National psychology, socio-economic development
Psychology has been defined in many ways and the following are some of the definitions of psychology.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1972?) defined psychology as “science of nature, functions and phenomenon of human soul or mind”.
The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (1966) described the subject as “science, study of the human mind and its processes”.
It also defined the discipline as “the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour in the given context”.
Oxford Language Online defined psychology as “the mental characteristics and attitude of a person or group”.
According to Wikipedia, “Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour in humans and non-humans. Psychology includes the study of consciousness and unconscious phenomena including feelings and thought”.
Into psychology, as a discipline, where am I coming from?
I approach psychology from the level of metaphysics.
Metaphysics is defined as “theoretical philosophy of being and knowing; philosophy of mind’’. (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1966).
Metaphysics is also defined as “branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of existence, truth and knowledge”.
Studies on the Ghanaian mind or psychology are few.
In her study of the Ghanaian mind, Mrs Elizabeth Clare Prophet, in lectures she delivered in Accra in 1978, presented the positive and negative aspects of the Ghanaian mind.
On the positive aspect, she listed the traits in the Ghanaian that led to Ghana becoming a great nation with a great future.
On the negative aspect, she saw in the Ghanaian, a tendency “to tell lies to make the outer man look good” and to quote wrong figures to make gains therefrom.
Mrs Clare Prophet was a metaphysician and leader of the Summit Lighthouse, Church Victorious and Triumphant, based in the United States.
Another metaphysician, Dr Morris Cerullo, an American evangelist, told Ghanaian church leaders at a series of lectures in Accra in the 1970s that some Ghanaians possessed witchcraft while pretending to be holy.
He added that that was a bad trait that must be abhorred.
A nation’s psychology is the psychology of the total number of people living in the country.
In a country, such as Ghana, there is also the psychology of the tribes that make up the nation.
For example, there is Ga-Dangme psychology, Akan psychology; Ewe psychology and Northern psychology of all tribes in the northern parts of Ghana.
A study of the history of a tribal group can show the kind of spirit or mind that drove or spurred them into economic, social, cultural or military activities in the past.
It can also show whether the people of a tribe are extroverted, introverted or variations of both.
Ghana’s national psychology comprises the collective psychological attributes or characteristics of all the tribes in the country.
A nation’s psychology is not static. It is dynamic in that it responds to national and global economic and social changes. For example, the First and Second Industrial Revolutions changed the psychology of human beings.
The Third Industrial Revolution, that brought in the Information Revolution and the evolving Information Society, has greatly affected the consciousness of human beings on earth.
Alvin Toffler, an American anthropologist and futurist, chronicled the effects of its positive and negative aspects on human behaviour and on economic, industrial, social and cultural activities in the world.
One of Toffler’s contributions to post-modern psychology and anthropology has been that he studied the side effects of the Information Revolution on the human mind.
He reported in his books, especially, Future Shock (1970), about how Americans and the entire world reacted or responded to the effects of what he called “information overload” brought about by the global Information Revolution, the Information Society and the Information Superhighway.
In attempts to cope with sudden increases in information flow, Toffler observed Americans and others, resorting to various ways of escape.
The escape routes included deliberate lies, pathological lying, and a confused and warped sense of judgement.
Toffler defined Future Shock as “a certain psychological state of individuals and the entire world”.
His compact definition of Future Shock is “a personal perception of too much change in a short period of time”.
According to him, people, institutions and civilisations in the world who failed to keep abreast of the new information flow “will quickly face decline”.
The Ghanaian mind or psychology has, thereby, been affected by the post-modern social, economic, industrial and cultural change.
Ghanaians are part of a world that has changed into a rat race psychology or consciousness and is struggling to move out of it.
Some nations have already come out of the rat race, and others are trying to do so.
The side effects of the Information Revolution, particularly, the lying syndrome, persists and has hung on for too long in Ghana.
It presents itself in the form of a non-symptomatic mental disorder or personality distortion.
Because its symptoms are hidden, it is difficult to detect. But one can identify it by watching how Ghanaians think and behave.
In her address at the launch of the Psychology Week Celebration by the Ghana Psychological Association (GPA) in Accra last week, Prof. Angela Ofori-Atta who is chairperson of the Ghana Psychology Council, observed that “the way people think at the workplace translates into national development”.
‘’The way we think is crucial because it affects the way we feel.’’
“Nationally, we must begin to direct people’s attention to the way they think, whether it is progressive thinking or not,” she added.
“Sometimes, we don’t think in consonance with the truth around us; the way we think may have errors.”
Prof. Ofori-Atta added that the GPA had a crucial role to play in helping to change the psyche of the citizenry to support national development.
The theme of the Psychological Weak Celebration is: “Harnessing the Power of the Mind for Transgenerational Development”.
I reckon that Prof. Angela Ofori-Atta was referring to the problems of Future Shock or Culture Shock that Alvin Toffler has written about.
The human mind is an important tool at the disposal of man to make or unmake himself, his country and the world.
In the present post-modern world, information has been found to be more important and precious than money and power.
This is because the paradigm has shifted. The persons with the true, objective and most reliable information and knowledge are those who are going to make and lead the future world, the Information Society.
Falsehood, lies, disinformation, misinformation and fake news would give way to truth, in the Information Society.
From the beginning of time, truth, honesty, sincerity and wisdom have been found to be priceless.
The Disinformation Society creates and nurtures the Rat Race and the rat race mind.
Futurists have made projections on how the future of the world would be.
According to them, the solution to the rat race menace rests with expansion of the human mind and transformation of human consciousness from the rat race to the steady state consciousness.
A study states consciousnesses are normal, sincere, honest and virtuous consciousnesses.
In the 100-year time timetable set by the futurists, 1976 – 2019 is regarded as a preparatory period for the onset of the steady state that began in 2020.
The maturity stage of the steady state will be achieved by 2030 and would peak between 2050 and 2076.
What to do about Ghana and the rat race consciousness or mind -- for Ghana to be part of the future fully fledged and mature steady state world; for Ghana to achieve true and meaningful economic development?
Ghana has to do what all other nations, especially the developed and advanced countries, are doing – to bail out!