Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Patient Psychologist: Chapter One and Two

Chapter one of Invitation to Psychology covered psychology in terms of basic and applied psychology and how psychologists handles the broad and ever evolving nature of psychology. A patient might benefit from different kinds of psychologists who are better suited and more likely to take on specific psychological perspectives. A psychiatrist is trained to work with more of a biological perspective due to the nature of medicine. One reason I think it is helpful to study psychology is because a patient should know what to expect from different psychologists. For example, some people might have more success with a psychoanalyst than a psychiatrist. I think it is important for a patient to understand the basic psychology behind the applied psychology in order to determine what kind of help would best suit their situation.
I noticed that the first chapter did not go into much discussion about how a patient should interpret an understanding of psychology. Patients are in their own way, case studies. In the grand scheme of things, they might be considered a source of knowledge while not being a representative of the human condition, but patients are active participants in psychology that simply are coming from an individualistic perspective. Arguably, every person is undergoing a longitudinal study of themselves whether they are conscious of this or not. Of course, every person with an active mind is a carrier of psychological knowledge, but patients offer a unique perspective. They are positioned right in the line of fire of applied psychology regardless of their understanding of basic psychology. I think that doctors and researchers would possibly get caught up in the idea of a one-sided mirror, but I think the perspective of the patient is equally important. Jumping into chapter two, considering the suggestion that the parent and child relationship is subject to reciprocal determinism, I think we can assume the same with the patient-psychologist relationship.
Perhaps there are some parallel of the psychosexual stages that occurs when a patient begins psychological treatment. Like a child unconsciously experiencing their sexual psychic energy, a patient has to acclimate themselves to psychological treatment. As a case study, the stages would most likely be constructed based on the individual. It might be interesting to study the effects of how patients respond differently to treatment that is catered to the individual versus a study conducted based on set psychological ideas and knowledge (which would be the control group). Here changing psychological treatment would be the independent variable. The dependent variable would be how the patient assesses the helpfulness of the treatment. A study like this, which I assume has been done before, would help determine how human beings respond to being treated like an individual versus an patient of study. Arguably all treatment should be catered to the individual, but what if patients with a self-destructive condition are unconsciously responding to their treatment in detrimental ways? What if these responses are detrimental to how the psychologist is applying their knowledge because of their response to the patient?
I think that all cognitive humans are psychologists in their own ways. All people are dealing with their mental process and behavior every moment they are alive; it’s the human condition and the sort of concepts that support ideas such as existentialism. Even in discussion in our classroom there is evidence of people being exposed to knowledge of psychology without them ever haven declared themselves a psychotherapist. When I fist read that anyone can call themself a psychologist, I thought that could have a negative effect on the levels of psychological treatment. While I still would prefer a psychologist to have training and an education, I agree with the sentiment.
An interesting idea about psychology is the study comes from the place it is studying. The concepts and theories all come from human beings who are in their own way simultaneously being patients and psychologists. One might argue that Freud has very complicated and different relationships with his mother and father. Regardless of who is holding the clipboard, taking notes or who is lying down spilling stories of their childhood, both parties are experiencing their mental process and behavior. The reason I think studying the response of the patient to different treatment is that it would actually be a study of psychologists. The issue is shaping the experiment so that psychologists would think they are studying patient response, keeping the experiment double-blind. The textbook mentioned that many psychologists are also undergoing treatment at the same time as giving it. To me, that sounds like a very healthy and responsible  relationship with such a personally invasive field like psychology. I feel that by not understanding the patient perspective, a whole half of the perspective puzzle is missing.
Initially I was under the impression the book was not addressing the patient perspective, but it is simply the view from the opposite end. After all, the patients are writing the terms and theories just as much as the psychologists. It just depends how you look at it.

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