The Definition of "Psychology"
by Gene Zimmer
The word "psychology" is the combination of two terms - study (ology) and soul (psyche), or mind. The derivation of the word from Latin gives it this clear and obvious meaning:
The study of the soul or mind.
This meaning has been altered over the years until today, this is not what the word means at all. The subject of psychology, as studied in colleges and universities, currently has very little to do with the mind, and absolutely nothing to do with the soul or spirit.
It is important to understand that words and ideas are supposed to refer to something. "The large tree in the front yard" refers to an actual thing that can be seen, touched and experienced. "The man walking his little dog last night at sunset" refers to an actual event that can be seen, observed and experienced. The realm of mind is an actual realm that can be experienced, and at one time there were words that accurately referred to this realm.
Let's see what a few dictionaries have to say and how a word could alter and lose its true and actual meaning.
"Psyche" is defined as:
1. The spirit or soul.
2. The human mind.
3. In psychoanalysis, the mind functioning as the center of thought, emotion, and behavior.
And defining "soul", we have:
1. the spiritual or immortal elements in a person.
2. a person's mental or moral or emotional nature.
Most of us would agree we have a "psyche" per the above definitions in the sense of mind, thought, and emotions. Most would also agree they have a "soul" per the second definition above relating to man's mental, moral or emotional nature. We might all have different notions about what these ultimately are, but few could sanely disagree they exist.
The derivation of "psyche" comes from Latin and the Greek psukhe - breath, life, soul. To get a better "feel" for this term try to think of it as the invisible animating principle or entity that occupies, interacts with and directs the physical body.
We are not dealing with opinions or beliefs here. This is simply what the words and terms mean. Get clear on this first and understand what the words and terms mean, before you start getting into the opinions of others on the subject. If you choose to decide the "mind" refers to nothing real after understanding what the words and definitions mean, despite the fact that almost 10,000 years of thinking men have seriously and carefully looked into this subject, and after no real investigation on your own part, then that's your decision. Also, realize you will be basing this decision on "thinking" and "reason", both of which are only subsidiary to and part of any one mind, and neglecting to use a greater aspect of your mind - your personal awareness and direct observation. Basing a decision on what other people say about a mind involves only concepts and ideas about a mind. Observation involves experiencing the mind itself - your own mind. When it comes to minds there is only one mind any of us can directly observe or experience and that mind is our own. If you want to learn about minds, the only place to start is with your own. You cannot directly observe or experience the mind of another person, at least not without some extrasensory ability such as telepathy.
What is the Mind?
Originally, and for thousands of years, the subject of psychology involved the study of the human spirit, soul or mind. This involves things and functions not obviously visible to the physical senses. You can't see a mind with one's eyes. You can't "feel" a thought with one's hands. You can't place an emotion on a scale and weigh it. You can't detect imagination, even with sophisticated electronic detection devices. Just because some scientist's electronic device measures various electronic pulses or signals when you are asked to imagine something does not at all mean that they are "measuring imagination". What they are measuring is some brain reaction that occurs when you initiate an act of imagination. There is a relationship between the mind and the brain, but this relationship is almost completely unknown and not understood. The same is true for any chemical reactions or events that occur concurrent with imagination, thoughts or feelings. There is some relationship, but it is poorly understood. In fact, the entire framework of the relationship is poorly conceived. Modern "scientific" fields, since they haven't been able to study or detect these things with the physical senses or laboratory measuring devices have taken a drastic leap and declared that these things therefore don't exist. They have therefore asserted that these things don't deserve recognition, and should be ignored in any "legitimate" study of man, the mind, and human behavior. John Watson, a typical behavioral psychologist had this to say:
The extent to which most of us are shot through with a savage background is almost unbelievable.... One example of such a religious concept is that every individual has a soul which is separate and distinct from the body.... No one has ever touched a soul, or seen one in a test tube, or has in any way come into relationship with it as he has with the other objects of his daily experience ....
The behaviorist asks: Why don't we make what we can observe the real field of psychology? Let us limit ourselves to things that can be observed, and formulate laws concerning only those things. Now what can we observe? We can observe behavior - what the organism does or says. And let us point out at once: that saying is doing - that is, behaving. . . - John Watson, behaviorist
Strangely, the study of the mind has come into the peculiar position of being a study that denies the mind! That's like biology denying the existence of biological organisms, but going on pretending to still be the science of biological organisms while actually dealing with something else entirely. A subject can't exist if it denies the very basis of its own existence by definition. That is the state of modern western psychology and psychiatry. Mmmm? They can't and shouldn't exist, but they do. The entire structure of these subjects as they currently exist is a sham.
Let's take a closer look at this. We each are quite aware we have a mind, emotions, and thoughts, even if we are not so clear or sure about the "soul" and "spirit". We know we are aware and possess self-awareness, but what the nature, qualities and potentials are of awareness is largely anybody's guess. We each know we possess consciousness. In fact, we are aware of our own consciousness as much or more than anything else, yet modern "science" ignores and even denies it. But the truth, despite what "science" or "professionals" say, is that the mind exists to and for each of us as an obvious and observable fact of direct experience. A quick look can tell us many obvious things.
I doubt any of us would suggest we don't have a mind, awareness, thoughts or feelings even though none of these things can be detected or perceived with the physical senses or "scientific" measuring gadgets. No third party observer can directly observe or detect any of these things. We don't immediately run off and deny their existence, and we correctly assume others have similar minds, thoughts, feelings and emotions. They do. Modern psychologists and psychiatrists, for all practical purposes, completely deny every aspect of the invisible world known to you as your mind. It is invisible to physical detection, but it does exist. In fact, it very much exists, but it is not made up of anything physical. While the mind deals with and relates to some subtle forms of energy, in the end it cannot be understood within the framework of matter or energy. Of course, any card-carrying materialist naturally hates that idea with a passion. To them, "if I can't measure it then it doesn't exist".
There is constant activity within each of our "invisible worlds". We are each in some way constantly analyzing problems, entertaining thoughts of tomorrow's occurrences, recalling yesterday's failures, wallowing in the sadness of a loss, concentrating on the creation of a musical composition, or day-dreaming. There are ever changing feelings and emotions about everything we experience, and an endless parade of judgments and commentary about what we see. Actually, for many of us, we have too much mind. It goes on and on and never seems to stop. It is a constant source of images, memories and ideas intruding themselves upon our awareness. Most of us can't control any of this and simply accept as inevitable this continual parade of images and ideas appearing across the landscape of our mind.
In a very real manner all problems with any mind, such as things psychiatry calls "depression", "anxiety", "compulsive disorder", "Attention Deficit Disorder" (ADD or ADHD), and even "suicidal ideation", are ultimately and solely uncontrollable aspects of one's own mind that intrude upon the person's awareness. It's not that these things don't exist in some way, but they don't exist in the way psychiatry understands and claims to solve them. A better way to handle these problems would be to assist the person to increase control over the content of their own mind. There are many ways to do this, although they have never been all pulled together, adequately investigated, codified and organized into a straight-forward workable compilation of methods. Modern "science" has simply discarded the notion of the mind, and from that point on, never bothered to investigate it closely with the aim to understand, solve or improve it.
First, this invisible world is totally real. It is not imaginary or a hallucination. My invisible world isn't directly real to you, and your invisible world isn't directly real to me, but they are each real nonetheless. The person who wants to argue this fact is simply a fool, dull, unable to comfortably observe his own mind (because it is possibly filled with degraded and nasty things), and probably addicted to the objects of physical sensation and perception to the exclusion of anything else (a modern materialist).
Second, this "invisible" world of mind involves many different aspects, functions and potentials. Imagination, attention, intellect, awareness, intention, reason, will, responsibility, memory, and many other things exist in each of us. They are a vital and important part of us. Some people might venture to say some of these things ARE us. There is much to each of these areas and a short essay cannot begin to even scratch the surface of their nature, functioning, possible development and capabilities. But they definitely do exist and deserve recognition and attention. Any subject calling itself "psychology" would have to address these things in detail. The failure of modern psychology and psychiatry to do so is glaringly apparent. These subjects now only address behavior, physiology, genetics and biochemistry, and the mind is of no real concern. That is a very sad comment on the current state of "modern psychology".
Psychology Definition Altered
Let's return now to the dictionary definitions of "psychology".
From the Oxford American Dictionary:
1. the study of the mind and how it works.
2. mental characteristics, can you understand his psychology?
From the Concise Oxford Dictionary:
1. the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, esp. those affecting behavior in a given context.
2. a treatise on or theory of this.
3.a. the mental characteristics or attitude of a person or group
3.b. the mental factors governing a situation or activity (the psychology of crime)
Definition 1 has slyly added the idea of "affecting behavior". The original definition had nothing to do with this. The wish to control the minds and actions of others has entered into the equation.
From the American Heritage Dictionary:
1. The science that deals with mental processes and behavior.
2. The emotional and behavioral characteristics of an individual or group.
These definitions have further altered the true meaning. In actual practice, modern psychology deals almost exclusively with physiology (brain chemistry, neurology, genetics) and the behavior of the biological organism (stimulus-response), completely disregarding and ignoring the mind (man's inner self, and more to the point, man's true and vital self). The dictionaries will sooner or later remove the concept of "mind" completely from the definition following the lead of "official" psychology as taught in western universities and colleges.
Members of the educational establishment write the dictionaries, and the educational establishment is entrenched in modern psychological theories. Let's return to the correct definition of the word.
Adhering to the strict definition of the word, psychology would involve the study of man's invisible world as described above, and nothing else. By definition this is what the study would deal with. This is not an opinion or bias. This is according to exactly what the word means and nothing else. Of course, relations to behavior could be studied, and relations to brain activity could be studied, but the subject in itself, by definition is or should be the study of the mind or soul. A more correct name for the modern subjects of psychology and psychiatry would be "people control" because that's what they actually are. They are subjects involving how to alter thoughts, attitudes and behavior. The intention is to control people. That in a nutshell is the purpose of behaviorism. Naturally governments and totalitarians love the subject. They also fund it in large way.
A Legitimate Study of the Mind
What would a study of the mind entail? It would investigate the nature, functioning, and potentials of man's inner and invisible mental activity. This would encompass such things as awareness, attention, intention, imagination and concentration. It would develop techniques for any individual to first, become aware of these functions, and to also strengthen and expand their use and control of these functions. It would also investigate the actual source of the problems anyone experiences with their own mind. Again, these things do exist, can be observed by anyone caring to examine their own mind, and involve a tremendous uncharted area of possible exploration, investigation, codification and summarizing. Freudian psychology and psychotherapy, despite all its faults, at least recognized and partially examined this realm. For a subject calling itself the "science of the mind" to omit all this is a huge failure of modern psychology. It's actually absurd and would be laughable if the results of what they do weren't so insidious. It is equally laughable that many of these overly-educated boobs talk together as if they are the absolute pinnacle of truth about the subject of psychology. Sadly, too many others accept their claims and treat them as if they actually deserve respect, support and admiration. They don't.
This has nothing to do with mysticism, spiritualism (communicating with the dead), astral travel, OBE (out-of-body experiences), or psychic phenomena. It's not that these don't or can't exist, but a serious and scientific examination of the mind need not involve or explain these things.
It might eventually, but it isn't necessary. The point is you do have a mind. It is more you than anything else. You can take away your possessions, your family, your friends, your job, your arms, your legs, your torso, your ears, your nose, your jaw, your skull, and the one thing that remains, which always remains, and which is closest to your basic identity, is your mind. This is the invisible space and activity you are aware of every second of every day and that most people experience as existing "in their head". This realm has been grossly ignored by modern psychological studies and theories to our continual detriment and harm.
Some of this may be hard for some readers to understand or accept because an actual study and involvement with the mind isn't done at all under the current subject of psychology. It's strangely absent from most modern concepts of Man. This concept has been largely eradicated from the "modern world view". Notions of the mind and related ideas about it have been falsely equated to "religion", "spiritualism" or "mysticism". We each have a mind. You know it, and I know it. We each experience it and its many various aspects as mentioned above. This is very simple and straightforward.
Modern psychology, due to absurd notions, flawed presumptions, intellectual dullness, observational weakness, blatant prejudice, and tremendous financial concerns ignores the mind completely, and instead concentrates on physiology, and analyzing and controlling animal behavior and responses to environmental factors. It's not that you don't have a body and use it to play your part in life. You do. There is physiology, and the environment does effect each and every one of us. But the current subject pretends to be a study of the mind and Man, and having failed completely at that has abandoned and finally denied the very existence of Man's mind. Worse, it pretends to be the final word on the subject, all the while attacking and suppressing any honest study or subject that deals with the actual field of the mind.
Modern psychology and psychiatry claim validity by posturing as "science". They claim to "study Man as an object of investigative science". They fail at this because any legitimate science should and would take into account all aspects of the subject it deals with. A valid science would not choose to omit a major body of data from its analysis, which is what they have done with the mind. Dealing with, examining, and limiting observations to a specific smaller realm of data, while ignoring a very large area of other data, which it finds inconvenient because it fails to conform to their pet theories, is exactly what has been done by the modern fields of psychology and psychiatry. Failing to take the entire subject matter into account has resulted in incorrect theories, faulty observations, flawed basic assumptions, and unworkable results.
Considering that every decent, creative, and wonderful thing in existence in the physical world started as an idea in the invisible and unobservable mind of someone should make this denial of the mind by "modern science" a major cause for alarm. This is doubly true when one also considers that every problem in society largely has its source in actual problems with an individual mind.
Education and the environment may heavily influence problems with crime, violence, abuse, and sexual deviancy, but ultimately the final basic source of these problem areas resides in the individual minds of people.
The Harmful Results of Denying the Mind
When the mind is denied, so ultimately is every good and decent thing that emanate from it including creativity, self-determinism, responsibility, morality, reason, and a value of life itself. The current decadent notion of man without a mind or inner personality, considered only as an animal or a biological organism has been institutionalized into the theories and practices of modern civilization in the media, sociology, education, government, economics, health, and of course, psychology and psychiatry.
This has had disastrous consequences in the form of increasing crime, divorce, violence, and decreasing levels of education, morality, personal responsibility, social stability and sanity. Simply, when the source of life itself for the individual and society is denied, oppressive practices parading as "science" surface and the quality of life and sanity rapidly deteriorates. This is the exact condition of modern western civilization. Psychiatric lobotomy, electric shock treatment, psychoactive drugs, behavioral manipulation, mass population control, and social development instead of intellectual education in the schools serve as a few examples.
It has become popular in modern society for people to toss off, giggle about, ridicule and flippantly criticize any alternative subject of the mind (i.e. yoga, meditation, ritual magic, Rosicrucianism, Scientology, etc.) It is in vogue to consider these weird and unusual. And true enough, some of them are weird. But the only really weird and unusual thing is that modern man is so dull and heavily indoctrinated that he is almost completely incapable of a) looking at anything fairly, b) getting involved in it more than superficially, c) examining it in some detail, d) remaining honest about what he observes and e) deciding for himself based upon accurate personal observations. This reduction in mental and observational ability is also a result of modern educational practices. These practices are direct descendants of modern psychological theories that view man as a "social organism", and tend to ignore his intellectual and cognitive abilities and development (i.e. aspects of a mind).
A leading psychological text begins by very carefully saying that today the word "psychology" does not refer to the mind or soul, and "has to be studied by its own history", since it no longer refers to the soul, or even to the mind. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the psychiatric bible of "mental disorders" states,
Although this volume is titled the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the term mental disorder unfortunately implies a distinction between "mental" disorders and "physical" disorders that is a reductionistic anachronism of mind/body dualism.
They readily admit ignoring the "mind" as a thing of itself to be studied or understood. The current subject is spiritually bankrupt and all that emanates from it denies life, and everything positive about humanity. The logical conclusion of modern psychological theory is that man is an animal to be genetically bred, controlled, herded, and placed into suitable environments. This is the approach of the modern social planner and behavioral controller. These are the guys who governments fund, support and listen to. Is it any wonder things aren't going so well on planet Earth?
Mr. P.D. Ouspensky says it well:
To begin with I must say that practically never in history has psychology stood at so low a level as at the present time. It has lost all touch with its origin and its meaning so that now it is even difficult to define the term "psychology": that is, to say what psychology is and what it studies. And this is so in spite of the fact that never in history have there been so many psychological theories and so many psychological writings. - The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution, 1950
He also adds that psychology may be the "oldest science and unfortunately, in its most essential features a forgotten science." A brief look at history is in order so the reader can understand more of what a true subject of psychology might entail.
The History of Psychology
For thousands of years psychology existed under the name of philosophy. The Hindu Vedas contain the oldest record of man's examination of mind and spirit. In India all forms of Yoga, which are essentially psychology, are described as one of the six systems of philosophy. Sufi teachings, which again are chiefly psychological, are regarded as partly religious and partly metaphysical. In more modern times some version of these systems, still largely following in this same vein, can be found the subjects of Rosicrucianism, New Thought, Science of Mind, visualization techniques, practical magick, and Scientology.
If you found yourself flinching or reacting negatively to the mention of any of these subjects, such as Yoga, Rosicrucianism, Scientology, or any of the the many other alternative approaches to the mind and reality, realize this is not necessarily because there is anything actually strange or weird about these subjects. It is often largely because modern psychology, psychiatry and affiliated proponents of modern materialistic "science" have successfully applied black PR to them to such a large degree. In fact, they have covertly attacked these subjects for most of this century. An intelligent and objective look into any of these fields, although sometimes initially confusing largely due to the newness of the subject and difference in approach to reality will result in a widened understanding of yourself (and Man in general). Granted, you do need to and in fact you MUST weed out some of the nonsense often added to these subjects. Once you do take an honest look though it should become very obvious that modern western psychology has little to do with that incredible universe that exists a few inches behind your forehead. It must be mentioned that over time most of these subjects and fields (i.e. Scientology, Rosicrucianism, Transcendental Meditation, etc) have most definitely suffered from some combination of a) gross alterations introduced by self-appointed leaders following internal power struggles, b) manipulation of views and information by the more influential members, c) the sad tendency of some of the not-too-bright members to dictate changes not part of the original information, and d) the use of the subject and field to exert thought control and behavioral manipulation on its members. These faults are observably true and easily seen in the recent history of Scientology, though these faults exist in all to some degree. Lastly though, don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. While these all have serious flaws, don't use that as an excuse to dismiss everything about them outright without any serious examination. It takes careful and serious examination to separate the valuable from the invaluable - and there is often much of both to be found.
The mind has been examined, studied, drilled and "expanded", at times to the point of excruciating detail within many fields (i.e. Tibetan Buddhist Yogic practices). This is not to say that due to language barriers and the passage of time, that the information has not been lost to minor or major degrees or that these studies weren't without many errors, serious flaws, biases and differing opinions to start with. The point is not whether any of these are perfect studies (none are) or whether any of them have completed the task of researching the mind (none have), but that the possibility for such a study most surely exists, has been done before in various ways and to differing degrees, and that modern psychology (and psychiatry) has nothing to do with this field.
See The Errors of Modern Science and the Human Mind, which further discusses the many flaws found within the "modern scientific" view of Man and the human mind.
The Fraud of Modern Psychiatry
Psychiatrists will argue and say they use "mental" criteria routinely to diagnose mental illness. They do. But we need to take a closer look at what they do. They never observe the mind with an intention to empower or strengthen its capabilities. This is covered in detail elsewhere (DSM-IV Introduction).
Man and his societies cannot achieve happiness or success when the most basic and true aspect of Man has been denied and oppressed through institutionalized flawed belief systems parading as "science". Modern psychological theories, in the form of psychiatry, genetics, behavioral science, social science, (and used by humanists and atheists to justify their positions):
1) are completely false omitting the key part of the subject (the mind),
2 pretend to be authoritative when they are factually not this at all, and
3) having been accepted and adopted by most major social and government institutions, directly allow the possibility and existence of the oppressive treatment of humanity. Man is viewed as nothing more than a fancy animal, and is treated as an animal.
Ken Kesey's book, and the movie starring Jack Nichelson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, is not simply a social analogy portraying modern society's dislike and ultimate destruction of anyone who consistently upsets the status quo. It is this, but it also is exactly what the story line indicates. It is a graphic story clearly showing the lack of humanity, oppression, coercion, brute force and destructiveness of the modern "mental health" field. Without the firm denial of Man and his mind, they're largely the same thing in the end, none of these things could ever occur. The movie contains many situations where the status quo attempts to control those who choose to walk outside the system and force them back into line. Modern psychiatry and psychology primarily serve that function of control seemingly required by society and civilization. It is not about help and betterment. It has never been about help or betterment.
It should be about help and betterment.
Say NO To Psychiatry!
The Definition of "Psychology"