12 January 2012

I'm a psych major

...and as such, I've learned some things and gained a ton of pet peeves.
(And before you say anything else, I'm a psych major because it's what I want to do in my life, not just because it sounded cool. Yes, I plan on going to grad school, yes, I have schools picked out, and yes, I know I'm not going to be rich. I do not want to do research or clinical cases. Anything else?)

Let's look at some of these pet peeves, shall we?

Not all psychologists think Freud is the best thing ever ("We all love Freud. Best coke addict in history.") but not all hate him either. I fall somewhere in between. While he was a misogynistic twerp who took advantage of a lot of situations and whose theories don't quite pan out, he did do a lot for psychology as a field. This includes getting people to consider childhood important to mental development, understanding that each person is different, and even just getting psychology some much needed attention.

I personally think psychology is a science, at least in the research department. Psychologists follow the same scientific methods used in other fields (such as biology), often with even more rigor (because they really want to be taken seriously) but they get a lot of flack because they're studying behavior rather than chemical reactions. They use measurable facts (fMRIs, heart rate, skin conductance, etc.) but some people still think it's just a silly game of make believe.

Therapy is useful. So is medication. Both of them have separate effects but neither is a panacea and neither works instantaneously. You have to work with your mental health provider to get the right treatment for you. And not all therapy is just talking about your feelings, nor do all psychologists/psychiatrists use the Rorschach inkblot test or ask you about your dreams.

You won't necessarily get a diagnosis your first trip to the psychologist/psychiatrist even if you do have a mental disorder (many refuse to do so as a general rule). Keep this in mind when a five minute quiz, a well-meaning stranger, or some other person or thing indicates you have a mental illness.

If someone really does have a mental illness, telling them to suck it up or ignore it won't help (and can, in fact, make it worse). It's a real problem and it's not just going to go away or get better.

The internet is not the place to go if you want to know if you're mentally ill. Go to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.

And on a related note, random mood swings are NOT always the same thing as bipolar disorder. Just because you were angry and hyper this morning but feel depressed now does not mean you necessarily need a diagnosis.

Similarly, having rituals that you do (not stepping on cracks, for example) does not always equal OCD. And what people tend to refer to as OCD is actually closer to OCPD.

While I'm on this chain, schizophrenia is not the same thing as multiple personality disorder/dissociative identity disorder.

Movies and TV shows are not (generally) accurate portrayals of mental illness or the treatment thereof. So please don't use them as evidence or arguments.

I'm a student. I cannot/will not tell you that you're mentally ill or give you real therapy. I am more than willing to sit and listen and support you in any way possible other than that. Also, I'm not in psych mode all the time. I can't read your mind, I'm not psychoanalyzing you as we speak (well, actually, now that you've brought it up...), I don't understand everything about you and why you act the way you do, and I'm not diagnosing you with disorders constantly. (Yes, these are comments I've actually gotten and yes, I'm tempted to have fun with it sometimes.)

Those facebook tests that try and tell you about your personality? They're fun, but please don't stress out about them. They're not scientific. They can't actually tell you anything for sure about your personality, nor can they diagnose or treat any illnesses.

No two cases are exactly the same. People with the same disorder may have completely different symptoms and behaviors. This means a ton of things. Treatments will be different, for one thing, and you can't use someone with a diagnosis to diagnose someone else for another.

Think I'm crazy? Have some pet peeves of your own?  Have a psych-related question (other than "am I/my friend/my relative/etc. mentally ill?")? Speak up!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thank you for commenting! I truly do look forward to reading it (: