Psychology (Encyclopedia of Science)
Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behavior, which includes both observable actions (such as eating and speaking) and mental activities (such as remembering and imagining). Psychology tries to understand why a person or animal behaves a certain way and then seeks to predict how that person or animal will behave in the future. For many years, psychology was a branch of philosophy (the study and exploration of basic truths governing the universe, nature, life, and morals [a sense of right and wrong]). In the nineteenth century, scientific findings established it as a separate field of scientific study.
A brief history
In 1879, German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832920) established the first formal laboratory of psychology at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Wundt's work separated thought into simpler processes such as perception, sensation, emotion, and association. His approach looked at the structure of thought and came to be known as structuralism.
In 1890, American philosopher William James (1842910) published his Principles of Psychology. In contrast to structuralists, James thought consciousness (awareness) flowed continuously and could not be separated into simpler elements. James argued that studying the structure of the mind was not as important as understanding how it functions in helping us adapt to our...
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Psychology/Psychologist (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The science which studies behavior and mental processes.
As psychology has grown and changed throughout its history, it has been defined in numerous ways. As early as 400 B.C., the ancient Greeks philosophized about the relationship of personality characteristics to physiological traits. Since then, philosophers have proposed theories to explain human behavior. In the late 1800s the emergence of scientific method gave the study of psychology a new focus. In 1879, the first psychological laboratory was opened in Leipzig, Germany, by Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), and soon afterwards the first experimental studies of memory were published. Wundt was instrumental in establishing psychology as the study of conscious experience, which he viewed as made up of elemental sensations. In addition to the type of psychology practiced by Wundthich became known as structuralismther early schools of psychology were functionalism, which led to the development of behaviorism, and Gestalt psychology. The American Psychological Association was founded in 1892 with the goals of encouraging research, enhancing professional competence, and disseminating knowledge about the field.
With the ascendance of the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud and his method of psychoanalysis early in the...
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Psychology (Encyclopedia of Public Health)
The field of psychology plays an integral role in public health, providing treatment and education in the areas of substance abuse, addiction, and other health-related behaviors. Individuals suffering from addiction and other psychological disorders have a major impact on a community, and on the nation, causing financial loss, accidents, decreased business productivity, and numerous social and psychological effects. Therapeutic techniques for these individuals focus on development of coping skills, ego strength, improved self-esteem, and other traits needed to lead a healthy life. Assessment, community profiling, and creating and conducting prevention and treatment programs for the public also fall within the realm of psychology. In addition, psychologists conduct research in public health problems and serve as consultants in the development of solutions to these problems.
SANDRA K. CLARKE
(SEE ALSO: Behavior, Health-Related; Behavioral Change; Community Psychology; Psychology, Health; Substance Abuse, Definition of)
Psychology (Encyclopedia of Science and Religion)
Psychology is a broad-ranging discipline concerned with human mind and emotion, experience and behavior, and personality development and disorder. It goes back at least to the pre-Socratics of ancient Greece, and has always been a central topic in philosophy. It has also been a concern of many religious thinkers, perhaps especially in the Christian and Buddhist traditions. However, psychology as a distinct autonomous discipline only goes back to the nineteenth century.
After considering the implications for theology of the emergence of psychology as a distinct discipline, three different strands in the relationship between psychology and religion will be examined. First there are theological issues raised by the approach to human nature found within general psychology. Second, there is the investigation of religion using the methods and theories of psychology. Finally, there is the possibility of a psychological contribution to a broad range of topics in theology.
Psychology as science
Modern psychology is self-consciously scientific. It accepted the natural sciences as representing the paradigm of rational inquiry and has sought to mould itself in their image. That has often led to giving priority to mechanistic and materialistic approaches, and to experimental method and repeatable observations.
One key problem for psychology has been deciding what to use as its data. Much psychology is based on self-report data, which includes people reporting their own thought processes and experiences, describing their attitudes or behavior, or completing questionnaires about themselves. Questionnaire research has become the stock methodology of much psychology; it is an easy method to use and has probably been overused. Other self-report data, such as the clinical data collected by Sigmund Freud (1856958), may be rich, but there are serious questions about its dependability. One problem with self-report data is that many people are not reliable observers of themselves; the other is that people may not choose to report accurately what they know.
Psychology has also made much use of observable behavior and performance, including observations of how people perform cognitive tasks and how they interact with other people. There was a period in the early twentieth century when psychology imagined that it could base itself entirely on the observation of behavior, and abandon any attempt to study the human mind. However, behaviorism, in its strict form, did not last, and mind was readmitted under the heading of cognition. It proved impossible to study even conditioning in rats without inferring mental processes such as expectations. Also, psychologists became increasingly sophisticated in the use of task performance to infer cognitive processes. In this more emancipated climate, self-report data was re-admitted, but used cautiously.
The scientific movement out of which modern psychology arose was explicitly secular in that it deliberately avoided making any religious assumptions. The relation of modern secular psychology to the more explicitly religious psychological reflection that preceded it is a complex matter. Some would emphasize the parallelism between the two. Even though psychology appears to be secular, it can be argued that it is much indebted to its religious past and has often recycled theological ideas in apparently secular form. For example, it has been argued that the concept of original sin lies just below the surface of Freud's avowedly secular psychology.
In contrast, John Milbank has robustly argued that modern social theory, because it is avowedly secular and has no place for God, should be regarded as antitheological and inconsistent with Christian thought. The same might also be said about modern psychology. Against that, however, it could be argued that psychology has become religiously neutral and atheological, capable of being combined either with religious or secular worldviews. The model of science that guided modern psychology in the nineteenth century would now be widely regarded as over-restrictive. However, psychology has gradually become broader, more pluralistic, and more flexible ideologically (i.e., more postmodern).
Psychological approaches to human nature
Psychology contains general assumptions about human nature, and a key issue that arises at the interface of psychology and theology is how compatible are their respective views of human nature. Given the breadth of psychology as a discipline, it is not surprising that it contains a variety of such models, ranging from the biological to the social. Psychology makes use of the radically different methodologies of the social and biological sciences within the same discipline. Not surprisingly, that means that psychology tends to fragment, but it is important that there should be a discipline that tries to hold together these different approaches to the human person. People are both biological and social creatures, and no discipline that ignored one or the other could hope to understand human nature adequately.
There is a tendency for psychology to emphasize the biological aspects of human nature and for theology to emphasize the social and relational aspects. However, a polarized debate should be avoided. An adequate psychology needs to be social as well as biological. Equally, there is no reason why theology should be reticent about the biological aspects of human nature. It is part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, especially in the Old Testament, that human beings come from the "dust" and have much in common with the "beasts." There has been a growing recognition that both theology and psychology in their different ways emphasize the psychosomatic unity of human nature. Theology and psychology both need to hold together the biological and the social aspects of human nature, and could learn from each other's attempts to do so.
One strand of biological psychology seeks to understand human characteristics in terms of their evolutionary origins. There were precursors of this in the sociobiology of Edward O. Wilson (b. 1929), Richard Dawkins (b. 1941), and others; their approach has now been extended into evolutionary psychology. A key issue for theology is how strongly reductionist a form evolutionary psychology takes. There is no theological objection to exploring the evolutionary origins of particular human abilities and characteristics, and this has been fruitful in many areas, such as linguistic ability. Problems only arise when it is suggested that the evolutionary approach can explain everything, or that human characteristics are nothing more than the products of their evolutionary origins. Fortunately, cautious research-based approaches to evolutionary psychology are available.
The other important strand of biological psychology is concerned with the brain. Research in neuropsychology has been especially fruitful and has demonstrated close links between cognitive functions and brain activity. The key issue for theology is how this information should be interpreted, which is essentially a philosophical problem. There have been suggestions that the mind and brain are identical, or that mind is an epiphenomenon of the physical brain of no real significance. However, there is no need for psychology to take the kind of strong reductionist approach represented by the biologist Francis Crick (b. 1916), who in 1994 described people as "nothing but a pack of neurons" (p. 3).
Strong forms of social constructionism can be equally reductionist. Human concepts are, of course, the product of particular cultures, and in some respects they are contingent and could be conceptualized otherwise. Further, concepts are psychologically influential, and human experience and behavior is much influenced by how people conceptualize their world. However, there is no need for this to be linked to a nonrealist claim that there is no reality to what concepts represent beyond cultural conventions, or that social constructs completely determine social behavior.
A final area of psychology that carries strong assumptions about human nature is the computer modeling of human intelligence. The analogy between computers and the human mind has been fruitful scientifically and has given cognitive psychology much of its current rigor. However, the indications are that human beings and computers function in such different ways that the analogy between them should not be pressed too far. There is no warrant for asserting that all human functions can be captured in computer form, or that the human mind is nothing but a computer program.
Psychology of religion
The psychology of religion was an active area of psychology in the early days of the discipline and, after a period of decline, has regained some of its former vigor. To realize its potential, it needs to maintain close links with general psychology and apply the most promising advances; generate a broad theoretical approach to religion and relate data to clear research hypotheses; use a range of different methodologies and not rely too much on questionnaire data; and explore the practical applications of psychology for religious life.
The issues about reductionism that arise in general psychology recur in the psychology of religion and can be illustrated in connection with religious experience. There is growing interest in the brain processes involved in religious experience. An example is the research of Eugene d'Aquili and Andrew Newberg, who have analyzed the holistic and causal elements of some types of religious experience and tried to identify their neural substrates. However, whatever progress is made in discovering how the brain is involved in religious experience, there is no reason to conclude that because the brain is involved religious experience has nothing to do with God.
There has also been much interest in the social constructionist approach to religious experience. How people conceptualize experience in religious terms is clearly influenced by the various faith traditions, and may explain the different emphases in religious experiences within different faith traditions, despite the common elements that can also be found. Some have suggested that reports of religious experience are entirely the product of such cultural learning, but there is no basis for asserting that religious experience is nothing more than learning to use a particular set of constructs. Broad-brush social constuctionism is being replaced by sophisticated theory and research on the specific cognitive processes involved in religious modes of understanding.
When particular examples of religious experiences are studied, it becomes particularly clear that it is valuable to combine a variety of psychological approaches. This can be illustrated in relation to glossolalia (speaking in tongues), the best investigated of the charismatic phenomena. There is evidence for an element of social learning, in that people benefit from seeing other people speak in tongues, and get better at it with practice. However, the dissociation of semantics from speech production that occurs in glossolalia suggests an unusual mode of cognitive functioning for which there must be a neurological substrate. There is no incompatibility between approaches from social psychology and from cognitive neuroscience, nor is either of them incompatible with a religious account of the role of the Holy Spirit in glossolalia.
There is currently a growing interest in the evolutionary approach to religion, though as yet it is largely speculative. The capacity for religious experience may well be related to the distinctive capacity for self-consciousness of human beings. It can also be seen as having advantages in natural selection terms through the promotion of social cohesion, moral behavior, mental health, and so on. This is supported by the fact that there is growing evidence that religion is positively associated with good personal adjustment.
The link between religion and personal adjustment becomes clearer if religious people are subdivided, for example into those for whom religion is intrinsic or central to their lives (who have good mental health) and those for whom it is extrinsic or serves other goals (who have poor mental health). Though it is always difficult to move with confidence from correlations to casual conclusions, the mechanisms by which religion might promote good adjustment are becoming clear and include the therapeutic value of religious practices and the support provided by the religious community.
Though religious experience illustrates the breadth of the psychological approach needed in studying religion, it is important to remember the multifaceted nature of religion. There is an equally fruitful psychology of religious beliefs and observances. Psychology has often found it fruitful to study how people differ from one another, and how they develop and change. Both have been central to the psychology of religion.
Psychology and theology
Finally, there can be psychological contributions to theology, although these have not been very fully explored as of 2002. For example, the story of the "fall" in Genesis and the doctrine of original sin invite psychological elucidation. Though the story of the "fall" is widely taken by theologians as making an ontological point about human sinfulness, it can equally well be taken as indicating, in narrative form, the gradual evolutionary development of self-conscious cognitive discrimination, represented by the "knowledge of good and evil." This would be, in a sense, a fall upwards, but it would imply a new capacity to do wrong deliberately, that is, to sin. In addition, emerging self-consciousness would lead to a new awareness of human limitations and fallibility, which would permit human awareness of sinfulness and of separation from God.
Eschatology invites elucidation in terms of the psychology of hope. Though there has been much interest in the relation between cosmological predictions and theological eschatology, it would be a misreading of eschatology to see it as solely concerned with such objective predictions. Eschatology is concerned with a good future that is a gift of God, not just with survival of the universe, and also with an attitude of hope in the present, not just with predictions about the future. Psychology can help to elucidate the nature of eschatological hope. It seems to be not just a matter of optimism (making positive predictions about the future), but a hopeful attitude that can be sustained even when there is little basis for optimism.
There are many theological topics that can be complemented by a psychological approach that does not compete with or displace the theological one. For example, a theology of grace can be complemented by a psychological account of how the benefits of grace work themselves out at a human level. Similarly, a theology of prayer can be complemented by a psychological account of how the activity of prayer helps to transform those who participate in it. The act of thanksgiving, for example, involves a reappraisal, both of the evaluation of experiences as positive or negative, and of the role of God in causal attributions.
See also ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE; BEHAVIORISM; EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY; EXPERIENCE, RELIGIOUS: COGNITIVE AND NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECTS; FREUD, SIGMUND; MIND-BRAIN INTERACTION; NEUROPHYSIOLOGY; NEUROSCIENCES; PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION; SELF
Brown, Warren S.; Murphy, Nancey; and Malony, H. Newton, eds. Whatever Happened to the Soul? Scientific and Theological Portraits of Human Nature. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1998.
Crick, Francis H. The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul. London: Simon and Schuster, 1994.
D'Aquili, Eugene, and Newberg, Andrew B. The Mystical Mind: Probing the Biology of Religious Experience. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1999.
Hefner, Philip. The Human Factor: Evolution, Culture, and Religion. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1993.
Hood, Ralph W.; Spilka, Bernard; Hunsberger, Bruce; and Gorsuch, Richard. The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. 2nd edition. New York: Guilford Press, 1996.
Jeeves, Malcolm A. Human Nature at the Millennium: Reflections on the Integration of Psychology and Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1997.
Meissner, William W. Life and Faith: Psychological Perspectives on Religious Experience. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1987.
Milbank, John. Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.
Spilka, Bernard, and McIntosh, Daniel N., eds. The Psychology of Religion: Theoretical Approaches. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.
Watts, Fraser; Nye, Rebecca; and Savage, Sara. Psychology for Christian Ministry. London: Routledge, 2001.
Watts, Fraser. Theology and Psychology. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2002.
Psychology (American History Through Literature)
The relationship between psychology and literature may seem intuitively obvious given the ways that fictional narratives can create the impression that one has direct access to a character's thoughts and deepest feelings. This is the case with some of the earliest American novels, for example, The Coquette (1797) by Hannah Foster (1759840) and Wieland (1798) by Charles Brockden Brown (1771810), both of which present their stories largely in the form of emotional and dramatically revealing letters to intimates. Similarly, early American autobiographers derived authority from the appearance of candor when disclosing life experiences and lessons learned. While fictional and nonfictional works that convey states of mind may appear straightforward, the mental and emotional processes of both narrators and characters were derived from complex amalgams of beliefs about human psychology that differ markedly from current theories.
Psychological thinkers of the early nineteenth century, like their forebears, based their ideas on universal assumptions about human motivations and behaviors, and these assumptions would greatly affect the literature of the United States. For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803882) and James Fenimore Cooper (1789851) set forth ideas and depictions of strong-willed characters responding forcefully to their physical and intellectual environments, while Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811896) and Frederick Douglass (1818895) advanced visions of social change largely organized around accepted attitudes about social bonds. Writers also would depict unusual mental processes, as in the case of tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804864) and Edgar Allan Poe (1809849). In addition, the question of how audiences respond to literature constituted a matter of concern common to writers and those psychologists who discussed aesthetics. Perhaps the most important connection between psychological theory and antebellum literature and culture may be found in the affiliation between the republican ideology of the American Revolution and certain psychological doctrines that had been produced by eighteenth-century European thinkers. Although early- and mid-nineteenth-century writers did not unthinkingly reflect the ideas of European and American psychological theorists, their ideas shaped literary treatments of mental processes and social relations.
EARLY NINETEENTH-CENTURY PSYCHOLOGY AND ITS BACKGROUND
The field of psychology during the years 1820870 resembles only slightly the academic discipline that is now familiar. For example, the scientific outlook underlying Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) did not begin to have an impact on American psychologists until after the Civil War. Moreover, the use of empirical methodologies, most notably the physiological experimentation developed in German universities, was not systematically cultivated in the United States until the 1880s. In addition, the concept of unconscious motivations or drives associated with Sigmund Freud played no major role in conventional psychological models until the spread of psychoanalytic theory early in the twentieth century. Instead of relying on theories shaped by scientific methods or clinical practices, psychology as it was taught to students and disseminated throughout American culture before the Civil War largely reflected its historical foundation as a branch of philosophy.
The basic structure of the mind as outlined during this era can be traced back to Aristotle (38422 B.C.E.) and his On the Soul (De Anima), the earliest systematic treatment of individual psychology as a unified discipline. What one customarily calls human thought, according to Aristotle, is based on a hierarchy of sensory and mental functions such as memory, imagination, and desire. This categorizing of mental functions into discrete units would ultimately serve as the basis for the development of philosophical approaches to psychology before the dominance of scientific methodologies. Thus, by the eighteenth century German theorists, such as Christian von Wolff, who were occupied with descriptions of mental functions had settled on what would be termed "faculty psychology," an approach further elaborated by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scottish common sense philosophers. While the division of the mind by philosophers into separate mental functions or faculties may seem in retrospect mechanistic, it does represent an effort to adopt a systematic approach to the field characteristic of later scientific thinking. What most clearly distinguishes pre-twentieth-century thinking about psychology from later methods is the attempt to fuse empirical observation with a moralistic sensibility.
American psychologists customarily followed the lead of Scottish common sense philosophers, and this influence may be found in the normative, moralistic tone of much nineteenth-century American psychological writing as well as the assumption of a tripartite division of the mind, in which the will properly predominates over the intellect and emotions. The common sense school of philosophy, associated with Thomas Reid, James Beattie, and other contemporary Scottish thinkers, influenced Americans in three interrelated manners: it furnished a conceptual foundation for American politics; it generated a series of deeply influential textbooks on the art of rhetoric; and it provided the most important systematic basis for thinking about psychology in the United States before the publication of William James's The Principles of Psychology in 1890.
The common sense argument that humans normally possess mental faculties or senses in common was understood by Americans during the time of the American Revolution as a philosophical foundation for the republican form of government. Thus, Thomas Paine, at the suggestion of Benjamin Rush, the founding figure of American psychiatry, would name his call for a government based on republican principles Common Sense (1776). The idea that no particular class of people, such as hereditary nobility, had a greater capacity to discern the truth than the general population is likewise reflected in other founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers.
People are equipped to follow arguments and thereby discern truth for themselves, according to common sense theory. This principle, along with associated political practices and the long history of discourse about rhetoric dating back to early Greek philosophy, helped spur the growth of persuasive discourse or rhetoric as an academic discipline within the United States. Again, Scottish common sense thinkers figured largely in the development of systematic approaches to rhetoric that would prove influential. George Campbell's The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1776) was routinely studied by American college students until 1870, and Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres (1783) was used widely through the end of the nineteenth century. The notion that rhetorical skill was an important component of higher education now seems dated, but it reflects an antebellum sensibility that valued persuasive discourse as an essential feature of government. A potential weaknesses of this approach to government was dramatized by James Fenimore Cooper (1789851) in The Last of the Mohicans (1826), which repeatedly presents scenes in which Native Americans, depicted as democratic but easily manipulated by appeals to emotions, fall under the spell of a skillful, manipulative, and unprincipled speaker. Obviously the effective rhetorician needed to understand not only logical argumentation but also human psychology. For Cooper the ideal citizen was one to whom base appeals to self-interest or sensual pleasure would not usurp the decision-making authority properly the province of the suitably developed will.
The structures inherent to the human mind were important to common sense thinkers such as Dugald Stewart, whose Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (published in three volumes from 1792 to 1827) as well as Outlines of Moral Philosophy (1793) were included in the Yale curriculum. The major American writers of college and high school textbooks on psychology followed the lead of Scottish writers in elaborating systematic approaches to the topic. For example, three basic texts of Thomas C. Upham (1799872)i>Elements of Mental Philosophy (1832), A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will (1841), and Abridgment of Mental Philosophy (1863)emained in print even after the Civil War. Like Upham's, other texts, such as Elements of Moral Science (1835) and Elements of Intellectual Philosophy (1854) by Francis Wayland (1796865) and Empirical Psychology (1854) by Laurens Perseus Hickok (1798888) presented to American students a common sense framework for comprehending psychology. Their approach to psychology divided the mind into three components: the intellect (which included interactions with surroundings, such as sensations or perception, as well as internal processes, such as dreaming, memory, and association), sensibilities (emotions, desires, and the moral senses), and the will (incorporating all aspects of volition, decisions intended to lead to action).
While unconscious motivation was beyond the ordinary scope of rationalist psychology, attempts were made to account for unwilled thought through analysis of "the association of ideas," a phrase coined by John Locke in 1700 to describe the formation of complex ideas from simple sensations as well as to account for sequences of mental activities. This latter point would be especially significant to those interested in literary theory, such as the poet and editor William Cullen Bryant (1794878), who relied on association theory in "Lectures on Poetry" (1825826) to promote a nationalist aesthetics in which symbols of the nation or the home, for example, were presumed to elicit common emotional responses from readers. None of this was at odds with common sense thinking, as Upham, himself a published poet, would attempt to account for artistic creativity as a combination of ideas, willed thought, and sensory input. From Upham's common sense perspective, however, rational thought had priority over emotional states, and the will properly guided both intellectual and emotional functions. Disorders of this hierarchy or of association, what would be termed abnormal psychology, stimulated more limited interest, although Upham's Outlines of Imperfect and Disordered Mental Action (1840) and Isaac Ray's A Treatise on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity (1838) went through multiple editions.
NORMATIVE PSYCHOLOGY, FAMILY, AND SOCIETY IN LITERATURE
The Protestant religious allegiances of Scottish common sense philosophers and their followers in the United States dovetailed with the psychological emphasis on normal mental functions to produce a unified system of metaphysical and social values that promoted conventional social forms. Thus, for example, one may find across a wide spectrum of literature unquestioningly positive treatments of domestic values. This emphasis on the family by common sense thinkers interestingly coincided with that of advocates of separate spheres for the genders, which at its inception represented a challenge to patriarchal domination of the family. The agreement on this particular point by conservative psychologists with those promoting social change on behalf of women led to literary depictions of families that, at least on the surface, appeared to be similar from writers occupying a range of opinions, from the staunchly abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to such less bluntly political writers as Louisa May Alcott (1832888), Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804864), and the Fireside Poets.
One poem that illustrates the conventional values of the era is "The Village Blacksmith" (1841) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807882). In this poem Longfellow contemplates a scene that even in his day would appear to eulogize a simpler, pre-industrial time. The blacksmith, his regular labor interrupted by Sunday in church, where his daughter sings, grows tearful at the reminder of her mother, "Singing in Paradise" (p. 376). The sequential evocation of family, religion, and work within the poem leads to the concluding praise of the blacksmith:
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought.
The image of the blacksmith's labor as a metaphor for the willed shaping of one's own life develops out of his normative emotional attachments to family, church, and community. This didactic poem, often republished for children, moreover displays how domestic bonds helped ground even the ostensibly masculine realm of willed action.
One may find such allegiances also pervading the work of a writer who is famed for his critique of conventional moral strictures in The Scarlet Letter (1850), Nathaniel Hawthorne. While Hawthorne does plainly note with disapproval Puritan rigidity, this novel dramatizes the relationship between familial and social discord. From the perspective of psychologists contemporary to Hawthorne, the site where the individual learns social attachment is the family and the interpersonal force that binds people together in society is an attenuated version of familial love. Moral philosophers like Adam Smith (The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759) and Thomas Brown (Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, 1822) debated the nature of this social force, often called "benevolence" or "sympathy," the latter term repeatedly used by Hawthorne as he charts the changing distances between characters and society in his novel, which features a ruptured family unit within a society in which sympathy struggles against Puritan rigidity.
Hawthorne's classic novel may be understood to reflect the tenuous nature of social cohesion in the United States during the years before the Civil War, while similar values are asserted by Louisa May Alcott during the postwar years in Little Women (1868869). In Alcott's novel the relations between children and mother are central, and the concluding gesture toward the widening of such bonds when Jo March establishes a school suggests that a widening sphere of familial union may compensate for the trauma of the Civil War.
PSYCHOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL CRITICISM OF SENTIMENTALISTS AND TRANSCENDENTALISTS
Writers of sentimental novels largely accepted the centrality of the family, and within the family the bond between mother and child was treated as most important. Stowe's immensely popular Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) epitomizes the regard of sentimental novelists for the family: she dramatized the effects on the family of slavery, an institution that profoundly undermined slave families while harming slave-owning families within the novel as well. Although the ethical argument against slavery was grounded within her defense of the family, Stowe departed from mainstream psychological thinking when positing emotional responses as the primary index of ethical behavior and the good. According to common sense theory, the intellect properly has priority over the emotions, yet in Uncle Tom's Cabin the reader is repeatedly asked to look not toward rational argument but toward those empathic feelings that would lead one to oppose slavery and, more conventionally, to adopt a Christian outlook.
Other works that promoted abolitionism followed similar strategies, such as Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet Jacobs (1813897), which tells a complex story of the effects of slavery on relations between parents and children. Along similar lines, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) made a point of arguing that any diminished family feelings among slaves was the result of slavery, thus tacitly displaying the fact that for Americans of that era family attachments were a crucial index of normal psychology. Douglass, moreover, presented a narrator who embodied the mainstream psychological virtue of the dominance of the will over other functions, and thus his narrative persona appeared to be aligned with other exemplary American figures, such as Benjamin Franklin.
A different sort of social and literary critique was developed by transcendentalist writers, most prominently Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau (1817862). Emerson famously regarded traditional authority with skepticism, but unlike Stowe, for whom a correlation of biblical and emotional imperatives held sway, Emerson would argue for a source of authority derived from less tangible sources. In one sense, the introspective approach of his early essays resembles that of common sense thinkers, for whom introspection was vital. Yet the critical difference is articulated by Thoreau when he appealed to readers of "Resistance to Civil Government" (1849) to embrace social reform: "They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountain-head" (p. 244). For Thoreau, as well as for Common Sense thinkers, truth is a universal phenomenon, but Thoreau's prioritizing of inspiration over sacred texts represents a substantial departure from the norm. Moreover, in Walden (1854), his sustained account of transcendentalist introspection, Thoreau integrated into his discussion unorthodox states of mind and emotion that beforehand would mainly have been found in literary accounts of disordered psychology.
DISORDERED PSYCHOLOGY AND LITERATURE
While some emotional disorders were described by psychology texts, the imaginative literature of the period generated some of the most striking descriptions of unusual, bizarre, or simply unhappy mental states, no doubt because of their dramatic possibilities. Most extravagant in this regard is The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall (1845) by George Lippard (1822854), which parades before the reader an array of crazed behaviors, all with the purported goal of enhancing contemporary morality. One of Lippard's closest literary precursor is Charles Brockden Brown, whose Wieland tells a story of command hallucinations leading to murder. Unlike Lippard's novel, however, Wieland does more than depict madness: its ambiguities also create a state of mental uncertainty within the reader, whose attempts to comprehend narrative events correspond to those of fictional characters trying to grasp the unknown. In this respect, Wieland resembles later depictions of mental disorder by Poe and Hawthorne.
Hawthorne's stories, whether dealing with history or his own era, frequently depicted a range of mental disorders, such as the convulsive mass laughter of "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" or the husband's coldness in "Wakefield." Many of his stories revolve around problems of obsession or delusion. In the case of "The Birth-mark," for example, the scientist's obsessiveness destroys, while in "Ethan Brand" obsessive guilt triggers the plot. In all these stories as well as in Hawthorne's novels, disruptions to normal social attachments can either lead to or result from emotional disorder. Thus in "Young Goodman Brown," the protagonist's hallucinatory experiences can seem like both cause and effect of his remoteness from his family. Moreover, mental disorder furnished Hawthorne with the occasion for experimentation with narrative voice and form, as the reader is often led to a condition of doubt. It is no surprise that the master of the psychological novel, Henry James, would devote a full-length study to Hawthorne.
Like Hawthorne, Poe presents enigmatic pieces of information suggesting a state of mind while involving the reader in the attempt to decipher their significance. "The Fall of the House of Usher" is Poe's classic account of a disordered state leading to destruction, yet even in his mysteries Poe also describes mental operations with care. The unfolding of the mystery of "The Purloined Letter" thus involves an extensive record of intellectual detective work that finally does not fully account for the inspiration that leads to the solution. This suggests that while many writers displayed acuity when describing unconventional mental states, they could not draw from a commensurate development among psychologists. Thus the most famous madman of nineteenth-century literature, Captain Ahab of Herman Melville's (1819991) Moby-Dick (1851) is repeatedly diagnosed by the narrator as a "monomaniac," a label that has limited value in explaining behavior.
See also Curricula; Fireside Poets; German Scholarship; Gothic Fiction; Philosophy; Protestantism; Rhetoric; Sensational Fiction; Slave Narratives; Transcendentalism
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. "The Village Blacksmith." 1841. In American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century; Freneau to Whitman, edited by John Hollander, pp. 37577. New York: Library of America, 1993.
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Poetic Principle." In Essays and Reviews. New York: Library of America, 1984.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Resistance to Civil Government. 2nd ed. Edited by William Rossi. New York: Norton, 1992.
Alkana, Joseph. The Social Self: Hawthorne, Howells, William James, and Nineteenth-Century Psychology. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1997.
Boudreau, Kristin. Sympathy in American Literature: American Sentiments from Jefferson to the Jameses. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002.
Fiering, Norman S. "Irresistible Compassion: An Aspect of Eighteenth-Century Sympathy and Humanitarianism." Journal of the History of Ideas 37 (Aprilune 1976): 19518.
Howe, Daniel Walker. The Unitarian Conscience: Harvard Moral Philosophy, 1805861. 1970. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1988.
Martin, Terence. The Instructed Vision: Scottish Common Sense Philosophy and the Origins of American Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1961.
Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction 1790860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Psychology (World of Forensic Science)
Psychology is the science of the mind. An appreciation of what is happening of the mind of a criminal and why he or she acts as she does can be an important part of any investigation. A forensic psychologist (or psychiatrist, if they are medically qualified) can carry out a number of functions, such as assessing the mental stability of a suspect, building a psychological profile of the perpetrator and victim, and trying to understand the motivation for a crime.
Psychological tests can be useful in learning more about a suspect and their behavior. Standardized personality screening tests, of the kind that are sometimes also used in recruitment, can reveal the suspect's basic personality type. The tests are lists of questions to be checked which elicit responses about behavior, emotion, social skills, and beliefs. One common personality test includes the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), which can reveal if someone is suffering from a mental disorder such as anti-social personality disorder.
The psychologist may also use more subjective tests known as projective tests, which reveal more about inner conflict, fantasies, and thought processes. In the widely used Rorschach inkblot test, the suspect is shown a series of abstract inkblots and asked to describe what he sees. Another approach is to ask the subject to draw something like a house or a frightening scene. This can be very revealing of the suspect's fantasies and may be in complete contradiction to what they actually say to the psychologist.
The third kind of psychological test that may be administered is a cognitive test that measures the suspect's intelligence, mental competency, thought processes, and ability to understand his or her behavior. A common example is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Less structured interviews will also be carried out, where the suspect may be encouraged to talk about their family, childhood, relationships, and problems. The psychologist will lead up to a discussion of the events that brought the suspect in for interrogation and try to find out how they feel about what happened. Of course, many suspects lie, but a skilled psychologist will be able to sort out the truth from the fiction by analysis of the subject's body language.
SEE ALSO Profiling, screening; Psychiatry.