Phrenology - Throughout the course of human history people...

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Throughout the course of human history people have tried to explain why people are the way they are. Whether it was through religious or spiritual ideals, ideological, and/or scientific man has continually made strides to explain the human personality. The ancients attributed personality and madness to the gods, in the middle ages Christianity played a role in explaining personality, and more recently society has taken a scientific approach encompassing psychosocial and biological reasons for what makes a person tick. It was a long road to get where we are today however. Scientists have even taken a look at body types and compositions to explain an individual’s personality. Sciences such as phrenology in the early eighteenth through the nineteenth centuries looked at the shapes of people’s heads and the different naturally occurring bumps on them. They tried to apply these measurements to explain a person’s personality due to the underlying brain structure. Psychologist’s in the 1940’s spearheaded by William Sheldon developed the classification technique called somatotyping. This basic classification was based on the prominence of certain tissue types in the body. The theory’s goal was to make a link between body types and human temperament types. This theory though now considered outdated has played an important role in the development of somatoform disorders today. Today, psychologists use projective personality tests to further understand a client’s thought process. Some of these tests include Szondi Test and the more famous Rorschach Inkblot Test. These tests are designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, presumably revealing hidden emotions and internal conflicts in an attempt to get to the root of a persons personality.
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Somatotyping is a concept that originated back in the 1920s by a man named William Sheldon. He was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1898. A couple of his hobbies included reading and hunting. Sheldon was a shooting champion of national stature, and the founder of Pawtucket Gun Club. Sheldon became a fine shot and an amateur ornithologist, and early on he had a growing reputation as an appraiser of early American cents. All of these things served him well when he found his life work in trying to scientifically describe the differences among human bodies and temperaments and how two were interconnected. In 1915, Sheldon graduated from Warwick High School and began to further his education at Brown University. He then was entered into World War I and was commissioned a second lieutenant in a machine gun company. Then Sheldon received a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Chicago, where he was interested about the relationship between physique and temperament. Sheldon began to further search this idea by taking photographs of children, adolescences, and adults. He felt it was necessary if one really wants to observe a body proportion and structure, to study a picture of it. Sheldon described somatotyping basically meaning body type, or the shape
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course PSYCH 320 taught by Professor Dicataldo during the Spring '06 term at Roger Williams.

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Phrenology - Throughout the course of human history people...

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