From choice-of-major bashing to misconceptions about superpower abilities, those who seek to pursue psychology both in Lebanon and abroad have universally encountered classic reactions to their decision to study the science of the mind and behavior.

1. What Am I Thinking?

Many are under the impression that we are majoring in mind-reading. Honestly, we wish we could- it would make things a lot easier, and telepathy would be a pretty decent skill to jot down on the CVs that we keep trying to preen given the lack of psychology internships in Lebanon. But unfortunately, no, we don’t know what you’re thinking, though we may make a few good-humored guesses.

2. Diagnose Me.

We cannot legally diagnose you, your mother, your brother-in-law or your estranged uncle. For one thing, most of us really don’t know enough about psychological disorders yet to properly slap you with a diagnosis, and also, it would be tremendously unethical for us to pretend we did. We’re much more likely to diagnose ourselves as legally insane given the number of times we have to deal with these questions.

3. Are You Going To Start Analyzing Me (And My Dreams)?

We really are flattered that you think we possess not only telepathy, unparalleled diagnostic skills and uncanny abilities to deduce your childhood insecurities just by glancing at your posture and choice of coffee and listening to your descriptions of the majorly-weird dream you had last night, but alas, we cannot. You’d be better off going to Sherlock Holmes for this one.

4. So, You Deal With Crazy People, Right?

Clinical psychology does not “deal with crazy people,” but rather treats patients/clients struggling with psychological disorders caused by biological, emotional and environmental factors that are out of their control. The stigma surrounding mental health in Lebanon is quite prevalent and it is our duty to erase previous misconceptions and put things right. And honestly, let’s embrace the fact that we’re all a little bit “crazy”.

5. But What Will You Do For Work?

Clinical psychology is the most popular choice, but psychology is made up of numerous branches such as cognitive, social, and health psychology, as well as neuroscience and psychiatry. It's also tied to fields as varied as linguistics, music, engineering, computer science, medicine, advertising, politics, business, law, criminology, and sociology/anthropology. The world is your oyster with a psychology degree.

6. Isn’t That A Feminine Major?

This stereotype may stem from the idea that clinical psychology can involve a patient sharing his/her feelings during therapy, which is seen as being more “feminine” because, you know, “real men” don’t talk about feelings or take on a nurturing sort of profession. As such, the reason that the ratio of female to male students in psychology departments is something like 20:1 is not because there is anything intrinsically “feminine” about it, but because male students are discouraged from entering the field of psychology due to this harmful misconception.

7. So, You’re Majoring in Humanities?

Not that there’s anything wrong with the humanities (they make life much more bearable) but psychology is a science. In some universities, it is listed under a Bachelor of the Arts, but what many people fail to realize is that psychology uses empirical, scientific data and busies itself with conducting research and IRB-approved experiments. Most people meet in the middle and agree to call it a social science.

8. Are You Going to Tell Me I have a Crush On My Mom?

This witty little remark stems from the idea that psychology students are predominantly and exclusively influenced by Freud, a psychoanalyst who tended to see every aspect of human behavior related to either sex or aggression, including (but not restricted to) the infamous Oedipus/Electra complex, in which a son or daughter is attracted to the parent of the opposite sex. I promise you, not all of follow Freud’s theories; in fact, they are much less prevalent nowadays, and the majority of us are certain you don’t harbor unresolved feelings for a parent.

9. Let Me Tell You About All My Problems.

Listen, you seem nice, and honestly, sometimes it can feels fulfilling to have a stranger disclose personal information to you out of trust and in an effort to feel better—but that doesn’t mean we are always free or willing to engage in random heart-to-hearts. If need be, we will listen carefully to what you have to say and offer advice as people, not as psychology students.

10. Why Would You Choose To Study Psychology?!

Psychology may not be taken seriously in Lebanon, but it is one of the most important fields one can pursue, engraved in almost every aspect of life. It teaches us about the mind, behavior and how the two are intertwined; how neurons tick, why people do what they do, and what we can do to change that-- and this is why we study it, and why we believe it is even cooler than telepathy.

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