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School Psychiatrist Gives Advice to High School Students

Finishing high school is a daunting and delightful idea that seems far too distant from the moment we call ‘Econ’, ‘APUSH’, or ‘Sophomore Speech’ that we’re living in to worry about. But, as frightening as it may seem, the adult life is really just around the corner! Soon we’ll be worrying about possible student loans and college papers or finding a career. The big questions are presenting themselves: what are we going to have as our major in college? And what career fields could we possibly picture ourselves in? And what are these careers all about? Well, don’t fret too much and let’s try to sort these questions out! This year I will be interviewing adults from all kinds of professions and writing about them RIGHT HERE in Trapezoid! Now, this might not seem relevant to BHS at all, I mean, we still are in high school, college and real jobs can wait a bit more, right? Of course! But sometimes decisions we make now can impact our future. How do people become what they become? What classes should one take to start working towards a certain profession? What major to choose? I will be asking these questions as I interview people in hopes that their answers will help you make informed decisions. I’m starting off with a field many people seem to be interested in, interviewing someone very close to my heart. My grandfather has always been there for me, partly because he’s such a great person, but partly because he worked as a school psychologist and knows exactly how to talk to people.
Defining it as generally as possible, psychology is the study of the mind. It is the study of human motivations, behavior, and mental processes. There are many different kinds of psychologists but social, developmental, and clinical psychologists are the most common. Social psychologists study how groups of people interact and relate to one another. People who study the development of humans are developmental psychologists. They don’t focus only on children, as one might assume, but, nowadays, the idea is that development psychologists study how people develop through their whole lives. Now clinical psychologists are the ones people probably find the most interesting, though the other areas of psychology are just as important. Clinical psychologists are the ones that study people with emotional and personal problems. What could be more interesting than the study of the human person?
Even as a tender boy of six Marin Lynch was interested in motivation; by the age of 17 he realized he would go into a profession that studied exactly that: why people do the things they do. Mr. Lynch (I guess I should call him that!) went to school in the great city of New York and had a great high school education focusing mainly on liberal arts but also and the humanities and sciences, and even foreign languages. He took practically every course available to him: four years of English, history, Latin, and math; three years of Greek and two of French; physics and biology. These courses may look like a random selection completely unrelated to psychology, but Martin Lynch suggested to take as many courses as one can and said that education opens up one’s mind and help one to gain greater appreciation of humanity: “The broader your education is the better. The more diverse your exposures are the more you understand. Don’t just study psychology; take as many courses as you can, broaden your frame of reference.”
In college, he followed similar approach, taking courses in languages, philosophy, theology, psychology, and sociology, and absolutely no “fluff courses like basket weaving”! Though one course he remembers specifically was the poetry class he took freshman year. He recollects that in that course students were “forced to write in front of the class, and this helped [him] become a good writer, which was a great thing, especially when [he] had to write reports every day!” Good writing, he stressed, important for virtually any job! He majored in the humanities courses and AB Pre Med (Bachelor in Arts focusing in Pre Med, which not all schools offer). But while taking these challenging classes, he never forgot about other things. One of the most rewarding experiences was his job as an usher at the Metropolitan that led him to meeting all kinds of new and intriguing people.
In addition to taking classes and enriching one’s life through culture, one piece of very important advice Mr. Lynch shared was to seek out people who could guide and encourage one in ones pursuit of a career. He repeated several times how fortunate he was to have a mentor who had his training in Tourin, Italy and let him have a European exposure. Mr. Lynch had a “disciple” relationship with his mentor, meaning his mentor was the master and he the disciple, this led Mr. Lynch to experience working as a psychologist first hand and learn in a way that was not right out of the book.
All these experiences and his wide education helped him get into graduate school at the University of Rochester where he got his graduate degree in psychology. He then worked as a school psychologist, helping children deal with their issues for over 40 years before retiring. When asked what he liked most about his job he immediately said how fascinating it was to go through differential diagnosis (organizing information about a patient to help diagnose any problems they might have); how he loved to help people through talk therapy; how working with young people and their families fit with a main focus of his: the prevention of mental illness early on. But his favorite aspect of being a psychiatrist was that he could meet so many different people and be a companion to them through life’s “storms and stresses”.
As a parting statement he said, “I think what I’ll take from my whole working life is I’ve learned how wonderful people really are. Underneath everyone’s behavior lies a unique, irreplaceable person or immeasurable worth and profound dignity.” I’m so glad I have such a wonderful grandfather.
I learned so many completely unexpected and surprising things about both the field of psychology and about the man I have always called ‘Poppy’ and I only wish I could write them all down. Alas this newspaper only has so much space they can offer me so I’ll leave with this: take all the classes you can, though you might know exactly what field you want to go into, taking extra courses, and even completely unrelated ones, can do you no harm!For going into psychology, though, I would definitely suggest psychology and sociology, any English electives senior year, Latin (it can never hurt to know the bases of our English language!), stick with your foreign language, and I would even suggest AP Bio as to fully understand the workings of the mind you need to understand the rest of the work of art named the human body.



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