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Myths & Misconceptions About Psychology Prevailing in Pakistani Society

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A Psychologist working in the community settings, interested to explore the social dynamics and psychological behavioral patterns.

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Psychology is the “Scientific study of human behavior and mental process”. Psychologists deal with behavioral & emotional problems faced by any person in daily life routine. In Pakistani society, the field of Psychology is facing a lack of awareness as well as other social sciences. The strict cultural belief system and customs lead to the formation of various myths and stereotypes about human behavior and mental processes. Due to these myths, the “mental health” of a person is not considered as important as physical health.
There are so many different misconceptions about exactly what psychology is and is not.

Psychology is not a real Science: Many people believe that psychology is not real science, it’s just the art of speaking learned by psychologists to make people chump. Reality is not so simple, Today’s psychology & its Therapies are based on empirical evidence and scientific research conducted on human behavior. Scientific observation and learning human behavior through experiments was started in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt built the first psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig, Germany. After that, psychology is noted as a science apart from philosophy and biology. Psychology is sometimes called a “soft science” as it is different from ‘hard sciences’ like Mathematics and Physics, where the phenomenon is more definitively measured and widely applicable. As the human psyche is so variable and complex, so exact and 100% accuracy to understand human behavior is not possible but psychological research results try to understand and imitate most of it.

Psychology is Easy: Many people believe that psychology is nothing more than “common sense” and therefore is an easy field to master. In reality, the study of psychology involves arduous training in topics ranging from statistics to Psychopathology. A bachelor's degree in psychology does not make you a Clinical Psychologist but it demands tough training in clinics & hospitals after pursuing your master's degree. Psychology classes can be equally tough like students in other sciences, particularly for students who have little experience with the subject or who have a limited background in subjects such as science and math. So, anyone thinking about making a career in psychology by just getting a degree is living in a fool’s paradise.

“Psychological Problems” or “Demonic Possession”: In Pakistan, mental illness and psychological problems are considered by some to be an encounter with Shaitan or demons who have taken over one's body and mind. It is also assumed that it is caused by the black magic performed by enemies and jealous persons. Sleep paralysis is considered to be an encounter with evil jinns or demons who have taken over one's body. Similarly, the persons having Bipolar disorder or patients of Schizophrenia are considered to be possessed by some demonic power. The same is the case with patients with Epileptic Seizures. All these are psychological & neurological disorders with having a large number of treatment methods available. Due to strong superstitious beliefs, Pakistanis from all walks of life routinely turn to faith healers to remedy various health problems, from abdominal pain to Epilepsy, marital life & financial crises, and getting a good fortune surprise. In the end, people lost both health & wealth. These superstitious beliefs and false practices can be reduced by educating the community through awareness campaigns, which can be launched through community centers like Masjids & Schools.

Limited Number of Career Options: It is to be believed in Pakistani society that pursuing a degree in psychology gives you a limited number of career options. The reality is different, Psychologists and counselors are required in almost every department of Governmental and Non-Governmental organizations. But keep one thing in mind that you should have pursued a master's degree before starting your career and also a doctoral degree in some cases. Following are some areas (but not limited) where spaces are vacant for psychologists:

· Armed Forces of Pakistan & Intelligence agencies.

· Public Service Commissions.

· Health Services & Hospitals.

· Academic Positions.

· Educational Psychologists at Schools, Colleges and higher studies institutes. (Emergent Space)

· Child Psychologists. (Emergent Space)

· Speech Therapist.· Forensic Psychologist in Law-Enforcement institutes. (Emergent Space)

· Rehabilitation Psychologists.

· HR Consultants in various business organizations.

· Counseling Psychologists

· Many more options, as the field is in the emerging phase In Pakistan.

How Myths can be debunked: These myths and misconceptions about psychology can only be disapproved by spreading awareness about scientific knowledge and facts. Teachers at primary and secondary schools can educate the students about these myths and false superstitious beliefs. Religious Scholars can break the shackles regarding myths by educating and desensitizing the common people on different superstitious beliefs and taboos. Electronic, Print and Social media can play their roles by making dramas & films and conducting awareness programs. University students can educate their families and community about Psychology & Psychological problems.

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