Can we read minds?

This is an article that i wrote for a Psychology Newsletter in my university, if you’re interested in reading the entire newsletter do let me know! 

Being a psych student myself, it’s safe to say that most of us psychology students don’t really get the best responses when we share the fact that we study psychology. So, I’m going to be your savior and share with you the most common myths and misconceptions about us and give you a reality check!

The most common responses that we are most familiar with are, ‘Are you going to read my mind?’ and ‘Can you hypnotize me?’

Well, firstly, we study psychology, not mind reading or telepathy – although that would be quite cool if I do say so myself. Psychology is the study of behavior and mind; it aims to understand human behavior and definitely not mind reading of any sort! There could be individuals who may claim to be able to read minds but then again they could just be a really observant person and not really a psychic.

Hypnosis on the other hand as described by the ‘American Psychological Association’, is a cooperative interaction in which the participants respond to the suggestions of the hypnotist. It’s a skill that requires much specialization and not all psychotherapists are trained to use this technique. Hypnosis has been a highly controversial topic for a while now and most clinicians now agree that it does in fact provide medical and therapeutic benefits for pain and anxiety.

Hypnosis is not like what you’ve seen in movies or those ridiculous performances. It wont make you stronger or faster, it wont cause major memory loss and it wont make you do crazy stunts of any sort. It requires voluntary participation. So even if we could hypnotize you (which we really cant – just psychology students remember?), it won’t really work unless you are aware of it and you have a certain level of concentration.

Another misconception is the whole ‘Psychology is easy and its just common sense’.

Well, Psychology is harder than one would think. Us psychology students spend a great amount of our lives on SPSS – which is basically like Excel from hell. Take a second to be glad you aren’t dealing with this and the huge amount of statistical tests and analyses that we have.

Researchers take various questions and assumptions about human behavior, scientifically test them and then evaluate it to understand the falsehoods that are most commonly held, everything is usually carried out by the use of various scientific methods. And this is clearly no common sense.

The third of the many myths people hold about psychology or psychologists rather is the fact that all they have to do is listen to people talk.

Well, psychologists don’t really sit down and doodle on notepads all day while listening to their clients talk about their life, there are various other techniques that are frequently used by psychologists such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The fundamental concept of CBT is based on the idea that a persons thoughts and feelings play a huge role in their behavior. The main objective of CBT is to show patients that they cannot control every aspect of the world around them and psychologists help them change or manage their thoughts in order to make changes in their behavior. There are so many more techniques used by psychologists and they each depend on each individual.

Every individual is different; psychologists have to be very careful with the way they approach them and be actively engaged and listen to their clients carefully. They need to give good advice and help them in any way possible. It is not all about couches and scribbling on paper!

These are just a few of the many misconceptions held about psychology majors, definitely getting back to talking about the rest of them in the issues to come!

Thanks a bunch for reading!

Daania x

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