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Many do scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior, and typically work in university psychology departments or teach in other academic settings (e.g., medical schools, hospitals).
Some are employed in industrial and organizational settings, or in other areas The earliest known reference to the word psychology in English was by Steven Blankaart in 1694 in The Physical Dictionary which refers to "Anatomy, which treats the Body, and Psychology, which treats of the Soul." In 1890, William James defined psychology as "the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and their conditions".
Wang Qingren emphasized the importance of the brain as the center of the nervous system, linked mental disorder with brain diseases, investigated the causes of dreams and insomnia, and advanced a theory of hemispheric lateralization in brain function.
Distinctions in types of awareness appear in the ancient thought of India, influenced by Hinduism.
Chinese scholarship focused on the brain advanced in the Qing Dynasty with the work of Western-educated Fang Yizhi (1611–1671), Liu Zhi (1660–1730), and Wang Qingren (1768–1831).
As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.
In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist.
This extends to interaction between people, such as interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas.
Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind.