Armchair Psychology Can Be Dangerous - The Good Men Project

Don’t diagnose if you’re not a mental health professional

If you’re not a mental health clinician, do not diagnose people. You can have opinions on individuals’ behavior. You can feel strongly about how others treat you. But if you don’t have a degree in psychology, it’s not wise to decide whether someone has a mental illness. If you tell a friend that you believe that they are a sociopath, this can be damaging to them if they do not have a personality disorder. Similarly, if you diagnose somebody with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and you’re not a clinician you don’t know what you’re doing to them by imparting this information. If you notice your friend struggling instead of diagnosing them, what can you do?

Get off your armchair and help them

When you think of an armchair psychologist, you imagine somebody sitting in a relaxed position judging others. That is the dangerous part of this behavior. You are not qualified to make diagnoses on your friends and family. You’re not qualified to make judgments on people who are in your circle. The only person who can make diagnoses on these individuals is their mental health provider. So what you can do instead of making judgments about what somebody might or might not have is encourage them to seek therapy or counseling this way you’re not harming their mental health by assuming they have something that they do not have.
If your friend confesses, they are having particular symptoms such as high levels of energy and excessively spending lots of money instead of diagnosing them with bipolar disorder; you can suggest that they talk to their doctor. That would be the more kind and loving thing to do rather than implying that they have an illness that you’re not sure if they have.