Psychology is a subsystem within a larger socially, politically and historically constructed reality. This is at least my understanding of psychology.
In my mind we need a psychology for us Iranian that enables us comprehend our everyday life, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Every culture has their own cultural psychology to define the most significant aspect of mental health within their communities.
I appreciate Western psychology and the mainstream psychology for their hard work in generating knowledge about human mind. Adding the cultural, social, political, and spiritual realities that every community deal with, we may try to understand our multicultural and multifaceted human mind.
Mainstream psychology has found a variety of tools in measuring and explaining human mind; still, this umbrella does not cover all of our heads.
I suggest that in our Iranian way of understanding psychology, we have failed at least in our early attempts up to now, to understand our own mind. To be brief, we do not talk about the obvious reasons, the forces behind this huge wall where knowing the self can become dangerous for those who oppress us.
First of all historically, we have been dealing with external factors that are prohibiting us to enjoy our peace of mind, not talking about the hardships in our mind. Psychology was never explained to us properly. Now it is time. The heavy Freudian language can not capture the reality of our life back in Iran or assist us in understanding our own mind. As much as we Iranian used to study Freud (those of us who studied psychology), we never knew about Adler.
The Adlerian Individual psychology explains neurosis pertinent to the sense of not belonging and not being accounted for in our ecological world.
We Iranian know how it feels to not belong, at least not be part of what we wish to be, the development of our own home country. We Iranian know how it is to not really feel the sense of belonging, because we have been forced to live with the concept of dislocation, a constant battle that we can not win. This is what most Iranian talk about, day after day.
In my work as a counsellor, I meet people who feel they are isolated and unloved. We continue to immigrate as a group of people, however silently, without any noise. We lack resources to help mental health issues that many of us carry with us. Psychology is still not there for us, very distant, very hard to grasp. Or maybe our psychologists in this filed fail to explain the concepts to the public.
The specialized, complicated, and discursive language that is used in psychology does maintain a privileged power position for the professional psychology without being any help for our people to discover the self and the world. For decades, masses have been left out in my mind and still today, psychology only appeals to the intellectual, rational, and upper social class groups.
Today, however, we Iranian have come to a point that we realize the urgency of finding the truth about who we are and how we do what we do. Reason being could be the huge pressure that many of us feel. The stress of losing our homes due to the forced migration, the Diaspora, the separation, and the nostalgia we deal with every single day.
We need to learn how to tackle all the pressure at once. Mental health and emotion regulation issues among us most certainly are pertinent to our living conditions. We just need to have proper tools to find out. We need an all-included psychology that is easy to understand.
Psychology as a medical model is used within the status quo of our Iranian life; however we learn to appreciate and to comprehend a scientific model of body-mind-soul. Using my own critical eyes, I will argue that critical psychology is missing to explain and explore the hard concepts of psychology within the framework of people’s everyday life.
Individuals and families around the world should be able to view the functions of psychology and to be able to utilize the information to the bettering of their lives. When it comes to us, the Iranian population, we could acknowledge that; the established objective and scientific models in Europe also arrived at the door of the institutionalized form of diagnosis and treatment for mental dysfunction in our home country.
We Iranian remember that “crazy” people would get into mental hospital and they would receive electric shock and medications to become “normal” again. Many of those experiences left scars in our collective embodied soul, to not trust psychologists. If we ask most Iranians what they think of psychologists, you will hear this answer: they are crazy themselves!
This answer does not come out of a vacuum and it has a rationale. People have been mistreated by psychologists who have perpetuated the status quo; meaning oppression. We move around and we carry our superstitious beliefs with us. People need explanations, explorations, and healthy talk about psychology.
If you are a mental health worker in Iran or anywhere working with this population, try to break down the concepts into tangible and useful ideas people can take home. Psychology should become culturally adjusted and personally suitable for each one of our needs.
Note: This article was originally published in EzineArticles May 29th, 2010 by this author.