Psych for Thought


For as long I can remember, one of my biggest passions is all things psychology.  From understanding the developmental stages of a person to the world of psychopathology, it never seizes to fascinate me. People and the stories that uniquely shape who they are; are one of the many reasons I entered into the Mental Health Counseling field. And of course year after year of studying the field, I am constantly exposed to the many theories that lead to where Psychology is today. Finally having to decide on a theoretical perspective to conclude my final research, I have come to realize how many different theories I enjoy. So of course, why not share one of my biggest passions with you from my perspective in an easy and brief form.

If I were not to include one of the most influential figures in psychology, I might as well be labeled crazy (no pun intended). I am of course talking about Sigmund Freud, the founding father of Psychoanalysis. Freud is well-known for treating AnnaO. (his first client) and diagnosing her with hysteria, where today it is debated whether her actual diagnosis might have been neurological (epilepsy) rather than psychological (hysteria). Although some may say his diagnosis of AnnaO. and reasoning may seem out of the ordinary in today’s psychology, it gave leeway to other well-known theories. One of the contributions Freud gave to psychology is the idea of the id, ego, and super ego, with the id being a person’s unconscious and impulse drives for gratification. The super ego, would be a person’s extreme moral conscious. With the id and superego being in opposite spectrum’s, the ego will intervene and create a healthy balance of both. I can’t forget to also cover that at one point in Freud’s career he basically reasoned that a person’s ultimate motives and goals were all tied back into some repressed sexual desire! Freud definitely came up with outrageous ideas; nevertheless it has influenced many other theorists as well. I’ll let you do your own little research on this.

During my undergrad years, I identified with Albert Bandura’s contributions to Social Learning Theory. The theory emphasizes that people learn and are highly influence through social interactions or from observing behaviors of others. In addition to observation, behaviors are also learned through reinforcement or punishment.  What most interested me about Bandura was his Bobo experiment (you can find the videos online). The experiment included pre-school children that were divided into 3 groups, the aggression group, the peacefully playing group and the control group. In the aggression group, you had children observe adults behaving aggressively towards a Bobo doll (an inflatable doll that will come back up when knocked down) by kicking and punching it. The other group of children watched adults peacefully playing with the doll. As a result, after observing the adult’s behavior, when the children were left alone with the dolls they basically mirrored the behaviors of the adults in the group they were assigned to.

Of course Bandura is only one of the many other influences within Social Psychology. Other experiments within Social Psychology, which have definitely shocked me that I think will interest others as well, are Milgram’s Shock Experiment and Zimbardo’s Prison Study. Both conclude that in an unfamiliar environment, obedience will almost always occur no matter what the conditions are. For example, Zimbardo took volunteers and randomly assigned roles of guards and prisoners where a university’s basement was turned into a mock prison. Automatically, “prisoners” and “guards” adapted to their roles. Prisoners became passive and even allowed cruel inhumane actions against them, showing that in social interactions people will conform to their social roles. Of course, both Milgram and Zimbardo took place before Code of Ethics was adopted, there’s no way experiments like these will be allowed today!

I am fascinated by Harry Harlow’s contribution to Attachment Theory and more specifically in his Monkey Studies! WhatHarlowdid was test out forms of people’s attachment by using rhesus monkeys. He had a group of monkeys that were provided with a soft cloth surrogate mother that offered no food versus a wire surrogate mother that provided food. An affectionate bond was created with surrogate mother made of soft cloth whereas the monkeys with the surrogate mothers became reclusive! Meaning that, people crave comfort and affection over basic needs. You have to look into this; the pictures are just too adorable. It never ceases to amaze me the influences of parents to a child, attachment theory highly covers that. Not only does it speak on the personality of people based on their attachment with parents, but it eventually can predict how a person is destined to be in romantic relationships as well.

I can definitely go on and on about theorist in the field, but lets keep it short for this time and wrap up with Carl Rogers. By studying inQueensCollege, who’s curriculum is based onRogers’ Client-Centered theory, this particular psychologist’s form of therapy is one of my favorite approaches. He developed Person Centered Therepy (PCT), which is a type of talk therapy. The goal of PCT is to allow the person to become more self aware by developing a sense of self, where they can better understand how their own attitudes, feelings, and behaviors are being negatively affected. I absolutely love PCT because it allows people to come to their own terms and take their own lead in counseling without the therapist being so directive or guiding the conversation, the client will be the one leading! This form of therapy is criticized because of its lack of structure. However, PCT is proven to not only be a popular form of treatment but also an effective one!