War has given applied psychology a tremendous impulse. This will, on the whole, do good, for psychology, which is the largest and last of the sciences, must not try to be too pure.

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. Psychologists study such phenomena as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Psychology also refers to the application of such knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including problems of individuals' daily lives and the treatment of mental health problems.


  • Unlike the physicist, the psychologist ... investigates processes that belong to the same order — perception, learning, thinking — as those by which he conducts his investigation.
  • Is it dangerous to claim that parents have no power at all (other than genetic) to shape their child's personality, intelligence, or the way he or she behaves outside the family home? ... A confession: When I first made this proposal ten years ago, I didn't fully believe it myself. I took an extreme position, the null hypothesis of zero parental influence, for the sake of scientific clarity. ... The establishment's failure to shoot me down has been nothing short of astonishing.
  • Psychoanalysis provides truth in an infantile, that is, a schoolboy fashion: we learn from it, roughly and hurriedly, things that scandalize us and thereby command our attention. It sometimes happens, and such is the case here, that a simplification touching upon the truth, but cheaply, is of no more value than a lie. Once again we are shown the demon and the angel, the beast and the god locked in Manichean embrace, and once again man has been pronounced, by himself, not culpable.
    • Stanisław Lem, His Master's Voice (1968), tr. Michael Kandel (1983), Preface
  • One can ask two different kinds of questions with regard to the topics of study in psychology as well as in other sciences. One can ask for the phenomenal characteristics of psychological units or events, for example, how many kinds of feelings can be qualitatively differentiated from one another or which characteristics describe an experience of a voluntary act. Aside from this are the questions asking for the why, for the cause and the effect, for the conditional-genetic interrelations. For example, one can ask: Under which conditions has been a decision made and which are the specific psychological effects which follow this decision? The depiction of phenomenal characteristics is usually characterized as “description”, the depiction of causal relationships as “explanation.”
    • Kurt Lewin (1927). "Gesetz und experiment in der Psychologie" [Law and experiment in psychology]. in: Symposion, Vol 1, p. 375-421. Transl. Kurt Kreppner
  • Despite the burgeoning technologies in the field of "helping", on many levels psychotherapy is still a crapshoot. Some of the goal of training, I think, is to help students accept that fact. The work is part science, part art, and part luck. Learning to tolerate the anxiety inherent in that recipe is critical for any clinician.
    • Martha Manning, in Undercurrents (1st edition ed.). HarperCollins. 1995. pp. p. 9
  • The practical basis of the medical profession rested on psychology. Everyone felt better when self-confident, expensive experts could be called in to handle a vital emergency. Doctors relieved others of the responsibility for deciding what to do. As such, their role was strictly comparable to that of the priesthood, whose ministrations to the soul relieved anxieties parallel to those relieved by medical ministrations to the body.
  • The old distinctions among emotion, reason, and aesthetics are like the earth, air, and fire of an ancient alchemy. We will need much better concepts than these for a working psychic chemistry.
  • We cannot describe how the mind is made without having good ways to describe complicated processes. Before computers, no languages were good for that. Piaget tried algebra and Freud tried diagrams; other psychologists used Markov Chains and matrices, but none came to much. Behaviorists, quite properly, had ceased to speak at all. Linguists flocked to formal syntax, and made progress for a time but reached a limit: transformational grammar shows the contents of the registers (so to speak), but has no way to describe what controls them. This makes it hard to say how surface speech relates to underlying designation and intent–a baby-and-bath-water situation. I prefer ideas from AI research because there we tend to seek procedural description first, which seems more appropriate for mental matters.
  • The popular medical formulation of morality that goes back to Ariston of Chios, "virtue is the health of the soul," would have to be changed to become useful, at least to read: "your virtue is the health of your soul." For there is no health as such, and all attempts to define a thing that way have been wretched failures. Even the determination of what is healthy for your body depends on your goal, your horizon, your energies, your impulses, your errors, and above all on the ideals and phantasms of your soul. Thus there are innumerable healths of the body; and the more we allow the unique and incomparable to raise its head again, and the more we abjure the dogma of the "equality of men," the more must the concept of a normal health, along with a normal diet and the normal course of an illness, be abandoned by medical men. Only then would the time have come to reflect on the health and illness of the soul, and to find the peculiar virtue of each man in the health of his soul.

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Last modified on 14 April 2014, at 10:41