Definition of psychology
The concern about life is a main human characteristic. No matter if his concern is concentrated in himself or in persons or things that surround him and constitute his environment, everybody wants to know why people, himself included, behave the way they behave. Everybody, also, wants to improve his behavior, so as to live in harmony with himself and the society.
The Greek word Psychology, is a word consisted of the words ψυχή-soul and λόγος-utterance, talk. So, generally, psychology is the science that examines the soul. But , since the psychologists work on the problems of the personal, family, school, professional and social life, we could say, more accurately , that psychology is the science that studies the psychological life of man, as it is revealed in his behavior.
Although psychology seems to be a new science, in fact, is a very old one. Before the 19th century- when psychology acquired its scientific independence- the study of behavior was an aspect of philosophy.
There are two directions of psychology: The first, studies the way human exists or behave (or the way it seems to exist or behave). The second, studies the way human can evolve, can get better. This direction studies the principles, the laws and the facts that rule the possible evolution of man.
The observations are neat and not aimless
The repetition of the observations can be executed by other researchers too, under the same conditions
Behavior is the totality of the psycho-physiological responses of man to internal or external stimulation. The heartbeats, the movements of our head are behavior. The way we eat, the way we drink, the way we walk, we talk, are behavior. The construction of a bridge, the composition of a song are behavior. The fantasies of a child, the dreams of a adolescent, the illusions of an alcoholic are behavior. Although we are all familiar with human behavior, a little do we understand or we can explain about it.
Since our infancy we learn about behavior through the experiences and the knowledge that we get by observing other people or having relations with them. Living in society leads us to watch and try to explain the way people behave. But that is not always easy. Sometimes we cannot understand even ourselves. Psychology comes to give answers to all this uncertainty.
Therefore, according to modern psychology, the term behavior means all the conscious, unconscious, verbal, mental and kinetic expressions of ourselves. Psychology uses statistic researches so as to distinguish the normal behavior from the abnormal one. Such a thing is very difficult because every society has its own behavior standards, and, consequently, an act that is normal according to one society, may be abnormal according to another. For example, polygamy is not permitted in Europe, but it is permitted in certain societies in Africa. So, the judgement of a behavior must bear in mind the social environment in which it takes place .
A man is self-adjusted when he lives in harmony with himself and his environment. In other words, self-adjustment is the condition where man keeps balance between his needs and the restrictions of the society. Self-adjustment concerns man as biologic and social being. In developed societies social self-adjustment is regarded as most important than the physiological one.
The procedure of self-adjustment involves a motive, the obstacles met at the attempt of satisfying the motive and the ways of reaction so as to overcome the obstacles. The existence of these obstacles causes stress. Man, at his attempt to cope with this stress, may follow two ways of behavior:
he will be positive self-adjusted by acting moderately, respectably
he will be negative self-adjusted by acting without any respect of social rules
Learning is the procedure during which man obtains knowledge, skills and, consequently, changes his behavior, for a considerable period of time. For example, when we say that a child behaves politely, we mean that this child learned to have manners, something that did not happen previously.
Learning is an activity of great importance. The environmental and social conditions are being constantly changed and so we have to change ourselves too, to modify our behavior, to learn, so as to survive. Learning begins at our birth and ends by our death. It does not concern only school. Our life is a huge school that provides and requires learning.
Learning is more important to people than to animals, because the behavior of the animals is directed mainly by their instinct. Human behavior is relatively self-governed, but, on the other side, man, at the moment of his birth, is less equipped by the nature and more vulnerable towards the environmental changes. The possibility of his surviving, depends on his capability to learn. Therefore a great part of ourselves, our behavior, our ideas, our feelings is an offspring of knowledge. Psychology works on human behavior, consequently has also to examine the way we learn, what we learn, under which circumstances and what is the use of learning.
The object of Psychology
Psychology helps us to explore the secrets of human mind and soul. Thanks to Psychology and its scientific methods (observation, experiments, e.t.c.) we can examine, compare and explain basic facts of human psychological life and we can formulate the laws that rule it. But, its role is practical too. On the basis of the psychological laws, we can develop psychological methods, so that we will cope with human problems of all kind.
Nowadays, psychologists are specialized scientists with various methods and various interests: Psychoanalyst analyzes unconscious human activities so as to bring back to consciousness expelled experiences, thoughts, desires that will explain certain psychological disorders. School psychologist tries to create a school environment that facilitates education and works on the special problems of students. Industrial psychologist tries to make better the working terms and the human relationships, so that the production of the industry will be increased.
But, in spite of that specialization, psychology believes that psychological life is unified.
What does psychology offer to us?
Every person, no matter which his age is, faces various problems, whose basis is mainly psychological. His abilities, motives, his frame of mind may prove insufficient for him to cope with the difficulties. That?s why he needs some kind of help in order to understand thoroughly all the factors included in a certain situation. Therefore, the main concern of psychology is the human adjustment. Everybody has his own needs, desires, interests, which he tries to fulfil. Our whole life includes a number of reactions which ?according to us- are considered sufficient or insufficient and which are being approved or rejected from our environment. A child for example, an adolescent or an adult tries to achieve full adjustment to both internal and external demands. Psychology tries firstly to locate the main principles that form this adjustment and secondly to help people to apply these principles to any kind of human relationships.
Areas of human relationships
As far as adjustment is concerned, the problems may appear to the following sectors of human relationships:
-Between two persons, ex. teacher and pupil, husband and wife.
-Between two groups of persons, ex. two nations.
-Between a person and an object, ex. driver and his car, scientist ant his tools.
BRIEF HISTORICAL REVIEW
Thales, Anximander amd Anaximenes did not believe in supernatural explanations but only in scientific ones. Thales believed that the basic element of nature is water, but Anaximenis believed that the basic element is the wind. Anaximander said that reality consists of a constantly moving essence.
According to Empedokles the basic elements are: earth, wind, fire and water. The human body consists of these elements, too. The bones, the muscles come from the earth, the liquids from the water, the logical functions from the fire, and the procedures that ensure survivor from the wind.
Socrates studied the inner world of human, the soul. He believed that the soul is immortal and not material. The sense, the memory and the cognition help us to distinguish the useful and the harmful. The shame and the fear help people live together.
Plato said that the psychological functions are: sense, memory, mentality and perception. Sense and perception refer to the present, whereas memory refers to the past. Fantasy and mentality help us to create new things. Sentiments serve our survivor since we are happy when we satisfy our needs and unhappy when we do not satisfy them. Their character is subjective and they constantly change. There are material sentiments, like thirst and hunger, and spiritual sentiments. There are also useful and harmful desires.
Aristotle is the ?father? of psychology. He calls psychology ?the history of the soul? and he considers it as one of the most important sciences. He doe not agree with Plato that soul is independent, immaterial and supernatural. He believes that soul is a life giving power that is united with body. The body exists as long as soul provides it life. He tries to study the human soul in a scientific way. He agrees about the soul division in mentality, desire and sentimentality.