Psychology: a Travel Guide

All the must-sees!

Stop 1: The Humanistic Perspective

This approach has been used by psychologists such as Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and Abraham Maslow. It is a relatively less limiting approach. Instead of focusing on childhood experiences or past trauma, the humanistic perspective focuses on people as a whole, viewing humans as fluid, ever-changing beings, and whose change is focused on the process towards self-actualization (the reaching of one's full potential). This can be a very optimistic yet realistic view, especially for people with self image issues. The humanistic perspective would encourage them to tell themselves "well, this may be who I am today, but if I don't like it, it doesn't have to be who I am tomorrow."

Stop 2: The Nature vs Nurture Debate

I'm sure you've heard it before; but what does nature v. nurture really mean? In it's simplest terms, it's the argument of whether we are born the way we are, personality and all, or if who we are is shaped by what happens to us. It's important because so many things rest on this simple question. Who we are, how to deal with ourselves and other people, how to treat mental illness, it all could change if a definitive answer to the nature versus nurture debate was found. It raises a curious personal question as well: was I born to be the way I am? No matter how good or how bad?

Stop 3: Conditioning (Operant)

Conditioning is a psychological theory based on the assumption that behavior is learned. Operant conditioning is "conditioning that results from actions and the consequences of those actions". It can be used to an advantage, for teaching purposes, like taking away your child's phone whenever they miss curfew so they learn to respect it. In my personal opinion, you can (subconsciously in the following cases) operantly condition yourself. This is particularly obvious with anxiety-based mental illnesses. Every time a person does the thing that causes them anxiety, they're punished with a negative feeling, so they're being conditioned to avoid it, such as a person with a phobia of heights doing everything in their power to never go on an airplane.

Stop 4: Problem Solving (a process)

The problem solving process, though revised over time, has had the same basic concept since John Dewey first proposed using reflective thinking to solve problems. . The steps are define the problem, analyze the problem, identify possible solutions, evaluate solutions, select the best solution, develop an action plan, and then implement the solution. It's important, because problems are scary. They can be overwhelming and seem bigger than us and we start thinking with our emotions and we just shut down. This gives an objective, logical look at an issue. It can help bring the realization that most things are simpler than originally thought, and keep us from putting it off because we think we can't do it.

Psychological Disorders: the classification

How is it decided whether some behavior or thought pattern is just "odd", or whether it's a psychological disorder? According to professionals, they must be deviant (violating social norms), distressing (causing suffering and/or harm), and dysfunctional (distracting/impeding of everyday life). This is both important and helpful in the way that it serves to identify those who could be a danger to themselves or others and protect them, and it can also aid in giving people compassion. If they see someone as mentally ill instead of just "weird", they may feel more sympathetic towards them and be less inclined to treat them badly.