Psychological theories abound, and all of them attempt to define and explain the human psyche. Each of them was revolutionary at its introduction, many facing skepticism and outright hostility, but gained popularity when authenticated. The problem, however, is that none of them taken by themselves provides a clear picture of the whole of personalities. With each new discovery, another facet of our inner workings was explained, paving the way for the collaboration of ideas to further expand our understanding.
Behaviorism depends completely upon the observable mannerisms of people and attempts to prove that our brains are nothing more than basic calculators that have learned that x input equals y output; our learned responses to situations. This theory completely discounts emotion and thought processes that are independent from learned behavior. Certainly, we respond similarly to similar situations and can benefit from behavior modification to curb unhealthy or unrealistic reactions. However, emotions and thoughts play an important role in all aspects of human behavior.
The cognitive approach in psychology focuses more on memory, attention, and higher reasoning. Instead of ignoring the internal, unobservable workings of thought and emotion, cognitive theorists embrace them. Seeking to understand WHY a person arrives at a solution to their problem will assist a cognitive therapist in helping them restructure their thought process to arrive at a healthier solution.
Bio-ethological and ecological systems theorists have much in common. Both camps of thought recognize that people are not isolated from their environment and that they both affect their surroundings and are affected by their surroundings. Bio-ethological thought expands on this by attempting to explain how genetics and hormones work to influence thought and emotion. Ecological systems supporters concentrate on how the mind, body, and spirit of a person affect each other, and how community structures affect psychological development. Gestalt theory, though considered its own school of thought, also shares much in common with these two theories in that it tries to explain personality as a structure built of experiences and responses to those experiences.
No discussion of psychological theories would be complete without including the psychoanalytical approach, made famous by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis endeavors to connect all facets of personality to subconscious fears and desires resulting from early childhood experiences.
Taken individually, none of these concepts seems to explain the whole of our psychological make up. Together, they provide an interesting picture of the way that biology, instinct, environment, and experience shape the way we think and feel.