Descriptive Psychology is the intellectual discipline devoted to connecting and making explicit the implicit structure of the behavioral sciences. As such, it concerns concepts rather than theories, is pre-empirical, and aims at identifying the full range of what constitutes a subject matter. By pre-empirical I mean the job of Descriptive Psychology is to clarify and organize the possibilities of a subject matter without a prior commitment to what those possibilities turn out to be. For that, we have to go out and look.
Once a conceptualization of a subject matter is in hand, theory might then be useful as a way of explaining and perhaps predicting the specific empirical patterns that are found to be the case. But that is not the job of Descriptive Psychology. (For that job, I might wear my psychoanalytic hat).
Descriptive Psychology attempts to explicate the Person Concept as the fundamental structure of the behavioral sciences. The Person Concept involves the interrelated concepts of Individual Person, Behavior, Language, and World. Only Individual Person and Behavior will be addressed in this entry and only in a very basic manner. Most of the diagrams are followed by a link that will further elaborate the content.
The diagrams that follow are some of the ones I use in my classes on psychoanalytic theory and practice as taught from the perspective of Descriptive Psychology.
We start with the concept of a person:
At this point it is useful to look at Deliberate Action as a Judgment or Appraisal and for this we use the Judgment Diagram:
Written By Wynn Schwartz Ph.D
A Short Course in Descriptive Psychology was originally published @ Freedom, Liberation and Reaction: Lessons in Psychology and has been syndicated with permission.
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