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The Jung and the restless

Posted in books

Forgive me for the title, but I needed a laugh. I’m reading Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul, and it’s depressing me terribly.

My degree is in psychology. I’ve always loved the subject. But seeing how far we (haven’t) come since Jung wrote this in 1931 is soul-crushing for someone in love with the field. Because, in a lot of ways, psychology hasn’t been very useful at all.

I’m not talking about therapy. Therapy is awesome and amazing and has helped millions of people in the last hundred years. I mean experimental psych. Oh, sure, we’ve learned plenty of weird tics and foibles of the human mind. But acknowledging a thing is very different than knowing why the thing happens. We don’t know why for hardly anything.

And many of those things we’ve found aren’t as universal as researchers would like to think. Most experiments have used white, cishet, middle to upper class subjects, often college students. Try to apply them to other demographics and other cultures, and they fail.

Additionally, many studies can’t be reproduced. It’s a big problem in the field.

Jung is depressing me by pointing out the truth. For years, my dream has been to get a PhD in statistics so I can help experimental psychologists design better experiments. I find myself thinking there’s no point to that. Experimental psych is too flawed. Why work that hard when it’s not going to make much difference?

Honestly, at this point I’m not sure what to focus on. I have a lot of balls in the air, but I don’t know yet which ones are the most important to me…

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