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Last Updated Monday November 20 2017 10:58 AM IST

The truth behind pop psychological concepts

Dr Robin Mathew
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The truth behind pop psychological concepts Representational image. iStock

The basic concept of the phenomenon of mind, the way it works, and reading the thoughts of others have been fascinating people around the world for centuries. All popular cultures have tried to give some explanation to the enigmatic phenomenon called mind.

The science of Psychology stemmed initially from the field of Philosophy. Even now, at this time of sophisticated developments in modern medicine, Psychology is finding it difficult to get out of the bindings of the abstract nature of Philosophy.

Psychology is so popular among the masses not for it’s therapeutic aspects, but for it’s fictitious pseudo-psychological concepts depicted in the popular art forms. Most people believe that Psychology involves knowing others’ thoughts. Every day, we come across different theories pertaining to psychology which have no empirical or statistical proof. The pop psychological concepts and misconceptions are so popular that even learned academic psychologists believe that they are true. Here, I would like to bring out some misconceptions pertaining to the mind and the truths behind that.

Middle-age crisis

The middle-age crisis theory is much popular among the educated classes. It is believed that people in the 45-60 age group undergo a stage of horrible confusion, memory loss, loss of sexual desire and even depression. The main stressors believed to be are career change, spousal relationship, children being matured and death of their parents.

Some of the pioneer psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson and Carl Jung came with different theories on middle-age crisis. But there is no research to back up any of these theories.

If you closely observe the middle-life crisis among different communities, we may see that these stressors are so subjective. For some people, middle life would be the happiest time because it could be the time they have gained financial independence or got relief from an estranged family, stressful work or problematic society.

People across the world, at different points of their life, undergo different stress-causing situations such as family problems or physical and emotional difficulties at some stage of their life. Life problems do not start all of a sudden at any specific age.

Full Moon syndrome

The belief that the Moon directly impacts our life, emotions or health conditions are so popular in many cultures. The fact that lunar tides are caused due to the mutual attraction between the Earth and the Moon makes people believe that there is an impact on the attraction of the Moon on human beings, especially in the mental health realm. In fact, the word lunatic for the mentally ill originated from the belief that epilepsy and mental disorders are caused by the moon.

Even among medical communities, there is a belief that on full moon days, both physical and mental disorders get aggravated. People would tell you stories of more deaths, increased hospital admissions, and more seizures during full moon days. The truth is that, all these are fictitious claims which stem from mere superstitions. Studies have shown that the number of psychiatric visits, cardiac arrests, epileptic attacks and deaths during full moon days are just the same as the regular days. Most of the times, simple correlations are believed to be causations.

(The author is a behavioral psychologist)

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