In a recent blog post titled “How Does That Make You Feel? Five Myths about Psychology,” Elysabeth Teeko sets the record straight on what she identifies as five commonly-believed misconceptions about the way the mind works. Her five myths include the effectiveness of subliminal advertising, the correlation between homophobic behavior and closeted homosexuality, the ‘helpful’ release of punching a pillow, the ‘humans only use 10 percent of our brains’ theory, and the myth that ‘thinking happy thoughts’ will fix things. In each of these examples, human behavior, thoughts, and emotions are far more complex than we give them credit for. The mind, says Teeko, is “an incredibly powerful and complex instrument,” one we are only beginning to understand.
On one hand, what we know about human psychology is growing almost daily. Research studies take theories and put them to the test of the scientific process to see if they hold up. Science, as a discipline, is playing a much larger role in our exploration of human psychology than it ever has in the past. But on the other hand, each new study brings with it even more questions, and no single point of view can, alone, give us complete insight into the power and complexity of the human mind.
As Teeko’s blog title suggests, it’s not just how the mind works that we often misunderstand; our relationship with and conception of our own psychology is also complex and evolving. Scientific studies can provide fascinating insight into what’s physically happening in the brain when we encounter a given stimulus. But our lives, in practice, play out in far less scientific terms. As we experience things, our thoughts and feelings respond to those experiences. The more we experience, the more complex this gets, and therapists help people work through these complex connections to find balance and understanding within the realities of their own lives. As we go, we’re learning more and more about the types and combinations of experience that wreak the most havoc, and about the therapeutic approaches that are most helpful depending on what people have gone through. Therapists today do far more than ask “How does that make you feel?” at every pause. And the more we learn about the mind, the more effective and personalized therapy will continue to become.
© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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