Understanding Psychology: How is it Effective and why it isn’t as Popular as it should be?
Often a topic of intrigue and scrutiny, psychology, whilst turning many a head, is a concept quite poorly understood. One person may define it as “the study of the soul”, whereas another may refer to it as “the study of behavior”. Both of these may be considered correct. However, one of them still leaves room for want, in the outside observer wishing to understand the subject; something a coherent definition would simply not do. Whereas the latter fails to encompass the entirety of the subject which it attempts to define, covering only one aspect. Perhaps it is the convoluted nature of the subject that is a source of widespread skepticism of it, especially in Pakistan.
Psychology, the word itself is derived from Latin, translating to “the study of the soul”. This was the mainly used definition behind the word until, William James, a famous philosopher and psychologist, defined it as “the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and its conditions”. By 1913, John B Watson, the father of the behaviorist school of psychology, defined it as “the acquisition of information useful to the control of behavior”. Wikipedia summed it up quite simply as “the science of behavior and mind”.
Unlike clear-cut, practical subjects such as Engineering and Physics, Psychology is widely conceptual. These concepts are also often abstract, and neither easily quantified, nor understood. For this reason it is perhaps seen as a weaker subject compared to other sciences. In spite all this, one mustn’t underestimate Psychology as both a science and a profession.
The human mind is a structure that is as enigmatic as it is complex. It should be of little doubt that the subject that studies its workings is no different. Granted that most psychological work is based off of speculation of some ancient men, but this grand field would not have come this far (and it has come very far indeed) if it wasn’t effective. In quantitative terms there may be little difference between a person who went through psychological counseling and one who didn’t, however, it is in the qualitative realm, that counseling truly shines.
Psychological counseling can help us become more productive, it can improve our sense of well-being, make us more present. It can also help improve our self-esteem and confidence, as well as help us control our emotions in stressful situations. While such aspects would rarely ever translate into a quantitative, statistical research on the therapy’s effectiveness, they improve the client’s quality of life considerably- and that is what matters most.
In Pakistan, the disdain for psychology is very strong, but this should not stop us from seeking help ourselves. The human mind is capable of doing both great and disdainful things, psychological counseling gives it the nudge it needs to go from an unhealthy unproductive lifestyle, to a healthier, more productive one.