Psychologists and Their Kids

Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman, Writer & Researcher, volunteer at Atheist Secular Humanism

No. First of all, it is very important to note that children are human beings and that they are not mechanical items like computers that can be programmed to behave in a certain way so that the end result is predictable. Also, as human beings, psychologists are imperfect, not to mention that psychology is an imperfect and imprecise science. A number of things have been noted in real life about psychologists who are parents:

  • some people become psychologists to understand their own ruined childhoods and therefore still suffer from scars that may compromise their own parenting skills
  • a team of two psychologists may emphasize different views of the same problem, perhaps with each parent wishing to apply his/her favourite school of thought in parenting practices with their own child or children
  • their child(ren) are sometimes especially nervous and ill-behaved

All of this does not, in my opinion, negate the value of psychology. When applied by objective and reasonable individuals who know what they are doing, it can serve to the betterment of society. Having said that, let us keep in mind that psychology is a fairly new science, on top of everything else. If we take Sigmund Freud as the “father of psychology,” the discipline is barely a century old. He published his first papers around 1895 and died in 1939.

The scientific method, which requires that experiments be repeatable and bring the same answer each time, cannot be ethically applied to human subjects. Truth be told, up till the middle of the 20th century or beyond, human subjects were submitted and used for neurological experimentation in which the scientific method was applied in all its rigour to the best of human ability. I found the articles too horror-filled to bookmark. Laws were eventually passed to make it illegal.

The severe limitations of experimentation necessarily slows down the process of scientific learning in the field of psychology. None-the-less, I personally have benefited so much from bits and pieces of wisdom recorded by fallible humans that, even though a team of professional psychologists cannot raise a perfect child, I believe in supporting the discipline.


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