One should take popular psychological advisors with a pinch of salt. It is not intended to discard the efficiency and practical applications of these suggestions. But to make one vigilant about the fact that what they are going to accept as a life savior can be a wolf in Sheep’s clothing. According to the data provided by APA (American Psychological Association), every 3 in 4 adults are reporting mental health issues. These figures give us a clue about the ground reality and unreported statistical facts about mental health.
Usually, people tend to use pop psychological literature via the internet or books, to seek advice regarding the issues of mental health. These seekers’ vulnerable situation and the Internet advertisement witch-hunt for the target customers make social media and internet articles one of the easiest ways to seek help in such cases. In less probable situations they are ought to buy popular books on pop psychology. Ideally speaking, they are no doubt the easiest ways to seek help on mental health issues, yet it’s not much less than a trap.
Different questions may arise in one’s mind like, Are we ending up better? Are we being truly helped? Should we be skeptical about these suggestions? Is pop psychology a reliable way to seek help? The answers to these questions in the light of standard psychological understanding are, surprisingly, heartbreaking.
Pop psychology literature usually ignores the importance of personal differences among people and their impact on human psychology. It assumes uniformity in the factors of complex psychological problems across the population. As a result of such generalization, many of their psychological remedies can be non-reliable and not-so-healthy if the personal differences are there to impact (which is highly probable). Such mistakes, rather blunders, make the recipients vulnerable to many unforeseen bad impacts.
Norman Vincent in his international bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking leaves no stone unturned to convince the readers that talking positively to themselves enables you to be the best of yourself. Well, the million people, probably, who read the book may believe the same. But is this idea consistent with the academic psychological understanding? Does talking positively do the magic? The answer is no. Are the personal differences going to impact (as we discussed earlier)? Psychological literature backed by scientific researches indicates that it will. According to the standard understanding, this generic life exercise can make life worse for people with low self-esteem. They may develop more anxiety seeing the discrepancy in what they are and what they want to be. Thus, if you are not in that small percentage who have high self-worth and lack productivity (which is probably the case, you are not) this pop psychological remedy is going to worsen the problems for you.
Pop psychology, most of the time, advises using self-analysis to gain knowledge about you, your insecurities, and motives. Self-analysis, however, has its limitations and can lead you to false judgments about yourself. Human psychology is a complex entity and has many convoluted layers to it, relying on self-analysis without any prior knowledge about how human psychology works is a bad idea. Standard psychological literature agrees upon the fact that in case of any emotional dimension, which is present more or less in every psychological problem, self-analysis is very likely to give you wrong information about yourself due to the complex defense mechanisms of our mind.
Articles on self-help usually ask to use different fallacious techniques, for example, in the case of aggregation; they argue that channeling the aggression to non-hostile expression will help you to get rid of the adverse effects. They, thus, suggest the use of alternative ways to express aggression like video games and punching bags. Contrary to their assumption, according to psychological understanding, aggression persists though it is expressed for the time being. In short, you dug a pit hole for yourself.
These generalized pieces of writings usually simplify complex psychological researches and make small remedies out of them. Some psychological thumb rules and myths do prevail in these writings which may not be factually correct. Though there are some good eggs too, yet one cannot help ignoring their blunders as it is a matter of mental health. Their importance is not being questioned, but their reliability is in question. The best course of action, keeping all the arguments in mind, is that people should be more vigilant and prefer professional opinions.