The inception of psychology can be referred to as a miracle for humankind because this subject focuses on the behaviors of the individuality of humans. But one can only imagine the numerous facets this subject seems to have as it spans out, covering each aspect of the world. From law to sports, the subject of Psychology seems to have it all.
Referring to Psychology as a holistic subject has many reasons. Not only does it materialize in various other fields such as economics and arts, but it also has different aspects by which it works. Not only does it touch base with the field of numbers (Statistics), but from social aspects to the composition of the body, psychology incorporates it all.
What is Psychology?
Psychology is what people know as the study of human behavior. The behavior is observable, and therefore psychologists study what can be seen in order to come to a conclusion. Even though psychology takes into account what cannot be seen (the unconscious), it is something that we would discuss later on.
When it comes to talking to about behavior, it is seen that behavior tends to have three components, the physiological, the cognitive and the behavioral aspect. The cognitive aspect consists of thoughts and perception, basically whatever is going on in the mind. The behavioral aspect is about what is seen, and how an individual acts in a given situation. The physiological aspect takes into account the changes that occur in the body, and how the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system and endocrine system come into play. This is where the complex, yet a beautiful relationship between the body and the mind is seen.
The Bio in Biopsychology
The physiological aspect consists of the changes that occur in the body due to the changes occurring in the mind that is when we get to see how psychology affects the biology and vice versa, resulting in the emergence of a field in psychology known as Biopsychology.
Biopsychology, as the name suggests looks at psychology through the lens of biology, and explains the behavior in terms of physiological, developmental, evolutionary and functional elements.
Physiological aspect as mentioned above explains the changes that occur in the body, for example, when a person gets angry, there are changes that are occurring in both the body and mind. The mind will be producing thoughts such as, “You bloody…” while changes in the body would result in the tensing of muscles, increased heart rate, sweating, hot flushes etc. The brain, the spinal cord, neurotransmitters and hormones would be playing a crucial part in the physiological aspect.
The developmental facet of neuropsychology looks into how genes play a role. A lot of neurodevelopmental disorders can be mentioned here and how genes are much more than we often consider them to me, because genes make up our body and the slightest problem can often result in major consequences.
Evolutionary perspective is when behaviors and traits that have some sort of survival or reproductive value are passed on to the next generation. Taking this aspect and putting it in psychology, it is seen that anger is an emotion which might be considered negative but is positive as well as it helps us connect with ourselves and helps us be more self-aware. Being angry often results in aggression which happens to be the behavioral manifestation of the rage we are feeling inside. And this trait has been passed down from generation to generation because in the olden times when our ancestors lived in caves—too bad I don’t have any pictures of them—it is seen that aggression was important when it comes to the survival of the fittest and it is something which we see even today because aggression often helps us survive.
The functional aspect looks at how the brain functions which affects the behavior of an individual. It is obvious that if there is something wrong with the functioning, then everybody is there to witness it.
When these four elements come together, we get what we now know as biopsychology as these four perspective form the basis of the complex relationship which is of psychology and biology.
Psychology’s parent Philosophy
Seeing the intricate relationship of Psychology and Biology, and taking into account Psychology touching base with other subjects, we come to the relationship of Psychology and Philosophy.
Philosophy is a subject of possibilities, at least that’s my take on it. Nothing is true and nothing is a lie, it’s all about how you see it. And Philosophy just so happens to be one of the two parents of psychology, which means that Psychology would definitely take something from its parent, as I have taken a lot, some of which I’m not too happy about.
Since different disciplines overlap, psychology takes the concept of dualism and monism from Philosophy. The dualism perspective believes that the mind and all the mental processes, is a separate entity while the physical body is a separate entity. Dualism considers both to be separate but acknowledges the fact that the mind and body works together.
Monism, on the other hand, are the people who are philosophers and neuroscientists. Monism is divided into two components, materialism and mentalism. The perspective of materialism states that matter affects matter. Now obviously if someone were to slap me, I would definitely feel the sting of it. Now mentalism states that there is no such thing as the brain and the body and it’s all in the mind. So according to this, nothing we see around us is real, which makes me wonder, if the bed I sleep on is real…or just an illusion created by the mind?
Food for Thought
Taking all this into perspective, here are a couple of questions for you to ponder over:
- What is the difference between the brain and the mind?
- Taking into view the different components that make up Biopsychology, what are the differences and similarities between those four elements?
Lecture 1: What is Biopsychology? [Class Notes]