Historical and Cultural factors that gave rise to the Biological Perspective

Authors Avatar


  • Describe and evaluate the cultural context and development of the biomedical model

The biological perspective of psychology has its roots in the ancient times, and more specifically in the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Greece. Ancient Egyptians believed that damage to a specific region of the brain would change bodily functioning. Hippocrates saw the brain as an organ of intellect that controlled the senses and movement. Galen supported that personality and temperament are closely linked to the levels of body fluids such as blood. Additionally, trepanation, the practice of removing brain parts, was frequent in various religious ceremonies in many ancient cultures. Important personalities came to significant conclusions about brain and bodily functions. Rene Descartes found that the brain is responsible for a reflex to an environmental stimulation. Gall introduced the concept of localization of functions, supporting that each brain region is responsible for different tasks. Penfield, based on Gall’s assumption, studied the role of various areas of the cerebral cortex through microelectrode stimulation with conscious patients. Finally, Helmholtz investigated the significance of speed of conduction nerves. With the arrival of the 20th century neuroscientists began to understand how the brain works. More specifically, Santiago Ramon y Cajal found that the nervous system is composed of individual cells, called neurons. Sir Ch. Sherrington concluded that reflexes are composed of direct connections between sensory and motor neurons, and that the nervous system is involved in both excitatory and inhibitory processes. After thorough studies on the brain, Hebb observed that it consists of highly integrated series of structures, which perform specific functions. The language areas of the brain were identified by Paul Broca. Lastly, Sperry emphasized the effects that splitting the cerebral cortex had on consciousness and psychological functioning.

Join now!

In addition to the influence of important personalities, studies on the brain, the psychopharmacological explosion, and genetics also gave rise to the biomedical model of psychology. Interventions in the human brain made it possible to understand not only its structure, but also its function. The first interventions to be practiced included lesion, ablation, direct electrical stimulation, electroshock therapy, and lobotomy. More than 18,000 lobotomies were conducted in the United States during the 1940s. Technology was a useful aid in scrutinizing the brain. The first X-rays were founded in 1895. CAT scans, first used in 1972, provide three-dimensional pictures of the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay