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Portal:Psychology

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Welcome to the psychology portal

International Psychoanalytic Congress, 1911
Human brain, lateral view, with brainstem

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.


Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion (affect), intelligence, phenomenology, motivation (conation), brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science" in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draws directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.


While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.

Selected article

Representation of consciousness, from the seventeenth century
Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe that there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is. As Max Velmans and Susan Schneider wrote in The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness: "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the most familiar and most mysterious aspect of our lives." (Full article...)

Selected image

advert for thorazine. The text in the ad reads: When the patient lashes out against "them" - THORAZINE (brand of chlorpromazine) quickly puts an end to his violent outburst. 'Thorazine' is especially effective when the psychotic episode is triggered by delusions or hallucinations. At the outset of treatment, Thorazine's combination of antipsychotic and sedative effects provides both emotional and physical calming. Assaultive or destructive behavior is rapidly controlled. As therapy continues, the initial sedative effect gradually disappears. But the antipsychotic effect continues, helping to dispel or modify delusions, hallucinations and confusion, while keeping the patient calm and approachable. SMITH KLINE AND FRENCH LABORATORIES leaders in psychopharmaceutical research.
Advert from ca. 1962 for Thorazine (trade-name of chlorpromazine in the U.S.). An antipsychotic (neuroleptic, major tranquilizer, antischizophrenic, actaractic). In Europe it is known as Largactil. The text of the ad reads:

When the patient lashes out against "them" - THORAZINE (brand of chlorpromazine) quickly puts an end to his violent outburst. 'Thorazine' is especially effective when the psychotic episode is triggered by delusions or hallucinations. At the outset of treatment, Thorazine's combination of antipsychotic and sedative effects provides both emotional and physical calming. Assaultive or destructive behavior is rapidly controlled. As therapy continues, the initial sedative effect gradually disappears. But the antipsychotic effect continues, helping to dispel or modify delusions, hallucinations and confusion, while keeping the patient calm and approachable. SMITH KLINE AND FRENCH LABORATORIES leaders in psychopharmaceutical research.

image credit: public domain

Quotes

  • "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be." — Abraham Maslow

Selected biography

Erving Goffman (11 June 1922 – 20 November 1982), a Canadian-born sociologist and writer, was considered "the most influential American sociologist of the twentieth century". In 2007 he was listed by The Times Higher Education Guide as the sixth most-cited author in the humanities and social sciences, behind Anthony Giddens and ahead of Jürgen Habermas.

Goffman was the 73rd president of the American Sociological Association. His best-known contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction. This took the form of dramaturgical analysis, beginning with his 1959 book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Goffman's other major works include Asylums (1961), Stigma (1963), Interaction Ritual (1967), Frame Analysis (1974), and Forms of Talk (1981). His major areas of study included the sociology of everyday life, social interaction, the social construction of self, social organization (framing) of experience, and particular elements of social life such as total institutions and stigmas. (Full article...)

Did you know...

Meredith Eaton-Gilden

  • ...that there appears to be no localized consciousness in the human brain?

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