The psyche refers to all of the elements of the human mind, both conscious and unconscious. In colloquial usage, the term sometimes refers to a person’s emotional life. For example, a person might say that trauma has damaged a person’s psyche.
What is the Psyche?
Psychology is the study and treatment of the psyche, although different psychologists and sub-disciplines may have slightly different understandings of what the psyche is. For example, Sigmund Freud argued that the psyche was composed of the id, ego, and superego and that the psyche consisted of all of the forces that affect thought, personality, and behavior. Carl Jung conceived of the psyche as distinct from the soul, and labeled it the product of all conscious and unconscious psychological processes.
In contemporary psychology, psyche is often used more generically to refer to the psychological influences on a person’s emotions and feelings. Cognitive psychologists often eschew the term psyche in favor of mind.
The psyche is not an organ and there is no single part of the brain that gives rise to the psyche. Instead, the psyche is a broad concept in mental health that allows mental health professionals and researchers to talk about the human mind and human well-being.
The Psyche in Mental Health
All mental health care is, ultimately, aimed at treating and improving the psyche. Therapists can work in conjunction with or independently of psychiatrists and use a variety of approaches to help people solve problems of the psyche. These approaches may include behavioral modification, talking about feelings, uncovering the reasons for behaviors and emotions, and developing strategies for coping with painful and difficult emotions.
- Psyche. (n.d.). A.H. Almaas. Retrieved from http://www.ahalmaas.com/glossary/psyche
- VandenBos, G. R. (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Last Updated: 08-18-2015
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