Psychology is the study of the human mind, and has many potential uses within medicine, computer sciences, marketing and for our general well being. As a school of thought it has its routes in Europe and has since generated a large range of European psychologists. While many psychologists today are American, when they first came about most psychologists were European psychologists.
European psychologists in fact were responsible for the development of psychology as we know it. The father of ‘experimental psychology’ (the act of applying scientific method to the study of human behaviour) is considered Wilhelm Wundt who developed the first psychological laboratory. Other European psychologists at the time included Hermann Ebbinghaus, also German, and Germany and European psychologists in general would contribute to much of the course of psychological theory for many years to come as we will see.
The most well known European psychologists of all of course are the German born Freud and his successor Jung. Freud was the thinker who invented psychotherapy in the 1890s and ‘the spoken cure’ to psychological disorders, making him the father of all modern therapy as we know it. While many European psychologists today provide therapy for their patients however, not all agree with Freud’s exact methodology and philosophy. He and the European psychologists who subscribed to his viewpoints during his prime all subscribed to his view of the subconscious mind as being full of things that our brain has repressed (blocked out) and which pose a threat to our ‘ego’ (our conscious mind). European psychologists using psychotherapy at the time then would aim to speak to the patient and use techniques such as ‘free association’, ‘projection’ (the inkblot test) and dream analysis to discover the issues that they weren’t aware of.
Freud and his contemporary European psychologists also placed a lot of importance on development and on our earliest childhood experiences which as European psychologists saw it then made up the majority of these unconscious problems. European psychologists at the time had a tendency to place a lot of emphasis on sex and particularly sexual development which put off a lot of their successors. Jung for example was among the many European psychologists who broke away from Freud’s view of psychotherapy and who focussed more on universal themes (or archetypes) present in all dreams.
Today European psychologists like psychologists everywhere have mostly moved away from these forms of therapy and instead use ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ which looks at changing thinking patterns to alter behaviour. This form of psychology is very popular among modern European psychologists and has been adopted by the NHS as well as many other national health services across Europe.