Introduction to Psychology - Three Men Who Created a Great Deal of Debate: B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Maslow

Introduction to Psychology - Three Men Who Created a Great Deal of Debate: B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Maslow

The world has seen the likes of many interesting people and there were three gentleman who left their mark on this world creating a great deal of debate due to their theories. B.F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Maslow. Each individual was responsible for a number of theories that remain as controversial as they were years ago. Never the less the three have made a significant impact in the world of psychology and use these theories as a form of teaching in modern times. Though their theories have been challenge by others we can not argue the fact that most of them make a sense.

Abraham Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was a well know professor of psychology. Maslow received his education from the University of Wisconsin majoring in psychology. Maslow main focus was on human needs and he designed a graph in the form of a pyramid that help interpret these needs called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The pyramid list the needs that Maslow feel is important for human life to function properly. Maslow's theory includes the need for self-actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety, and physiological. The theory makes one aware of the need to handle self before trying to pursue other things in life. It's sort of like charging a battery, in order to use the battery it must be charged to get quality performance. Maslow believed people become motivated simply by conscious desire for personal growth. For instance if a person does weight lifting and the pressure of the weights make the biceps sore after each workout. We continue to lift and endure the pain to fulfill the outcome of looking good. Of course with any theory criticism always seems to follow, and Maslow had his share of critics that believed we are to different for hierarchy of motives to apply to everyone.

When you consider self-actualization as way to drive people to accomplishments in life they are indeed many that don't have the same passion to be successful like others. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs does explain the reason behind our behavior. If I don't eat for a day I tend to get weak and irritable because of my lack of food. This indeed addresses food as more than just a want, but also a need for survival. Maslow's humanistic theory represents a cognitive perspective. The theory helps individuals understand and diagnosis problems they experience in life. A disadvantage of Maslow's theory is some people may consider the basic needs listed in his hierarchy of needs higher.

B.F. Skinner (March 20, 1904- August 18, 1990) was a psychologist that specialize in behaviorism. Skinner worked as a professor at Harvard University and is solely responsible for inventing the methods of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a form of learning that teaches organisms how to engage in certain behavior because of the effects of that behavior. Skinner believes in reinforced tactics to solve or decrease behavior issues. He observes two forms of reinforcements (positive/negative) to address behavior. Being punished for bad behavior apply to negative reinforcements. For example taking away something a person desire because of bad behavior may the individual to avoid the behavior that caused the punishment in the future. In a sense we as parents use Skinner's method in modern times as a form of discipline for our children.

Skinner belongs in the Learning Theorist perspective. He believes that reinforcements will cause a behavior that eventually becomes a habit, thus learned. He based his work on the theories of Thorndike Edward who performed most of his studies on animals. Many people do not agree with his theory
because of this. Skinner has tested this on humans and believes this is the basis of how people function. It seems that many are getting too caught up on the positive reinforcement theory that it is not seen what he has actually been saying. His point is not about what personality you were born with
and changing who a person is. His point was that people can be conditioned into behavior. The theory must have some value to it since it has become one of the main theories used and studied all of these years later. The positive effect on this is that studies have shown that positive reinforcement is a great motivator and how can being positive be a bad thing. The negative theories on this perspective are aimed more toward that this is not how people's personalities are formed.

My opinion on the Learning Theory that Skinner stood behind is that yes, people can be conditioned into behavior. I feel that people are very adaptable to the environment that has been put in front of them but people still are born with their own personalities and traits. One person will probably react quite differently from another person to the same stimuli. One person might resist longer or find a way to get around it if they feel it is not right or does not fit their personality. His theory has some very solid effects but it is not in my opinion a simply a black or white issue. There is a gray area involved.

Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856-September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist who was the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud was of Jewish decent and always considered himself to be a Jew. This is confusing since he was very critical of religion and did not follow Judaism. He grew up very poor but his parents found a way to make sure he would get a good education. He graduated high school in 1873 with honors. He started his education as a philosophy student but changed his interest in the neurological field as a researcher in the area of Cerebral Palsy, aphasia and microscopic neuroanatomy.

Freud had many patients in his career and based many of his theories upon research he has done with these patients. He has done many case studies on these patients when he formed his theory of personality development. He has a particular view on how the mind is organized. According to Freud, the mind can be divided into two main parts, the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Freud believed that the unconscious mind plays a large part on our behavior, even in areas that we are not aware of. He also believed that there are three elements of personality, these are known as the id, the ego, and the super ego. These traits all work together to create the complex human behavior.

The id is driven by the pleasure principle, this strives for immediate gratification of all wants and needs and desires. There are different traits and this is what controls the limits in these elements. The second component of personality is the ego. This deals with reality and is developed from the id. The ego functions in the conscious and unconscious state of mind. The ego is based on the reality principle that strives to satisfy the id's desires in socially acceptable ways. The superego is the last component of personality that holds all of our internalized moral standards that we have acquired from both our
parents as well as society. The superego makes its appearance around the age of 5 years old. This man had so many complex theories that have branched off of this that have become famous and considered even in this day and time.

A lot of knowledge has come out of Freud's studies and theories. A lot of opinions have also and not all people agree with this theories. Many feel that these theories can not be proven and are only that, a theory. Even if all people do not agree with his theories, this did have a positive impact on studies of how human's work because it gave us the desire to understand those whose behavior crosses the boundaries of what most people feel are “normal”. It seems like there are many doubters of Freud but in most psychotherapy, the practitioners as well as the patients use his way of listening to patients
rather than giving them orders.

I feel that Freud was a very intelligent man who dared to cross lines that many were too afraid of. He may not be correct in my opinion in some of these areas but he gave us a good basis on where to begin exploring the mind and behavior. I think the man was definitely on to something but much of his work was simply his opinion and not based on fact.

These three men that I have done research on were all very interesting and had some very good and real theories. They gave many others to follow a good foundation. Through more advanced technology and studies, theorists can dig even deeper to find the facts. I believe that what ever comes out in the future, these men will continue to be studied and followed.