“Psychology Myths”: Replacing Misconceptions about Mental Health and Therapy

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hannah


    October 31st, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    And the more we will be in tune with our own feelings and desires!

  • jemma


    October 31st, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    although we keep finding newer things about how our minds works with almost each passing day,it never is a hundred percent clear and newer finding often present us with more questions than answers in my belief.thus it is important to not try and search for too much but instead try and find ways in which we can be happy and make others happy and soon the world will be a much better place.

  • Kayla S

    Kayla S

    November 1st, 2010 at 4:41 AM

    Any time that there is a greater understanding the greater the likelihood that people will use this newer knowledge for good. Sometimes when there is a lack of understanding people will express resistance to using something even if for the most part they know that it could help them. I think that the more research and beneicial conclusions which are released, along with explanations for those who may be waffling the greater the use of therapy will be and the more people it will then be able to reach in a positive way.

  • Alister


    November 1st, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    It is important to note that any new finding should not be blindly implemented but must be thoroughly tested first,no matter how alluring it may seem to be at first.

    This and some other things should be made a standard that should be followed by all the governing bodies and we will have better health-care and practices developed not too far into he future.

  • KJP


    November 2nd, 2010 at 4:48 AM

    Had my own hangups about therapy until I had to go through it myself. But now I know that it saved my life and I know it has done the same for others over time.

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