Feature article

From the new editors: Les Temps Modernes

Recent developments in social and political events call on humanistically trained academics and practitioners to redouble their engagement with the world.

By Justin Karter, MA, Kevin Gallagher, MA, and Andrew Bland , PhD

We are extremely honored to inherit the Society for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter from our esteemed predecessors, Donna Rockwell, PsyD, and Kevin Keenan, PhD. Under their care, the newsletter has been vital to the important initiatives undertaken by the division, including the resistance to the “DSM-V,” the conference on diagnostic alternatives and the forceful and successful opposition to the APA's torture policies. They will be impossible to replace and, lucky for us, they continue to serve the newsletter in an advisory capacity.

We, the new editors, recognize that recent developments in social and political events call on humanistically trained academics and practitioners to redouble their engagement with the world. Following the horrific events of World War II, our existential-phenomenological predecessors also recognized this call. In October 1945, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among others, founded Les Temps Modernes ( Modern Times ) in pursuit of “littérature engagé.” Backed by their writings in existential humanism and phenomenology, the editors saw the need for writing that was not only artistic or culturally valuable but that was also politically and socially conscious. In our time as editors, we seek to renew this position, and we want to encourage members to draw on their unique philosophical and psychological training and turn their minds and pens toward the world.

As you already know, we live in a time where not only is the next generation expected to live in a less prosperous world but where it is questionable how the human race will survive into the next century. The threat of human-caused climate change is existential, as is the threat of complete nuclear annihilation, and, unfortunately, the minute hand continues to click forward toward midnight. We also face a myriad of social issues, including persistent and systemic racism, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, as well as the threat of perpetual war, looming authoritarianism and right-wing fascism in the U.S., across Europe and in the Philippines. As others have pointed out, collective action and civil disobedience may be the only means by which these current crises may be averted, or even mitigated. The propensity for collective action is undermined in the current zeitgeist of individualism and neoliberalism and we believe, as did our predecessors, that the philosophy in which our division is rooted, with its emphasis on radical freedom, embeddedness, responsibility and compassion, must be presented as an alternative.

To maximize the impact of such work on the public discourse, we are working as editors to expand our reach. We plan, with the board's support, to launch a website where we can feature the newsletter contributions as well as rolling blog posts from members, timely responding to events in the world. We will build collaborations with other websites, such as “Mad in America,” to make sure that this work reaches the largest possible audience. We also plan to renew our social media efforts and feature more video content, utilizing the division's new YouTube channel, SHP-TV. In coming issues of the newsletter, the three of us will alternate writing the “Modern Times” editor's note. For readers interested in learning more about each of us and our interests, we've included short introductions.

Author Bios

Justin KarterJustin Karter is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is a graduate of the clinical-community psychology master's program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and is a former student representative for APA Div. 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology). Karter also has a graduate degree in journalism and serves as the news editor for the social-justice-oriented mental health webzine “Mad in America,” as well as an assistant editor for The Amplifier Magazine for APA Div. 46 (Society for Media Psychology). His research takes up issues and the intersection of ethics and psychology, including problems of pharmaceutical industry bias in psychiatric research, as well as the study of political activism through the lens of liberation psychology.

Kevin GallagherKevin Gallagher serves on the management team of Operation Safety Net, an award-winning homeless services program within Pittsburgh Mercy, which serves chronically homeless individuals, connecting them to housing, medical care and social services. Gallagher also is a graduate of the clinical-community psychology master's program at Point Park University, has served as a student representative for APA Div. 32 (Society for Humanistic Psychology) and is currently pursuing an MBA in health systems management. His research and career focus is on bridging the gap between humanistic and community psychology's research and philosophy and the implementation of social and institutional policy. He has also been a content contributor to Substance.com; The Fix; and Institute for Research, Education & Training in the Addictions.

Andrew BlandAndrew Bland is a member of the graduate clinical psychology faculty at Millersville University in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He teaches courses in counseling and assessment skills, human development and systemic approaches in psychology. He earned a master's degree from the University of West Georgia's humanistic psychology program in 2003 and a PhD in counseling psychology from Indiana State University in 2013. Since 2004, he has provided therapeutic services in community mental health, residential, partial hospitalization, corrections, school-based and college student counseling programs in three states. His research interests include the practical application of humanistic psychology themes in the domains of love, work and the therapy process. His passions include listening to and creating music, gardening, traveling, and spending time with his wife and their two young children.