The History of Psychology

  • The First Psychology Lab

    The First Psychology Lab
    Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory dedicated exclusively to psychological research in Leipzig. This began the process of psychology branching out from its long history of being grouped together with philosophy.
  • The United States Joins In

    The United States Joins In
    G. Stanley Hall brought a psychological research lab to the United States from Germany in the early 1880s at Johns Hopkins University. This is where psychology's new found identity begins to spread.
  • The First Doctorate is Received

    The First Doctorate is Received
    The first doctorate in psychology is given to Joseph Jastrow, a student of G. Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins University.
  • The First Professor of Psychology

    The First Professor of Psychology
    The academic title "professor of psychology" is given to James McKeen Cattell in 1888, the first use of this designation in the United States. A student of Wilhelm Wundt's, Cattell serves as professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.
  • The APA is Born

    The APA is Born
    G. Stanley Hall founded the American Psychological Association (APA) and serves as its first president. The growth of psychology continues.
  • Functionalism

    Functionalism is a school of psychology focusing on the acts and functions of the mind rather than its internal contents. This school of thought was advocated by William James and John Dewey.
  • Psychoanalysis

    Sigmund Freud founded psychoanalysis after first introducing the term in a scholarly paper. Freud's psychoanalytic approach asserts that people are motivated by powerful, unconscious drives and conflicts.
  • Stucturalism

    Edward B. Titchener publishes his Outline of Psychology. Structuralism is the view that all mental experience can be understood as a combination of simple elements or events. This approach focuses on the contents of the mind, contrasting with functionalism.
  • First Psychology Clinic

    First Psychology Clinic
    Lightner Witmer opens world's first psychological clinic to patients, shifting his focus from experimental work to practical application of his findings. Here we see psychology begin to be applied.
  • Interpretation of Subconscious Thought

    Interpretation of Subconscious Thought
    Sigmund Freud introduces his theory of psychoanalysis. he would write twenty-four books exploring such topics as the unconscious, techniques of free association, and sexuality as a driving force in human psychology.
  • Manual of Experimental Psychology

    Manual of Experimental Psychology
    Manual of Experimental Psychology is published as Edward Bradford Titchener introduces structuralism to the United States. Structuralism, an approach which seeks to identify the basic elements of consciousness, fades after Titchener's death in 1927.
  • A Woman Leads the APA

    A Woman Leads the APA
    Mary Calkins is elected first female president of the APA. Calkins, a professor and researcher at Wellesley College, studied with William James at Harvard University. Harvard denied her a Ph.D. because of her gender. Without regard to her gender Calkins published four books and over one hundred papers in her career, in both the fields of psychology and philosophy. Calkins' first textbook, An Introduction to Psychology, was published in 1901.
  • The IQ Test is Formed

    The IQ Test is Formed
    Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon develop a scale of general intelligence on the basis of mental age using standardized tests. The Stanford-Binet intelligence test used a single number, known as the intelligence quotient (or IQ), to represent an individual's score on the test. This score was calculated by dividing the test taker's mental age by their chronological age, and then multiplying this number by 100.
  • A Mind That Found Itself

    A Mind That Found Itself
    Clifford Beers publishes A Mind That Found Itself, detailing his experiences as a patient in the mental asylums. In 1900 he was first confined to a private mental institution for depression and paranoia. He would later be confined to another private hospital and also a state institution. During these periods he experienced and witnessed maltreatment at the hands of the staff. His book calls for the humane treatment of patients and better education about mental illness for the general public.
  • Psychoanalysts Visit Clark University

    Psychoanalysts Visit Clark University
    Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung visit the United States for a Psychoanalysis Symposium at Clark University organized by G. Stanley Hall. At the symposium, Freud gives his only speech in the United States.
  • Behviorism

    Behviorism
    John B. Watson publishes "Psychology as Behavior," launching behaviorism. Behaviorism is the theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of conditioning, without appeal to thoughts or feelings, and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns.
  • Intelligence Tests Implemented in the Army

    Standardized intelligence and aptitude tests are administered to two million U. S. soldiers during WWI. Afterward, such tests are used in all U.S. armed forces branches and in many areas of civilian life, including academic and work settings to evaluate the mental capacity of civilians and soldiers alike.
  • First African American Doctorate in Psychology

    First African American Doctorate in Psychology
    Francis Cecil Sumner becomes the first African American to earn a doctorate in psychology. A student of G. Stanley Hall at Clark University, Sumner later serves as chair of the Howard University psychology department. Sumner’s area of focus was in investigating how to refute racism and bias in the theories used to conclude the inferiority of African Americans. Sumner’s work is thought to be a response to the Eurocentric methods of psychology.
  • The Child's Conception of the World

    The Child's Conception of the World
    Jean Piaget publishes The Child's Conception of the World, prompting the study of cognition in the developing child. A milestone of child psychology, The Child's Conception of the World explores the ways in which the reasoning powers of young children differ from those of adults.
  • Rorschach Test Created

    Rorschach Test Created
    Hermann Rorschach devises a personality test based on patients' interpretations of inkblots. Rorschach inkblot test, the Rorschach technique, or simply the inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.
  • Menninger Clinic Begins

    Menninger Clinic Begins
    Charles Frederick Menninger and his sons Karl Augustus and William Clair found The Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. They take a compassionate approach to the treatment of mental illness, emphasizing both psychological and psychiatric disciplines. Menninger Clinic also recieves the first Nobel Prize in psychological research in 1927.
  • Electroencephalogram Invented

    Electroencephalogram Invented
    Psychiatrist Hans Berger invents the electroencephalogram and tests it on his son. Among his many research interests in neurology, Berger studied brain circulation, psychophysiology and brain temperature. However his main contribution to medicine and neurology was the systematic study of the electrical activity of human brain and the development of electroencephalography. In 1924, Berger made the first EEG recording of human brain activity and called it Elektrenkephalogramm.
  • Psychologists Persecuted by Nazis

    After the Nazi party gains control of the government in Germany, scholars and researchers in psychology and psychiatry are persecuted. Many, including Freud, whose books are banned and burned in public rallies, move to Britain or the United States to escape persecution.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    Alcoholics Anonymous
    Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is founded by Bob Smith of Akron, Ohio. AA's stated "primary purpose" is to help alcoholics "stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety". With other early members Bill Wilson and Bob Smith developed AA's Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA's initial Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help the fellowship be stable and unified while disengaged from "outside issues" and influences.
  • Gestalt Psychology

    Gestalt Psychology
    Kurt Koffka, a founder of the movement, publishes Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. Gestalt (German for "whole" or "essence") psychology asserts that psychological phenomena must be viewed not as individual elements but as a coherent whole.
  • Lobotomy Comes to the United States

    Lobotomy Comes to the United States
    Walter Freeman performs first frontal lobotomy in the United States at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. By 1951, more than 18,000 such operations have been performed. Lobotomy is a surgical operation involving incision into the prefrontal lobe of the brain, formerly used to treat mental illness.
  • The Neurotic Personality of Our Time

    The Neurotic Personality of Our Time
    Psychologist Karen Horney publishes The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. Horney goes on to challenge many of Freud's theories, as have many later psychologists and scholars. Horney entered medical school in 1906.The University of Freiburg, Horney had transferred to the University of Göttingen, and would transfer once more to the University of Berlin before her graduation in 1913.
  • The Behavior of Organisms

    The Behavior of Organisms
    B.F. Skinner publishes The Behavior of Organisms, introducing the concept of operant conditioning. It set out the parameters for the discipline that would come to be called the experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) and Behavior Analysis.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Begins

    Electroconvulsive Therapy Begins
    Ugo Cerletti and his associates treat human patients with electrical shocks to alleviate schizophrenia and psychosis. ECT, while controversial, is proven effective in some cases. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
  • The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children

    The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children
    Anna Freud publishes The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children, introducing basic concepts in the theory and practice of child psychoanalysis. Child psychoanalysis is a sub-field of psychoanalysis which was founded by Anna Freud. Freud used the work of her father Sigmund Freud with certain modifications directed towards the needs of children. Since its inception, child psychoanalysis has grown into a well-known therapeutic technique for children and adolescents.
  • National Mental Health Act Passed

    U.S. President Harry Truman signs the National Mental Health Act, providing generous funding for psychiatric education and research for the first time in U.S. history. which called for the establishment and laid the groundwork and provided funds for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
  • First Drug to Treat Depression

    First Drug to Treat Depression
    Studies are published reporting that the drug imipramine may be able to lessen depression. Eight years later, the FDA approves its use in the United States under the name Tofranil.
  • Thorazine Tested

    Thorazine Tested
    The anti-psychotic drug chlorpromazine (known as Thorazine) is tested on a patient in a military hospital. Chlorpromazine, marketed under the trade names Thorazine and Largactil among others, is an antipsychotic medication. It is primarily used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Other uses include the treatment of bipolar disorder, ADHD, nausea, anxiety before surgery, and hiccups. It can be given by mouth, by injection into a muscle, or into a vein.
  • APA Ethical Standards

    The American Psychological Association publishes the first edition of Ethical Standards of Psychologists. The document undergoes continuous review and is now known as APA's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.
  • Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy

    Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy
    Penfield was a groundbreaking researcher and original surgeon. With his colleague Herbert Jasper, he invented the in which he treated patients with severe epilepsy by destroying nerve cells in the brain where the seizures originated. Before operating, he stimulated the brain with electrical probes while the patients were conscious on the operating table (under only local anesthesia), and observed their responses.
  • The Nature of Prejudice

    Social Psychologist Gordon Allport publishes The Nature of Prejudice, which draws on various approaches in psychology to examine prejudice through different lenses. With profound insight into the complexities of the human experience, Harvard psychologist
    Gordon Allport organized a mass of research to produce a landmark study on the roots and
    nature of prejudice.
  • Biopsychology

    Biopsychology
    Neuroscience Wilder G. Penfield begins to paste together the enigma that is bio-psychology in 1954. Biopsychology is the study of how emotions, thoughts and behavior are affected by the brain, the nervous system and neurotransmitters in human and non-human animals.
  • Psychopharmacology

    Psychopharmacology
    Psychopharmacology is the study of the use of medications in treating mental disorders. The complexity of this field requires continuous study in order to keep current with new advances.. Among the first such drugs is Doriden, also known as Rorer, an anti-anxiety medication approved in 1954.
  • Humanistic Psychology

    Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow begin the trail to Humanistic psychology in 1954 which is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the study of the whole person. Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing the behaving. Sometimes the humanistic approach is called phenomenological.
  • Cognitive psychology

    Inspired by work in mathematics and other disciplines, psychologists begin to focus on cognitive states and processes. Cognitive psychology can be defined as a branch of psychology concerned with mental processes (as perception, thinking, learning, and memory) especially with respect to the internal events occurring between sensory stimulation and the overt expression of behavior.
  • Syntactic Structures

    Syntactic Structures
    Noam Chomsky publishes Syntactic Structures, this marks a major advancement in the study of linguistics. This begins the field of psycholinguistics, the psychology of language.
  • Librium is Approved by the FDA

    Librium is Approved by the FDA
    The use of chlordiazepoxide (known as Librium) is approved by the FDA. Librium is a tranquilizer of the benzodiazepine group, used mainly to treat anxiety and alcoholism.
  • Community Mental Health Centers Act passed

    Community Mental Health Centers Act passed
    U.S. President John F. Kennedy calls for and later signs the Community Mental Health Centers Act. This act calls for the construction of community facilities instead of large, regional mental hospitals. Congress ended this in 1981.
  • Nation Medal Granted to a Psychologist for the First Time

    Nation Medal Granted to a Psychologist for the First Time
    Neal E. Miller receives the first National Medal of Science ever given to a psychologist, the highest scientific honor given in the United States. He received this honor due to his studies of motivation and learning.
  • Lithium is Approved by the FDA

    Lithium is Approved by the FDA
    The FDA approves lithium carbonate. Lithium Carbonate was approved due it's ability to treat bipolar patients. It is marketed under other names such as Eskalith, Lithonate, and Lithane.
  • Homosexuality, Not a Mental Disorder!?

    Homosexuality, Not a Mental Disorder!?
    After intense debate, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Amid growing opposition from gay activists, and dissent within its own ranks, the American Psychiatric Association was begrudgingly forced to expunge homosexuality from the DSM.
  • Testing the PET Scanner

    Testing the PET Scanner
    A new brain scanning technique, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), is tested. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that allows your doctor to check for diseases in your body. The scan uses a special dye that has radioactive tracers. These tracers are injected into a vein in your arm. Your organs and tissues then absorb the tracer.
  • Evolutionary psychology

    Evolutionary psychology
    Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, which begins to popularize the idea of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits such as memory, perception, or language as the functional products of natural selection.
  • The Selfish Gene

    Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, a work which shifts focus from the individual animal as the unit of evolution to individual genes themselves. This work brings attention and popularity to the field of psychology. The book, from the gene-centred view, theorizes that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other.
  • Discriminatory IQ Tests?

    Discriminatory IQ Tests?
    The U.S. District Court finds the use of standardized IQ tests in California public schools illegal. The plaintiffs claimed that the results of the IQ tests were being improperly used in determining students' class placement and that the IQ tests themselves were biased against African American children in the Larry P. v. Wilson Riles court case.
  • AIDS and HIV Arise

    Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection presents mental health professionals with challenges ranging from at-risk patients' anxiety and depression to AIDS-related dementia. The diseases could be sexually transmitted or passed along through bodily fluids and caused an epidemic of fear and ignorance to the diseases.
  • Insanity Defense Reform Act Passed

    Insanity Defense Reform Act Passed
    The Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 was a law passed in the wake of public outrage after John Hinckley, Jr.'s acquittal for the Reagan assassination attempt. It amended the United States federal laws governing defendants with mental diseases or defects to make it significantly more difficult to obtain a verdict of not guilty only by reason of insanity.
  • Homeless Assistance Act Passed

    The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act provides the first federal funds allocated specifically for the homeless population.This act is a United States federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs. It was the first significant federal legislative response to homelessness, and was passed and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987.
  • Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft

    Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft
    The FDA approves the new anti-depressant medication fluoxetine, (Prozac). The drug, and other similar medications, acts on neurotransmitters, specifically, serotonin. It is widely prescribed and attracts attention and debate due to side effects.
  • Cultural Psychology

    Cultural Psychology
    Cultural psychology is the study of how psychological and behavioral tendencies are rooted in and embodied in culture. The main tenet of cultural psychology is that mind and culture are inseparable and mutually constitutive, meaning that people are shaped by their culture and their culture is also shaped by them.
  • Sequencing of the Human Genome

    Sequencing of the Human Genome
    Sixteen public research institutions around the world complete a "working draft" mapping of the human genetic code, providing a research basis for a new understanding of human development and disease. On April 14, 2003 the National Human Genome Research Institute, the Department of Energy and their partners in the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project.
  • DSM on PDA

    The latest revision of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published in a version for personal digital assistants (PDAs).