The Armchair Psychologist has little to no formal training in psychology but has all of the answers to the mysteries of human nature. The Armchair Psychologist is fascinated by people in general, and believes that the “how” and “why” of human dynamics can be found in psychology. Armchair Psychologists can be found in large groups of people or engrossed in close one-on-one conversation. It is in these settings that they can most clearly show their skills of psychoanalysis.
Not merely a psychology enthusiast, the Armchair Psychologist has a compulsive need to classify people and their behavior according to popular psychological theories, and just as often, their personal definitions. The Armchair Psychologist is fond of evolutionary psychology and psychoanalysis which allows them to not only categorize others but pigeonhole them. The Armchair Psychologist sees themselves as an advanced freethinker though their theories and analysis are often traditional and restricting.
How to know you’re dealing with an Armchair Psychologist? Armchair Psychologists come in many forms; the only undeniable way to know one is by what they say and do. You may even be an Armchair Psychologist if several of the following apply to you:
- Thinking Sigmund Freud was one of the greatest thinkers of all time and/or quoting his theories
- Seeing behavior through a lens of psychopathology — nervousness indicates generalized anxiety disorder, short attention span indicates attention deficit disorder
- Believing that most human behavior arises in response to evolution and mating needs
- Believing that individual behavioral differences have their origins in childhood dynamics and upbringing, especially parent-child relations, and traumatic experiences
- Following several personality theory systems and using them to classify most of the people you know and meet
- Regularly using phrases such as “projection”, “defense mechanism,” and “fixation”
- Regularly reading Psychology Today and explaining events in relation to what you’ve read
The Armchair Psychologist likes to analyze and classify all humans except, usually, themselves. While they will admit that they too are just a product of human evolution and experiences, they tend to believe that due to their psychological awareness they are more stable and healthy than most. It escapes them that their armchair psychology could itself be considered pathological.
Could analyzing the Armchair Psychologist be considered armchair psychology? Maybe. It could be said that there is a bit of the Armchair Psychologist in us all.