Psychologist Quotes (23 quotes)
Every good psychologist must be wise as well as technically efficient. It is rather a lame statement because I don’t know how anybody can learn to be wise. Perhaps a way of putting it is to say that he must know where and how to look for evidence, which will enable him to advance beyond evidence and then to return once more to seek confirming evidence.
He [a good psychologist] must be able to give and to take incisive criticism without losing his respect either for himself or for the people and the views that he may try to upset. He has to be tolerant, but not indecisive, to be ruthless, but not unfair, to be honest about his assumptions as he is about his evidence, to ask questions when he doesn’t know and to hazard answers when he is convinced that he does, to give credit where credit is due and not to be too much worried if it seems to him that others do not always return the compliment.
I believe—and human psychologists, particularly psychoanalysts should test this—that present-day civilized man suffers from insufficient discharge of his aggressive drive. It is more than probable that the evil effects of the human aggressive drives, explained by Sigmund Freud as the results of a special death wish, simply derive from the fact that in prehistoric times intra-specific selection bred into man a measure of aggression drive for which in the social order today he finds no adequate outlet.
I want to see a generation of psychologists who can stand alongside the best of all the other scientists, not making any pretence to having discovered the master key to all knowledge.
If you want to understand human beings, there are plenty of people to go to besides psychologists.... Most of these people are incapable of communicating their knowledge, but those who can communicate it are novelists. They are good novelists precisely because they are good psychologists.
In the world of science different levels of esteem are accorded to different kinds of specialist. Mathematicians have always been eminently respectable, and so are those who deal with hard lifeless theories about what constitutes the physical world: the astronomers, the physicists, the theoretical chemists. But the more closely the scientist interests himself in matters which are of direct human relevance, the lower his social status. The real scum of the scientific world are the engineers and the sociologists and the psychologists. Indeed, if a psychologist wants to rate as a scientist he must study rats, not human beings. In zoology the same rules apply. It is much more respectable to dissect muscle tissues in a laboratory than to observe the behaviour of a living animal in its natural habitat.
It is my view that a psychologist who is really going to get anywhere must respect human behaviour. Not only in the sense of considering it a worthwhile subject to study, but in the much more important sense of being willing to reject flippant and cynical views or at least of regarding them as a not very serious kind of sport and of believing that human beings are fundamentally decent.
It is possible to read books on Natural History with intelligence and profit, and even to make good observations, without a scientific groundwork of biological instruction; and it is possible to arrive at empirical facts of hygiene and medical treatment without any physiological instruction. But in all three cases the absence of a scientific basis will render the knowledge fragmentary and incomplete; and this ought to deter every one from offering an opinion on debatable questions which pass beyond the limit of subjective observations. The psychologist who has not prepared himself by a study of the organism has no more right to be heard on the genesis of the psychical states, or of the relations between body and mind, than one of the laity has a right to be heard on a question of medical treatment.
It is sages and grey-haired philosophers who ought to sit up all night reading Alice in Wonderland in order to study that darkest problem of metaphysics, the borderland between reason and unreason, and the nature of the most erratic of spiritual forces, humour, which eternally dances between the two. That we do find a pleasure in certain long and elaborate stories, in certain complicated and curious forms of diction, which have no intelligible meaning whatever, is not a subject for children to play with; it is a subject for psychologists to go mad over.
My task was to show the psychologists that it is possible to apply physiological knowledge to the phenomena of psychical life.
No degree of genius will ever make one a proficient in the science of man, without accurate observation of human nature in all its varieties.
Psychologists pay lip service to the scientific method, and use it whenever it is convenient; but when it isn’t they make wild leaps of their uncontrolled fancy.…
Psychologists, like other scientists, pride themselves on being extremely modern, and therefore much better than any group of people that ever were before....
Psychology appeared to be a jungle of confusing, conflicting, and arbitrary concepts. These pre-scientific theories doubtless contained insights which still surpass in refinement those depended upon by psychiatrists or psychologists today. But who knows, among the many brilliant ideas offered, which are the true ones? Some will claim that the statements of one theorist are correct, but others will favour the views of another. Then there is no objective way of sorting out the truth except through scientific research.
The first requirement is loyalty to evidence. The evidence may be sought in unprepared situations after the manner of a great many clinicians and of many social psychologists or in technical, technologically prepared situations or it may be sought in experimentally prepared situations.
The genesis of mathematical creation is a problem which should intensely interest the psychologist.
The genesis of mathematical invention is a problem that must inspire the psychologist with the keenest interest. For this is the process in which the human mind seems to borrow least from the exterior world, in which it acts, or appears to act, only by itself and on itself, so that by studying the process of geometric thought, we may hope to arrive at what is most essential in the human mind
The manner of Demoivre’s death has a certain interest for psychologists. Shortly before it, he declared that it was necessary for him to sleep some ten minutes or a quarter of an hour longer each day than the preceding one: the day after he had thus reached a total of something over twenty-three hours he slept up to the limit of twenty-four hours, and then died in his sleep.
The really important questions in human life are hardly touched upon by psychologists. Do liars come to believe their own lies? Is pleasure the same as happiness? Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved, or not to be able to love?
The so-called science of psychology is now in chaos, with no sign that order is soon to be restored. It is hard to find two of its professors who agree, and when the phenomenon is encountered it usually turns out that one of them is not a psychologist at all, but simply a teacher of psychology. … Not even anthropology offers a larger assortment of conflicting theories, or a more gaudy band of steaming and blood-sweating professors.
There are still psychologists who, in a basic misunderstanding, think that gestalt theory tends to underestimate the role of past experience. Gestalt theory tries to differentiate between and-summative aggregates, on the one hand, and gestalten, structures, on the other, both in sub-wholes and in the total field, and to develop appropriate scientific tools for investigating the latter. It opposes the dogmatic application to all cases of what is adequate only for piecemeal aggregates. The question is whether an approach in piecemeal terms, through blind connections, is or is not adequate to interpret actual thought processes and the role of the past experience as well. Past experience has to be considered thoroughly, but it is ambiguous in itself; so long as it is taken in piecemeal, blind terms it is not the magic key to solve all problems.
There is very little hope for a psychologist who is not prepared to become an effective collaborator.
There never has been and there never will be a good psychologist who has not got a number of lively interests outside of psychology itself. Or who fails to connect his psychological research and reflection with these other interests. Similarly there never has been and there never will be a good scientific psychologist who has not got at least some specialised training outside of psychology.