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Common Misconceptions of Psychiatry

By July 30, 2012 - 10:40pm

Psychiatry is one discipline that can be easy to misunderstand. Many of the most common misconceptions are based on out of date information, or on “cheating” on common tests. One example of this is the Rorschach test. It becomes useless if you have seen the images beforehand and already have an opinion of them. This is because your answers to the questions about them are measured against a large control group of test answers before you. For instance, if you answer ‘butterfly,’ you will be matched up against everyone else who has said butterfly before you and their personality types. This is just one example of a once-standard test applied by psychiatrists.

What is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists? It’s a very common question and the two can be easily confused. It usually comes down to schooling; psychologists have a PhD or Psy. D (Doctorate of Psycology) and psychiatrists have an actual medical degree from years in medical school. Psychiatrists have the ability to prescribe drugs and make an official diagnosis, while psychologists usually conduct research. There is, of course, some overlap in the areas especially as some psychologists are being given the ability to prescribe drugs.

Don’t you guys just read a bunch of Freud and talk about my mother? This is a semi-joking question heard in casual conversation. There are some widespread misconceptions about Freud’s place in modern psychiatry. To be put clearly, Freud’s work is regarded highly as a piece of historical psychology and very interesting, but is generally not put into practice. His books were published over a hundred years ago, and if you think psychology/psychiatry hasn’t progressed since then you must not be following the news very closely. As for the mother part, well, it depends. Obviously discussion of the relationship a patient has with their parents is part of understanding how they work and how well they are conveying their emotions to others, so it’s likely that those issues may be brought up.

“Since I’m not hearing voices, I don’t need help.” This has been proven wrong again and again as it is very hard to break yourself out of a negative thinking pattern or depression by yourself, or even with the help of friends. Let a professional help you, it will make a world of difference to your mental health.

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EmpowHER Guest
By Anonymous August 4, 2012 - 7:53pm

Hi haleygrow,

Welcome to EmpowHER and thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information.



August 4, 2012 - 7:53pm

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