In this essay we will be looking into the state of psychology as a field of knowledge in the early years of the 20th century. A hundred years ago psychology had a wider geographical spread with a strong contribution not only in America but also even more so in Europe. (Switzerland, Germany, France) One hundred years on, in the early 21st century, there is clearly a massive shift to the UK/US. Nevertheless, and more importantly, the ideas were very much the same as they are today. Debates over psychology as a potential science were, if anything, even more to the fore at the start of the 20th century - given the revolutionary success of physics at that time. And as with today, issues surrounding the mind/body relationship, consciousness, and what is the definition of psychology, were all subject matters that received a lot of attention.
[...] Hypnosis, hysteria, and spiritualism are all variants of somnambulism, which in psychological parlance at the turn of the [20th] century, referred to any “altered state of consciousness” to use the expression in vogue today.”4 Part 1 At the beginning of the 20th century many psychologists were looking to establish psychology as a science. Psychologists believed that this would occur and that it would complete the scientific revolution. They sought to turn science back on the creators of science. Yet it was the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry and especially physics that were looked upon as inspiration and as analogous disciplines to psychology. [...]
[...] James said that in reality there was merely little gossip and wrangle about opinions, a little classification and generalization on the more descriptive level; a strong prejudice that we have states of mind, and that our brain conditions them: but not a single law in the sense in which physics shows us laws [ ] This is no science, it is only the hope of science [ ] but at present psychology is in the condition of physics before Galileo William James was admired by the famous Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. [...]
[...] Indeed in 1904 he wrote a paper titled The Conception and Methods of Psychology.14 Where Cattell differed from other psychologists is in their belief that the differences between psychologists over the definition and ideas in psychology equated to a problem. Cattell said that it was true that psychology had “never had a well-defined territory.”15 And he said that for him psychology is about “what the psychologist is interested in. [ ] We not only have psychologists who are philosophers, but psychologists who are also physiologists, anatomists, pathologists, zoologists, anthropologists, philologists, sociologists, physicists or mathematicians.”16 Jung would say here that the fact that psychologists also had other interests was a healthy reality. [...]
[...] Chalmers is the editor of a webpage with 5,374 free on-line papers.5 Returning to Titchener, it can safely be said that he had an idealist conception of psychology as he said that a psychologist was man keenly interested in mind, with no purpose beyond mind [ ] A man whose most fascinating thing in the universe is human consciousness. A man who lives in direct companionship with his mental processes as the naturalist lives with the creatures that are ordinarily shunned or ignored.”6 The American psychologist, Morton Prince (1854 -1929) was influenced by French ideas on psychopathology. [...]
[...] And of course, the (non-expert) reader will learn a little bit more about psychology as a field of knowledge. Pierre Janet (1859 1947) was a French psychologist who established dissociation psychology. This symbolized the kind of psychology that was strong in France at the turn of the 20th century; i.e. a psychology generally concerned with the subconscious. Janet's psychology emphasized psychic fatigue, exhaustion and particularly split personality whereby the subject has more than one personality - albeit the different dispositions are unknown to one another. [...]
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