We live in a highly specialized world. The concept of ‘uomo universalis’, the universal polymath who is an expert in most scientific disciplines, is many centuries behind us. Our knowledge of the world has become so specialized and complex that it is no longer possible to be equally adept in every possible field of scientific relevance.
This has led to the development of a number of highly specialized disciplines and becoming an expert in any of them, requires many years of studying and practice. This is definitely the case in the areas of health psychology and personal development.
Human beings are intricate entities. Our brain is the most complex known organ in the entire universe, and we have only recently started to unveil its intense and complicated communication pathways with other areas of our body, such as our gut (the gut-brain axis). This is further compounded by the fact that we are multi-dimensional beings. Our behaviour and mental processes are influenced by a number of internal and external factors, which often impact on us in an unpredictable interplay of attraction and repulsion:
- There is a biological dimension involving our brain, neurotransmitters, evolutionary and hereditary factors.
- There is a social dimension involving our interactions with others, including our family and close friends, our community, our society and expectations of and from other human beings.
- There is a psychological dimension involving our cognitive faculties, our feelings and emotions, our unconscious minds, our worries and anxieties, our dreams and hopes etc.
Taking all of this into account, it’s no wonder then that even if you dedicate yourself to any discipline tasked with understanding human behaviour and thinking, you are likely to become an expert in one of the above dimensions, but not necessarily in all three of them. Academic knowledge and training are essential in getting you to a place of expertise and skill in your discipline, but sadly they are insufficient if you wish to fully understand the big picture.
How much can your doctor really understand of the cause of your problem during a 5-minute consultation? How much can your counsellor or psychologist help you if they don’t have an idea of any underlying biological conditions that may impact your behaviour and thinking? What is the use of a coach who helps you to set goals, but doesn’t check on the ecology, the environmental, social and relational factors that can get in the way of achieving them?
Granted, it is not realistic to expect the ‘uomo universalis’ to arise again in our 21st century world. However, among the extreme specialization we are currently experiencing, those who can truly make the difference are those who can see the big picture and look across disciplines in order to find the root cause of a presenting issue.
PS Cheryl and I care about the big picture, and we want to reach across disciplines in order to help as many people as possible. We are about to launch a new programme called Your Mind Matters and we need five busy female professionals who wish to optimize their mental health through nutrition to jump on a quick call with us in the next 7 days and give us feedback on the programme before it’s launched. If you’d like to help us, type “FEEDBACK” below and we can schedule the call. Thanks in advance!