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Psychological Schools: Structuralism, Functionalism, and Psychoanalysis

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


According to Rogers (1984), the first emergence of psychology was as a science, a science that was distinctly separated from both philosophy and biology; however, a great debate arose on definitions, descriptions as well as explaining an in-depth understanding of the human mind together with behavior. Therefore the various schools of psychology significantly hold a representation of the key psychology theories (Rogers, 1984).

Rogers (1984) points out that, structuralism stands in as the first school of thought. Structuralism is focused on and advocated by psychology-2795249″>Wilhelm Wundt in his psychology lab (Rogers, 1984). Van (1984) explains that, after Wilhelm Wundt’s first discovery in psychology, numerous theories began emerging and thus began the struggle for significant dominancy within psychology.

Historically, scholars in psychology often define and identify themselves with exclusivity to one specific school of thought (Van, 1984). However, in our world, today psychologists have developed an eclectic perspective on psychology as a whole. Van (1984) indicates that psychology tends to draw theories as well as ideas from the various schools and does not hold a basis to a specific perspective and view. Some of the key schools of thought which have a significant influence on psychology’s knowledge as well as understanding include; structuralism, functionalism, and psychoanalysis.


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In the 1800’s Wilhelm Wundt successfully developed the structuralism psychology’s school of thought (Lamberth, McCullers & Mellgren, 1976). Structuralism according to Lamberth, McCullers & Mellgren (1976), is psychology’s first developed school of thought. Lamberth, McCullers & Mellgren (1976) points out that, Titchener B. Edward brought forth a significant contribution to the structuralist school of thought.

According to the structuralists’ theorists, they desired to substantially examine a human’s adult mind from a perspective of the least possible comprehendible pieces (Vinacke, 1968). Vinacke (1968) explains that therefore they would focus on determining how the various pieces collaborate to eventually fit together towards the creation of both ideas and thoughts. The school of thought utilizes the entire process of introspection that entails observers who are cautiously within descriptions of the conditions of the controlled environment. Moreover, the individuals who were involved in the training into how individuals entirely make a description of their personal experiences utilizing vocabulary that is specifically set. Vinacke (1968) documents an informal introspection is based upon a person who has a self-reflection on their individuals’ feelings as well as thoughts, however, structuralists tend to favor a particularly substantial formal approach.

It is vital to note that Wundt’s and Titchener’s theory versions have a slight difference (Lamberth, McCullers & Mellgren, 1976). Whereas Wundt perceived the entire experience, Titchener tended to substantially particularly focus on the process of breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Titchener argues that an individual experience should be taken into consideration as a “fact,” that particularly exists without any consideration of the value as well as the significance of the particular experience (Van, 1984). Titchener further argues that the only way of making the description of the conscious experience based on these particular experiences; the feeling of affection as well as sensation. Van (1984) indicates that the psychological process of thought resulted in this particular sensation that is developed by facing experiences that have similar previous occurrences. Critics, however, argue that as a science, the school of thought stands with the least reliability particularly because of its level of subjectivity, particularly the introspection methods. The structuralism theory brought forth the comprehension of the distinct differences that exist between perception and sensation.


According to Rogers (1984), functionalism is a competitive school of thought which had shortly arrived specifically after the development of the structuralist school of thought. Rogers (1984) explains that functionalism was a theory that was significantly influenced by the research of Charles Darwin as well as William James. Rogers (1984) further states that Harvey Carr, John Dewey, and even John Angell were also involved in the school of thought are developed.

According to the Structuralists, elements of consciousness were highly placed in consideration. However, the Functionalists have their focus on the root purpose of both consciousness and behavior (Van, 1984). The functionalists placed substantial efforts on the empirical, as well as the rational thought as an alternative to the experimental approach. Moreover is further questions the human mind capabilities alternatively to how attained the particular capabilities. Functionalism arguments have no particular basic structure towards the consciousness due to constant changes. Furthermore, they make an argument that attempting to “map consciousness” stands as a valueless task. According to Van (1984), a great number of scientists eventually made an agreement that makes the focus towards being more on the school of thought alternatively as an attempt to substantially build a common structure.

William James particularly argues that the consciousness, as well as mind, will not be in existence unless individuals have a type of adaptive purpose which substantially presents evolutionary theories by Charles Darwin. James’ arguments are quite similar to Darwin’s; in the aspect that mind development serves both adaptive and practical purposes (Vinacke, 1968). Therefore, Vinacke (1968) states that he argues that psychology should have its focus on different practical thought’s implications. A significant focus is also placed on individuals making assumptions that every individual approaches thinking as well as problems differently. Thus, this particular idea made a foundation for substantially more individualized education approaches. Moreover, it is eventually focused on the behaviorist school of thought. John Dewey as a functionalist argues that the thought leads to the creation of behavior so that individuals focus on further studying behavior alternatively to make observations of consciousness, which is significantly difficult to research and study.


The founder of psychoanalysis is Sigmund Freud (Van, 1968). Sigmund holds a strong belief that individuals could deal with and handle the vast range of mental ailments by substantially forcing out any of their repressed memories. Freud was focused on making unconscious feelings as well as thoughts conscious so that individuals are in a place to deal with them. Van (1968) mentions that this particular process is common in dealing with both depression and anxiety. Freud, focused significantly on childhood dreams as well as memories, according to Freud they were vivid manifestations of an individual’s unconscious mind (Van, 1968).

Psychoanalysis functioned on quite several assumptions. First of all, the theory assumes that all psychological problems originate from a person’s unconscious mind. According to Rogers (1984), the symptoms are rooted in the underlying disturbances of an individual’s unconscious mind. Freud attempts to explain that they are caused normally in regards to trauma that is repressed and even the issues that are unresolved issues that tend to occur during an individual’s childhood development. Furthermore, the focus of the treatments emerges the memories that are repressed, thus an individual is in a better position to effectively deal with the repressed memories within their conscious mind.

The classic psychoanalysis tends to take a significant amount of time, therefore Freud went forward to recommend two up to five sessions weekly over a period of quite several years. The key reason psychoanalysis tends to consume a ridiculous amount of time is that individuals fall back to utilizing defense mechanisms when attempting to deal with emerging conflict. Defense mechanisms entail denial, repression, projection, sublimation as well as displacement. Vinacke (1968) points out that Freud, did not have his focused on symptom reduction, instead, he leaned towards finding out and bringing to light the existing underlying problem.

Key Advancements Psychology’s Biological Foundations Related to Behavior

Biopsychology is a scope of psychology that tends to seek an in-depth understanding of the ways upon which the brain substantially affects behavior (Rogers, 1984). Biopsychology is alternatively referred to as behavioral neuroscience. Rogers (1984) states that the neuron stands as life’s basic building blocks. Therefore, the highly specialized cells hold the responsibility for both receiving as well as transmitting information entirely from one section of the human body to another.

Neuron anatomy enables us to have an in-depth understanding of how a neuron functions when transmitting information throughout an individual’s body, thus it is vital to effectively comprehend the neurons in various parts. Neurotransmitters bring forth the process upon which a cell’s structure, as well as nerve the vast impulses, are in propagation throughout the cell. Chemical messengers are utilized in the transmission of cell signals from one to another. Neurons due accumulate to form a makeup only a minimal section within the human body’s complex communication system. Furthermore, the nervous system comprises two major categories; first of all, the human central nervous system and secondly, the human peripheral nervous system. Not to mention that the endocrine system holds a significant role in the communication system both of which effectively impact the human brain, human behavior as well as the human body.


Lamberth, J., McCullers, J. C., & Mellgren, R. L. (1976). Foundations of psychology. New York: Harper & Row.

Rogers, D. P. (1984). Foundations of psychology. New York: Praeger.

Van, K. A. L. (1984). Existential foundations of psychology: With a new foreword. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Vinacke, W. E. (1968). Foundations of psychology. New York [etc.: American Book Company.

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