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Psychological currents

Let’s delve into the psychology of the human mind knowing the main characteristics of psychological currents, a summary of which they are, and a detailed summary of each of them.

What are psychological currents

When psychology first emerged as a separate science from biology and philosophy, the debate began on how to describe and explain the mind and behavior of the human being . It was then that currents or schools of psychological thought began to be created that aimed to decipher and explain the behavior of the human mind .

Main psychological currents

While the history of psychology is short, it has a long past that has never neglected drama. Thanks to the contributions of each of the psychological currents , psychology is today an indispensable tool for studying and understanding human behavior.

Below we offer a list of the 6 main psychological currents that marked the history of psychology .


Structuralism was the first psychological current, created in the 20th century by Wilhelm Wundt . This current is dedicated to studying the structure of the mind. One of the most used tools in structuralist psychology is introspection (looking within), which is based on reflecting and becoming aware of our own thoughts and behaviors.


Functionalism took place, after some psychologists began to suggest that psychology should not concern itself with the structure of consciousness, because according to them, consciousness always changed , therefore, it did not have a basic structure.

Functionalism -current created by William James – focuses on understanding how consciousness works and how it leads the subject to adaptive behavior ; in this way, it is sought to be able to help individuals to adapt to their environment.


Psychoanalysis was one of the psychological currents that caused the most controversies. This current founded by Sigmund Freud is based on the liberation of emotions, thoughts and repressed experiences of the subject. Investigating the patient’s past, they try to solve the problems that disturb their present.

According to Freud, some childhood wishes and memories of his patients were too painful to bring to consciousness, for this reason he set out to delve into those wishes and memories that were “hidden . ” After his investigation, he was able to affirm that the information that was “hidden” was locked in the unconscious mind through different defense mechanisms that prevented it from emerging into consciousness.

Realizing that, Freud went ahead with his technique and claimed that  patients could be cured by making their repressed thoughts conscious in the unconscious . 

Psychoanalysts believe that typical causes of disorders and problems in patients include unresolved problems during development or repressed trauma .


Behaviorism is the current that seeks to predict the behavior of the individual . Analyze a certain stimulus that is given and try to decipher what reaction will take place, or vice versa, given a certain reaction to decipher what is the situation or stimulus that has caused it.

Behaviorism was first developed by John B. Watson (1912) , who created the term “behaviorism”; then BF Skinner followed Watsón’s line and proposed what is known as ” radical behaviorism .”

Today behaviorism holds that personality is based on a set of learned and acquired behavior patterns through the biological, environmental, cognitive and emotional interaction of an individual.

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With behaviorism it is sought to change the behavior of the patient , performing treatments that help him to put aside negative and destructive thoughts and focus on constructive thoughts. In this way, it is intended that the patient achieve a more optimistic behavior .


Gestalt psychology is the psychological current that studies the behaviors and perception of individuals. It affirms that each subject interprets things according to the way they expect to see them, as Anaïs Nin said : “We do not see the world as it is; we see it as we are ” .

According to Gestalt psychology, observing the whole helps us find order in the midst of chaos and helps to unite and relate those unrelated parts.

This psychological current was influenced and initiated by the German psychologist  Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) . Wertheimer postulated the concept of the Phi phenomenon, a phenomenon that describes the optical illusion of viewing a series of still images as moving.

To demonstrate how the Phi phenomenon works , Wertheimer along with other colleagues summoned a group of people who were supposed to be looking at a projector. They then projected a line on the left side of a projector, and then a line on the right side of the projector in rapid succession.

To end the experiment, the people were asked what they saw; people who watched indicated that they saw a line moving back and forth. As a conclusion, Wertheimer argued that the observers’ brains filled in the space between the two lines, making it appear that the line on the left was moving to the right , rather than the two immobile lines shown.

With this example it was shown that the brain does not always see the reality of things and each individual perceives the world around them differently and molded to their mind.


Humanism is the psychological current that maintains that morality , ethical values ​​and good intentions are the driving forces of behavior, while adverse social or psychological experiences can be attributed to deviations from natural tendencies.

Humanistic psychologists observe human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but also through the eyes of the observed subject . The aim of this trend is to guide the patient so that he can find the cause of his problems for himself.


Cognitive psychology deals with the study of attention, memory , language processing, perception, problem solving, and thinking. In other words, it can be said that cognitive psychology deals with studying how people acquire and apply knowledge and information.

This psychological trend seeks to modify the way of reasoning and thoughts of people, in order to achieve greater efficiency in the treatment of certain types of disorder or problems that modify the daily life of the individual.

Currently there is a psychological- cognitive-behavioral – current that unites cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology, focusing on the behavior of the individual based on the principles of learning, human development and theories of cognitive processing. This current aims to promote a significant change in behavior and maladaptive human thinking.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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