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Special fields of psychology



1. Introduction
2. Physiological psychology
3. Psychoanalysis
4. Behaviourism
5. Gestalt psychology
6 .Cognition
7. Tests and Measurements
8. Development psychology
9. Social psychology
10. Psychiatry and mental health
11. Forensic psychology and criminology
12. Psychology, religion and phenomenology
13. Parapsychology
14. Industrial Psychology

                              1.  Introduction
    Psychology, scientific study of behavior and experiencethat is, the
    study of how human beings and animals sense, think, learn, and know.
    Modern psychology is devoted to collecting facts about behavior and
    experience and systematically organizing such facts into psychological
    theories. These theories aid in understanding and explaining peoples
    behavior and sometimes in predicting and influencing their future

    Psychology, historically, has been divided into many subfields of
    study; these fields, however, are interrelated and frequently overlap.
    Physiological psychologists, for instance, study the functioning of the
    brain and the nervous system, and experimental psychologists devise
    tests and conduct research to discover how people learn and remember.
    Subfields of psychology may also be described in terms of areas of
    application. Social psychologists, for example, are interested in the
    ways in which people influence one another and the way they act in
    groups. Industrial psychologists study the behavior of people at work
    and the effects of the work environment. School psychologists help
    students make educational and career decisions. Clinical psychologists
    assist those who have problems in daily life or who are mentally ill.

    History. The science of psychology developed from many diverse sources,
    but its origins as a science may be traced to ancient Greece.

    Philosophical Beginnings.  Plato and Aristotle, as well as other Greek
    philosophers, took up some of the basic questions of psychology that
    are still under study: Are people born with certain skills, abilities,
    and personality, or do all these develop as a result of experience? How
    do people come to know the world? Are certain ideas and feelings
    innate, or are they all learned?

    Such questions were debated for many centuries, but the roots of modern
    psychological theory are found in the 17th century in the works of the
    French philosopher Ren Descartes and the British philosophers Thomas
    Hobbes and John Locke. Descartes argued that the bodies of people are
    like clockwork machines, but that their minds (or souls) are separate
    and unique. He maintained that minds have certain inborn, or innate,
    ideas and that these ideas are crucial in organizing peoples
    experiencing of the world. Hobbes and Locke, on the other hand,
    stressed the role of experience as the source of human knowledge. Locke
    believed that all information about the physical world comes through
    the senses and that all correct ideas can be traced to the sensory
    information on which they are based.

    Most modern psychology developed along the lines of Lockes view. Some
    European psychologists who studied perception, however, held onto
    Descartess idea that some mental organization is innate, and the
    concept still plays a role in theories of perception and cognition.

    Against this philosophical background, the field that contributed most
    to the development of scientific psychology was physiologythe study of
    the functions of the various organ systems of the body. The German
    physiologist Johannes Miller tried to relate sensory experience both to
    events in the nervous system and to events in the organisms physical
    environment. The first true experimental psychologists were the German
    physicist Gustav Theodor Fechner and the German physiologist Wilhelm
    Wundt. Fechner developed experimental methods for measuring sensations
    in terms of the physical magnitude of the stimuli producing them.
    Wundt, who in 1879 founded the first laboratory of experimental
    psychology in Leipzig, Germany, trained students from around the world
    in this new science.

    Physicians who became concerned with mental illness also contributed to
    the development of modern psychological theories. Thus, the systematic
    classification of mental disorders developed by the German psychiatric
    pioneer Emil Kraepelin remains the basis for methods of classification
    that are now in use. Far better known, however, is the work of Sigmund
    Freud, who devised the system of investigation and treatment known as
    psychoanalysis. In his work, Freud called attention to instinctual
    drives and unconscious motivational processes that determine peoples
    behavior. This stress on the contents of thought, on the dynamics of
    motivation rather than the nature of cognition in itself, exerted a
    strong influence on the course of modern psychology.

    Modern psychology still retains many aspects of the fields and kinds of
    speculation from which it grew. Some psychologists, for example, are
    primarily interested in physiological research, others are medically
    oriented, and a few try to develop a more encompassing, philosophical
    understanding of psychology as a whole. Although some practitioners
    still insist that psychology should be concerned only with behaviorand
    may even deny the meaningfulness of an inner, mental lifemore and more
    psychologists would now agree that mental life or experience is a valid
    psychological concern.

  The areas of modern psychology range from the biological sciences to the
  social sciences.

                        2.  Physiological psychology
    The study of underlying physiological bases of psychological functions
    is known as physiological psychology. The two major communication
    systems of the bodythe nervous system and the circulatory systemare
    the focus of most research in this area.

    The nervous system consists of the central nervous system (the brain
    and the spinal cord) and its outlying neural network, the peripheral
    nervous system; the latter communicates with the glands and muscles and
    includes the sensory receptors for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting,
    touching, feeling pain, and sensing stimuli within the body. The
    circulatory system circulates the blood and also carries the important
    chemical agents known as hormones from the glands to all parts of the
    body. Both these communication systems are very important in overall
    human behavior.

    The smallest unit of the nervous system is the single nerve cell, or
    neuron. When a neuron is properly stimulated, it transmits
    electrochemical signals from one place in the system to another. The
    nervous system has 12.5 billion neurons, of which about 10 billion are
    in the brain itself.

    One part of the peripheral nervous system, the somatic system,
    transmits sensations into the central nervous system and carries
    commands from the central system to the muscles involved in movement.
    Another part of the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic system,
    consists of two divisions that have opposing functions. The sympathetic
    division arouses the body by speeding the heartbeat, dilating the
    pupils of the eye, and releasing adrenaline into the blood. The
    parasympathetic division operates to calm the body by reversing these

    A simple example of communication within the nervous system is the
    spinal arc, which is seen in the knee-jerk reflex. A tap on the
    patellar tendon, just below the kneecap, sends a signal to the spinal
    cord via sensory neurons. This signal activates motor neurons that
    trigger a contraction of the muscle attached to the tendon; the
    contraction, in turn, causes the leg to jerk. Thus, a stimulus can lead
    to a response without involving the brain, via a connection through the
    spinal cord.

    Circulatory communication is ordinarily slower than nervous-system
    communication. The hormones secreted by the bodys endocrine glands
    circulate through the body, influencing both structural and behavioral
    changes . The sex hormones, for example, that are released during
    adolescence effect many changes in body growth and development as well
    as changes in behavior, such as the emergence of specific sexual
    activity and the increase of interest in the opposite sex. Other
    hormones may have more direct, short-term effects; for instance,
    adrenaline, which is secreted when a person faces an emergency,
    prepares the body for a quick responsewhether fighting or flight.

                             3.  Psychoanalysis
    Psychoanalysis, name applied to a specific method of investigating
    unconscious mental processes and to a form of psychotherapy. The term
    refers, as well, to the systematic structure of psychoanalytic theory,
    which is based on the relation of conscious and unconscious
    psychological processes.

Theory of Psychoanalysis

The technique of psychoanalysis and much of the psychoanalytic theory based
on its application were developed by Sigmund Freud. His work concerning the
structure and the functioning of the human mind had far-reaching
significance, both practically and scientifically, and it continues to
influence contemporary thought.

The Unconscious

The first of Freuds innovations was his recognition of unconscious
psychiatric processes that follow laws different from those that govern
conscious experience. Under the influence of the unconscious, thoughts and
feelings that belong together may be shifted or displaced out of context;
two disparate ideas or images may be condensed into one; thoughts may be
dramatized in the form of images rather than expressed as abstract
concepts; and certain objects may be represented symbolically by images of
other objects, although the resemblance between the symbol and the original
object may be vague or farfetched. The laws of logic, indispensable for
conscious thinking, do not apply to these unconscious mental productions.

Recognition of these modes of operation in unconscious mental processes
made possible the understanding of such previously incomprehensible
psychological phenomena as dreaming. Through analysis of unconscious
processes, Freud saw dreams as serving to protect sleep against disturbing
impulses arising from within and related to early life experiences. Thus,
unacceptable impulses and thoughts, called the latent dream content, are
transformed into a conscious, although no longer immediately
comprehensible, experience called the manifest dream. Knowledge of these
unconscious mechanisms permits the analyst to reverse the so-called dream
work, that is, the process by which the latent dream is transformed into
the manifest dream, and through dream interpretation, to recognize its
underlying meaning.

Instinctual Drives

A basic assumption of Freudian theory is that the unconscious conflicts
involve instinctual impulses, or drives, that originate in childhood. As
these unconscious conflicts are recognized by the patient through analysis,
his or her adult mind can find solutions that were unattainable to the
immature mind of the child. This depiction of the role of instinctual
drives in human life is a unique feature of Freudian theory.

According to Freuds doctrine of infantile sexuality, adult sexuality is an
end product of a complex process of development, beginning in childhood,
involving a variety of body functions or areas (oral, anal, and genital
zones), and corresponding to various stages in the relation of the child to
adults, especially to parents. Of crucial importance is the so-called
Oedipal period, occurring at about four to six years of age, because at
this stage of development the child for the first time becomes capable of
an emotional attachment to the parent of the opposite sex that is similar
to the adults relationship to a mate; the child simultaneously reacts as a
rival to the parent of the same sex. Physical immaturity dooms the childs
desires to frustration and his or her first step toward adulthood to
failure. Intellectual immaturity further complicates the situation because
it makes children afraid of their own fantasies. The extent to which the
child overcomes these emotional upheavals and to which these attachments,
fears, and fantasies continue to live on in the unconscious greatly
influences later life, especially love relationships.

The conflicts occurring in the earlier developmental stages are no less
significant as a formative influence, because these problems represent the
earliest prototypes of such basic human situations as dependency on others
and relationship to authority. Also basic in molding the personality of the
individual is the behavior of the parents toward the child during these
stages of development. The fact that the child reacts, not only to
objective reality, but also to fantasy distortions of reality, however,
greatly complicates even the best-intentioned educational efforts.

Id, Ego, and Superego

The effort to clarify the bewildering number of interrelated observations
uncovered by psychoanalytic exploration led to the development of a model
of the structure of the psychic system. Three functional systems are
distinguished that are conveniently designated as the id, ego, and

The first system refers to the sexual and aggressive tendencies that arise
from the body, as distinguished from the mind. Freud called these
tendencies Triebe, which literally means drives, but which is often
inaccurately translated as instincts to indicate their innate character.
These inherent drives claim immediate satisfaction, which is experienced as
pleasurable; the id thus is dominated by the pleasure principle. In his
later writings, Freud tended more toward psychological rather than
biological conceptualization of the drives.

How the conditions for satisfaction are to be brought about is the task of
the second system, the ego, which is the domain of such functions as
perception, thinking, and motor control that can accurately assess
environmental conditions. In order to fulfill its function of adaptation,
or reality testing, the ego must be capable of enforcing the postponement
of satisfaction of the instinctual impulses originating in the id. To
defend itself against unacceptable impulses, the ego develops specific
psychic means, known as defense mechanisms. These include repression, the
exclusion of impulses from conscious awareness; projection, the process of
ascribing to others ones own unacknowledged desires; and reaction
formation, the establishment of a pattern of behavior directly opposed to a
strong unconscious need. Such defense mechanisms are put into operation
whenever anxiety signals a danger that the original unacceptable impulses
may reemerge.

An id impulse becomes unacceptable, not only as a result of a temporary
need for postponing its satisfaction until suitable reality conditions can
be found, but more often because of a prohibition imposed on the individual
by others, originally the parents. The totality of these demands and
prohibitions constitutes the major content of the third system, the
superego, the function of which is to control the ego in accordance with
the internalized standards of parental figures. If the demands of the
superego are not fulfilled, the person may feel shame or guilt. Because the
superego, in Freudian theory, originates in the struggle to overcome the
Oedipal conflict, it has a power akin to an instinctual drive, is in part
unconscious, and can give rise to feelings of guilt not justified by any
conscious transgression. The ego, having to mediate among the demands of
the id, the superego, and the outside world, may not be strong enough to
reconcile these conflicting forces. The more the ego is impeded in its
development because of being enmeshed in its earlier conflicts, called
fixations or complexes, or the more it reverts to earlier satisfactions and
archaic modes of functioning, known as regression, the greater is the
likelihood of succumbing to these pressures. Unable to function normally,
it can maintain its limited control and integrity only at the price of
symptom formation, in which the tensions are expressed in neurotic


A cornerstone of modern psychoanalytic theory and practice is the concept
of anxiety, which institutes appropriate mechanisms of defense against
certain danger situations. These danger situations, as described by Freud,
are the fear of abandonment by or the loss of the loved one (the object),
the risk of losing the objects love, the danger of retaliation and
punishment, and, finally, the hazard of reproach by the superego. Thus,
symptom formation, character and impulse disorders, and perversions, as
well as sublimations, represent compromise formationsdifferent forms of an
adaptive integration that the ego tries to achieve through more or less
successfully reconciling the different conflicting forces in the mind.

Psychoanalytic Schools

Various psychoanalytic schools have adopted other names for their doctrines
to indicate deviations from Freudian theory.

Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung, one of the earliest pupils of Freud, eventually created a
school that he preferred to call analytical psychology. Like Freud, Jung
used the concept of the libido; however, to him it meant not only sexual
drives, but a composite of all creative instincts and impulses and the
entire motivating force of human conduct. According to his theories, the
unconscious is composed of two parts; the personal unconscious, which
contains the results of the individuals entire experience, and the
collective unconscious, the reservoir of the experience of the human race.
In the collective unconscious exist a number of primordial images, or
archetypes, common to all individuals of a given country or historical era.
Archetypes take the form of bits of intuitive knowledge or apprehension and
normally exist only in the collective unconscious of the individual. When
the conscious mind contains no images, however, as in sleep, or when the
consciousness is caught off guard, the archetypes commence to function.
Archetypes are primitive modes of thought and tend to personify natural
processes in terms of such mythological concepts as good and evil spirits,
fairies, and dragons. The mother and the father also serve as prominent

An important concept in Jungs theory is the existence of two basically
different types of personality, mental attitude, and function. When the
libido and the individuals general interest are turned outward toward
people and objects of the external world, he or she is said to be
extroverted. When the reverse is true, and libido and interest are centered
on the individual, he or she is said to be introverted. In a completely
normal individual these two tendencies alternate, neither dominating, but
usually the libido is directed mainly in one direction or the other; as a
result, two personality types are recognizable.

Jung rejected Freuds distinction between the ego and superego and
recognized a portion of the personality, somewhat similar to the superego,
that he called the persona. The persona consists of what a person appears
to be to others, in contrast to what he or she actually is. The persona is
the role the individual chooses to play in life, the total impression he or
she wishes to make on the outside world.

Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler, another of Freuds pupils, differed from both Freud and Jung
in stressing that the motivating force in human life is the sense of
inferiority, which begins as soon as an infant is able to comprehend the
existence of other people who are better able to care for themselves and
cope with their environment. From the moment the feeling of inferiority is
established, the child strives to overcome it. Because inferiority is
intolerable, the compensatory mechanisms set up by the mind may get out of
hand, resulting in self-centered neurotic attitudes, overcompensations, and
a retreat from the real world and its problems.

Adler laid particular stress on inferiority feelings arising from what he
regarded as the three most important relationships: those between the
individual and work, friends, and loved ones. The avoidance of inferiority
feelings in these relationships leads the individual to adopt a life goal
that is often not realistic and frequently is expressed as an unreasoning
will to power and dominance, leading to every type of antisocial behavior
from bullying and boasting to political tyranny. Adler believed that
analysis can foster a sane and rational community feeling that is
constructive rather than destructive.

Otto Rank

Another student of Freud, Otto Rank, introduced a new theory of neurosis,
attributing all neurotic disturbances to the primary trauma of birth. In
his later writings he described individual development as a progression
from complete dependence on the mother and family, to a physical
independence coupled with intellectual dependence on society, and finally
to complete intellectual and psychological emancipation. Rank also laid
great importance on the will, defined as a positive guiding organization
and integration of self, which utilizes creatively as well as inhibits and
controls the instinctual drives.

Other Psychoanalytic Schools

Later noteworthy modifications of psychoanalytic theory include those of
the American psychoanalysts Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Harry Stack
Sullivan. The theories of Fromm lay particular emphasis on the concept that
society and the individual are not separate and opposing forces, that the
nature of society is determined by its historic background, and that the
needs and desires of individuals are largely formed by their society. As a
result, Fromm believed, the fundamental problem of psychoanalysis and
psychology is not to resolve conflicts between fixed and unchanging
instinctive drives in the individual and the fixed demands and laws of
society, but to bring about harmony and an understanding of the
relationship between the individual and society. Fromm also stressed the
importance to the individual of developing the ability to fully use his or
her mental, emotional, and sensory powers.

Horney worked primarily in the field of therapy and the nature of neuroses,
which she defined as of two types: situation neuroses and character
neuroses. Situation neuroses arise from the anxiety attendant on a single
conflict, such as being faced with a difficult decision. Although they may
paralyze the individual temporarily, making it impossible to think or act
efficiently, such neuroses are not deeply rooted. Character neuroses are
characterized by a basic anxiety and a basic hostility resulting from a
lack of love and affection in childhood.

Sullivan believed that all development can be described exclusively in
terms of interpersonal relations. Character types as well as neurotic
symptoms are explained as results of the struggle against anxiety arising
from the individuals relations with others and are a security system,
maintained for the purpose of allaying anxiety.

Melanie Klein

An important school of thought is based on the teachings of the British
psychoanalyst Melanie Klein. Because most of Kleins followers worked with
her in England, this has come to be known as the English school. Its
influence, nevertheless, is very strong throughout the European continent
and in South America. Its principal theories were derived from observations