I’m Psyched About Studying Psych…Sike!
After completing a quarter of clinical work in an acute psychiatric unit I realize how remarkably close we are to being admitted to an acute psychiatric unit. There is obviously a fine line between sanity and insanity, and the part that worries me is that the line doesn’t always appear in the same place depending on who you ask.
For example my textbook describes a person with hypomania as being energetic, euphoric, visionary, overflowing with new ideas, confident, and very charismatic, all while remaining completely functional. My professor, a doctor of psychology, feels that hypomania is only diagnosed if someone is over productive because they can be recharged with only 3-4 hours of sleep a night. If I owned a business I would employ only hypomanics, and one person with OCD to clean the office.
The mind is still a complete mystery to us, so the people in charge of defining the terms are forced to make assertions based on a small amount of objective information with large gaps filled in with loads of subjective information. Many of the mental illnesses we experienced in lecture and clinical are hypotheses, with broad definitions, unknown etymologies, and many exceptions to the few rules that have been written. This is why giving a final exam on this material is crazy. I realize using “crazy” may be ill-advised in this context, but it pales in comparison to some of the awkward moments I experienced on the psych unit.
I would like to know the psychology behind why, in uncomfortable situations, we put our feet in our mouths. Here are a few examples:
1. I occasionally whistle subconsciously (and usually don’t notice), and I caught myself whistling “Crazy” by Britney Spears on the first day of clinical.
2. I used the words “insane”, “crazy”, and “nuts” more times in front of nurses and patients than I had in my entire lifetime prior to this clinical.
3. I heard a fellow nursing student ask a patient if he knew how to play the card game “crazy 8’s”.
4. I brought a box full of board games as an attempt at a nice gesture for the unit. I did not realize that this box included a game called “insanity.”
Another part of the mind that I would like to understand better is what makes people procrastinate. I have attempted to study for this final exam on a few occasions, and I spent most of my study time staring at the wall.
What is Learned by Staring at the Wall
As I stared at the wall I realized that even after two years in our house, we still have not hung anything on our bedroom walls. Typically people hang paintings or photographs, and many times I see these pictures and think “why the hell would you want that on your wall?” This is yet another part of the human psychology that I don’t understand; Why do I feel so much pressure to hang the correct painting on my wall? I thought very hard about this conundrum and what I discovered is that I look at people’s walls as a representation of who they are.
As a child I hung pictures of my favorite things on the wall, such as sports stars and animals. Then in college I put pictures of beer, musicians, and swimsuit models in my room. Now as I stare at my blank walls, I realize that I still like what I’ve always liked; beer, music, sports, and animals, although I’ve grown tired of swimsuit models (my wife subscribes to this blog).The two pictures hanging in our house are of a fish in a fishbowl and a pasture full of sunflowers (which we thought was an antique heirloom from my wife’s grandmother by an artist named Barlots, but after some research found out that it actually says “Big lots” which is the department store that sold it.) Regardless of how cheap the painting was, we paid $125 to get it framed. At the time, this made no sense to me. Now I understand what my wife and mother-in-law knew all along; If people see expensive things in your house, they assume that you like expensive things, and then they will give expensive things to you.Using this new knowledge I had a Good Idea on how to make our walls appear sophisticated and expensive, while staying true to what I really like. Here is what I came up with:
This is a famous painting by Renoir titled “Girls at the Piano.” The original is very expensive, so having a remake still gives off an expensive feel to the untrained eye.
The next piece I selected is equally as sophisticated, and screams high social status:
First and foremost, the reality is I am going to do bad on my Psych final because I spent all of my study time making these pictures and writing about it. The second reality is that the fate of our walls lies in my wife’s hands, and I trust her decisions completely. I wouldn’t even mind if she hung up a bunch of pictures of swimsuit models…