Because the fields of specialization within psychology are so numerous, one must first examine the science as an entity unto itself. This involves defining psychology, exploring the reasons for its existence, reviewing its history, and surveying the diverse specialists who assist various populations. Although the semantics of defining psychology differ from text to text, the actual explanation remains constant: It is the science of human behavior as it relates to the functions of the mind. More specifically, it provides evidence for why people experience a gamut of emotions, think rationally or irrationally, and act either predictably or unpredictably.

The discipline's very existence reflects humankind's need to plumb the depths of its interior to search for the self, to process conflict, to solve problems, and to think critically as well as act pragmatically. Its challenge is to assist people in understanding themselves. Humans have a natural curiosity; it moves them to try to determine their relationship to the world in which they live. With this comes the inclination to observe and compare other people: their ideas, behavior patterns, and abilities. These analyses and comparisons, which people cannot help but make, involve the self as well as others. People may be either overly harsh or selectively blind when examining themselves; both these situations can be handicaps, and both can be helped by psychology.

At times, one's anxiety level may peak uncontrollably. Through the science of the mind, one seeks to temper one's agitation by becoming familiar with and acknowledging vague fears and uncomfortable feelings. Thus, the person learns about the source of his or her tension. From this, experts learn how behavior originates. They assist an individual in learning to cope with change; the person discovers how to make adequate adjustments in daily living. The fast pace that humans in industrialized society keep requires them now, more than ever before, to have a working knowledge of people—their thought processes and behavior patterns. From all of this, experts are able to arrive at reasonable predictions and logical conclusions about humankind's future behavior.

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