Simply put, psychology studies the human mind. While psychology is pretty much omnipresent from everyday interactions with the newly hired cashier at the local grocery store - to popular shows like Dr. Phil, the scientific, methodological research conducted by scientists and academics to discover the hidden wonders and mysteries of the psyche - is a social science in its own right.
An important distinction must be made between terms that may seem confusingly similar but cannot be used interchangeably, as such: psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts. Clearly, psychosis and psychopathy stand for entirely different concepts altogether. Psychiatrists are primarily medical doctors or physicians and in most jurisdictions are the only ones in the mental health professions to be able to prescribe medication.
Some of the pioneers of psychological foundations include Erick Erickson, Sigmund Freud, Mary Ainsworth, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotski, to name a few. Sigmund Freud lived in Victorian era Vienna, Austria and is largely considered the founder of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytical theories have largely been discarded by modern days practitioners, but concepts such as free association technique, Oedipus complex/Electra's complex, castration anxiety, penis envy and other unresolved conflicts continue to be taught in institutions of higher learning to paint a clearer picture of the evolution of approaches to the workings of the mind.
Neuroscience represents perhaps the most scientific (in the hard science sense) of psychological disciplines. Other terms describing studying the brain encompass neurobiology, neuroanatomy and neurochemistry. Serotonin, GABA, dopamine and noradrenaline/norepinephrine are neurotransmitters - the chemical messengers of the brain facilitating communication between neurons.
Abnormal psychology deals with the less pleasant end of the spectrum, looking at mental illnesses and disorders. Regularly updated versions of the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual) and ICD (international classification of diseases published by the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization, respectively, help mental health professionals diagnose patients.
Psychology, as originally posted on Megan Jorgensen's professional (computer graphics, digital imagery) blog:
“How hurtful it can be to deny one's true self and live a life of lies just to appease others.” (June Ahern) Illustration by Megan Jorgensen