If you’re like me and have an internet addiction unlike any other, than you probably often find yourself lurking through the depths of the internet while Netflix plays in the background. It seems no matter what show I watch, I can’t help but have to do something else while it plays in the background. I used to mock my father when I saw him browsing on his phone through ebay while watching a TV show. Is it not cognitively enough to pay attention to the story line of a TV show without the need of playing sudoku on your device or shopping online? Even now, writing this piece, I have 13 Reasons Why playing in the background (a post of how controversial this show is will come in the near future). Perhaps my need to understand why it seems that our cognitive load is only expanding, or why people of all ages are becoming attentively defective, is a psychology student thing. But is it? Browsing through the internet, I always come across those articles that share titles like: 10 Facts About Psychology Students or, 10 Thing Only Psychology Students Will Understand. As much as I would like to say these articles are accurate, the words would choke me. To say all psychology students share particular qualities is an overgeneralization, but also because most of them can be applied to all people. Not just students, and not just those studying psychology. So instead of giving you a generic 10 Facts About Blah Blah Blah, I’m going to give you 8 Alternative Facts About Psychology Students (alternative here meaning fake).
1. We analyze everyone we make contact with
This one is probably my favourite as its listed on every 10 Facts article I have ever read thus far. As a third year psychology student I can tell you, I have no interest in analyzing anyone. Why? Because that’s a Therapists job and frankly, you don’t pay me enough. Studying psychology is more than analyzing people and determining what is wrong with them. Abnormal Psychology is what you’re thinking of and that is only a small branch of what psychology even is. Cognitive Psychology is about higher order functioning like thinking, attention, memory stores. Developmental Psychology is about how we as humans grow up, motor milestones, linguistic milestones, at what point in our development we develop depth cues. Psychometrics is the development of psychological tests. There is so much more to psychology than abnormal behaviour. Additionally, in my three years of psychological study, I have yet to meet one person who even wants to be analyzed by me.
2. Anything we learn, we are crazy about applying it to literally everything
Now this one is just silly. It doesn’t take a psychology student to want to learn and then apply what they learned to their everyday life. What kind of intellectual species would we be if we didn’t change the way we performed everyday events? Learning and applying is fundamental for survival. Even in ancestral times if you didn’t learn from your mistakes, you didn’t survive. If anything, it sounds selfish to say that psychology students are the only group of people who are capable of applying new techniques to their way of living.
3. We cannot stop labelling others with a disorder
I don’t even know what to say about this one. Sure, there are people out there who diagnose their friends with Bipolar Disorder because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or tell themselves they’re so “depressed” because their crush didn’t ask them to the senior prom. If anything, I have done this less now that I actually studied the different disorders than before when I didn’t have a clue. Mental illness is complicated, it’s contextual, and unless you have all the pieces of the puzzle, it’s quite hard to solve. You really don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives. What you think are signs of depression may really be signs of grieving for a loved one. What you think are signs of bipolar disorder may really be signs of frustration from a failed test (don’t you dare say menstruation). You really don’t know what is going on in a person’s life so lets not add any unwanted diagnoses.
4. We know we have all the disorders in their simplest form
This is just a knock of Medical Student Syndrome. If you haven’t heard of this, Medical Student Syndrome is a condition reported most frequently by medical students. Since starting their long journey into medicine, they learn about new problems and diseases. These students perceive themselves to be experiencing the symptoms of the disease they’re studying. Sounds like an initiation than anything else. In any case, thinking you have some illness or disorder is not solely a psychology student thing, if anything, we stole it from the medical students. But you should also not forget that there are people out there who suffer from hypochondria which is the belief that a person is constantly suffering from a disease or illness, despite medical reassurance. In other words, psychology students aren’t the only ones.
5. We hate people who confuse psychologists and psychiatrists
Hate is a strong word that I cannot bring myself to apply in this scenario. In all honesty, I didn’t learn until last year what the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is. People don’t confuse the two out of ignorance or spite, but because they have simply never been told. Allow me to clear up any confusion. A psychologist is someone who specializes in studying psychology (psych – means mind, ology – means study of). A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. The only difference really is one went to medical school and the other didn’t. If anything, as people who with post-secondary critical thinking skills, we understand that you may not know the difference between certain psychological professions. Can you name every single medical specialty without getting any two confused?
6. We can read people’s minds
You have been watching too much x-men. I think everyone can agree that people are not that, for lack of a better word, stupid enough to think psychology students are telepaths. Although that would be quite the gift, it is just not feasible.
7. Everyone turns to you for therapy sessions
Overgeneralization. There seems to be a consistent theme across these 10 Facts articles: how to make things about yourself. Anyone who has a close friend knows that people ask for advice. Boy troubles? Ask a friend. School troubles? Ask a friend. You don’t need to know someone who studies psychology to approach someone about an issue close to you.
8. Psychology is only taken by girls
Are you seriously going to sit there and try to convince yourself that a particular occupation is run by only one gender? Come on now, you should know better. Sigmund Freud, Carl Yung, Jean Piaget, Wilhelm Wundt, Erik Erikson, Carl Rogers, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, John Watson. Getting the picture?