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The Contribution of J.Piaget and S.Freud to the Development of Psychology

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The purpose of this assignment is to discuss the work completed by Jean Piaget (1896-1980). Piaget has been credited for the theory of cognitive development. The theory of cognitive development states how children develop intellectually during childhood (Comer, 2013). Piaget's work will be evaluated, and how his theory has impacted on modern-day psychology.

The second psychologist that will be discussed is Sigmund Freud (1985-1939). Freud is also known as 'the father of psychoanalysis'. Freud has been credited with developing a method to understand the mind (Cash, 2013). Fraud's work will be evaluated, and how his theory has impacted on modern-day psychology.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget was a psychologist and a genetic epistemologist from Switzerland. Piaget's most credited work was due to his theory of cognitive development. Piaget's theory of cognitive development looked at how children progress intellectually throughout their childhood. Piaget's theory advises that the way children think is essentially different from the way adults would think. Piaget began to consider this theory whilst working for Alfred Binet. Piaget was working on Binet's revolutionary new method called intelligence testing, it was during this time that Piaget began to question how children learn (Biography, 2019).

Piaget's cognitive development theory suggests that children class information that they assemble through the experiences that they encounter and the exchanges they have with others into a grouping system known as schemas (Eysenck, Keane, 2015).

The theory consists of four stages of a child's intellectual development through to adulthood. The four stages are called sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational (Huitt & Hummel, 2003):

  1. Stage one of cognitive development is sensorimotor. Stage one of the process applies to children from birth through to the age of two. Piaget stated in stage one that children think by using sensory and motor skills. Children at this stage are considered not to have any thought process beyond the instantaneous experience they encounter (Mc Shane, 1991).
  2. Stage two of the theory is preoperational. This stage of the process applies to children from the age of two to seven years old. Piaget stated that this stage, children can clutch ideas in their brain of what's objects are and that children start to use their imagination (Mc Shane, 1991).
  3. Stage three of the theory considers children from the age of seven to eleven. This stage is called concrete operational. Stage three states that a child begins to be able to develop the skills and ability to think rationally and hypothetically (Mc Shane, 1991).
  4. The final stage of the theory considers children from eleven years of age until they reach adulthood. The final stage is referred to as formal operational. The final stage states that children begin the process of being able to think with abstract reasoning.

Mc Shane (1991) states that all four stages are classified by a specific type of cognitive structure. These structures are fundamental to Piaget's theory.

Piaget's theory has influenced education, genetics and sociology in modern times. Piaget opened an international genetic epistemology center in 1955 in Switzerland. Piaget's theory is still studied in Switzerland to date (Pascual-Leone, 1976).

Piaget has had a huge influence on education in modern times. Today Piaget's theory focuses on language, morals, memory and reasoning. Pre-primary and primary schools include Piaget's findings to help them form the teaching practice they follow. Education establishments curriculum ensure that they include play-based learning programmes. Play-based learning programmes allow children to learn using visual aids, props. They also allow children to learn through trial and error (Coltman, 1970)

Curriculums have the four stages of Piaget's theory considered when the children reach a higher stage of cognitive development. The sensorimotor stage allows children to play with new objects and implements routine into the structure in which they are taught. Preoperational stage considers that children at this stage learn best by doing. Books, games and other objects are introduced at this stage (Mc Shane, 1991). Children at this stage are encouraged to ask questions about the new materials they have encountered. The concrete operational stage starts to introduce the use of brainteasers, timelines and science experiments to get children's minds working. The formal operational stage introduces the use of visual aids, descriptions into how things work, and for the children to explore theoretical situations (McShane, 1991).

Piaget's work inspired Howard Gardiner a developmental psychologist. Although Howard began his career inspired and citing Piaget's theory, he soon began to realise that Piaget had not considered critical components when considering cognitive development. Howard stated that Piaget did not consider individual differences for intelligence. Howard on the other hand with years of research concluded that there are multiple intelligences to be considered (Bresler, Cooper, Palmer, 2002).

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A study completed by Morton on variation theory in the late 1990s considers teaching practice with implications due to teaching. Variation theory states that children learn at different stages. It also states that children develop different understandings to objects, this is due to children interrupting and observing different features that add to the appearances of an object. Variation theory was introduced into the education system in Hong Kong in 2000 and Sweden in 2014. Whilst the United Kingdom still use Piaget's theory of cognitive development (Hansfstingl, Benke, Zhang,2019).

Sigmund Freud

The second psychologist that is being discussed in this assignment is Sigmund Freud. Freud has been credited in the method of psychoanalysis, which describes the treatment for mental health illnesses and it also explains why humans behave in the way that they do. Freud's theory believes that events such as trauma in an individual's childhood have a great impact on that's person personality in later years, with the likes of them developing anxiety or other mental health illnesses (Ferris, 1998).

Freud's began his pursuit into the discovery into mental illness and behaviour was with the case of Anna O whose real name was Bertha Pappenheim. Freud came across the case of Anna O whilst working for his then teacher Joseph Breuer (Appignasei, R & Zarate, 1979). Anna presented with speech problems, hallucinations and some paralysis, known as hysteria. Freud co-wrote a book with Breuer called Studies on Hysteria (2009). Freud stated that the cause of hysteria was due to childhood sexual abuse, a theory Breuer did not agree with. Richard Webster (1995) stated that the main problem with the theory of hysteria and the studies on hysteria was that how deceptive many of the critical ideas stated were.

Freud followed on to treat hysteria patients with hypnotism. Freud did not continue this method of an experimental treatment for long. Freud began to treat his neurotic and hysteric patients with a treatment named free association. This treatment consisted of patients laying on a sofa and Freud encouraging them to speak about whatever they wished. Free association is still used today by psychoanalysts (Sandler, Holder, Dare & Dreher, 1997).

One of Freud's key contributions to psychology was his theory on the unconscious mind. Freud believed that the unconscious mind is built like an iceberg consisting of three sections the conscious, the preconscious and the unconscious. The conscious section is responsible for a person's senses and feeling in that exact moment in time. The preconscious section is responsible for the part of the memory that holds information like dates and significant memories like how to drive a car. The unconscious section of the mind Freud explained is the part a person is unaware of. Freud stated that this section is very hard to access and if someone experiences a traumatic experience the memories may be stored in this section if they repress them (Sandler, et al, 1997). Modern psychology believes that Freud's beliefs on the unconscious mind were too limited as he believed that the unconscious mind was a single entity and today psychology is aware that the unconscious part of the mind is a lot more complex (Wilson, 2004).

Freud stated that psychoanalytic theory of a human's personality or psyche consists of three components ID, Ego and Superego. Freud stated that these 3 components are inspired by the minds unconscious thoughts. These thoughts influence behaviour and a person's decision making. Freud's theory stated that the ID section is responsible to ensure a person avoids pain and the section that allows a person to seek pleasure in their life. The ID wants and gets instant gratification. The superego section tries to ensure that a person follows the rules of life. It is responsible for a person following rules. The final part of the three sections is the ego. The ego is trying to act as a balancer for the other two sections (Widsom, 1992).

One of Freud's most controversial theories was the theory on psychosexual stages of development. Freud believed that there are five stages of psychosexual of development between birth to adulthood, oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. Freud stated that these stages. Freud stated that tension and pleasure were the main aspects of human life. Freud believed that the libido was the reasoning for tension. In modern psychology, Freud's theory is considered as unscientific as the theory focuses on the libido, which psychologists today know is not able to be scientifically tested. In contrast to this theory, Fisher and Greenberg (1996) suggested that Freud's psychosexual theory should be tested as a hypothesis on small sections rather than the libido as one part. Their findings concluded that the oral and anal stages of development had scientific evidence to support these two parts of Freud's theory.

Freud was responsible for the term psychoanalysis coming to life. Freud term psychanalysis was made up of his belief that the mind could resolve problems by bringing unconscious thoughts that are stored in the mind to the conscious part of the mind. Psychoanalysis treatment consisted of patients lying on a sofa and talking to Freud about their childhood memories and dreams that they remember. Freud believed that this method of treatment would cure patients of mental health issues. Peter Fonagy, (2015) advocates Freud's theory that this method of treatment may help patients suffering from anxiety, depression or some other types of mental illness. However, in contrast to this theory, a study published in 2008 stated that psychoanalysis is still taught in universities across America. However, it's only used in textbooks for reference use as historical information in psychology classes. It is not used as a modern-day scientific approach (Redmond & Shulman, 2008).

One thing that Freud has achieved from his finding is controversy. Freud has more critics than supporters for his theories. However, in 2002 a review was completed on the most significant psychologist of all times and Freud ranked at number three. Which only shows that yes, his theories may not have been as scientific as modern-day psychology. However, his ideas and theories are still thought highly of (Haggbloom, Warnick, Warnick, Jones, Yarbrough, Russell & Monte 2002).

Both Piaget and Freud have influenced the world of psychology in modern times. Piaget's contributions to cognitive psychology have ensured that his theories will live on and influence psychology and education. Piaget's theory on cognitive development will continue to expand and adapt to help the needs of children for many years to come. Piaget's work on genetic epistemology in Geneva will continue to inspire new research and ideas to be able to experiment and grow which will have an invaluable impact in the field of psychology in years to come. Freud's theories will continue to cause conflict and discussion in the world of psychology for many years to come. Freud's theories have set the foundations for more investigation and development. One thing can be said about both Piaget and Freud, that is that their findings and theories have molded the way psychology research, methods, and teaching has evolved.


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