Psychology has never been a pure science but there are questions as to why and how it even became a discipline. Whatever science there may have been in psychology was those scientific conclusions deduced from studying the brains of mentally deranged individuals who committed unexplainable acts of violence. There were definite and predictable indications concerning behavior and brain structure. However, the discipline itself deals with the mental as opposed to the physical make-up of individuals. Early psychology had its roots in philosophy, sociology and physiology. Sociology deals with how various ethnic groups come together in socialization and such can be as varying as the amount of social or cultural structures of man. That being the case, it would become quite impossible to reduce such varying elements to a science. There is nothing scientific about either of these disciplines-if we can indeed refer to them as disciplines. Psychology has evolved over time and is yet in a continuing state of evolution. The early psychologist didn’t agree on much and the later psychologist are likewise at odds with each other’s’ conclusions… The conclusions reached by early psychologist were summarily abandoned for new ideas from their own mind or the mind of others. William Wundt founded the first psychology lab in the 1800s. The studies he did and the conclusions he derived are all but abandoned in modern-day psychology. Early psychology embraced two basic schools of thought-“Structuralism and “Functionalism”. Structuralism was the earlier school of thought and embraced various disciplines to include sociology, anthropology, linguistics and semiology-the philosophical theory of signs and symbols. That is why it was alluded to as embracing and understanding basic elements of consciousness. Functionalism was a pushback to Structuralism and sought to address how behavior actually works. Functionalism was influenced by the work of William James and focused on the purpose of consciousness and behavior while emphasizing various human differences. Functionalism examined mental processes and how they related to human behavior. Edward B. Tichener was a proponent of the school of thought embracing Structuralism. Sigmund Freud took unconscious thought and behavior to another level. Some of the earlier thinkers in the area of psychology include Albert Bundura, Anna Freud, B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers and Erik Erikson. Ivan Pavlov did study in the area of conditioning psychology. Later came other ideas about the direction of psychological study and among them was “Humanistic Psychology”. A forerunner in this area was Carl Rogers. His conclusion was “people are innately good and behavior can be measured, changed and trained”. John B. Watson echoed this sentiment. All of the above statements are made to suggest that psychology is far from being a science; is and has been all over the landscape and is constantly evolving-almost by the hour. That being the case how can our present-day society of psychologist-particularly in America-attempt to draw any scientific conclusion from tragic episodes being played out in this country on a daily basis? They have been mostly inept at accurately analyzing such episodes and predicting future episodes. Yes; they can make blanket statements suggesting that “this boy needs help” or “if he doesn’t get help” but they can’t say what type of help he needs or what he is likely to do if he doesn’t get help. They leave society guessing because they’re guessing. On some levels and under certain conditions it appears that “big pharma” gets involved and decides who’s crazy and who is sane-especially when it comes to the possibility of selling drugs. So, what role did early psychology play in shaping the psychology of today? Was it about the human condition then? Is it about the human condition now or about money?
Did the early proponents conceiving of psychology as a relevant discipline seriously think the human thought process could be interpreted and or predicted on a consistent basis? Science is consistent and predictable. That which emerges from the human brain can be influenced by internal-as well as-external forces. Even if psychology (as a discipline) could predict or interpret, did the discipline think that (based on reasonable predictability) human behavior–past and present-could be adequately assessed? Is it probable that early pioneers delving into the thought process of mind control experimented with how certain substances such as alcohol and/or mind-altering drugs affected the process of human psychology? Mind-altering drugs existed way back then-they are as old as human existence. The discovery of plant concoctions and what they can do is as old as man. Could the early psychology tinkerers have used these substances to see how they would be affected by them or could they have experimented with close associates to see how these concoctions would affect them? Introducing mankind to the possibility of assessing man’s past behavior “because” or man’s future behavior “if” must have been a very interesting phenomenon. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is how the early pioneers seeking credibility in the discipline were able to convince the community of intellectuals and intelligentsia that they had come upon a discipline worthy of man’s further pursuit. I can clearly see how the early and later institutions of academia would pick up and embrace the possibility as a worthwhile discipline. After all; are not institutions of higher learning a proving ground for budding scientific and social ideas? Are they not tested within these halls of higher learning? Scientific endeavors (over time) can either be proven or disproven; while social proposals can linger on and on; often not having been proven or disproven. Could the discipline of psychology be one of those endeavors that didn’t quite reach the mark of unquestionable credibility? If the answer from the community of intelligentsia and from psychologists themselves is a “resounding no” why are we seeing such conflicting data and responses in the assessment of the human “why” as it relates to behavior? The pattern of behavior today as acted out by adults and children alike is challenging the entire human community (in general) and maybe the psychology community in particular. Is it possible that the academic community took on the prospect of finding something good in a developing psychology discipline but found out after many decades there was still little science in it? Could psychology have been found to be a discipline that never evolved? In the meantime (after many decades) the curriculum was well entrenched and the world had to be convinced of its meaningful applications in many aspects of people’s daily lives. It appears that the applied uses aren’t yielding solid conclusions. When you consider the issue of “Eugenics” and how the social discipline (which is very much steeped in psychology) and the psychology community came up with programs surrounding forced sterilization based on very biased conclusions (under a banner of psychology) you must wonder if we should give any credibility at all to psychological renderings. The community of psychologists in America had to either think psychology was the most discerning and most brilliant discipline on the planet during the 1920s and beyond or they embraced one of the most sinister hoaxes of all time. Mind you; this sterilization program had the backing of psychology. If psychology didn’t know better it must have lacked science.
What is Psychology and What is Science?
The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, The Unabridged Edition defines psychology as “the science of the mind or of mental states and processes; the science of human nature”. The same dictionary as above defines “Science” as “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws”. Psychology is the science of the mind or human mental states but not “a science” of the same such conditions. Science deals with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and shows the operation of general laws. There are no general laws coming out of man’s behavior. There are no systematic truths coming out of man’s behavior-nothing predictable on a consistent basis. Various individuals given the same stimuli and confronted with the same issues will likely react in entirely different ways. There is no science that can accurately predict or pinpoint the reason for man’s behavior. It has all but become a guessing game in the realm of psychology and the ability to guess right has become extremely unreliable. That is one reason for the many tragedies sweeping the landscape of America. Psychology is very adept at assigning labels to human behavior-that’s brilliant. The pharmaceutical industry is just as adept at assigning labels to their drugs. What does it all mean? What something is called is one thing; what it will do is another. The psychology community in America in conjunction with the Social workers community have made some very questionable decisions concerning human behavior and what should or should not be done. If there were any science in psychology questionable conclusions have rendered the science null and void. Let us consider the issue of “Eugenics” (which was instrumental in bringing about a forced sterilization program in America) that was both shameful and didn’t even border on science. But is was decided by psychologist-along with the social workers community. Eugenics played a role in Adolph Hitler’s “Final Solution” and it is not much more than a “survival of the fittest” mentality. If there be any good at all in “survival of the fittest” it could all be swept away by man’s inability to determine who is the fittest. Do you find it strange that God (the incomparable power) and Jesus, His son didn’t go about suggesting who was fit or unfit to live? Can man’s brilliance surpass God? Then why would man use psychology to give him the liberty to determine tomorrow’s winners and losers; fit or unfit- based on some character flaws or physical shortcomings? In the “Eugenics” playbook, Adolph Hitler in his earlier years would have been scarcely left to survive or procreate. Many other great men who survived blindness, deafness, deformity, birth defects and all manner of other physical challenges would have been deemed unfit by psychologist. Is psychology “stabbing in the dark” or a beam of light to guide man out of this community of overwhelming mental illness? If society isn’t progressing in its efforts to get a hold on the “whys” of aberrant mental behavior popping up all over the landscape with the percentage of mentally compromised growing larger by the day, of what good is the psychology discipline? Are the psychology templates curing anyone or changing anyone or has it become very entrenched in the academic programs of the institutions of higher learning and merely yielding an abundant cash flow for the institutions?