I recently had a student ask me why it was necessary to study the history of psychology. She is currently taking a psych history class that focuses largely on exploring the lives of some of the most eminent thinkers within psychology. For some people, including this particular student, the subject can be dry, boring, and difficult. Obviously, there are plenty of great reasons to study psychology history. In order to understand psychology today, it is important to have a solid grasp on the major events that have shaped the field.
As you might imagine, the unique experiences and personal histories psychology's greatest thinkers contributed to their views of thought and behavior. These individual perspectives greatly influenced the theories proposed by some of psychologies best-known figures. For example, Erik Erikson developed a lifelong interest in identity after struggling with his own sense of self. His experiences played a major role in the formation of his psychosocial theory of development and also led him to coin the term "identity crisis."
Even if you do not have a particularly strong interest in history, the subject doesn't have to be boring. Looking at the lives and personalities of the thinkers who contributed to psychology's history is a great way of adding interest and depth to your studies.
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