myths about psychology

It’s not unusual for people to associate psychology with highly paid individuals who listen to the problems of those who are mentally unstable. In reality, psychology is a fascinating study of the mind and behaviour and is present in our daily lives.

Here are some of the most common myths about psychology:

1. They Earn a Lot of Money by Listening to People Talk

A misconception is that many psychologists earn way beyond their value, as they are just sat passively listening to their clients’ issues. This is untrue, as the relationship between a therapist and a client is anything but passive. In these sessions, therapists have to actively listen to the client, delving deeper into issues, suggesting solutions and showing an understanding, as well as providing comfort in some cases.

2. Low Self-Esteem Is the Root of Psychological Problems

Many have the popular belief that low self-esteem is one of the major issues in cultivating unhealthy behaviours; such as violence, depression and anxiety. Walk into any self-help book aisle, where you will find the notion that no psychological issue is unrelated to lack of self-esteem, paraphrased in one way or another.

In fact, studies conducted by Baumeister, Cambell and Krueger discovered that “low self-esteem is neither necessary nor sufficient for depression.” Allowing us to have an understanding that a lack of self-esteem cannot be the sole cause of poor mental heath.

3. Psychology Is about Fixing Crazy People

Ask someone for their opinion on therapy, and many people will reply that it is only for crazy people with mental issues who lie down to talk about their dreams and feelings and someone writes away this information in a notebook. Attending therapy is no way an admission that something is wrong with you, but it provides an appreciation of the full spectrum of thoughts. It allows an understanding of how a particular type of thought or habit pattern can affect our mental health in terms of how we perceive others and ourselves.

4. Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Counsellors Are All Interchangeable

Simplifying their roles, they are all qualified individuals that aim to help people with their problems, although there is considerable overlapping in their fields. It is confusing when it comes to differentiating between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a counsellor. And many have the belief that anyone with a degree in psychology can give counselling.

Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders and their diagnosis, management and prevention. Psychology is the study of people and all types of behaviour, thoughts, feelings that motivate behaviour of those with the disorders.

Counsellors provide advice and help in a short-term goal setting therapy, where issues causing emotional pain and negative thoughts can be discussed in a confidential and safe environment.

5. Psychology Is Not Just Common Sense

You will meet some people who claim that psychology is nothing but common sense after reading the results of certain studies, but it is actually more complex that it appears. Those in the psychology field spend endless time to achieve those results and go through countless attempts in order to analyse the tests they have just conducted. A lot of effort is put into the research of studying the mind and our behaviour patterns.

6. Psychology Is Not Just about Therapy

Psychology is usually associated with therapy, where someone writes down the problems of a client – most likely something to do with their childhood. Whilst therapy is a great aspect of psychology, there are other parts to being a psychologist. Actually, many psychologists are found working in other fields such as teaching, consulting, research and not only in mental health.

7. Psychology Isn’t for Everyone

Psychology is not limited to those in need of therapy or studying mental health; in fact, psychology can be found all around us in our daily lives. We see the influence in our advertising, where psychology is used to develop marketing strategies. It’s used to recognise the needs of people and how to encourage them to buy products. In fact, even your favorite websites are optimised using psychology.

8. Psychologists Aren’t Mind Readers

If you have an impression that by studying psychology, you will become an expert at mind reading, think again. Whilst the aim is to comprehend human behaviour and provide an explanation behind them, you cannot suddenly become telepathic or hypnotise people. Through portrayal in the media, psychology has been used in various ‘magic shows’- the magician Derren Brown uses body language and an understanding of the human psyche to guess what painting you have drawn.

9. All Dreams Have a Hidden Meaning

A study across 3 different cultures in India, South Korea and the U.S.A found that 56% to 74% of people had the belief that dreams had hidden meanings. If somebody had a dream of a plane crashing before flying the next day, they might consciously decide to avoid flying. They are relying on their dreams as more accurate than wakeful thinking. The Internet is full of dream diaries, interpreting certain symbols to predict the future. Our brains produce dreams during REM sleep that can sometimes be illogical and are influenced by our emotions that day, as well as our thoughts. So it would be wiser not to let your dreams influence your life decisions and engage in some logical wakeful thinking instead.

Lastly, psychology provides an insight into our thinking processes and behavioural patterns. As you read above, there are many myths about psychology, but through the efforts of research, psychologists have worked hard to help many people in different fields. Dispel your misunderstood notions and make sure you know what psychology has to offer to everyone.

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I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.