Psychiatry is a serious and highly demanding profession,
but psychiatrists are constantly misrepresented in the entertainment industry as films and TV series relentlessly depict them as motionless, wooden, middle-aged men who just sit back, listen to their patients talk, and provide intermittent reinforcements to keep the session going.
Jokes and memes featuring this trait of their job also flood the Internet, implying that it is such a cushy profession that anyone could be a psychiatrist.
Those rosy pictures of this trade are inaccurate, stereotypical, and are better off forgotten.
However, they are not entirely unfounded, inasmuch as listening to patients in detail takes up a large proportion of a therapy session.
The method of listening and analyzing, or psychoanalysis, can be traced back to Sigmund Freud, who pioneered the study of the inner workings of the unconscious mind.
Experiences and emotions are inextricably intertwined, and according to him, the way in which they are processed and stored in our mind is not always transparent and conscious.
Most of them are stowed away in our unconscious mind, and only an infinitesimal portion of them are accessible in the conscious part of our memory.
Freud compares the mind to an iceberg.
Our conscious mind is like the tip of the iceberg, the tiny part that peeks through the water and is clearly visible.
But its main body is hidden deep underneath the surface, rife with “forgotten” memories and untapped creative momentum, yet out of our reach when we are wide awake.
We may come in brief contact with this mysterious realm when we dream during sleep. But most of the time, the contents of our dreams dissolve into a blur the moment we wake up.
Still, whatever is left of them often strikes us as whimsical and even profoundly fantastical.
That might partially explain why many artists and writers prefer to work in the early morning when they are still experiencing grogginess from the slumber of the previous night.
Floating in a limbo state between the isles sprinkled with colorful dreams and the land of the living, they are exceedingly likely to hit upon a hidden treasure trove full of unexpected inspirations.
The great psychologist also argues that delving into the unconscious mind also cures mental illnesses.
Some of the patients he received had undergone something traumatic and horrendous in their past.
Over time, they repressed those memories and swept them under the rug so that they wouldn’t have to recall those painful experiences in their everyday lives. Sometimes they did so without themselves knowing it.
He would then treat them by helping them to bring those memories out into the consciousness. Only when they came to terms with the causal events of their depressions would they start to heal.
The theory goes that when our unconscious mind is piled with unprocessed emotions from the past, they are going to ripple through and wreak havoc at some point.
Perhaps one of the takeaways from this theory is that you shouldn’t bottle up and leave your unexamined, negative feelings unresolved too often, because mental health concerns more than what we consciously know about the goings-on in our mind.