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The Great Ideas of Psychology

Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
Length: 23 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

If you’ve ever wanted to delve more deeply into the mysteries of human emotion, perception, and cognition, and of why we do what we do, these 48 lectures offer a superb place to start. With them, you’ll see the entire history of psychology unfold. In the hands of Professor Robinson, these lectures encompass ideas, speculations, and point-blank moral questions that might just dismantle and rebuild everything you once thought you knew about psychology. In fact, you’ll not only learn what psychology is, but even if it is, as Professor Robinson discusses the constantly shifting debate over the nature of psychology itself.

Lecture by lecture, Professor Robinson navigates from one subject to the next, and you’ll follow along as he recreates a Platonic dialogue; explains brain physiology; or explores the intricacies of middle ear construction, the psychological underpinnings of the Salem witch trials, and the history of the insanity defense.

Among other things, you’ll learn:

  • How a brilliant young scientist’s temporary blindness led to pioneering research in sensory psychology
  • How the once-prestigious, now-derided, ”sciences” of phrenology and mesmerism contributed to psychological knowledge
  • What happened when a Stanford psychologist and his students decided to study “being sane in insane places” by getting themselves committed to a mental institution
  • How the brain is able to “rewire” itself to compensate for particular traumas at an early age
  • If high heritability determines how much the environment influences the value of a trait, and more.
    • PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1997 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1997 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Hilarious and Incredibly Detailed

Any additional comments?

This is an EXHAUSTIVE review of psychology that I doubt could EVER be improved! Professor Robinson starts from physical stimulus to perception to interpretation to social interactions and culture. Psychology on so many levels, with humour and an abundance of personal experiences that describe the history of attempting to explain and correct abnormal behaviour with all the approaches possible. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Best book on Psychology

I really enjoyed this audio book,
It covers so much and I like the way Daniel N. Robinson voice remains professional but you can hear the passion in his voice,
It’s not monotone and I personally could listen to him speak each day.
Thank you for creating this audio book it was awesome.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thorough coverage of the topics

Good level of detail on the full range of topics and delivered in an easy to understand and interesting way

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Selected ideas of Psychology

I expected a coherent overview of psychology, but the very detailed lectures did not form a whole. The series give the impression of a compilation of unrelated, separately prepared lectures.That also created some repetition of studies or anecdotes mentioned. He concentrated on a few great thinkers such as Aristotle, David Hume and Freud, but did not mention some of the other big names. I found that he tended to revert back to philosophy, where his strength lies. I personally would have liked more emphisis on recent developments in psychology in this series.
Overall an exhaustive, detailed encounter of some great ideas in psychology, worth the effort to finish, but do not expect to find any answers. The lecturer has a great mind, is very knowledgible on his subject, and lectures very well.

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Few ideas but confused

I struggled to follow the narrator in his Aristotelian theory of psychology.
I expected a more concise review of the subject

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Carrie
  • 10-05-2014

How did Psychology come to be what it is now?

What made the experience of listening to The Great Ideas of Psychology the most enjoyable?

This was so thought provoking. It was very similar to an undergraduate course I took years ago, but at the time I didn't really appreciate it as much as I do now. I love gaining the perspective of how ideas and fields came to be, and what influences the different approaches to psychology in study and practice.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Gare&Sophia
  • 21-01-2014

The Oxford level of examination of psychology

The teaser review that comes up for this course is just plain misguided. As a former Ivy league professor I applaud Professor Robinson's approach to the topic. He puts modern and historic psychology and its underlying theories in the perspective necessary to understand the rational basis from which they were derived.

I am a scientist and I felt this his approach and coverage of a diverse set of related topics was excellent. I should also point out that my wife who is a mental health professional also found this book to be not only a great read, but an excellent coverage of the topic.

91 of 96 people found this review helpful

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  • Shirley Stone
  • 11-10-2015

Outstanding

I teach these concepts to graduate students and still learned a lot. I also wrote Dr Robinson to thank him--and he wrote back.

I cannot recommend this course enough to the serious student of humanity.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • mark o reilly
  • 19-03-2015

Only if you like a lot of talk about the Greeks

Really informative and interesting. Overall it leans heavily into pholosophy and the history of thought with quite a few hours dedicated to (fawning over) aristotle. So quite different to any psych course focusing more on modern experimental theories, though they are in there too. Maybe not for everyone but I gave it full marks as it is a great listen, the speaker is engaging and I learned a lot.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Lexloco
  • 13-01-2015

Very interesting lecture

Interesting subject, well read. The author not only commands the topics but has an extraordinary vocabulary, making it a great listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • vikingpoptarts
  • 03-04-2017

Oh my god, just say it.

Now, I'm in love with psychology and enjoyed the first book in the great courses series, but I can't get through this droning.
It's not to say the content isn't interesting, but the presenter is constantly moving backwards and forwards without actually saying anything for minutes on end.
In an attempt to move to a new point in chapter 6 he introduces the topic, why it might be important, people who influenced it (but not why), what things are called in other languages, pointless opinions on the youth in the audience, "what I'm going to demonstrate is", "you don't really need to know x about it at your level"... well thanks, I've entirely forgot what you were at least going to talk about because you've said nothing about it for what seems an eternity.
I am now analyzing him and his love of his own voice and pretentiousness and lost all interest in the supposed topic all together.
6 chapters in and I feel nothing at all has been said and I just have been sitting here waiting for the lecture to start.
if you want to take notes on a lack of direction and focus on lectures, this is for you. If you're looking for a laundry list of things to independently look up, also for you. If you're actually looking for insightful conteent, look elsewhere.

32 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • SAMA
  • 26-02-2014

Excellent journey into the mind

This course explores the development of the field of psychology, going through all the major developments, ideas, and problems it has faced. Your mileage may vary based on how seriously you take psychology as a legitimate field of study. While I have some doubts about some concepts, overall this is an interesting ride on the human understanding of mind, personality, and to a certain degree criminal law.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Waterfield
  • 01-03-2018

Another fine course by Professor Daniel Robinson

An excellent and well thought out course of lectures that summarize many of human psychology's insights.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher L. Wright
  • 17-03-2016

Review

Wonderful broad view of psychology with a sprinkling of philosophy. I recommend it for all students of psychology.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacob Clark
  • 15-04-2019

Not Perfectly Coherent, But Entirely Useful

One must go into this not expecting a book on tape type experience, this is a set of lectures on psychology. Of course, it isn't fully comprehensive for everything one must know about this subject, but it is still an amazing resource. Prof Robinson gives not only a well-researched history of psychological theory from Greece to today, but also makes sure to explain the guiding philosophies and social context for each notable member of the tree of psychology. He keeps his lectures tight, humorous, and easy to understand at a bit above a psyche 101-course level. Would recommend to not only those looking to major in psyche like I am but also anybody who has any interest in the subject. Well worth your time, at least on 2x speed that is.

Edit: It seems that Prof Robinson has died in December 2018, which is quite saddening to hear for me. He has left this resource here for anyone to use.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mirenda Rosenberg
  • 30-03-2015

Perfect!

I'm taking an Intro to Psychology class. The Great Ideas of Psychology is the perfect supplement. I've re-listened to several chapters whilst studying relevant information in class.

This audiobook is very enjoyable. No prior knowledge of psychology is needed, however this is not an audiobook that can be listened to passively. Many of the concepts presented require your full attention. I've often had to pause the audiobook and take a moment to process the information Id just heard.

I've enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it highly to sony one with a serious interest in Psychology.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Tony C (London)
  • 18-10-2014

Excellent

A well-structured course of lectures, with each lecture summarised at the start and recapped at the end. Not quite the flair of Prof. Martin's Psychology lectures,-- sometimes he gives the impression of having given the lectures on one too many occasions. Nonetheless, highly recommended. I've no background in psychology but I've now listened to two courses of Psychology lectures -- as well as the audiobook of Ruby Wax's Sane New World.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-01-2018

Interesting, but...

The lecturer's engaging, the irrelevant, cringeworthy and insulting references to autism less so. It was jarring to be listening to a lecture and then have, well, basically my very existence lamented. This had happened a couple of times with these psychology lectures. It's like there is some sort of death drive for the lecturers to refer, by the way, to The Tragedy of Autism. It's really unhelpful for them to be perpetuating that view. Autistic people (who are very various across the "spectrum") can face challenges, sure, but bring referred to as tragic is (for the many of us who reject that rhetoric) one of them. It feels awkward to pay money to be insulted and discriminated against. On the upside, the lecturer is really charismatic.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Johan Rintamaa
  • 10-06-2017

Quite, quite basic.

Would you try another book written by The Great Courses or narrated by Professor Daniel N. Robinson?

Professor Robinson's voice takes some getting used to.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

Yes, I'll be more selective about the subject matter.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Modulate his voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Pre
  • 02-12-2015

Great introductory course

Would you consider the audio edition of The Great Ideas of Psychology to be better than the print version?

This course was structured as 30-35 minutes lectures, which each of them covers an individual topic. Perfect for my daily commute.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The lecturer,who is very articulate and has a good sense of humour.

Any additional comments?

The course covers a wide range of topics in Psychology. Since this is a relatively young discipline, the lecture also attempts to provide a historic view. In addition, prof. Robinson is enthusiastic about the subject, which make it interesting and easy to follow.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • wells
  • 08-11-2015

great course

loved it, comprehensive overview. I learned so much from witch craft to mental illness, homosexuality , fundamental attribution error etc , amazing stuff . it's also beautifully narrated, bravo.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Julien
  • 03-01-2014

A stimulating tour de force

Where does The Great Ideas of Psychology rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best audiobooks I have listened to, and kept me engaged for all of the 23 hours.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The narrator.

What does Professor Daniel N. Robinson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

n/a

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Impossible: it's 23 hours long.

Any additional comments?

Thought-provoking and erudite.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • stryder
  • 01-06-2016

Great Courses Psychology courses really dire

This is the second Great Courses psychology related course I have tried to listen to. First time I thought it was because the course was an intro to the subject. I had higher hopes for this one. I found the course content really dull and boring, giving no real info. Verbose and academic. I am interested in psychology for a variety of personal and professional reasons. There are far better resources for psychology. I have like Great Courses material previously but having to bad experiences in a row I am reconsidering my preference for them.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Barry
  • 17-08-2019

Precious little psychology, fewer facts.

I have listened to the first three of the lectures in this course, and I have to say I am finding it increasingly irritating and off subject. The lecturer spends the first lecture attacking Science. He claims it is untrustworthy because Newton got the law of gravity wrong. One wished for a quiet clearing of the throat and a gentle voice from the back of the lecture theatre which would point out to him that it was not wrong so to speak, but necessarily incomplete. This quiet academic scientist would point out that Newton was a man of his time and had not included space-time, quantum mechanics, or relativity, but had been as honest and objective as any human being had ever been in his examination of the world as it existed beyond his belief system. The physicist would add that, notwithstanding its incompleteness, the Newtonian theory with its rules of the mechanics of gravity is still useful for most of us, even in the Einsteinian universe, as long as we stay below light-speed. Unfortunately there was no such interruption. In the absence of rebuttal the lecturer was free to run on with his tautological “proofs” that science can not be used as a measure, and that there is no established scientific method, meaning we must fall back on the revealed word of some enlightened authority, yet to be mentioned.

In lecture two he meanders through the Greeks. He appears to be seeking more proof that the senses can not be trusted. He begins cherry picking Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, and others so that he can say what you know is more important than what you can prove. He seems to come to the conclusion that the spiritual concept of a mind is a logically superior one. He again skilfully suggests that the Greeks arrived at this very conclusion: that enlightened revelation was the only thing that could be trusted and that you already know all you need to know internally and that the mind is naturally front-loaded with the fundamental truths of the universe; only that our fleshy senses occlude them from us.

Ahem... On to lecture three... Witches…! Here one of the most breathtakingly tortuous pieces of logic takes shape. The long and the short of it is that because the finding of witches during the 16th century (also the century of Galileo and Newton, the lecturer hastens to point out) involved expert opinion from those who had made a science out of it, by producing experts science is guilty of trying to explain things that have no explanation. He actually seems to equate the efforts of scientific enlightenment, rather than religious bigotry, with the witch trials. I waited for the explanation that the “science” of witch finding was based on the clearly religious/supernatural starting point of a belief in pacts with the devil, and a belief in the intereference in human affairs of the devil, and the belief in the entity known as the devil; and that this was considered to be one of those fundamental truths of the universe that people “just knew” for three centuries. It would have explained that his opposition to scientifically honest enquiry had been a joke. I waited in vain. He stuck to his guns. He says that the evidence may show, but he is not sure, that the secular state was worse in its treatment of witches (witches, not women accused of imaginary witchcraft, I noted throughout!) than the religious authorities. After giving it three hours of my life, little doubt was left in my mind that this guy has an agenda, and it is not the exploration of psychology as a fact based discipline.

I wondered why a lecturer on psychology would take three lectures to state that Science is unacceptably deterministic, and then to muddy the waters with conjecture rather than facts (he frequently uses the phrase the evidence “may show” rather than “does show”)? I looked ahead with the provided PDF at the forthcoming lectures, and the mists cleared a bit. I suspect that our man is a Freudian. These days the main criticism aimed at Freud is that he did not use any scientific method but did all he could to conceal his failures and explain anything that did not agree with his theories as some sort of concealment or unconscious lies on the part of his patients. There are three lectures directly dealing with Freud and the third, which proposes dealing with criticisms of Freud, does not introduce any real criticism or questions about his methods and theories, but merely doubles down on Freud and how he is above criticism.

While there is some argument for philosophy continuing to burden itself with religious and spiritual questions of supernatural prime movers, I find it hard to excuse a set of lectures about psychology in the 21st century for dredging the murky waters of the philosophy of religion and superstition, looking for explanations of human behaviour and seeking to side step cause and effect. This set of lectures seems to attempt to prove, through carefully chosen philosophical and semantically suspect arguments, that psychology, psycho analysis in particular, is beyond the reach of scientific rigour. It will be just the stuff for you if you have a desire to see the world through the prism of a mystical dualism or a supernatural mind/soul wedded to a physical body in a demon haunted world. For anyone interested in the psychology of actual human beings in the real world, I suggest you do as I intend to do, and look elsewhere.

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  • Ashbal
  • 17-03-2019

Excellent Overview

Thoroughly enjoyed this course; Professor Robinson is my favourite teacher and lecturer. He surveys the full breadth of the psychological landscape with marked sagacity. The only thing to note is that these lectures are quite philosophically orientated; focusing a fair bit on the philosophical realities and implications of the various approaches to psychology.