Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of the organism’s behaviour. It is a systematic and empirical study based on theory and principles. Science means a set of information and laws obtained through scientific universal procedure which is called the scientific method. Behaviour implies all actions individual, social, physical, mental and human or animal. Soul that is life or cause of existence is closely related to Psychology. That is why the science of Psychology was primarily defined as the science of soul. But as we cannot probe exactly what the soul is we prefer to emphasize on the overt or the observable behaviour to our study. Psychology is, however, required to investigate the nature of soul and super natural acts which we believe are the vital realities. We may seek guidance from Divine Revelation being the ultimate and most reliable source of knowledge.
Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Psychoanalysts are to be distinguished from one another for many practical reasons. Each of the three professionals has own, separate field to work though they are required to collaborate and cooperate with one another. Sociology and Anthropology are also behavioral sciences which contribute a lot to Psychology in many ways.
Like all other disciplines Psychology also has its origin in Philosophy. A number of centuries ago Demonology prevailed in whole the world. In the East it has roots in the very primitive history and unfortunately it still persists in many areas. Buddha’s teachings had a tremendous impact on man’s attempt of behavioral study. The concepts of Transmigration of souls Yoga and several other strong beliefs are still in vogue in these areas. The ancient Greeks had enjoyed a cultural hegemony over the world much before Holy Christ and Muhammad (peace be upon him). Many Muslim thinkers emerged who contributed toward understanding, explanation and modification of human behaviour.
In the West, the Greek influence lasted till Renaissance and Descartes (1596 – 1650 AD) who tried to take Psychology (the Mental Philosophy as he called) out of the influence of the ancient Greek philosophers. He emphasized the need of empirical evidence and observation instead of speculation.
Setting up an independent Institute of Psychology at Leipzig University, Germany was a landmark in history of Psychology. It was Wilhelm Wundt who did it in 1875. William James in America set up the first psychological laboratory in the w6rld in 1883. Weber’s law of Fraction was another step forward in Psychophysics, which was modified by Fechner in 1860. About the end of nineteenth century Stanley Hall also established another psychological laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. William James also wrote a first book “The Principles of Psychology” in 1900 following Wilhelm Wundt’s “Principles of Physiological Psychology” in 1874.
Franz Mesmer a German physician developed a practice of Hypnotism (also called Mesmerism). In 1912 Wertheimer, Koffa and Kohler created the idea of Gestalt psychology. The idea says that experience is not atomized but related to pattern and full figure.
Structuralism is the school introduced by Wilhelm Wundt who wanted to study the basic structure of the human mind i.e. what it is rather than what it does. He developed the method of ‘analytic introspection’ to understand this. The school of Functionalism pioneered by John Dewey wanted to know what the human mind does (functions) to broaden the scope of Psychology. John Dewey, it is said, left lasting impressions on American’s entire education system and that the American Psychology is still functionalist in outlook. The Behaviorist School took birth in the hands of John B. Watson and his associates.
This school was strongly influenced by the studies of Great Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Sigmund Freud in Vienna introduced his theory of psychoanalysis which emphasized the human world of the unconscious mind. The Psychoanalytic school emphasized the immediate application of knowledge to treat individuals showing abnormal behaviour and not normal mind. The drives, Sigmund Freud the founder, said were unconscious and they created conflict between the individual and the mores of the society. The Humanistic psychologists like Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers seek to expand the contents of Psychology by including such unique human experiences as love, hate, hope, humor and responsibility. All these are not usually studied in scientific manner.
The most recent psychological school is that of Cognitive Psychology which seeks to understand the ways by which the mind processes the information it perceives i.e. organizes, remembers and uses.
The Educational Psychologist has an enormous task to help solve number of problems relating to learning, student-teacher, and parent-teacher relation with reference to student. How he can help both gifted arid mentally retarded students to their fullest potential. The School Psychologist is supposed to work in elementary and secondary schools. They are often engaged in teacher- training to enable them to handle student’s problems better. They also provide counseling to students of different nature and their parents. The Counseling Psychologist gives and interprets psychological tests and is expected to interview and observe those who contact him for help.
Clinical, Industrial and Organizational, Developmental, Social, Personality, Criminal and Correctional, Measurement and Engineering Psychologists all work in their relevant sub-fields of psychology. There are various interesting and attractive careers for psychologists having sufficient training and experience. Among new trends and avenues, Environmental, Forensic, Population and Community Psychology have emerged as popular sub disciplines.