Psychology In The Last 100 Years

Important Events Part I

Psychology has been a field of interest and study for millennia, which is one of the main reasons it has grown to its current stage. The first written documentation we have about it is from 1550 BCE in the Ebers papyrus, where depression and thought disorders are mentioned. However, a lot of time has passed since then and current psychology is different in pretty much every aspect – from the way we research and what we’re focusing on to how we connect it with various scientific fields and how we use the gathered information.

In this series, we’ll delve into psychology and how it has developed in the last century. Ready to learn some interesting facts in chronological order? Read on!

1920 – The Little Albert Experiment

Modern Psychology

This experiment was conducted to prove classical conditioning in humans. In the experiment, a one-year-old child, known as “Albert,” was given a small white rat to play with, and every time he touched it, a loud startling noise was made to scare the child. After a few repetitions of the situation, when Albert saw the rabbit, he would try to run away from it, showing fear of the animal because of the sound.

He had the same response to white bunnies and even a Santa Claus mask. This study proves our conditioning and is highly controversial today from an ethical standpoint.

1923 – The Ego And The Id

This prominent paper by Sigmund Freud is an analytical study of the human psyche in which he outlines the relationships of the id, ego, and super-ego. It explains various psychological conditions based on the dynamics between the three different parts of us. This is one of the books with the most prominent significance in psychology to this day and is studied for each kind of psychology  degree.

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1935 – Thematic Apperception Test

This projective psychological test consists of ambiguous pictures of people and situations about which the patient has to think of a story. His explanations are then used to point out underlying thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. This helps psychologists understand the person sitting opposite them better and work on their problems.

It is widely used to this day and although there has been a fair share of controversy around it, it is an exciting piece of the history of psychology.

1943 – Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

This was a part of a paper called “A theory of human motivation” published by Abraham Maslow, that created a classification of our different kinds of needs. Maslow distinguishes two types of necessities, namely deficiency, and growth.

He puts the following aspects in the two – Deficiency & Cognitive needs. Deficiency Needs are mainly physiological –  Safety, belonging, and esteem. Growth Needs are more cognitive – Aesthetic, self-actualization, and transcendence. This model is used today for various definitions concerning societies, individuals, and groups of people.

1949 – The Organization Of Behaviour: A Neuropsychological Theory

Donald Hebb is a Canadian psychologist considered the father of neuropsychology. In this work of his, he manages to explain the connection between the physical function of the brain and the function of the mind. He also describes how neurons work closely with each other and, at the same time, are more likely to make a permanent connection between themselves.

This is commonly explained as “neurons that fire together, wire together.” and is a revolutionary discovery in neuroscience.

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1952 – The First Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders

This is a classification by the American Psychiatric Association used by psychologists, doctors, pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, the law system, and drug regulation agencies. It has undergone revision five times between when it was first written and now and will continue to be updated.

In this manual, you can find the definitions of each mental disorder written in a common language, the definitions themselves being based on myriads of studies and statistics.

To Wrap It Up

Psychology changed a lot at the beginning of the previous century. The way we used to think about many problems is now different because of our more profound understanding of the human brain. Follow up with us in part two of this article, where we pinpoint some of the most groundbreaking successes in psychology in more recent times.