Psychologists hit back: It’s normal
By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Who are you calling crazy?
The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) Sunday denounced what it said was the insinuation that people who see a psychologist or any mental health professional were “abnormal” or “permanently debilitated.”
PAP also condemned not only the perception that depression was a permanent disability but also the use of terms like “abnoy” (abnormal), “sira ang ulo” (crazy) and “may diperensiya sa utak” (sick in the head) to label individuals.
“These irresponsible statements and similar acts perpetuate a profound lack of understanding of psychological concepts, of the nature of psychological problems and dysfunctions, and of the nature of psychological health and well-being,” the group said in a statement.
“Seeing a psychologist or any mental health professional does not make a person ‘abnormal.’ Seeing a psychologist means ensuring our mental health and psychological well-being,” it said.
PAP board secretary Mira Ofreneo pointed out that people visit psychologists for different reasons and in different contexts and scenarios.
“They feel that they have a problem or difficulty but, most of the time, these problems are not signs of clinical disorders,” said Ofreneo, a social psychologist.
“They may be depressed because of the death of a loved one or because they have relationship problems. So they seek help but that does not make them abnormal,” she said.
Ofreneo said most PAP members were counselors and not clinical psychologists or psychiatrists.
In its statement, PAP said recent events in the election campaign were “an affront to psychologists and to psychology as a discipline and profession.”
“In particular, partisan individuals and media practitioners have not only presented to the public fraudulent psychological reports, but have also made inaccurate statements about different aspects of the practice of psychology and the nature of psychological functioning,” the group said.
Detractors of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III have presented three supposed psychological exams of the senator but these have all been proven to be fabrications.
Two of the reports, which supposedly were prepared at the Ateneo de Manila University and cast doubts on the mental fitness of Aquino, were released by the camp of Manuel Villar, Nacionalista Party presidential candidate.
The Ateneo Department of Psychology and the two priests who supposedly individually signed each report said the evaluations were bogus.
“These irresponsible actions have dangerous long-term effects on efforts of Filipino psychologists and other mental health professionals to address the psychological well-being of Filipinos,” PAP said.
The group said psychological tests and assessments should not be released to media and the public to destroy a person’s reputation.
“In accordance with the PAP Code of Ethics, the results of psychological tests or assessments cannot be released to the media or the public or to any person other than the client.”
“Any reputable individual psychologist or psychological organization ensures the practice of confidentiality and that the results of psychological tests or assessment are only shared with the client,” it said.
PAP said psychologists “take reasonable steps to ensure that information to be disclosed will not be misused, misunderstood or misinterpreted to infringe on human rights, whether intentionally or unintentionally.”