Freud’s Reality Testing
Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, psychologist, and essential thinker, made significant contributions to the beginning of the 20th century. Freud is one of the most influential people in modern psychology because of his theories and ideas. He started psychoanalysis, the most popular way to treat mental diseases and disorders.
Fact-checking is one of the most important and powerful ideas that Sigmund Freud gave us. He found that people often have a realids that is very different from what is real happening on. People often base their understanding of a situation on how they feel or what they’ve been through in the past instead of the facts. Take this case as an example. A man and a woman are having a fight. “You can disagree with me, but don’t call me stupid,” the wife tells her husband. “I never said you were stupid,” says the husband. When did I say that?” The wife then says, “I could tell from the look in your eyes.”
This is another example: One day, you were crossing the street when you saw an old friend. You thought right away that this friend must be mad at you because of something you did. What else could be the reason she’s ignoring you on purpose? But when you ran into this old friend a few weeks later, it turned out they never really paid attention to you. They had a lot to do that day and were in a big hurry.
Thoughts like “I was ignored” or “I was thought to be stupid” are not necessarily based on facts. We may have been called stupid or ignored in the past, but that is not the same as what is happening now. You can’t use what happened in the past to figure out what’s going on right now. There are many other things going on that lead to a certain result. But because of what we’ve been through in the past, our minds have been trained to think that the problem is us, that the worst-case scenario is inevitable, and that things will never get better. We make these kinds of mistakes because we tend to interpret events based on our past experiences and how we’re feeling instead of the facts.
Mindreading and making too many generalizations are two of the most common cognitive mistakes. We often think we know what someone else is thinking and feeling about us. This is called “mind reading.” When we do something wrong, our first thought is, “Oh, she must think I’m an idiot.” When someone disagrees with us, we automatically assume that they hate us. Mindreading is a cognitive error because it makes us think we know exactly what the other person is thinking and feeling about us, when in fact we are interpreting their gestures, body language, and facial expressions based on our own inner reality, which includes our own thoughts, feelings, and past experiences.
Overgeneralization is another cognitive error that comes from not being able to check with reality. This is the tendency to think that what happened in the past will definitely happen again, or that the result of one event is likely to be the result of all future events. We could say something like, “My ex-girlfriend broke up with me. This new girl I’m going after will probably leave me again.” Another thought is, “I didn’t get the job. I’m never going to get a job.”
We have these kinds of thoughts so often that they have become second nature to us. We don’t notice them anymore. Checking the facts or doing what Freud calls “reality checking” or “reality testing” is a way to fix these kinds of mistakes. Reality-testing is the process of taking into account facts, variables, and realities from the outside world that might affect our current situation. It’s important to realize that we can’t always trust and believe the thoughts that come to us on their own, because they don’t always match up with reality.
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