Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. Psychologists study such phenomena as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Psychology also refers to the application of such knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including problems of individuals' daily lives and the treatment of mental health problems.
A - F
- Psychology, or the great, and in our days, so neglected science of the soul, both as an entity distinct from the spirit and in its relations with the spirit and body. In modern science, psychology relates only or principally to conditions of the nervous system, and almost absolutely ignores the psychical essence and nature. Physicians denominate the science of insanity psychology, and name the lunatic chair in medical colleges by that designation.
- H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, Before the Veil, (1877)
- Astrology is to exact astronomy what psychology is to exact physiology. In astrology and psychology one has to step beyond the visible world of matter, and enter into the domain of transcendent spirit. It is the old struggle between the Platonic and Aristotelean schools, and it is not in our century of Sadducean skepticism that the former will prevail over the latter.
- H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, p. 259, (1877)
- When psychology and physiology become worthy of the name of sciences, Europeans will be convinced of the weird and formidable potency existing in the human will and imagination, whether exercised consciously or otherwise. And yet, how easy to realize such power in spirit, if we only think of that grand truism in nature that every most insignificant atom in it is moved by spirit, which is one in its essence, for the least particle of it represents the whole; and that matter is but the concrete copy of the abstract idea, after all.
- H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, p. 384, (1877)
- Neglected as psychology now is, and with the strangely chaotic state in which physiology is confessed to be by its most fair students, certainly it is not very likely that our men of science will soon rediscover the lost knowledge of the ancients. In the days of old, when prophets were not treated as charlatans, nor thaumaturgists as impostors, there were colleges instituted for teaching prophecy and occult sciences in general. Samuel is recorded as the chief of such an institution at Ramah; Elisha, also, at Jericho. The schools of hazim, prophets or seers, were celebrated throughout the country. Hillel had a regular academy, and Socrates is well known to have sent away several of his disciples to study manticism. The study of magic, or wisdom, included every branch of science, the metaphysical as well as the physical, psychology and physiology in their common and occult phases, and the study of alchemy was universal, for it was both a physical and a spiritual science. Therefore why doubt or wonder that the ancients, who studied nature under its double aspect, achieved discoveries which to our modern physicists, who study but its dead letter, are a closed book?
- H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, Vol. I, p. 482, (1877)
- Modern psychology at its best has a questionable understanding of the soul. It has no place for the natural superiority of the philosophic life, and no understanding of education. So children who are impregnated with that psychology live in a sub-basement and have a long climb just to get back up to the cave, or the world of common sense, which is the proper beginning for their ascent toward wisdom. They do not have confidence in what they feel or what they see, and they have an ideology that provides not a reason but a rationalization for their timidity.
- There is one view that we can allow these AI [tools] to deal with data and analytics and we let people deal with the caring, and the empathy, and the emotional aspects of care, which I think is absolutely critical... What if technology is capable of high touch engagement? What if AI was also social and emotionally intelligent? For me when I talk about emotional engagement, it’s not just about great user experience with technology... It is about deeper human engagement to enable transformative change in people’s lives... We have the world of design and we have the world of AI and right now those two aren’t built top of each other... But these have to come together. So we, through a lot of psychology, understand how people are thinking about experiencing new technology.
- Cynthia Breazeal quoted in Is emotional support part of AI's future in healthcare? by Laura Lovett, Healthcare IT News, (10 November 2018)
- To judge from current writing, psychology has pretty well demolished the private conscience. University professors can tell their students nowadays that the moral standards of the past are only tribal tabus, and a goodly number devote themselves to pulling habits out of rats.
- Douglas Bush in a lecture Life, Letters and Education given at Smith College (Nov 13 1941) and Wellesley College (Dec 2 1941), Massachusetts. Reprinted in 1953 in Essays British and American
- Douglas Bush is the commonly cited source of "habits out of rats", but see under William York Tindall for an earlier (1939) use.
- Psychology appeared to be a jungle of confusing, conflicting, and arbitrary concepts. These pre-scientific theories doubtless contained insights which still surpass in refinement those depended upon by psychiatrists or psychologists today. But who knows, among the many brilliant ideas offered, which are the true ones? Some will claim that the statements of one theorist are correct, but others will favour the views of another. Then there is no objective way of sorting out the truth except through scientific research.
- Raymond Cattell (1965). The Scientific Analysis of Personality, Baltimore, MD: Penguin, p. 14.
- Unlike the physicist, the psychologist … investigates processes that belong to the same order — perception, learning, thinking — as those by which he conducts his investigation.
- Morris R. Cohen, Reason and Nature (1953), p. 81
- Psychology has a long past, but only a short history.
G - L
- Cancer has the biopsy, kidney disease has the urine test, and HIV has the cheek swab, yet diagnosis for mental illness is often nothing more than a survey or a conversation with a psychiatrist.
- Knaresboro, Tarah (3 May 2011). Read My Blood. Psychology Today.
- [Modern psychology] appears as the sickly offspring of average common sense when it is taken as what it professes to be—a science of the inner life. The entire achievements of the so-called science in this respect is outweighed by a single page of Goethe’s or of Jean Paul’s psychology; and it is impossible to evade the bitter truth which Novalis already has summed up, when he says that so-called psychology is one of those idols which have usurped the place in the sanctuary where true images of the gods should stand.
- Ludwig Klages, The Science of Character, W. Johnston, trans., p. 16
- Truly, if you want to ascertain what love there is in you or in another person, then pay attention to how he relates himself to one who is dead. If one wishes to observe a person, it is very important for the sake of the observation that one, in seeing him in a relationship, look at him alone. When one actual person relates himself to another actual person, the result is two, the relationship is constituted, and the observation of the one person alone is made difficult. In other words, the second person covers over something of the first person; moreover, the second person can have so much influence that the first one appears different from what he is. Therefore a double accounting is necessary here; the observation must keep a special account of the influence the second person has on the person who is the object under observation through his personality, his characteristics, his virtues, and his defects. If you could manage to see someone shadowboxing in dead earnest, or if you could prevail upon a dancer to dance solo the dance he customarily dances with another, you would be able to observe his motions best, better than if he were boxing with another actual person or is he were dancing with another actual person. And if, in conversation with someone, you understand the art of making yourself no one, you get to know best what resides in this person.
- Soren Kierkegaard 1847 Works of Love, Hong 1995 p. 347
- Psychology is a very unsatisfactory science. Comparing the vast body of systematised and recognised facts in physics with those in psychology one will doubt the advisability of teaching the latter to anybody who does not intend to become a professional psychologist, one might even doubt the advisability of training professional psychologists. But when one considers the potential contribution which psychology can make to our understanding of the universe, one's attitude may be changed. Science becomes easily divorced from life. The mathematician needs an escape from the thin air of his abstractions, beautiful as they are; the physicist wants to revel in sounds that are soft, mellow, and melodious, that seem to reveal mysteries which are hidden under the curtain of waves and atoms and mathematical equations; and even the biologist likes to enjoy the antics of his dog on Sundays unhampered by his weekday conviction that in reality they - are but chains of machine-like reflexes
- Psychoanalysis provides truth in an infantile, that is, a schoolboy fashion: we learn from it, roughly and hurriedly, things that scandalize us and thereby command our attention. It sometimes happens, and such is the case here, that a simplification touching upon the truth, but cheaply, is of no more value than a lie. Once again we are shown the demon and the angel, the beast and the god locked in Manichean embrace, and once again man has been pronounced, by himself, not culpable.
- Stanisław Lem, His Master's Voice (1968), tr. Michael Kandel (1983), Preface
- One can ask two different kinds of questions with regard to the topics of study in psychology as well as in other sciences. One can ask for the phenomenal characteristics of psychological units or events, for example, how many kinds of feelings can be qualitatively differentiated from one another or which characteristics describe an experience of a voluntary act. Aside from this are the questions asking for the why, for the cause and the effect, for the conditional-genetic interrelations. For example, one can ask: Under which conditions has been a decision made and which are the specific psychological effects which follow this decision? The depiction of phenomenal characteristics is usually characterized as “description”, the depiction of causal relationships as “explanation.”
- Kurt Lewin (1927). "Gesetz und experiment in der Psychologie" [Law and experiment in psychology]. in: Symposion, Vol 1, p. 375-421. Transl. Kurt Kreppner
M - R
- Despite the burgeoning technologies in the field of "helping", on many levels psychotherapy is still a crapshoot. Some of the goal of training, I think, is to help students accept that fact. The work is part science, part art, and part luck. Learning to tolerate the anxiety inherent in that recipe is critical for any clinician.
- Martha Manning, in Undercurrents (1st edition ed.). HarperCollins. 1995. pp. p. 9
- But a person who calls himself a psychologist is in a peculiar position these days. Before he can write about the psychology of emotion, or intelligence, or, in fact, about the psychology of any human behaviour, he must define what he means by psychology. The introspectionistic psychologists, now considered unscientific, regarded any exposition as psychological which described its phenomena in subjective or introspective terms. Now the introspectionists are pushed into the background. In their place we find a great variety of teachers and researchers all naming their diverse methods and observations "psychology". We have, for instance, in the field of emotions, the physiologists, the neurologists, the physiological psychologists, the behaviorists, the endocrinologists, the mental-tester-statisticians, the psycho-analysts, and the psychiatrists. Each of these types of worker confesses himself to be a psychologist, and, moreover, each maintains that his are the only psychologically worth-while results. Psychology to-day, like Europe in the Middle Ages, is being fought over by feudal barons who have little in common save tacit acceptance of the rule that spoils shall be taken whenever and however possible.
- Our problem is : What are the underlying desires or wishes, that lead some scientists to insist upon mechanistic conceptions, and others equally eminent, to espouse some form of scientific vitalism ? For in psychology, as in other sciences, a materialistic or vitalistic bias may be found at the root of nearly all factional schools, or contentious groups.
- Stripped of its bizarre excesses, Cameron's experiments, building upon Donald O. Hebb's earlier breakthrough, laid the scientific foundation for the CIA's two-stage psychological torture method.
- Alfred W. McCoy, as quoted by Klein, N., "The Shock Doctrine", p. 41, Metropolitan Books, New York, 2007
- The practical basis of the medical profession rested on psychology. Everyone felt better when self-confident, expensive experts could be called in to handle a vital emergency. Doctors relieved others of the responsibility for deciding what to do. As such, their role was strictly comparable to that of the priesthood, whose ministrations to the soul relieved anxieties parallel to those relieved by medical ministrations to the body.
- Theories in "soft" areas of psychology (e.g., clinical, counseling, social, personality, school, and community) lack the cumulative character of scientific knowledge because they tend neither to be refuted nor corroborated, but instead merely fade away as people lose interest. Even though intrinsic subject matter difficulties (20 are listed) contribute to this, the excessive reliance on significance testing is partly responsible (Ronald A. Fisher). Karl Popper's approach, with modifications, would be prophylactic. Since the null hypothesis is quasi-always false, tables summarizing research in terms of patterns of "significant differences" are little more than complex, causally uninterpretable outcomes of statistical power functions. Multiple paths to estimating numerical point values ("consistency tests") are better, even if approximate with rough tolerances; and lacking this, ranges, orderings, 2nd-order differences, curve peaks and valleys, and function forms should be used. Such methods are usual in developed sciences that seldom report statistical significance. Consistency tests of a conjectural taxometric model yielded 94% success with no false negatives.
- Paul E. Meehl, (1978). "Theoretical risks and tabular asterisks: Sir Karl, Sir Ronald, and the slow progress of soft psychology". Journal of consulting and clinical Psychology 46 (4): 806–834.
- The old distinctions among emotion, reason, and aesthetics are like the earth, air, and fire of an ancient alchemy. We will need much better concepts than these for a working psychic chemistry.
- We cannot describe how the mind is made without having good ways to describe complicated processes. Before computers, no languages were good for that. Piaget tried algebra and Freud tried diagrams; other psychologists used Markov Chains and matrices, but none came to much. Behaviorists, quite properly, had ceased to speak at all. Linguists flocked to formal syntax, and made progress for a time but reached a limit: transformational grammar shows the contents of the registers (so to speak), but has no way to describe what controls them. This makes it hard to say how surface speech relates to underlying designation and intent–a baby-and-bath-water situation. I prefer ideas from AI research because there we tend to seek procedural description first, which seems more appropriate for mental matters.
- Marvin Minsky, in "Music, Mind, and Meaning" (1981)
- The popular medical formulation of morality that goes back to Ariston of Chios, "virtue is the health of the soul," would have to be changed to become useful, at least to read: "your virtue is the health of your soul." For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been wretched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body; and the more we allow the unique and incomparable to raise its head again, and the more we abjure the dogma of the "equality of men," the more must the concept of a normal health, along with a normal diet and the normal course of an illness, be abandoned by medical men. Only then would the time have come to reflect on the health and illness of the soul, and to find the peculiar virtue of each man in the health of his soul.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, § 120 “Health of the Soul”
- I'm anti too much psychology. I never miss a chance to take a snipe at it. If anything in this world is a narrow and structured way of looking at things, kind of a sheet thrown in front of your eyes that tells you how to look at things, it's psychology. I've had psychology teachers tell students who've written very good stories that their characters would never have behaved as they did in the story. They're practically murderers of history; and besides, literature preceded psychology. (1978)
- 1978 interview anthologized in Conversations with Grace Paley edited by Gerhard Bach and Blaine Hall (1997)
- A clinical psychologist quietly questions his patient and passively observes his behavior during many preliminary consultations. He then collects his notes and observations, concentrates his thought upon the entire case, and makes an analysis of the patient's mental difficulties and maladjustments of personality. The psychologist then begins to persuade the patient to change his course of action in accordance with professional advice. In the end, the psychologist removes the patient's emotional difficulties and effects a more normal and efficient organization of his personality, thereby improving his life and increasing his happiness.
In the behavior of the psychologist during the treatment of his patient, we see expressions of the four elementary emotions in their proper order:(1) compliance; (2) dominance; (3) inducement; (4) submission.
The psychologist begins by complying completely with the patient's existing state of personality and emotion (a method strongly advocated by Alfred Adler). The psychologist accepts the patient just as he is, and merely observes and records his condition. This behavior constitutes intellectual compliance.
Next, he analyzes and reconstructs the entire personality picture. He attempts to understand his patient's personality and to master its hidden difficulties and maladjustments. Here, he dominates intellectually by over coming the difficulties and resistance which blocked the complete conprehension of the patient's personality.
He then persuades his patient to behave in a new way, prescribed by the psychologist — a process which is clearly inducement.
Finally, the psychologist, by means of inducement, re moves the patient's personality difficulties and serves the patient as he most wants to be served. This ultimate action expresses the submission, which is the psychologist's final purpose in undertaking the case.
- Western psychologists accuse religion of repressing the vital energy of man and rendering his life quite miserable as a result of the sense of guilt which especially obsesses the religious people and makes them imagine that all their actions are sinful and can only be expiated through abstention from enjoying the pleasures of life. Those psychologists add that Europe lived in the darkness of ignorance as long as it adhered to its religion but once it freed itself from the fetters of religion, its emotions were liberated and accordingly it achieved wonders in the field of production.
- Muhammad Qutb, Islam and Sexual Repression, chapter 4
- It is a principle of modern psychology that the feelings most apt to influence behavior are those that we try hardest to suppress. They work like malicious secret agents in the shadowed corners of the psyche. The basic strategy of every school of psychology is therefore to recover the repressed, to shine the light of awareness upon all that is hidden so that its influence can be assessed and allowed for. This amounts to saying that honesty—a clear declaration of one's tastes, preferences, vested interests, and emotional involvement—may be more important than objecitivity, if by objectivity one means affecting a blank and neutral state. In the latter sense objectivity may be a pretense that hides profound distortions.
- Theodore Roszak, The Gendered Atom (1999)
- One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.
S - Z
- Economists have never allowed their analysis to be influenced by psychologists of their time, but have always framed for themselves such assumptions about psychical processes as they have thought it desirable to make.
- Joseph Schumpeter, History of Economic Analysis, 1945. p. 27
- Everything that our present-day psychologist has to tell us—and here we refer not only to the systematic science but also in the wider sense to the physiognomic knowledge of men—relates to the present condition of the Western soul, and not, as hitherto gratuitously assumed, to “the human soul” at large.
- Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West, C. Atkinson, trans., Volume 1, p. 303
- The great shift … is the movement away from the value-laden languages of … the “humanities,” and toward the ostensibly value-neutral languages of the “sciences.” This attempt to escape from, or to deny, valuation is … especially important in psychology … and the so-called social sciences. Indeed, one could go so far as to say that the specialized languages of these disciplines serve virtually no other purpose than to conceal valuation behind an ostensibly scientific and therefore nonvaluational semantic screen.
- Thomas Szasz, Anti-Freud (1990), p. 44
- The mysteries revealed by the psychoanalysts have been equally agreeable to those in rebellion against the behaviorists, who seemed to be occupied with nothing more spiritual than pulling habits out of rats.
- Psychology consists of describing states of the soul by displaying them all on the same plane, without any discrimination of value, as though good and evil were external to them, as though the effort toward the good could be absent at any moment from the thought of any man.
- Simone Weil, “The responsibility of writers,” On Science, Necessity, and the Love of God, R. Rees, trans. (1968), p. 168
- In the specialist culture of our bureaucratic-industrial age, the reliance on experts to interpret and evaluate inner life is in itself the most malignant and invasive reach of division of labor.
- John Zerzan, Future Primitive Revisited (2012), p. 43