Functionalism, an early school of psychology, focuses on the acts and functions of the mind rather than its internal contents. Its most prominent American advocates are William James and John Dewey, whose 1896 article "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" promotes functionalism.
The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, introduces the term in a scholarly paper. Freud's psychoanalytic approach asserts that people are motivated by powerful, unconscious drives and conflicts. He develops an influential therapy based on this assertion, using free association and dream analysis.
Edward B. Titchener, a leading proponent of structuralism, publishes his Outline of Psychology. Structuralism is the view that all mental experience can be understood as a combination of simple elements or events. This approach focuses on the contents of the mind, contrasting with functionalism.
First psychology clinic
After heading a laboratory at University of Pennsylvania, Lightner Witmer opens world's first psychological clinic to patients, shifting his focus from experimental work to practical application of his findings.
Interpretation of Dreams
Sigmund Freud introduces his theory of psychoanalysis in The Interpretation of Dreams, the first of 24 books he would write exploring such topics as the unconscious, techniques of free association, and sexuality as a driving force in human psychology.
Manual of Experimental Psychology
With publication of the Manual of Experimental Psychology, Edward Bradford Titchener introduces structuralism to the United States. Structuralism, an approach which seeks to identify the basic elements of consciousness, fades after Titchener's death in 1927.
First woman president of the APA
Mary Calkins is elected president of the APA. Calkins, a professor and researcher at Wellesley College, studied with William James at Harvard University, but Harvard denied her a Ph.D. because of her gender.
IQ tests developed
Using standardized tests, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon develop a scale of general intelligence on the basis of mental age. Later researchers refine this work into the concept of intelligence quotient; IQ, mental age over physical age. From their beginning, such tests' accuracy and fairness are challenged.
Psychoanalysts visit Clark University
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung visit the United States for a Psychoanalysis Symposium at Clark University organized by G. Stanley Hall. At the symposium, Freud gives his only speech in the United States.
John B. Watson publishes "Psychology as Behavior," launching behaviorism. In contrast to psychoanalysis, behaviorism focuses on observable and measurable behavior.
First African American doctorate in psychology
Francis Cecil Sumner earns a Ph.D. in psychology under G. Stanley Hall at Clark University. Sumner later serves as chair of the Howard University psychology department.
The Child's Conception of the World
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget publishes The Child's Conception of the World, prompting the study of cognition in the developing child.
Rorschach test created
Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devises a personality test based on patients' interpretations of inkblots.
Menninger Clinic founded
Charles Frederick Menninger and his sons Karl Augustus and William Clair found The Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. They take a compassionate approach to the treatment of mental illness, emphasizing both psychological and psychiatric disciplines.
Menninger Clinic founded
First Nobel Prize for psychological research
Psychiatrist Hans Berger invents the electroencephalogram and tests it on his son. The device graphs the electrical activity of the brain by means of electrodes attached to the head.
Nazi persecution of psychologists
After the Nazi party gains control of the government in Germany, scholars and researchers in psychology and psychiatry are persecuted. Many, including Freud, whose books are banned and burned in public rallies, move to Britain or the United States.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is founded by Bob Smith of Akron, Ohio. AA's group meetings format and 12-step program become the model for many other mutual-support therapeutic groups.
Kurt Koffka, a founder of the movement, publishes Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. Gestalt (German for "whole" or "essence") psychology asserts that psychological phenomena must be viewed not as individual elements but as a coherent whole.
First lobotomy in the United States
Walter Freeman performs first frontal lobotomy in the United States at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. By 1951, more than 18,000 such operations have been performed. The procedure, intended to relieve severe and debilitating psychosis, is controversial.
The Neurotic Personality of Our Time
Psychologist Karen Horney publishes The Neurotic Personality of Our Time. Horney goes on to challenge many of Freud's theories, as have many later psychologists and scholars. Specifically, she questions Freud's theories on the Oedipal Complex and castration anxiety.
The Behavior of Organisms
B.F. Skinner publishes The Behavior of Organisms, introducing the concept of operant conditioning. The work draws widespread attention to behaviorism and inspires laboratory research on conditioning.
Electroconvulsive therapy begun
Italian psychiatrist and neuropathologist Ugo Cerletti and his associates treat human patients with electrical shocks to alleviate schizophrenia and psychosis. ECT, while controversial, is proven effective in some cases and is still in use in 2001.
The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children
Anna Freud publishes The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Children, introducing basic concepts in the theory and practice of child psychoanalysis.
National Mental Health Act Passed
U.S. President Harry Truman signs the National Mental Health Act, providing generous funding for psychiatric education and research for the first time in U.S. history. This act leads to the creation in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
First drug to treat depression
Studies are published reporting that the drug imipramine may be able to lessen depression. Eight years later, the FDA approves its use in the United States under the name Tofranil.
The anti-psychotic drug chlorpromazine (known as Thorazine) is tested on a patient in a Paris military hospital. Approved for use in the United States in 1954, it becomes widely prescribed.
APA Ethical Standards
The American Psychological Association publishes the first edition of Ethical Standards of Psychologists. The document undergoes continuous review and is now known as APA's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.
Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy...
In Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain, neurosurgeon Wilder G. Penfield publishes results from his study of the neurology of epilepsy. His mapping of the brain's cortex sets a precedent for the brain-imaging techniques that become critical to biopsychology and cognitive neuroscience.
The Nature of Prejudice
Social Psychologist Gordon Allport publishes The Nature of Prejudice, which draws on various approaches in psychology to examine prejudice through different lenses. It is widely read by the general public and influential in establishing psychology's usefulness in understanding social issues.
In his studies of epilepsy, neuroscientist Wilder G. Penfield begins to uncover the relationship between chemical activity in the brain and psychological phenomena. His findings set the stage for widespread research on the biological role in psychological phenomena.
The development of psychoactive drugs in the 1950s and their approval by the FDA initiates a new form of treatment for mental illness. Among the first such drugs is Doriden, also known as Rorer, an anti-anxiety medication approved in 1954.
In the wake of psychoanalysis and behaviorism, humanistic psychology emerges as the "third force" in psychology. Led by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, who publishes Motivation and Personality in 1954, this approach centers on the conscious mind, free will, human dignity, and the capacity for self-actualization.
Inspired by work in mathematics and other disciplines, psychologists begin to focus on cognitive states and processes. George A. Miller's 1956 article "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two" on information processing is an early application of the cognitive approach.
Noam Chomsky publishes Syntactic Structures, marking a major advancement in the study of linguistics. The book helps spawn the field of psycholinguistics, the psychology of language.
FDA approves Librium
The FDA approves the use of chlordiazepoxide (known as Librium) for treatment of non-psychotic anxiety in 1960. A similar drug, diazepam (Valium), is approved in 1963.
Community Mental Health Centers Act passed
U.S. President John F. Kennedy calls for and later signs the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which mandates the construction of community facilities instead of large, regional mental hospitals. Congress ends support for the program in 1981, reducing overall funds and folding them into a mental health block-grant program.
First National Medal of Science to psychologist
Neal E. Miller receives the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor given in the United States, for his studies of motivation and learning. He is the first psychologist to be awarded this honor.
FDA approves Lithium
The FDA approves lithium carbonate to treat patients with bipolar mood disorders. It is marketed under the trade names Eskalith, Lithonate, and Lithane.
Homosexuality removed from DSM
After intense debate, the American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The widely used reference manual is revised to state that sexual orientation "does not necessarily constitute a psychiatric disorder."
PET scanner tested
A new brain scanning technique, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), is tested. By tracing chemical markers, PET maps brain function in more detail than earlier techniques.
Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, which begins to popularize the idea of evolutionary psychology. This approach applies principles from evolutionary biology to the structure and function of the human brain. It offers new ways of looking at social phenomena such as aggression and sexual behavior.
The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins publishes The Selfish Gene, a work which shifts focus from the individual animal as the unit of evolution to individual genes themselves. The text popularizes the field of evolutionary psychology, in which knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are applied in research on human brain structure.
Standardized IQ tests found discriminatory
The U.S. District Court finds the use of standardized IQ tests in California public schools illegal. The decision in the case, Larry P. v. Wilson Riles, upholds the plaintiff's position that the tests discriminate against African American students.
AIDS and HIV first diagnosed
The epidemic of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection presents mental health professionals with challenges ranging from at-risk patients' anxiety and depression to AIDS-related dementia.
Insanity Defense Reform Act passed
U.S. Congress revises federal law on the insanity defense, partly in response to the acquittal of John Hinckley, Jr. of charges of attempted assassination after he had shot President Ronald Reagan. The act places burden of proof for the insanity defense on the defendant.
Homeless Assistance Act passed
The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act provides the first federal funds allocated specifically for the homeless population. The act includes provisions for mental health services, and responds, in part, to psychological studies on homelessness and mental disorders.
Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft made available
The FDA approves the new anti-depressant medication fluoxetine, (Prozac). The drug, and other similar medications, acts on neurotransmitters, specifically, serotonin. It is widely prescribed and attracts attention and debate.
In Acts of Meaning, Four Lectures on Mind and Culture, Jerome Bruner helps formulate cultural psychology, an approach drawing on philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology. Refined and expanded by Hazel Markus and other researchers, cultural psychology focuses on the influences and relationship among mind, cultural community and behavior.
Sequencing of the Human Genome
Sixteen public research institutions around the world complete a "working draft" mapping of the human genetic code, providing a research basis for a new understanding of human development and disease. A similar, privately funded, project is currently underway.
DSM on PDA
The latest revision of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published in a version for personal digital assistants (PDAs). The manual, first published in 1954, outlines prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders. Only 132 pages on first printing, in 2000 it was 980 pages.