Date of Thesis



This study project provides a history and evaluation of the growth of psychology since its inception during the Middle Ages. Through secondary research on trends and breakthroughs in psychological practice, this project provides a periodization by which the history of psychology can be evaluated through a critical philosophical lens. This periodization includes four distinct time periods: The Age of Jails or "Old Asylums" (middle ages to early 19th century), The Age of Asylums (early 19th century to early 20th century), and The Age of Private Psychiatry (early to mid 20th century). Eventually, this trajectory will result in a fourth period, the Age of the University (mid 20th century and on). The final period is explored more in depth, through primary and archival documents obtained from five universities in Pennsylvania. I then subject this history a critical analysis borrowing from the thought of such thinkers as Michel Foucault, and R.D. Laing, as well as contemporary psychologists and philosophers. This critical lens reveals the extreme growth in popularity, diagnoses, and patients of psychology as a discipline. This growth is found to be the result of increasingly less tolerance for social deviation. Paired with a perceived objectivity borrowed from psychology's place as a medical science, this tolerance for deviant behavior becomes all the more solidified in the popular imagination. As such, this project finds that, if this process goes unquestioned, psychology's growth will continue, the rate of social arrest will quicken, and human beings will be completely beholden to this social institution.


history of psychology, history of psychiatry, mental illness, university counseling, mental health, social control

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Mehmet Dosemeci