Psychoanalysis was first coined by Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud, who started his career diagnosing and treating neurological disorders. To help understand the disorders, he posited that most problems in conscious took place in a different part of the brain, called the unconscious. The broad definition of the unconscious is the repressed thoughts and memories we have that, if surfaced, would cause us depression, anxiety and psychosis. For example, our dreams, Freud said, were the “royal road to our unconscious”. This would be an attempt to explain the blatant confusing or “sexual” nature of dreams. He said our conscious goals or intentions had psychological underpinnings in the unconscious, as our true intent of life are our primary reinforces; food, water, sex, and shelter. If we were too obvious about our true intentions, society might collapse, and therefore we need to repress these thoughts. Psychoanalysis has lacked strong scientific evidence, and is no longer prescribed as an actual practice. However, Freud’s theories have been modified in a way that sex and the unconscious plays less of a role. A few modifiers have been Anna Freud and Carl Jung.
Gestalt comes from the German word ‘shape’, and is referred to studying psychology using the “big picture”. The famous quote from gestalt psychology is “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” For example, consider a cell phone. If I were to take apart a cell phone, I would no longer have a cell phone. I would just have a combination of single gears and buttons. Only by viewing the human as a whole collection of physical characteristics, memories, and bran states would we be able to figure out more about brain state. While gestalt is no longer used, the school has had an impact on cognitive psychology, which deals with memories in relations to physical parts of the brain.
Functionalism has roots in physical behavior, but differs from behaviorists in that they don’t study any kinds of behavior. Functionalism’s main focus is to see our organisms behave in order to survive. Functionalism would study the claws on predatory birds, why ants are pitifully weak creatures, yet manage to survive longer than humans, etc. This school of psychology is n longer referred to as functionalism, but has been a huge foundation for evolutionary psychology, based of the work of Charles Darwin. Some current evolutionary psychologists are Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen J. Gould.