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A. Definition. The word “psychology” is derived from Gk. psyche, “soul; mind,” and logos, “discourse; theory; science.” The word psyche was from early times also used in other senses, e.g., spirit, breath, and principle of life. The tendency now is to define psychology broadly as the science of experience and behavior. More specifically, it tries to understand, predict, and control human behavior.

The term “psychology” apparently was 1st used by Ger. scholars of the 16th c. Its 1st form seems to have been the Lat. psychologia. P. Melanchthon is said to have used the term as title of a prelection. It appears in 17th-c. med. writings: psychologia and somatotomia (or somatologia) were spoken of as the 2 parts of anthropologia. The term continued to appear in technical works but was not gen. used in modern languages till the 19th c.

B. Early Developments. Roots of naturalistic psychol. lie in early forms of mythology, not as a separate system of thought, but combined with, and woven into, a primitive culture. Attempts were made to explain life, including mental life, in a world that often appeared as more chaos than cosmos to the primitive mind. Man soon noted that human life is more than body, bone, muscle, and tissue. His dreams and imaginary flights, with the body asleep or at rest, required explanation. But concepts involving immaterial and incorporeal forms and substances are hard to grasp. Hence a double materialism developed. Soul or mind was thought of as vapor, air, blood, or some other material substance.

2. As in mythology, mental powers and forces came to be closely assoc. with the elements: air, fire, earth, water. The early form of the temperament theory is an example. Air was thought to be related to the sanguinary temperament, earth to the melancholic, fire to the choleric, water to the phlegmatic (see also Empedocles). Later the temperaments were thought to be based on the body fluids or humors. From these came through Claudius Galen(us) (Gallien; ca. 130/131 — perhaps ca. 200/201; Gk. physician; b. Pergamum, Asia Minor; settled in Rome, It., 164) the names of the main temperaments: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic. The elemental basis and “humoral doctrine” were gradually abandoned.

3. The relation of psychol. to mythology is indicated by the personification of the soul as a princess named Psyche, so beautiful that even Venus became jealous of her and imposed many hardships on her.

C. Approach to Immaterial Concepts.

1. In Gk. philos. writings the explanation of soul, mind, reason, intelligence, and will was approached with a new vigor and placed on a higher intellectual level. In this period the philosophies of Plato* and Aristotle* were epochal. But here too soul, mind, intellective powers, and will were discussed as aspects of a broader philos. that took in a wide range of cosmological factors and human experiences.

2. Plato and Aristotle put psychical forces and forms on an immaterial basis, at least in part. Plato elevated consciousness into the realm of the spiritual. He considered the soul immortal and incapable of dissolution. To him the idea in its purest form was the ultimate in mental life, and matter was of secondary importance. God was the supreme mind. Apparently, man's soul was thought to be closely attached to, or part of, an immortal god or gods.

3. Aristotle also sought the ultimate of man's existence. He disagreed with Plato that ideas were the ultimate. He considered soul the actuality of the body and distinguished bet. souls of plants and animals, on the one hand, and the soul of man, on the other, the main difference being man's intellective capacity. Besides the 5 senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) he spoke of a common sense that is conscious and classifies and coordinates the sensory experiences. He distinguished bet. passive reason, which acts as a receptor for the senses, and active reason, which provides forms of thought, may exist apart from soul and body, and is immortal.

4. Plato and Aristotle lifted mental life from the material to the immaterial and systematized psychological thought in a cosmological frame. The influence of their philosophies on later movements of thought is little short of phenomenal.

D. Relationship to Christianity.

1. The basis for the Christian approach to psychology is laid in Gn. Man was created a being consisting of body and soul (Gn 2:7). Man was created in the image of God with the command and ability to be fruitful and rule over every living thing (Gn 1:27–28). Thus man's preeminent position in the order of creation was est. However, man is not a god, nor part of God, but a being separate from God, a creature. That Adam was an intellective being is evident from his ability to name every creature that passed before him (Gn 2:19–20). Man had a free will, subject only to the will of God. Knowledge of right and wrong was implanted in him, that he might subdue the earth and enjoy its fruits, but he was forbidden to eat “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gn 2:17). With the fall into sin came a stricken conscience, conflicts, a sense of guilt, even a projection of guilt, and with the promise of a Savior came faith and hope. Thus the basic concepts (soul, intellect, knowledge, free will, conscience, sense of guilt, conflicts, heredity, environment, emotion) were est.

2. Psychol. is not treated as a separate subject in the Bible. It is no more than an essential part of the framework of the Bible. Psychol. as a separate and distinct field of systematic activity is a development esp. of the 20th c. But many words and expressions in the Bible have a psychol. meaning or connotation. Psalms speak of the effects of emotions on man. Solomon pointed to the need of divine wisdom in a godly personality. Christ emphasized the need of translating knowledge into action. Paul speaks of the Christian's need to devote his whole being to the Lord's work, and he recognized individual differences (cf. Ro 12). The very essence of Christianity, man's possessing a soul, the immortality of the soul, the inspiration of the Bible, sin, forgiveness of sin and eternal life by grace through faith, regeneration and the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in and through Word and Sacraments, all have been stumbling blocks to philosophies, systems of logic, and psychologies based solely on naturalistic thought and effort.

3. It has been the determined and conscious purpose of Christians to guard these and other values against all encroachments. Not every effort of psychological thought and experimentation was condemned. Many Christians became properly interested in the study and explanation of mental phenomena.

E. Confluence of Theol. and Philos. in the Middle Ages.

1. After the apostolic age the cen. movement of thought was dominated by (1) the Christian religion; (2) the heritage of philos. and the classics; (3) current thought as represented by sects, cults, and ethnic groups. Theol. gradually assumed the leading role and held it through the Middle Ages. with philos., poetry, psychol., and logic playing ancillary roles.

2. Augustine* of Hippo was perhaps the greatest metaphysician of his age. He markedly influenced later thought. His writings cover many areas of theol. and human thought and experience. His Confessions, X, presents his psychological ideas in some detail. He considered soul the life-giving force. Apparently he separated soul and mind, the latter being a functional power. Both are immaterial. Man is superior to animals because of his reason and understanding. Augustine dealt with such concepts as sensation, reason, memory (or the act of remembering), learning, thinking, conscience, free will, dreams. He recognized 4 “perturbations of the mind”: desire, joy, fear, sorrow; in this he came close to the emotional theory of the modern behaviorists. He dwelt at length on memory, exalting its function and usefulness and calling it “the belly of the mind.”

3. Augustine was well acquainted with the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and classical literature. He learned much from them but rejects them all as valid sources of information in spiritual matters. In the latter he gradually learned to depend on Scripture alone. He completely rejected astrology and similar practices.

4. Thomas* Aquinas, “the Christian Aristotle,” was first of all a theol. and churchman, but also a logician, philos., and psychol. His explanations of soul, mind, and emotions and systematic, encyclopedia, and metaphysical. His rigid logic and ideological conclusions have been called more metalogical (beyond or outside the scope of logic) than metaphysical.

5. Though greatly devoted to logic and inference, Thomas Aquinas held that in spiritual matters revelation is the only reliable source. But the line bet. revelation and reason had been blurred; Scripture no longer stood alone as accepted authority; ecclesiastical pronouncements, traditions, and legends had made deep inroads into all religious matters.

F. The Reformation and Psychology.

1. M. Luther* was educ. in the traditional materials and schools of thought of his era. He was acquainted with Gk. philos., the poetry and literature of the classics, the mixture of religion and reason in the ch. fathers, the systematized and finespun logic of the Scholastics, the creative efforts of the Renaissance, and the secular interests of humanism. He had a deep interest in the dignity and welfare of man and in est. the rights of the individual but was not concerned with developing a new system of philos. or psychol. He was dedicated to a return to Scripture as the sole basis for Christian faith and life. All human knowledge and activity was judged in light of God's Word. The simplest statement of God's natural gifts to man is summarized SC II, 2: “… I believe that God has … given me and still sustains my body and soul, all my limbs and senses. …”

2. Speculative philosophies, ecclesiastical fiats and legends, the black arts, horoscopy, and superstitions were critically examined and denounced in rugged terms as so much nonsense or the work of the devil. Adiaphora* were left open. Reasonable and sensible laws, decrees, and explanations were evaluated properly and given support.

3. Not all contemporary reformers and supporters of the Reformation followed Luther's pattern; some fell victim to humanistic philosophies or other schools of thought from which Luther remained free.

G. The Philos.-Experimental Approach to Modern Psychol.

1. After the Reformation the trend of thought fell increasingly under the spell of a confluence of philos. and science. The concept of nous (Gk. ;“mind; intellect”) rose to prominence at the expense of Christian theol. Philosophy flourished; philosophies multiplied. Modern psychol. draws heavily on 17th–19th c. speculations. Various forms of dualism, materialism, idealism, innate intelligence, psycho-physical parallelism, influence of the environment (tabula* rasa), associationism, sensation, perception, phrenology, and biological determinism were proposed and defended by some philosophy.

2. Psychology was influenced also by scientific developments and experimental techniques but held its ground, for scientific experiment is often preceded and followed by speculation.

3. The earlier experiments of the 19th c. drew heavily on physics and physiology and were more psychophysics than psychology. Examples: experiments in sensation by Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795–1878; b. Wittenberg, Ger.; physiologist; anatomist); investigations of mechanisms of sight and hearing by Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821–94; b. Potsdam; physicist; anatomist; physiologist); the work of G. T. Fechner.*

4. W. M. Wundt* est. the 1st laboratory for experimental psychology 1879 Leipzig, Ger. Analysis of conscious processes, memory experiments, esp. by Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909; b. Barmen, Ger.), experiments in reaction time, introspection, analysis of the learning process, systematic observation of child development (e.g., by Wilhelm Thierry Preyer [1841–97; b. Moss Side, near Manchester, Eng.; Ger. physiol. and psychol.; advocated Darwinism; works include Die Seele des Kindes] and G. S. Hall*) contributed to early 20th-c. psychol.

H. Nature and Scope of Modern Psychol. By the beginning of the 20th c. psychol. had emerged as a separate branch of learning. Contributions of W. James* had broken the close attachment to philos. and given psychol. thought a wide range of materials. Since 1900, psychol. materials, methods, and principles have been further clarified. By 1940 large univs. were offering more than 50 courses in various aspects of psychol. Individuals and “schools of psychol.” created crosscurrents of thought resulting in “psychologies.” But the attempt to est. facts by rigid experimentation remained uppermost.

In the middle decades of the 20th c. there was a shift away from a more or less exclusive interest in empirical studies. The influence of psychoanalysis, existential philos., and related soc. sciences led to growing interest in clinical, longitudinal, and sociocultural studies.

I. Sources from Which Psychol. Draws Material. Sources other than philos. and scientific investigation include biology, physiol., anatomy, roentgenology. Observations of physical growth and changes from conception to death are correlated with growth and changes in emotion, learning, and personality as a whole. Extensive use of statistics is necessary for accuracy in experiments. Refinements of psychometrics have led to a more precise concept of individual differences, intelligence, achievement, aptitude, special ability, interests, emotions, and other aspects of human behavior. Nature study has led to animal experimentation, brain extirpation, and induction of abnormal behavior under controlled conditions. Ontological and phylogenetic surmises led to specific experiments and observations in the relative influence of heredity and environment. Cell twins, fraternal twins, siblings, foster children, and parent-child relationships in similar and different environments have been minutely studied. Observation of abnormal behavior is essential to gen. psychol. thought. Study of the learning process shifted from an introspective approach to objective observation of the whole life span. Study of perception, thinking, imagination, and growth of language continues.

J. Schools and Systems.

1. The “quest for certainty” of which J. Dewey* spoke is not satisfied with mere atomistic experimentation. A theoretical description of phenomena of experience and behavior is a natural by-product of experimentation. The points of departure that have grown up with experimentation and observation have come to be known as systems or schools of psychology. But the grouping of fellow workers with a somewhat similar viewpoint as a school is not entirely accurate. Each school has subcurrents and divergent positions as clear as differences bet. “schools.”

2. Structuralism, which flourished at the beginning of the 20th c., tried to analyze sensation, images, and affections as elements of consciousness. Its main method was introspection. It tried to find the pure elements of the mind. It did not concern itself with meaning directly because meaning is more than an elementary mental process. It emphasized the elements rather than the reaction of the organism as a whole. Exponents include E. B. Titchener.*

3. Functionalists are more concerned with activities of the mind than its structure. Mind and behavior are considered inseparable. Functionalism* therefore deals with feelings, impulses, behavior, habits. It makes controlled observation a major part of investigative technique. Its main contributions are in learning and education. See also 5, 6.

4. Behaviorism has little faith in analysis of consciousness by introspection or any other method. It operates mainly with the stimulus response theory of simple behavior situations, because it believes that only in that way is observation accurate and objective. Reflexes and mechanistic responses are described in great detail, scant attention is given to motivation by thought and reason. The conditioned response, or substitute stimulus, is highly regarded in the method of investigation. Behaviorism has helped make psychol. investigation more objective, but it has not given enough attention to motivation; and it makes inferences from outward behavior without taking into consideration inner thoughts that might be discovered by introspection or some form of projection. See also 5; Educational Psychology, D 4.

5. The Gestalt (or Configuration) school emphasizes the whole pattern of the learning act, taking issue with the piecemeal theories of behaviorists (see 4). It operates with the concept of insight as basis for an intelligent response and does not accept the trial-and-error pattern of learning proposed by functionalists (see 3). It supports its position by experimentation in human and animal learning. Gestalt theories exerted great influence on psychol. and educ. thought in Am. See also Educational Psychology, D 5; Ehrenfels, Maria Christian Julius Leopold Karl von.

6. Psychoanalysis (or Freudianism), founded by S. Freud,* has been a prolific source of psychol. thought. Its crosscurrents are strong, literature vast.

Dynamic psychol. incorporates some theories of psychoanalysis; in a broad sense Am. functionalism (see 3) is dynamic. See also Psychology, Dynamic.

7. Freudianism makes much of the libido, defined as a sex instinct or the urge to life (see also Lust); “id,” “ego,*” and “superego” are terms used in psychoanalysis to describe the stream of life resulting from the trauma and frustrations that interfere with impulses of the libido. The school is mainly interested in behavioral disorders and forms the disorders may take in psychic life. Its therapeutic technique through abreaction or catharsis (see also Psychotherapy, 2) finds widespread use in psychiatry, literature, the arts.

8. Adherence to 1 school or system by current psychologies is rare; contemporary psychologists lean toward eclecticism.

K. Influence of Psychol.

1. Psychol. has developed a field of materials of its own, though the method of investigation is largely that of natural sciences. Many specialties have developed.

2. Psychol. has invaded many fields of endeavor, including educ., medicine, industrial management, art, advertising, salesmanship, vocational guidance.

L. Contribution of Christianity to Psychol.

1. The attitude of Christianity toward psychol. is indicated in D-F. Psychol. could hardly have reached its present state of development without contributions of Christianity, which holds certain sacred values and has forced psychol. into a field of its own in the study of psychic phenomena, where it applies itself to psychic materials amenable to methods of natural science.

2. It is questionable whether psychol. would have achieved rigid technique in experimentation if Christianity had not insisted on seeking the truth.

3. Christianity holds that man is dichotomous (body-soul) structurally, but for all practical ends here on earth he acts as 1 being, a single self, under normal circumstances. Functionally, man is a monistic being; the study of his functional mental life is as important as the study of his bodily functions. The structure of the body, but not the structure of the soul, is subject to investigation by natural science. Speculation about the soul, beyond or contrary to revelation, is futile.

4. In its judgment of and attitude toward psychol. theories and findings Christianity must be guided by the Word of God. Al S, AHJ

See also Psychology, Comparative; Psychotherapy, 14 b

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
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Content Reproduced with Permission

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