“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
― Sigmund Freud
Psychoanalysis is a set of theories related to the study of the unconscious mind. Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, established the disciplines in the early 1890s.
You must have seen some cartoons like the picture above: a character with a devilish incarnation of him or herself on the shoulder, and an angelic one on the other. According to psychoanalysis, although we can’t see those two little incarnations on our shoulder, we have them in our mind.
Central idea of psychoanalysis is that lots of human desires are beneath the level of conscious awareness. Those desires just spilling over as a neurotic tic occasionally. Also, sex plays a big role in this theory. We tend to deny some of our unacceptable desires with the repression mechanism. Freud believed a common source of psychic conflict comes from sexual fantasies in childhood. The most infamous example is the Oedipus complex, which I will explain in my next weeks’ post.
Critiques points that what psychoanalysis claims are untestable. But there are examples in today’s research showing that repression mechanism do exist.
In 1913, John B. Watson, the American psychologist, pointed out that human learning could be studied like Ivan Pavlov’s dogs. That’s the start of behaviorism.
Behaviorism belongs to science of psychology. It focuses on human’s measurable behaviors and see how those behaviors determine or effect their further actions. For example, by rewarding some behaviors and punishing for others, young children can learn how to behave themselves. There’s even thoughts that with appropriate condition, people can turn young children in any type of expected person.
This theory dominated the science of psychology for half a century until 1960s. People started to realize that thoughts inside our heads cannot be measured, so the behavior would be hard to predict or determine. Also, evolutionary psychology made people think about the inheritance of intelligence and personality, and could hardly be learned.
Although behaviorism is no longer a dominant force in psychology, the findings of theory are still widely applied, especially in education and therapy. When you buy your child a toy because he or she achieved a goal, you are using it.