Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope and diverse interests that, when taken together, seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of epiphenomena they manifest. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.
In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.
Psychologists explore behavior and mental processes, including perception, cognition, attention, emotion (affect), intelligence, phenomenology, motivation (conation), brain functioning, and personality. This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science" in that medicine tends to draw psychological research via neurology and psychiatry, whereas social sciences most commonly draws directly from sub-disciplines within psychology.
While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts psychology ultimately aims to benefit society. The majority of psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals). Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas such as human development and aging, sports, health, and the media, as well as in forensic investigation and other aspects of law.
(also called Tourette's syndrome
, Tourette's disorder
, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome
or, more commonly, simply Tourette's
) is an inherited neuropsychiatric
disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics
and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge. Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum
of tic disorders
, which includes provisional, transient and persistent (chronic) tics.
Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia), but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's. Tourette's is no longer considered a rare condition, but it is not always correctly identified because most cases are mild and the severity of tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence. Between 0.4% and 3.8% of children ages 5 to 18 may have Tourette's; the prevalence of other tic disorders in school-age children is higher, with the more common tics of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Extreme Tourette's in adulthood is a rarity, and Tourette's does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy. (Full article...)
Schizophrenia/Internal Symmetry, by Craig Finn, artwork by a person experiencing schizophrenia
image credit: Craig Finn/PLOS
George Armitage Miller (February 3, 1920 – July 22, 2012) was one of the founders of the cognitive psychology field. He also contributed to the birth of psycholinguistics and cognitive science in general. Miller wrote several books and directed the development of WordNet, an online word-linkage database usable by computer programs. He authored the paper, "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two," which experimentally discovered an average limit of seven for human short-term memory capacity. This paper is frequently cited in both psychology and the wider culture. He also won awards such as the National Medal of Science.
Miller started his education focusing on speech and language and published papers on these topics, focusing on mathematical, computational and psychological aspects of the field. He started his career at a time when the reigning theory in psychology was behaviorism, which eschewed any attempt to study mental processes and focused only on observable behavior. Working mostly at Harvard University, MIT and Princeton University, Miller introduced experimental techniques to study the psychology of mental processes, by linking the new field of cognitive psychology to the broader area of cognitive science, including computation theory and linguistics. He collaborated and co-authored work with other figures in cognitive science and psycholinguistics, such as Noam Chomsky. For moving psychology into the realm of mental processes and for aligning that move with information theory, computation theory, and linguistics, Miller is considered one of the great twentieth-century psychologists. (Full article...)
Did you know...
- ...that the effects of head trauma on memory can be seen by the post-operative results of HM, a patient who has been unable to form any new long-term memories since a surgical procedure performed in the 1950s?