Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Introduction to Psychology

“Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, embracing all aspects of human experience. It is an academic discipline and an applied science which seeks to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.”  

I shall never forget the  “Introduction to Psychology” course in my first year at college.  The textbook was a thick volume attempting to “introduce” the student to both the history and the various understandings of the human mind and human behavior that had evolved over the years.  I was introduced to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, William James, Eric Erickson, B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget, and a host of others who pioneered in the various schools of psychology, from Freud and Jung’s “unconscious” to Skinner’s “behaviorism.”  The book detailed the various mental  and personality disorders, listing the characteristics of each, from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, and others.

An interesting thing happened in that class.  As we studied these various disorders and  read of the symptoms, we began to see those symptoms in ourselves.  There are over 100 anxiety symptoms and signs for anxiety, for example, including “fear of impending doom” (will we pass this course) to “feeling like you are going crazy” (who hasn’t felt that from time to time) not to mention “neck tension, stomach upset, and heart palpitations.”  As we read the symptoms for depression (which include things like, appetite changes, or weight gain or loss, trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much, fatigue or lack of energy, feeling restless, irritable, or withdrawn, and feeling worthless, hopeless, discouraged, or guilty) we began to feel that we were candidates for psychoanalysis or some form of therapy.  Depending upon what disorder we were studying, we became schizophrenic, paranoid, manic depressive, or whatever (or we began to see those symptoms in one of our fellow students).  This occurred because  all of these symptoms are part of our human mind (conscious and unconscious) and behavior to some degree. 

It is the task of consciousness (life) to recognize, face, and be reconciled with every aspect of our total self.  The task of life is to become fully conscious of all that makes us tick!

What lies beyond the mountain,
behind the trees, and under and in the raging river?

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