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Volume 1 Chapter 1

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History of Psychology through Symbols

From Reflective Study to Active Engagement

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.
-Albert Einstein

A critical consciousness avoids the tendency in psychology to view scientific interests narrowly because Jurgen Habermas, of the Frankfurt School of Social Research, argued that psychology had three major scientific interests, which include a natural, humanistic and social science interest. These scientific interests permeate the modern Four Forces of Psychology (Vol. II, Chs. 2–6): Psychodynamic (psychoanalysis and Jungian analytical psychology), Behaviorism, Humanistic-Existential and Transpersonal psychology.

Typically, psychanalysis would be considered a humanistic science, however Freud was influenced by the natural sciences. Although behaviorism exists in the objective natural science world, hermeneutics influenced the development of cognitive behavioral therapy. Although humanistic-existential psychology is a foundational humanistic science, Maurice Merleau-Ponty added the natural science perspective. Although transpersonal psychology developed from the humanistic-existential force, with the renaissance in psychedelic treatment, there is an opportunity for a rapprochement between the natural and hermeneutic sciences for a better understanding of the healing potential of psychedelic drugs.

Throughout history, psychologists have had a social science, critical emancipatory interest, wanting to change or improve the world, especially the great thinkers of the Four Forces of Psychology. Sigmund Freud believed that civilization was at risk because of its reluctance to accept the dangers of unconscious id forces. Carl Jung argued that communism and authoritarianism were degrading the individual. B. F. Skinner believed that societal engineering would save humanity from the ills of the modern world. Carl Rogers argued for a person-centered dialogic politics. Abraham Maslow believed that human needs had to be attained on a hierarchy and later argued the world was in great need for spiritual self-actualization.

All the great thinkers and movements in psychology have been impacted by these three major scientific interests; the text will not only consider the differences but also the similarities, which are often neglected in psychological history. As an example, Skinner was fascinated by the Rorschach test and wanted to be psychoanalyzed (Vol. II, Ch. 4). Freud experienced the transpersonal world through his experimentation with cocaine (Vol. II, Ch. 2). Maslow was the first doctoral student of Harry Harlow, the renowned and controversial experimental psychologist (Vol. II, Ch. 5). Rogers and Aaron Beck, like many of the great psychologists in history, began their careers as psychoanalysts (Vol. II, Chs. 4 and 5). It is important to understand that the new vision of these pioneers required the ability and strength, in the spirit of Einstein to not only break with the past that appeared sacrosanct but create something new from the break.

I Had a Dream
I had a dream of a compelling story
About the history of psychology
That touched the heart, mind, and soul
That transformed the inner world
Whose symbols spoke beyond words.
To a universal desire to connect to all humanity,
An engaging, disturbing, challenging, but always hopeful book.
But it was in the first Chapter
That awoke a yearning for more,
The faces of readers totally engaged
Absorbed until the last Chapter
Upset it had to end.
That left a dramatic impact on what science really means
That history is not only about the past. But comes alive in the daily experience of being human.

Jim Broderick (2022)

Chapter Symbols

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Fig 1.1 – Natural Sciences

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A turtle with a hand and a tree of life.

Fig 1.2 – Humanistic Sciences

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A group of people holding cups.

Fig 1.3 – Social Sciences

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A man with a beard and a colorful face.

Fig 1.4 – The Unconscious Shadow

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