canadian psychologist Donald O. Hebb used experimental methods to link psychological phenomena with the structure and function of the brain. The rise of computer science, cybernetics and artificial intelligence suggested the value of comparatively studying information processing in humans and machines. Research in cognition had proven practical since World War II, when it aided in the understanding of weapons operation.

A popular and representative topic in this area is cognitive bias, or irrational thought. Psychologists (and economists) have classified and described a sizeable catalogue of biases which recur frequently in human thought. The availability heuristic, for example, is the tendency to overestimate the importance of something which happens to come readily to mind.

Elements of behaviourism and cognitive psychology were synthesized to form cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of psychotherapy modified from techniques developed by American psychologist Albert Ellis and American psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck.

On a broader level, cognitive science is an interdisciplinary enterprise of cognitive psychologists, cognitive neuroscientists, researchers in artificial intelligence, linguists, human-computer interaction, computational neuroscience, logicians and social scientists. The discipline of cognitive science covers cognitive psychology as well as philosophy of mind, computer science, and neuroscience.[citation needed] Computer simulations are sometimes used to model phenomena of interest.

Social

Social psychology is the study of how humans think about each other and how they relate to each other. Social psychologists study such topics as the influence of others on an individual’s behaviour (e.g. conformity, persuasion), and the formation of beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes about other people. Social cognition fuses elements of social and cognitive psychology in order to understand how people process, remember, or distort social information. The study of group dynamics reveals information about the nature and potential optimisation of leadership, communication, and other phenomena that emerge at least at the microsocial level. In recent years, many social psychologists have become increasingly interested in implicit measures, mediational models, and the interaction of both person and social variables in accounting for behaviour. The study of human society is therefore a potentially valuable source of information about the causes of psychiatric disorder. Some sociological concepts applied to psychiatric disorders are the social role, sick role, social class, life event, culture, migration, social, and total institution.

Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis comprises a method of investigating the mind and interpreting experience; a systematised set of theories about human behaviour; and a form of psychotherapy to treat psychological or emotional distress, especially conflict originating in the unconscious mind. This school of thought originated in the 1890s with Austrian medical doctors including Josef Breuer (physician), Alfred Adler (physician), Otto Rank (psychoanalyst), and most prominently Sigmund Freud (neurologist). Freud’s psychoanalytic theory was largely based on interpretive methods, introspection and clinical observations. It became very well known, largely because it tackled subjects such as sexuality, repression, and the unconscious. These subjects were largely taboo at the time, and Freud provided a catalyst for their open discussion in polite society. Clinically, Freud helped to pioneer the method of free association and a therapeutic interest in dream interpretation.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, influenced by Freud, elaborated a theory of the collective unconscious – a primordial force present in all humans, featuring archetypes which exerted a profound influence on the mind. Jung’s competing vision formed the basis for analytical psychology, which later led to the archetypal and process-oriented schools. Other well-known psychoanalytic scholars of the mid-20th century include Erik Erikson, Melanie Klein, D.W. Winnicott, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, John Bowlby, and Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud. Throughout the 20th century, psychoanalysis evolved into diverse schools of thought which could be called Neo-Freudian. Among these schools are ego psychology, object relations, and interpersonal, Lacanian, and relational psychoanalysis.

Psychologists such as Hans Eysenck and philosophers including Karl Popper criticised psychoanalysis. Popper argued that psychoanalysis had been misrepresented as a scientific discipline, whereas Eysenck said that psychoanalytic tenets had been contradicted by experimental data. By the end of 20th century, psychology departments in American universities mostly marginalised Freudian theory, dismissing it as a “desiccated and dead” historical artefact. However, researchers in the emerging field of neuro-psychoanalysis today defend some of Freud’s ideas on scientific grounds, while scholars of the humanities maintain that Freud was not a “scientist at all, but … an interpreter”.

Existential-Humanistic Theories

Humanistic psychology developed in the 1950s as a movement within academic psychology, in reaction to both behaviourism and psychoanalysis. The humanistic approach sought to glimpse the whole person, not just fragmented parts of the personality or isolated cognitions. Humanism focused on uniquely human issues, such as free will, personal growth, self-actualisation, self-identity, death, aloneness, freedom, and meaning. It emphasized subjective meaning, rejection of determinism, and concern for positive growth rather than pathology. Some founders of the humanistic school of thought were American psychologists Abraham Maslow, who formulated a hierarchy of human needs, and Carl Rogers, who created and developed client-centred therapy. Later, positive psychology opened up humanistic themes to scientific modes of exploration.

The American Association for Humanistic Psychology, formed in 1963, declared:

Humanistic psychology is primarily an orientation toward the whole of psychology rather than a distinct area or school. It stands for respect for the worth of persons, respect for differences of approach, open-mindedness as to acceptable methods, and interest in exploration of new aspects of human behaviour. As a “third force” in contemporary psychology, it is concerned with topics having little place in existing theories and systems: e.g., love, creativity, self, growth, organism, basic need-gratification, self-actualization, higher values, being, becoming, spontaneity, play, humour, affection, naturalness, warmth, ego-transcendence, objectivity, autonomy, responsibility, meaning, fair-play, transcendental experience, peak experience, courage, and related concepts.

In the 1950s and 1960s, influenced by philosophers Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger and, psychoanalytically trained American psychologist Rollo May pioneered an existential branch of psychology, which included existential psychotherapy: a method based on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual’s confrontation with the givens of existence. Swiss psychoanalyst Ludwig Binswanger and American psychologist George Kelly may also be said to belong to the existential school. Existential psychologists differed from more “humanistic” psychologists in their relatively neutral view of human nature and their relatively positive assessment of anxiety. Existential psychologists emphasized the humanistic themes of death, free will, and meaning, suggesting that meaning can be shaped by myths, or narrative patterns, and that it can be encouraged by an acceptance of the free will requisite to an authentic, albeit often anxious, regard for death and other future prospects.

Austrian existential psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl drew evidence of meaning’s therapeutic power from reflections garnered from his own internment. He created a variation of existential psychotherapy called logotherapy, a type of existentialist analysis that focuses on a will to meaning (in one’s life), as opposed to Adler’s Nietzschean doctrine of will to power or Freud’s will to pleasure.

Themes

Personality

Personality psychology is concerned with enduring patterns of behaviour, thought, and emotion – commonly referred to as personality – in individuals. Theories of personality vary across different psychological schools and orientations. They carry different assumptions about such issues as the role of the unconscious and the importance of childhood experience. According to Freud, personality is based on the dynamic interactions of the id, ego, and super-ego. In order to develop a taxonomy of personality constructs, trait theorists, in contrast, attempt to describe the personality sphere in terms of a discrete number of key traits using the statistical data-reduction method of factor analysis. Although the number of proposed traits has varied widely, an early biologically-based model proposed by Hans Eysenck, the 3rd mostly highly cited psychologist of the 20th Century (after Freud, and Piaget respectively), suggested that at least three major trait constructs are necessary to describe human personality structure: extraversion–introversion, neuroticism-stability, and psychoticism-normality. Raymond Cattell, the 7th most highly cited psychologist of the 20th Century (based on the scientific peer-reviewed journal literature) empirically derived a theory of 16 personality factors at the primary-factor level, and up to 8 broader second-stratum factors (at the Eysenckian level of analysis), rather than the “Big Five” dimensions. Dimensional models of personality are receiving increasing support, and a version of dimensional assessment has been included in the DSM-V. However, despite a plethora of research into the various versions of the “Big Five” personality dimensions, it appears necessary to move on from static conceptualisations of personality structure to a more dynamic orientation, whereby it is acknowledged that personality constructs are subject to learning and change across the lifespan.

An early example of personality assessment was the Woodworth Personal Data Sheet, constructed during World War I. The popular, although psychometrically inadequate Myers-Briggs Type Indicator sought to assess individuals’ “personality types” according to the personality theories of Carl Jung. Behaviourist resistance to introspection led to the development of the Strong Vocational Interest Blank and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), in an attempt to ask empirical questions that focused less on the psychodynamics of the respondent. However, the MMPI has been subjected to critical scrutiny, given that it adhered to archaic psychiatric nosology, and since it required individuals to provide subjective, introspective responses to the hundreds of items pertaining to psychopathology.

Unconscious Mind

Study of the unconscious mind, a part of the psyche outside the awareness of the individual which nevertheless influenced thoughts and behaviour was a hallmark of early psychology. In one of the first psychology experiments conducted in the United States, C.S. Peirce and Joseph Jastrow found in 1884 that subjects could choose the minutely heavier of two weights even if consciously uncertain of the difference. Freud popularised this concept, with terms like Freudian slip entering popular culture, to mean an uncensored intrusion of unconscious thought into one’s speech and action. His 1901 text The Psychopathology of Everyday Life catalogues hundreds of everyday events which Freud explains in terms of unconscious influence. Pierre Janet advanced the idea of a subconscious mind, which could contain autonomous mental elements unavailable to the scrutiny of the subject.

Behaviourism notwithstanding, the unconscious mind has maintained its importance in psychology. Cognitive psychologists have used a “filter” model of attention, according to which much information processing takes place below the threshold of consciousness, and only certain processes, limited by nature and by simultaneous quantity, make their way through the filter. Copious research has shown that subconscious priming of certain ideas can covertly influence thoughts and behaviour. A significant hurdle in this research is proving that a subject’s conscious mind has not grasped a certain stimulus, due to the unreliability of self-reporting. For this reason, some psychologists prefer to distinguish between implicit and explicit memory. In another approach, one can also describe a subliminal stimulus as meeting an objective but not a subjective threshold.

The automaticity model, which became widespread following exposition by John Bargh and others in the 1980s, describes sophisticated processes for executing goals which can be selected and performed over an extended duration without conscious awareness. Some experimental data suggests that the brain begins to consider taking actions before the mind becomes aware of them. This influence of unconscious forces on people’s choices naturally bears on philosophical questions free will. John Bargh, Daniel Wegner, and Ellen Langer are some prominent contemporary psychologists who describe free will as an illusion.

Motivation

Psychologists such as William James initially used the term motivation to refer to intention, in a sense similar to the concept of will in European philosophy. With the steady rise of Darwinian and Freudian thinking, instinct also came to be seen as a primary source of motivation. According to drive theory, the forces of instinct combine into a single source of energy which exerts a constant influence. Psychoanalysis, like biology, regarded these forces as physical demands made by the organism on the nervous system. However, they believed that these forces, especially the sexual instincts, could become entangled and transmuted within the psyche. Classical psychoanalysis conceives of a struggle between the pleasure principle and the reality principle, roughly corresponding to id and ego. Later, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud introduced the concept of the death drive, a compulsion towards aggression, destruction, and psychic repetition of traumatic events. Meanwhile, behaviourist researchers used simple dichotomous models (pleasure/pain, reward/punishment) and well-established principles such as the idea that a thirsty creature will take pleasure in drinking. Clark Hull formalised the latter idea with his drive reduction model.

Hunger, thirst, fear, sexual desire, and thermoregulation all seem to constitute fundamental motivations for animals. Humans also seem to exhibit a more complex set of motivations – though theoretically these could be explained as resulting from primordial instincts – including desires for belonging, self-image, self-consistency, truth, love, and control.

Motivation can be modulated or manipulated in many different ways. Researchers have found that eating, for example, depends not only on the organism’s fundamental need for homeostasis – an important factor causing the experience of hunger – but also on circadian rhythms, food availability, food palatability, and cost. Abstract motivations are also malleable, as evidenced by such phenomena as goal contagion: the adoption of goals, sometimes unconsciously, based on inferences about the goals of others. Vohs and Baumeister suggest that contrary to the need-desire-fulfilment cycle of animal instincts, human motivations sometimes obey a “getting begets wanting” rule: the more you get a reward such as self-esteem, love, drugs, or money, the more you want it. They suggest that this principle can even apply to food, drink, sex, and sleep.

Development

Mainly focusing on the development of the human mind through the life span, developmental psychology seeks to understand how people come to perceive, understand, and act within the world and how these processes change as they age. This may focus on cognitive, affective, moral, social, or neural development. Researchers who study children use a number of unique research methods to make observations in natural settings or to engage them in experimental tasks. Such tasks often resemble specially designed games and activities that are both enjoyable for the child and scientifically useful, and researchers have even devised clever methods to study the mental processes of infants. In addition to studying children, developmental psychologists also study aging and processes throughout the life span, especially at other times of rapid change (such as adolescence and old age). Developmental psychologists draw on the full range of psychological theories to inform their research.

Genes and Environment

All researched psychological traits are influenced by both genes and environment, to varying degrees. These two sources of influence are often confounded in observational research of individuals or families. An example is the transmission of depression from a depressed mother to her offspring. Theory may hold that the offspring, by virtue of having a depressed mother in his or her (the offspring’s) environment, is at risk for developing depression. However, risk for depression is also influenced to some extent by genes. The mother may both carry genes that contribute to her depression but will also have passed those genes on to her offspring thus increasing the offspring’s risk for depression. Genes and environment in this simple transmission model are completely confounded.

Experimental and quasi-experimental behavioural genetic research uses genetic methodologies to disentangle this confound and understand the nature and origins of individual differences in behaviour. Traditionally this research has been conducted using twin studies and adoption studies, two designs where genetic and environmental influences can be partially un-confounded. More recently, the availability of microarray molecular genetic or genome sequencing technologies allows researchers to measure participant DNA variation directly, and test whether individual genetic variants within genes are associated with psychological traits and psychopathology through methods including genome-wide association studies.

One goal of such research is similar to that in positional cloning and its success in Huntington’s: once a causal gene is discovered biological research can be conducted to understand how that gene influences the phenotype. One major result of genetic association studies is the general finding that psychological traits and psychopathology, as well as complex medical diseases, are highly polygenic, where a large number (on the order of hundreds to thousands) of genetic variants, each of small effect, contribute to individual differences in the behavioural trait or propensity to the disorder. Active research continues to understand the genetic and environmental bases of behaviour and their interaction.

Applications

Psychology encompasses many subfields and includes different approaches to the study of mental processes and behavior:

Mental Testing

Psychological testing has ancient origins, such as examinations for the Chinese civil service dating back to 2200 BC. Written exams began during the Han dynasty (202 BC-AD 200). By 1370, the Chinese system required a stratified series of tests, involving essay writing and knowledge of diverse topics. The system was ended in 1906. In Europe, mental assessment took a more physiological approach, with theories of physiognomy – judgement of character based on the face – described by Aristotle in 4th century BC Greece. Physiognomy remained current through the Enlightenment, and added the doctrine of phrenology: a study of mind and intelligence based on simple assessment of neuroanatomy.

When experimental psychology came to Britain, Francis Galton was a leading practitioner, and, with his procedures for measuring reaction time and sensation, is considered an inventor of modern mental testing (also known as psychometrics). James McKeen Cattell, a student of Wundt and Galton, brought the concept to the United States, and in fact coined the term “mental test”. In 1901, Cattell’s student Clark Wissler published discouraging results, suggesting that mental testing of Columbia and Barnard students failed to predict their academic performance. In response to 1904 orders from the Minister of Public Instruction, French psychologists Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon elaborated a new test of intelligence in 1905-1911, using a range of questions diverse in their nature and difficulty. Binet and Simon introduced the concept of mental age and referred to the lowest scorers on their test as idiots. Henry H. Goddard put the Binet-Simon scale to work and introduced classifications of mental level such as imbecile and feebleminded. In 1916 (after Binet’s death), Stanford professor Lewis M. Terman modified the Binet-Simon scale (renamed the Stanford–Binet scale) and introduced the intelligence quotient as a score report. From this test, Terman concluded that mental retardation “represents the level of intelligence which is very, very common among Spanish-Indians and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial.”

Following the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests for soldiers in World War I, mental testing became popular in the US, where it was soon applied to school children. The federally created National Intelligence Test was administered to 7 million children in the 1920s, and in 1926 the College Entrance Examination Board created the Scholastic Aptitude Test to standardise college admissions. The results of intelligence tests were used to argue for segregated schools and economic functions – i.e. the preferential training of Black Americans for manual labour. These practices were criticised by black intellectuals such a Horace Mann Bond and Allison Davis. Eugenicists used mental testing to justify and organise compulsory sterilisation of individuals classified as mentally retarded. In the United States, tens of thousands of men and women were sterilised. Setting a precedent which has never been overturned, the US Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of this practice in the 1907 case Buck v. Bell.

Today mental testing is a routine phenomenon for people of all ages in Western societies. Modern testing aspires to criteria including standardisation of procedure, consistency of results, output of an interpretable score, statistical norms describing population outcomes, and, ideally, effective prediction of behaviour and life outcomes outside of testing situations.

Mental Health Care

The provision of psychological health services is generally called clinical psychology in the US The definitions of this term are various and may include school psychology and counselling psychology. Practitioners typically includes people who have graduated from doctoral programs in clinical psychology but may also include others. In Canada, the above groups usually fall within the larger category of professional psychology. In Canada and the US, practitioners get bachelor’s degrees and doctorates, then spend one year in an internship and one year in postdoctoral education. In Mexico and most other Latin American and European countries, psychologists do not get bachelor’s and doctorate degrees; instead, they take a three-year professional course following high school. Clinical psychology is at present the largest specialisation within psychology. It includes the study and application of psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically based distress, dysfunction or mental illness and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment and psychotherapy although clinical psychologists may also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration.

Credit for the first psychology clinic in the United States typically goes to Lightner Witmer, who established his practice in Philadelphia in 1896. Another modern psychotherapist was Morton Prince. For the most part, in the first part of the twentieth century, most mental health care in the United States was performed by specialised medical doctors called psychiatrists. Psychology entered the field with its refinements of mental testing, which promised to improve diagnosis of mental problems. For their part, some psychiatrists became interested in using psychoanalysis and other forms of psychodynamic psychotherapy to understand and treat the mentally ill. In this type of treatment, a specially trained therapist develops a close relationship with the patient, who discusses wishes, dreams, social relationships, and other aspects of mental life. The therapist seeks to uncover repressed material and to understand why the patient creates defences against certain thoughts and feelings. An important aspect of the therapeutic relationship is transference, in which deep unconscious feelings in a patient reorient themselves and become manifest in relation to the therapist.

Psychiatric psychotherapy blurred the distinction between psychiatry and psychology, and this trend continued with the rise of community mental health facilities and behavioural therapy, a thoroughly non-psychodynamic model which used behaviourist learning theory to change the actions of patients. A key aspect of behaviour therapy is empirical evaluation of the treatment’s effectiveness. In the 1970s, cognitive-behaviour therapy arose, using similar methods and now including the cognitive constructs which had gained popularity in theoretical psychology. A key practice in behavioural and cognitive-behavioural therapy is exposing patients to things they fear, based on the premise that their responses (fear, panic, anxiety) can be deconditioned.

Mental health care today involves psychologists and social workers in increasing numbers. In 1977, National Institute of Mental Health director Bertram Brown described this shift as a source of “intense competition and role confusion”. Graduate programmes issuing doctorates in psychology (PhD or PsyD) emerged in the 1950s and underwent rapid increase through the 1980s. This degree is intended to train practitioners who might conduct scientific research.

Some clinical psychologists may focus on the clinical management of patients with brain injury – this area is known as clinical neuropsychology. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession. The emerging field of disaster psychology (see crisis intervention) involves professionals who respond to large-scale traumatic events.

The work performed by clinical psychologists tends to be influenced by various therapeutic approaches, all of which involve a formal relationship between professional and client (usually an individual, couple, family, or small group). Typically, these approaches encourage new ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving. Four major theoretical perspectives are psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, existential-humanistic, and systems or family therapy. There has been a growing movement to integrate the various therapeutic approaches, especially with an increased understanding of issues regarding culture, gender, spirituality, and sexual orientation. With the advent of more robust research findings regarding psychotherapy, there is evidence that most of the major therapies have equal effectiveness, with the key common element being a strong therapeutic alliance. Because of this, more training programmes and psychologists are now adopting an eclectic therapeutic orientation.

Diagnosis in clinical psychology usually follows the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a handbook first published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952. New editions over time have increased in size and focused more on medical language. The study of mental illnesses is called abnormal psychology.

Education

Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. The work of child psychologists such as Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget, and Jerome Bruner has been influential in creating teaching methods and educational practices. Educational psychology is often included in teacher education programmes in places such as North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

School psychology combines principles from educational psychology and clinical psychology to understand and treat students with learning disabilities; to foster the intellectual growth of gifted students; to facilitate prosocial behaviours in adolescents; and otherwise to promote safe, supportive, and effective learning environments. School psychologists are trained in educational and behavioural assessment, intervention, prevention, and consultation, and many have extensive training in research.

Work

Industrialists soon brought the nascent field of psychology to bear on the study of scientific management techniques for improving workplace efficiency. This field was at first called economic psychology or business psychology; later, industrial psychology, employment psychology, or psychotechnology. An important early study examined workers at Western Electric’s Hawthorne plant in Cicero, Illinois from 1924-1932. With funding from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and guidance from Australian psychologist Elton Mayo, Western Electric experimented on thousands of factory workers to assess their responses to illumination, breaks, food, and wages. The researchers came to focus on workers’ responses to observation itself, and the term Hawthorne effect is now used to describe the fact that people work harder when they think they are being watched.

The name industrial and organisational psychology (I-O) arose in the 1960s and became enshrined as the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Division 14 of the American Psychological Association, in 1973. The goal is to optimise human potential in the workplace. Personnel psychology, a subfield of I-O psychology, applies the methods and principles of psychology in selecting and evaluating workers. I-O psychology’s other subfield, organisational psychology, examines the effects of work environments and management styles on worker motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity. The majority of I-O psychologists work outside of academia, for private and public organisations and as consultants. A psychology consultant working in business today might expect to provide executives with information and ideas about their industry, their target markets, and the organisation of their company.

Military and Intelligence

One role for psychologists in the military is to evaluate and counsel soldiers and other personnel. In the US, this function began during World War I, when Robert Yerkes established the School of Military Psychology at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia, to provide psychological training for military staff military. Today, US Army psychology includes psychological screening, clinical psychotherapy, suicide prevention, and treatment for post-traumatic stress, as well as other aspects of health and workplace psychology such as smoking cessation.

Psychologists may also work on a diverse set of campaigns known broadly as psychological warfare. Psychological warfare chiefly involves the use of propaganda to influence enemy soldiers and civilians. In the case of so-called black propaganda the propaganda is designed to seem like it originates from a different source. The CIA’s MKULTRA programme involved more individualised efforts at mind control, involving techniques such as hypnosis, torture, and covert involuntary administration of LSD. The US military used the name Psychological Operations (PSYOP) until 2010, when these were reclassified as Military Information Support Operations (MISO), part of Information Operations (IO). Psychologists are sometimes involved in assisting the interrogation and torture of suspects, though this has sometimes been denied by those involved and sometimes opposed by others.

Health, Well-Being, and Social Change

Medical facilities increasingly employ psychologists to perform various roles. A prominent aspect of health psychology is the psychoeducation of patients: instructing them in how to follow a medical regimen. Health psychologists can also educate doctors and conduct research on patient compliance.

Psychologists in the field of public health use a wide variety of interventions to influence human behaviour. These range from public relations campaigns and outreach to governmental laws and policies. Psychologists study the composite influence of all these different tools in an effort to influence whole populations of people.

Black American psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark studied the psychological impact of segregation and testified with their findings in the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Positive psychology is the study of factors which contribute to human happiness and well-being, focusing more on people who are currently healthy. In 2010, Clinical Psychological Review published a special issue devoted to positive psychological interventions, such as gratitude journaling and the physical expression of gratitude. Positive psychological interventions have been limited in scope, but their effects are thought to be superior to that of placebos, especially with regard to helping people with body image problems.

Research Methods

Quantitative psychological research lends itself to the statistical testing of hypotheses. Although the field makes abundant use of randomised and controlled experiments in laboratory settings, such research can only assess a limited range of short-term phenomena. Thus, psychologists also rely on creative statistical methods to glean knowledge from clinical trials and population data. These include the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, the analysis of variance, multiple linear regression, logistic regression, structural equation modelling, and hierarchical linear modelling. The measurement and operationalisation of important constructs is an essential part of these research designs.

Controlled Experiments

A true experiment with random allocation of subjects to conditions allows researchers to make strong inferences about causal relationships. In an experiment, the researcher alters parameters of influence, called independent variables, and measures resulting changes of interest, called dependent variables. Prototypical experimental research is conducted in a laboratory with a carefully controlled environment.

Repeated-measures experiments are those which take place through intervention on multiple occasions. In research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy, experimenters often compare a given treatment with placebo treatments, or compare different treatments against each other. Treatment type is the independent variable. The dependent variables are outcomes, ideally assessed in several ways by different professionals. Using crossover design, researchers can further increase the strength of their results by testing both of two treatments on two groups of subjects.

Quasi-experimental design refers especially to situations precluding random assignment to different conditions. Researchers can use common sense to consider how much the non-random assignment threatens the study’s validity. For example, in research on the best way to affect reading achievement in the first three grades of school, school administrators may not permit educational psychologists to randomly assign children to phonics and whole language classrooms, in which case the psychologists must work with pre-existing classroom assignments. Psychologists will compare the achievement of children attending phonics and whole language classes.

Experimental researchers typically use a statistical hypothesis testing model which involves making predictions before conducting the experiment, then assessing how well the data supports the predictions. (These predictions may originate from a more abstract scientific hypothesis about how the phenomenon under study actually works.) Analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical techniques are used to distinguish unique results of the experiment from the null hypothesis that variations result from random fluctuations in data. In psychology, the widely used standard ascribes statistical significance to results which have less than 5% probability of being explained by random variation.

Other Forms of Statistical Inference

Statistical surveys are used in psychology for measuring attitudes and traits, monitoring changes in mood, checking the validity of experimental manipulations, and for other psychological topics. Most commonly, psychologists use paper-and-pencil surveys. However, surveys are also conducted over the phone or through e-mail. Web-based surveys are increasingly used to conveniently reach many subjects.

Neuropsychological tests, such as the Wechsler scales and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, are mostly questionnaires or simple tasks used which assess a specific type of mental function in the respondent. These can be used in experiments, as in the case of lesion experiments evaluating the results of damage to a specific part of the brain.

Observational studies analyse uncontrolled data in search of correlations; multivariate statistics are typically used to interpret the more complex situation. Cross-sectional observational studies use data from a single point in time, whereas longitudinal studies are used to study trends across the life span. Longitudinal studies track the same people, and therefore detect more individual, rather than cultural, differences. However, they suffer from lack of controls and from confounding factors such as selective attrition (the bias introduced when a certain type of subject disproportionately leaves a study).

Exploratory data analysis refers to a variety of practices which researchers can use to visualize and analyse existing sets of data. In Peirce’s three modes of inference, exploratory data analysis corresponds to abduction, or hypothesis formation. Meta-analysis is the technique of integrating the results from multiple studies and interpreting the statistical properties of the pooled dataset.

Technological Assays

A classic and popular tool used to relate mental and neural activity is the electroencephalogram (EEG), a technique using amplified electrodes on a person’s scalp to measure voltage changes in different parts of the brain. Hans Berger, the first researcher to use EEG on an unopened skull, quickly found that brains exhibit signature “brain waves”: electric oscillations which correspond to different states of consciousness. Researchers subsequently refined statistical methods for synthesizing the electrode data, and identified unique brain wave patterns such as the delta wave observed during non-REM sleep.

Newer functional neuroimaging techniques include functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography, both of which track the flow of blood through the brain. These technologies provide more localised information about activity in the brain and create representations of the brain with widespread appeal. They also provide insight which avoids the classic problems of subjective self-reporting. It remains challenging to draw hard conclusions about where in the brain specific thoughts originate – or even how usefully such localisation corresponds with reality. However, neuroimaging has delivered unmistakable results showing the existence of correlations between mind and brain. Some of these draw on a systemic neural network model rather than a localized function model.

Psychiatric interventions such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and drugs also provide information about brain-mind interactions. Psychopharmacology is the study of drug-induced mental effects.

Computer Simulation

Computational modelling is a tool used in mathematical psychology and cognitive psychology to simulate behaviour. This method has several advantages. Since modern computers process information quickly, simulations can be run in a short time, allowing for high statistical power. Modelling also allows psychologists to visualise hypotheses about the functional organisation of mental events that could not be directly observed in a human. Computational neuroscience uses mathematical models to simulate the brain. Another method is symbolic modelling, which represents many mental objects using variables and rules. Other types of modelling include dynamic systems and stochastic modelling.

Animal Studies

Animal experiments aid in investigating many aspects of human psychology, including perception, emotion, learning, memory, and thought, to name a few. In the 1890s, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov famously used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning. Non-human primates, cats, dogs, pigeons, rats, and other rodents are often used in psychological experiments. Ideally, controlled experiments introduce only one independent variable at a time, in order to ascertain its unique effects upon dependent variables. These conditions are approximated best in laboratory settings. In contrast, human environments and genetic backgrounds vary so widely, and depend upon so many factors, that it is difficult to control important variables for human subjects. There are pitfalls in generalizing findings from animal studies to humans through animal models.

Comparative psychology refers to the scientific study of the behaviour and mental processes of non-human animals, especially as these relate to the phylogenetic history, adaptive significance, and development of behaviour. Research in this area explores the behaviour of many species, from insects to primates. It is closely related to other disciplines that study animal behaviour such as ethology.[198] Research in comparative psychology sometimes appears to shed light on human behaviour, but some attempts to connect the two have been quite controversial, for example the Sociobiology of E.O. Wilson. Animal models are often used to study neural processes related to human behaviour, e.g. in cognitive neuroscience.

Qualitative and Descriptive Research

Research designed to answer questions about the current state of affairs such as the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals is known as descriptive research. Descriptive research can be qualitative or quantitative in orientation. Qualitative research is descriptive research that is focused on observing and describing events as they occur, with the goal of capturing all of the richness of everyday behaviour and with the hope of discovering and understanding phenomena that might have been missed if only more cursory examinations have been made.

Qualitative psychological research methods include interviews, first-hand observation, and participant observation. Creswell (2003) identifies five main possibilities for qualitative research, including narrative, phenomenology, ethnography, case study, and grounded theory. Qualitative researchers sometimes aim to enrich interpretations or critiques of symbols, subjective experiences, or social structures. Sometimes hermeneutic and critical aims can give rise to quantitative research, as in Erich Fromm’s study of Nazi voting or Stanley Milgram’s studies of obedience to authority.

Just as Jane Goodall studied chimpanzee social and family life by careful observation of chimpanzee behaviour in the field, psychologists conduct naturalistic observation of ongoing human social, professional, and family life. Sometimes the participants are aware they are being observed, and other times the participants do not know they are being observed. Strict ethical guidelines must be followed when covert observation is being carried out.

Program Evaluation

Program Evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analysing, and using information to answer questions about projects, policies and programmes, particularly about their effectiveness and efficiency. In both the public and private sectors, stakeholders often want to know whether the programmes they are funding, implementing, voting for, receiving or objecting to are producing the intended effect. While programme evaluation first focuses around this definition, important considerations often include how much the programme costs per participant, how the programme could be improved, whether the programme is worthwhile, whether there are better alternatives, if there are unintended outcomes, and whether the programme goals are appropriate and useful.

Contemporary Issues in Methodology and Practice

Metascience

The field of metascience has revealed significant problems with the methodology of psychological research. Psychological research suffers from high bias, low reproducibility, and widespread misuse of statistics. These finding have led to calls for reform from within and from outside the scientific community.

Confirmation Bias

In 1959, statistician Theodore Sterling examined the results of psychological studies and discovered that 97% of them supported their initial hypotheses, implying a possible publication bias. Similarly, Fanelli (2010) found that 91.5% of psychiatry/psychology studies confirmed the effects they were looking for, and concluded that the odds of this happening (a positive result) was around five times higher than in fields such as space- or geosciences. Fanelli argues that this is because researchers in “softer” sciences have fewer constraints to their conscious and unconscious biases.

Replication

Over the subsequent few years, a replication crisis in psychology was identified, where it was publicly noted that many notable findings in the field had not been replicated and with some researchers being accused of outright fraud in their results. More systematic efforts to assess the extent of the problem, such as the Reproducibility Project of the Centre for Open Science, found that as many as two-thirds of highly publicised findings in psychology had failed to be replicated, with reproducibility being generally stronger in studies and journals representing cognitive psychology than social psychology topics, and the subfields of differential psychology (including general intelligence and Big Five personality traits research), behavioural genetics (except for candidate gene and candidate gene-by-environment interaction research on behaviour and mental illness), and the related field of behavioural economics being largely unaffected by the replication crisis. Other subfields of psychology that have been implicated by the replication crisis are clinical psychology, developmental psychology (particularly cognitive and personality development), and a field closely related to psychology that has also been implicated is educational research.

Focus on the replication crisis has led to other renewed efforts in the discipline to re-test important findings, and in response to concerns about publication bias and p-hacking, more than 140 psychology journals have adopted result-blind peer review where studies are accepted not on the basis of their findings and after the studies are completed, but before the studies are conducted and upon the basis of the methodological rigor of their experimental designs and the theoretical justifications for their statistical analysis techniques before data collection or analysis is done. In addition, large-scale collaborations between researchers working in multiple labs in different countries and that regularly make their data openly available for different researchers to assess have become much more common in the field. Early analysis of such reforms has estimated that 61% of result-blind studies have led to null results, in contrast to an estimated 5% to 20% in earlier research.

Misuse of Statistics

Some critics view statistical hypothesis testing as misplaced. Psychologist and statistician Jacob Cohen wrote in 1994 that psychologists routinely confuse statistical significance with practical importance, enthusiastically reporting great certainty in unimportant facts. Some psychologists have responded with an increased use of effect size statistics, rather than sole reliance on p-values.

WEIRD Bias

In 2008, Arnett pointed out that most articles in American Psychological Association journals were about US populations when US citizens are only 5% of the world’s population. He complained that psychologists had no basis for assuming psychological processes to be universal and generalizing research findings to the rest of the global population. In 2010, Henrich, Heine, and Norenzayan reported a systemic bias in conducting psychology studies with participants from “WEIRD” (western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) societies. Although only 1/8 people worldwide live in regions that fall into the WEIRD classification, the researchers claimed that 60-90% of psychology studies are performed on participants from these areas. The article gave examples of results that differ significantly between people from WEIRD and tribal cultures, including the Müller-Lyer illusion. Arnett (2008), Altmaier and Hall (2008), and Morgan-Consoli et al. (2018) saw the Western bias in research and theory as a serious problem considering psychologists are increasingly applying psychological principles developed in WEIRD regions in their research, clinical work, and consultation with populations around the world. In 2018, Rad, Martingano & Ginges showed that nearly a decade after Henrich et al.’s paper, over 80% of the samples used in studies published in the journal, Psychological Science, were from the WEIRD population. Moreover, their analysis showed that several studies did not fully disclose the origin of their samples, and the authors offer a set of recommendations to editors and reviewers to reduce the WEIRD bias.

From an anthropological perspective, scholars applied the WEIRD model to European history, arguing that a powerful Christian Church forced a radical change away from incest and cousin marriages that undermined the role of clans and created individualism in Europe by 1500 CE. They argue that a distinctive Western psychology thus emerged that valued agency, autonomy, and kindness towards strangers. Historians were not involved in that study, and have stated that it contains historical fallacies regarding an all-powerful Church at too early a point in time and a rejection of cousin marriage that did not happen.

Unscientific Mental Health Training

Some observers perceive a gap between scientific theory and its application – in particular, the application of unsupported or unsound clinical practices. Critics say there has been an increase in the number of mental health training programs that do not instil scientific competence. Practices such as “facilitated communication for infantile autism”; memory-recovery techniques including body work; and other therapies, such as rebirthing and reparenting, may be dubious or even dangerous, despite their popularity. In 1984, Allen Neuringer made a similar point[vague] regarding the experimental analysis of behaviour. Psychologists, sometimes divided along the lines of laboratory vs. clinic, continue to debate these issues.

Ethics

Ethical standards in the discipline have changed over time. Some famous past studies are today considered unethical and in violation of established codes (the Canadian Code of Conduct for Research Involving Humans, and the Belmont Report).

The most important contemporary standards are informed and voluntary consent. After World War II, the Nuremberg Code was established because of Nazi abuses of experimental subjects. Later, most countries (and scientific journals) adopted the Declaration of Helsinki. In the US, the National Institutes of Health established the Institutional Review Board in 1966, and in 1974 adopted the National Research Act (HR 7724). All of these measures encouraged researchers to obtain informed consent from human participants in experimental studies. A number of influential studies led to the establishment of this rule; such studies included the MIT and Fernald School radioisotope studies, the Thalidomide tragedy, the Willowbrook hepatitis study, and Stanley Milgram’s studies of obedience to authority.

Humans

University psychology departments have ethics committees dedicated to the rights and well-being of research subjects. Researchers in psychology must gain approval of their research projects before conducting any experiment to protect the interests of human participants and laboratory animals.

The ethics code of the American Psychological Association originated in 1951 as “Ethical Standards of Psychologists”. This code has guided the formation of licensing laws in most American states. It has changed multiple times over the decades since its adoption. In 1989, the APA revised its policies on advertising and referral fees to negotiate the end of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The 1992 incarnation was the first to distinguish between “aspirational” ethical standards and “enforceable” ones. Members of the public have a five-year window to file ethics complaints about APA members with the APA ethics committee; members of the APA have a three-year window.

Some of the ethical issues considered most important are the requirement to practice only within the area of competence, to maintain confidentiality with the patients, and to avoid sexual relations with them. Another important principle is informed consent, the idea that a patient or research subject must understand and freely choose a procedure they are undergoing. Some of the most common complaints against clinical psychologists include sexual misconduct, and involvement in child custody evaluations.

Other Animals

Current ethical guidelines state that using non-human animals for scientific purposes is only acceptable when the harm (physical or psychological) done to animals is outweighed by the benefits of the research. Keeping this in mind, psychologists can use certain research techniques on animals that could not be used on humans.

  • An experiment by Stanley Milgram raised questions about the ethics of scientific experimentation because of the extreme emotional stress suffered by the participants.
    • It measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.
  • Comparative psychologist Harry Harlow drew moral condemnation for isolation experiments on rhesus macaque monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the 1970s.
    • The aim of the research was to produce an animal model of clinical depression.
    • Harlow also devised what he called a “rape rack”, to which the female isolates were tied in normal monkey mating posture.
    • In 1974, American literary critic Wayne C. Booth wrote that, “Harry Harlow and his colleagues go on torturing their nonhuman primates decade after decade, invariably proving what we all knew in advance – that social creatures can be destroyed by destroying their social ties.”
    • He writes that Harlow made no mention of the criticism of the morality of his work.