Topic (psychology)

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Topik (derived from ancient Greek τόπος (topos) = place spot of land, land, based on the evidence, subject technical term of rhetoric) is an overarching model that both in psychology and in the classical natural sciences and the humanities is valid . The term is also derived from the Topik of Aristotle as the general viewpoints that serve to 'discuss' a topic. Kant uses the term 'topic' both logically and transcendentally . With "transcendental" he means the "place" between sensuality and pure understanding . The term ›topic‹ has thus experienced an expansion of meaning or an increase in its extension . In the strict sense of the article, both

as well as from

spoken. This commonality is u. a. can also be traced back to the successes of psychophysics in the 19th century, the legal context and a. in the physiology of perception , → experimental psychology , psychodynamics .

To understand

Neurology and psychiatry have different approaches in their scientific self- image , in spite of their manifold points of contact. Neurologists such as Robert Bing (1878–1956) or Paul Dubois (1848–1918) waged a struggle to make their field independent, which was only slowly beginning to break away from psychiatry. While localization aspects are of decisive importance for the scientific orientation of this subject for neurology , this requirement also applies to psychiatry, but other facts also gained importance, such as the differentiation made by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) Systems of the “psychic apparatus”, see Chap. Psychological topic . This distinction is based less on anatomical than on abstract, possibly also as hypothetical or psychogenetic or intellectual and cultural-historical principles. Freud introduced the topical terminology to point out the differences and similarities between the two perspectives, which he was very aware of. Since he originally carried out neuropathological activities, the anatomy of the nervous system is by no means alien to him. In its topics, localization is less of a parable or metaphorical meaning, but neither topical nor localizing knowledge can be mutually exclusive. There is often a complementarity between psychological-metaphorical and neurological points of view, which is all the more necessary as the diverse psychological findings and the latest research results in the fields of neurophysiology , biochemistry and neuroradiology have to be taken into account. The originally philosophical concept of topic also has this double meaning.

“Neither philosophical logic nor psychoanalysis can do without a topic. As soon as one has to do with concepts that deal with something among themselves, or with the range of judgments and conclusions, spatial connotations are involved, and models of the psychic apparatus cannot do anything other than the unconscious, the preconscious and the conscious, or the id, the ego and to think of the superego like superimposed layers. "

- Christoph Türcke : Philosophy of Dreams 2008; P. 75

Anatomical topology

The close relationship between psychological phenomena and neuroanatomy established the era of the close connection between neurology and medical psychology / psychiatry , which still continues today . Many neuropsychological syndromes that have been researched in the meantime explain the success of this scientific-anatomical approach. In anatomy, the topographical aspect has emerged as an essential aspect of a functional anatomy , alongside descriptive and systematic anatomy. Functional anatomy refers to the structural anatomical knowledge that is required to understand the body functions and thus the physiology (→ structural functionalism ).

The concept of structural functionalism, borrowed from sociology, applies to anatomy insofar as in the case of topics it is not a purely anatomical but primarily an interdisciplinary concept. The model of the “coexistence of living beings in a spatially delimited area”, which also encompasses society , can also be transferred to biological organisms that can be described as a system of interacting organs and cell units, similar to anatomy.

Topistic brain research has endeavored since the beginning of the 20th century to describe and delimit regions within the macroscopic and microscopic blueprint of the brain that are equipped with qualitative special functions based on the principle of self-organization . The description of such special functions is supported by structural features of cyto- , myelo- , angio- , fibrillo- and glio-architectural type.

Psychological topic


Sigmund Freud regarded the psychological term ›topics‹ as one of three ways of looking at his metapsychology . Topics in the psychophysiological sense, that is, both the “localization” of the psychic processes and their “discussion” in a systematic way, is one of the essential components of metapsychology alongside the psychodynamics and the economy of the psychic process. In making this basic assumption, Freud used both the concept of anatomical topic and that of psychic topic . This latter term should be used independently of the implicit demand for anatomical topics or for the localization of all psychological phenomena. The term topic was already used in his work “The Interpretation of Dreams”. It is freed from the demand for overly concrete localizability insofar as Freud describes it as “ideal” or “virtual”. The psychological achievement is often not carried out solely by a single, strictly localizable center , but is the result of the interaction of different centers, instances or systems. Freud compares the term topic with the virtual image created in a telescope, as it is designed by the lenses of the telescope. In this comparison, the telescope and the lenses are to be regarded as the “psychic apparatus” that is formed from the localizable nerve cells of the brain, the performance results “between them, so to speak”.

The psychoanalytic term ›topics‹ denotes a concept of the organization of conceptual contents , so-called representations within the human psyche .

According to this concept, ideas are not separated by temporal or physiological boundaries, but by associative barriers, in particular " censorship mechanisms " and repressions . Through these mechanisms, contents of consciousness are pushed off or split off into the unconscious , as long as they are not already inaccessible to consciousness from the start (cf. psychophysical level ).

Freud developed two different topical models of the psyche: the first as a "first topical model" known distinction of forms of consciousness, which Freud so far rather exclusively manicured psychology of consciousness confronted by between the conscious / unconscious / preconscious different. Later described Freud then the influential id that the instances it / I / superego demarcated from each other. It is also referred to as Freud's "second topical model". Freud's successors modified it or replaced it with their own models, particularly in the context of self psychology and object relationship theory .

Depth psychology

The term › depth psychology ‹ is also an expression of topical perspectives. This shows the advantage of a more general or comprehensive model that is hardly restricted by abstractions or burdened by reductionism . Similar to the term psychodynamics , it is not restricted to a specific psychological school or a specific doctrine. The underlying image of “surface and deeper ground” was both the subject of controversies with regard to a consciousness psychology of the Wundt school that only took into account vigilance disorders and was therefore too “superficial” , as well as a summarizing approach to the various later psychological schools. What they have in common is the consideration of the importance of the unconscious , psychodynamics and thus an explanation of psychological functional processes or the justification of a psychophysiology .

Topical approaches have also been presented by Pierre Janet (1859–1947) in his concept of the Abaissement du niveau mental (level teaching).

Gestalt psychology

The term ›topics‹ was also used by other psychological schools and schools, e.g. B. of Gestalt psychology . Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) spoke of topological psychology .

Social psychological topical models

Here, too, the field theory of Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) should be mentioned, which is also referred to as topological psychology. Lewin started out from Gestalt psychology . According to field theory, individual behavior results from an arrangement of psychologically relevant forces (vector forces), which are to be understood in a spatially concrete system (the nervous system) of parts of a whole developing in space, as e.g. B. also metaphorically as a method of overcoming obstacles in thought psychology, for example when solving problems by choosing "detours". Lewin then spoke of “going out of the field”. Field theory is also applicable to group processes, especially to group dynamics , which is why Lewin is also considered a pioneer of social psychology .

Other uses

In addition to psychoanalysis, psychosomatics has made use of the topical model. Psychosomatics uses the term integration space . In motivational psychology, there is talk of motivational spaces. Thure von Uexküll has also introduced the model of the integration space into the terminology of psychosomatic medicine . This means that overarching models are understood in which “the physical and mental represent interlocking members of a continuous order” (cf. e.g. also the psychosocial dimension ). Such “spaces” go beyond the purely neurological systems such as the extrapyramidal system , as they also include the human environment. Freud's topic mainly relates to the “psychic apparatus” as a special, at the same time psychic and neurological organization. Freud describes this “apparatus” in a similar way to the term “ psychic reflex arc ” coined by Karl Jaspers . It is obvious that the results of psychophysics ( Fechner ) influenced Freud's view. Other authors such as Pierre Janet also used illustrative topical terms shaped by psychophysics and its energetics, such as the abaissement du niveau mental , to characterize psychodynamic processes.


Topics is also the subject of the humanities. If z. For example, thinking itself must be assumed to be localized within the structures of the central nervous system , yet the object of thinking is completely free from such localization. Hannah Arendt writes:

“In everyday experience, time and space are not even conceivable without a continuum that extends from near to far, from now to past or future, from here to every point under the sun, left and right, forwards and backwards, upwards and down; therefore it can be said with a certain justification that not only distances but also time and space are suspended even in thinking. As for space, I know of no philosophical or metaphysical concept which could plausibly be associated with this experience; ... "


Harald Schultz-Hencke (1892–1953) criticized Freud's conception of the model on the question of the topical issue . He called the topical point of view of psychoanalysis a spatial metaphor . Behind this hides the question of the point in time at which mental properties arise ( psychogenesis ). For the sake of illustration, think e.g. B. the system Ubw only as "quasi spatial". The development of this earliest level of consciousness of the Ubw system is metaphorically referred to as the “deepest” layer. The recent one then becomes the "upper" layer. Because the former is still effective today, it is also considered to exist. According to this quasi- archaeological basic assumption, the notion of a layer theory is common in psychoanalytical literature, but according to Schultz-Henke it induces one to neglect psychological thinking in time as psychogenetic thinking. Even Felix Krueger (1874-1948) has similar views represented. Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) criticized the system of psychology created by Freud - which includes the topical as the epitome of his metapsychology - that although Freud assumed a holistic conception of psychology, he assumed this conception was more time-dependent subjugated the scientific-materialistic conception of the "mental apparatus" with its instinctual mechanisms. Freud had clear reservations about metaphysical ideas. The autonomy of the psyche in the sense of a mutual psychophysical correlation was thereby restricted.

Individual evidence

  1. Schmidt, Heinrich : Philosophical dictionary (= Kröner's pocket edition. 13). 21st edition, revised by Georgi Schischkoff . Alfred Kröner, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-520-01321-5 ; P. 701 on Lemma "Topic".
  2. ^ Ratke, Heinrich : Systematisches Handlexikon zu Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Meiner, Philosophische Bibliothek 37b, Hamburg 1991, ISBN 3-7873-1048-7 ; P. 245 to Lemma: "Topik", there u. a. Logical place: “You can call every concept, every title, including many insights, a logical place.” (KrV B 324).
  3. Broser, Fritz: Topical and clinical diagnosis of neurological diseases . 2nd Edition. U&S, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-541-06572-9 . P. VII, IX, X, 27, 29 on Stw. “Topical” - In a preface, Gerd Peters emphasizes the presentation of the theory of diseases ( nosology ) from the anatomical, structural and functional context. Broser refers in his presentation to the justification of the topical-neurological perspective by the German-Swiss neurologist Robert Bing (1878-1956) as well as to the collaboration with the psychiatrist Rudololf Degkwitz (1920-1990).
  4. ^ Duus, Peter: Neurological-topical diagnostics . 5th edition. Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-13-535805-4 ; The author is a student of Karl Kleist and therefore has the methods of topical brain research . Like the Brosersche textbook, his presentation refers to Robert Bing and the designation of topical diagnostics used by him in his “Compendium”. Bing's book is entitled: Compendium of Topical Brain and Spinal Cord Diagnostics . Brief instructions for the clinical localization of diseases and injuries to the nerve centers. The 7th increased and improved edition was published as early as 1927. Duus explains z. B. Terms such as “ sensory integration ” (p. 360, 389) and thus draws attention to localizational and pathophysiological relationships that are dissolved or destroyed in the event of illness. This integration or disintegration makes the conscious psychological perception (via the preliminary stage of feeling ) and its disorders clear. On the other hand, reference is made to terms such as somatotopia , tonotopia , visual field , etc., which are related to the body schema .
  5. Peters, Uwe Henrik : Dictionary of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 3rd edition 1984, p. 567 on the lemma “Topik, psychische” and “Topographie, psychische” - These lemmas speak of a “classification of psychological conditions in a spatially conceived metaphorical scheme”.
  6. a b Schultz-Hencke, Harald : The psychoanalytical conceptual world . Publishing house for medical psychology in the publishing house Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen (1947), revised edition 1972, ISBN 3-525-45620-4 , p. 112 ff. To chap. "The topical, the dynamic and the economic point of view".
  7. a b Jung, Carl Gustav : Definitions . In: Collected Works. Walter-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1995, paperback, special edition, volume 6, psychological types , ISBN 3-530-40081-5 , p. 578 ff., §§ 962-965 on tax "moral rift, intellectual-historical split".
  8. ^ Karl-Heinz Hillmann : Dictionary of Sociology (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 410). 4th, revised and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-520-41004-4 , p. 284 on Lemma: "Society".
  9. Benninghoff, Alfred u. a .: Textbook of human anatomy. Shown with preference given to functional relationships. 3rd volume nervous system, skin and sensory organs. Urban and Schwarzenberg, Munich 1964, p. 228 ff. On chap. "The construction of the cerebral cortex".
  10. Freud, Sigmund (1915): The Unconscious. GW, X. Frankfurt a. M., S. Fischer.
  11. Freud, Sigmund: The Unconscious . In: The Unconscious. Writings on psychoanalysis. S. Fischer Verlag 1963, p. 15.
  12. Freud, Sigmund : The Interpretation of Dreams . [1900] Collected Works, Volume II / III, S. Fischer, Frankfurt / M 1999, ISBN 3-596-50300-0 ; P. 615 on head "topical" and p. 541, 616 on head "telescope" (comparison). The following page numbers are taken from: Paperback edition of the Fischer-Bücherei, Aug. 1966, chap. VII. "On the Psychology of Dream Processes" p. 495 on head. "Topical" and p. 437, 496 on head. "Telescope" (comparison).
  13. Peters, Uwe Henrik : Dictionary of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology . 3rd edition, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 1984; P. 564 to Wb.-Lemma: "Depth Psychology".
  14. Janet, Pierre : Les obsessions et la psychasthénie . [1903], Paris 1908, 2nd edition.
  15. a b Hofstätter, Peter R. (Ed.): Psychology . The Fischer Lexicon, Fischer-Taschenbuch, Frankfurt a. M. 1972, ISBN 3-436-01159-2 ; P. 96 on head. "Thinking Psychology".
  16. Philip G. Zimbardo , Richard J. Gerrig: Psychology . Pearson, Hallbergmoos near Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-8273-7275-8 ; P. 705 on resident "Kurt Lewin".
  17. ^ Uexküll, Thure from : Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1963, chap. "Illness as a split in body and soul", p. 127 f. to keyword "topology".
  18. Grinker, Roy Richard (Senior) (et al., 1953) in: The Psychosomatic Concept in Psychoanalysis. New York.
  19. ^ Uexküll, Thure from: Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1963, chap. "Illness as a split in body and soul", p. 105 f. to Stw. "Motivation room"
  20. ^ Uexküll, Thure from: Basic questions of psychosomatic medicine. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1963, chap. “Illness as a split in body and soul”, pp. 128, 131, 224 f., 229, 234 on the unit “Integration space”.
  21. Arendt, Hannah : From the life of the spirit . Volume 1: Thinking. Piper, Munich 1979, p. 91.
  22. Arnold, Wilhelm et al. (Ed.): Lexicon of Psychology . Bechtermünz, Augsburg 1996, ISBN 3-86047-508-8 ; Col. 662 on “Wholeness, Shape, Structure”.