I’m a psychology major and my life philosophy is very simple: people are inherently good. Deep down in the dark corners of the heart, there is the intention to do good and be good. There is love, courage, passion, and all those beautiful things that give you shivers down your spine. I know that people are capable of acting in ways that don’t necessarily coincide with their natural tendencies for goodness, mainly due to the fact that I’ve done things that I knew were wrong from the start. Despite my transgressions, I know that there is goodness within me because I both care and feel deeply, wanting the best for everyone. I can’t be so naive to expect that others might also feel that way.
When my dad passed away, I dropped all attempts to be dark, brooding, and angsty. The teenager was set-aside for a young woman who never again would overlook the goodness of another before it was too late. I became optimistic. Hopeful. I started working harder to care about other people and see past their façades. I’ve kept numerous people in my life by looking past the rudeness and cruelty towards something deeper. Underneath it all there was someone who had been profoundly hurt, blinding them to their own goodness. Realizing all of this, I decided to help people by being a psychologist.
I’ve realized very recently that this won’t be my path. I was hit with the recognition that I’m terrified by those with which I cannot reason. My natural tendency is to label them crazy, which admittedly is unfair and judgmental. There are some people out there whose worldviews are so skewed that there is no way of meeting on common ground. Their outlook on life hurts other people, and I lose all feelings of compassion for them. How could I possibly help these inhuman creatures?
As a psychologist, I would come across a number of these unreasonable people and I don’t have it in me to try as hard as I would for other people. The fear I feel is stronger than the empathy. I fear the mindless harm that they are capable of, and I fear that they cannot be stopped. Honestly, it makes me feel shitty because I thought I was better than that.
Over Christmas break, I reconnected with old acquaintances and met a lot of new people. I saw mothers hurt daughters, stepfathers disregard stepchildren, and brothers spiral into alcoholism and depression. In all of these situations, I knew objectively and instinctively what it was that these people had to do in order to be happier. Some of these people I genuinely wanted to help and others, not so much. I saw a lot of hurt and I tried my hardest to be there to put their pieces back together. Those responsible, though? They were people who should have known better, but they had become so set in their questionable ways that they seemed hopeless. How could anyone convince these people to get their heads out of their asses and realize the magnitude of their destructive behavior? I’m sure that my psychology classes can provide an answer, but the bigger question is how do I convince myself that I want to help these people?
I think I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get through to these people. It requires delving past years of physical and mental grime in order to find the light. It seems like a daunting task to teach people the simple values of love and humanity that are so easy to take for granted. I’m scared that I might find out that there is no hope for some people, in a world where I’m constantly grasping for hope.
Fundamentally, I don’t think that the field of psychology is tailored towards actually helping people. We’re taught that there is a gray area between abnormal and normal psychology, and yet all we ever learn is the reified notions of abnormality. It’s always been about there being something inherently wrong within. Even the ideals of humanistic psychology are lost for the sake of a more cognitive approach, where the individual is broken up into components. It’s as if the field of psychology serves to dehumanize. Morality is thrown out–it comes down to hard, concrete factors that make me wonder why I don’t turn to quantum physics.
I understand that I live in my own subjective reality. It’s fluffier than most and yes, I’m contradictory. Despite wanting to believe so, it’s clear that all people aren’t inherently good. My reality can’t possibly be the final truth and obviously no one’s going to necessarily conform to my expectations. I guess at the end of it all, what I’ve taken away from these experiences is that I simply can’t be a psychologist if I adhere to the saints and monsters paradigm. I suppose that the true face of humanity might lie somewhere in between, but that would require me to change my entire worldview to accept that notion… and haven’t I already said that that was impossible?