Reflections on Christie, et al’s Peace psychology for a peaceful world, Hall and Pilisuk’s The social healer, Mang’s Toward a regenerative psychology of urban planning, Rountree’s Joining inner and outer approaches to freedom, Hoffman’s Existential activism, and Bargdill’s Existential activism

While there is a rich history of peace psychology according to Christie, et al that dates back to William James (Christie, et al 2008), there is also a rich history of conflict resolution, of peaceful anti-war protests, of the Society of Friends (Quakers) engaging in conscientious objection and outward neutrality during conflicts while participating in the Underground Railroad, and the Unitarian-universalist activities of the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  However, I don’t have access to the resources to cite any books or articles verifying these statements, though they are all part of the historic record.  Additionally, there are other practitioners I am familiar with engaging in conflict resolution that are not subscribing to the branding of peace psychology here.  The article makes no mention of that, and I take issue with any claim-laying to an exclusive idea like the Europeans did with the land we are standing on as well as Africa.  I won’t deny that peace psychology may have contributed some concepts to peace studies overall.

Hall and Pilisuk (2006) move this idea further when they indicate that psychologists have to actively participate in facilitating public healing.  While the paper was written in 2006, I have to take issue with the fact that the ills that are described are a direct result of institutionalized racism, sexism, and the overarching patriarchy, yet the authors propose no initiative urging the APA to collectively pressure the governments of the world, especially the United States, to put a stop to this.  Admittedly, the APA is monolithic, bureaucratic, and was participating in the tortures of Guantanamo at the time, but a gesture to call them to task would have been appreciated by the membership if not the leadership.  Additionally, on the subject of social healing, democratizing the healing community to allow for training of lay healers via lay psychology empathizers and listeners would have been welcomed.

While the whole of Mang’s (2009) dissertation holds a great deal of interest for me through asset-based community development, the focus here is on the regenerative psychology of pages 16-39. Mang acknowledges the contributions of the ancients in the West and the East to assist individuals in adapting and adjusting to their surrounding environments and admits by implication that modern psychology consolidated the knowledge of previous thinkers though he resorts to referencing modern sources to solidify his point.  Here, I would question if those sources would be as valid as transliterations of those original sources and use the latter referenced sources and secondary support.  Mang asserts that modern psychology developed in tandem with modern society but stops short of admitting that psychology developed along with society in the ancient past.  He also asserts that in the latter 20th century psychology is returning to the idea of working with nature and cosmic systems that we are a part of, though I would argue that this is not a new idea but a returning to the holistic efforts of the ancients to balance society.  The logical conclusion is a return to a spiritual and holistic past that industrial society has fallen away from.

Rountree (2011) approaches a subject close to my heart and mind:  participatory community development.  She contrasts personal development strategies and collective development strategies and emphasizes that personal development strategies may detriment collective and community development.  Though not named as such, there a direct contrast between Western European individualism and indigenous and Eastern collectivization and community.  I have increasingly seen through observation that the personal individualistic, while important for personal and emotional development, are detrimental to the survival and collective survival of the people and the planet we inhabit.  Hence, my fascination with feminism and community psychology.  Rountree (2011) implies a similar idea when discussing indigenous communities in Guatemala when Western psychologists attempt to “fix” the poverty in Guatemalan communities without taking their collective power into account.  Moving forward in any community, Eastern or Western or Indigenous, this will be key.

Clearly Hoffman (2012) believes that the Corporate-Industrial-Military-Government Complex is a benign monolith that can be reasoned with.  While in light of the path that political action has taken the United States in the last several decades, it is valuable to come to an existential understanding with individuals, especially those that one disagrees with, but it is healthy to impose strict sanctions on a mindless monolithic entity that cares nothing for humanity or empathy or community and cannot control the technology that controls it and every aspect of our lives (Ellul, 1964).  Bargdill (2013) has his heart in the right place as he questions the unquestioning directives of the APA and their DSM-5.  However, humanistic psychology is still a part of the APA and still they are a part of the APA after the admission of their involvement in Guantanamo so I have to question his sincerity, though I have no knowledge of his personal experiences and philosophies other than this article.  I do agree with Bargdill that for any of us who care about humanity and all the people and beings that inhabit the earth, we must do more than teach others to do it.

 

References:

Bargdill, R. (2013, May 13). Existential activism. Retrieved from http://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialists/posts/05-28-13

Christie, D. J., Tint, B. S., Wagner, R. V., & Winter, D. D. (2008).  Peace psychology for a peaceful world.  American Psychologist, 63, 540-552. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.6.540

Ellul, J. (1964). The technological society. New York: Knopf.

Hall, M. & Pilisuk, M. (2006, August). The social healer.  Paper presented at the 114th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Hoffman, L. (2012, November 29). Existential activism. Retrieved from  http://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialists/posts/11-29-12

Mang, N. (2009). Toward a regenerative psychology of urban planning (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco. (Only read pp. 16-39).

Rountree, J. A. (2011) Joining inner and outer approaches to freedom: Meeting the needs of developing communities. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51, 291-317.  DOI: 10.1177/0022167810382453.

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