The human body is the conglomerate of many organs.  The most complex organ is the human brain or the control center where the motivation for all behavior develops and is carried out.  How one tiny vessel holds the jurisdiction over all thought and behavior control is a phenomenon studied by psychologists.  Psychology combines the discipline of academic and applied science to study the mind and behavior while embracing all aspects of human experience.  The discipline of psychology is an evolutionary science that continually changes as new developments, theories, and treatments are founded, researched, tested and applied in the field.  Understanding the vitality of mental health paves the way for one to understand psychological illness and reduce the stigma society has attached to the “abnormal” behaviors disdained in the community.

Psychology encompasses all aspects of life.  From the thought to action, to perceptions of the world around us.  A discipline grounded in philosophical thought has now become a renowned science implicated in all aspects of life.  The motivation for the behavior, the architectural and decorative designs of buildings, the cognitive processes of learning, and attention grasping of consumers through lighting and product placement.  There is no single area that psychology does not have an effect giving potential as the one the most necessary sciences to understanding human behavior.  Aristotle considered psychology the “study of the soul” and laid the foundation of understanding man as he attempted to define the relationship of the soul to the body through his theory of hylomorphism (Caston).  Aristotle began the study of the mind-body existence leading to the eventual establishment of the first psychology lab by Wilhelm Wundt, who aimed to analyze the constituent elements of thought and sensation to establish the underlying structure of the mind (McLeod, 2008).  Wundt conducted the first scientific experiments in psychology and opened doors for the future of the discipline.

The thoughts of Aristotle created ingenious curiosity that led to the development of psychology as an independent and structured science.  Wundt, the Father of Psychology, began the scientific discipline that has turned into the fifty-four subdisciplines psychology holds today (“American Psychological Association”, 2016).  The subdisciplines vary in areas of coverage from behavioral, clinical, social, and environmental to topical areas such as development, cultural diversity, and traumatic experience (“American Psychological Association”, 2016). Despite a vast array of specialty areas, each subdivision maintains the same goal:  Gaining and understanding of the interaction of the human mind and body to understand the causes of certain behavior and modalities to modify behavior.


Sigmund Freud, despite his controversial theories,  founded the psychodynamic approach to personality.  A combination of all human functioning theories, the psychodynamic approach is based on the interactions of unconscious drives and motives that produce behavior (McLeod, 2007).  Freud believed that all behavior derives from internal or external motivation though one may not be aware of the unconscious motives (Rana, 1997).  Behavior and feelings are affected by unconscious motives, and early childhood experience affects adult behavior.  It is the unconscious drives and motivations that establish what behaviors will be displayed (Feist, 2009).  Freud’s development of the constructs of the Id, ego, and superego lead into the development of individual personality (Rana, 1997).  Although he believed the Id makes up the biggest portion of personality as it seeks out pleasure and immediate gratification despite potential consequences, he believed the three constructs work together to maintain emotional balance (Rana, 1997).  He further believed that the id developed a life and death instinct in all humans, and that instinct provides all motivation (Rana, 1997).

According to the psychodynamic perspective,  Id controls the majority of personality because it seeks immediate gratification of selfish wants, the primary drive of all humans.  The ego serves as the regulator for personality and control center for the Id.  The superego is the judgment center and delivers internal feelings of punishment or gratification which determines self-worth.

Freud also placed emphasis on early childhood development because he believed that unresolved trauma in these early stages of life reflected in adult personality and behavior (Feist, 2009).  Trauma would cause a fixation in the individual that would hinder growth and advancement until the traumatic experience was recognized and dealt with (Feist, 2009).  Finally, Freud thought that individuals develop a defense mechanism known as repression.  People who experienced a traumatic event would repress the memory deep in the unconscious mind as an avoidance effort. However, unless the repressed memory is brought to the conscious level and dealt with, Freud believed that an individual would not successfully transition to the next phase of life (Rana, 1997).

The psychodynamic approach does not have a solidly based grounding in that observation and talk therapy are the most widely used techniques.  What makes the psychodynamic approach reliable and widely used today is that it is a theoretical approach to understanding human behavior through personality and behavior that carries the basis of observable behavior.  Numerous researchers have come to the same conclusion as Freud:  Much of an individual’s behavior is derived from experience and much of an individuals hindered development is due to a lack of properly working through the stages of maturity as traumatic events delay development.

According to John Watson, the behaviorist approach of psychology is an objective and experimental natural science aimed at prediction and control (McLeod, 2013).  It is a behaviorist belief that behavior is deflected by life experience and is therefore learned from the environment and carries the ability to adapt to the effects of conditioning efforts (McLeod, 2013).  Primarily concerned with observable behavior that can be measured, the behaviorist perspective believes that individuals are born with a clean slate and all behavior is attained through the environment and a stimulus-response association (McLeod, 2013).  Behaviorism can define and measure the extent of behavior modification leading to simpler explanations of human behavior from a scientific standpoint (McLeod, 2013).  Pavlov set out to prove stimulus-response association by utilizing dogs in his scientific experiment that led to conditioning (McLeod, 2013).

While studying digestion in dogs, Pavlov found a cycle of salivation that occurred each time the dogs came in contact with him (McLeod, 2013).  However, noting the behavior was not pre-existing meant that the dogs had learned to associate Pavlov with food which created salivation (McLeod, 2013).  He launched an experiment in which a bell was introduced in a particular time frame before presenting food.  After several exposures to the bell before food, the dogs began to salivate at the sound of the bell.  Pavlov had triggered and perfected behavior modification in the dogs that resulted in the similar techniques seen in the present day (McLeod, 2013).  Pavlov’s experiment led to the development of classical conditioning (Naik, 2001).  Pavlov’s discovery intrigued other theorists leading to the development of behaviorism as a discipline of psychology.

Based on Pavlov’s observations, John Watson proposed the classical conditioning theory as a way to explain all aspects of human psychology (McLeod, 2013). Watson’s classical conditioning linked two stimuli to create a new or learned response (McLeod, 2013).  In stage one, an unconditioned stimulus produces an unconditioned, or natural response. In stage two an unconditioned stimulus is associated with an unconditioned response creating a conditioned stimulus holding expectation of producing new or learned behavior.  Several exposures to the conditioned stimulus may be necessary to achieve behavior modification (McLeod, 2013).  The final stage of classical conditioning is the point of perceived and measurable behavior modification (McLeod, 2013).

Despite the evidence that supported classical conditioning, Thorndike felt as though the theory was too comprehensive and could not explain the majority of behavior in the natural environment (Naik, 2001).  Through experimentation, Thorndike developed the Law of Effect which claims the influence of behavior derives from the anticipated result (Naik, 2001).   Thorndike’s Law of Effect set the basis for Skinner’s Operant Conditioning Theory.  Skinner believed that rewards, or positive reinforcement, for positive behavior increase the likelihood that desired behavior would continue whereas negative reinforcement would deflect undesired behavior (Naik, 2001).   Additionally, Skinner founded that behavior became extinct in the absence of positive reinforcement (Naik, 2001).  Furthermore, Skinner discovered once conditioning occurs, avoidance-escape behavior occurs as one is conditioned to the effect of a certain stimuli and continues “expected” bahvior to avoid a negative consequence (Nail, 2001).

Cognitive psychology is a relatively new branch that has developed as psychology continues to evolve.  It has taken views from all aspects of psychology and included them in determining what makes the brain work and how the brain make things happen.  Cognitive psychology opens a door of answers to questions that have been probing researchers for many years.  Cognitive psychology is the study of higher mental processes concerning how individuals receive, process, and use information (Galotti, 2014). How memory works, the process of thought and the process of perception are the key ideas of cognitive psychology (Galotti, 2014).  The development of cognitive psychology originated from the ideas of functionalism and behaviorism in addition to the study of individual differences and the development of cognitive science.

William James founded functionalism on the belief that behavior is the reflection of the functions of the mind (Galotti, 2014).  Functionalists believed that for the study of behavior should occur in the natural environment to gather the most accurate observations of behavior with little interference (Galotti, 2014).  Although the study of functionalism relied solely on observation of the outward behavior, it implied that there was a function to behavior and researchers used this idea to delve into the internal study of behavior through the functions of the brain (Galotti, 2014).

John Watson believed behavior was not innate, rather learned from environment.  Another behaviorist, Edward Tolman, believed the mind developed a map through cognition as new learning and memorization occurred (Galotti, 2014).  Other supportive disciplines include the psychodynamic approach of Freud which claims the unconscious mind and instinct play an important role in behavior and cognition as well (Galotti, 2014).  Additionally biological psychology claim genetics in conjunction with cognition and environment create behavior (Galotti, 2014).

Sir Francis Galton took an individual approach to the study of the differences between individual cognitive ability (Galotti, 2014).  Galton was fascinated with the fact that intelligence varied among individuals.  He questioned the assistance of genetics in attaining certain levels of intelligence.  He set out to find the answer he was looking for through developing a series of tests for cognitive ability (Galotti, 2014).

Behavioral observation is important in cognitive psychology because it allows researchers to see cognition occur naturally, not forced within the confines of a lab (Galotti, 2014).  Observation allows for testing of theories and hypotheses researchers develop.  Since observing internal mental processes is not possible, an inference can be made about a behavior based on the observation of the behavior.  Additionally, two aspects of behavior can be seen with one eye potentially to find a relationship between the two which allows for inference at the possibility of a change in one of the aspects (Galotti, 2014).  It is also vital to use observation in order to have a comparison for the unseen processes of behavior in order to establish any relationship between the conscious and unconscious aspect of the research (Galotti, 2014).


The humanistic approach to psychology emphasizes a hopeful view of humans and their ability to be self-determining (Feist & Feist, 2009).  The approach interprets behavior as guided by intentionality and ethical behaviors which distinguishes an effort in the enhancement of human qualities such as creativity, choice, spiritual well-being, and independence (Feist & Feist, 2009).   Humanists believe society and the unconscious influence behavior that may be negative and destructive placing emphasis on independent dignity and self-worth as well as the conscious human capacity to develop respect and personal competence (Feist & Feist, 2009).   The humanistic approach proves beneficial to personality psychology as it focuses on bettering the individual sense of self and independence creating an internal feeling of personal happiness leading individuals to find satisfaction in life.

The humanistic approach to personality emphasizes free will and personal experience exercised through the choices made in life and the consequences of those options (Feist & Feist, 2009).  Humanism focuses on the person as a whole, rather than just a certain aspect of the individual believing that the individual behaviors originate from inner feelings and thoughts of self.  The primary focus of this approach is self-concept (who the individual thinks they are) and self-actualization (who the individual desires to be) (McLeod, 2015).  A humanistic approach is an optimistic approach that views individuals as good with an innate desire to reach their maximum potential while making others’ lives better, declaring individuals continually strive for life improvement through attaining goals providing the sense of self- satisfaction and achievement (McLeod, 2015).

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was an effort to establish motivations for an individual (Feist & Feist, 2009).  The hierarchy emphasizes individuals motivation is to achieve needs, not necessarily rewards or fulfillment of unconscious desire (Feist & Feist, 2009).  Successfully reaching all five stages of the hierarchy are deemed necessary for one to fully self-actualize (Feist & Feist, 2009).  However, failure to do so will hinder later development as one cannot move through all stages of self-actualization (Feist & Feist, 2009). Satisfying the needs of the hierarchy implies the individual maximized potential and found a clear understanding of self (Feist & Feist, 2009).  However, according to Maslow, very few people reach this level in their life span (Feist, 2009).

Theory of evolution claims that all forms of life hold relationships through ancestral sharing (Donovan, 2009). For instance, the similarities in the skeletal makeup and human genes of chimpanzees, apes, and humans lead researchers to believe the three share ancestry with other larger historical primates (Donovan, 2009).  Charles Darwins idea of homology explained the more anatomical and genetic similarities between species implies closer relationships (Donovan, 2009). The philosophical theory of evolution paved the foundation of evolutionary psychology.

The evolutionary perspective “was built on Darwin’s principle of natural selection” (Kowalski, 2014, p. 20) and argues that the basis of current human behavior rests in ancestral behavior.  It argues that understanding ancestry is vital to understanding the relationship of human mental processes and behavior (Kowalski, 2014). The theoretical approach aims to understand the design of the human mind by explaining useful psychological and mental traits such as perception, memory, and language as products of natural selection (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997). The proposition of evolutionary psychology suggests the human brain comprises cognitive mechanisms which evolved through the process of natural selection (Cosmides & Tooby, 1997).  The idea stands that evolution resembles branching in that the genomes that survive in a certain environment last long enough to replicate genetic material and adapt to survive changing environments (Bridgeford, 2009).

Darwin faced his theory off four ideologies:

Generational individuals reproduce in increasing numbers that can survive evolving environments (Donovan, 2009).

Compensation for evolving environments gives credit to heritable variations in genetics (Donovan, 2009).

Individuals with genetically evolved heritable traits adapt to changing environments easier (Bridgeford, 2009).

New species of the same ancestry of a pre-existing species evolve from species that can no longer breed successfully with the same species (Bridgeford, 2009)

As of late, the evolutionary perspective has been used in studies trying to prove behavior is a genetic adaptation received from parents and ancestors. (Kowalski, 2014).  He evolutionary perspective provides an explanation of the diversity of species contained within the world and why so many variations of those species exist (Donovan, 2009).  According to Donovan, research stakes claim that 98% of human genes are a bacteria necessary for environmental survival (2009).

Biopsychology claims that humans are biological creatures that evolve from genetics, cause us to eat for survival, and behave because of the neuronal firings that throughout our brain (Feist, 2009).  These theories, just like dispositional theories seek to identify consistencies in individual differences.  However, biological theories tend to delve into the biological aspects of personality such as genetics and evolutionary origins (Feist, 2009).  Biopsychologists claim that personality develops through genetics derived from evolutionary history and impacted by hormones and neurotransmitters (Feist, 2009).  Biological psychology created a bridge between psychology and biology as it seeks to explain how the brain contributes to behavior (Feist, 2009).

Biological theories stem from Darwin’s theory of evolution and theory of natural selection (McLeod, 2015).   Harlow’s research of Phineas Gauge led Biopsychologists to the idea of localization (McLeod, 2015).   The tamping iron tore through only the frontal lobes of the brain.  The fact that Gage was able to remain in a “normal,” conscious stature after the accident implied that motor and muscular functioning, as well as life support functions, were unaffected by the accident.  Additionally, the records of severe behavior and personality changes post-accident led researchers to make the assumptions of localization (McLeod, 2015).

Trait theories assume the stance personality is biologically based and determines behavior through relatively stable traits which make up the origins of one’s personality (McLeod, 2015).   Many traits create a pre-disposition to certain behavior in individuals meaning traits should remain consistent across situations over time but vary among individuals (McLeod, 2015).   Cattell believed it is necessary to look at some traits to have a complete idea of a person’s personality leading him to identify sixteen personality traits (McLeod, 2015).   Additionally, Cattell made the distinction between easily identifiable surface traits and source traits which are more definitive of personality, but harder to recognize (McLeod, 2015).   Allport believed that personality is determined biologically at birth and shaped by the environment (McLeod, 2015).  He also believed behavioral influences are innate motivational processes and internal cognition such as temperament, attitude, and skills (McLeod, 2015).

Explanations of individual differences extended beyond the environment of the person and included evolutionary support (Feist, 2009).  Biological research opened doors for future studies on personality.  However, biological psychology emphasizes the genetic aspect of personality fragmenting the theories which leave unexplained holes (Feist, 2009).  The fact that these theories focus on genetics and evolution of culture leaves little availability of future adaptations of personality (Feist, 2009).  The fragmented ideas allow for further research in the future to fill the gaps.

Incentive theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation infers behavior is primarily motivated by incentives of extrinsic factors (Ryan, 2000).  A motive is the triggering force of behavior that lays dormant within an individual until the individual establishes a genuine desire to react to the desire (Ryan, 2000).  Motives are the pushing and pulling forces that lead a person to think, perceive, and display certain behaviors as an effort to obtain personal satisfaction (Ryan, 2000).  Obtaining personal satisfaction means achieving personal desires and needs, which vary from person to person, allowing for individual motives to vary widely as well (Ryan, 2000).  Motivation consists of internal and external factors that keep an individual interested and committed to obtaining a goal (Ryan, 2000).  Motivation begins with the development of goal and ends with feelings of accomplishments achieved through the use of ideas, energy, determination, and action, (Ryan, 2000).

I think this is one of the most critical theories to understanding human behavior.  Individual behavior does not just happen, as Freud claimed, there is an underlying cause of all behavior, whether known or unknown.  Additionally, I believe all behavior comes at a cost.  That cost could be a material gain or the internal feeling of gratification, but some gain.  Learning the causes of behavior allows for the understanding of how and why behavior occurs.  This theory, I believe, could be particularly helpful when helping those suffering addiction or phobia as a way of recognizing ways to deter or promote unwanted behavior.  I think particularly, understanding what causes negative behavior, to the abuse of substances enlightens the individual and therapist to potential triggers of the individuals abusive nature.

Albert Banduras social learning theory takes the stance of conditioning theory but adds that behavior is learned through observation in the environment and that processes of mediation occur between stimuli and responses (McLeod, 2007).  From the Bobo doll experiment, we learned that children will behave in one manner, however if they observe a different behavior, they will react the same way they observed even if the behavior is abnormal for the child (McLeod, 2007).

To put social learning theory into a different perspective, I think that observing addictive behavior can lead to the development of addiction in an individual.  Along the lines of conditioning I believe it works this way:

An individual observes an individual in their immediate environment consistently partake in reckless, or addictive behavior.  The individual becomes accustomed to the behavior as being socially acceptable and appears to be the norm.  When a behavior is perceived as a socially accepted norm, one tends to adopt the behavior to fit in with the environment surrounding them.

Both theories intrigue my mind as I have seen addiction struggles throughout my life.  As parents, we may not always realize the things are children are learning from us.  Something as subtle as coming home after a stressful day at the office and having a glass of wine teaches a child that drinking wine is a good way to cope with stress.  I believe the theory works for all aspects of life.  At work, we are expected to lead by example, therefore, if we set a positive image, we receive positivity from others.

Tolman’s “purposive behaviorism”, although noteworthy, is a theory I dislike.  Tolman believed individuals ac ton on holistic belief, attitudes, changing conditions, and are goal oriented, but disregarded that humans act on incentive.  This theory tells me that humans have innate behave and act on thought with the purest of intentions.  I do not agree with this theory, as I believe all humans have some type of incentive motivation that causes behavior.  He believed that behavior was a cognitive coping mechanism similar to Freuds theory of repressed memories.  However, I tend to angle more with Freud in the effect that I believe we behave according to past experience which may hinder development, in the event that we do not cope with experience, rather repress the distasteful memories we want to forget.

Over the years, psychology has proven to be a field of continual evolution.  I believe understanding motivation can give incite to all aspects of life.  Understanding behavior or lack of behavior holds the potential to alter negative behavior before it starts.  Today, drugs and crime run the streets as if it has always been an acceptable norm.  I believe those who do wrong should be punished for their behavior, however, I think that if the punishment included ways to enlighten the individual on portraying positive behavior and the effects of positive behavior on self and others he or she may be more inclined to develop the necessary motivation to undergo behavior modification.

I think that if prisons and jails offered more recovery and intervention services, more criminals and addicts would rehabilitate.  I believe the justice system could greatly benefit from teaching and implementing psychological healing in the prison systems and reduce repeat offending.  Many offenders are repeat offenders because their crime has become their way of life.  It is highly likely they were raised in an environment of criminal activity and that is all that they are accustomed to.  If the jails mandated psychological rehabilitation to all inmates, I believe there would be a drastic decline in the repeat offenses.

Social learning theory and incentive motivation theory both imply behavior can be modified through conditioning.  I think if we begin more early interventions in the lives o the at risk youth, adult crime would undergo a drastic decline as well.  There are infinite possibilities that psychology holds for the future.  I chose to focus on behavior in the aspect of crime and addiction because my children are statistically,  “at risk youth”, and I hope they do not become the product of our South Central, Los Angeles.

My world view has changed drastically since beginning the psychology program.  At one point, I believed that all people were bad in a sense.  I believed that people ch;ose to behave and react in certain manners consistent with their belief.  As a survivor of domestic violence and other abuse, I firmly believed that there was no hope for change.

However, taking classes has taught me that individual behavior is learned and caused by something.  I believe that all people are typically “good”, but react in ways conditioned in them at an early age.  I believe through conditioning efforts, behavior is modifiable and the majority desire to behave in a positive manner, but do not have the external motivators to trigger the internal motivations necessary to make the changes necessary.

I have learned that all behavior begins with internal motivational desire and as therapists, it is necessary to theorize creative ways to trigger the internal motivation externally to help the desire become reality.

Most importantly I believe my worldview has changed as I have learned all individuals are just that… individuals.  We all vary from beliefs, values, and ethics to the physical cultural aspects of life.  I have learned that it is important to be understanding of the minority just as it is of the majority.  I live in a culturally diverse city, but I am the minority.  Sitting in my home, learning of the cultural differences among society, I learned we are all equal in a sense, but we vary greatly in who we are and what we believe.  All beliefs, thoughts, and opinions should be considered and taken in the highest regard as what is of no importance to me is of the greatest importance to another.

The portfolio presentation proved to be both critical thinking and creative thinking.  Students were made to demonstrate understanding of acquired knowledge as well put it all into perspective that can be applied into the real world.  The portfolio presentation created a self-reflection piece in a sense.  There was no definitive direction given therefore, students were required to trust their own instinct and thought process to bring it all together.  This allowed creativity to flow as the students reflected on their newly acquired knowledge and created a masterpiece of information.  The masterpiece reflected our personal likes and dislike, our personal arguments and desires for the future.  By he end of the assignment, students actually made decisions to put their feet in a certain direction and future use of learned material.




The Diverse Nature of Psychology

The diverse nature of psychology is evident through the many subdisciplines it entails.  The evolution of psychology from the discipline of philosophy validates the diversity among concepts and theories.  Understanding the influence of diversity on the major concepts creates an understanding of how motivation and behaviorism coincide with other disciplines in contemporary society to contribute a unique understanding of human behavior.  Having understanding the diversity and the implications of the unique perspective theories allows one to indulge in the mysteries of human motivation and behavior.

Influence of Diversity on Major Concepts of Psychology

Psychology is an ever evolving discipline lacking unification, meaning there is not one theory that explains all questions within the field.  Due to the evolving nature and lack of standardization, understanding psychological theories and concepts requires the incorporation of diversity.  Psychology is one broad discipline consisting of large subdisciplines with large theories that consist of smaller disciplines and theories.  The larger theories consist of combinations of smaller, diverse theories from the various subfields. Such holds true as it is necessary to understand the subdiscipline of motivational psychology to understand human behavior and behavioral theories.

The major concepts of psychology indulge in the actual diversity of the discipline.  The biological approach supports nature over nurture and declares behavior as the interaction of nature and nurture, although individuals are the byproduct of genetics and physiology (McLeod, 2015).  Behavioral psychology explores and measures observable behavior learned from the environment (McLeod, 2013).  The fundamental ideas of cognitive psychology explore how memory works, thought process, and the processes of perception through the study of higher mental processes learning how individuals receive, process, and perceive information (Galotti, 2014).  The psychodynamic approach assumes all behavior is explainable and is the result of childhood experience and focuses on the interactions of unconscious drives and motivation that lead to behavior (Rana, 1977).  The social approach to psychology aims to explain the effects society has on individuals by grasping an understanding of how society influences thoughts, feelings, and emotions through the study of social interaction, influences, and perception (Myers, 2010).  As each approach emphasizes different aspects of human behavior, the diverse nature of psychology is evident.  Also reflected in the varying perspectives is the diversity of perception among the individuals of the world.  As psychology lacks the unification of a single explanation of human behavior, society lacks the standardization of perception of the world and beliefs about them, furthering the call for the diverse nature of psychology approaches to indulge in studying human behavior.

Subdisciplines and Subtopics

Motivational psychology seeks to explain the reason individuals behave in certain manners.  A motive is the triggering force of action that lays dormant in a person establishes a true desire to perform to achieve personal satisfaction of some sort (Hunter, 2012).  Obtaining personal satisfaction implies meeting needs and desires which vary individually per person creating a diverse cause of motivational forces among individuals (Hunter, 2012).  A basic fundamental approach to human behavior is the approach-avoidance distinction in motivation.  In approach motivation, behavior is curtailed through positive outcomes and adversely, in avoidance motivation, negative results reduce behavior (Elliot & Covington, 2001).  Distinguishing the differences between approach and avoidance motivations is an essential component to the “study of affect, cognition, and behavior” and may be used to represent the infrastructure of personality dimensions as well as the link among the diverse traits of character (Elliot & Covington, 2001).

The psychodynamic approach, according to Freud, takes the stance that all behavior is explainable and occurs due to childhood experience (Rana, 1977).  Freud’s psychodynamic approach to personality assumes there is an interaction between nature and nurture that creates personality traits in an individual (McLeod, 2014).  The psychodynamic theory of personality attributes eccentric personality and behavior to the first five years of a child’s life in which parental roles and environmental interaction are keys to normal development.  The approach claims people are hedonistic creatures who are driven to seek self-pleasure and satisfaction through gratification of the ego (McLeod, 2014).   The drives that cause individuals to find satisfaction are eminent as personality begins to shape and take effect on the individual. Personality psychologists seek to find a real understanding of the individual personality.  For instance, the motivational triggers that cause the development of certain personality types and how they link with affect, cognition, and behavior to the surface and create individual traits.  Personality is a multi-dimensional construct which forces individuals to stand out from the crowd via beliefs, ethics, morals, and values that undergo constant evolution creating change in individuals throughout the lifespan (McCrae & John, 1990).

Identification with other Disciplines

The diversity of psychology is the epitome of the infinite theories developed.  Broad, generalized theories are developed from the smaller theories of the subdisciplines of psychological approaches.  Motivation is the beginning steps of behavior.  Personality traits that emphasize values, morals, and ethics, that guide individuals throughout the lifespan establish behavior.  Contingent on all theories above is the fact that individual drive derives from individual desires and needs.  The subdisciplines and topics are relatable on all levels and ideas of psychological approaches.  The phenomena of psychology appear that although, there is no unification of the theories, all theories build on each other to create larger, relatable theories which can be interchangeable and applied in different aspects of psychology and the study of human behavior.

Theoretical Perspective

Motivational theories are the driving force of human nature.  Behavior begins with a dormant idea that comes alive with the edification of a true desire which creates behavior and develops a personality.  Different types of motivation create the definitive line that establishes the direction of an individual’s development.  Establishing individual approach-avoidance motivations hold the potential to of creating conditioning efforts to steer an individual on a positive path in life.  Freud made the assumption that behavior is learned through observation of the environment and the people contained in the environment (McLeod, 2014).  An individual who faced a traumatic experience in early childhood could potentially hinder positive completion of all developmental steps in life.  These traumatic experiences may become the norm, and the individual follows the norm throughout the lifespan as that is the values, beliefs, and ethics instilled from early childhood (Myers, 2010).  For instance, a child raised in an abusive home may grow to mock the behavior observed, accept negative behavior committed against them, or become motivated to change the negative behavior and break the cycle of abuse.  The outcome of the scenario depends on the efforts of the individual to deal with the observations and grow from those learned behaviors (Myers, 2010).  The perspectives discussed appear to be building extensions from each other explaining the Freud, why’s of some behavior.  More in-depth research combined with other theoretical views will give a more definitive explanation of human behavior and its causes.

Psychological Contribution to Society

Project Peacemakers is a non-profit organization based which helps victims and abusers find peace with traumatic experiences and grow from their past.  Working with abusers and hearing their stories and triggers clarifies the causes of certain behaviors.  As a survivor of domestic violence and a recovering addict, understanding motivational triggers aids in learning avoidance approaches leading to positive change in behavior.  As a single mother of six children, learning how personality is created, and behavior is encompassed through observation of environment and the people in it, explains the curiosities and varying personalities and behaviors as each child had a different level of exposure to abuse and varying experiences in life.   Establishing triggers of certain behaviors in individuals create the potential for intervention and behavior modification when needed.  As individual’s personalities and behaviors vary according to beliefs, values, morals, and experience, the diverse nature of psychology incorporates different approaches and perspectives as a means of understanding the diversity among humans.



Elliot, A. J., & Covington, M. V. (2001). Approach and Avoidance Motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 13(2), 73-92. Retrieved from http://tamu.edu/faculty/takashi/psyc615/readings/Elliot%2006b.pdf

Galotti, K. M. (2014). Cognitive Psychology: In and Out of the Laboratory, (5th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database

Hunter, M. (2012). HOW MOTIVATION REALLY WORKS: TOWARDS AN EMOTO-MOTIVATION PARADIGM. Economics, Management and Financial Markets, 7(4), 138-196. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1326326749?accountid=458

McLeod, S. A. (2015). Biological Psychology. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/biological-psychology.html

McLeod, S. A. (2013). Behaviorist Approach. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Theories of Personality. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-theories.html

McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1990, October 1). An Introduction to the Five-Factor Model and Its Applications. 175-215. Retrieved from http://www.workplacebullying.org/multi/pdf/5factor-theory.pdf

Myers, D.  G.  (2010).  Social Psychology (10th ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Rana, H. (1997). Muskingum. Retrieved from http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/freud.htmv


clinical psychology, Uncategorized

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which individuals suffer from invasive and unwanted thoughts and behaviors that drive them to repetitive actions to ease anxiety (“ADAA”, 2010-2016).  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition, an individual diagnosed with OCD must present with obsessions, compulsions, or both in a time-consuming manner or cause impairment in some area of effective functioning (“Beyond OCD, 2016).  Additionally, the DSM mandates the condition cannot be attributed to any other medical condition or physiological effects of substances such as drugs or alcohol (“Beyond OCD,” 2016).

Obsessions are recurrent intrusive and unwanted thoughts or impulses experienced by an individual that lead to distress or anxiety.  The individual attempts to ignore the thoughts or subside the thoughts through the use of compulsory actions (“Beyond OCD” 2016).  Compulsions are ritualistic or repetitive behaviors the individual indulges in according to specific rules to subside obsessive thoughts.  The behaviors aim to reduce anxiety or distress, but disconnect from the reality of the obsession or occur in an excessive manner (“Beyond OCD”, 2016).

The symptoms of OCD include obsessions and compulsions that may or may not be recognizable by others.  For instance, the compulsions are behaviors utilized to subside the obsessive thoughts.  The obsessive thoughts are triggered by stimuli from a direct obsession or fear or the through certain sensory stimuli. Sensory stimulation of obsession may cause one to search for something that looks or feels right rather than diminishing a direct fear (“Beyond OCD,” 2016).

Effective treatment of OCD consists of Cognitive Behavior Therapy can reduce symptoms in conjunction with medication to treat underlying causes such as depression which often accompanies OCD (“Beyond OCD”, 2016).  CBT utilizes exposure therapy to break the cycle of compulsions as the gradual introduction to the obsession occurs.  For instance, one may present with excessive handwashing.  The therapist may have the individual hold something and not wash their hands after.  It is essential for the individual to continue exposures after therapy to maintain remission of symptoms (“Beyond OCD,” 2016).


Psychodynamic approach

The psychodynamic approach began with Freud and maintained human behavior is motivated by unconscious drives; the ego contains defense mechanisms used to deal with unresolved conflicts that contribute to behavior, and early experience impacts adulthood (Plante, 2011).   Freud’s perspective anticipated that insight in combination with working through the unconscious motivators help improve psychological health and behavior, as well as analyzing the transferential relationship between therapist and patient improves mental health and behavior (Plante, 2011).  Additionally, analyzing defensiveness and resistance to treatment allows insight into the behaviors being triggered (Plante, 2011).  Techniques such as dream analysis and interpretation, free association, and transference analysis make it possible for the therapist to gain insight and understanding and work through unconscious impulses, wishes, drives, and conflicts the individual deals with on a daily basis (Plante, 2011).

OCD, initially termed by Sigmund Freud as “obsessional neurosis” fell under the umbrella of neurasthenia (Kempke & Luyten, 2007).  Freud conceptualized the disorder as a conflict between the ego and superego, or aggressive and sexual impulses emerging from the id manifesting symptoms of obsessions as a punishment sent by the superego (Kempke & Luyten, 2007).  According to Freud, an individual with OCD has actively repressed aggressive impulses which manifest through uncontrollable maladaptive behaviors, whereas an individual perceived as “normal” deals with the impulses in a more positive manner (Kempke & Luyten, 2007).

Treatment focuses on early childhood experiences, personality structure, and influences of the unconscious through analysis of past experience and dream relationships to the individual (Plante, 2011).  The effectiveness of the psychodynamic theory holds the potential for a positive outcome.  The theory dictates that past experience shapes individual behavior.  A patient develops disorders such as OCD due to something in their past, learning, acknowledging, and dealing with the experiences that built the behaviors aids the patient in finding acceptance and leading the way to break the undesired cycle (Plante, 2011).


Cognitive-Behavior Approach

The cognitive-behavior approach focuses on thoughts and beliefs in conjunction with reinforcements to control undesirable behavior to control and manipulate behavior; however it draws more on behaviorism than cognitive psychology (Plante, 2011).  Cognitive-behavior therapy derives from the research performed by psychologists such as Skinner, Watson, and Hull in regards to the principles of learning and conditioning (Plante, 2011).  Both overt and covert behaviors acquired through learning and conditioning in the social environment (Plante, 2011).  Primarily focused on current experience, Cognitive-behavior therapy applies emphasis on observable and measurable behavior, environmental influences on behavior, and empirical research on assessment, treatment, and intervention through the use of perspectives such as operant and classical conditioning, social learning, and attribution theories (Plante, 2011).

Classical conditioning, such as exposure can be used to overcome fears and anxieties (Plante, 2011).  Gradually introducing the stimulus that causes the fear or anxiety allows an individual to overcome slowly the fear or anxiousness that arises when exposed to the stimulus (Plante, 2011).  Thought-stopping techniques interrupt the negative thought patterns that lead to anxious behaviors and reinforce positivism, as in obsessive thoughts (Plante, 2011).  Developing a behavior contract with a therapist may help patients stay focused, stick to the intervention plan and behavior rehearsal can prepare the patient for unexpected exposure and aid in breaking the cycle of as in compulsions (Plante, 2011).


Humanistic Approach

The humanistic approach rejects the perspectives of behavior and psychodynamic theories and assumes a phenomenological approach that encompasses the individual’s perception of experience in the world (Plante, 2011).    The underlying basis of the humanist perspective is that people are active, creative and strive for growth and love as they aim for the goal of self-actualization, or the greater love, peace, and acceptance from others and the self (Plante, 2011).  To help individuals achieve the goal of self-actualization, humanists exhibit active listening, empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence with patients (Plante, 2011) allowing the patient to feel he or she is in control of their destiny and their thoughts and feelings are accepted no matter what they are.

Rogers developed the client-centered approach that emphasizes the importance of emotional honesty and a non-judgmental therapeutic environment (Plante, 2011).  He emphasized people have an innate drive for growth. However that drive may be hindered by the social environment as pressure is placed on the individual to follow a path he or she is not truly passionate about resulting in a deficit of reaching self-actualization (Plante, 2011).  Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs which is a ladder an individual must climb to reach their full potential and achieve peace and acceptance of themselves and within the world.  He emphasized failing to complete all steps would result in the individual not fulfilling the peak experience of self-actualization (Plante, 2011).  Perls Gestalt perspective assumes that problems occur due to the individual’s inability to be aware of their current self-status causing their focus to lay in the past rather than the present (Plante, 2011).  Self-determination theory emphasizes the importance of the three fundamental psychological needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which, when nurtured, lead one toward self-actualization allowing the client to feel respect from the therapist and in control of their services.  The therapist goal is to see the world through the eyes of the client and not tell the patient what to do, but encourage positive choices in the direction of self-actualization (Plante, 2011).

The Humanist approach to dealing with OCD allows the patient to feel as if they are in full control of what is taking place as they experience empathy and respect from the treating therapist.  The patient is encouraged to choose their destiny: to eliminate the obsession and compulsive behaviors caused by the obsession and not feel as if their disorder is being judged and scrutinized, rather accepted, but changeable.

Family Systems Approach

The family systems approach aims to reduce limitations from the other perspectives caused by intercommunication problems with the patient (Plante, 2011).  This approach incorporates family members as well as others intimately related to the patient into therapy.  Family systems therapist emphasize any change in a member’s behavior affects the family unit as a whole not just the individual experiencing the behavior change (Plante, 2011).  Satir’s communication approach assumes family dysfunction attributed to ineffective communication.  Promoting congruent communication encourages the member to speak only true feelings and break down any blocks in the communication line, to achieve understanding among all involved (Plante, 2011).  Minuchin’s structural approach focuses on breaking patterns of enmeshment, differentiation, and disengagement by promoting a more balanced and functional family unit (Plante, 2011).  The Milan approach focuses on the incorporating the therapist as a part of the family unit, not an outsider.  Through the use of hypothesizing and positive, logical connotation positivity among the familial unit holds the potential to create solidarity among all members.  Since the goal is to alter behavior, the assumption that resilience will be met is probable but repairable with certain techniques.  Paradoxical techniques, or “reverse psychology” are effective when attempting to alter familial behaviors and faced with member resistance (Plante, 2011).    Reframing holds promise in that it causes the family to see a negative behavior as a positive signal for something (Plante, 2011).  For instance, an individual obsessed with hand washing can be perceived as an individual who is modeling the behavior of cleanliness and not spreading germs.

Effectiveness of Treatments

OCD is a disorder that cannot cure itself.  It develops from some experience that leaves an impressive mark on the individual.  All four perspectives, when incorporated together will hold the highest potential for breaking OCD cycles.  Psychodynamic therapists force the individual to face past experiences and analyze them to get to the cause of the fear or anxiety that causes the compulsive behaviors and then guides the individual into acceptance enabling them to grow from the experience rather than dwell and become locked down.    Cognitive behavior therapy utilizes conditioning techniques that produce reinforcement schedules that deter the compulsory negative behaviors and redirect the individual to more positive behavior.  Additionally, exposure therapy has proven beneficial when attempting to break a fear and alter reactions to the fear.    Humanistic therapy promotes a positive, accepting environment void of judgment that allows the individual to feel accepted rather than rejected adding promise to the acceptance of the modified behaviors.  Family systems therapy incorporates all persons into therapy teaching the family and supportive individuals how to deal with the patient as well as how to be supportive and communicate effectively to achieve a more balanced and peaceful environment.  Combining all four approaches would be beneficial to an individual living with OCD.

clinical psychology, Uncategorized

Examination of Clinical Psychology


Clinical Psychology, defined is the application of psychological principles to the assessment, treatment, prevention and understanding of the interaction of the psyche and the physical, social, and emotional world with the goal of enhancing psychological and physical health and well-being (Vallis & Howes, 1996).  A field of psychology that continues to evolve, clinical psychology spans back to the ancient Greeks and continues to add to the field of psychology today (Plante, 2011). Through the use of research and statistics, prevention, intervention, and treat of mental dysfunction have added to the evolutionary nature of this subfield of psychology (Plante, 2011).  The vast history that influenced the focus and emphasis of clinical psychology sets it apart from other subfields that it may overlap roles and functions (Roger & Stone, 2016).  Delving into the extensive history and evolving nature of clinical psychology will give a  clear understanding of how the subfield has become one of the fastest growing fields of psychology and the effectiveness of proper research and statistics when evaluating and treating those in need.

History and Evolution

Before psychology became a science and philosophy existed to become the gateway to psychology, mental illness existed.  The roots of psychology are grounded in the Greek philosophers who studied the interconnectedness of the human mind and body and its influences on physical illness, however, mental illness was noted as early as the ancient civilization (Foerschner, 2010).   During the ancient times, mental illness was believed to be the demonic possession of the human body which required brutal and sometimes fatal cures such as trephining and exorcism (Foerschner, 2010).  Greek philosopher Hippocrates developed a theory in which he believed that mental illness is naturally occurring within the pathology of the brain that resulted in an ailment of the soul (Foerschner, 2010).  Other philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato concurred and believed that healing would come from repairing the spirit (Foerschner, 2010).  The Renaissance brought about the need for scientific exploration and reasoning rendering the Greek philosopher theories as unscientific and inaccurate (Plante, 2011).   Aquinas recovered the Greek philosophical theories staking claim that the spirit is a collaborative of the body, and the physical organs became ill, and the spirit is the union of the mind and body. However, it operates separately from the physical body (Foerschner, 2010).

Thinkers such as Sigmund Freud brought with them the explanations that were lacking to explain the human behavior.  Freud was in tune with the original philosophical thinkers and their ideas on the interconnectedness of the mind and body and the separation of the soul (Plante2011).  Freud theorized that the unconscious thought triggered conscious behavior that is responsible for a physical ailment (Plante, 2011).   Freud believed the mental was separate from the conscious, therefore, could not be liable for a valid explanation of behavior, rather insights of the self (Matthew, 2013).  His theory followed the philosophical footsteps of Descartes, who believed objects could not be explained by rationality, rather unrational movements through space (Matthew, 2013).   Freud’s theory established the psychoanalysis that lay central to the current belief that individual demands require accommodation in the present field of clinical psychology (Matthew, 2013).

The Evolving nature of clinical psychology spans from the opening of the first clinical psychology lab by Witmer in 1896 despite the discredit and lack of support of the American Psychology Association (Plante, 2011).  Witmer proposed the idea of applying psychological principles to a human ailment that would lend insight the psyche has on the physical body that was not welcomed by the APA until after the temporary separation of clinical psychology from the Association (Plante, 2011).  Wartime proved to benefit from clinical psychology as assessments and testing were developed to place soldiers correctly to produce the most efficient outcome of the war.  The original tests and evaluations are the basis for today’s military and other psychological testing used in the classrooms (Plante, 2011).  At the close of the wars, psychologists were necessary to treat soldiers suffering from the psychological effects the wars imposed upon them (Plante, 2011).  These events led to the Boulder Conferences, which developed new training guidelines for the education of clinical psychologists and an acceptance of the field (Plante, 2011).

Today, clinical psychology encompasses the scientific advances in conjunction with the deeper understanding of the psyche and spirit that is the context of the evolving human condition (Plante, 2011).  Science has a consistent advancement of the development of new technology that enhances the field of psychology.  As treatment is tailored to meet the needs of the individual rather than steadfast in a single uniform treatment, new developments are established, and the rate of success heightens (Plante, 2011).  As science continues to develop and new technological advances developed, the effort of clinical psychology maintains it evolutionary nature.

Role of Research and Statistics

All Psychology fields gather its base through research and testing.  Research is utilized to collect information pertinent to answering the what and why questions of human behavior and the what – if’s of treatment and prevention (Roger & Stone, 2016).  The scientific aspect of clinical psychology evolves from the research and experimentation to develop testing and implement treatment procedures to establish the most effect treatment plan (Plante, 2011).  Statistical data is collected throughout the process of treatment and analyzed to decipher the most accurate and reliable information is being shared and utilized in the future (Plante, 2011).  Using the most precise and reliable data provides the most dependable information that holds the potential to further research and create innovative treatment procedures such as the use of medications (Plante, 2011).

Clinical Psychology versus Other Mental Health Professions

Clinical Psychology significantly overlaps with other mental health professions. However, the history of the field differentiates between the expertise through the focus and training emphasis endured (Roger & Stone, 2016).  For Instance, social worker focuses on case studies over a particular period, but do not attain the extensive biological component training and research methods (Plante, 2011).  Clinical psychology is most closely related to counseling psychology as both receive very similar training.  However, a counseling psychologist focuses on guidance and advice whereas clinical psychologists focus on disturbances in mental health and take a more experimental and scientific approach to treatment (Roger & Stone, 2016).


Mental illness dates back before the development of psychology and has evolved to include the most advanced research and treatment while continuing with its evolving nature.  Assessment, treatment, and understanding the human psyche in conjunction with human behavior and physical ailment are the main facets of clinical psychology.  As science and technology continue to evolve and advance, the field of clinical psychology develops further and establish definitive and reliable treatment plans.  The use of research and statistics determine consistency among the various treatment and assessments.  Although mental health professions all hold some overlap, clinical psychology is different from other fields in that it delves into the research aspects in conjunction with experimentation to find the best route to take.



Foerschner, A. M. (2010). “The History of Mental Illness: From ‘Skull Drills’ to ‘Happy Pills.'” Student Pulse, 2(09). Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=283

Matthews, E. (2013). REVISITING FREUD. Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology : PPP, 20(3), 243-245,285. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1513200453?accountid=458

Plante, T.G. (2011). Contemporary Clinical Psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Roger, P., & Stone, G. (2016). Counseling Psychology vs Clinical Psychology. Society of Counseling Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 17. Retrieved from http://www.div17.org/about-cp/counseling-vs-clinical-psychology/

Vallis, T. M., & Howes, J. L. (1)996). The field of clinical psychology: Arriving at a definition. Canadian Psychology, 37(2), 120-127. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220807484?accountid=458