Monday, January 21, 2013

History of Psychology

            One cannot understand the history of psychology appropriately without knowing something of the history of philosophy (Goodwin, 2008). In understanding the history of philosophy one can determine that philosophers have already addressed the important issues that concern modern psychologists (Goodwin, 2008). Philosophers, such as John Locke, David Hume, and Wilhelm Wundt have contributed to the discipline of psychology. For instance, John Locke, and David Hume are two philosophers related to psychology’s beginnings as a formal discipline. Wilhelm Wundt was a major philosopher in a western tradition that was a primary contributor to psychology’s beginnings as a formal discipline. Several other philosophers contributed to the psychology’s beginnings as a formal discipline as well. In order for one to fully understanding psychology, one needs to explore its origins and history during the 19th century.
John Locke
            John Locke was a British philosopher considered the founder of the British empiricism movement (Uzgalis, 2012). During Locke’s life he witnessed and experienced several events that affected and influenced his life. Goodwin (2008), “out of these experiences, he developed a liberal political philosophy based on tolerance of dissent and the right of the people to determine how they would lead both their worldly and their more spiritual lives, and in particular, how they would be governed” (p. 38). Locke wrote several influential books, such as the four books of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. These four books were explanations of how Locke viewed the acquirement of knowledge and how humans find a way to understand the world, therefore Locke believed that humans were not born with innate ideas (Goodwin, 2008).
            Locke also expressed his beliefs that human experiences, such as thoughts, sensations, feelings, and images are physical processes that occurred in the nervous system and brain (monism). Monism is the belief that the mind, and the body are the same. Locke also wrote Some Thoughts Concerning Education, which detailed how the thinking of an empiricist may be applied to every aspect of a child’s education (Goodwin, 2008). Locke believed a child was born as a blank slate and learned through experiences. Locke contributed to psychology through his books and the concepts he expressed in them (Goodwin, 2008).
David Hume
            David Hume was a British philosopher, essayist, and historian. Hume was a logical thinker, one who rejected the idea of religion contributing to or affecting psychology in any way, and thought that one should think logically instead of relying on religion. Morris (2009), “for Hume, all the materials of thinking — perceptions — are derived either from sensation, such as outward sentiment or from reflection, such as inward sentiment” (p. 1). Hume delved more on this and other ideas in several books of work, such as A Treatise of Human Nature, the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding, Principles of Morals, and Dialogues concerning Natural Religion. Through his books and work Hume also proposed three laws of association, which were resemblance, contiguity, and cause/effect (Goodwin, 2008).
            Morris (2009), “today, philosophers recognize Hume as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, as well as one of the most thoroughgoing exponents of philosophical naturalism” (p. 1). Hume contributed to psychology as a discipline through his search for causes of behavior, which still influences modern psychologists to continue Hume’s search.
Wilhelm Wundt
            Wilhelm Wundt was a philosopher and father of experimental psychology. Wundt’s influence on the development of psychology as a discipline was enormous as he made arguments for a non-reductionist account of consciousness’ legitimacy, which offered resources and challenges to both philosophy and contemporary psychology (Kim, 2006). Wundt's influence over Edward B. Tichener, a former student influenced him formally to establish structuralism. Wundt also wrote books, such as the Principles of Physiological Psychology, which enabled the establishment of experimental procedures to occur in psychological research (Kim, 2006). Psychology gained a disciplinary identity distinctive from philosophy because of Wundt and his students who developed the empirical methodologies (Kim, 2006).
            The empirical methodologies’ development occurred because of Wundt’s repulsion for the founders of neo-Kantianism, Phenomenology, and Pragmatism. Along with the development of the empirical methodologies, which led the way for psychology to gain its disciplinary identity, Wundt contributed more to this disciplinary identity by opening the first psychological lab in 1879 at University of Leipzig. These two developments stand alone as undeniable accomplishments that Wundt contributed to the discipline of psychology.
Development of the Science of Psychology
            In the 19th century, undoubtedly the most significant period in the development of the science of psychology occurred when Wilhelm Wundt founded the experimental study of self-conscious in a laboratory. This was the first time a laboratory’s exclusive purpose was for psychological research (Academic Writing Tips, 2011). Another development in psychology occurred during this century when Ivan Pavlov performed his classical conditioning experiments, which immensely influenced psychology, in particular the development of behaviorism (Academic Writing Tips, 2011). Several psychologists used Pavlov's conditional reflex work toward the study of conditioning as a form of learning, and his experimental methods contributed to psychology’s move toward objective measurements of behavior, away from subjective and introspection assessments of behavior (Cherry, 2012).
            William James, during this century established the first American psychology laboratory and wrote The Principles of Psychology, and a condensed version titled Psychology: The Briefer Course. He also proposed the James-Lange theory of emotion, which proposes that an event triggers a physiological reaction, which one can therefore interpret (Cherry, 2012). According to Academic Writing Tips (2011), “after experimental psychology, other areas of specialization such as scientific pedagogy appeared in the early 1880s led by G. Stanley Hall and the educational theory by John Dewey was another milestone in the same era” (p. 1). Hall also established at Johns Hopkins University the first experimental psychology laboratory, and in 1892, founded the American Psychological Association (APA).  
            In the 1890s James Cattell built the first psychological clinic, which incorporated anthropometric methods used in testing client’s mental conditioning (Academic Writing Tips, 2011). In 1896 at the University of Pennsylvania Lightner Witmer, father of clinical psychology opened the first psychological clinic for patients. At this moment Witmer’s focus shifted from experimental work toward practical applications of his findings (Discovering Psychology, 2012). Toward the end of this century Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalysis, which was a new approach to studying the mind (Academic Writing Tips, 2011). Wundt, Pavlov, James, Hall, Dewey, Cattell, Witmer, and Freud contributed to and influenced the development of the science of psychology.  
            In the 19th century, several contributions by philosophers and psychologist contributed to the development of the science of psychology, and continue to influence and advance the field still to this day. 
Uzgalis, W. (2012). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from
Morris, W.E. (2009). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved from
Kim, A. (2006). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from
Academic Writing Tips. (2011). History of Modern Psychology. Retrieved from
Cherry, K. (2012). Psychology. Retrieved from
Discovering Psychology. (2012). Retrieved from

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Explain the reasons why it is important to understand history in general. Explain the reasons why it is especially important for students of psychology to understand psychology’s history.

     Understanding history in general allows one to understanding life as clearly as possible and allows one to understand why certain factors in life happen. This understanding allows one to make beneficial decision that better one's life, family's life, and society because past mistakes can be avoided that hinder life and society.  
     As a student of psychology it is important to understand psychology's history because psychology was developed just like any other discipline. Therefore to understand psychology one has to know how it started and what schools of thought helped develop it. To understand how psychology continues to develop one must first understand how and why it began. Understanding the history better helps one understand what psychology is and how to use it to better the lives of individuals and to better society.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Normal vs. Abnormal Psychology

Normal vs. Abnormal Psychology
            Psychology is defined as the scientific investigation of mental processes and behavior (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). In psychology normal and abnormal psychology share a common similarity but also differ. In comparison normal and abnormal psychology are similar because both share an involvement with mental processes and behaviors, regardless if determined normal or abnormal. Normal psychology refers to the study of normal behaviors or behaviors within a normal range that do not affect mental processing. Normal psychology sets a normal range whereas behaviors can occur without behaviors considered to be abnormal and examines the general psychological and behavioral responses of individuals. Individuals classified as normal do not display signs of psychological disorders or adverse behaviors.  
In contrast, abnormal psychology is a field of psychology that studies abnormal mental processes and behaviors or psychopathology. These behaviors normally interfere with an individual’s functioning and are of interference to other individuals. Individuals classified as abnormal display signs of psychological disorders or adverse behaviors. Abnormal psychology uses different perspectives to explain abnormalities, such as behavioral, medical, and cognitive perspectives. The focus of the behavioral perspective is observable behaviors. Cherry (2012), “in behavioral therapy, the focus is on reinforcing positive behaviors and not reinforcing maladaptive behaviors” (p. 1). The focus of the cognitive perspective is how perceptions, reasoning, and internal thoughts contribute to the occurrence of psychological disorders (Cherry, 2012).  
Cherry (2012), “cognitive treatments typically focus on helping the individual change his or her thoughts or reactions” (p. 1). Cognitive behavioral therapy refers to using cognitive therapy in conjunction with behavioral methods (Cherry, 2012). The focus of the medical perspective is biological causes of mental illness (Cherry, 2012). Cherry (2012), “this perspective emphasizes understanding the underlying cause of disorders, which might include genetic inheritance, related physical disorders, infections and chemical imbalances” (p. 1).
To understand the difference between normal and abnormal psychology, one must put aside the bias of cultural norms to understand normal and abnormal occurrences of mental processes and behaviors. To understand this one can determine when abnormal behavior signifies a mental disorder.


Cherry, K. (2012). Psychology. Retrieved from

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Social Influences on Behavior

         Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “social influence refers to the influence of the presence of other people on thought, feeling, and behavior.” (p. 686). Social influence, regardless from another individual or group of individuals may affect the behavior of individuals but can influence some individuals more than others. Individuals act and behave in particular ways at certain times and in certain places. Whether an individual behaves differently at work and at home, or one behaves like friends, social influences may alter and shape thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Loop, 2013). In certain social situations individual’s behaviors will change because of obedience and conformity.
         Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “obedience is a social influence process whereby individuals follow the dictates of an authority” (p. 694). When obedience occurs individuals act in response to the direct order given by another individual, such as an authority figure. Therefore, this is obedience to authority. In order for an individual to obey authority, the individual has to accept the legitimacy of the command given (McLeod, 2007). The assumption is that without a direct order an individual may not act or behave in such a way. McLeod, (2007) “obedience is a desirable and necessary phenomenon and without obedience to authority individuals and society may not function” (p. 1).
         Cardwell (2005), “Stanley Milgram’s study of obedience remains one of the most iconic experiments in social psychology” (p. 1). Milgram's experiments demonstrated the power of obedience, and demonstrated that individuals have a tendency of following direct orders of an authority figures (McLeod, 2007). Milgram’s experiment also demonstrated that individuals upon direct orders would give helpless individuals electric shocks without questioning the authority figure in command. Milgram's experiments did not exactly prove that authority is always obeyed because the experiments seemed biased. However, the experiments did show the tendency of obedience to authority, regardless if biased or not. Obedience takes on two forms, such as constructive and destructive obedience.
Constructive Obedience
           Constructive obedience is a form of obedience, beneficial to an individual and to society. Constructive obedience holds survival value. Therefore, this form of obedience adds to the physical and mental well-being of individuals and society. Individuals contribute to themselves and to society and society benefits when individuals obey their doctors, health, and safety personal in reference to their behaviors in certain environments.
Destructive Obedience
           Destructive obedience is a form of obedience, harmful to individuals and to society. Examples of destructive obedience are the Holocaust murders of Jewish people by the German Nazis, The My Lai massacre during the Viet Nam war, the people's temple mass suicide, and the murders of one million Armenians in Turkey during the early 1900s (McLeod, 2007). Acts of destructive obedience justifications occur from higher goals, such as racial purity. As a result of destructive obedience individuals endanger themselves are a danger to society, and society suffers.
            Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “conformity is the process by which people change their attitudes or behavior to accommodate the standards of peers or groups” (p. 694). When an individual changes it is of a response to group pressure imagined or not (McLeod, 2007). The group pressure imagined or not involves the physical presence of others and the pressure of social norms and expectations (McLeod, 2007). When an individual yields to group pressures (conformity) adverse behaviors may follow, such as teasing, bullying, and criticism of others. Persuasion of other individuals also occurs. Conformity occurs when an individual conforms to a position or belief of the majority. Conformity occurs because of either a desire to fit in, or need for acceptance, or the desire to be correct, or to conform to a social role (McLeod, 2007). Crowne and Marlowe (1964), “individuals with low self-esteem and those who are especially motivated by a need for social approval are more likely to conform” (as cited in Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 685). 
            Solomon Asch performed one of the more powerful conformity experiments that demonstrated the power of situations in influencing attitudes and behaviors (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Asch gathered seven to nine groups of college students to participate in an experiment on visual judgment (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Only one of the college students was an unknowing participant who conformed to group pressure and agreed with the other participants who knowing answered falsely to a particular question. This demonstrated how group pressure can force some individuals to conform. Leon Mann stated that the essence of conformity is yielding to group pressure (McLeod, 2007). Mann identified three types of conformity, which are normative, informational, and ingratiational.
Normative Conformity
            Normative conformity occurs when an individual yields to group pressure to fit into a certain group because of the fear of rejection by that certain group. McLeod (2007), “this type of conformity usually involves compliance – where a person publicly accepts the views of a group but privately rejects them” (p. 1).
Informational Conformity
            Informational conformity occurs when an individual lacks the knowledge of guidance and looks to the group for it or when an individual is in an ambiguous circumstance and socially compares his or her own behavior with the behavior of a group (McLeod, 2007). McLeod (2007), “this type of conformity usually involves internalization – where a person accepts the views of the groups and adopts them as an individual” (p. 1).
Ingratiational Conformity
            Ingratiational conformity occur when an individual conforms to impress or gain favor or acceptance from other individuals (McLeod, 2007). This type of conformity is similar to normative influence, although motivated by a need of social rewards instead of a threat of rejection (McLeod, 2007). Group pressure is not a contributing factor in conforming.
Precursors and Consequences of Obedience and Conformity
            The precursors of obedience whether constructive or destructive obedience are that an individual may change his or her own thoughts and behaviors and looks toward an authority figure to determine acceptable thoughts and behaviors. The consequence is developing co-dependence problems. Destructive obedience also endangers an individual and society. The precursors of conformity are that an individual loses his or her sense of self in relations to his or her own thoughts and behaviors and looks to the group that the individual conforms to for acceptable thoughts and behaviors. The consequence is developing co-dependence problems.
Associated Phenomenon
            Social facilitation may occur in obedience when an individual does not want to disobey authority and have thoughts or behavior adversely to the thoughts and behaviors directed by the authority. Social facilitation occurs in conformity when an individual changes because it is of a response to group pressure imagined or not (McLeod, 2007). Social loafing occurs in conformity when individuals exert less effort in achieving goals when working as a group instead of as an individual. Groupthink occurs in obedience and conformity when individuals of a group do not express their concerns about the dynamics, decisions, or direction of the group, which occurs because of the desire to maintain obedience or conformity.  
Therapeutic Intervention
           Therapeutic intervention is useful in obedience and conformity. When an individual is more concerned about the acceptable thoughts and behaviors of an authority or group one may endanger him or herself and society by becoming less concerned about how the thoughts and behaviors affect him or herself and affect society. Self esteem problems can occur because of this as well. Obedience and conformity influences are beneficial and positively affect an individual and society as well. Only in some instances are therapeutic interventions needed.
            Kowalski and Westen, (2011) “in truth, however, we are all victims of social influence on a daily basis” (p. 692).

Loop, E. (2013). eHow. Retrieved from
McLeod, S. (2007). SimplyPsychology. Retrieved from
Cardwell, M. (2005). Obedience and the Real World. Retrieved from
McLeod, S. (2007). SimplyPsychology. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Summarizes symptoms, causes, and treatments for unipolar and bipolar disorders.

     Depression may be described as feelings of sadness, and as a miserable or an unhappy state of being. One’s feelings of depression are not thought of as a psychological disorder until they interfere with one’s normal or daily life. Clinical depression is a mood disorder where the same feelings as stated before and feelings of frustration, anger or loss interfere or hinder or interfere one’s daily functioning for weeks and maybe months. The symptoms of depression are thought of as manifestations of pathological physiological processes (Diamond, 2008). However the symptoms can be diagnosed and treated accordingly by specific treatments according to the extent of depression; to reduce one’s suffering and to prolong one’s life. Some symptoms of depression are the lack or loss of pleasure as far as in one’s interest or activities, weight loss, lack or loss of energy, and even thoughts of hurting oneself and death or suicide. Depression is seen as having two types and the distinction of the two types is crucial in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and maybe even the survival of one who is trying to endure it (White, 2012).
     There are several theories as to what causes or is the cause depression, but none of these theories have any unequivocally proven evidence. Williams (2012), “if a depression is to be considered bipolar in nature a degree of mania is either a part of the equation or will be in fairly short order” (p. 1). Therefore it is consider a bipolar disorder. However if no mania is present in depression then it is considered a unipolar disorder. Diamond (2008), “research indicates the likelihood of at least some genetic predisposition to unipolar and bipolar depression, as well as psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder” (p. 1). However biological predisposition is not seen as causation (Diamond, 2008). Stress, loss, trauma, isolation, frustration, substance abuse, meaninglessness, and chronically repressed rage might be, and frequently are, significant if not key contributing factors in bipolar and unipolar disorders (Diamond, 2008).
     Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a mood disorder where one who suffers from it alternates between extreme poles of emotion, and frequently has periods of mania and depression. Dr. Lawlis asserts “the newly discovered evidence that brain scans show a significant signature for bipolar disorder” (as cited in Diamond, 2008). However, the cause of bipolar disorder is not entirely known. One who has a genetic disposition for bipolar disorder may experience a traumatic life event that triggers the disorder; as well as triggers such as drug or alcohol abuse, hormonal problems, or altered health habits. If one experiences at least one major and one manic depressive episode then one might be diagnosed as having Bipolar I Disorder, and if one who experiences major depressive episodes and hypomania (less severe form of mania) instead of manic episodes is diagnosed as having Bipolar II Disorder (Williams, 2012). Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. The age of 18 is the average age of onset for both men and women (Williams, 2012).
     Men and women alike experience daytime fatigue, excessive sleep, difficulty awakening, occasional weight gain, diminished appetite, ramped-up appetite, carb-cravings, and binging (White, 2012). As well as one experiences feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, and guilt. Severe anxiety in bipolar disorder includes nervousness, obsessions, panic, and compulsions. There is also psychomotor inactivity and retardation, and psychotic features such as assorted sensual hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia (White, 2012). Bipolar disorder treatment is separated into three general categories known as acute, continuation, and maintenance treatment. Acute treatment is the focus on suppressing the current symptoms and will continue until remission (Bressert, 2012). Continuation treatment will prevent the return of symptoms from the same depressive or manic episode (Bressert, 2012). Maintenance treatment is the prevention of the recurrence of symptoms (Bressert, 2012). Specific treatments for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, antidepressants, psychotherapy, and self-help strategies.
     Unipolar disorders (major depressive disorder), is a personality disorder where one only suffers from depression. Mania is not a factor. Unipolar disorder affects women more so then men. Onset for this disorder usually presents later in one’s life. One who suffers from unipolar disorder experiences difficulty initiating and sustaining sleep with early morning awakening, weight loss, poor appetite, and a loss of one’s interest in eating (White, 2012). As well as one experiences feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and hopelessness, and experiences changes in one’s sleep cycle, either sleeping too much or not sleeping enough. One also goes through periods of agitation, pacing, and restlessness. One’s daily life and functioning becomes affected, or seriously inhibited. The cause for unipolar disorder is still unknown, although experiences of traumatic life events can trigger the disorder; as well as triggers such as drug or alcohol abuse, hormonal problems, or altered health habits.
     Treatments for unipolar disorder are antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. There are other treatments such as therapy, as well as natural supplements (Sam-E, omega fish oils, and St. John's Wort) and alternative treatments such as meditation methods and electroconvulsive therapy.
     Depression can be described as either bipolar or unipolar. Both bipolar and unipolar disorders have their differences and symptoms and can affect or hinder the daily functioning and the daily lives of those who suffer from them. However, with treatments suffering can be ceased and managed or one may restore normal daily functioning.

Diamond, S. (2008). Psychology Today. Retrieved from
Williams, M. (2012). Retrieved from
White, B. (2012). Chipur. Retrieved from
Bressert, S. (2012). Psych Central. Retrieved from

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

As a consumer of mental health services, which type of therapy would you prefer if you did not like to talk about your problems? If you were suffering from a phobia? If you had recurring nightmares since childhood? If you wanted to improve your marriage?

      As a consumer of mental health services, I would prefer psychodynamic psychotherapy if I did not like to talk about my problems. Psychodynamic psychotherapy will build a relationship between my therapist and me in order for me to overcome not wanting to talk about my problems. If I were suffering from a phobia I would prefer cognitive–behavioral therapy. Cognitive–behavioral therapies are used in exploring and altering underlying personality patterns or unconscious processes (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Cognitive–behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment and the treatments help patients understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviors, such as phobias (Cherry, 2012).
     If I had recurring nightmares since childhood, I would prefer psychodynamic psychotherapy. Psychodynamic psychotherapy would allow me to have regular meetings with a therapist in order to discuss the recurring nightmares and to discuss any emotional problems that could cause the nightmares. If I wanted to improve my marriage I would prefer marital or couples therapy. Through marital or couples therapy my wife and I can be seen together or separately. This type of therapy would give us a better understanding of being part of a marriage and what steps could be taken to improve ourselves, our interactions, and our marriage.


Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.    

Cherry, K. (2012). Psychology. Retrieved from

What factors should be considered in distinguishing between normal and abnormal behavior? What relationships of importance might exist between social psychology and abnormal psychology?

     Since normal behavior is viewed as a social norm and abnormal behavior is viewed as deviating from social norms; there are some factors to consider in distinguishing between normal and abnormal behavior. In order to determine what is an abnormal behavior one must determine what are socially normal behaviors are in order to determine and understand what deviates from those norms. Another factor to consider is if a behavior is the cause of distress or is disruptive in one's life and if the behavior disrupts other individuals or their lives. If the behavior does cause disruptions then the behavior is considered abnormal behavior. Therefore, in distinguishing between what is normal or abnormal behavior one should not determine if the behavior is good or bad but if the behavior causes distress or is disruptive in society.   
     Social psychology makes an examination of the influence of social processes on the way individuals think, feel, and behave (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Abnormal Psychology is the study of psychopathology, or the study of behaviors and emotions deviating from what is normal. Abnormal psychology aims to understanding the abnormal behaviors of individuals. The relationship between social and abnormal psychology is that abnormal psychology can use what is learned about an individual through social psychology to determine and diagnose what behaviors are abnormal.


Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2011). Psychology (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.