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The Basics of Psychology

The Basics of Psychology

What do we know about Psychology, referred to ironically, by William James as that “nasty little subject?” It is, actually, a subject of great variety and complexity, and subtlety

Psychology is most often defined as the science of behavior, or the human mind…Psychology is a tool for understanding people.

People are fascinating and that includes you.

They keep wondering and asking “why” questions such as:

Why we do all the stuff we do?

Why do we take drugs such as alcohol, sugar, heroin, tobacco, cocaine, amphetamines, spices and plenty of others?
Why can’t you teach an old dog new tricks?
Why washing your hands makes you more optimistic?
You know, there is even psychology of hand writing…

We ask psychology a lot of “how” questions, such as:

How does music enter the brain?
How to improve one’s memory?
How to deal with difficult employees?

Then we also ask “what” questions in an attempt to figure out the world around us.

What is art therapy?
What are the basic human needs?
What is the dangerous verge among habits and addictions?
What is that makes us lie to each other, and cheat, and betray?
What is the science of happiness?

All these questions make us humans tick. Psychology can attempt to answer such interesting questions. Remember, psychology was the science of your behavior and your mental processes. We’re all “acting” psychologists, analyzing and assessing human behavior every day.

Folk Psychology

We can be found practicing psychology at the local coffeehouse. Tables full of people sitting and discussing why their neighbors act the way they do. Like in a group therapy session, we spill our souls in the cafeterias, trying hard to figure our fellow human beings. This phenomenon is called: “folk psychology.” It is natural for people to explain the behavior of other humans, in terms of luck, curses, blessings, karma, fate, destiny, or any other not quite psychological terms.

But back to the omnipresent “why” question:

“Why do we do all the stuff we do?”

Psychologists think that emotions have a central role in human behavior and mental processes. Emotions are like food and drink, they are necessary for our psychological survival. Why? Observations show that humans enjoy happiness.

The Strive for Happiness

There are over a 120 million of prescriptions for anti-depressants. Illegal drugs in 1995 were also a business for 400 billion dollars, approximately the same as gas and oil.  This chemical happiness put aside, all of us without exceptions are born with inclinations to harmony, beauty and delight, and goodness. In an attempt to provide a piece of the puzzle, let us now split psychology into its varieties.

Biological Psychology

Biological psychologists deal with the bodily functions of the brain and nervous systems.

You have seen drunken people dragging in the muddy puddles in the street, happily addressing a pink elephant. You have seen Bob, the quiet colleague from accounting, after a few shots of tequila show some disco inferno moves that could make John Travolta sweat. What we put in our bodies usually affects our behavior profoundly – even if it is an ordinary cup of tea.

“After a cup of tea, our belly says to the brain, “Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!”

Psychoanalysis

Perhaps Sigmund Freud is the most famous name in Psychoanalytic Psychology. He discovers the relationships between conscious mind and unconscious mind. Repressed memories, fears, and desires, hidden in the unconscious mind keep driving our emotions. The conscious mind holds what you are currently aware of, including memories, thoughts, and perceptions. Suppressed desires, emotions, and instincts, are rooted in the subconscious mind.  It is the source of our motivations, most of which, Freud believed are sexual in nature. His patients would lie on a couch and speak whatever comes to their minds. The doctor, himself, was addicted to cocaine and cigars.

Behaviorism

The subject of this branch of psychology is not the mind, but the behavior. Behaviorism has a lot to do with people’s conformism. Monkeys see – monkeys do! We call this process learning through observation. If parents are engaged in violent behavior their children more prone to it as well, for we people tend to imitate our immediate surroundings. Behaviorists would study the behavior of animals in order to better understand humans. They ask psychology if it can explain a certain behavior if it can predict it, or control it.  They believe a child can be shaped into anything: a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant, chief, and yes – a beggar man, a thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors. The legacy of behaviorism is: “Do this, and you will get that!”

Cognitive Psychology

Always look on the bright side of life.

Always look on the light side of life.

If life seems jolly rotten,

There’s something you’ve forgotten!

And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing…

Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, anyone can build their mental strength.

By negating things in your thoughts you feel frustrated when you are surrounded by them. When you accept stuff, you feel relaxed – it is obviously the healthier and more productive attitude to adopt. One must regulate their thoughts and replace the negative thoughts, by asking his conscious mind, what is another way of looking at this. As a result, he will train his mental strength and be more productive, he will maintain positive habits and discontinue smoking.

Humanistic and Existential Psychology

Well, each of us is unique! People have choices in their lives and they are not victims of circumstances. So that’s what humanistic psychology focuses upon. You can control your beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, perspectives, virtues, choices, nutrition, movement, interpretations. You can be kind to others and self, and say “Thank you,” and “I love you! ” express yourself, smile and be grateful, put an effort in your projects and appreciate the things you have. All of this is in your life, you are constantly making choices and growing and glowing because of them. As Carl Jung put it: “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”

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