Freeing psychology class from today’s 'class'

All we feel is that what we see, today’s institute don’t want to see what people feel they pretend to be innocent blind and don’t want let people see… 

I have been learning psychology as a master student in the university. I am fond and very passionate toward my subject. My liberal ideas got injured when I started to realize around my class people have no familiarity with the experiences which most of the population shared from the Indian socio-economic culture. Under my program teacher have been taught diagrams, examples which were reflected the belongingness of certain elite people who were sitting in the class. The emotions of happiness and joy associated with the birthday party, dinner party quite serious issue associated with the psychological studies and that’s what I saw that the whole class nodded on such a topic. The occasion of activities usually teacher choose to teach in pleasant way but I didn’t get pleased rather I felt it was a very bad joke or activity that teacher had made.

Many more things from structuralism to hormone, neurons etc. have been taught, using precise bio-medical words and pure psychological words has considered one of the ways of being objective and more scientific according to our teachers. If someone described caste in a sociological study sense then the whole class who considered themselves objective and scientific under the name of more privileged and prejudice attitude may stigmatized student pronouncing and can get token to him or her as casteist mind and further it can lead to suppression of their expression and exclusion from a class. At this stage the suffering of students is considered as the fault of overthinking, the sensitivity showed as irrational behaviour while neglecting the privileged caste mind which would have been put low motivations by giving inferiority complex through their power relations. The suffering of such students in a class also become point of object rather than treating with dignity. They get victimized and even this act further lead to dropped out from academic course.    

The process itself tells, it doesn’t happen anywhere in a vacuum, it’s a reflection of reality conscious hierarchical caste-class structure embedded strongly over the thought process, and the psychology classes, institutes itself are not free from it. The exploration of this rudely thought, attitude is completely overlooked by the psychology community purposefully avoiding critical questions. When the question is raised criticizing attitude of this people in a class or the what is being taught then it would always occur that question would not being answered but answer could be a tag to you that you are emotional. Converse to critical space specific knowledge becomes reserve as an instrument to propagate some narratives such as how religious beliefs are beneficial in spiritual process and how it is peaceful, beautiful, fantastical ignoring the fact that having long history of bloodshed provided religious violence where beliefs can monitor as a motivator of violence (religious beliefs assumed here in a political sense).

Hence the practice of providing psychological knowledge and practicing well-being and mental health not remains neutral, objective or scientific. It’s also designed to regulate instruments possess dominant people to propagate authoritative kind of attitude and practice which creates no benefits rather exploitation of masses by creating a market of myths about psychological knowledge itself.

Empathy is always taught in a class with great enthusiasm, how therapist should not judge client on their basis of caste, class, culture, race, language etc. but still I have doubt on this attitude of empathy of people in a class who were dreaming of being therapist. The competitive nature of being one another in a class would not give the opportunity to exchange their experiences, beliefs, and the realization of being as a person and from there the basic process starts. And so that empathy mostly have been constructed by sharing dialogue from same class or group. Dialogue between students of different culture, society opens new experience of learning from each other, unfortunately the sharing of cultural identity and experiences have been never occurred in psychology class itself and therefore outside living reality can be imagined how worst it could. It rarely found exception to this apathetic attitude where teachers, professionals trying to bring some ignored issues in discussion and insisted to create environment of their teaching and learning practice on the basis of equality, freedom to such mainstream attitude of psychology.

Exclusion of large sections of society, people, their experiences, their identity is lost in the discussion of psychology class of psychological knowledge. If there is no discussion, no inclusion of existence of their being then the validity of such psychological knowledge provides no trust that it would beneficial to such heterogenous masses in India.

Term social justice I never been heard in my class; The perception of psychology for treating mental illness, use of psychotherapy to have been told on top of the level can bring change in every individual’s lives; Psychology class provided this illusory effect through research and discussion in academics, it’s illusion because it doesn’t have real basis, no inclusion of diverse and ignored population, totally ignored socio-eco-political tenses and conflicts affecting every individual’s mental life. Even not a single programmed of workshops or seminar is carried on the psychological importance, mental health importance considering the lens of social justice and gender equality in classes. Although the cause of this hidden discrimination not goes to any specific individual attitude instead it goes to systematic abnormality rooted and working as a conservative authority to drive dominantly psychological classes and experimental labs.  

Space for inclusion of psychological knowledge for diverse population can be made possible if diverse population of students from different caste, class, gender, religion community gets involved to shared and discuss the knowledge production for well-being and peace in society. It is utmost duty of everyone being familiar with psychological knowledge and practice to criticize violent practices in academic class and mental health profession.

Rajesh Pawar

Author is post graduate student in clinical psychology at Savitribai Phule Pune University. 

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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