The Problem With Psychology
I find certain topics in Psychology interesting (particularly when it comes to behaviour and cognition.) I read the odd book about it and have just signed up to a course on Future Learn, ‘Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture.’ My interest in Psychology started soon after I discovered my interest in Game Design as the two areas can overlap. I have also been diagnosed with moderate depression so I consider it to be important to understand mental health on at least a basic level. Even though I enjoy discussing Psychology, I’m not an expert and much of what I write is a way to explore my own thoughts and ideas.
While I find Psychology fascinating, I think there’s another side to it that can be dangerous; It’s all too easy to apply labels to different behaviours (see ‘Creating the Psychopath Experience: TEDTalks from Julian Treasure and Evan Grant.’) I think many of us are at at fault for making self diagnosis either through performing research or taking online quizzes. For example, I was reading about personality disorders in ‘The Bedside Book of Psychology‘ and one of the descriptions sounded exactly like me. I reckon that almost everyone could find some sort of mental disorder to label themselves with. I also question how we know what is or isn’t normal human behaviour. I’ve read that everyone is on the Autism scale for instance, and that it’s simply a different way of thinking (see ‘The World needs all kinds of minds.’) While a person may struggle in some areas they may have improved abilities elsewhere.
One thing that I’ve come to notice is that much of science is not set in stone; Tests are not always accurate and not all professionals agree with each other, and yet it can be presented to us in a truthful way. I think that you have to be careful when making claims about human behaviour because of the social implications behind them. For example, the Psychologist Arthur Jenson claimed that intelligence was 80% inherited, which in turn suggests that not all social groups are equal (see ‘Nature Vs Nurture in Psychology‘ on Simply Psychology.) I myself have experienced people telling me what I can and can’t do – based on who I am – and following up with examples in Psychology; With a bit of research I was able to find my own examples to contradict them. While it’s interesting to discuss these different claims, I think it’s unwise to try and group people or wholly base your opinions on such findings. While tests and statistics can show trends, it doesn’t mean that there can never be any exceptions to the rule. People are complex creatures after all.
I think when applied correctly Psychology can be useful, like helping people to improve their lives or deal with mental disorders. Psychology is also used in areas like game design or marketing to help understand the behaviour of consumers. I just think we need to be careful not to become too obsessed with applying labels to different people and behaviours. If you’re not sure about something, it’s better to seek the advice of a professional.