“It is a cheap stunt to call a woman a goddess. This will calm her down for a day or a week, but then life will begin”

Alexander Tkhostov about “Vedic psychologists”

“If a woman is told that she is a goddess, it will certainly calm her down for a minute, a day, or a week, and then life will begin. What will they do next? Go to a seminar again? This is a cheap stunt of increasing self-esteem," says Alexander Tkhostov, the head of the Department of Neuro- and Pathopsychology of the Faculty of Psychology at the Moscow State University, Doctor of Psychological Sciences. In the interview with Realnoe Vremya, he told us whether there is much Vedic in “Vedic psychology” and whether it is worth solving your psychological problems at mass lectures.

“Prayer also helps, but it doesn't prove that God exists”

Alexander Shamilevich, today many of “Vedic psychologists” travel all over Russia, whose lectures are steadily sold out. What can you say about this phenomenon?

There are many different psychologists, some become popular, someone not. But “Vedic psychology” is something that is related to pop psychology. This is not scientific psychology. When they say “Vedic psychology”, they mean references to the Vedas, that is, texts that were written at the time in India. But, in my opinion, their real activities have nothing to do with the Vedas. This is just such a beautiful reference — they say, our knowledge from some secret books. They need to justify their words somehow.

The average consumer of such services (and similar medical services) does not understand anything about this. Science as such is far from him or her. And people are addicted to all sorts of mythological constructions: naturopathy, Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine. This is about the same because they tell more clearly than science does. Imagine for a second that you tell a person about a serious illness or about a complex topic about their personality — it's all quite difficult, you need to know and understand some basic science, but this is impossible for most people.

But here you are given some more or less clear, as it seems to you, schemes. This is intended for those who do not understand anything about psychology. “Vedic psychologists” do not prove anything, their statements are based on faith.

Photo: tealcenter.com
Meditation itself is not harmful. Look, there is yoga in Russia, and many people are interested in it, but this does not mean that the theoretical positions that are at the heart of yoga, such as unity with God, actually exist

Doesn't academia tell about Vedic methods and practices at all?

No. Except perhaps for fun.

Have you heard about any research on the influence of Vedic practices on human consciousness and their results?

I don't know of any evidence-based research on this subject that could be trusted.

In the United States, some schools have introduced meditation lessons to calm children, get rid of negativity…

Meditation itself is not harmful. Look, there is yoga in Russia, and many people are interested in it, but this does not mean that the theoretical positions that are at the heart of yoga, such as unity with God, actually exist. Again, the procedure of meditation itself, that is, concentration, introspection, fixing attention on yourself, can be useful. At the same time, prayer also helps people, but it does not prove that God exists.

By the way, have you heard about research on the effect of prayer on a person?

I've heard a lot of nonsense about it. The Bekhterev Institute is engaged in this, but it's all complete nonsense. Yes, prayer helps when a person hopes for help, believes, and the person starts to feel better. But what does God have to do with it? Placebo also helps, it helps many people. That doesn't mean there's any secret medicine in it. But faith itself calms a person, it's true.

Photo: Dmitry Reznov
Placebo also helps, it helps many people. That doesn't mean there's any secret medicine in it. But faith itself calms a person, it's true

“Vedic psychologists” try to combine the practices of modern psychology and religions of the world. Is there any effect and meaning in such combination?

For God's sake. Some people might like it. Many things can help a person in general. Let's say you have some trouble with a girl, you talked to your friend, who is not a psychologist at all, does not know anything about it. But he somehow, as he could, explained this situation to you, for example, in these words: “She's stupid, she doesn't value you or understand you.” And you feel better. Does this mean that the friend knows something? No.

“People want to hear what they are internally convinced of”

Could you comment on the quote from a popular “Vedic psychologist”: “Envy is a very useful signal that shows where we lack realisation. Life itself gives a mirror of envy. Therefore, do not fight with envy but understand what it teaches you, and try to invest in this topic”? Is there anything worthwhile in this?

It's all on the level of either banality or common sense. Yes, of course, envy is a bad feeling. The “Vedic psychologist” says that it can be easily shaken. That's not entirely true because there are people who basically can't stand the fact that someone can be better than them. That's the point. They are happy with life only when they are at the top, so they are always dissatisfied with their position. Envy is also manifested in the fact that they want the other to be worse. If you want to get better, that's fine, but if you want someone to get worse, that's wrong.

You've said “banality”. So people want to listen to what they already know?

People want to hear what they are internally convinced of. They want to hear confirmation. To feel that they think correctly, that they are not the only ones who think so, that they are right.

Photo: Maksim Platonov
Remember the masks from the virus — read when and whom they protect. But no, they still believe and think that they are protected from all viruses by a mask

When I spoke about banality, I meant that simplified solutions are given here. The simpler the method of solving the problem, the better it is assimilated. It is pointless to explain complex things to a large audience because many people will simply not understand and will be angry at you.

There is such a vulnerable place in medicine. It is impossible to explain the treatment methods to the patient until the end since he does not have a medical education. And if the patient does not understand, then he does not believe in these methods and does not follow them seriously and punctually. And many people take advantage of it. They begin to explain in simple terms.

Remember the masks from the virus — read when and whom they protect. But no, they still believe and think that they are protected from all viruses by a mask.

Is there any benefit from seminars when psychological methods are spoken about from the stage to a large audience?

I believe that this is not always justified. If you give everyone the same advice and instructions, they will be of the most general nature, such as “wash your hands before eating”. It won't make it any worse. But this is in demand.

Even in a large audience, crowd laws begin to work. People in the crowd induce each other, inspire. They think: “There are many of us here, it means that everything here is true.” And the truth does not depend directly on whether there are many of you or you are alone.

Photo: wikipedia.org
There is a very clever theoretical system based on the beliefs of Buddhism, and modern specialists do not know anything about it. They just stick needles in people. Many psychologists work the same way

I don't like these things. I visited such events, where they teach how to live and develop correctly, on purpose in order to understand how everything is built, but this did not make a special impression on me.

There is a correct text about Chinese medicine. There, the person who understands it says that most of those who say “I understand Chinese medicine” do not understand anything about it. There is a very clever theoretical system based on the beliefs of Buddhism, and modern specialists do not know anything about it. They just stick needles in people. Many psychologists work the same way. In society, there is always a request for a simple method that would help everyone, immediately and quickly.

“It is a cheap stunt to call a woman a goddess”

The audience of “Vedic psychologists” mainly consists of women. Is it because they are more trusting and suggestible?

They also have an unsettled private life. First, these are women with destiny. If a woman is happy in the family, then she will not go to such events. Naturally, there are those who want to get some help. People are already waiting for this help, they are ready for it in advance. They bought tickets, gave money, so they already believe in this lecturer and his methods. These people are not random, they are not from the street, they are obviously prepared for what will be said on stage.

They say in these lectures that women are goddesses, that they should be served or something like that. What do you think about these words?

What's wrong with that? Everyone wants to hear it.

Photo: Pavel Vorozhtsov / oblgazeta.ru
If a woman is happy in the family, then she will not go to such events. Naturally, there are those who want to get some help

Maybe it will only make things worse, and women will develop a kind of unreasonable pride.

It will calm them down for a minute, a day, or a week, and then life will begin. What will they do next? Go to a seminar again? But, of course, if a woman needs approval, and she does not get it from anyone, then at least let her get it there. But this is a cheap method of increasing self-esteem. Self-esteem is still determined by reality.

A “Vedic psychologist” often gives this practice at his lectures — the whole audience repeats it for 10 minutes: “I wish everyone happiness.” Can it be useful?

These are such psychotechnics of mass action. We'll all say: “Happiness will come, happiness will come, happiness will come.” It has a kind of hypnotic character, like a prayer. Have you seen how people pray in the Church? The priest speaks, the congregation repeats. At such mass events, you feel involved. Of course, they will take advantage of these things, you find yourself not alone, that you are involved somewhere. These are all old techniques. There is nothing new, just as there is nothing Vedic.

To be honest, I, a Professor, a Doctor of Science, do not understand what “Vedic psychologists” say. I don't understand what their statements are based on, where they got them from, why they think it's true.

One “Vedic psychologist” allegedly treats cancer…

This is already a crime because the patient wastes his or her time. The “Vedic psychologist” will never cure you of cancer, believe me. Or HIV.

By Matvey Antropov