Archimedes in his Bath


From:  "Andrew Phelps" <>


Subject:  Re: [psysr-disc] Mindfulness and positive psychology at odds with critical psychology and social responsibility?

Date:  Sunday, January 6, 2019 9:30 PM


Ven, Eie, et al.

For me the concern goes in a philosophical direction, which is to say how each of the openings described gets framed under the frame of "science," a.k.a. wisdom.

Note also that Tony Marsella talks about "pathocracy." That describes the social meaning of failing to engage behavior in a scientific manner.




On Sun, 1/6/19, Eie wrote:

Here are a few general ideas and resources.

Emotion regulation and a calm and centered approach are likely to be helpful, whether or not one wants to tackle local or global problems. The idea that there is so little one can do to address local or global problems is something I personally would wonder about. Perhaps one person alone can do limited things, but joining with like-minded others is important. Remember that Margaret Meade said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that has." If you might want to think more about this, many of us have found the book called "Hope in the Dark" by Rebecca Solnit to be helpful. In this book she acknowledges the challenge, but also gives many examples where activism has been powerful, sometimes as inspiration to others.

By the way, there are several groups of therapists around the country who are addressing this concern about the possibility that a clinical focus on personal well-being may be seen (incorrectly, we think) as being in conflict with social analysis or social action.

CBT/DBT can be helpful to quite a few people. Another approach that some people find helpful is now called "Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.". Sadly, it has become a bit "commodified," but many of the programs are nevertheless helpful. The origin of the use of mindfulness in medical and psychology practice was with Jon Kabat-Zinn. Somewhere on You-Tube is a video of Kabat-Zinn at the beginning of the development of his program (in the 90s) at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, in a program hosted by Bill Moyers. There are lots of other videos of Kabat-Zinn teaching mindfulness practice, as well.

My sense is that categorical statements of any kind are less likely to be helpful in clinical practice than collaborative decision-making. That is, client and therapist or psychiatrist together deciding what is or is not helpful, whether that is medication, CBT, supportive counseling, etc.

There are a few potentially helpful books by sociologist David Karp at Boston College. Karp is open about the fact that he has dealt with clinical depression for some time, and has made mental health the focus of his research. In the books, people with various mental health diagnoses, and their families, speak about their experiences, treatments, etc. These books may be of interest.