The history of the symbol of psychology (Ψ)

The history of the symbol of psychology (Ψ)

The history of the symbol of psychology contains something mythological.The evolution of the term "psi" (Ψ) has a certain originality. Initially, this twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet had ended up being transliterated by the Romans to form the wordpsyche,which meant butterfly. Later, he took the sense ofbreaththensoul.

All those who have studied psychology remember this moment when, once they arrived at the university, they saw this symbol appear almost everywhere. In books, on teachers' desks, in information notes …The curious can also recognize it. This symbol is part of this culture of symbols so common in some disciplines,as in philosophy with the famous "phi" (Φ).

The origin of the word psychology comes from the fusion of two Greek words: ψυχή y λογία.

However, sometimes we go no further than iconography. Furthermore,we tend to believe certain urban legends that distort the magic of our origins.Thus, it is very usual to hear that the symbol of psychology (Ψ) is a trident, the trident of the devil. This is absolutely not true.

This false theory was born at a time when mental illnesses were considered evil evils. Troubles that responded to supernatural influences, spells, spells. The man could not fight against that. Everything was in the hands of the Church and, of course, pyres.But this theory does not correspond to reality.Let us see now what is the true origin of the symbol of psychology.

The history of the symbol of psychology (Ψ), the science of the soul

In ancient Greek, the wordpsyche,as we pointed out at the beginning, meant butterfly. This insect symbolized the breath of life, a breath of fresh air, a vital breeze …Gradually and with the influence of the Roman Empire, this word ended up symbolizing the human soul.An idea that incorporated the life force of the human being or the"ka"of Egyptian culture.

The Greeks and Romans had a very precise vision of the souls of people. According to their beliefs, when someone died, that breath, that "ka" of which the Egyptians spoke, emerged like a draft of fresh air. And he did it in the form of a butterfly. So there was nothing staggering in this picture, nothing sad or scary.The butterfly was a being who represented light, change, hope …

The history of the symbol of psychology has ended by linking the term psyche to "logia"(ψυχή y λογία). In this way, and with time, "the science of the soul" has become "the science of the mind", the symbol "Ψ" being its maximum representation.

The myth of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche

In Greek mythology, the word "psyche" means more than butterfly, soul or spirit.Psyche is a goddess, a character with butterfly wings who lived a very beautiful love,the one that immortalized Apuleyo in hismetamorphoses(The Golden Ass).

It is said that among the three daughters of a Greek king, one was really special.She was so delicate, beautiful and full of joy that Aphrodite herself considered her a rival.She was so jealous that she did not hesitate to send her son Eros (Cupid) to shoot him an arrow. Why? For the young Psyche to fall in love with the basest, ugliest and most ruthless man.

However, Aphrodite had not planned a thing. It was his son Eros who fell in love with Psyche. The young god was unable to resist this love. He went to his room every night to conquer her. And he succeeded.Psyche fell madly in love with this stranger who visited her every night, in the darkness, so that she would not see his face.This god wanted to preserve his identity so as not to put an end to this magical idyll.

However, something happened. When Psyche spoke of this relationship to her sisters, they told her not to pursue her without seeing the face of her mysterious lover. And that's what the young woman did.Taking advantage of a moment when Eros was asleep next to her, she brought a lamp to her face to illuminate it.The son of Aphrodite then left, full of rage, because of the audacity of Psyche.

The tests of Psyche

Abashed and full of regret, Psyche went to ask Aphrodite for help.Eros' mother saw an opportunity to take revenge and eliminate from this world a woman who rivaled, in terms of beauty, the goddess of love.She offered him four trials, four tasks to gain the forgiveness and affection of Eros. These tasks involved going into the infra-world, facing Cerbère, traveling with Charon and, a little later, with Hades to be able to talk with Persephone and ask him some of his beauty that she kept in a box.

Against all odds,Psyche knew how to count on her intelligence, her courage and her determination in addition to her beauty.However, while she had managed to ward off all the difficulties and get Persephone's box, the young woman had a burst of curiosity and vanity. She decided to open it to see what it contained and take a little of this beauty. She fell into a trap: a deep sleep. But a familiar hand took her out of this curse. A face full of hope gave him back his joy of life: it was Eros who came to his rescue and forgave him.

The story of this wonderful couple ends perfectly. Aphrodite stopped envying Psyche and danced at their wedding. Zeus, on the other hand, decided to make the young woman immortal.A beautiful brave woman who, with her butterfly wings, also represents the symbol of psychology "Ψ".

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