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Bry, I. (1973). The Developmental Sciences: A Bibliographic Analysis of a Trend. Psychoanal. Contemp. Sci., 2(1):136-154.

(1973). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Science, 2(1):136-154

The Developmental Sciences: A Bibliographic Analysis of a Trend

Ilse Bry, Ph.D.

What are the Developmental Sciences

Development in nature and in the condition and affairs of man has never been as intensively studied as it is today. A world-wide effort is now under way to bring this work into focus and to utilize its fruits for the betterment of human life. This process has not been heralded, however, as was the advent of the behavioral sciences. In the mid-1950s that term began to make its way from being a semantic puzzle to becoming a household word, as familiar to the educated public and to policy makers as to the scientific community. A decade later the less artifiial, if no less elusive, term “developmental sciences” entered the behavioral-science literature as if it were self-explanatory and without arousing any discussion.

The term “developmental sciences” as currently used provides a unifying name for work in the behavioral sciences that results from, and contributes to, theory and research concerning the growth and development of man and animals. At the core of the developmental sciences is developmental psychology, the first specialty to be so designated. In 1967, a contributor to a symposium on The Neuropsychology of Development characterized this field in words that capture the spirit of the new trend: Although one could easily form a different impression from the number of texts and articles on the subject, developmental psychology represents an approach to problems rather than a distinct subject matter. Almost any psychological problem can be approached developmentally. He then set forth the advantages that result from asking how a particular phenomenon came about and from considering the nature of the changes that occur in organisms as they interact with the environment (Isaacson, 1968, p. 1). These observations also hold true for the developmental sciences in the broader sense suggested here.


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