PSYC 409 lecture 1.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 409
Professor
Paul A Madak
Semester
Fall

Description
Many cultures throughout history have speculated on the nature of the mind, soul, spirit, etc. For instance, in Ancient Egypt, the Edwin Smith Papyrus contains an early description of the brain, and some speculations on its functions. Though other medical documents of ancient times were full of incantations and applications meant to turn away disease-causing demons and other superstition, the Edwin Smith Papyrus gives remedies to almost 50 conditions and only 1 contains incantations to ward off evil. It has been praised as being similar to what is today considered common knowledge, but must be recognized as having originated in a very different context. In Asia, China had a long history of administering tests of ability as part of its education system. In the 6th century AD, Lin Xie carried out an early experiment, in which he asked people to draw a square with one hand and at the same time draw a circle with the other (ostensibly to test people's vulnerability to distraction). Some have claimed that this is the first psychology experiment, and, therefore, the beginnings of psychology as an experimental science. India, too, had an elaborate theory of "the self" in its Vedanta philosophical writings. Medieval Muslim physicians also developed practices to treat patients suffering from a variety of "diseases of the mind". Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi (850–934) was among the first, in this tradition, to discuss disorders related to both the body and the mind, arguing that "if the nafs [psyche] gets sick, the body may also find no joy in life and may eventually develop a physical illness." Al-Balkhi recognized that the body and the soul can be healthy or sick, or "balanced or imbalanced." He wrote that imbalance of the body can result in fever, headaches and other bodily illnesses, while imbalance of the soul can result in anger,anxiety, sadness and other nafs-related symptoms. He recognized two types of what we now call depression: one caused by known reasons such as loss or failure, which can be treated psychologically; and the other caused by unknown reasons possibly caused by physiological reasons, which can be treated through physical medicine. The scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) carried out experiments in visual perception and the other senses, including variations in sensitivity, sensation of touch, perception of colors, perception of darkness, the psychological explanation of the moon illusion, and binocular vision. Al-Biruni also employed such experimental methods in examining reaction time. Avicenna, similarly, did early work in the treatment of nafs-related illnesses, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings. Avicenna also described phenomena we now recognize as neuropsychiatric conditions, including hallucination, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, dementia, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, ve rtigo and tremor. Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) described disorders similar to meningitis, intracranial thrombophlebitis, and mediastinal germ cell tumors; Averroes attributed photoreceptor properties to the retina and Maimonides described rabies and belladonna intoxication. Witelo is considered a precursor of perception psychology. His Perspectiva contains much material in psychology, outlining views that are close to modern notions on the association of ideas and on the subconscious.Many of the Ancients' writings would have been lost had it not been for the efforts of the Christian, Jewish and Persian translators in the House of Wisdom, the House of Knowledge, and other such institutions, whose glosses and commentaries were later translated into Latin in the 12th century. However, it is not clear how these sources first came to be used during the Renaissance, and their in
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