Is It Important to Demystify Myths About Psychology?
Psychology is a relatively new field in the realm of the sciences, only about 140 years old. It's not that no one thought about why people and animals do the things they do it just earlier, people like philosophers, medical doctors, and physiologists paid less attention to such things and with the passage of time, people started releasing that there is need of a science to understand and study human behavior and mind.
There are some individuals who still believe that psychology is just the study of people and try to understand what motivates their behavior. However, Psychologists do study people and their behavior, but they study animals as well. To understand what influences their behavior, psychologists study not only what people and animals do but also what happens in their bodies and in their brains. The study of psychology is not important only to psychologists but its findings and conclusions from various psychological research are cited and used in many other fields like the Health sector, economy sector, advertising and marketing or in making new laws or policies. Psychology has a great importance in our life but surprisingly there are a lot of myths residing within our society regarding the subject and mental health sector. Therefore, we will try to take down some of these myths one by one and spread awareness among every one about what the reality is.
- MYTH 1: Psychology is not a real science
Reality: Today Psychology is defined as a Scientific study of human behavior and cognitive processes. Science is not just a set of principles or use of just mathematics; rather it is a way of thinking which is based on the experimental method. The idea that theories should be tested out in the real world in an experiment is the essence of science. Science cannot exist without the scientific method. Science has certain goals, assumptions and methods. Similarly Psychology is a science because it shares the goals, assumptions and methods of science and uses a systematic approach to understand numerous phenomenon. In Psychology we perform quantitative research, hypothesis testing, prediction of behavior or emotions and use of other numerous experimental methods like observation to reach to some conclusion. Principles or laws in Psychology are made on the basis of statistical significance and testing, example Yerkes Dodson law which states that an optimum or moderate level of anxiety is actually necessary for good performance. In fact, a psychological study suggests that a student with moderate level of arousal performs better than others. Thus, Psychology is a collection of study of various topics, which qualifies it as a science.
- MYTH 2: Psychologists can read our mind
People usually think individuals who are studying psychology can read minds. The very first question of our friends or family when we tell them that we are studying psychology is Can you read my mind? Can you tell what I am thinking? People commonly address Psychologists as ''mind readers''.
Reality: This is a misconception residing among people regarding Psychology. Psychologists don't actually read people's minds, instead they try to understand the person’s mental state or personality by observing his/her behavior, performing certain tests or asking some specific questions in order to get a sense of the person’s mind set. This is actually a skill which they learn by years of practice, hard-work and experience. Thus, it is a myth that psychologists can read people's minds.
- MYTH 3: Psychiatrist is better than Psychologist
Reality: Both professions are equally important for the development of the mental health sector. Psychiatrist are trained medical doctors which can prescribe medications but have a little training in providing psychotherapy and conducting psychological evaluation or tests while psychologist are a mental health professionals who are not doctors but are extensively trained to provide psychotherapies, conduct psychological assessment and testing but can't prescribe medication and have a little knowledge of psychopharmacology. If we talk about a patient suffering from severe depression, a psychiatrist may prescribe him/her medication for its stabilization however a Psychologist can provide him/her psychotherapies in order to improve his well-being by making him feel good about himself and enhancing his self-confidence by assuring him, he is not alone in this which will eventually help him to recover from his illness. Both professions work together simultaneously in order to provide best care to the patient and improve his well-being. They both are equally necessary in the prevention and treatment of mild to severe psychological conditions.
- Myth 4: Studying Psychology makes you crazy or depressed
In our society, there is a stigma over mental health. People have negative opinions regarding mental illness and professionals associated with this field. People have a misconception that people who study psychology actually become crazy (Crazy is undoubtedly an inappropriate term but here it's simply being used to signify lay man Language). Many students in India are restricted or stopped by their parents to pursue their education in the field of Psychology because of such myths and social pressure that comes with this stigma.
Reality: Psychology studies behavior and cognitive processes, the term behavior includes all of our outward or overt actions and reactions, such as facial expressions, bodily movement and the way we talk. Psychology not only helps us to understand why people (and animals) do the things they do, but it also helps us to better understand ourselves and our different reactions to different things, situations or people. Psychology can help us to comprehend how our brain and body are connected, how to improve our learning abilities and memory, and how to deal with the numerous stressors of life, both ordinary and extraordinary. Psychology helps us to understand people and simply changes the way we look at life and ourselves. A Psychologist listens and solves the problem of many patients suffering from mild to severe psychological conditions. The feelings or trauma shared by the patients with the mental health professional can somehow empower the psychologist’s mind and may adversely affect their well-being. Thus, it is important to take proper precautions and maintain a professional attitude such that we avoid getting personally attached to their problems.
Each career has certain risks but if precautions are taken, risks associated with it can be minimized.