Let them know what psychology has to say
It seems there is only one difference between sane and insane. The sane are aware of their compulsions and in a better position to regulate them. The insane are regulated or controlled by the compulsions of their chaotic mind.
Human beings are born with a bundle of compulsions. Evolution has not helped to dilute human compulsions. Basic instincts – sex, hunger, thirst, etc. – are the only compulsions which rule the animal world. But humans have got some additional compulsions and which are far more sophisticated. Emotions-anger, fear, sadness, happiness- and psychological/social needs like the need for approval, recognition, love, intimacy, competence all may become compulsions especially when individuals are clueless about effective ways of regulating them.
If insanity is the inability to regulate one’s compulsions and obsessions, sanity can be viewed as the capacity of the human mind to regulate those compulsions. Sanity, per se, is not a state devoid of compulsions. It is difficult to eliminate all human compulsions as many of them have survival value. Sanity is a state where compulsions do not take charge of conscious intentions of the individual. For sure, humans can be taught to regulate their compulsions.
Educated but compulsive youth
Education designed for all-round/holistic development teaches generations to regulate their compulsions. Or it is supposed to do so. Structure of present education system – does it really help in this line? A rough statistical account of youth who veered off the mainstream education answers this question in negation.
The crime record of Indian youth includes a huge chunk of school going students. Almost 56% of crimes committed by youngsters fall in the age group 16-25. In the detailed report of NCBI (2016), of the 44171 juveniles arrested, 20014 were school going students and 4244 had higher secondary or above as their educational qualification. Rape cases by juveniles have increased by 60% and the insult to women has increased by 70.5%.
The country is in dire need of rational minds capable of regulating their own impulses. The reports mentioned above seem to substantiate the fact that a surge of emotions say anger or the need for sexual gratification can render modern educated youth to be a primitive man. When subjected to emotions or needs he may react like a caveman and end up in committing murder or rape. When the educated mass responds to their basic needs and emotions like cavemen, is it time we question the efficacy of the education system of the country to produce socially responsible citizens?
Psychology—a tool to look within
Enabling a student to regulate his compulsions and whims must begin by providing him with a means for accessing his subjective world. Raising him to a level where he is capable of observing and knowing his inner world of emotions, feelings, anxieties, cravings, yearnings and other psychological needs can work wonders.
Teaching of sciences like physics, chemistry and biology need not give any clue to the student about his subjective world comprising emotions, feelings, needs, etc. When nobody is interested in helping the student to look inwards and realize the subjective experiences unique to him, he misses that opportunity to develop the skill to regulate his compulsions.
In western countries, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is becoming an integral part of classroom teaching. They are responding well to the declaration of UNESCO that‘[Schools should] offer training in skills which respond to the social and communication demands and expectations of adult life’ (UNESCO, 1994, p. 10.). Moreover, studies show that incorporating social-emotional learning into the curriculum reduces the occurrence of anxiety and behavioral problems. It teaches children to recognize and understand their emotions, feel empathy, make decisions and build meaningful relations. (July 12, 2017, Hindustan Times) In any emotional learning programme, the trainees take the learner through the successive stages like, awareness of emotions, recognizing emotions, articulating emotions, distinguishing emotions etc. Regulation is impossible without proper awareness about the thing to be regulated.
Introducing psychology as a mandatory subject
Why emotions alone? Why can’t we help students to become aware of all the psychological dynamics behind their emotions, anxieties, stress, needs, etc? Why is formal education reluctant to format a niche for a scientific way of learning about one’s own mind? Just as maths, languages, arts and other sciences why can’t we introduce psychology as a mandatory part of the school curriculum?
When scientific facts about the human mind, its emotions, cognition, thinking, and other faculties are overflowing, why can’t we disseminate them among our students? It will help them at least to become aware of why their mind is functioning in a certain way. By not introducing the students to the concrete facts operating behind various mental transactions, we are denying the students the opportunity for mastering the art of controlling and channelizing their psychic energies to productive activities. It seems, during their school life, instead of mastering the art of regulating/controlling their mind, they are being controlled by the whims of the mind every step of their way. They don’t know how to liberate themselves from the clutches of blind compulsions and obsessions.
As Dr Deepak Chopra – author of 65 books including many New York Times best sellers – said in his article titled ‘Why it’s time to take consciousness seriously’
‘Students’ progress through the entire educational system with no instruction about the basics of mind, emotions, everyday psychology, mental disorders, insight, intuition, and the source of creativity. All of this, the whole world in here that science has traditionally rejected, is left for us to cobble together without guidance. The result is that millions of people are so alienated from their subjective experiences that conditions like depression, anxiety, insomnia, self-doubt, obsessive compulsions, addictions, and psychological dependency gain enormous power over us as we wander in the dark.’
Let them know
Let the growing generation taste the fact-finding discipline called psychology from high school days itself. Let them know what Freud said about the defense mechanisms they inadvertently use to protect their ego. Let them be conscious about their journey through the hierarchy of needs enunciated by Maslow. Let the developmental psychology lessons make them aware of the peculiarities of different phases of growth they are crawling through.
What are the psychological theories of learning? Why repetition is needed to fix the learning material in their memory. What the attachment theory of Bowl by has to say about their attachment to their dear and near ones. How theories of motivation explain their interest in learning. What cognitive psychology has to say why they think in a particular way in certain situations. How the examination stress they go through can be interpreted in terms of alarm-resistance-exhaustion stages (Seley, 1976). Let them know.
Let them know why they procrastinate and rely on mental shortcuts. Help them to interpret their laziness in terms of cognitive miser theory (Fiske & Taylor, 1991). Why they are always dragged towards pleasure seeking nature and how they get addicted to various pleasures by habit formation. Let them know the mechanism behind the classical conditioning and how the instrumental conditioning of Skinner explains the negative reinforcement (punishment) given by their well-wishers. Let them know how they are unknowingly executing observational learning (Albert Bandhura, 1971) when they try to imitate popular film stars and other celebrities.
The formal education system is in charge of creating socially committed, rational, human beings. The journey from a raw living being to cultured social human being is a slow process of exonerating from the influence of blind compulsions of egocentric mind. Awareness about the basic nature of mind is a pre-requisite for the success of this journey. So let them know what psychology as a science has to say about it. In India, the practice of assessing the quality of schools in terms of pass percentage has pushed the concerns of student mental health to a back seat. It is high time that educationists feel a need for change at the grassroots level.
1. Crime in India, 2016 statistics. (2017) National Crime Records Bureau (Ministry of Home Affairs) Government of India. Available at http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2016/pdfs/NEWPDFs/Crime%20in%20India%20-%202016%20Complete%20PDF%20291117.pdf
2. Why It’s Time to Take Consciousness seriously, article by Dr. Deepak Chopra ( 2017). Available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-its-time-take-consciousness-seriously-deepak-chopra-md-official-/
3. Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991).Social Cognition (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
4. Selye H. 1976. Stress in health and disease. Butterworth’s, Inc.Boston, MA:
5. Hindustan Times (2017 July 12) https://www.hindustantimes.com/more-lifestyle/here-s-how-social-emotional-learning-can-help-your-kids-succeed-in-life/story-ATFBQoyHF9hpdVL2EIANvL.html
6. Bandura, A. (1971) ‘Psychological Modelling’.New York: Lieber-Antherton
Dr Jeny Rapheal’s qualifications include PhD from Bharathiar University; MSc (Mathematics) from Calicut University; MSc(Psychology) from Madras University; and BEd from Calicut University.
She was a High School Teacher from 1997-2000 at Ansar English Medium School, followed by Higher Secondary School Teacher from 2000-2016 at AIHSS, Padoor. She also did Clinical Counseling for 1 year at Co-operative Hospital Thrissur. She has 20 research papers to her credit.