All You Need To Know About Holism In Psychology

Last Update on April 8, 2024 : Published on April 8, 2024

To keep it simple, holism is an approach used for understanding human behavior and the mind. In holism, psychologists look over things as a whole, therefore, holism is known to be the opposite of reductionism. In reductionism, a psychologist breaks down things into small parts and then performs analysis.

Talking about holism, things are viewed entirely and co-relation is often observed. In this blog, we will be reading everything we need to know about holism in psychology.

So, let’s get started!

What is Holism in Psychology and its Examples?

In psychology, a holistic approach often looks over things as a unit or whole, instead of breaking them into small parts. Holism in psychology plays an important role as it is an integrated system. The basic theory behind holism is that individuals are more than the sum of their parts and most important every part is interconnected with each other.

In order to understand the situation, thoughts, and behavior of people, a holistic approach is undertaken to focus on components as a sum. The basic approach tells us how all parts work as a whole.

In psychology, holism is used to understand systems. Holism is used in other fields as well such as ecology, philosophy, medicine, and economics. The idea behind the development of holism can be summarized as, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” For example, in the medical field, holistic medicine is prescribed to patients to treat all aspects of a patient’s health including psychological and physical symptoms.

The holism approach takes a look at the entire person and co-relates the reasons behind certain behaviors. Then, analyze various factors influencing and interacting with each other.

For example, researchers believe that certain parts of the brain act differently and interact with each other which creates different emotions and influences functions differently.

Examples of Holism

In psychology, holism is used in different areas to study human behavior and mind. For example, reductionism and holism are followed in early schools of thought. Holism is used in different psychology studies such as:

1. Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt psychology is rooted in the principles of holism. During gestalt therapy sessions, psychologists review human behavior as a whole, and they work to understand how a holistic approach can make sense as a whole. Gestalt therapy is a client-centered approach wherein a person’s past is viewed as a whole and interconnection is viewed.

2. Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic psychology is one of the branches of psychology which is rooted in behaviorism. Herein, behavior is viewed holistically and the study of various components interacting with each other is studied. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is also based on a holistic approach. The hierarchy of needs incorporates various aspects such as emotional, social, and environmental influences.

3. Social Psychology

Social psychology considers individuals from a social perspective. In this branch of psychology, group behavior is studied to determine individual behavior which is helpful and beneficial for studying emergent properties.

Key Principles of the Holism Approach

Now that we have taken a look at the power of the whole, holism is a concept focused on interdependence or interconnectedness. Below listed are some of the key principles of holism:

  • Balance: Holism promotes harmony and balance in a system. With the right approach, holism is effective in finding disruptions or imbalances influencing negative consequences. The holism approach also advocates for maintaining and finding a state of balance that promotes positive well-being in a system.
  • Contextualization: Holism is focused on the importance of understanding perspectives from the big picture. It totally avoids the reductionism approach and instead appreciates contextual factors influencing each other.
  • Interconnectedness: Holism is focused on interconnectedness and it takes a deep look over the broader context which helps in addressing challenges or issues.
  • Multidimensionality: The holistic approach is also focused on multidimensionality which influences the integration of different knowledge and perspectives. This key principle helps in recognizing different viewpoints contributing to complex challenges.

Uses of Holism in Psychology

In psychology, researchers usually opt for a holistic approach as it interconnects the working of different factors and effectively tells how different factors interact or influence each other. This approach is efficient for studying impact, functioning, or behavior. For example, in humanistic psychology, researchers consider the environment, social connections, background, and physical health of an individual as a whole to find out interconnections and behaviors related.

The main purpose of this holistic analysis is to consider how different variables impact overall well-being. Additionally, it also tells how other factors interact and influence each other. The holism approach is a more focused approach wherein researchers or psychologists understand behaviors, reactions, and others. Overall, a holistic approach helps in assessing emergent properties.

Benefits of Holism in Psychology

The holistic approach can be helpful in psychology from various viewpoints especially when an individual wants to look at the big picture. Below listed are some of the important benefits of holism in psychology:

  1. Holism helps in assessing multiple factors contributing to a psychological issue.
  2. Holism helps find solutions that might address 100% of the external and internal factors influencing the issue.
  3. Holism is an effective approach for addressing smaller issues independently.
  4. A holistic perspective also helps in assessing thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  5. Holism can also be helpful in the research and management of mental health struggles as it helps in looking at the bigger picture.
  6. Holism can help understand the symptoms of a mental health condition.
  7. Holism allows psychologists to provide a complete solution to complex mental health conditions or issues including how people behave, feel, and think.

Disadvantages of Holism in Psychology

Below listed are some of the disadvantages of holism:

  • Research conducted is non-specific and finding solutions for a particular aspect can be challenging.
  • Holism is generalized which makes accuracy more challenging.
  • Research needs to be clearly defined hypothetically and variably.
  • Holism incorporates so many influences and factors.

Differences between Holism and Reductionism

Holism Reductionism
Holism means “all”, “complete”, or “whole.” Holism can be easily understood with, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Reductionism in psychology is based on an assumption, “in order to find answers, one should carry the simplest possible explanation.”
Holism considers all components and factors as a whole. Reductionism considers the generalization of behavior to find explanations.
Holism can be complex and psychologists often find the process challenging. Reductionism often leads to partial explanations.

I hope this blog helps you understand everything you want to know about holism in psychology. Comment down and share your views on the same. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On