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Psychology was part of philosophy until 1870’s. It later developed to be an independent scientific discipline at the United States and Germany. Psychology can be related to other fields. These fields include; sociology, anthropology, neuroscience, physiology artificial intelligence, philosophy and other humanities. The development was in the Ancient Egypt. Philosophical interests in the behavior and mind can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, China, India and Greece about 1000 years ago. By then, psychotherapy could be performed by Islamic physicians. Psychotherapy used to be done on people with mental illness in psychiatrist hospitals. Other people who were contributors of the field of psychology includes; William James, the person regarded as the American father of pragmatism, Ivan Pavlov who developed classical conditioning among others. Experimental psychology existed and brought about various kinds of applied psychology. It was in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt developed psychology as a self-conscious discipline of experimental studies. He founded the first laboratory which could be used exclusively for psychological research at Leipzig. Later in 1880s, Stanely Hall introduced scientific pedagogy in the United States from Germany. Other psychologists who emerged included John Dewey who developed educational theories. James McKean and Francis Galton developed anthropometric methods (Richards, 2010). Their application was in the development of the first program of mental testing. Sigmund Freud who was a psychiatrist developed psychoanalysis which involved the study of the mind. Hugo Munsterberg gave valid views about the application of psychology in law, industry and other fields. His ideas are still valid to date.
In the 20th century, Edward Tichner criticized the Wundt empiricism. This led to development of behaviorism by John Watson. It became popular by Skinner who was a psychologist. The ideas of behaviorism were the limiting of psychological study to that of overt behavior. The reason was because overt behavior could be quantified easily. Today, the behaviorists believe that the knowledge of the mind is too metaphysical to be done scientifically. However, in the last decades of the 20th century, behaviorism declined and gave rise to the cognitive science. Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary approach used in studying the human mind. It considers the mind as a subject of investigation. It uses tools of evolutionary psychology, computer science, philosophy, neurobiology, and behaviorism. Cognitive science proposes that a broad understanding of human-being mind actually possible. Such understanding can be applied to research domains including artificial intelligence. Behaviorism was the most dominant school of American psychology at the 20th century. However, it was far from the only one.
Gestalt psychology developed in Germany. Later, it had adoption in the United States in the 1930s. It was an alternative to behaviorism. Three German psychologists did its development. Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka were the ones who developed the Gestalt psychology. This school of psychology worked with organized wholes that were difficult to explain by breaking down them down into their components. The idea in the Gestalt psychology led to development of basic principles of thinking, perception and learning. A clear example is the principle of proximity. The principle states that elements closed together in time and space belong together.
In the year 1957, Noam Chomsky reviewed skinners work. He was against operant conditioning. He tried to show that language could not be learnt from operant conditioning that skinner had proposed. His argument led to the conclusion that people could construct an infinite number of sentences unique in meaning and structure. This could not be learnt solely through experience of natural language. He came up with an alternative that people have internal mental structures regarded as states of minds which behaviorism had rejected earlier. The emergence of computer technology promoted the metaphor of mental functioning that refers to as information processing. It is this factor combined with the belief in internal mental states and scientific approach to the study of mind that led to the emergence of cognitive theory. The links between the nervous system and the brains functions became common due to experimental work of several other psychologists. The study of people with brain injury also contributed to the development of the cognitive theory.
Not all psychologists got satisfied with the perception of mechanical models of the minds and human nature. Carl Jung came up with the notion of spirituality in the Freudian psychoanalysis. Another psychologist who was against Freud is Alfred Adler. In the 1950s, humanistic psychology developed. Some of the founding theorists of this school of thought included Abraham Maslow. He formulated the hierarchy of human needs. Carl Rodgers was also a founder of humanistic psychology and developed a client centered therapy. The other psychologist who developed humanistic psychology was fritz Perls. He helped to establish and develop gestalt therapy. There was a further development of humanistic psychology in the 1970s. The development led to the establishment of transpersonal psychology. It studies the spiritual dimension of humanity. It also looks at possibilities for development exceeding the normal ego boundaries (Schultz, D. & Schultz E. 2011).
In the history of psychology, not many women are in mention. In the 19th century, there was application of force on American women to conform to the feminine roles. While they were doing domestic work, men were attending colleges and were working outside the home. In psychology, the names that appear more often are Skinner, Piaget and Sigmund Freud. However, few recognize the contribution of women like Jacqueline Jarrett, Christine Ladd-Franklin and Mary whiten.