Harmful Psychological Myths


Myths abound in every sphere of life. From basic fables to big stories, a plethora of myths has stigmatized human knowledge like no other. But, myths and little knowledge are both excessively perilous. This is because both can impel a person to fall into traps almost inadvertently. Psychology, the science of the brain is most vulnerable to myths. Anybody can come and tell you about any kind of apocryphal revelation. Moreover, you have no option but to deem that correct. So, here is a self-help post for you to stay aware of harmful psychological myths.

Some of the harmful psychological myths are:

1. Some people are left-brained and some are right-brained

Left and Right Brained

Different people have different knacks. Some are proficient at verbal skills while others are efficient in mathematical calculations. It is all based on the hemispheres of our brain. This is utterly unacceptable. Though there is good evidence that different hemispheres of our brain work differently, one of the most harmful psychological myths is that one hemisphere may be more efficient than the other for some people. There has been no psychological finding which states that some use more of their right sides and others more of their left. Roger Sperry, 1981 Nobel Prize Medalist, proved through his findings that each hemisphere of the brain operates without awareness of the other and both lead to activation of different activities.

The right hemisphere receives input from and controls the movements of the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere does the same for the right. Sperry conducted an experiment. Here patients were shown flashes on the screen. It was ascertained that the words on the left side of the screen went to the right hemisphere and the ones on the right side went to the left hemisphere. In almost all right-handers, and most lefties as well, the primary areas for language reception and production are in the left hemisphere. Thus if we just constrict one information to our right hemisphere, the left hemisphere will be unable to decipher what the input actually was, and in the end, you will be perplexed to see that the left hand will act on itself for reasons which you wouldn’t be able to unravel.

Obviously, such things don’t happen. Both the hemispheres of the brain act in complete conjunction and though people have different efficacies at different fortes, yet it has nothing to do with a slower hemisphere of the mind. In fact, you can always train your brain by playing some brain games.

Hence, do not fall into the trap of one of the most harmful psychological myths. If you see one more such differentiation test of the internet, shut that down and report it!

2. Adolescence is a time of psychological turmoil


The cult of Hollywood movies and novels about pandemonium in adolescents’ lives has indeed made us all fall prey to this misconception. One of the most harmful psychological myths is that adolescents tend to go through a psychological turmoil. We believe adolescence must be strictly marked by conflicts, psychological problems, depression, etc. Moreover after reading classic novels such as J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye (1951)” we are obliged to believe so. In fact, some psychoanalysts like Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, have gone to the length of saying that “to be normal during the adolescent period is by itself abnormal.”

Keeping the spurious plausible explanations aside, in actuality there is no such psychological chaos in adolescence. Offer & Schonert-Reichl’s studies in 1992 proved that a substantial majority of adolescents experience positive moods and cordial relationship with their parents and peers. Furthermore, Rutter, Graham, Chadwick, and Yule proved otherwise. In fact, a 34-years long study has been conducted. However, nobody found a shred of evidence that adolescents are at a heightened risk of psychological problems. We are so much engrossed in this belief.

Though conflicts with parents and peers do take place, they arise merely because your body has lately started throttling you with growth hormones and many other changes. However, nothing is as many problems as psychological disorders. And while anybody is dealing with emotional pain, it actually only exists for about 12-20 minutes. These are all harmful psychological myths.

3. Your Memory is like a tape recorder

Your memory is like a tape recorder

You must have heard of this and you probably even believe it. The list of most harmful psychological myths is that our memory is like a tape recorder. In a survey of around 600 undergraduates, 27% believed that human memory records everything just like a video camera. Unfortunately, that is too good to be true. Unfortunately, generations of psychoanalysts have propagated this myth. They believed in its veracity notwithstanding any filliping evidence. Though psychology believes that there exists flashbulb memory. However, that is all. Schmolck, Buffalo, & Squire enlightened the world through their experiment in the year 2000, in which they recorded that people’s memory can actually distort events as much as up to 30%-50% in their memories.

William James, a famous psychologist of the 20th century remarked that  “False memories are by no means rare occurrences in most of us. They may have seen them, may have said them, done them, or they may only have dreamed or imagined they did so” and recent psychological surveys are providing exclusive support to this argument.

4. Amnesia is what Jason Bourne experienced

Jason Bourne

If you have been enthralled by Ludlum’s Bourne series and have commenced believing that an amnesiac’s first question is “Who am I” or “Where am I”, then certainly you are wrong. The list of harmful psychological myths is incomplete without the understanding of amnesia.

In reality, there are two types of amnesias: retrograde amnesia –loss of memory of the past- and anterograde amnesia –loss of memory for new information. Whenever someone plummets to amnesia, he/she will most likely be having all knowledge of his/her past but would find it formidably painful to include new memories because of the inability to create episodic memories. In fact, in one of the surveys, 93% of patients who have suffered amnesia reported that they remember their past exactly but were unable to capture the present. The brilliant 2000 thriller Memento splendidly captures this reality, unlike other sophistry-driven movies busy propagating moron myths.

5. The deleterious myth

Head injury isn't the solution

You must take this up with extreme caution. Around 38%-46% of the Americans and the Canadians believe this myth. If you are suffering from a psychological problem due to a head injury, then that can be cured by one more head injury. This is one of the most illogical and harmful psychological myths. In fact, this myth can backfire. If you think carefully, you’ll realize this fact. One more strike on the head can cause more damage to the existing one. Do keep this one in mind!

It is time that we focus on the right pieces of information. We must, in fact, learn the true psychology rather than believe in insensible and harmful psychological myths. Definitely, the world is a delusional place. But, it is our duty to find out the truth

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