Clinical Psychology Essay

1049 words - 5 pages

Psychology as a discipline has continued to grow and make significant contributions to the study and understanding of human behaviour. One aspect of psychology that has made momentous contributions to the discipline is clinical psychology. According to the American Psychological Association website, the field of clinical psychology is “a general practice and health service provider specialty in professional psychology.” Therefore, it is the job of the clinical psychologist to ‘assess, diagnose, predict, prevent and treat psychopathology, mental disorders and other individual or group problems to improve behaviour adjustment, adaptation, personal effectiveness and satisfaction.’ With a definition like this, it is no wonder the honours that the field is given as it speaks mainly to abnormal behaviours and mental illnesses, something that psychology in general is notorious for.
Clinical psychology is one of the oldest school of thought in the field of psychology. Its growth has been noted from as early as the end of World War II and its beginning even further back. Clinical psychology was born out of a change in thinking about the motive behind human behaviour. Jean Jacques Rosseau in 1749 put forward the idea that humans’ natural inclination towards good had been corroded by ‘society and civilization’. Furthermore he argued that humans should be guided by their instincts rather than rational thought (Reismann, 1976). The school of thought gave rise to a new line of thinking which gave hope to the field of science that had the task of dealing with baffling illnesses such as mental disorders as it was now believed that these disorders could be diagnosed and treated in isolation. These ideals were believed to be egotistical and somehow worrying (Black & Mitchell, 1995). In essence, clinical psychology was born out of a period of change and development and studies of a variety of behaviours and new thoughts as time progressed and evolved- from the belief that abnormal behaviours were as a result of demonic influences and an infliction of punishment by God for sins committed. People now, began to see abnormal behaviours as treatable. Based on these beginnings, they served as a foundation for Sigmund Freud, one of the premier clinical psychologists, to do archaeological work on the human brain with his psychoanalytical interpretations (Black & Mitchell, 1995). Freud had started out being very science based, examining the structure of the brain and the various parts that contribute to the neurological disorders he was diagnosing and treating. However, his focus quickly changed as he noted the implications of unconscious thoughts on human behaviour, thus a shift in thought from brain to mind. There were some disorders that could not be explained by the lack of functioning of part of the brain. It was aptly stated in the work by Black & Mitchell (1995):
“Before Freud, hysterics-patients who suffered from physical disabilities but...

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