History of modern psychology in Germany1 in 19th‐ and 20th‐century thought and society

Helga Sprung, Lothar Sprung
Published Online:
21 Sep 2010
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 36 Issue 6

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This entry surveys the characteristics, stages, and lines of development of modern psychology as an empirical psychology in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries. These developments occurred in the context of very different political periods in German history, during a time span extending from the period of the Restoration after the Vienna Congress of 1814/15 to the present‐day “Berlin Republic”. At the centre lies the question of continuities and discontinuities in the evolution of psychology during the profound sociocultural changes that marked the politically heterogeneous developmental phases of German history. The stages are indicated by headings treating the development of psychology during the period of Restoration after 1814/15, in the German Empire (1871–1918), in the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), during the time of National Socialism (1933–45), in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, 1949–1990), in the German Democratic Republic (GDR, 1949–1990), and in united Germany after 1990. The result will be to demonstrate how psychology in 19th‐ and 20th‐century Germany developed from modest beginnings into a richly elaborated scientific field with diverse institutions and a differentiated professional structure. The fate of individual German psychologists during this time can be only tangentially considered.

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