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The human condition is all of the characteristics and key events of human life, including birth, learning, emotion, aspiration, morality, conflict, and death. This is a very broad topic that has been and continues to be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives, including those of anthropology, art, biology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religion.
As a literary term, "the human condition" is typically used in the context of ambiguous subjects, such as the meaning of life or moral concerns.
Each major religion has definitive beliefs regarding the human condition. For example, Buddhism teaches that existence is a perpetual cycle of suffering, death, and rebirth from which humans can be liberated via the Noble Eightfold Path. Meanwhile, many Christians believe that humans are born in a sinful condition and are doomed in the afterlife unless they receive salvation through Jesus Christ.
Philosophers have provided many perspectives. An influential ancient view was that of the Republic in which Plato explored the question "what is justice?" and postulated that it is not primarily a matter among individuals but of society as a whole, prompting him to devise a utopia. Two thousand years later René Descartes declared "I think, therefore I am" because he believed the human mind, particularly its faculty of reason, to be the primary determiner of truth; for this he is often credited as the father of modern philosophy.One such modern school, existentialism, attempts to reconcile an individual's sense of disorientation and confusion in a universe believed to be absurd.
Many works of literature provide perspective on the human condition.One famous example is Shakespeare's monologue "All the world's a stage" that pensively summarizes seven phases of human life.
Psychology has many theories, such as Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the notion of identity crisis. It also has various methods, e.g. the logotherapy developed by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl to discover and affirm a sense of meaning. Another method, cognitive behavioral therapy, has become a widespread treatment for clinical depression.
Ever since 1859, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species , the biological theory of evolution has been significant. The theory posits that the human species is related to all others, living and extinct, and that natural selection is the primary survival factor. This has provided a basis for new beliefs, such as social Darwinism and theistic evolution.
Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific studying of human learning. The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioral perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, and as these roles during learning. This field of educational psychology relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan.
Emotions are mental states brought on by neurophysiological changes, variously associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioural responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. There is currently no scientific consensus on a definition. Emotions are often intertwined with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, or creativity.
Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that examines personality and its variation among individuals. It aims to show how people are individually different due to psychological forces. Its areas of focus include:
Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one's life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: "expect with confidence" and "to cherish a desire with anticipation."
Abnormal psychology is the branch of psychology that studies unusual patterns of behavior, emotion, and thought, which could possibly be understood as a mental disorder. Although many behaviors could be considered as abnormal, this branch of psychology typically deals with behavior in a clinical context. There is a long history of attempts to understand and control behavior deemed to be aberrant or deviant, and there is often cultural variation in the approach taken. The field of abnormal psychology identifies multiple causes for different conditions, employing diverse theories from the general field of psychology and elsewhere, and much still hinges on what exactly is meant by "abnormal". There has traditionally been a divide between psychological and biological explanations, reflecting a philosophical dualism in regard to the mind-body problem. There have also been different approaches in trying to classify mental disorders. Abnormal includes three different categories; they are subnormal, supernormal and paranormal.
Humanistic psychology is a psychological perspective that arose in the mid-20th century in answer to two theories: Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and B. F. Skinner's behaviorism. Thus, Abraham Maslow established the need for a "third force" in psychology. The school of thought of humanistic psychology gained traction due to key figure Abraham Maslow in the 1950s during the time of the humanistic movement. It was made popular in the 1950s by the process of realizing and expressing one's own capabilities and creativity.
Comparative psychology refers to the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals, especially as these relate to the phylogenetic history, adaptive significance, and development of behavior. Research in this area addresses many different issues, uses many different methods and explores the behavior of many different species from insects to primates.
Behaviorism is a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and animals. It assumes that behavior is either a reflex evoked by the pairing of certain antecedent stimuli in the environment, or a consequence of that individual's history, including especially reinforcement and punishment contingencies, together with the individual's current motivational state and controlling stimuli. Although behaviorists generally accept the important role of heredity in determining behavior, they focus primarily on environmental events.
Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking, or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate use of reason, or through emotional distress or cognitive deficiency. The term is used, usually pejoratively, to describe thinking and actions that are, or appear to be, less useful, or more illogical than other more rational alternatives.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), previously called rational therapy and rational emotive therapy, is an active-directive, philosophically and empirically based psychotherapy, the aim of which is to resolve emotional and behavioral problems and disturbances and to help people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of psychotherapy, as well as a branch of clinical behavior analysis. It is an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies along with commitment and behavior-change strategies to increase psychological flexibility.
This glossary of philosophy is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to philosophy and related disciplines, including logic, ethics, and theology.
In psychology and psychotherapy, existential crises are inner conflicts characterized by the impression that life lacks meaning. Some authors also emphasize confusion about one's personal identity in their definition. Existential crises are accompanied by anxiety and stress, often to such a degree that they disturb one's normal functioning in everyday life and lead to depression. Their negative attitude towards life and meaning reflects various positions characteristic of the philosophical movement known as existentialism. Synonyms and closely related terms include existential dread, existential vacuum, existential neurosis, and alienation. The various aspects associated with existential crises are sometimes divided into emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. Emotional components refer to the feelings they provoke, such as emotional pain, despair, helplessness, guilt, anxiety, and loneliness. Cognitive components encompass the problem of meaninglessness, the loss of personal values, and reflections about one's own mortality. Outwardly, existential crises often express themselves in addictions, anti-social and compulsive behavior.
Darwinian literary studies is a branch of literary criticism that studies literature in the context of evolution by means of natural selection, including gene-culture coevolution. It represents an emerging trend of neo-Darwinian thought in intellectual disciplines beyond those traditionally considered as evolutionary biology: evolutionary psychology, evolutionary anthropology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, affective neuroscience, behavioural genetics, evolutionary epistemology, and other such disciplines.
Although modern, scientific psychology is often dated from the 1879 opening of the first psychological clinic by Wilhelm Wundt, attempts to create methods for assessing and treating mental distress existed long before. The earliest recorded approaches were a combination of religious, magical and/or medical perspectives. Early examples of such psychological thinkers included Patañjali, Padmasambhava, Rhazes, Avicenna and Rumi.
Cognitive science of religion is the study of religious thought and behavior from the perspective of the cognitive and evolutionary sciences. Scholars in this field seek to explain how human minds acquire, generate, and transmit religious thoughts, practices, and schemas by means of ordinary cognitive capacities.
The evolutionary psychology of religion is the study of religious belief using evolutionary psychology principles. It is one approach to the psychology of religion. As with all other organs and organ functions, the brain's functional structure is argued to have a genetic basis, and is therefore subject to the effects of natural selection and evolution. Evolutionary psychologists seek to understand cognitive processes, religion in this case, by understanding the survival and reproductive functions they might serve.
The evolutionary origin of religions and religious behavior is a field of study related to evolutionary psychology, the origin of language and mythology, and cross-cultural comparison of the anthropology of religion. Some subjects of interest include Neolithic religion, evidence for spirituality or cultic behavior in the Upper Paleolithic, and similarities in great ape behavior.
Psychological behaviorism is a form of behaviorism — a major theory within psychology which holds that generally human behaviors are learned — proposed by Arthur W. Staats. The theory is constructed to advance from basic animal learning principles to deal with all types of human behavior, including personality, culture, and human evolution. Behaviorism was first developed by John B. Watson (1912), who coined the term "behaviorism," and then B. F. Skinner who developed what is known as "radical behaviorism." Watson and Skinner rejected the idea that psychological data could be obtained through introspection or by an attempt to describe consciousness; all psychological data, in their view, was to be derived from the observation of outward behavior. The strategy of these behaviorists was that the animal learning principles should then be used to explain human behavior. Thus, their behaviorisms were based upon research with animals.
Psychology encompasses a vast domain, and includes many different approaches to the study of mental processes and behavior. Below are the major areas of inquiry that taken together constitute psychology. A comprehensive list of the sub-fields and areas within psychology can be found at the list of psychology topics and list of psychology disciplines.