Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trying to be happy is like trying to be taller, says Michael Duffy

Life's journey is a myth-busting affair, Michael Duffy's piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald, reports on the new book Fifty Great Myths of Popular Psychology, by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio and Barry Beyerstein.

Duffy argues that the idea that we can make ourselves happier is a myth. He also points out that being unhappy sometimes is a part of life, and is not necessarily a bad thing.

One of the myths the book deals with is the idea that men and women are extremely different. The authors suggest that John Gray's book title should be changed to Men Are From North Dakota, Women Are From South Dakota!

Here is the list of 50 ideas the authors claim are all myths, or at least, more untrue than they are true:
1 Brain Power
Myths about the Brain and Perception
#1 Most People Use Only 10% of Their Brain Power
#2 Some People Are Left-Brained, Others Are Right-Brained
#3 Extrasensory Perception Is a Well-Established Scientific Phenomenon
#4 Visual Perceptions Are Accompanied by Tiny Emissions from the Eyes
#5 Subliminal Messages Can Persuade People to Purchase Products

2 From Womb to Tomb
Myths about Development and Aging
#6 Playing Mozart’s Music to Infants Boosts Their Intelligence
#7 Adolescence Is Inevitably a Time of Psychological Turmoil
#8 Most People Experience a Midlife Crisis in Their 40s or Early 50s
#9 Old Age Is Typically Associated with Increased Dissatisfaction and Senility
#10 When Dying, People Pass through a Universal Series of Psychological Stages

3 A Remembrance of Things Past
Myths about Memory
#11 Human Memory Works like a Tape Recorder or Video Camera, and Accurately Records the Events
We’ve Experienced
#12 Hypnosis is Useful for Retrieving Memories of Forgotten Events
#13 Individuals Commonly Repress the Memories of Traumatic Experiences
#14 Most People with Amnesia Forget All Details of Their Earlier Lives

4 Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks
Myths about Intelligence and Learning
#15 Intelligence Tests Are Biased against Certain Groups of People
#16 If You’re Unsure of Your Answer When Taking a Test, It’s Best to Stick with Your Initial Hunch
#17 The Defining Feature of Dyslexia Is Reversing Letters
#18 Students Learn Best When Teaching Styles Are Matched to Their Learning Styles

5 Altered States
Myths about Consciousness
#19 Hypnosis Is a Unique “Trance” State that Differs in Kind from Wakefulness
#20 Researchers Have Demonstrated that Dreams Possess Symbolic Meaning
#21 Individuals Can Learn Information, like New anguages, while Asleep
#22 During “Out-of-Body” Experiences, People’s Consciousness Leaves Their Bodies

6 I’ve Got a Feeling
Myths about Emotion and Motivation
#23 The Polygraph (“Lie Detector”) Test Is an Accurate Means of Detecting Dishonesty
#24 Happiness Is Determined Mostly by Our External Circumstances
#25 Ulcers Are Caused Primarily or Entirely by Stress
#26 A Positive Attitude Can Stave off Cancer

7 The Social Animal
Myths about Interpersonal Behavior
#27 Opposites Attract: We Are Most Romantically Attracted to People Who Differ from Us
#28 There’s Safety in Numbers: The More People Present at an Emergency, the Greater the Chance that Someone Will Intervene
#29 Men and Women Communicate in Completely Different Ways
#30 It’s Better to Express Anger to Others than to Hold It in

8 Know Thyself
Myths about Personality
#31 Raising Children Similarly Leads to Similarities in Their Adult Personalities
#32 The Fact that a Trait Is Heritable Means We Can’t Change It
#33 Low Self-Esteem Is a Major Cause of Psychological Problems
#34 Most People Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood Develop Severe Personality
Disturbances in Adulthood
#35 People’s Responses to Inkblots Tell Us a Great Deal about Their Personalities
#36 Our Handwriting Reveals Our Personality Traits

9 Sad, Mad, and Bad
Myths about Mental Illness
#37 Psychiatric Labels Cause Harm by Stigmatizing People
#38 Only Deeply Depressed People Commit Suicide
#39 People with Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities
#40 Adult Children of Alcoholics Display a Distinct Profile of Symptoms
#41 There’s Recently Been a Massive Epidemic of Infantile Autism
#42 Psychiatric Hospital Admissions and Crimes Increase during Full Moons

10 Disorder in the Court
Myths about Psychology and the Law
#43 Most Mentally Ill People Are Violent
#44 Criminal Profiling Is Helpful in Solving Cases
#45 A Large Proportion Of Criminals Successfully Use the Insanity Defense
#46 Virtually All People Who Confess to a Crime Are Guilty of It

11 Skills and Pills
Myths about Psychological Treatment
#47 Expert Judgment and Intuition Are the Best Means of Making Clinical Decisions
#48 Abstinence Is the Only Realistic Treatment Goal for Alcoholics
#49 All Effective Psychotherapies Force People to Confront the “Root” Causes of Their Problems in Childhood
#50 Electroconvulsive (“Shock”) Therapy Is a Physically Dangerous and Brutal Treatment

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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