What do your dreams mean? Can we change people's attitudes? Can animals learn sign language? Psychology strives to answer these questions and many more. Everyone has an interest in psychology, whether they realize it or not. If you've ever wondered what causes people to behave in certain ways or questioned why you have particular personality characteristics, then you've expressed an interest in psychology. It's natural that we feel such a strong interest in psychology, because it is such a crucial part of who we are as individuals and the role we play in a larger society. Psychology helps us answer the questions that make us who we are and helps us understand where we are going.
Psychology is such a broad and diverse subject, encompassing nearly every aspect of human nature, that it would be impossible to cover it all in one book. Even an entire stack of books could not truly do justice to the complexities of the mind and behavior. Instead, the focus of this book is to set the foundation for a solid understanding of psychology. By laying this groundwork, you'll gain a better understanding of yourself as well as develop insight into the behavior of those around you.
You might not realize it, but you've probably studied psychology on a very informal basis by asking questions about why people do the things they do. You probably think about the motivations of others, explore your own feelings, and discuss the actions of people in your environment on a fairly regular basis. All of these things are a central part of psychology.
As you begin this book, you'll start by learning about some of the major areas within psychology and how each one has contributed to the growth and development of psychology as a whole. You may be surprised to learn that psychology is actually a very young discipline when compared to some of the other life and social sciences, and you'll learn more about this fascinating history by reading about some of the major thinkers and their theories. While some of these ideas are outdated or even downright shocking, understanding psychology's past is a great way to discover how the subject came to be what it is today. Psychology is always evolving and our understanding is constantly growing as researchers find new ways to investigate the human mind.
Of course, we'll also talk the symptoms, causes, and treatments of psychological disorders. Mental illness is quite common, and yet it is something that many people know relatively little about. While popular movies, television, and books often present a very stereotyped and exaggerated view of mental disorders, this book focuses on presenting facts and a realistic view of these frequently misunderstood illnesses. In order to fully understand human psychology, it is essential to understand the roots of mental illness and how psychologists work to help people suffering from psychological distress.
In addition to helping you gain a better understanding of other people, psychology can give you personal insight into your own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. As you read through these pages, think about how the information relates to your own life and experiences. Welcome to the wide world of psychology!