01In Search Of Ourselves: A History Of Psychology And The Mind20140425

Psychology is as old as the human race. People have always sought to understand what makes us think, feel and act the way we do.

The term 'psychology' was first used in about 1600 and means, literally, 'study of the soul'. But it was only in the late 19th century that psychology emerged as a separate science. Today it draws on the intellectual legacy of philosophy, physiology and, increasingly, neurobiology and social science.

The author and broadcaster Martin Sixsmith retrained as a psychologist in the last decade, following careers as a BBC correspondent and government adviser. Martin's experience both studying applied psychology and as a recipient of therapy reflects the growing acceptance of psychological counselling in Britain and the lessening of the stigma attached to mental illness. There has been a growth of interest in the therapeutic aspects of psychology, but many of us still have a frustratingly incomplete knowledge of its history, techniques and broader applications.

This series taps into a defining aspect of modern existence and addresses the widespread desire to know more, charting the path from today's democratisation of psychological care back to early beliefs, the birth of modern experimental psychology, the related 'psy professions' - psychiatry and psychotherapy - and, in this first episode, the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, as well as his successors and rivals in the Twentieth Century.

Produced by Alan Hall

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

02In Search Of Ourselves: A History Of Psychology And The Mind20140502

In the second week of his series about the history of psychology and the mind, Martin examines the medicalised model for the care of mentally disturbed patients, psychiatry. He visits a Victorian asylum, traces changing treatments - from lobotomies and Electroconvulsive Therapy to pharmacological solutions - and he considers the impact of reforms that led to 'care in the community'.

Producer: Alan Hall

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

03In Search Of Ourselves: A History Of Psychology And The Mind20140509

In the third week of his series about the history of psychology and the mind, Martin Sixsmith turns his attention to experimental psychology, starting with its foundations in the early philosophers and Victorian popular psychology.

He looks at the way medical cases in the 1800s began an understanding of different areas of the brain, how new ways to measure time helped German psychologists like Wilhelm Wundt to assess the speed of thought as well as the impact of Sir Francis Galton's statistical mass observations in Britain and how across the Atlantic, behaviourism gave way to the 1960s cognitive revolution which still influences thinking today.

He examines the influence of war and the rise of social psychology post war with controversial experiments which attempted to explain how so many ordinary Germans could have agreed to participate in the Nazis' atrocities.

Produced by Sara Parker

A Falling Tree Production for BBC Radio 4.

04In Search Of Ourselves: A History Of Psychology And The Mind20140516

In the fourth week of the series Martin Sixsmith examines the impact of different areas of experimental psychology, beginning with the stages of human development from childhood to old age.

He looks at Piaget's and Bowlby's influential theories and considers early animal research, such as Konrad Lorenz's work with geese on imprinting and Harry Harlow's controversial experiments with baby monkeys. He investigates how our DNA and the development of our brain informs who we are and how we think. He re-examines the nature versus nurture debate from evolutionary psychology to the increasing interest in epigenetics. We hear from eminent psychologists and psychiatrists about consciousness, free will and morality. And we learn about memory, perception and problem solving.

Martin undergoes transmagnetic cranial stimulation to map the workings of his own brain. He considers the impact of neuroscience, listens to the chattering of neurons communicating with each other through a single wire implanted in a rat's brain and finds out why London cabbies have larger hippocampi than the rest of us.

Produced by Sara Parker.

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

05 LASTIn Search Of Ourselves: A History Of Psychology And The Mind20140523

In this final week of In Search of Ourselves, Martin Sixsmith looks at the practical and applied use of psychology. He examines the use of psychological understanding in all areas of society, from forensic profiling and the criminal justice system to the ways in which thinking, emotions and mental events can affect our physical state, and the efforts of doctors and nurses to deploy psychological levers in the fight for wellbeing.

He also considers the power of persuasion employed in advertising, propaganda and information campaigns, as well as the influence of celebrity in tackling the stigma surrounding mental illness and changing public attitudes and perception.

Finally he revisits the Government's 2010 happiness and well-being agenda - and asks where are we now and what is the future of psychology in tomorrow's society?

Produced by Sara Parker

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.