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The paradigm struggle in Psychology

The paradigm struggle in Psychology

October 5, 2022

Traditionally, the field of psychology has become more like a battlefield than to a cumulative field of scientific knowledge. The contenders of that battle have been varying throughout its relatively short history. And I say relative, because psychology has always been, since the beginning of civilizations, although evidently, has not always been considered under that term.

Innatists, situationists, interactionists, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic ... the struggle between the fervent followers of one or another paradigm of psychological knowledge has been diverse in terms of approach origins, but has never been exempt from conceptual mistrust the followers of a given paradigm arouse the affirmations or considerations of the followers of others.


  • Related article: "The 7 main streams of Psychology"

A theoretical and practical battlefield

Currently, from my humble perspective as an eclectic impartial observer, I believe that we are witnessing the recent majority contest, between the so-called cognitive-behavioral approach against the heir approach of humanism , that is, positive psychology. Perhaps I rush into such an observation, but I find it frequent to find detractors of the positive approach defended by Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi, Dyer or Davidson among others, against the classic cognitive-behavioral approach of authors and researchers such as Skinner, Thorndike, Ellis and Beck among others.


As if it were a short circuit, there are many who are quick to point out the advantages and / or limitations of one approach over the other, trying to validate their firm convictions about the correct way of approaching the different objectives of the field of psychology. .

Once again, it happens that we immerse ourselves in eternal internal disputes , about who is in possession of the absolute "truth", as if this one was not willing to leave with those, who in the exercise of their profession, apply some or other techniques in favor of the achievement of certain type of results (health , welfare, performance, etc). In the end, this kind of systematic disputes, far from being useful to produce knowledge, acts as a burden for the development of this exciting discipline.

The eclectic vision of Psychology

If I have learned something during the years that I have been practicing as a psychologist, truths can take many forms. Psychology is a "living science" that grows and evolves parallel to the rate at which the societies to which it tries to offer answers grow and evolve and, in short, even the truth takes a back seat when the objective is limited to the development of a more practical sense of existence.


Pray the Latin affirmation, attributed among others to Julio Cesár or to Napoleón himself, Divide et impera (Divide and conquer) and it is paradoxical that the very division between the students of the human mind , come precisely from themselves. It seems that participating in collective efforts to better understand how we think and feel does not necessarily translate into a greater capacity to apply those principles to the way in which, individually, we adopt a useful and constructive attitude towards theories and methodological tools of others.

In short, neuropsychological data apart (which seem to placate at a stroke any dispute as to the functioning of the brain), as observers, scholars and auditors of the functioning of the mind, we have the moral responsibility to unite and remain strong facing internal conceptual frictions and external interests, which may destabilize the ultimate goal of our professional mission, which is to offer the society in which we live, the questions and answers necessary to achieve their existential purposes .

  • Maybe you're interested: "Eclecticism in Psychology: 6 advantages and disadvantages of this form of intervention"

Social Influence: Crash Course Psychology #38 (October 2022).


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