After reading this article you will learn about the meaning of psychology.
People use the terms ‘psychological, ‘mental’ etc., very freely. But many of those who use these terms are far from having a real understanding of the nature, scope, methods and uses of psychology as a scientific discipline. Some people regard it as a part of philosophy. Others equate it with magic. Some view it as madness. Still others are of the opinion that psychologists are either mystics or mysterious people, their interest in psychology mainly arises from uninformed curiosity.
They are of the view that if they studied psychology they would learn about miracles, mysteries, madness and that it would be an exotic experience. Many of them feel that the main use of psychology is in treating mentally abnormal individuals. While certainly this is an important area of application, it is not the only area. Today, psychology finds useful applications in an individual’s life almost from the womb to the tomb.
The common man is very much aware of the uses of other sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and, statistics, in daily life but finds it difficult to appreciate the possible uses of psychology in everyday life. It is a unique feature of psychology that while it can be applied like the other sciences in a variety of situations, such as work, education and play, it can also be applied by the individual to promote his own happiness and minimise his sorrow.
It can help analyze and understand others’ actions and, also one’s own in a better light and, improve the quality of life. The science of mental health is helpful in ensuring normal and happy mental life just as physical hygiene helps us maintain and, develop our physical health.
The reader who finds it difficult to study can improve his study habits a lot by applying some of the principles of effective learning brought out by modern psychology. Similarly, inter-personal conflicts and, quarrels can be resolved by a knowledge of psychology to a certain extent.
Psychology can also help in the choice of a right educational career, a job and, perhaps even a life partner. Parents who find the behaviour of their children, puzzling can learn a lot from a study of psychology. So can a teacher in dealing with a pupil who is either rebellious or who does not study properly.
The doctor who treats patients will gain a lot by studying psychology and will have a better understanding of the reactions and, the moods of his patients. Even an engineer who designs a machine can do a better job of designing machines by understanding individual differences and limits of performance.
The commercial advertiser is the one, who has made the maximum use of psychology in designing his or her advertisements. Products are promoted keeping in mind the psychology of the masses. The officer in the battlefield can maintain the motivation, courage and morale of his unit by an appreciation and, application of the principles of psychology. Thus, we see that knowledge of psychology is helpful to all people and, in all situations with probably no exception.
It is in view of this that it has become imperative for everyone to have some understanding of psychology so as to develop an insight into human behaviour. In fact, it has almost become a part of general education. It has been said that in the modern world many human problems are of psychological origin.
The twentieth century has been described as an age of tension. As civilization and, life become more and more complex, psychological problems are likely to increase. As one psychologist put it, The greatest problem of man today is man himself. We have understood most of nature, the sky and the ocean, the earth and the mountain, all the time taking it for granted that we know ourselves.
While we have been able to predict and control natural phenomena, we have not been very successful in understanding and, predicting human actions. Atomic energy which can be used to improve human life is mostly used to manufacture bombs to destroy life. Thus, the human being who is supposed to be rational has proved to be the most irrational.
Educated people do exactly what they are not expected to do. These instances of irrational human behaviour speak very eloquently of the need for understanding the behaviour of others and also oneself. The best of scientific creations is likely to be put to the worst use unless human nature is understood and, human behaviour transformed into a more mature and adaptive level.
It is true that ancient philosophers and mystics, particularly in India, had realized the need for psychological understanding and discipline. But this knowledge and, approach has not gained much currency among people at large. As a result, we are full of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of our own behaviour and, more so of others.
Each one of us is ready to blame the other and believe that we are holier, better and more virtuous than the others. Very often, we behave like the proverbial ostrich which closes its eyes and believes that the entire world is asleep. It is, therefore, necessary for everyone to study and have some understanding of psychology.
However, studying psychology is different from studying physics, chemistry or any other natural science. Psychology should not be studied like any other academic discipline because it has an immediate and direct relevance to one’s own life.