Timeline of Psychology
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Timeline of Psychology

This article is a general timeline of psychology. A more general description of the development of the subject of psychology can be found in the History of psychology article. Related information can be found in the Timeline of psychiatry article. A more specific review of important events in the development of psychotherapy can be found in the Timeline of psychotherapy article.

Ancient history - BCE

  • c. 1550 BCE - The Ebers Papyrus briefly mentioned depression.
  • c. 600 BCE - Many cities in Greece had temples to Asklepios that provided cures for psychosomatic illnesses.[1]
  • 624-546 Thales[2]
  • 560-480 Pythagoras[2] - Pythagoras is reputed to have proposed a mathematical description of the relations between notes of a musical scale.
  • 540-475 Heraclitus[2]
  • c. 500 Alcmaeon[2]
  • 500-428 Anaxagoras[2]
  • 490-430 Empedocles[2]
  • 490-421 Protagoras [2]
  • 470-399 Socrates[2] - Socrates has been called the father of western philosophy, if only via his influence on Plato and Aristotle. Socrates made a major contribution to pedagogy via his dialectical method and to epistemology via his definition of true knowledge as true belief buttressed by some rational justification.
  • 470-370 Democritus[2] - Democritus distinguished between insufficient knowledge gained through the senses and legitimate knowledge gained through the intellect--an early stance on epistemology.
  • 460 BC - 370 BCE - Hippocrates introduced principles of scientific medicine based upon naturalistic observation and logic, and denied the influence of spirits and demons in diseases.[3][4]
  • 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[5]
  • c. 350 BCE - Aristotle wrote on the psuchê (soul) in De Anima, first mentioning the tabula rasa concept of the mind.
  • c. 340 BCE - Praxagoras
  • 371-288 Theophrastus[2]
  • 341-270 Epicurus[2]
  • c. 320 Herophilus[2]
  • c. 300-30 Zeno of Citium taught the philosophy of Stoicism, involving logic and ethics. In logic, he distinguished between imperfect knowledge offered by the senses and superior knowledge offered by reason. In ethics, he taught that virtue lay in reason and vice in rejection of reason. Stoicism inspired Aaron Beck to introduce cognitive behavior therapy in the 1970s.[6]
  • 304-250 Erasistratus[2]
  • 123-43 BCE - Themison of Laodicea 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.[3]
  • c. 100 BCE - The Dead Sea Scrolls noted the division of human nature into two temperaments.[]

Ancient history - CE

Indian six branches of philosophy and their contribution to psychology. 1. Charvaka 2. Gautama Buddha 3. Lord Mahavir 4. Pantajali 5. Adi Shankara 6. Chanakya 7. Nagarjuna etc.

First century

  • c. 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.[7]
  • c. 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.[3]
  • 93-138 - Soranus of Ephesus advised kind treatment in healthy and comfortable conditions, including light, warm rooms.[3]

Second century

  • c. 130-200 - Galen "was schooled in all the psychological systems of the day: Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, and Epicurean"[4] He advanced medicine and was a skilled physician. Galen proposed that people's moods were determined by the balance among four bodily substances. He also distinguished sensory from motor nerves and showed that the brain controls the muscles.
  • c. 150-200 - Aretaeus of Cappadocia[4]

Third century

  • 155-220 Tertullian[2]
  • 205-270 Plotinus wrote Enneads a systematic account of Neoplatonist philosophy, also nature of visual perception and how memory might work.[5]

Fourth century

Fifth century

  • 5th century - Caelius Aurelianus opposed harsh methods of handling the insane, and advocated humane treatment.[3]
  • c. 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.[3]
  • c. 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[3]

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

Ninth century

Tenth century

  • c. 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.[10]
  • c. 900 - al-Razi (Rhazes) recognized the concept of "psychotherapy" and referred to it as al-'ilaj al-nafs.[11]

Eleventh century

Twelfth century

Thirteenth century

  • c. 1180 - 1245 Alexander of Hales
  • c. 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 was personal physician to Pope Gregory X and later became archbishop and cardinal. He was elected pope under the name John XXI in 1276.[5][14]
  • c. 1214 - 1294 Roger Bacon advocated for empirical methods and wrote on optics, visual perception, and linguistics.
  • 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 (c. 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.[15]
  • 1266-1308 Duns Scotus
  • c. 1270 - Witelo wrote Perspectiva, a work on optics containing speculations on psychology, nearly discovering the subconscious.
  • 1295 Lanfranc writes Science of Cirurgie[5]

Fourteenth century

  • 1317-40 - William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian, is commonly known for Occam's razor, the methodological principle that the simplest explanation is to be preferred. He also produced significant works on logic, physics, and theology, advancing his thoughts about intuitive and abstracted knowledge.
  • 1347-50 - The Black Death devastated Europe.
  • c. 1375 - English authorities regarded mental illness as demonic possession, treating it with exorcism and torture.[16]

Fifteenth century

  • c. 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.[4]
  • c. 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 Maruli?.

Seventeenth century

Eighteenth century

Nineteenth century


  • c. 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".









Twentieth century











Twenty-first century




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