While the forefathers of psychology established many theories that became building blocks of what we study today, sometimes some of our highest-regarded researchers came up with some ideas that don’t necessarily fit with today’s view of the world of psychology. The following are some bits of “wisdom” from some familiar names.
“I wish that one would be persuaded that psychological experiments, especially those on the complex functions, are not improved [by large studies]; the statistical method gives only mediocre results; some recent examples demonstrate that. The American authors, who love to do things big, often publish experiments that have been conducted on hundreds and thousands of people; they instinctively obey the prejudice that the persuasiveness of a work is proportional to the number of observations. This is only an illusion.”
— Alfred Binet (1903). L’ Études expérimentale de l’intelligence (p. 299). Paris, France: Schleicher.
“Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of psychical impulses which is formed at that time and which is of such importance in determining the symptoms of the later neurosis… This discovery is confirmed by a legend that has come down to us from classical antiquity: a legend whose profound and universal power to move can only be understood if the hypothesis I have put forward in regard to the psychology of children has an equally universal validity. What I have in mind is the legend of King Oedipus and Sophocles’ drama which bears his name.”
— Sigmund Freud (1953). The Interpretation of Dreams. In J. Strachey (Ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 4, pp. 260-261). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books (Original work published 1900)
“Since my mother is the type that’s called schizophrenogenic in the literature—she’s the one who makes crazy people, crazy children—I was awfully curious to find out why I didn’t go insane.”
— Abraham Harold Maslow (2001). In Colin Wilson, New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow and the Post-Freudian Revolution (pp. 155-156). Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books (Original work published in 1972)
What do you think is psychology’s funniest or most interesting misstep?