Inspiration In A Bed Of Roses
The story of Seligmans epiphany in his rose gardenwhich started the movement of positive psychologyhas become somewhat a folk legend. This is how the story goes:
Seligmans daughter, who was 5 at the time, had been trying to get her fathers attention when he turned around and snapped at her. Unhappy with this response, his daughter asked him whether or not he remembered how she used to whine when she was 3 and 4?
She told him that when she turned 5 she decided to stop and if she was able to stop whining, then he was able to stop being a grouch!
This revelation of developing what was right, rather than fixating on what was wrong, sparked what Seligman would go on to promote during his career as APA presidentthat we should teach our children and ourselves to look at our strengths rather than our weaknesses .
Positive psychology can be viewed as the fourth wave in the evolution of psychology, the first 3 waves being, respectively, the disease model, behaviorism, and humanistic psychology.
This approach contrasts with how, in its early years , the practice of psychology focused mainly on cure and treatment of psychic ailments, which is a decidedly negative focus.
Some of the greatest names in the early field of psychology were foundational, such as Freud, Adler, and Jung. But over time, psychology began to acquire a negative outlook and stereotype, with its focus on the darkest chambers of the human mind and the near total exclusion of its sunlit highlands.
Overview Of Wundt’s Work
Wundt was initially a physician and a well-known neurophysiologist before turning to sensory physiology and psychophysics. He was convinced that, for example, the process of spatial perception could not solely be explained on a physiological level, but also involved psychological principles. Wundt founded experimental psychology as a discipline and became a pioneer of cultural psychology. He created a broad research programme in empirical psychology and developed a system of philosophy and ethics from the basic concepts of his psychology bringing together several disciplines in one person.
Wundt’s epistemological position against John Locke and English empiricism was made clear in his book Beiträge zur Theorie der Sinneswahrnehmung published in 1862, by his use of a quotation from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on the title page:
“Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu, nisi intellectu ipse.” . Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses, except the intellect itself.
Principles that are not present in sensory impressions can be recognised in human perception and consciousness: logical inferences, categories of thought, the principle of causality, the principle of purpose , the principle of emergence and other epistemological principles.
Wundt’s most important books are:
Pavlov Watson Skinner And Behaviorism
Early work in the field of behavior was conducted by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov . Pavlov studied a form of learning behavior called a conditioned reflex, in which an animal or human produced a reflex response to a stimulus and, over time, was conditioned to produce the response to a different stimulus that the experimenter associated with the original stimulus. The reflex Pavlov worked with was salivation in response to the presence of food. The salivation reflex could be elicited using a second stimulus, such as a specific sound, that was presented in association with the initial food stimulus several times. Once the response to the second stimulus was learned, the food stimulus could be omitted. Pavlovs classical conditioning is only one form of learning behavior studied by behaviorists.
John B. Watson is known as the father of behaviorism within psychology.
Behaviorism dominated experimental psychology for several decades, and its influence can still be felt today . Behaviorism is largely responsible for establishing psychology as a scientific discipline through its objective methods and especially experimentation. In addition, it is used in behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavior modification is commonly used in classroom settings. Behaviorism has also led to research on environmental influences on human behavior.
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Psychology In Its Relation To The Sciences
As we have seen, Wundt was concerned not only with expanding the setof known psychological facts, but also with interpreting them withinan appropriate explanatory framework. Of course, the necessity ofestablishing such a closed framework distinct from physiology amountedto distinguishing psychological causality from physical causality ingeneral, and hence psychology from the natural sciences altogether.But psychology has to be defined against two other areas ofscientific inquiry first,in its völkerpsychologisch dimension, against theGeisteswissenschaften or human sciences, andsecond, against the non-psychological domains of philosophy. As theserelationships are laid out below, it must always be remembered thatalthough these four areaspsychology, philosophy, naturalscience, human scienceare irreducible, this irreducibility isnot a metaphysical or ontological one, but merely one ofexplanatory function . They donot have distinct objects, but again merely represent ways ofdescribing irreducible perspectives upon the same object, namelyexperience. Wundt writes:
Wundts monism has serious consequences for the sort of claimphilosophy can make to be scientific. The mostobvious is that neither can lay claim to synthetic knowledge that isnot founded or describable in terms of the natural or humansciences.
Principle Of Connection Of Elements
Explanation Wundt classified his approach to understanding the nervous system in three different ways: anatomical, physiological, and psychological. In terms of anatomy, the system was made up of many elements that were closely connected to one another. The nerve cells, or neurons, were controlled by the cell processes. The results of the cell processes often provided clues as to the directions in which the connections are made, Wundt noted. This principle also indicated that every physiological activity was also the sum of many functions, even if the researcher is unable to separate those functions from the whole and from the organism’s complex behavior. Again, as with the other two perspectives, Wundt’s described “physical” or psychological contents indicated that each of the complicated nerve processes can be broken down into its basic elements, all of which react in cooperation to create the whole. The indicators of this structure are found in the process of psychological observation itself, Wundt noted, and the fact that any psychical process imaginableno matter how simplemust have arisen from a large group of interconnected pieces, or elements.
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Principles Of Mental Causality
What is meant by these principles is the simple prerequisites of the linking of psychological facts that cannot be further extrapolated. The system of principles has several repeatedly reworked versions, with corresponding laws of development for cultural psychology . Wundt mainly differentiated between four principles and explained them with examples that originate from the physiology of perception, the psychology of meaning, from apperception research, emotion and motivation theory, and from cultural psychology and ethics.
The 5 Founding Fathers: Developing Positive Psychology
In 1998, was elected President of the American Psychological Association and it was then that Positive Psychology became the theme of his term as president. He is widely seen as the father of contemporary positive psychology .
However, while most people see Seligman as the face of Positive Psychology, he didnt start the field alone and was not the first positive psychologist.
There have been many influencers which have contributed to this new era of psychology.
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The 2nd Wave: Behaviorism
B. F. Skinner of Harvard University was the originator, along with John B. Watson and Ivan Pavlov, of the behavioral approach in psychology. Skinner believed that free will was an illusion, and human behavior was largely dependent on the consequences of our previous actions.
If a particular behavior attracted the right type of reinforcement it had a high probability of being repeated, and if, on the other hand, the behavior resulted in punishment it had a good chance of not being repeated .
Skinner believed that given the right structure of rewards and punishments, human behavior could be totally modified in an almost mechanical sense.
This theory undoubtedly has a lot of merits, particularly the idea of operant conditioningthe influencing and eliciting desired behavior, through a well-conceived reward system.>
However, the manipulation of behavior that such a properly structured reward system allows is open to gross abuse by autocrats and dictators in terms of oppressing their subjects. And not just in society at large, but in the workplace as well. J E R Staddon and Noam Choksy were among Skinners major critics .
Furthermore, Skinners total rejection of free will is still disturbing. It goes against all that human history stands forthe ultimate, and the enduring triumph of the human spirit against overwhelming odds.>
Logic Epistemology And The Scientific Theory Of Psychology
Wundt divided up his three-volume Logik into General logic and epistemology, Logic of the exact sciences, and Logic of the humanities. While logic, the doctrine of categories, and other principles were discussed by Wundt in a traditional manner, they were also considered from the point of view of development theory of the human intellect, i.e. in accordance with the psychology of thought. The subsequent equitable description of the special principles of the natural sciences and the humanities enabled Wundt to create a new epistemology. The ideas that remain current include epistemology and the methodology of psychology: the tasks and directions of psychology, the methods of interpretation and comparison, as well as psychological experimentation.
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Wertheimer Koffka Khler And Gestalt Psychology
Max Wertheimer , Kurt Koffka , and Wolfgang Köhler were three German psychologists who immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century to escape Nazi Germany. These men are credited with introducing psychologists in the United States to various Gestalt principles. The word Gestalt roughly translates to whole a major emphasis of Gestalt psychology deals with the fact that although a sensory experience can be broken down into individual parts, how those parts relate to each other as a whole is often what the individual responds to in perception. For example, a song may be made up of individual notes played by different instruments, but the real nature of the song is perceived in the combinations of these notes as they form the melody, rhythm, and harmony. In many ways, this particular perspective would have directly contradicted Wundts ideas of structuralism .
Structuralism, Freud, and the Gestalt psychologists were all concerned in one way or another with describing and understanding inner experience. But other researchers had concerns that inner experience could be a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry and chose instead to exclusively study behavior, the objectively observable outcome of mental processes.
Early Career And Marriage
In 1882, Freud began his medical career at Vienna General Hospital. His research work in cerebral anatomy led to the publication in 1884 of an influential paper on the palliative effects of cocaine, and his work on aphasia would form the basis of his first book On Aphasia: A Critical Study, published in 1891. Over a three-year period, Freud worked in various departments of the hospital. His time spent in Theodor Meynert‘s psychiatric clinic and as a locum in a local asylum led to an increased interest in clinical work. His substantial body of published research led to his appointment as a university lecturer or docent in neuropathology in 1885, a non-salaried post but one which entitled him to give lectures at the University of Vienna.
In 1886, Freud resigned his hospital post and entered private practice specializing in “nervous disorders”. The same year he married , the granddaughter of Isaac Bernays, a chief rabbi in Hamburg. They had six children: Mathilde , Jean-Martin , Oliver , Ernst , Sophie , and Anna . From 1891 until they left Vienna in 1938, Freud and his family lived in an apartment at Berggasse 19, near Innere Stadt, a historical district of Vienna.
Freud read William Shakespeare in English throughout his life, and it has been suggested that his understanding of human psychology may have been partially derived from Shakespeare’s plays.
The Father Of Modern Psychology
Wilhelm Wundt is the man most commonly identified as the father of psychology. Why Wundt? Other people such as Hermann von Helmholtz, Gustav Fechner, and Ernst Weber were involved in early scientific psychology research, so why are they not credited as the father of psychology?
Wundt is bestowed this distinction because of his formation of the world’s first experimental psychology lab, which is usually noted as the official start of psychology as a separate and distinct science.
In addition to making psychology a separate science, Wundt also had a number of students who went on to become influential psychologists themselves. Edward B. Titchener was responsible for establishing the school of thought known as structuralism,
James McKeen Cattell became the first professor of psychology in the United States, and G. Stanley Hall established the first experimental psychology lab in the U.S.
Pragmatism And Cash Value
Pragmatism is a philosophical approach that seeks to both define truth and resolve metaphysical issues. William James demonstrates an application of his method in the form of a simple story:
A live squirrel supposed to be clinging on one side of a tree-trunk, while over against the tree’s opposite side a human being was imagined to stand. This human witness tries to get sight of the squirrel by moving rapidly round the tree, but no matter how fast he goes, the squirrel moves as fast in the opposite direction, and always keeps the tree between himself and the man. The resultant metaphysical problem now is this: Does the man go round the squirrel or not?
James solves the issue by making a distinction between practical meaning. That is, the distinction between meanings of ’round.’ Round in the sense that the man occupies the space north, east, south, and west of the squirrel and round in the sense that the man occupies the space facing the squirrel’s belly, back and sides. Depending on what the debaters meant by “going round,” the answer would be clear. From this example James derives the definition of the pragmatic method: to settle metaphysical disputes, one must simply make a distinction of practical consequences between notions, then, the answer is either clear, or the “dispute is idle.”
From this, we also know that ‘new’ truths must also correspond to already existent truths as well.
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Misunderstandings Of Basic Terms And Principles
Wundt’s terminology also created difficulties because he had from today’s point-of-view given some of his most important ideas unfortunate names so that there were constant misunderstandings. Examples include:
- physiological psychology specifically not a scientific physiological psychology, because by writing the adjective with a small letter Wundt wanted to avoid this misunderstanding that still exists today for him it was the use of physiological aids in experimental general psychology that mattered.
- Self-observation not naive introspection, but with training and experimental control of conditions.
- Experiment this was meant with reference to Francis Bacon general, i.e. far beyond the scientific rules of the empirical sciences, so not necessarily a statistically evaluated laboratory experiment. For Wundt psychological experimentation primarily served as a check of trained self-observation.
- Element not in the sense of the smallest structure, but as a smallest unit of the intended level under consideration, so that, for example, even the central nervous system could be an “element”.
- Völkerpsychologie cultural psychology not ethnology.
- Apperception not just an increase in attention, but a central and multimodal synthesis.
- Voluntaristic tendency, voluntarism not an absolute metaphysical postulate, but a primary empirically-psychologically based accentuation of motivated action against the intellectualism and cognitivism of other psychologists.
Scientific Controversies And Criticisms
Like other important psychologists and philosophers, Wundt was subject to ideological criticism, for example by authors of a more Christianity-based psychology, by authors with materialistic and positivistic scientific opinions, or from the point-of-view of philosophy and social theory, as in Leipzig, German Democratic Republic, up to 1990. Wundt was involved in a number of scientific controversies or was responsible for triggering them:
- the Wundt-Zeller controversy about the measurability of awareness processes,
- the Wundt-Meumann controversy about the necessary scope of the scientific principles of applied psychology,
- the Wundt-Bühler controversy about the methodology of the psychology of thought,
- the controversy about the psychology of elemental association and integrative apperception,
- the controversy about empirio-criticism, positivism and critical realism, and
- the controversy about psychologism.
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The 1st Wave: The Disease Model
During the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, psychology was concerned with curing mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and human complexes of various kinds .
And why not? There has always been, and will perhaps always be, a significant incidence of mental illness in all communities, irrespective of race or religion, caste or creed.
The attempt of psychologists to cure these ailments was quite natural and laudable, and the work of early psychologists, such as Sigmund Freud, Adler, and Carl Jung was indeed very effective. .
Over time, this disease focus pushed psychology towards the dark recesses of the human mind and away from the deeper well-springs of human energy and potential. As highlighted by Martin Seligman, in his 2008 TED talk on Positive Psychology, the negative focus of psychology resulted in three major drawbacks for the field: