A few weeks ago, an act of violence shattered the normally peaceful air over the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. This and other recent mass shootings have sparked national debates on gun control and the presence of violent media, both on television and in popular videos games. With the recent release and phenomenal success of “Grand Theft Auto V,” the average parent may now be even more wary about purchasing such titles for their children. While there is no doubt that our lives are infiltrated with images of violence, corruption and death, we are being led away from addressing the real cause of these terrible acts by scapegoating the media for our woes. In reality, the root of our problem as a society lies in our overabundant reliance in the field of psychology. This “science” of the mind has morphed into a multibillion-dollar industry that now controls a majority of how we view ourselves and others around us. Behavioral psychology has become a masterfully cloaked burden on society, oppressing many while generating massive amounts of money for pharmaceutical companies and therapists nationwide.
The initial problem that psychology poses to society is that it is often construed as a concrete, “applicable in all cases” science when it does not pass the five basic requirements of a science. Psychology does not have a well-defined control group for experimentation, nor does it have a quantifiable scale for measuring individual response. Essentially, there exists no unit to quantify a feeling or emotion, no scale that can encapsulate such data. Additionally, the field itself is so nebulous that often many psychological “conditions” are merely abstract terms built to encompass a majority of the population. For example, conditions such as “sibling rivalry” and “spelling disorder” are listed as mental illnesses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Interestingly enough, the number of types of mental disorders has risen exponentially in recent years. Is this a sign that humanity is progressively becoming more unstable, or is it a sign that an insatiable greed for money has spawned the creation of fancy new conditions just waiting to be shoved down the throats of the masses?
While many have been helped by psychological intervention, the industry continues to pump out masses of negativity in the form of undergraduate degrees. Here is where much of the danger presents itself in the form of renegade therapists who set themselves apart from society and overanalyze their peer groups. This in itself breeds an aura of superiority into those who decide to take the path of amateur therapists, prancing around with the mindset that they are, in fact, the next Sigmund Freud. Granted, there are benefits of having a graduate degree and helping others through psychology, but the overall impact and increasing abundance of those who remain at the undergraduate level is widespread.
Another problem that presents itself is the overmedication of society, brought on by forcing a culture of abnormality into the minds of the American people. Western medicine has also influenced recent trends in the proliferation of the pharmaceutical industry. Could the addition of disorders in the DSM be an excuse for the production and further medication of the masses? Maybe — the correlation between medication and number of possible diagnoses would seem to point in this direction. Could it be coincidence that recent shootings and acts of violence have links to psychiatrics? It seems likely. The motive for pill-popping madness is money, and psychiatrists know this, so the push to classify everyone as something outside the normal was born.
The expansion of psychology into our daily lives has become more of a burden than a savior. With the push to medicate, the influx of undertrained and unaware psychology majors, and corporate control so powerful that it scapegoats entertainment instead of addressing real issues, psychology and psychiatry have become more of a business than a form of therapy. There is not much room to speculate that this shift from altruism to fiscal gain has already had an effect on our lives. Just ask those affected by recent events — empathy rather than greed may have helped to save their loved ones.
Vaughn Shirey is a sophomore environmental sciences major at Drexel University. He can be contacted at [email protected].