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Outline the major theoretical perspectives in Psychology and evaluate two of these paradigms.

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Outline the major theoretical perspectives in Psychology and evaluate two of these paradigms by Catherine Graham (word count:1585) Introduction Psychology is a diverse subject and can be divided into five significant theoretical perspectives. These are Biopsychology, Psychoanalysis, Cognitive Psychology, Humanism and Behaviourism. Looking at them in this order they can be arranged under the two headings of nature and nurture or somewhere in between. The following attempts to give an overview of these and then a more detailed appraisal of Psychoanalysis and Humanism. Outline of major perspectives The original approach to psychology, Biopsychology has been around since early Greek times and is now a branch of neuroscience. Biopsychologists study the biological and physical aspects of the mind, believing that all behaviour and thought processes including emotion are a product of genetic, physiological, hormonal and neurochemical determined factors. They believe that abnormal behaviour is caused either by injury or by physical disorders. Preferred treatment for abnormal behaviour is drugs, electroconvulsive therapy (subjecting the brain to a weak electric current) and psychosurgery (surgical procedure carried out on the brain). In complete contrast to Biopsychology, the next perspective to emerge in the early 19th century was Behaviourism. From this viewpoint psychology should be the study of behaviour as it is objective and observable making it favourable as a science. ...read more.


As a result of this he developed his client centred therapy where the therapist is reflective and non-judgemental and does not interpret or advise except to encourage or clarify. By exploring present experiences with the client, the therapist helps them to rediscover their whole self and then proceed towards self-actualisation. During the mid 20th century, Cognitive Psychology emerged as psychologists began comparing the human mind to a computer, selecting, coding, storing and retrieving information when required. The correct function of these processes and ability to use, monitor and control them determines behaviour. Jean Piaget (1970) looked at the development stages of intelligence as a common predictable process within us all. These four stages which all children pass through in the same sequence are Sensorimotor, Preoperational, Concrete operational and Formal operational. How we each internalise these schemas or building blocks of behaviour depends on how we interpret the four cognitive stages. Problems occur when the individual believes unrealistic or irrational ideas about themselves and is unable to use the correct mental processes. Treatment forms rational-emotive therapy (confrontation and encounter and to think and act accordingly), Zen meditation (restful mind) and behaviour self-control. Evaluation Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud created Psychoanalysis from his own perception of the systems and theories that make motivation and drive central concepts of human life. ...read more.


Therapy has proven to be effective in the treatment of mild psychological disorders. Humanism recognises the unique qualities of human nature and therefore did not use animals for experiments but observed human beings in their natural environment. On the other hand, it can be argued that authentic and real experiences are almost impossible to verify, making research unreliable and therefore unscientific. Science commands objectivity, which Humanism can not offer. In western society personal growth is encouraged, but not everyone is motivated towards this, and those that appear to have achieved it in one sense, may lack it in others. This does not fit in with the self-actualisation notion and suggests that it is not only dependent on internal needs but also the external demands of society. Conclusion Psychology has a bearing on all of us in every day life from birth to death whether conscious or unconscious. Our understanding and interpretation depends largely on the society in which we live and our cultural and religious beliefs. It is therefore a subject where right and wrong is very difficult to determine. Because of this and the fact that we still can not categorically state which of the various perspectives is closer to the truth, psychology is an ever changing and fascinating subject and each paradigm has something unique to contribute to our understanding. ...read more.

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