Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I'm introducing: Psychology

Whenever I feel like I need to provide some background before moving forward, I'll do one of these posts. See it as "getting the building blocks" before doing the actual building. Oh, and I use the word "client" rather than "patient", "sie" for "he or she" and "hir" instead of "his or her".

Psychology. It is the science of mind and behaviour, so you can tell the field is potentially vast. When I say this is a blog on "psychology", just what the heck do I mean? In this post, I will construct a crude map to orient yourself around the domains of psychology we're concerned with on this blog. 

Psychology can basically answer two questions.
1) How does people work?
2) What is your story?

How does people work?
Psychology can be the charting of common human traits and mechanisms: How does perception and thought process work? How does workgroups develop? Why do people get stressed out when stepping up on stage? We're looking for answers to generalise.

What is your story?
Rather than understanding people, I'm working to understand you. Rather than trying to find out the true answers, I'm trying to see how you understand the world, your story. We're looking for an understanding.

Now, imagine we draw a line between these two points, like so.

Now we can place different kind of psychological research and therapies (the application of research) on this continuum, based on how much focus they place on answering these two questions:

Let's go through the labels.

Quantitative research
Research with numbers, basically. If I tell people to administer electric chocks to hapless victims when they answer my questions incorrectly, how many people will obey? And to what extent? (Best experiment ever) The questions are already decided upon, and the research is about finding answers.

Qualitative research
Descriptive resarch, working towards an understanding, basically. "The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than large samples." (Quote wikipedia)

Cognitive-behaviour therapy
Therapy addressing the patterns of thought and behaviour according to which we operate. Maladaptive patterns (Such as "If I let other people close to me, they will hurt me, I must reject them before they got too close") are transformed into more adequate patterns. Often, these patterns and thoughts are automatic and not conscious.

Psychodynamic therapy
Rather than changing the patterns of thought and behaviour, the therapist and the client are working to expose the underlying causes to these patterns. Big emphasis on your past life, your relationship to your parents which you recreate in relation to other people, how you cope with/defend against anxiety...

Humanistic therapy
Rather than interpreting the client's story according to psychodynamic therapy, the therapist is encouraging the client to process hir own story deeper and more fully, and find hir own answers. Instead of using psychodynamic theory, the terapist tries to find the client's own concepts of what is meaningful and important in hir story.

(I'd like to point out right now that there is a very strong connection between the words "meaning" and "story".)

As I said, this is a rather crude map. Psychological theory doesn't really divide between Facts and Story in the way I've shown here, but it's a convinient way to present psychology in it's entirety on a blog that is concerned with stories, such as this one. I have left out a whole bunch of different therapies and research domains, but this will do just fine for now.


Arvid Axbrink Cederholm said...

Yeeech! Is it just me, or is this layout just to tight for text? I'm considering switching to this theme, what do you think?

Arvid Axbrink Cederholm said...

I changed the font size from 14 pixels to 12. That's a start.

Evert said...

Wow, you just made the impossible, you made psychology, or at least parts of it, interesting to me...
If you're interested in what, I'll be at the cafe today...

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