The dark side of a psychology degree: it ruins all your relationships

Whether by design or accident, here are the major ways a psychology degree can and will damage or destroy a relationship.

Despite all the mentally ill people who have been helped with the assistance of psychology, every useful thing in this world can be wielded as a weapon as well — including psychology. A psychology degree may damage a person’s relationship directly or inadvertently; knowledge and training can be utilized, even subconsciously, to pick apart fights, start them, or inflict hurtful situations on others without consequence.

Using psychology in a detrimental manner can even be an accident. A person with a psychology degree may mean well, but can misuse their training in their emotionally charged state. Some are crueler, and may use their knowledge of psychology to get away with acting inappropriately or to try and illicit certain reactions from their partner, whether it be pain or need or fear.

Here are four ways a psychology degree can negatively impact an intimate relationship.

#1. Over-analyzation

The most obvious hamper your psychology degree can put on your love life is submitting to the urge of rampantly over-analyzing situations, as well as your significant other’s personality. Why doesn’t your boyfriend like dogs? Was he traumatized by a dog when he was younger? Did his mother inculcate into his brain that they were dirty animals? Maybe he just doesn’t like you enough to like a dog for you. Maybe he has problems connecting with others and is a cold-hearted individual overall. Maybe he just doesn’t freaking like dogs.

Over-analyzing the what-ifs and how-comes of every situation can get pretty annoying after a while; fights can easily be picked by wielding your psychology degree against what you think are significant events or details. These ‘significant’ things of note may be no more than a coincidence or a meaningless subconscious detail noticed by no one other than yourself.

Over-thinking your partner’s body language, wondering why they crossed their arms or what it means when they do so much as cough, can drive the both of you crazy. Looking and seeing are different things; reading between the lines can certainly help give a person insight into a situation, argument or discussion with a significant other. When abused, it can turn into a frustrating nightmare, overcomplicating what should be pretty simple situations.

The best thing to do would be to voice your questions, opinions or concerns instead of searching for hidden messages which may not be there. If that’s not a possibility, it may be time to find a partner with whom communication comes a little easier.

#2. Always being right

Not everyone with a psychology degree thinks that having one automatically elevates their level of intelligence above all that surrounds them, but having the knowledge and training to recognize and diagnose issues can also lead one astray. Sometimes, educated guesses are still no more than plain old assumptions. A person asserting knowledge that they ‘know’ what their significant other is thinking or why they acted a certain way can turn out to be no more than arrogant stubbornness.

Communication is still important; despite one’s ability to recognize subtleties with accuracy and skill using their knowledge of psychology, that person still can’t read minds (unless they are a ‘psychic’, in which case they still probably can’t read minds). Additionally, being in a relationship can cloud one’s judgments with intense or heated emotions.

#3. Being generally crazy

There is some research and support that psychologists seem just as, if not more, prone to mental illness as the rest of the population. A study in the 80s showed the suicide rate to be “twice that expected” among physicians, but a new study in 01 stated that there wasn’t enough evidence in the way of post-mortem occupation inventories. However, it was reported that although exact numbers couldn’t be pinned down, there seemed to be a higher rate of suicide among male physicians than is normal.

A 2004 study found that mental health workers are the least likely to be married and the most likely to be divorced, when studying three groups (psychiatrists, mental health workers and physicians).

Yet another study, in 1995, showed that 43% of psychologists knew a colleague with a drinking problem — which is especially interesting when compared to the fact that the same group of people reported, on average, to maintain a “low to moderate” level of drinking.

Additionally, a 2005 report asked a number of psychologists to honestly and anonymously give a reason for their desire to pursue the field. Most prominent were answers which gave insight to the lives of troubled individuals. Feeling outcast as a child or rushed from childhood altogether, dealing with emotionally demanding parents, being plagued with feelings of fear and impotency, sustaining tragedies, and even the demented need to feel better than their sick patients (either by feeling needed or looking down upon their client’s flaws) were all given reasons. Not only did they occur repeatedly, but they are all traits of a mentally troubled individual who may be difficult (see: crazy) to deal with in an intimate and long-term relationship.

#4. Manipulation

Knowing how to manipulate another person can certainly come in handy, especially when that person is your significant other. It can be frustrating when both people want to do different things or have contending opinions, but a person with a psychology degree may have the necessary knowledge to sway his or her partner.

This isn’t always so harmful, and can actually help the relationship in a way by allowing the pair to come to somewhat of an agreement without doing damage in the way of arguments or misunderstandings. Manipulation can also be pretty harmful, depending on the methods used by the manipulator as well as his or her intention. If the manipulation is for the sake of hurting another, or is to avoid taking responsibility for a hurtful action, it may be a sign to run away fast.

A master manipulator can avoid both obligations and consequences by turning a situation around completely or attempting to appear as the victim. Someone who cheats and later convinces her boyfriend that she was either goaded into it by an intimidating or persistent suitor under the acute stress of loneliness may be able to win back his favor by appearing weak, genuinely apologetic, and in need.

The manipulator may also be able to make the other person feel guilty about something the manipulator has done wrong. Additionally, some manipulative tactics are more harmful than others; a temper tantrum may be just the thing to deter a significant other from persisting in an argument.