Psychology: A Simplified Intro
Honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing such an article!
But as I was reading your emails on [email protected] I noticed that people do enjoy articles with some psychological background to them, I even receive emails asking me to write more articles of similar nature.
After giving it some thought I realized that explaining such knowledge is supposed to be fundamental here on this blog.
From a generalized perspective on myself, I concluded that I am able to do what I do because of:
Interest and knowledge in psychology, interest and knowledge in biology, interest and knowledge in the human brain, a creepish interest in observing people, drawing conclusions on my own based on observation + knowledge and then working independently to prove or disprove these conclusions, hustling attitude and huge balls.
I am in no way special, unique or anything along these lines, but rather this mixture that caught my interest since a young age has some really cool side effects to it, like getting girls, making money and building a cool lifestyle.
Damn, if I was a bit more interested in the English language I would’ve been able to write better articles by now….
Why do this “Collection of interests” help me do these things?
Mainly because I know how to manipulate myself into doing what is necessary than doing what is wanted at the moment.
Any collection of interests you will be involved in will create and polish your personality and attitude, and your personality and attitude will eventually determine how your life will look like.
Increasing your knowledge of psychology will definitely reflect positively on your understanding of yourself as well as your understanding others.
Word of warning before we start: I do not have a degree in psychology or any related subject, I have a bachelor degree in Computer Science And another bachelor in Business. All my knowledge about psychology and biology came from studying these topics on my own.
The word psychology came from the Greek language meaning ” The Study Of The Soul. ” After that, the formal definition of psychology went through a lot of changes until we reached the formal definition of psychology as we know it today as the science of behavioral and mental processes.
The Term Psychology was first coined in the 16th century but it was less of a science and more of a part of philosophy and a little sparkle of mambo jumbo.
Humans started noticing that we are quite different from animals because of our consciousness, or our awareness of ourselves and what is happening inside of us. Ancient Greek philosophers, from Thales (fl. 550 BC) all the way to the Roman period, developed an elaborate theory of what they termed the psuchẽ (from which the first half of “psychology” is derived), as well as other “psychological” terms – nous, thumos, logistikon, etc. The most influential
The most influential of these come from Plato, Pythagoras and of Aristotle. Greek philosophers first thought that consciousness comes from the heart and not the mind, which as we know today is completely false, but it was enough to kick start our journey of understanding and studying our own selves.
The first actual psychological experiment was carried by Lin Xie in the 6th century AD. Lin Xie carried out an early experiment, in which he asked people to draw a square with one hand and at the same time draw a circle with the other, his aim was to test people’s vulnerability to distraction, and that was the beginnings of psychology as an experimental science.
Muhammad ibn Zakarīyā ar-Rāzī was one of first to describe mental illness and he even treated patients in a very early psych ward in Baghdad at around 900 CE.
Since then psychology gained more and more interest from people wanting answers for questions like why humans are able to do horrible things and how do we know that they are horrible?, do we have free will or are we driven by our environment, biology and nonconscious influences?, What is mental illness and what can we do about it? and many other interesting questions.
While talking about the history of psychology Ebbinghaus said that “Psychology has a long past but a short history “. It is true because psychology is too young in comparison to other sciences but its journey is long, it started with legends of the era like Aristotle, St. Augustine, and Democritus, hundred of years before the Christ. it eventually emerged through contributions from Wundt, Titchener, and Watson and nurtured by Freud, Koffka, Kohler and Maslow and more.
When psychology splitted-off from its parental sciences physiology and philosophy and emerged as independent science a contradiction aroused between the psychologists regarding the scope, area and subject matter of psychology.
From the late 1800’s until the 1950’s, psychologists were divided on What they should study? And how they should study it?
As a result, it gave birth to different ideologies. These different ideologies are regarded as schools.
These main schools are-
1. Structuralism: Started in 1879 in Germany – Like… everything else?! -, in Leipzig to be exact, by the “father of experimental psychology” Wilhelm Wundt, along with his student Edward B. Titchener. They started the first psychology laboratory at the university of Leipzig where they conducted their experiments.
In short, they believed that just like you can break physical matters into simple matters or structures, maybe you can do the same with consciousness!
Wundt and Titchener tried to understand the structure of the brain using introspection, a technique where they bring a Subject (a person) who work as an Observer of himself, they then ask him to look inwards on how he felt when he saw a sunset, smelled a coffee, licked a kitten or whatever.
Now as you can see, this technique is very subjective, and so it cannot bring out accurate results.
I mean, you can sense and feel something completely different than I did even though we licked the same kitten.
So yeah, Structuralism did not live that long.
2. Functionalism: As Structuralism did not hold up to the task, Functionalism was brought into the front by William James, where he proposed the idea of studying the brain by asking WHY we think or fell or lick or whatever.
Basically, he focused on the function of behavior, the why of the behavior.
James was very influenced by Charles Darwin ideas, like his theory of adaptive behaviors and how they are preserved throughout the evolutionary process.
James also used introspection to determine the whys of behaviors, and that was a weakness because of how subjective introspection is, another weakness was that functionalism cannot account for nonphysical properties that exist (Like recognizing colors, etc.).
Freud, one badass yet so depressed dude, had a very interesting mind. When Freud was a medical student, he dissected hundreds of eels in an inconclusive search for their male reproductive organs!
For some reason, Freud had a strong obsession in reproductive organs. in another nonrelated yet equally awesome occasion, he tried to promote cocaine as a medicine… so you can clearly see where he is coming from…
Freud moved from practicing medicine to influencing psychology forever because, while he was specializing in nervous disorders, he observed his colleague Josef Breuer treating a patient called Anna O. with a talking cure. Basically, Breuer would just let Anna talk about her symptoms, and the more she talked and pulled up traumatic memories, the more her symptoms were reduced.
And that changed Freud forever.
After that incident, Freud encouraged his patients to talk freely about whatever came to mind, to “Free Associate“. And that was the birth of Psychoanalysis.
Freud published his awesome book, The Interpretation of Dreams: The Complete and Definitive Text – recommended to read- where he officially introduced psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis is based on the theory that behavior is determined by powerful inner forces, According to Freud and other psychoanalysts, from early childhood, people repress any desires or needs that are unacceptable to themselves or to society. The repressed feelings can cause personality disturbances, self-destructive behavior, or even physical symptoms. Freud said that unconscious conflicts, usually related to sex or aggression, were prime motivators of human behavior. He was the first person to include the unconscious mind in a formal psychological theory. Freud believed that all behaviors – whether normal or abnormal – are influenced by psychological motives, often unconscious ones.
I did touch more on this subject in the article Your Emotions Decoded. I do agree with some part of Freud’s theory, but the general bulk of his theories are heavily criticized by the public.
To understand where Freud went wrong, it is beneficial to take a look at his own life.
Regardless of his success, Freud was very unhappy, he was quoted saying: “The chief patient I am occupied with is myself “.
Freud was convinced that he will die at the age of 61 or 62 and had strong phobias of these numbers, he died much later at 83. Out of his unhappiness, Freud focused mainly on the source of human misery, he proposed that we are all driven by the pleasure principle, which inclines us to seek easy and quick physical rewards and to avoid unpleasant things.
Freud observed infants and theorized that they are driven solely to seek pleasure, but if infants were exposed to too much pleasure, they will develop unhealthy habits, like overeating, laziness, and even incest tendencies. So out of that came the Reality principle, which says that we should adhere to the ability of the mind to assess the reality of the external world, and to act upon it accordingly, as opposed to acting solely on the pleasure principle.
In other words, Pleasure principle is to seek good time all the time, the reality principle is to understand that that is a big NONO and know when to stop seeking instant gratifications.
Freud also proposed a lot of ideas and terminologies like the Neuroses, ID, EGO, SUPEREGO and much more.
My particular interest in Freud was because of his many theories regarding love, sex, and relationship.
I do disagree with 90% of them, but never the less, they are useful to understand.
That is your homework after this article, read more about his view on these topics, you can start with his book on dreams.
According to Watson, Behaviour is directly affected by stimuli in the environment, and the major goal of psychology is to identify that Stimulus-Response relationship, which is lawful and predictable.
Watson’s approach to Behaviourism was strongly influenced by the research of the Russian physiologist Ivan P. Pavlov. Watson and the other behaviorists realized that human behavior could also be changed by conditioning.
During the mid-1900’s, the American behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner became known for his studies of how rewards and punishments can influence behavior. He believed that rewards, or positive reinforcements, cause the behavior to be repeated. Skinner suggested that positive reinforcement is more effective in teaching new and better behavior.
All of these school of thoughts conducted lots and lots of interesting experiments and gave us some ideas on how to train your brain or the brain of others.
There exists more school of thoughts in psychology, this explanation is a very, very simplified explanation of what those schools of thoughts are. But enough was said for you to be able to grasp a general idea of what is happening here.
All of these school of thoughts have their strengths and weaknesses so you can not really dismiss one and rely on the other, you have to drift between them and work on creating your own observation and your own experiments to put the conclusions that these great minds have come up with into action.
Behaviorism holds the best and most practical theories that can be easily applied in real life, like association and conditioning, while psychoanalysis helps you understand your dark side as well as that of other.
I think it is hella fun to study psychology, and I think the educational system must insert some knowledge about psychology somewhere throughout school, maybe we should teach generations how to do self-therapy and how to avoid losing track in their mind.
Psychology remains, until today, a very controversial science, mainly because of the contradiction and the pitfalls between this science and religion. Psychology is really less about manipulation and more about treatment and well-being, it is not the science of satan.
Psychology is awesome, it is even beyond awesome. If you are cursed with a brain that just keeps on popping random questions like Does rotten pizza cause hallucinations? Does coffee make you smarter, or just make you do dumb stuff faster? Can you read minds? Can you predict people’s actions? Why are we so damn repetitive all the time?
And so on and so forth!
If that is how it is going inside your head, then psychology is the right place for you to find the answers.
People may not be the easiest organism to understand, but you are a person!
And that theoretically would make you qualified to make conclusions about other people from your own experience.
Well, yeah, but no, not really…
That is where we start to come up with all kind of wrong assumptions about the world, assuming we are humans and others are humans too, we project our view and understanding of ourselves onto the other person actions and assume a reason or conclusion about him and his actions, that is what we call intuition, and we trust it too damn much!
It is important to realize that your intuition isn’t always right. In fact, sometimes it is exactly wrong! and we tend to hugely underestimate the dangers of false intuition or the dangerous of outrightly judging others!
If you have an idea about a person and their behavior and made an assumption about it, like say you believe that John Deus is a sex addict and that belief turned out to be right, then that will reinforce you to trust your intuition more.
Another example would be, let’s say you saw Bob eating some rotten cheese and so you warned Bob not to eat that cheese but he eats it anyway and soon starts throwing up, your assumption was true and you will think “DAMN I TOLD HIM SO!” BUTTT… If nothing happens you probably won’t remember it or think about it ever again.
This is known as Hindsight Bias or the “I KNEW IT ALL ALONG PHENOMENON”.
These examples helped us see that your intuition can give predictions based on what has happened and not what will happen!
But we still use our intution to predict future behaviors and so we get over confident in our ability to do so. Every one of us was once really really sure about someone yet turned out to be really, really wrong.
Another thing that fucks us up is when we give some random events a certain importance or meaning if they happened in a certain order.
For example, flipping a coin five times, you will have equal chances of getting all tails as you do getting alternating heads and tails, but we see the series of five tails as something unusual! and thus giving that result unusual meaning or importance that it most definitely does not have.
That is why we need psychology with its methods and safe guards of research and experimentation.
To keep us safe from getting lost in our own minds from all the pitfalls that life offers, basically saving the study of our minds from the stupidity of our minds.
I think I will need about 6 Episodes in this series to cover a general 0.1% of psychology that hopefully will peak your interest in reading and understanding more on this topic. I might add a seventh episode where I discuss my own weird observations and maybe have a more active discussion about such matters.
Everything you need and want will include and require human interaction, EVERYTHING.
Whatever you would like to do, whatever you would like to be, will require you to go through a humane median, and psychology is there to help you understand and better interact with that organism.
Psychology is definitely worthy of your attention.