Examination of Clinical Psychology

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Clinical psychology is a broad science that involves psychologists ensuring the mental well-being of a patient. Its focus is diagnosing, treating, and if possible, averting psychological disorders. The field of clinical psychology applies to every demographic from young children to the elderly, families or individuals, and one’s socioeconomic status is not a factor in whether he or she should receive treatment. Clinical psychology deals with a broad range of specialties, including individuals who have been diagnosed with disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder or those who are coping with personal issues, such as being fired from his or her place of employment or going through a divorce. Psychologists in this field offer patients the opportunity to voice his or her frustrations while helping the patient to understand and manage their situations in a healthy manner. Clinical psychologists are skilled in using numerous methods intended to help patients, all depending on his or her area of expertise. History of Clinical Psychology

Although established as a legitimate field in the late 1800s, the study of psychology has been dated back as far as 2500 B.C. In those days, approaches to examining mental health included the supernatural, holistic, religious and medical perspectives. Greek physician Hippocrates, also known as the father of ancient medicine, played a considerable role in the development of psychology. Hippocrates developed the theory of humors, which states that four humors, or bodily fluids, are the key to good health. These fluids were black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood (Plante, 2010). Too much phlegm in the body will make an individual tired and lethargic; too much blood in the body would cause irritability; too much black bile causes melancholy, and too much yellow bile causes anxiety. Not unlike present-day doctors, Hippocrates believed a healthy diet and exercise could aid in preventing or treating these symptoms but he was also a promoter of blood-letting, which essentially meant the patient would be bled dry with the intention of returning the four humors to their natural state.

Greek philosopher Plato strongly believed that the soul has free will and the body will perform as the soul wills it to. He felt that mental illness is caused by something malfunctioning in the part of the soul that controls reason and an individual’s lack of self-awareness were the cause of the symptoms. Aristotle maintained a scientific emphasis and felt that certain distinct emotional states including joy, anger, fear, and courage impacted the functioning of the human body (Plante, 2010). Another Greek physician, Galen, took all of these perspectives and created one of the most influential medical programs in the history of psychology. Galen shared the same beliefs as his predecessors concerning the theory of humors and blood-letting, and although some of his ideas were imperfect, he was able to make great strides in medicine with his rationalizations of poor health and its origins.

With the Middle Ages came a different type of explanation of mental illness. During this time, many people thought the reasoning behind abnormal behavior had more to do with supernatural forces rather than the body or soul. There were some, however, such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Bishop Nicholas Oresme, who did not believe that mental illness had anything to do with supernatural forces and correctly speculated that these afflictions were caused by physical or mental abnormalities. In the 16th century, Swiss physician Paracelsus went as far as to reveal that he believed the movements of the stars had an effect on one’s mood and developed more civilized treatments for the mentally ill. Subsequent to Paracelsus, Juan Luis Vives and Johann Weyer switched the focus of what causes mental illnesses from the soul and supernatural forces to behavior, and like Paracelsus, advocated for humane treatment of patients. The Renaissance...
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