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Behavior or Psychology

Psychological Perspectives


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Ken Silvestro, PhD.

Many people see behavior, or the way we function in life, as an answer to all our problems. In other words, if we change our behaviors, we can change our concerns or problems. Of course, there is some truth to this statement but behavior is only the tip of the iceberg. Even though we walk, talk, join groups, argue, play sports and perform many other behaviors, people often don't consider that these behaviors are associated with other parts of human nature.

Another part of human nature is our thoughts. This is often referred to as cognition. If we look carefully, it appears that our thoughts dictate our behaviors. That is, we think about doing something before doing it; in other words, a behavior follows a thought. For example, we think that we need to buy milk, so we go to store and purchase milk.

Since thoughts are associated with behavior, psychologists decided that if we change our thoughts, we can change our behaviors. This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy. So, now we see the connection between behavior and psychology. But is that all there is to human nature – thoughts and behaviors?

Clearly, the answer is no. There are, for example, emotions. Emotions can be associated with thoughts, which in turn are associated with behaviors. For example, your dog might rip the couch cushion. You might then feel anger (the emotion) followed by the thought that you must punish your dog in some way to teach it not to damage the couch. Next, you follow through by punishing (the behavior) your dog.

It also is possible to have an emotion follow a thought, which results in a behavior. For example, you might think about your mother who died ten years ago and begin experiencing sadness (the emotion). Next, you might decide to go for a hike (the behavior) to ease your sadness and stop you thought.

Of course, there are many other psychological factors from the unconscious (the hidden psychology) that are associated with thoughts and behaviors. These factors include: complexes, shadow and the masculine and feminine sides of the unconscious, as introduced in previous articles. The unconscious is the psychological foundation for thoughts and behaviors.

This being the case, it is easy to understand why there are so many different psychological therapies. Each therapy addresses human nature from a different level – behaviors are the most visible level (behavioral therapies), thoughts are at a lower level (cognitive therapies), and so on, until we reach the deeper levels of the unconscious (depth psychology therapies).

So, when you're functioning in your daily life, take a moment to consider how your psychology is related to your behaviors. This might provide some insights about who you are.


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