I’m a psychology student, going into my final year in September, and here are some things I really want non-psychology students to know. It might seem like a bit of a rant because it may end up that way. Some things just get really annoying when we hear them over and over because usually people have negative attitudes. But this isn’t meant to offend anyone so sorry in advance if it does. There are many myths and stereotypes about the subject and the students who study it, and most of us are all tired of hearing these things.
- Stop talking about Freud. I mean, come on, is he seriously the only psychologist you know about apart from Pavlov and his dogs? Educate yourself. I mean, yes, he does have some good influential research. That’s the only time you’ll ever hear me say that by the way. Freud was basically a fraud, I wrote a whole essay on it in an exam. He never actually did experiments, it was basically case studies based on his own (kind of weird) interpretations. His WHOLE psychosexual stages research was based on one boy, Little Hans, who was having weird dreams and apparently, somehow had a sexual attraction to his mother, hence the Oedipus complex. Better psychologists are and have been around. Think Zimbardo, Bowlby, Skinner, Piliavin, Kohlberg… ringing a bell? Pardon the pun. Psychology does not equal Freud ok. And you can’t interpret your dreams, they don’t mean anything, I did project on it. There are plenty of theories on how dreams happen and I’ve already learned a few of them. We don’t study Freud, we study how wrong he was.
- No, we cannot read minds so stop saying “I better be careful around you”, and that also includes us writing up notes about your behaviour. Sometimes, for fun, we may actually say we can read your mind to go along with the joke because it makes you look silly. But the joke gets old, and not like a fine wine, the joke rots, like an apple. I feel like wearing a t-shirt that says “Yes I’m a psych student, no I can’t read your mind” just to emphasise the fact. Everyone I ever meet that asks me what I study says that, without an exception. There’s probably a psychological reason why everyone asks me that, maybe I should do a study on it. It’s not like we go around asking people questions to write up in our secret reports like we’re spies or something. Although we probably should, there’s some strange (non-clinical) people around. Basically I’m not psychoanalysis you and I don’t know what you’re thinking as much fun as that would be. Do you think it’s funny? Because it isn’t and it must be obvious that i think you’re an idiot from my facial expression.
- Psychology is a science. It uses empirical data. So much data, seriously I swear lecturers can’t get enough of it. There’s even an argument that psychology is too sciency. There’s more to psychology than just the social side of it. I wish that there was less data. You try interpreting it and see how far you get. It’s not a flimsy subject. Psychology can be used pretty much in every work place so don’t deny it’s value. We didn’t choose it as the easy way out, we’re very hard working and just because it not biology, chemistry or physics, or maths does not mean it is not a hard subject. There’s lots and lots of maths involved, in fact, statistics is very important to psychology – it’s the only thing that allows us to accept or reject a hypothesis/theory. We learn about neuroscience and neurobiology… ‘proper’ science is involved in Psychology.
- You can’t use psychological disorders to describe yourself. You are not “so OCD” because you are really organised. I could go into this a lot more because this one particularly annoys be. Unless you have been clinically diagnosed, then you probably aren’t. They are real disorders, you can’t use them in the wrong context, having depression is different to just being upset over something. Mental illness is something you should not talk about lightly. And we can’t diagnose you. We get really defensive of people who throw around phrases like “I’m so depressed” or “I should become anorexic” because we’ve learned what it is like for sufferers to go through these things. You cannot just go on the Internet and decide to do a depression test because chances are they are very inaccurate. If you feel like you really do have depression, go see a GP and they will refer you to a therapist. But please don’t say you’re depressed if you are just temporarily sad because someone hurt your feelings. It makes me want to punch someone when you say that.
- Not all psychology students become therapists or counsellors. A lot of us don’t actually don’t know what we want to do, because there are so many choices of psychology fields we could go into, AND because of the growing population of psychology students it is becoming ever more harder to get a job in a psychology field. You want to become a cognitive psychologist? Ha, wait a few years after you graduate and then maybe you’ll get your dream job. It’s very competitive. Sometimes, when people bring up the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, we die a little on the inside because honestly we don’t know. But we love the subject and that’s all that matters. We may have originally wanted to go into psychology because we watched Bones, Criminal Minds or NCIS or CSI: Miami, or because we wanted to help people. But half way through our degrees some of us change our minds. There’s more to it than just forensic or clinical psychology.
Apart from these things and a few others, I’d love to hear your questions about psychology! We are proud of our degrees, even if it has its ups and downs, and we love that you guys love talking about it. But please leave the jokes out of it, they get old even though we know you love making them. Let me know what you think down in the comments.