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8 great myths about modern psychology

8 great myths about modern psychology

May 6, 2021

Psychology is one of the disciplines on which more myths circulate , partly because its subject of study is interesting for the public in general and partly because because of the versatility of the mental processes it can get to "invent" all kinds of bizarre theories about how our brain works.

Myths of current psychology

In this chapter we will review some of the most widespread myths of psychology and we will see why they are false.

1. Dreams have a hidden meaning

One of the most widespread ideas about the functioning of mental processes is that dreams have a way of being interpreted that portrays our way of thinking , our fears and our desires.


This myth, which draws directly from the psychoanalytic theories born with Sigmund Freud, is based only on beliefs that have not been demonstrated, so that there is no reason to suppose that dreams mean something in particular beyond the interpretation that everyone wants to give them based on their own creative power.

2. Much of the psychological problems are solved by expressing them

It is very common to think that the task of the psychotherapists is simply to be there to listen to the problems that the patient tells him , and that the fact of verbally expressing these problems produces a sense of well-being that is the foundation of the solution offered by psychology.


However, we must not forget that a great part of the causes for which people go to the psychologist have to do with concrete objective and material factors that will not disappear simply because they are talked about. Situations of family tension, eating disorders, gambling addiction, phobias ... they all exist because there is a dynamic of interaction between the person and the elements of their environment that reproduces itself and remains in time, regardless of the way in which the person experiences it or interprets it

3. There is a rational and emotional brain

As well there is a myth that two superimposed brains inhabit our head: a rational brain and an emotional brain . This has a small part of truth, since the areas of the brain closest to the brainstem and the limbic system intervene more directly in the mental processes related to emotional states if we compare them with areas of the brain surface such as the lobe frontal, but it is still a simplification.


What really happens is that all parts of the brain are working together in both those processes related to the emotional and those that are related to the "rational" thinking, to the point that it is practically impossible to know if an activation pattern of Neurons is rational or based on emotions.

4. We use only 10% of the brain

This myth enjoys great popularity, and yet it is absurd in several ways . First of all, when we talk about this hidden potential of 10% of our brain, we are often confused with materially based affirmations (the way in which our body actually works) with those referring to our "hidden potential" as something more abstract and based on the philosophy of life that we follow.

This makes it easy to "throw the stone and hide the hand," that is, affirm things allegedly based on scientific knowledge and, when questioned, simply pass them through ideas about life that are worth living, the way the one that we can find ourselves, etc.

To learn more about why everything we know about how the brain works contradicts the 10% myth, you can read this article.

5. Subliminal messages make you buy things

The idea that an advertising team can make us feel the impulse to buy a specific product by introducing some "hidden" frames in a video or some letters in an image has not been proven, but rather that are based on an experiment, that of James Vicary and Coca-Cola , that never came to exist as such, as admitted by Vicary himself.

6. The interpretation of someone's drawings serves to evaluate their personality

Analyzing the drawings of people is only useful when exploring very specific diseases, such as heminegligencia, in which the left half of what is perceived is ignored (and, therefore, the left side of the drawings is left unfinished). That is to say, projective tests, like those in which someone's drawings are analyzed, do not serve to evaluate details about the personality of people and, beyond individual opinions about therapists who apply them, under the magnifying glass of studies that analyze a multitude of results have never proven to be effective .

The meta-analyzes that have been carried out on these tests point to their little or no use, among other things because there is no single way in which a drawing can be interpreted: for something it is a product of creativity and therefore they escape to preconceived schemes.

7. Hypnosis allows you to control someone's will

Hypnosis seems to be little less than a magical power that makes someone trained in these techniques can handle at will the body of other people, but the reality is far from this vision so marketiniana and spectacular.

The truth is Hypnosis is fundamentally based on suggestion and in the degree to which the person is willing to participate in the technique. Someone who does not want to be hypnotized will not be influenced by hypnosis.

8. Personality is assigned during youth

It is true that the first years of development are fundamental and that the things that happen to us can leave a mark that is difficult to erase in relation to our way of acting and perceiving things, but this should not be exaggerated.

Important aspects of the personality can continue to vary once adolescence and young adulthood are left behind in a similar way to what happens to Walter White in Breaking Bad (although not always for bad, of course). After all, our brain is constantly changing depending on what we are living, even during old age.


10 myths about psychology: debunked | Ben Ambridge (May 2021).


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