A Brief Biography of William James

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There are numerous psychologists that have made huge impacts and stand out in the world we live in. Some of these people include Skinner, Maslow, and Freud, people that everyone knows. However, a person who stands out in American psychology is William James. Even though his name is not known to everyone, he had many large contributions in psychology. He wrote two books, contributed to the James-Lange Theory of Emotion, impacted pragmatism, and functionalism. When he was just eight years old, he was better in mathematics than his “genius” father was. William James is so interesting to me because in the beginning, he did not like psychology at all, but today he is known for all of his works.

William James was born on January 11, 1842 in New York City. He was brought into a wealthy family where education was very important. His father, Henry, was very interested in philosophy and theology and he wanted his children to have a rich education. William James had a brother named Henry also who went on to become one of the most acclaimed American novelists. He also had a sister Alice who became known because of the diary she kept. James went to Europe often and attended the very best schools, absorbed in culture and art. He showed in interest in becoming a

painter but his dad wanted him to study science or philosophy. However, James was steady about wanting to become a painter so Henry allowed him to. After studying painting with William Morris Hunt for about a year, James realized he needed to support himself and switched to Harvard Medical School. James was unhappy with the medicine world and went on an expedition with Louis Agassiz, but he did not enjoy it. He said, “I was, body and soul, in a more indescribably hopeless, homeless and...

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... went on an expedition and began to like psychology. Later, he was offered a job at Harvard University to be an instructor for psychology. There, he coined his term “stream of consciousness”, proposed pragmatism, functionalism, and the James-Lange Theory of Emotion. Without him, we would not have found out the things we know today.

Works Cited

Benson, Nigel, Joannah Ginsburg, Voula Grand, and Merrin Lazyan. "The Psychology Book."Barnes & Noble. DK Publishing Inc, 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. .Benson, Nigel,

Schaffer, Chris. "Join & Share Your Research with the World." The Impact of William James on Psychology through History. Chris Schaffer, 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. .
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