Psychology is an extensive subject, where learning can be applied to all aspects of an individual and society. The name psychology derives from Greek, Psyche meaning the mind, soul, spirit, and Logos meaning study, (Gross, 2001, p4). This essay will look at how this relatively new subject has developed different approaches and theories throughout the years. Today, several different branches of psychology have also developed and this essay will show some insight into them.
Philosophers had been discussing behaviour of people and animals for many years but it was not until 1879 that William Wundt (1832-1920) applied science to this. William Wundt opened the first psychology lab at the University of Leipzig in Germany, and here he began to experiment with the mind, developing the school of structuralism and introspection. Wundt carried out experiments on himself, trying to analyse the structure of his own mental processes, attempting to identify the structure of conscious.
The failure of this type of experimentation was that only the individual can observe their own mental processes and as everyone is different, results cannot be measured. William James (1842-1910) then developed functionalism, which looked as how the mind operated rather than how the processes were structured. Both were key features of how psychology has developed in the field, although functionalism became more dominant and lead the way forward.
In the 1900's Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) developed the psychoanalytical school. The foundations of Freud's theory were that most of the mind was unconscious and that the conscious part of the mind developed in the early years. The central statements of Freud's theory are,
" we don't know what we feel, we don't know why we fear what we fear, we don't know why we think what we think and we don't know why we do what we do".