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President's Message

President Louise Sundararajan shares her monthly updates with everyone

By Louise Sundararajan, PhD

Greetings. Ever since I received the oil can from our past President Sara Bridges, I have been pondering on the meaning of this symbol for the division. David Elkins, our president of multiple terms, told me that it means that we are the lubricant that keeps APA on track and run properly. What have we been doing that keeps APA on track and run properly, I wonder?

I found my first clue in the following statement of Eysenck (1997): 

. . . science . . . from its beginning, had to battle with the tradition of quackery. . . . In psychology. . . there is such a battle between science and quackery, with such doctrines as existentialism, humanistic psychology, hermeneutics, and above all psychoanalysis constituting the mind’s non-scientific part.  (p. 273) 

Over against the backdrop of Eysenck’s narrow definition of science, shines brightly the healthy function of APA that our division, the oil can, seeks to nurture and sustain, namely a science of the mind in all its dimensions.  Surely, the mind will function properly only if it is kept whole, with all its parts, scientific as well as non-scientific, working together.

My second clue comes from an inspiring article by Donald Dewsbury (2009) entitled “Is psychology losing its foundations?”  The author argued persuasively that the foundations for the entire discipline of psychology reside in the neglected areas that concern “issues related to the humanities including philosophy, theory, history, literature, the arts, and religions” (p. 281).  He went on to say that if we lose these nonscientific parts that provide the basic foundation for all of psychology’s other efforts, “we lose the heart and soul of the field” (p. 288).  Surely, Dewsbury must be talking about humanistic psychology, I thought to myself.  To my great dismay, humanistic psychology was not included in the exemplary subdisciplines he mentioned.

Then it dawned on me that most fundamentally important things in life can be inconspicuous, for instance, oxygen or our heartbeat.  But the analogy that suggests itself is the hub of airlines.  No more direct flies these days.  Whether we like it or not, everybody goes through the hub on their way to somewhere else.  Likewise, humanistic psychology is the hub of science—if your destination is good science, you’ll have to pass through the hub of division 32. The hub is essential, but it gets no credit, when the passengers are preoccupied with their destinations somewhere else.  We need to put humanistic psychology on the cognitive map of APA as its hub!

Toward this goal I have proposed the theme for the Division Program of 2011 as “Expanding Consciousness.”  In addition, I have initiated the following task forces:

Award Ceremony: Chaired by Susan Gordon

Information on Humanistic Training Programs: Co-Chaired by Louis Hoffman and Brent Dean Robbins

Indigenous Psychology: Chaired by Louise Sundararajan

Epistemological Diversity: Chaired by Scott Churchill 

With the help of our program chairs, Scott Churchill and Fred Wertz, I have also reached mutual agreement with the following divisions to post each other’s call for programs:

  • Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (9)

  • Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts (10)

  • Psychology of Religion (36)

  • Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (45)

All these endeavors intend to render visible the hub function of humanistic psychology--serving as the nexus of scholarly pursuits in APA, bringing into the fold of knowledge so far neglected areas of research, making new connections with seemingly unrelated disciplines of research, and much more. 

I invite you all to join me in this endeavor to increase our visibility as the hub of APA! 

References

Eysenck, H. J.  (1997).  The future of psychology.  In R. L. Solso (Ed.), Mind and brain sciences in the 21st century, 270-301.  Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press.

Dewsbury, D. A.  (2009).  Is psychology losing its foundations?  Review of General Psychology, 13, 281-289.