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Therapists Describe Fascinating Facts About Human Psychology

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Humans have long been obsessed with exploring outward. People have always roamed the earth to see what there was to see.

And in the last 50+ years, we’ve launched into outer space, charting sights and objects further away than we can even comprehend.

But we don’t have to go further than our own skulls to witness things just as mysterious.

Redditor WaterPide is clearly aware of this and wanted some help uncovering a bit more knowledge about it all.

They asked:

“Therapists of reddit, what are some interesting psychological facts about humans?”

One therapist was fascinated by irrationality.

“Something that makes me wonder how we survived as a species and then answers my question at the same time:

“People will adhere to what they believe to be true over what they know to be true.”

“Politics, religion, anxiety, depression, staying with an abuser are all examples. Even when they are able to state what they know, their beliefs interfere and that cognitive dissonance will resolve closer to their belief.”

“As a therapist, it’s my job to help them know what they know and slowly alter their beliefs to be more consistent with what they know. Too quick of a change strengthens the belief system.”

“It amazes me every time a patient has an epiphany and then almost immediately reverts.” — symp4thy

Someone else brought up another example.

“Most maladaptive things that people get stuck in likely saved their life at some point. Most humans don’t do things to hurt themselves intentionally.”

“Examples: self harm may keep someone from attempting suicide to reduce pain or shift emotional pain to physical pain, which may be more ‘manageable;’ someone with an eating disorder likely developed it to cope with intensive trauma or feelings of a loss of control in their life; someone’s anxiety feels like it can them ‘safe” from being hurt.”

“Seeing people through this lens helps me never get frustrated with people because they are doing what they had to do to survive. Either consciously or unconsciously, it makes sense.” — Luci_purr666

That theme continued.

“All behavior has a purpose.”

“An extension of this: there is no such thing as people being lazy. If people aren’t doing something others think they should, it’s for a reason, even if said person doesn’t know that reason either.”

“It might be an avoidance tactic, a learned behavior, or even their body/mind feeling overwhelmed and requiring rest before they take on different tasks.”

“Following that, if people are trying to rest and get nagged nonstop, they never actually get to rest and hence, never get to build up the energy to tackle the things on their to-do lists.” — Pages57

But then there were those who mentioned promising methods. 

“Motivational Interviewing exists for a reason.”

“I constantly run across comments on Reddit that say things like ‘If your therapist isn’t telling you to get out of this relationship NOW, then you need a new therapist!’ But humans have a tendency to dig their heels in when told to do something they feel ambivalent about.”

“There are ways to help people realize what’s going to be best for them that DON’T involve giving straight advice. In fact I’d say giving straight advice can be one of the least effective methods for a lot of people/issues.”

“And these people in our office probably have a dozen friends ALREADY giving them that advice, and they’re still not acting on it.”

“I’m a clinical psychologist.” — revolutionutena

And that wasn’t the only promising approach.

“I am a parent child psychotherapist. I work with children under 6 and their caregivers who have experienced trauma. In a nutshell, the healing comes from the caregiver talking to the child about what happened.”

“We call it ‘speaking the unspeakable.’ Basically young children know something bad is going on; domestic violence, abuse, neglect, loss, and they need a grown up to help them play and talk about it, otherwise they make up their own stories about what is going on and its often totally incorrect and self blaming.”

“Infants, toddlers and preschoolers have the capacity to be talked to about scary things. They can handle it if the adult can find a way to regulate through the re-telling and tolerate the subsequent emotions.”

“I’ve explained addiction, severe neglect, loss, and emotional abuse to 3 and 4 year olds. They are amazing and can handle it.” — Jacsheagood

One method was less transparent.

“psychiatric nurse here. redirection is a hell of a skill. for example, we had a patient screaming at us and peacocking, just ready to fight someone. he had glasses on his head and i mentioned i liked them. he said ‘i need them to read books.’ “

“i asked him about the books he read and we had a whole discussion about that and he completely forgot what he was angry about.”

“learning about it in school i was super skeptical, but seeing it work and using it often is incredible. sometimes a small distraction from our feelings is all we need.” — speedlimits65

One approach verges on the physical body. 

“The more senses you can engage in an anxiety reduction strategy, the better it will work.”

“Like the poster mentioned earlier, your brain does not differentiate why it is ramping the nervous system up. So you have to send it the clear message that this is a safe moment to not be hyperaroused.” — Coffeephreak

And then there were those who shared intriguing factoids. 

“Although there is no way to bring back the memories, playing music to dementia sufferers can bring back the feelings. The study was prompted when a dementia sufferer started crying happy tears to a song.”

“He told the care staff that he had no idea why but he felt really happy. His wife later identified the song as the one she walked down the aisle to on her wedding day.” — RaysAreBaes

Not all were so closely tied to therapy. 

“sitting at an unstable table or chair makes you feel like your conversations (and relationships with the person you are talking to) are rocky, unpredictable, and unstable as well.”

“on the flip side, holding a warm drink makes you feel warmth and friendliness with the people you are talking to.”

“translation: if you need to have a serious talk with someone, give them a warm drink and make sure their chair is level” — hugerefuse

We close with a couple head-scratchers.

“Your eyes can actually see your nose and it would take up more of the corners of your vision had your brain not trained itself to ignore it.”

“Basically, your brain learns to filter out information it finds not useful.”

“Also, our memory is so vulnerable to decay that when you remember something from a while ago, you’re probably just remembering the last time you thought about it instead of the actual event itself.” — IamMayFields

It’s a list that might make you feel a little skeptical about what you yourself are thinking.

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.