History of psychology as a science of the mind

Psychology is a science that attempts to answer the questions: how we think, feel and act.

Using systematic researches, psychology tries to gain knowledge about the causes of human behavior and about how people perceive the world in which they live. Among the psychological processes we include thoughts, feelings (emotions), and motivation. Historically, psychology was a discipline of philosophy, from which it separated in 1879 with the establishment of the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig.

In addition to dealing with different areas of psychology, psychologists may belong to different theoretical directions  or schools of psychology.
The “schools” are different set of beliefs about the subject and the method of the studies of psychology.

The main directions of theoretical psychology are Behaviorism

This theoretical direction was created in the early twenties, and moderately extended it exists even today. Behavior is only possible object of scientific psychology for behaviorism.
Behaviorists believe that on the basis of perception which is subjective, an objective science can not be build.

Gestalt psychology

This course was developed in Germany in the early twenties.
Gestalt (German- “essence or shape of an entity’s complete form”)
Gestalt psychologists believe that the individual parts of the psychic life are not so important, but how they are organized into a whole.


  • The direction was developed by the Viennese physician Sigmund Freud.
  • The basic setting of this theoretical direction is that the behavior is controlled by the subconscious motives of aggressive and sexual nature.
  • The fundamental goal of psychoanalysis is to help the patient through realizing their subconscious conflicts to eliminate their anxiety.
  • The impact of this direction is important to the psychology of personality

Humanistic psychology

This psychological perspective originates from the fifties. It emphasizes the human need for self-actualization. Aim of the studies of humanistic psychology is unique human experiences like love, affection, hope, happiness, etc.
In humanistic psychology, there is a lack of scientific research.
According to humanistic psychologists, people strive for positive social goals if the environment is positive and if they have opportunity of choice.

Cognitive Psychology

This approach focuses on the cognitive mental processes.
It developed in the fifties from scientific methods that enable high-quality and objective examination of cognitive processes.
This direction is prevalent in contemporary scientific psychology.
It researches the processes of perception, attention, memory, shaping beliefs, opinions, attitudes and personality problems.

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