MYTHS AND SUPERSTITIONS IN PSYCHOLOGY
Dictionary definition of Psychology: A scientific discipline that studies mental states and processes and behaviours in humans and other animals.
Can Psychologists read minds? Since the day I started my study of psychology, till today [a span of over 45 years] people ask me this question. I wish I could!
There is no magic wand to extract thoughts from people. A lot of skill and patience is involved in understanding and interpreting how/what others think and believe and to develop a rationale for their actions.
Psychology is not an exact science. Now with online free tests offering tests of IQ, EQ, psychiatric disorders, it has become very easy for laypersons to test, diagnose, and treat themselves – an unhealthy trend being increasingly seen. Methods of experimentation, sampling, randomisation, generalisation have to go through several levels of verification before being accepted by psychologists. Development of norms for psychological tests and their applicability to certain populations may take years of development involving complex data analysis methods.
Any person who is a smooth talker, good communicator, effective people manager is a ‘psychologist’. As psychologists we go through several years of training in the laboratory and real life and we study hours of theory before we graduate as psychologists. A person with prerequisite aptitude should learn the skills and train to be a good psychologist - merely possessing certain abilities does not make him/her a psychologist.
Psychology is linked to esoteric practices such as astrology, palmistry, face reading, tarot cards, etc. I beg to differ. There are strong scientific principles and rationale for psychological theories and practices and we have proven their benefits to mankind time and again.
Finally, Myth 5
Psychologists are eccentric and impractical people. They are either half mad or fully mad themselves! It is asked, why would anyone in their sane mind spend hours in listening to people, observing them, studying them and interpreting their world to help them live better, in return for no substantial financial profit? There is enormous potential in our field today. The satisfaction one gets for healing/helping someone or improving the lives of others is immense. The as yet untapped potential to make it financially remunerative is certainly there. Psychologists are more relevant today than at any other time and can contribute significantly in alleviating not only human suffering but also fostering good health and improved relationships leading to a better world. Would I trade my profession for any other, given these misconceptions that abound? Never! Looking back over decades in this profession I can truly say there is no other profession like psychology!