A Beginner’s Guide to Psychology

A Beginner’s Guide to Psychology

A Beginner's Guide to Psychology

Psychology is a constantly evolving discipline that the American Psychological Association (APA) defines as the study of the mind and behaviour. This subject dives deep into mental processes like learning, memory, sensation, perception and thinking. It also deals with the experiences of people and how it shapes their behaviour. It is a vast field that intersects with every other field in which humans are involved. This article serves as a guide for beginners to gain a basic understanding of what Psychology is about, and spark their interest to explore the discipline further.

Understanding the Origins of Psychology:

The word ‘Psychology’ comes from the Greek words ‘Psyche’, which means the soul, and ‘logos’, which refers to principles or study. So, quite literally, ‘Psychology’ means the study of the soul. The term ‘psychology’ was first seen to come forward in the 16th century. One of the first mentions of a psychological concept would be that by Alcmaeon, who proposed that “mental life is a function of the brain” in the 6th century BC. Psychology as a discipline was born from philosophy, as ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Hippocrates hypothesized about the body and the mind.

Also Read: 15 Women psychologists Who made their contribution to the field

Psychology emerged as a science when the first psychology laboratory was established in Leipzig, German in 1879. This was done by Wilhelm Wundt, who is known as the Father of Psychology. As it grew as a scientific discipline, different schools of thought came forward. The first of these schools of thought was ‘Structuralism’, which focused on brain elements and their capacities.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association (APA) was founded in 1892. The first president of the association was G. Stanley Hall. APA works towards advancing psychology as a science and profession in order to contribute to human welfare. Although it started in the USA, the association now works with its associates to promote psychology worldwide.

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Can it help you build a career?

Psychology is a discipline that deals with human beings. If it’s something that grabs your attention, you are guaranteed to find a path that interests you. As the discipline intersects with many other paths, a wide range of opportunities open up, letting you find your dream job. Some conventional paths of study in psychology are:

  1. Cognitive Psychology: This branch of psychology studies internal mental processes in humans. These might include problem-solving, memory, storage, manipulation of information, communication, etc.
  2. Clinical Psychology: One of the most famous paths of study. It deals with the causes, treatment and prevention of psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse among many others. It is an integration of science, theory and practice.
  3. Neuropsychology: In this field of study, psychological processes and behaviours of human beings are looked at, in relation to the structure and functions of the brain.
  4. Industrial/ Organizational Psychology: This path of psychology lets you look at workplace behavioural patterns. It lets you apply theories and principles of psychology to people and organizations for their smooth functioning and growth.
  5. Educational Psychology: A field related to school psychology, it is useful in using psychological methods to design programs that promote development in students. It is concerned with people of all age groups and their ways of learning.
  6. Social Psychology: A study of how human behaviour is impacted by social influences. It studies attitudes in relation to the influence of authorities, expectations, prejudices, inter-group relations and so on.
  7. Developmental Psychology: This psychological path takes into consideration the entire life span of human beings. It studies physical, social and psychological changes in relation to human development. Interest in this field lies in how you become who you are.
  8. Health Psychology: It is also called behavioural medicine. This field studies the relationship between health and other psychological factors. Health is studied in order to understand how it is affected by behaviour or social influences.
  9. Counselling Psychology: This field of psychology helps people improve their quality of life, irrespective of their age group. It lets individuals understand themselves and deal with issues, no matter how small they are, with respect to work, emotions, lifestyle, etc.

Read More: Some Lesser Known Fields in Psychology

Psychology is a relatively new science. New research in the field comes up often. Although not completely developed, many fields of psychology are slowly emerging. Whether it is sports, fashion, engineering, military, or even aviation psychology, this field gives you a vast number of options to choose from.

Read More: Life of a Psychologist: Career, Challenges and Responsibility

Get your Facts Right:

Many people have many opinions and beliefs regarding psychology, and many of them are myths. The rise in psychology-related social media pages run by people who have no knowledge of the field has only added to these misconceptions held by people. Let’s look at some, and find out the truth about them.

Read More; 10 Common Myths around Psychology you didn’t know

  • The mind and the brain are the same: They are in fact not! The brain is a physical entity- an organ existing in our bodies. The mind, however, is a stream of consciousness that is not physically present as a part of the body.
  • Psychologists are mind readers: While psychology lets you better understand mental processes, it won’t give you the ability to predict a number that a person has just thought of in their head.
  • Psychology is common sense: Yes, psychology deals with a lot of concepts that are a part of your everyday life. However, it dives deep into it in order to understand the scientific reasoning behind those attitudes.
  • Psychology only helps those who are mentally challenged: Psychology is for everyone, it can help you with the smallest problems as well. It doesn’t even have to be about issues faced by people.
  • The scope of psychology is extremely limited: Psychology is a part of most fields, so there are endless opportunities. The intersections are everywhere. It might even be hard for you to find a field of work that doesn’t involve psychology.

Read More: Therapy Speak: Dangers and Effects

Summing up

While this article has introduced you to the field of psychology, you have only dipped your toes in the water. There is a lot more for you to explore if you are interested in this subject. While many people think that this discipline is not of much use, it is important to understand it before reaching any conclusions. The first step is to find reliable sources to educate yourself, instead of falling into that world of misinformation that largely contributes to defaming psychology. A relatively new science with a lot of stigma surrounding it, psychology is evolving to build its significance in today’s society.

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