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This is a timeline of psychology.

See history of psychology for a description of the development of the subject, and psychology for a general description of the subject.

Also see timeline of psychotherapy.

Ancient history - B.C.E.

  • ca. 1550 BCE - The Ebers Papyrus briefly mentioned clinical depression.
  • ca. 600 BCE - Many cities had temples to Asklepios that provided cures for psychosomatic illnesses.[1]
  • 460 BC - 370 BCE - Hippocrates introduced principles of scientific medicine based upon observation and logic, and denied the influence of spirits and demons in diseases.[2][3]
  • 387 BCE - Plato suggested that the brain is the seat of mental processes. Plato's view of the "soul" (self) is that the body exists to serve the soul: "God created the soul before the body and gave it precedence both in time and value, and made it the dominating and controlling partner." from Timaeus[4]
  • ca. 350 BCE – Aristotle wrote on the psuchê (soul) in De Anima, first mentioning the Tabula Rasa concept of the mind.
  • ca. 340 BCE - Praxagoras
  • 123-43 BCE - Themison was a pupil of Asclepiades of Bithynia and founded a school of medical thought known as "methodism." He was criticized by Soranus for his cruel handling of mental patients. Among his prescriptions were darkness, restraint by chains, and deprivation of food and drink. Juvenal satirized him and suggested that he killed more patients than he cured.[2]
  • ca. 100 BCE – The Dead Sea Scrolls noted the division of human nature into two temperaments.[citation needed]

Ancient history - C.E.

Template:Empty section

First century

  • ca. 50 - Aulus Cornelius Celsus died, leaving De Medicina, a medical encyclopedia; Book 3 covers mental diseases. The term insania, insanity, was first used by him. The methods of treatment included bleeding, frightening the patient, emetics, enemas, total darkness, and decoctions of poppy or henbane, and pleasant ones such as music therapy, travel, sport, reading aloud, and massage. He was aware of the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.[2]
  • ca. 100 - Rufus of Ephesus believed that the nervous system was instrumental in voluntary movement and sensation. He discovered the optic chiasma by anatomical studies of the brain. He stressed taking a history of both physical and mental disorders. He gave a detailed account of melancholia, and was quoted by Galen.[2]
  • 93-138 - Soranus of Ephesus advised kind treatment in healthy and comfortable conditions, including light, warm rooms.[2]

Second century

  • ca. 130-200 - Galen "was schooled in all the psychological systems of the day: Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, and Epicurean"[3]
  • ca. 150-200 - Aretaeus of Cappadocia[3]

Third century

  • 205-270 Plotinus wrote Enneads a systematic account of Neoplatonist philosophy, also nature of visual perception and how memory might work.[4]

Fourth century

  • ca. 323-403 - Oribasius compiled medical writings based on the works of Aristotle, Asclepiades, and Soranus of Ephesus, and wrote on melancholia in Galenic terms.[2]
  • ca. 390 - Nemesius wrote De Natura Hominis (On Human Nature); large sections were incorporated in Saint John Damascene's De Fide Orthodoxia in the eighth century. Nemesius' book De Placitis Hippocratis et Platonis (On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato) contains many passages concerning Galen's anatomy and physiology, believing that different cavities of the brain were responsible for different functions.[2][4]
  • 397-398 – St. Augustine of Hippo published Confessions, which anticipated Freud by near-discovery of the subconscious.[5] Augustine's most complete account of the soul is in De Quantitate Animae (The Greatness of the Soul). The work assumes a Platonic model of the soul.[4]

Fifth century

  • 5th century - Caelius Aurelianus opposed harsh methods of handling the insane, and advocated humane treatment.[2]
  • ca. 423-529 - Theodosius the Cenobiarch founded a monastery at Kathismus, near Bethlehem. Three hospitals were built by the side of the monastery: one for the sick, one for the aged, and one for the insane.[2]
  • ca. 451 - Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople: his followers dedicated themselves to the sick and became physicians of great repute. They brought the works of Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Galen, and influenced the approach to physical and mental disorders in Persia and Arabia[2]

Seventh century

  • 625-690 - Paul of Aegina suggested that hysteria should be treated by ligature of the limbs, and mania by tying the patient to a mattress placed inside a wicker basket and suspended from the ceiling. He also recommended baths, wine, special diets, and sedatives for the mentally ill. He described the following mental disorders: phrenitis, delirium, lethargus, melancholia, mania, incubus, lycanthropy, and epilepsy

Eighth century

  • 705 - The first psychiatric hospital was built by Muslims in Baghdad, followed by Cairo in 800, and Damascus in 1270.[6]

Ninth century

  • ca. 850 – Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari developed the idea of using clinical psychiatry to treat mentally ill patients.

Tenth century

  • ca. 900 – The concept of mental health (mental hygiene) was introduced by Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi. He also recognized that illnesses can have both psychological and/or physiological causes.[7]
  • ca. 900 – al-Razi (Rhazes) recognized the concept of "psychotherapy" and referred to it as al-‘ilaj al-nafs.[8]

Eleventh century

Twelfth century

  • ca. 1200 – Maimonides wrote about neuropsychiatric disorders, and described rabies and belladonna intoxication.

Thirteenth century

  • ca. 1180-1245 Alexander of Hales
  • ca. 1190 -1249 William of Auvergne
  • 1215 -1277 Peter Juliani taught in the medical faculty of the University of Siena, and wrote on medical, philosophical and psychological topics. He personal physician to Pope Gregory X and later became archbishop and cardinal. He was elected pope under the name John XXI in 1276.[4][11]
  • ca. 1214–1294 Roger Bacon
  • 1221 – 1274 Bonaventure
  • 1193 – 1280 Albertus Magnus
  • 1225 – Thomas Aquinas
  • 1240 - Bartholomeus Anglicus published De Proprietatibus Rerum, which included a dissertation on the brain, recognizing that mental disorders can have a physical or psychological cause.
  • 1247 - Bethlehem Royal Hospital in Bishopsgate outside the wall of London, one of the most famous old psychiatric hospitals was founded as a priory of the Order of St. Mary of Bethlem to collect alms for Crusaders; after the English government secularized it, it started admitting mental patients by 1377 (1403?), becoming known as Bedlam Hospital; in 1547 it was acquired by the City of London, operating until 1948; it is now part of the British NHS Foundation Trust.[12]
  • 1266 – 1308 Duns Scotus
  • ca. 1270 - Witelo wrote Perspectiva, a work on optics containing speculations on psychology, nearly discovering the subconscious.
  • 1295 Lanfranc writes Science of Cirurgie[4]

Fourteenth century

  • 1347-50 - The Black Death devastated Europe.
  • ca. 1375 - English authorities regarded mental illness as demonic possession, treating it with exorcism and torture.[13]

Fifteenth century

  • ca. 1400 - Renaissance Humanism caused a reawakening of ancient knowledge of science and medicine.
  • 1433-1499 Marsilio Ficino was a renowned figure of the Italian Renaissance, a Neoplatonist humanist, a translator of Greek philosophical writing, and the most influential exponent of Platonism in Italy in the fifteenth century.[3]
  • ca. 1450 - The pendulum in Europe swings, bringing Witch Mania, causing thousands of women to be executed for witchcraft until the late 17th century.

Sixteenth century

  • 1590 – Scholastic philosopher Rudolph Goclenius coined the term "psychology"; though usually regarded as the origin of the term, there is evidence that it was used at least six decades earlier by Marko Marulić.

Seventeenth century

  • 1650 - René Descartes died, leaving Treatise of the World, containing his dualistic theory of reality, mind vs. matter.
  • 1672 – Thomas Willis published the anatomical treatise De Anima Brutorum, describing psychology in terms of brain function.
  • 1677 - Baruch Spinoza died, leaving Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order, Pt. 2 focusing on the human mind and body, disputing Descartes and arguing that they are one, and Pt. 3 attempting to show that moral concepts such as good and evil, virtue, and perfection have a basis in human psychology.
  • 1689 - John Locke published An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which claims that the human mind is a Tabula Rasa at birth.

Eighteenth century

  • 1781 - Immanuel Kant published Critique of Pure Reason, rejecting Hume's extreme empiricism and proposing that there is more to knowledge than bare sense experience, distinguishing between "a posteriori" and "a priori" knowledge, the former being derived from perception, hence occurring after perception, and the latter being a property of thought, independent of experience and existing before experience.

Nineteenth century


  • ca. 1800 - Franz Joseph Gall developed Cranioscopy, the measurement of the skull to determine psychological characteristics, which was later renamed Phrenology; it is now discredited.
  • 1807 - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel published Phenomenology of Spirit (Mind), which describes his Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis dialectical method, according to which knowledge pushes forwards to greater certainty, and ultimately towards knowledge of the noumenal world.
  • 1808 - Johann Christian Reil coined the term "psychiatry".


  • 1812 - Benjamin Rush became one of the earliest advocates of humane treatment for the mentally ill with the publication of Medical Inquiries and Observations Upon Diseases of the Mind,[15] the first American textbook on psychiatry.[16]



  • 1840 - Frederick Augustus Rauch (1806–1841) published Psychology, or a View of the Human Soul, including Anthropology
  • 1844 – Søren Kierkegaard published The Concept of Anxiety, the first exposition on anxiety.
  • 1848 - Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage had a 3-foot rod driven through his brain and jaw in an explosives accident, permanently changing his personality, revolutionizing scientific opinion about brain functions being localizable.
  • 1849 – Søren Kierkegaard published The Sickness Unto Death.


  • 1852 - Hermann Lotze published Medical Psychology or Physiology of the Soul.
  • 1856 - Hermann Lotze began publishing his 3-volume magnum opus Mikrokosmos (1856–64), arguing that natural laws of inanimate objects apply to human minds and bodies but have the function of enabling us to aim for the values set by the deity, thus making room for aesthetics.
  • 1859 - Josef Breuer published Traite Clinique et Therapeutique de L'Hysterie.





Twentieth century





  • 1930 - Edwin Boring discussed the Boring Figure.
  • 1931 - Gordon Allport et al. published the Allport-Vernon-Lindzey Study of Values, which defines six major value types.
  • 1933 – Pyotr Gannushkin published Manifestations of Psychopathies.[23]
  • 1933 - Clark L. Hull published Hypnosis and Suggestibility, proving that hypnosis is not sleep and founding the modern study of hypnosis.
  • 1933 - Wilhelm Reich published Character Analysis and The Mass Psychology of Fascism.
  • 1934 – Lev Vygotsky published Thought and Language (Thinking and Speech).
  • 1935 – John Ridley Stroop developed a color-word task to demonstrate the interference of attention, the Stroop effect[24]
  • 1935 - Helen Flanders Dunbar published Emotions and Bodily Changes: A Survey of Literature on Psychosomatic Interrelationships;[25] in 1942 she founded the American Psychosomatic Society (American Society for Research in Psychosomatic Problems),[26] and was the first editor of the society's journal Psychosomatic Medicine: Experimental and Clinical Studies, founded in 1939.[27]
  • 1935 - Henry Murray and Christiana Morgan of Harvard University published the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
  • 1935 - Theodore Newcomb began the Bennington College Study,[28] which ended in 1939, documenting liberalization of women students' political beliefs, along with the effects of proximity on acquaintance and attraction.
  • 1936 - Kurt Lewin published Principles of Topological Psychology,[29] containing Lewin's Equation B = f(P,E), meaning that behavior is a function of a person in their environment.
  • 1936 - Wilhelm Reich published The Sexual Revolution.
  • 1936 - Kenneth Spence published an analysis of discrimination learning in terms of gradients of excitation and inhibition, showing that mathematical deductions from a quantitative theory could generate interesting and empirically testable predictions.
  • 1936 - The Psychometric Society was founded by Louis Leon Thurstone, who proposed dividing general intelligence into seven primary mental abilities (PMAs).
  • 1938 – B.F. Skinner published his first major work The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis, introducing behavior analysis.
  • 1939 – Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a classic report in the journal Nature of the first recording of an action potential.
  • 1939 - Neal E. Miller et al. published the frustration-aggression theory, which claims that aggression is the result of frustration of efforts to attain a goal.
  • 1939 - David Wechsler developed the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale.
  • 1939 - On Sept. 1 World War II began with the German invasion of Poland; on Sept. 20 Adolf Hitler signed the Euthanasia Decree,[30] written by psychologist Max de Crinis, resulting in the Aktion T4 Euthanasia program; on Sept. 23 Sigmund Freud committed physician-assisted suicide in London on the Jewish Day of Atonement; on Oct. 31 his archrival Otto Rank died of a kidney infection in New York City after uttering the word "comical"; Wilhelm Reich fled to New York, coining the word orgone and building "orgone accumulators", which got him in trouble with the psychiatric establishment and the federal government.







Twenty-first century



  • 2010 - The draft of DSM-V by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) was thrown open for comment and critique.
  • 2013 - On April 2 U.S. President Barack Obama announced the 10-year BRAIN Initiative to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain.
  • 2013 - DSM-V was published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 (1984) A reference companion to the history of abnormal psychology, Greenwood Press. URL accessed 3 November 2012. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "HowellsOsborn1984" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Radden, Jennifer (2002-04-04). The Nature of Melancholy: From Aristotle to Kristeva, Oxford University Press. URL accessed 2 November 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Kemp, Simon (1990). Medieval psychology: Simon Kemp, Greenwood Press. URL accessed 27 April 2013.
  5. Henry Chadwick, Augustine (Oxford, 1986), p.3.
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  8. Haque, Amber (2004). Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists. Journal of Religion and Health 43 (4): 357–377 [376].
  9. S Safavi-Abbasi, LBC Brasiliense, RK Workman (2007), "The fate of medical knowledge and the neurosciences during the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire", Neurosurgical Focus 23 (1), E13, p. 3.
  10. Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, "The Spirit of Muslim Culture" (cf. [2] and [3])
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