Psychologists on Psychology

Psychologists on Psychology

Psychologists on Psychology

Psychologists on Psychology

Excerpt

The psychology of psychologists might seem to be an esoteric, even frivolous, subject. It should be an important one. Psychology has become a very influential profession. It has often been said that psychologists and psychoanalysts, especially, have become the priests of a godless age. By 1976, the membership of the British Psychological Society had risen to over 6,000. The American Psychological Association has grown so large that some of its members are wondering if it has not become too large to be useful. Its list of members has the weighty feel of the telephone directory. By 1976, the membership of the American Psychological Association had risen to over 42,000 members. These statistics can establish, at least, that there has been a tremendous growth in the number of people who earn a living by psychology. Psychologists often excuse the state of their discipline by saying that it is, after all, a very young subject. In years, it is. In terms of man-years devoted to it, it is not. In nearly all sciences, the total number of scientists currently at work easily outnumbers all those who have ever worked at the subject. Psychology looks younger than it is.

Though some philosophers, especially Berkeley, Hume and J. S. Mill, were interested in psychological problems, psychology did not begin to disentangle itself from philosophy until Wundt and William James set up their respective laboratories. Wundt founded his laboratory in Leipzig in 1879: and William James founded his at Harvard in 1879. At first, the United States absorbed a good deal of the influence of German psychology. It has been argued that one of the reasons why J. B. Watson obtained such a response for his approach, first set out in 'Psychology as the behaviourist views it' (1913), was that it was an all-American methodology. It freed American psychology from German tutelage. Although Watson had to leave Johns Hopkins in 1920 because of a scandal - he was having an affair with a research assistant . . .

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