What Is The Psychology Sociology Essay

The human curiosity to know more about the functioning of their body and its organs led to various inventions. Prime among these being medicine: to cure physical ailments, psychiatry: to help overcome mental disease through a blend of medication and counselling and psychology: which can broadly be defined as a science that attempts to study the myriad mental process or thoughts, including those which culminate into behaviour.

Psychology can be attributed to every practical and ethereal perspective of human life: from fantasies and dreams to routine life, family, relationships and social life, work, sports, quarrels and wars, physical fitness- the list is endless. Hence, psychology can truly be defined as the "biological mother" of every invention and man-made occurrences, including pleasant, memorable events to ineffable disasters. Psychology attempts to define and explain our personality, perception, emotions, physical functions, societal dynamics and every mien of our existence.

Similar to every other sphere of science, psychology continues to evolve almost daily, as human life becomes contrastingly simple yet complex. Simple because humans no longer need to hunt, forage or scavenge for food and other basic necessities, fear diseases, walk long distances since they can be procured easily. And complex because humans strive for inventing newer and better gadgets that can effectively perform functions that are impossible for a normal brain- space exploration to search alien life, computers that control nuclear arsenals capable of destroying Earth several times over, intricate robotic surgery that can mean life or death of a patient and millions of banking transactions worth trillions of dollars, to name a few.

While we take these amenities for granted, psychology is invariably involved in our every thought and action, always working in the background like a faithful and silent servant while shaping the facade of our personality we wish to be viewed by the public.

For example, zillions of working persons worldwide either consciously or subconsciously resolve they will go to their offices. This simple thought leads them to prepare for the day by bathing, dressing appropriately and transporting themselves to their workplace to reach on time. The process appears simple despite innumerable thought processes culminating into action are involved. Once at the workplace, they get busy performing their duties, like clockwork, once again, without realizing that dozens of thoughts govern what they consider a routine and perhaps easy task. Of these, some will mask their resentments through a cheerful demeanour- an indicator of what is now called workplace attrition.

Even more complex are wars and defence of public rights and duties. Research based records clearly indicate that ancient Chinese were among the first to realize the importance of psychology, especially among public servants and soldiers.

Use of psychology in ancient era:

It is not surprising that ancient humans tried to decipher the complexity of human thought and behavioural processes. Pioneers among these were of course the four greatest civilizations of that era: the Chinese, Indian, Romano-Hellenic and Middle Eastern.

Psychological testing-a common practice among large and small companies nowadays to test aptitude of their prospective employees- is widely considered a Western practice. Research however indicates that psychological testing can be traced to China and was in use as early as 3000BC.

Ancient Chinese rulers prescribed a strict code which made psychological testing mandatory for any person wishing to take a civil or military job. These included various tests for gauging a job applicant’s talents, behavioural patterns reflecting thought processes, tests to measure response time between a situation and response to determine intelligence levels, personality tests and mental attributes through a series of interviews, written and oral exams. These tests facilitated ancient Chinese rulers and their ministers whether any particular candidate was worthy of the office or not. Only those who met certain psychological criteria were selected for the work.

The famous Han dynasty of China (around 200BC to 220BC) further fine-tuned the psychological testing process by introducing what is widely believed to be the world’s first civil service examinations. Those applying as civil servants had to undergo written and oral tests on a variety of subjects- based on the job applied- such as laws, rules and regulations, military strategies, knowledge of martial arts and weaponry, agriculture, finance and trade, demographics, topology and geography, among others. They introduced a three-tier system where candidates could appear for the first round of exams at a testing centre in their neighbourhood, followed by further tests at regional centres and final exams in the capital. Toppers in their respective fields were carefully chosen to fill these vacancies which ranged from tax collectors and clerks to frontline soldiers, after the final round of tests.

Chinese commoners also had an empirical method of psychological testing, in ancient time: On the first birthday of a child, they would place the boy or girl on a table stacked with various items, depending upon the gender. The kid’s mental aptitude would be gauged based on whichever item they first picked.

In spite of research, no records exist about what possibly inspired the Chinese to engage in psychological testing: Or, the psychology of these ancient Chinese and their psychological tests.

Psychology began developing in other civilizations such as Indian, Middle Eastern and Romano-Hellenic about 1500 years later, laying basis for what is now a well defined science that evolves almost daily with institutions worldwide spending millions of dollars in research and development of this science.

Hence the question: Is psychology relevant?

The answer is an affirmative and emphatic YES.

Why? Because we are prone to mental sickness or already fallen victim:

Indeed we are. This does not mean we are stark mad or lunatics. It merely implies that several amongst us suffer from one or more psychological disorders that can be treated or are equally prone as those who have fallen as victims. Because as humans, we possess brains that generate positive and negative thoughts that sometimes culminate in actions or affect our behaviour.

And we are not alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO): "Mental, neurological, and substance use disorders are common in all regions of the world, affecting every community and age group across all income countries. While 14 percent of the global burden of disease is attributed to these disorders, most of the people affected – 75 percent in many low-income countries - do not have access to the treatment they need."

This global organization characterizes the term ‘mental health’ as: " A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO's definition of health as contained in its constitution: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."

Prevalence of psychological disorders in major countries:

Statistics garnered from reputed organizations reveal disturbing facts about mental health worldwide:

India:

Almost 60 to 70 million Indians suffer from Severe Mental Disorders and Common Mental Disorders. These figures are based on reported cases-of patients availing treatment either through state-run or privately operated facilities. The incidence could be higher considering stigmas and social taboos synonymous with mental problems. Estimates indicate that about 50 percent of Severe Mental Disorder cases and 90 percent of patients with Common Mental Disorders do not seek psychological, psychiatric or medical intervention. (The Banjara Academy, India. Non Government Organization.)

USA:

 An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans aged 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to co-morbidity (meaning two conditions coexisting in one person).

(National Library of Medicine, US Government)

UK:

One in every four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.

Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in the UK. Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men. About 10 percent children have a mental health problem at any one time. Depression affects 1 in 5 older people. Suicides rates show that British men are three times likely to die by suicide than British women. Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 of population. Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder. (Mental Health Foundation, UK. Research Centre.)

China:

People Republic of China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, in a rare report disclosed that the Legislative Affairs Office under China's State Council published its draft law on mental health. Work on this draft, commenced in 1985, was completed after 26 years, in 2011- 2012, after massive operational and logistical delays.

Preliminary findings revealed in 2009 by the National Centre for Mental Health of the China CDC revealed, China had over 100 million mentally ill persons. People with severe mental health were estimated at 16 million. Public awareness about mental illnesses was as low 50 percent, while those seeking treatment were much lower. China accounts for one of the highest suicide rates in the world with about 23 out of 100,000 people killing themselves every year.

Another survey that included about 12 percent of Chinese adults revealed, about 17.5 percent of respondents suffered from one or more mental disorders while those aged 40 years and above were severely prone to mental health issues, according to this survey. Further, men with mental disorders were found to be highly vulnerable to alcohol and substance abuse. Rural residents with mental health problems had already fallen victims to alcohol and substance dependence due to severe depression.

"In Tianjin city, a survey of 50,000 college students showed that 16 percent of them suffered psychological problems. In Beijing University, those who took a break or dropped out of schools because of psychological problems accounted for one-third of the total number of students on leave or who had dropped out over the past decade. Another three-year survey carried out on seven schools by the Science and Technology Commission of Hangzhou Municipal People's Government revealed that 25.39 percent of students were struggling with psychological issues, the report, states.

(Source: Want China Times (news portal). Reference: National Centre for Mental Health of China CDC)

Japan:

In Japan, estimates indicate that one among every five people will experience one or another form of depression during their lifetime. The Japanese culture pursues a "Keep it to yourself (KITY)" system- meaning, Japanese do not discuss their mental problems openly, leading to several social evils.

Kenzo Denda, Researcher, Department of Psychiatry, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, in a report, states: "One in 12 elementary school pupils suffer from depression, while at the middle-school level the figure may be as high as one in four. Studies show that at least one-third of the prison population is made up of the clinically depressed.

Statistics from a report published by the Japan Committee for Prevention and Treatment of Depression (JCPTD) reveal, some 6.6 percent of Japanese suffer from depression, with an annual reported incidence of around 2.5 percent. "Women with depression outnumber male sufferers by about 3 to 1. In the West, the incidence of depression is particularly high in the young, while in Japan, it is spread among young and old," the report states. Some 30 percent of Japan’s suicides are attributed to depression and mental illness. Ryutaro Kaibe, a journalist, claims, annually, between 800,000 and 1.2 million Japanese quit or abstain from work due to depression, dealing a blow worth ¥2.7 trillion each year to the national economy.

(Source: Japan Times, the country’s oldest English daily)

Global social and economic burden due to mental disorders:

World Health Organization’s report: "Mental disorders are often associated with non-communicable diseases and a range of other priority health issues, including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and violence and injuries, and that mental disorders often coexist with other medical and social factors, such as poverty, substance abuse and the harmful use of alcohol, and, in the case of women and children, greater exposure to domestic violence and abuse."

The United Nations General Assembly resolution 65/95: "Mental health problems are of major importance to all societies and are significant contributors to the burden of disease and the loss of quality of life, and have huge economic and social costs."

Economic losses in the European Union due to mental disorders: "In the EU, the cost of mental illness is estimated at (Euros) €240billion (excluding dementia). Mental illness accounted for a quarter of all disability-adjusted life years lost. The impact of mental illness on the EU economy was estimated to be equivalent to a reduction of three to four percent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For example in France, the total cost of mental illness (excluding dementia) is estimated at €108bn per year; almost €23billion for direct expenses and €85billion for indirect costs. This overall cost is equivalent to 5.7 percent of GDP, and yet the budget for research in psychiatry is only €25.2 million (less than 2 percent of health research), even though mental illness affects about 20 percentt of the population."

(Source: Mental Health Foundation, UK)

Economic burden on other countries due to mental disorders: The US National Library of Medicine and other organizations state, it is difficult to estimate economic losses suffered by several countries due to mental disorders among their populace, since the nature of such diseases and reporting standards fluctuate considerably. While developed and some developing nations have a well defined reporting system for patients with mental disorders, underdeveloped countries lack this system or are unable to implement one due to taboos and stigmas attached by various ethnic communities to psychological and psychiatric ailments. The economic burden worldwide is however estimated over at several billion US dollars annual. Hence, it can be concluded that psychological ailments or disorders, that could be simply prevented by early detection and counselling, can become major psychiatric illnesses later, affecting large communities eventually resulting in loss of productivity and a consequent negative impact on the overall development of a country.

(Various Sources)

Classic examples of such countries are:

The Philippines: Strictures over birth control causing unchecked population growth result in higher expenses among families while income remains limited. Consequently, millions of families are unable to afford higher education for their kids, forcing them to take employment within or outside the country. Women seek jobs in the Middle East and elsewhere as domestic helpers (maid servants) and other expatriates working abroad are the sole largest contributor of income for the national exchequer of the Philippines- which is also reputed as Asia’s first republic.

However, migration to other countries by one or more parent has led to weakening family bonds, encouraging Filipinos to indulge in affairs while abroad, thus neglecting their dependents at home. Filipino nationals abroad tend to splurge opulently on luxury goods including expensive designer garments and fancy gadgets due to the subconscious sense of being deprived at home. Designated as the "world’s most disaster prone nation" by the United Nations, the Philippines remains one of the poorest countries in South East Asia. Filipina women seek foreign spouses, often without understanding cultural differences and psychological impact of migration to a foreign land in search of a better life, resulting in subservient and supine behaviour.

India: A land where culture and religion play a great role in moulding an individual. Discussing carnality is considered a taboo while the younger generation are exposed to various sensual pleasures, leading to high-risk behaviour, including substance addiction. Despite high education levels, millions of persons engage try fulfilling their sexual desires discreetly but recklessly, with multiple partners. As a result, India accounts for over 65 percent of all HIV/ AIDS cases in South Asia.

With tradition and strong family ties playing a major role in rural India, educated youth do not take employment outside their geographic sphere due to agoraphobia or fear of living outside their known areas, leading to a loss of talent in a fast developing nation strapped for highly skilled manpower.

The Middle East: Due to recent advances in science and technology thanks to immense wealth gained from oil and gas exports, citizens of Arabian Gulf countries are often reluctant to take employment they believe is "socially degrading", such as menial jobs or work at lower positions. Consequently, rich Arabian Gulf states are increasingly dependent upon imported labour from the Indian subcontinent, Far East, North Africa and Europe while some wealthy nationals lead themselves into a false sense of superiority, often leading to maltreatment of the academically and socially weaker sections of expatriate workers.

The problem is now being addressed through ‘Arabization’ of certain types of work, implying only citizens of that particular country are eligible for employment in any particular profession. Arab states are also encouraging their nationals to study abroad with a view to offer them better designations, especially in state-owned organizations and ministries.

Europe and the Western world: The ratio between old and young people is low, with senior citizens forming a larger part of the population. This imbalance is triggered due to an sense of ‘liberation’ in remaining single, among both, men and women and hence, lower procreation rates despite permissive societies. This behavioural trait has caused many western countries and their nationals to depend on foreign "care givers" for their elderly populace, increased medical expenses on the national coffers and a decline in native ethnic groups. Higher burden on government expenses translates into greater taxation, causing inflation and other economic problems for such countries, despite being advanced technologically and developed. Violent behaviour among children, erratic behaviour, depression and other psychological disorders are common in these countries due to a plethora of factors.

Why psychology:

An ancient proverb states: "Prevention is better than cure." The same holds true for psychology- a science that aims at understanding the intricacies of the human though process and resultant actions.

All humans carry genetic material, inherited from their parental lineage, which determines some facets of their behaviour, since childhood. Family background including socio-economic status, compatibility or strife among parents, neighbourhood conditions and various other contributing factors define the behaviour of a child.

Certain negative tendencies such as addiction, temper and violence and, to some degree, intelligence, have a genetic propensity. For example, if one grandparent is an alcoholic, the gene skips one generation but prevails in the ensuing one- which may lead to one of the grandchildren- regardless of the gender- possibly indulging in alcohol abuse, according to research.

Kids who live in strife torn families often develop a sense of low self esteem as compared to their peers with compatible parents and peaceful families, which eventually may contribute towards poor academic performance and an overall retardation of mental development combined with stunted physical growth.

Exposure to violence as kids- something rampant and brazenly displayed via cartoon films- can lead a child to develop anti-social traits- evident from documented history of students carrying lethal weapons to their schools and engaging in reckless firing of guns or stabbings.

To any careful, trained observer, such traits would be easily apparent and perhaps, timely psychological intervention through counselling can help these students overcome these undesirable characteristics that will negatively affect their future.

Among grown-ups, rampant work-place competition placing a burden upon every individual to excel beyond their human capabilities, financial pressures, unhappy marriages and job related stress can have disastrous circumstances both, for the person and their family.

These can be simply overcome through with the most potent weapon of all times- psychology. Once a person’s though process has been decrypted, counsellors can somewhat predict their counselee’s actions and help channelize negative thoughts and actions into positive ones, that would benefit the society at large. Psychology can help synergize emotions with actions in a positive context that helps the individual enjoy a high quality life while increasing their productivity, resulting in mental satisfaction and financial gains, including for the employer.

As a result, schools in several developed and developing countries nowadays enlist the services of a psychological counsellor who helps kids overcome their negativities into positive thoughts and actions. The corporate world is increasingly turning to psychology- beginning with the hiring process- to ensure their future employees possess the required aptitude. They employ or tie-up with psychologists to ensure that any emotional problem encountered by a worker, either in personal or professional life- is dealt with scientifically- to ensure optimum productivity and general safety within the work premises.

The human brain is the most powerful computer ever designed and is capable of creation or destruction that is beyond comprehension. And such a great computer needs regular maintenance to create a safer, saner and productive society. Psychology therefore assumes a special significance as the only known science that deals with these complexities that no other erudition is capable of. To keep pace with human development, psychology has to evolve daily: Which is evident from the basic concept of "soul" postulated by various spiritual texts since the BC era to the concepts of Greek philosopher Plato, who termed it as a psychological trait, around 260 AD to the latest Cyber-psychology- which aims at studying and possibly influencing human behaviour online- in the infinite maze called the Cyber World.

Ends.

 

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