Behaviorist and Psychoanalytic Psychology


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Psychology has been around for as long as the human civilization. Every now and then as social situations shift, we have new psychological approaches taking place and they go a long way to act as a response to such shifts in social situations as well as discontent with theoretical explanations advanced previously. It therefore follows that each psychology system has differing perspectives as well as objectives on what constitutes fiction or fact. It hence follows that the view of truth for each system is largely dependent on the research methods as well as goals and techniques in place. In this ext, I compare and contrast psychoanalytic psychology and behaviorist psychology. I also give my opinion on how these theories are utilized in the practice of psychology.

A discussion

When it comes to the evolution, it is important to note that Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism both share unique though substantively different intellectual as well as social contexts. Sigmund Freud is considered the pioneer of psychoanalysis which is considered to be quite influential as far as psychology is concerned. Amongst those who influenced Freud his early days include but are not limited to Chrobak Rudolf, Jean-Martin Charcot as well as Breuer, Josef. It can be noted that these three individuals had a lot in common and this included their view of neurotic disorders and the role sex played by sex in the same.

On the other hand, behaviorism, tailored for purposes of behavioral control as well as prediction was largely a product o the utilitarian school of thought. According, to Leahey (2003) behaviorism owes much of its difference from Psychoanalysis due to its attempt to make psychology a science in the same rank with biology and physics. Further, in contrast to Psychoanalysis, behaviorism is not largely rooted in the study of consciousness. Though the development of Psychoanalysis was impacted in one way or the other by a number of issues including but not limited to the role of women in the society and anti-Semitism, the development of behaviorism was largely influenced by the dissatisfaction of John B. Watson with a number of theories which were in place at the time.

Further, according to Waiten (2008) both behaviorism as well as Psychoanalysis use techniques of research as well as methods which are largely different. This is as a result of a constellation of factors and circumstances (intellectual and social). For instance, parapraxes, resistance, transference as well as dream analysis are just some of the techniques Freud concerned himself with which was no the case when it comes to behaviorism. Coon & Mitterer (2008) stress that according to the various techniques which were utilized in Psychoanalysis; the message was that behavior cannot be gleaned from a look on the surface. Behavior in this case constitutes what lies below the awareness level. With that in mind, Freud concerned himself with understanding the psychological underpinnings of individuals behavior.

It is important to note that on the other hand, behaviorism as far as techniques of research and methods are concerned itself with the effects upon behavior by S-R relationship. Hence in this regard, behaviorism was nit in any way limited to the mental behavior origins. Hence according to Pickren (2010), behaviorism research was essentially concerned with overt behavior as well as the behavior effect.

Further, both Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism have their own truth notion. When it comes to Psychoanalysis, only the unconscious can be relied upon to reveal the truth. However, when it comes to he behaviorist, what can be seen can also constitute truth. Waiten (2008) is of the opinion that truth as per Psychoanalysis is what has transpired before as opposed to what is brought out as truth in the present. It can be noted that on the other hand, the elicited behavior is what is acted upon by the behaviorist. In conclusion therefore as far as truth is concerned, Psychoanalysis is of the opinion that only the subconscious can originate the truth while the behaviorist view is that truth is the overt behavior and hence there should never be a reliance on the mind as far as the determination of what is right and what is not is concerned.

Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism also interact though in a few ways. This includes their resolve to seek as well as find the truth. Further, according to Coon & Mitterer (2008), they both go a long way to explain behavior. It is therefore important to note that substantially, both Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism are interested in the same things but end up approaching the same in different contexts. For instance, though but are inherently concerned with human behavior, one approach completely ignores thoughts while the other one builds around thoughts.


In conclusion, it is important to note that the two systems of psychology, that is, Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism both emerged from a social context that was largely unique. It hence follows that as far as their view of the truth as well as methods of research are concerned, each system has its own ideas. However, irregardless of the differing views, Psychoanalysis and Behaviorism are both concerned with the discovery of truth.


Coon, D. & Mitterer, J.O. (2008). Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior. Cengage Learning

Leahey, T. H. (2003). A history of psychology: Main currents in psychological thought. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

Pickren, W. (2010). A History of Modern Psychology in Context. John Wiley and Sons

Waiten, W. (2008). Psychology: Themes and Variations. Cengage Learning


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