Greek and Roman Influence in Psychology
Virtually every branch of knowledge, as we know it today, came from particularly two powerful empires of the ancient past, which are the Greek and Roman Empire. Although there were other civilizations, such as the Arabs and the Mayans, that made progress in knowledge, especially mathematics, the Greeks and Romans have been more recognized for the development of other branches of knowledge. The Greeks and Romans have been known to be the promoters of the natural sciences and philosophy. Psychology stemmed from philosophy. Unlike philosophy, however, it encompassed the techniques of the natural sciences. Psychology seemed to be the link between philosophy and the sciences back then.
The main concern of the discipline of psychology in ancient times was the “[speculation of] the nature and locus of the mind, sensation and perception, memory, and learning”. There existed a strong connection between psychology and medicine, physiology, and neurology. The purpose of psychology, for the ancient physicians and philosophers, was to describe its procedures and demeanor in terms of science (e.g. medicine). In order to understand the emergence of psychology, the advances in medicine in these ancient cultures must be discussed. That way, one can see how psychology was linked to each one of them, in one way or the other.
Early Greek medicine was more of a divine matter. It was believed that the God Asclepius was the god of medicine. Priests would live at his temples and claimed they knew the ways of healing people. It was not until around 500 B.C., a Greek physician named Alcmaeon began to dissect animals to observe their skeleton, muscles, and brain. This was most probably the first ever to describe a phenomenon through objective observations. Through his observations, he believed that illness was due to an imbalance in the body. This idea prevailed for many centuries in the history of medicine.
Hippocrates succeeded Alcmaeon and rejected the superstitious ideas of priests being the only healers. He founded a medical school and taught his students that since disease came from something natural, it must be treated by natural means. He believed that the body was able to heal itself by the power of healing of nature...
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...atharsis. Today, psychology uses the catharsis theory to see how the happenings around us have the effect they do. Some psychologists, however, disagree that what we see causes catharsis, but imitation. The debate is still being held.
A long period of time lies between Ancient Greece and Rome and today’s society. However, the same questions formulated by the ancients are still a mystery today. It seems quite odd that after many years, man has been unable to describe what occurs around him and in him. What has been done throughout the centuries, though, is the improvement and modification of these theories Still, it shall never be forgotten that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were the first to come up with such theories. References
Bringmann, Wolfgang G. (1997). A Pictorial History of Psychology. Quintessence Publishing Co: New York, New York.
Corsini, Raymond J. (1994). Encyclopedia of Psychology. John Wiley and Sons, Inc: New York, New York.
Hothersall, David. (1995). History of Psychology. 4th ed. McGraw Hill Co: New York, New York.