Psychology and Mental Illness Links

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I have not one but two mental illnesses. I don't generally introduce my writing in such a manner but I figure, "Why waste time?" If this is supposed to be about correlation between psychology and mental illness, let's get on with it.

Of course there's a correlation. If everyone walked around all happy and smiling, there would be no need to study behavior. But we are not robots, and what happens in life shapes us. Our genetic backgrounds move us in directions we would not choose without predisposition. I believe that those who have dealt with mental illness, either in themselves or those they love, are more equipped with the empathy required to help others with such issues. But to make such a stretch and say that studying psychology pulls one toward being mentally ill seems somewhat ignorant. And embracing such a stigmatizing perspective demonstrates a deplorable lack of knowledge in both arenas.

I have been battling mental illness for 15 years. I did not catch it from a psychology text book or an overzealous professor. I had years of abuse both emotional and sexual, along with much tragedy, that propelled me down the rabbit hole to insanity. I never once in all that time thought, "Man, if only I had not taken Psych 101 my freshman year of college."

In fact, my worst experiences have been with people in the field of psychology because of their inability to identify. News flash, psychologists are simply MD's with one term of psychology. So if one is to say psychology creates mental illness, then we'd have to extend it to the study of medicine creating mental illness too, unless one can "catch" it in one semester psychology.

Psychologists are not required to take more than a couple terms of abnormal psychology (programs vary), the place where mental illnesses are addressed. Psychology is the study of human behavior, how it pertains to the environment, other people, natural disasters, animals, and a plethora of other topics. It is not centralized to studying mental illness. I've done a lot of speaking engagements in classrooms of people who are in psychology master programs, and the fear, shock, and awe that registers on the faces of these student tells me they know very little, personally, about mental illness. I don't know, maybe they contract mental illnesses when they go after their PhD's...

And me? Well I'm a research psychologist working toward my PhD. I was mentally ill LONG before going into the field. I did it to educate those in the field of psychology so they would develop some empathy and possibly become more effective. I have a B.A in psychology and a M.A. in research psychology and I am no more mentally ill now than I was when I started. In fact, if anything, I'm less.

More about this author: Lael Clapp

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