Claudio Simon Hutz, Gustavo Gauer and William Barbosa Gomes

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Psychology: Global Perspectives

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195366556
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology


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This chapter provides a broad overview of the history of psychology in Brazil from the first notions of psychological though in the country´s colonial period through the inception of scientific psychology in the late 19th and early 20th century, up to the consolidation of psychology as profession and scientific practice throughout the 20th century. Psychological ideas first arrived in Brazil through Jesuit clericals, who were in charge of the colony’s education from the 16th century to the middle of 18th century, when they were banned from the Portuguese Kingdom. Children of Native, European, and mixed ethnicity were in the same classes, and Jesuits assimilated the ideas of Native Brazilians about child development and education into their own propositions. Higher education was prohibited in the Portuguese colonies up to the 19th century. Brazilian nationals interested in pursuing academic degrees in law or medicine had to do so in Portugal or France, up to 1808, when the country´s first two Medical Schools were created. Throughout these schools, new European ideas about psychology arrived in Brazil. The school in Rio de Janeiro was more concerned about neuropsychiatry, psychophysiology, and neurology. In Salvador, the medical school focused on the study of criminology, forensic psychiatry, mental hygiene, social psychology, and pedagogy. In the early 20th century, psychological laboratories were first established in normal schools (aimed at training teachers for child education) and mental hospitals. Laboratories were implemented by Brazilian students of European and American psychologists, or by the foreign scholars themselves. They visited the country by official invitation, and some eventually settled here. Psychology was recognized as a profession in Brazil by a federal law in 1962. By that time, training and research in psychology were organized around major theoretical approaches, mainly psychoanalysis. It is argued that the current trend of psychology in Brazil is toward growing specialization and consolidation of its subdisciplines, reflected on a growing number of scientific societies and specialized periodicals.

Keywords: Psychology in Brazil; history of psychology; teaching and research in psychology

Article.  12499 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology

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