Real psychology and the psychology you see in the media—in books, on television, and in movies—aren't always the same thing. In fact, sometimes they're totally different.
Interestingly, many if not most of the myths and misconceptions we see over and over are simply due to a lack of knowledge on the writers' parts. In other words, thinking the media they have seen is accurate, writers incorporate (actually inaccurate) psychology into their writing, inadvertently perpetuating misconceptions, one writer to the next, like urban legends.
But as psychotherapy and psychotropic prescriptions have become more common, the average person's knowledge of psychology has gone up. Suddenly all those little misconceptions are big, glaring inaccuracies that have the potential to stop the reader or viewer cold.
As a writer, it behooves you to double check what you think you know about psychology. For example, did you know that:
Want more information about common misconceptions and getting your own psych right? Get a copy of Dr. Kaufman's book, The Writer's Guide to Psychology: How to Write Accurately About Psychological Disorders, Clinical Treatment and Human Behavior. More information is available on the book's website.
© Carolyn Kaufman, PsyD • Psychology for Writers on Psychology Today