I advise everyone against breaking modern psychology’s unwritten rules. Keep in mind you aren’t allowed to even believe that these rules exist, that’s the 0th rule.
1. The only way to correctly move through life is as an atomized individual
This is why therapists and society in general is almost always telling you to get out of relationships at the hint of anything going wrong, as if being alone is automatically assumed to be better. Psychology demonizes dependence to such a high degree that if you are like me who has a disability and is dependent on your mother for company you are written off. Society is right to friend; anyone can leave you for any or no reason no matter how long they were friends with you or how deep the relationship. This is considered normal and appropriate and if you have emotional fallout from losing a friend there’s something wrong with you and you are encouraged to see a therapist. But therapy and transportation to therapy is expensive so really the only people who can afford to be “healthy” by society’s standards are making north of 60k per year. It is assumed that you can leave compromising situations which a lot of the time is untrue and therapy has no real help for those who have nowhere to go. We are taught not to lift a finger for anyone else because it will detract from our personal happiness not being aware of the fact that there comes a point, which we have long passed, that when enough people are optimizing for personal happiness it results in much lower collective happiness.
2. Assume people are good even when the evidence says otherwise
Modern psychology is more about making people feel good about themselves than producing good people. This is because instilling virtue is an uphill battle, especially when working with males. The therapist is employed by the client while the clergy is employed by the religious institution so naturally the former is going to tell you what you want to hear enough of the time that you keep coming back. The studies therapists have been trained on generally come from upper middle class well socialized college students or graduates who are a poor representation of the nation and world’s population. Because of this psychologists see humanity through rose colored glasses and then are caught off guard when a bunch of people start killing each other.
3. Spurn reciprocity
In every situation psychologists train you to give people the benefit of the doubt except when they are being virtuous. Then it’s assumed that they are just looking for something in return. The fact that the worst is assumed and that reciprocity is looked down upon so much is telling. Throughout all of history societies have been built on reciprocity, where you do something good for me and I do something good for you and this often happens outside of the confines or the market. Modern psychology is so wedded to capitalism that any reciprocity that doesn’t happen within the confines of capitalism is written off and pathologized.
4. Discard symbolic interpretation of incidents
Granted this one only applies to cognitive behavioral therapy and similar methods. Therapists are well meaning in their attempt to stop their clients from ruminating over certain formative incidents they hold dear but in the process they miss something deeply human. The fact that some things mean so much more because they are symbolic, a culmination of a lot of other aspects that built their life. For example for me after volunteering for more than five years we were at a luncheon they put on to reward us and we were at a table with the pastor of the local church that helps our organization and he flat out ignored us. Now according to a therapist I should just see this as a single moment similar to the Buddhist idea of disparate moments that are only chained together by our attachments to them. This incident is a symbol of being spurned acceptance despite all I do for the community. I might feel better if I depersonalized the incident but nobody can force me to optimize my thoughts for comfort instead of truth even if therapists claim it will be “healthy”.
5. Everything is malleable, nothing is immutable
There are innate differences between men and women but society doesn’t see it that way anymore. This hurts both sexes because now help specifically tailored to men and women is seen as suspect. Traditional masculinity is deemed “toxic” by default even though it has served men well for millennia and men who put into practice its values are rewarded in the dating world. It’s just assumed that men and women can somehow move to some androgynous middle where everyone can express themselves however they want as long as it doesn’t involve traditional gender roles or morality. It is assumed you can be anything if you just put your mind to it and grind hard enough. This makes it that much harder when you fail because now it’s on you.
6. External validation isn’t that important despite the fact that everything runs on it
Let’s face it, the idea that one has “innate worth” is an unfinanced mandate. It comes from the Judeo Christian tradition but in that tradition it was a command and always dependent upon the adherents actually following it. Now the idea people have innate worth is bandied about without being commanded. Naturally when something is optional and difficult to put into practice people don’t choose that option. The issue though is people are brainwashed to believe they have innate worth and when society treats them anything but they are immobilized by the blowback and unsurprisingly suffer from depression. Instead of helping psychology pathologizes these people’s thinking claiming they have poor “self-image” and that somehow if they just felt good enough about them self things would get better. Let’s face it, the whole world runs on external validation from Instagram likes to your paycheck. In fact money is one of the ultimate barometers of external validation and it just so happens that if you don’t have it therapists won’t even talk to you!
7. Medication helps you think like us
I was on an SSRI antidepressant for three months and I was more atomized, detached, and compliant those months so I know that medication doesn’t only help, it helps form you into an individual modern psychology wants you to be. Depression medication allows you to not feel the stings so badly when you kick a hornet’s nest. It mitigates stress. It’s not a bad thing as it helps a lot of people but it should be acknowledged that a lot of the practices of cognitive behavioral therapy will only really work for depressed people if they are first put on an antidepressant.
8. Questioning capitalism is off the table
Modern psychology sees any labor that isn’t performed inside of the capitalist framework for a fair monetary price as denigrating the person performing it. Emotional labor is seen as something only someone subservient performs so there is a constant battle as to who does it and how much. Then there is the professionalization of friendship. Friends who may have gone the extra mile to be supportive in the past now say things like “I’m not your therapist” because this has been so normalized in the culture. When you speak truth about power to friends it builds the bond and helps you fight back against the injustices of late stage capitalism and other ills but when you do the same to a therapist it is just seen as venting at best and snuffed out. Then there is the issue that modern psychology is the engine of late stage capitalism. The best of its science is devoted to making you feel like crap so you buy stuff you don’t need. Or it’s keeping you glued to apps that spiral you into depression. It is doing so without being called out in our call out culture. The psychology that harms is free and forced upon you while the psychology that helps is thousands of dollars a year in therapy and psychiatrist bills.
9. Consensual sex is little more than pleasurable physical fitness
When two people have sex it often means a lot to one of the parties in the interaction. This is not always true, and a lot of times it is completely arbitrary. More of you is changed in the interaction than modern psychology would like to admit. Purity culture was created to mitigate this risk granted at the high cost of restraint. But understanding that humans have something in them that goads them toward the ideal of a single lifetime monogamous relationship (no matter how imperfectly they are in their striving for it) is important. Bible thumpers will claim God prescribed this but there’s a reason those myths stuck around, because they drive at something deeply human that can’t be extricated no matter how irreligious we have become.
10. We give the client the impression that they, not we, are the authority
The reason psychological brainwashing is so much more difficult to counter than religious brainwashing is psychology makes you think you are thinking for yourself where religion just shoves the imperative to obey right in your face. The truth is, “unhealthy” has replaced sinful as the new things you are discouraged from thinking. Because of the decentralized headless way the authority of psychology works trying to resist it is like cutting slime into pieces. But if you bend to any arbiter of truth besides it you will meet resistance. If you have a severe mental illness they’ll up your antipsychotic to blunt your personality. You have to agree with their version of sanity to be released from the mental ward. It is telling that Chinese are putting Uyghurs in concentration camps because their religion is making them “not think clearly”. There is no such thing as truthlessness, when traditional religion dies something else rushes in to fill in the vacuum. In our world’s case, psychology.
11. People can play cognitive tricks to smoke and mirror themselves out of depression
A minority of people can change their thinking and beat depression but this is only true if their thoughts were causing their depression. People’s negative thoughts are usually an effect, not a cause of their depression so trying to stop the thoughts is often counterproductive because telling people to stop accurate thoughts often does more harm than good. If you can obey your therapist and think and do everything they tell you then you are making them, not you, the authority. There is nothing wrong with this if it works but it never worked for me.
12. Happiness comes from within and only 10% of it is determined by your circumstances
Modern psychology is about watering down the definition of happiness so much that they can declare a large portion of society happy. Basically happy or healthy is being what they want you to be. People usually say happiness comes from within as they’re taking away an actual source of happiness from your life. Things that bring you happiness that involve attachment like relationships are seen as suspect. Happy people often have external things like relationships and vocation that produce their happiness but are still expected to pantomime the idea that happiness comes from within. For those of us on the bottom without these things who are unhappy we are guilted and shamed for not being so.
13. There is hope, evidence be dammed
In psychology assessments of hope needs to be made in the moment. So if the current moment you are sitting in a room and nothing immediately bad isn’t happening then you are seen as all right. The problem is people (especially men) are trained to scan the horizon and make accurate assessments of the future. If these assessments are bleak they naturally respond with hopelessness which modern psychology pathologizes as depression. Another issue with hopelessness is that often structural change is needed to bring about hope (for example a person with a disability needs to skip the line to get hired). Modern psychology is all about holding up the status quo and not rocking the boat. That, in and of itself, is pretty hopeless to me.
14. With enough mental gymnastics you can come to believe you are secure
In a world where you can be fired, divorced, ghosted, or cut off for any or no reason people who take this to heart are pathologized as insecure instead of rewarded for correct thinking. If you become a completely atomized individual with enough brain power to concoct the narrative you’re secure, good for you! But most people will spend a lot of mental energy lying to themselves about this and it will just make them that more depressed. People on the bottom are the ones hurt the most by being forced to believe in the lie that they are secure while their life is a mess.
15. Culture is a pool, not a river
Psychology doesn’t allow you to believe something is counter cultural because according to them all cultures are valid. So what happens instead is a bunch of social norms spring up which are difficult to figure out (especially for the increasing amount of people on the autistic spectrum). My little sister who is smarter than me said the hardest thing to do is be normal. Culture is a non Newtonian fluid, liquid when going with the flow, solid when bumped up against. If you read something Christian in a non Christian space you feel it. If you question things like “why is there so little hospitality here” you’ll be met with the same as a fish swimming against the current.
16. Negative thoughts are pathological
At its core a negative thought is often just a power struggle so it makes sense psychology would not be OK with them. For example thinking about how you got slighted at work or how something happening at the governmental level is going to affect you negatively. The truth is, negative thoughts are more of an effect of depression than a cause of it. For some people employing pop culture Buddhism to smoke and mirror them away works and if that helps you, great! But keep in mind most things that are true are also negative and addressing them often requires confrontation rather than passivity.
17. A person’s Individuality is to be expressed to the fullest extent despite the blowback
A lot of life involves threading the needle between expressing your identity to feel whole and suppressing it to function socially. Psychology encourages people to assert their identity even when this could do more harm than good. If you’re gay in a Evangelical Christian family you are encouraged to come out even though the blowback may make it not worth it. If you are mentally ill you’re encouraged to disclose it to your employer even though it may get you fired. Living your identity out loud is a beautiful and life giving thing but unfortunately in this world you have to balance the vitality you get from expressing it with the blowback from people oppressing you for doing so.
18. We can instill in you the will to live
Psychologists and psychiatrists are like the safeties in football, the last people to see a runner before they are scored on. People’s will to live is often sapped by living lives that break these rules. According to one survey one in four male suicides is due to abandonment (breaking rule 1, not being atomized). The weight of producing in someone the will to live really shouldn’t be put on the shoulders of these helping professionals, it is completely unfair. People pathologizing losing the will to live obviously haven’t lived the worst of this world alone.
19. If there’s something about you that has turned your life upside down, you aren’t allowed to let it define you
For some of us, not defining ourselves by what we have suffered is pushing back against literally everything. It is very difficult to define yourself by something other than what you stuffer for. For a minority it may be race, for someone with a disability it would be their condition. This makes sense because a good portion of the time things beyond your control like prejudice are what have drastically reduced your ability to meaningfully participate in life and society. For a racial minority it may have been an extended jail sentence, for an LGBT youth it may be estrangement from their Evangelical Christian family, and for an individual with a disability it may be the inability to get a job because of prejudice.
20. When faced with an ambiguous situation, always go with the narrative that makes you feel the best about yourself at the expense of the one that’s true
Let’s face it, a good portion of the most important interactions we experience in life the details and motives are lost in the “fog of war” and are up to us to concoct. We are taught to choose our own narrative first and shoehorn the ambiguities of situations into it. Truth is not held up as a gold standard. But psychology gets more than it bargained for because letting people choose their own narrative opens the floodgates to cultures they deem toxic like Redpill, MGTOW, and Incel. These men on the bottom are taking the tools psychology gave them and using them against it. For example an ambiguous situation with a woman the worst is assumed instead of neutral or the best. Disinterest in truth ends up hurting its purveyors worse than the pursuit of it.
21. Prioritizes the goodness of great over the greatness of good
A lot of what makes the world a bad place for mental health is the toxicity of society. For all but the most numb of us there is no way to counter this besides trying to get people to exhibit more virtue either via force or encouragement. The thing about a culture that goads us to win at all costs is the people we step over are the ones who bear the brunt of the negativity. To them most spheres are devoid of virtue and it bites them because they don’t have the power to override society’s hurtful jerks. A world without goodness isn’t noticed by those on top bit it’s all one notices when they are on the bottom. Where there is no goodness there is no hope. Traditional culture often overemphasized virtue but now we have went off in the other direction. How good someone is to you (particularly if it’s a parent or a spouse) can often make or break a significant portion of your life if not the whole thing.
22. You can build someone’s self-esteem out of thin air
People’s self-esteem largely comes from feedback the get engaging with reality. Trying to artificially inflate people’s self-esteem by constructing a reality distortion field around them is just going to do harm in the long run because they will run up against things in reality and their house of cards will come crashing down. If you are a man it gets worse because you have negative value by default. You are expected to perform and be rewarded to put yourself in the black. Dignified work (and its consummate reward) is a load bearing post in a man’s psyche. Trying to build self-esteem without this structure intact is a fool’s errand.
23. Your differences will be celebrated
We are taught to be ourselves and express ourselves in any way you wish. However what we aren’t taught is that when there is something different about you that makes others uncomfortable it is incumbent upon you to set others at ease about it. This is especially true when you have some kind of physical deformity. Psychologists won’t be forthright about this with you giving you ways to do damage control because they believe this is off their map.