Today, mental health and the provision, quality and accessibility of mental health services are critical issues in Estonian society. There is much controversy and confrontation between applied or practical psychology and theoretical or scientific or demonstrable psychological fields. Neutral and objective information is scarce for the average person, because the media strongly amplify the emotions of the two opposing sides, with the result that the person in need of help becomes increasingly confused.
Such a problem in society is caused by several factors:
– mental health crisis
– the rapidly growing need for people to find and fulfil themselves
– the growing need for self-determination, the urgent need to cope with the urgent need for self-determination
– various crises in different sectors of society
– increasing suicide statistics
– growing statistics of diagnosed depression and anxiety disorders
Increasing tensions at both societal and individual level. Inevitably, people start looking for solutions. What is saddest of all is that in the confrontation between practical alternative psychology and scientific psychology, it is the people who really need help who suffer most. Those who have serious concerns about their mental health and who no longer know where and from whom to get help. This confrontation makes the crisis our society is in many times worse.
Confrontation can only occur when the focus is on finding differences, rather than on seeing common ground and opportunities for cooperation. People tend to look for differences when they feel they have to protect themselves from something, when they sense an imminent threat somewhere or a need to control everything. In simple terms, the opposition is motivated by greed, ignorance, arrogance, envy, fear and the pursuit of absolute truth.
The aim of this article is to bring more understanding, clarity and peace to soften the damaging effects of confrontation on society.
Let us define what scientific psychology is. Psychology is the science that studies the nature of the human soul and spirit and the ways in which it manifests itself. In psychology, it is very important that any conclusions that are drawn can be proven and verified. It is also important that very broad generalisations are avoided, because each person is so different. In psychology, quite different areas of human nature can be explored, although there are limits to what scientific experiments and tests can achieve.
For example, Freud’s theory of the subconscious is a very distinctive discovery and concept in modern alternative psychology, but scientific psychology does not recognize this theory because it has not been possible to test it. Scientific psychology refers to the unconscious as the unconscious part of the psyche, which scientific psychology cannot address. However, reflexes, beliefs, unconscious functions of the body (such as breathing, digestion, etc.), etc. originate there. In addition to all this, the UT open e-learning course ‘Introduction to Psychology’, in the lecture of week 1, says (without changing the wording): ‘Science does not in any way try to claim that it is the only right thing that should exist, or that only through science will some right knowledge be born, but it is simply a method that somehow helps us to get to that knowledge better.’ Scientific psychology, as a method through which to study human beings.
Applied and alternative psychology seeks to add to scientific psychology practical ways of not only exploring the inner world but also of reorganising the inner world, healing and improving the sense of self. Alternative psychology seeks to address all the questions for which scientific psychology has not yet found answers.
There is a misconception that alternative psychology includes esotericism and spirituality. However, the latter two are completely different subjects, albeit an important part of being human. Faith, religion and spirituality are entirely separate areas to be studied. Unfortunately, it has too often been confused with the work of effective, earthly, practical emotional well-being.
Some examples of what techniques count as alternative psychological outputs:
– holistic therapy
In fact, scientific and alternative psychology are more intertwined than people think. In reading the various basic texts of scientific psychology, one can find terms and definitions that overlap with the truths of alternative psychology. It is just that a slightly different wording is used.
If science is a method for the purpose of investigation, then science should not draw rigid conclusions and generalise to large groups of people. Conclusions can only be drawn about a carefully selected sample or a specific population. Individuality must be kept in mind and each new discovery should only widen the possibilities and the awareness of the manifestation of human nature. Alternative psychology takes account of these individualities and is based, above all, on what is needed personally by the person in need, in the light of the knowledge of practical and theoretical psychology.
Theoretical and practical psychology could work in harmony. After all, both actually study the human being in their work. Imagine how many workable and effective methods for improving mental well-being could be created by these two extremes working together? What revolutionary discoveries would be made if the theoretical and the practical were brought together? After all, the goal is the same for both.
Commonalities between scientific and alternative psychology in the grand scheme of things:
– the desire to find workable methods to improve mental well-being
– to study the functioning and manifestations of the psyche
– to learn about the inner world and soul of the human being
– to improve both societal and individual quality of life by creating clarity and awareness
– to create value, to help people
– solve the same problems
What is right or wrong – alternative or scientific – is not for us to decide. Because that’s not the goal, and it’s not going anywhere. The fundamental problem is solved by working together, and by eliminating extremes, finding balance and common ground. I sincerely believe that cooperation is the key to the new era. Only by working together can there be peace, progress and harmony. Confrontation harms the opponents themselves, but most of all those in need. Why compete and fight when we can create real value and care.