5 Psychology Myths You Need to Stop Believing


In honor of National Mental Health Week, we at MEDTEK would like to highlight what us Filipinos know about psychology. Specifically, what we think we know. This week, we’re delving into the most popular myths we’ve assumed to be true for so long and why they have persevered all these years.

1. “People grieve in five stages.”

We’ve all heard this one before. Every grieving person must go through denial, anger, bargaining and depression to reach acceptance. The only problem? There’s absolutely no basis for this step-by-step guide.

“Why are you depressed? You haven’t even bargained yet.”

The psychiatrist who introduced the five stages, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, wasn’t even talking about the same context. She structured the stages based on the personal observations she’d made on dying patients, not mourning grievers. She saw that the dying have different degrees of dealing with their imminent deaths. These were, you’ve guessed it, the infamous DABDA.

2. “People with higher IQ are smarter.”

Intelligence quotient or IQ tests have been universally used to measure brain power. Learning that someone’s IQ is higher than the average will definitely affect how that person is seen. Same goes with someone who has a less impressive two-digit IQ. This would be sad since IQ tests only assess a few aspects of our brain capabilities like problem solving, spatial intelligence, and short term memory.

This goes out to that one friend who starts his sentences with “Actually…”

As you may know, our brain has a more complex skillset than that. You could be a genius at solving math problems but have the verbal intelligence of a toddler. It should also be worth noting that one’s IQ can also be dictated by his/her economic and educational background. This would mean that your IQ may not even be totally because of your brain smarts. You could just be lucky/unlucky to be where you were born to.

3. “Your birth order will determine your personality and intelligence.”

Eldest children are bossy. Middle children wants more attention. Youngest children are spoiled. Only children are terribly selfish. Chances are you’re one of those four types and you’re not too happy with the stereotype you’re attached to. Also, if you have a Facebook account, this may not have been the first time you’ve encountered this. Well, you can thank Alfred Adler for that.

The black sheep, the control freak, and that entitled jerk at the grocery store (according to Adler)

You see, Alfred Adler stated back in 1920 that you and your siblings’ personalities will depend on which order you were expelled from your mother. The thing is, Adler didn’t test his theory. People just kind of ran away with it because sort of makes sense. Of course, now we know better. In 2015, the US and Germany performed separate tests on school children to see if test results will vary between birth orders. It turns out, the difference is ‘mathematically insignificant.’ And the traits that were also supposed to differ? They’re apparently based more on a little thing called genes.

4. “Just let your anger out. You’ll feel better.”

Feel like you’re about to lose it and explode into a fire of pure rage and fury? Just find the nearest pillow to stuff your face in and scream at. Super frustrated at work? Get a boxing subscription and let that punching bag have it. We’ve always been advised to let our anger out at inanimate objects instead of people because there’s such a thing as jail. We’ve also been told that it’s better than bottling our emotions in because one day, we “might snap.”

Just look at how good he is at not snapping.

However, once you let that anger out, it can get pretty addictive. Research says that constantly having an outlet for your rage will condition your body into submitting to your emotions. Releasing anger to control your anger is like smoking to control the urge to smoke. This can also make you prone to snap more easily. So yeah, maybe try to take a cue from Elsa and “conceal, don’t feel.”

5. “People with mental disorders are more likely to become criminals.”

We can list down all the movies that make mental illness the reason for the villain’s villain-ness but we simply don’t have that much time in our hands. All we know is that there’s way too many for a premise that may not even be true.

Straightjackets: because the mentally-ill are naturally stabby, apparently

In the real world, people with mental illness are ten times more likely to be the victims of crimes than everyone else. They are much more vulnerable to robbery, assault and rape. The overwhelming majority of violent crimes committed were done not by mentally-ill people but by sound-minded people. Even though the public awareness on mental health has increased over the years, our attitude on the mentally-ill haven’t changed much. This may be due in part to their portrayal in media. It’s pretty much time for us to portray mental illness not as the reason we’d say “huh, so that’s why he’s so evil” but as an actual illness that needs treatment and care.