What is the relationship between History and Psychology?

Psychology is of great help to history in training a historian in the detection of motives and intentions and in drawing inferences from strange behaviour. Psychology is a science of the mind some identify it with the social and others with the brain. Its main aim is to study inter actions between living organism and environment. Thus, human behaviour is studied with that idea in mind. These studies are useful for historical research as activities, experiences and motives are the matters that are closely studied by historians in understanding the meaning of the activities of eminent men in history.

Aristotle the Greek philosopher of the 4th century B.C. wrote ‘De anima’ which is considered the first great psychological work. Modern psychology grew from the work of Hobbes in the 17th century. In the 19th century experimental psychology was developed Darvin’s theory of Evolution led to the dynamic psychology as of William Janies.

Historical studies were enriched by the work of Sigmund Freud (1856 -1939) who laid down the basis of psycho-analysis and widened the scope of psychology. Previously Plutarch’s Lives 5th century A.D. had given the details of the behaviour of the great leaders like Alexander the Great but the technique of psycho-analysis of sigmund Freud gave an insight into the behaviour of present day public leaders.

National and universal histories are dominated by ‘outsize’ men. The eccentricities and mysterious behaviour of the public leaders which many a time confounds all could be understood property if Freudian, psycho-analysis is adopted. Adolf Hitters obsession with anti-Semitism appeared strange in the beginning but the mania to persecute Jews had its origin in his ancestors being of Jewish extraction. History is not much concerned with the ‘unconscious’ mind and the instincts like sex in the reconstruction of the past but they provide useful explanation to the pattern of behaviour of such leaders. The case history of such ‘patients’ shows us the policies that they pursued in the proper perspective, Freudian psycho- analysis has influenced modern thought and applied psychology is nowadays adopted in industries and commerce also.

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