One might think I was referring to the medical profession with this title, and in a sense I guess I am because I was reading a bit on the schism between Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology when the bells went off in my head.
I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow—the self-actualization guru of the last century. While reading a summation of his work and early mentors, I recognized certain well-established names in the psychology profession, especially Dr. Carl Rogers as the one of the primary founders of Humanistic Psychology which was considered in some circles as the third branch of 20th century psychology with Freud’s Psychoanalytical approach and Skinner’s Behavioral approach being the other two branches.
That’s all well and good, but again, what’s the application here?
I had just read about Ken Wilber’s critique of the Transpersonal Psychology approach and preference for his own Integral Psychology approach (everybody has an angle), and my mind shifted back to my early college days when I once thought I wanted to be a psychologist. All these offshoots of mainstream psychology weren’t even mentioned back then or I might have chosen a different career-path because I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind and during my early college days thought that course of study would be an amazing odyssey for personal and professional expansion.
So I took a few courses in that designated “PSYCHOLOGY” pursuit as defined by the university that I had attended. And what did I find?
The professors who taught all the courses in that university’s psych department were some of the strangest, most unsociable, unlikable people I had ever met. After a semester immersed in that influence, I changed my major to Art. But in hindsight, I should have just changed schools if this subject matter had truly interested me. You know—it’s those things you know NOW that you didn’t know THEN….. like: Authority figures aren’t really authorities. They just pretend to be ones.
Back in my early adulthood, I wondered how any student of psychology could possibly be trained by people who themselves were teetering at the very edge of sanity?
Those instructors who seemed to be in charge of judging normalcy in society and the interacting members of such seemed to be themselves standing near the very periphery of normal, interactive social behavior—IF they ever claimed to occupy that location at all. It would seem that during my early years in college the collective WE were all being categorized and judged by society’s ostracized social misfits who had their defensive shields set high and their adolescent vendettas ready to avenge.
It boggled the idealized mind—at least it boggled mine. Those in the psych department at my university had Ph.Ds in statistics, testing, rats (maze-runners), research documentation, and abnormal behaviors—that means they were primarily Behavioralists.
Where was the Humanistic Psychology or the Transpersonal Psychology back then? Where was even the broader field of Social Psychology at that university? It didn’t exist THERE at the time even though it had been around since the 1950’s; meaning that those who were training budding Psychologists at that university were training students like a Dermatologist might train a Digestive Specialist. You teach what you know, and if you don’t KNOW it—you don’t teach it.
The point being for this post (finally) is that even in today’s broader minded and more main-streamed social-psychology movements, practicing psychologists and psychiatrists have specialties. Psychology is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Behavioralists are NOT Psychoanalysts are NOT Humanists.
And because all these particular specialties are off-shoots of that larger Psychology field, there is little agreement among the competing branches as to what the tree-trunk looks like, or from which transplanted graft they first emerged, or which branch needs the most sunshine to grow the best humans.
So when people say the state of Mental Health is presently in disarray, it comes as no surprise to me since the main profession can’t even decide what constitutes normalcy in a world of striving individualists and constantly-merging, world-wide cultures.
I’m giving notice to ALL Universities: Please …for all of our sakes,… hire some Humanistic Psychology instructors for the next batch of yearning psychologists, so they aren’t taught by the apoplectic maze-runners that taught during my bachelors degree because a society is only as good as the models that it holds in esteem.