Traditional Psychology is FlawedPsychology is the study of how our minds work and the behaviors we depict. It is a field of medicine that has been in existence for thousands of years. Two main approaches have been used to argue about how to deal with mental issues and theories that have been developed to describe ways of improving mental well-being, traditional psychology and positive psychology. Traditional psychology was an approach that was used by the earliest psychologist. It explained how mental disorders came about and also focused on providing a framework that helped in the treatment of mental disorders. Positive psychology, on the other hand, is study is the study of happiness or what makes life worth living. I believe that in dealing with a person to get better use of positivity is important. Traditional psychology dwells on how dysfunctional a person is and it’s is an approach in psychology that I do not believe in. On this paper I will argue out why I feel traditional psychology is not a good solution in treating of patients as compared to positive psychology.
When we talk of mental wellness most people often think that the message is for individuals who may have been affected or have been diagnosed with a certain mental illness. However, this is not the case at times as humans we go through certain situation such as loss of jobs, hear breaks, financial difficulty, stress from school or even loos of a loved one and this is likely to interfere with our mental health. I believe that the Sigmund’s traditional psychology focuses on individuals that have already been diagnosed to have a mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar. But what happens to the rest of the population that has not been diagnosed with any mental illnesses that is why I think the approach of traditional psychology is wrong (Hart, pg. 82). Traditional psychology tends to look at what is wrong with us so that it can fix it, rarely does it highlight our strengths and what is okay with us then use the positive aspect of our lives to try help us heal. Traditional psychology does not make the life worth living as compared to positive psychology.
Aside from traditional psychology dwelling on the dysfunctionality of a person, traditional psychology also makes us to blame certain people or cultures to reason why we are not mentally okay. Traditional psychology often forces a person to relieve a traumatic experience that may have happened in their life resulting in pain. By a person relieving something that happened to them they may become angry or develop hate towards the people who were part of the reason why they went through the trauma. I also think that traditional psychology often puts the client at a point where they believe to be a victim and the situations that happened in their life was something that they did not have control over. However, one needs to understand at times taking responsibility of certain things in your life is a good process of the healing and not always perceiving your situation as a cause of someone else’s mistakes (Gable, pg. 103).
Traditional psychology seems to be ignoring certain aspects of life that are important for human growth. This is unlike positive psychology that will looks at the things that bring happiness in our life, our potentials as human beings, the talents we possess and what makes us flourish. Traditional psychology seems to believe there is a normal and abnormal behavior and everyone needs to be fixed in order to have the normal behavior. A work out for happiness gives us hope as humans and encourages us to live to see another day as we make our lives worth living. In doing away with the traditional psychology which is more of psychology of illness we will be promoting the psychology of flourishing for each and every person as all people should be happy. I believe psychologist are not only tasked with duty of identifying disorders and treating them which is what traditional psychology often emphasizes on but rather, they should be on the fore front of helping every human even those that have not been diagnosed with mental issues to live a life that is full of happiness.
Sigmund Freud is said to be the psychologist that developed the traditional theory. Traditional psychology defines problem then identifies the best solution or way to deal with the issue. This process is characterized by examining one’s past, present as well as feature behaviors, focusing on a specific traumatic event that one may have gone through in their lifetime and how the events have contributed to one’s overall functioning. It is for a fact that certain traits, behavior, and emotions presented by humans are due to past experiences one went through, and in coming up with a comprehensive treatment framework, the process of understanding them is quite important (Wilber, pg. 125-127). However, I am very critical of this approach as it is worth noting that traditional technique is more focused on negative attributes such as fear, anxiety, death instead of happiness, joy, resilience, and compassion.
Positive psychology on the other hand which was a term used by Maslow in 1954 is characterized by studying what motivates us to exhibit the personality we have. As human beings focusing on the positive side of the happenings in our lives. Through understanding the positive influences in a human’s life we are able to understand them in a different aspect. I believe that psychology is more focused on healing and repair of the damaged human which is more of positive than traditional psychology. Other attributes that also characterize positive psychology over traditional includes courage, wisdom, hope, spirituality, and faith which practitioners using traditional psychology seems to ignore. Ignoring these aspects creates a gap and thus I believe by employing them during treatment the virtues of the individual should also come into play. Positive psychology will explore one’s behavior, emotions, and feelings that ultimately lead to happiness.
Psychology should not be involved with a branch of medicine that is focused on damage and illness but should also include how one is educated on discernment and love. Positive psychology unlike traditional psychology that mostly focuses on developing a framework to cure illness should be focused on both the emotional and cognitive processes which then facilitates behavioral change as well as the development of coping strategies. Positive psychology consists of three key pillars: positive personality, positive experiences, and positive institutions. Unlike traditional psychology that dwells on trauma positive psychology focuses on positive emotions which is more likely to lead to one’s contentment with their past. It also focusses on happiness in the present and also has hope about the future. In understanding one’s strength then human beings can find a way it achieves positive thoughts and emotions (Barros, pg. 318-327).
Although I may argue that traditional psychology is not so good in treatment of patients, it is important for me to recognize how it is still useful in the field of psychology to date. Traditional psychology, although has not seen any major improvement when compared to positive psychology some techniques and theories, are still being used especially in the treatment of psychological disorders. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is an example of such a technique which focusses on identification as well as modification of distorted thought patterns as well as the disturbing behaviors and emotions that are associated with them. The technique developed by Aaron Beck in the 1950s helps one become aware of their thinking process, and one can change both beliefs and attitudes. It has been proved to be very effective in treating several psychological issues including anxiety and depression. Other examples of traditional techniques include solution-focused therapy and psychotherapy. Some psychologists have dismissed positive psychology branding it as happy talk and is only useful in helping patients advance their optimal functioning and wellbeing. Most of these psychologists have suggested that it cannot be used as a stand-alone but can complement traditional psychology.
In conclusion, I advocate for the use of positive psychology in place of traditional psychology. Positive psychology is seen as a way which encouraged the patients to dwell more on the positive thoughts in building their strengths; thus it substitutes psychotherapy characterized by dwelling on negative emotions such as sorrow and anger. It is a form of psychology that accommodates even those that do not suffer from any mental issues. Just because a person does not get to experience any panic attacks or does not have bipolar does not mean they do not struggle. It is sad that most practitioners still embrace the use of traditional psychology as it is more clinical. However, some practices seem to be complementing positive psychology with traditional psychology instead of replacing it which is a great step in revolutionizing the idea that psychology only deals with mental illnesses.
Barros, Rita Manuela de Almeida, et al. “Research and practice in positive Psychology.” Psicologia: Ciência e Profissão 30.2 (2010): 318-327.
Gable, Shelly L., and Jonathan Haidt. “What (and why) is positive psychology?” Review of general psychology 9.2 (2005): 103.
Hart, Kenneth E., and Thomas Sasso. “Mapping the contours of contemporary positive psychology.” Canadian Psychology/Psychologies Canadienne 52.2 (2011): 82.
Lazarus, Richard S. “Does the positive psychology movement have legs?” Psychological inquiry 14.2 (2003): 93-109.