There are roughly 7 billion people in the world currently, 313,914,040 of them (give or take some 2013 births and deaths) live here in the United States. That is a lot of people. People that all have different drives, separate pasts, and their own unique variety of needs, likes, and wants. Everybody has something that makes them tick. Where is comes from, how it presents, and where it leads them is all invariably different than the person standing next to them in a crowded subway.
You could have two siblings with identical past experiences that lead them to extraordinarily different outcomes. Therapists can spend years upon years evaluating a single individual and barely scratch the surface of what the driving forces are behind a single action and how the balances were tipped to get there is such an individualized response that there will never be a hard and fast way to determine how to correct said behavior.
Psychology has evolved throughout the years in such ways that it is almost comical to think that the ways in which we handle and treat mental illness and disorders now is the “correct” way to do so. Tell that to the doctors 50 years ago that were using ice baths and lobotomies as a means to treat mental illness. How correct and valid were the practices of the time at that time? 100%? 90%? What we now consider to be a laughable course of action in behavior modification were once considered the standard of care.
What will the people 50 years from now consider of our current techniques and practices? Will we be looked upon as misguided and farfetched as the theories that came before us?
My degree is only 7 years old. In 7 years the diagnostic criteria and methods of therapy have evolved in ways that would make parts of my education obsolete. Which brings about the question of the relevance of having a degree and it’s ability to make one capable of treating and evaluating patients.
Because as much as I am educated and legitimately fascinated with people as a whole…I will never, ever make the claim that I understand people.
I could spend hours analyzing and attempting to explain (even if only to myself) why it is that I do what I do. What is my driving force; why I am who I am. I don’t have the time, mental faculties, or capabilities to do this for every other individual that I meet. It would be an exhausting and futile display of crazy on my part (that I have attempted and met with little success in the past). Why do you think therapists make exorbitant amounts of money and retire in lavish summer homes overlooking grand landscapes? Because “figuring people out” is a tricky and uncertain business that one has to be willing to not only undertake but do effectively while maintaining their personal sanity.
Let’s take a step back and think about that for a moment. Think of someone close to you, perhaps a spouse. Think of the amount of time you actually spend wondering why it is that they do what they do. And you know them. You know their childhood, their secrets, and their faults. But still the everyday occurrences in their personality can be downright confusing at times.
This is why that I could never claim to understand people. I know more bullet points that some, perhaps, but people as a whole still manage to confound as much as they captivate me. In fact, I could honestly state -fully aware of the tremendous amounts of irony in the following statement- that the degree really just set me on a path of useless over analyztion that will plague me for the rest of my days on this planet as opposed to a higher level of understanding.
Allow me to explain further…most people, when they meet a person that has a strange or non-coinciding personality type from themselves, simply allow that person to filter back into the universe. They give them no more thought and allow that person to rent no more space in their minds. While I, being a person that is entranced with the inner workings of the human condition, would allow said person into my life solely for the purpose of being able to see into their world and hopefully find the cause of ill behaviors.
This always lead to some type of dramatic end yet I couldn’t seem to help myself. The world was my case study.
Psychologists learn to listen and absorb and read between the lines. I wish I never learned how to do such a thing. It’s exhausting. Having a simple friendship or even a argument with my husband can become grounds for wild analyzations of projection, justification, or some other type of irrelevant classification of the perspective. I’m legitimately lucky the man is still married to me. Even I annoy me sometimes.
As I grow older, I have come to terms with the fact that understanding people is a futile practice (unless it is done for hire). The “why” is inconsequential when it comes to actions. Living with the ability to see the actions without a cause isn’t something that I am able to do, but I have learned that knowing the “why” doesn’t make the action any less harmful. It doesn’t excuse the behavior in any way. People will blindly be who they are until the end of time. Yet me sitting around, trying to crack their code one person at a time, wasted years of my existence that I will never get back.
So, no, I do not understand people. At all. And I am trying my hardest to be okay with that fact.
Photo Credit: inexpressible.com
I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.