RadPsyNews #5

 August 1994

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Issue #5 Contents

  1. RadPsyNet in the 21st Century (Tor Neilands)
  2. Voluntary Dues: The Time Has Come
  3. Network Expansion Means We Need Your Help! (From the Editor)
  4. Defense Funding for Psychologists: A Hot Issue (Bob Gregory)
  5. Reports on Summer Meetings
    1. Memories from Spain (Isaac Prilleltensky)
    2. Psychology Politics Resistance in the UK (Ian Parker)
  6. Conscious Choice II (Ron Bassman)
  7. More New Member Questions, Undergraduate Version (Phillip Koebe)
    1. Research/Study Team On Nonviolent Large Systems Change
    2. Understanding the Social World: Towards An Integrative Approach
    3. Co-Author Wanted
  9. Internet Resources
    1. The PSYCGRAD Project
    2. Psychiatric and Psychological Resources Guide
    3. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
  10. Do we have your information correct?
  11. Last-minute Editor's Note: Isaac's book is out!


RadPsyNet in the 21st Century

Tor Neilands

We are now working to archive back issues of the newsletter and other interesting documents (e.g., a compendium of members' lists of eclectic radical books and articles) on the Internet. When this task is completed, you and the rest of the electronic world will be able to access these documents via FTP, gopher, and WWW (World Wide Web) clients. Stay tuned to this newsletter and your electronic mailboxes for more information.

If you know of relevant discussion lists, USENET newsgroups, gopher sites, or WWW sites which you think would be of interest to radical psychologists, please send such information (including how to access and subscribe to lists) to Tor Neilands at the following electronic mail address: IceT@mail.utexas.edu.

We also want to establish a listserv address so that RadPsyNet can hold informal electronic discussions and debates worldwide. A listserv would automate our e-mail discussions so that messages you send would go to the entire list without the coordinators having to distribute them manually.


If you are willing to serve as our listserv coordinator, contact Tor.

We'd like to spread the coordinating tasks around.

C'mon--Join our rush to technological confusion!

[Thanks Dave Nightingale for taking this on!

Join our e-mail discussion list!]

Voluntary Dues: The Time Has Come

Unlike the Internet, free to individual users, the newsletter costs actual money for photocopying and postage (more than a dollar each for this mailing). So does sending past newsletters to people who want information. We make occasional long distance phone calls. Etcetera.

We've put this off as long as possible, but the strain on our department and personal budgets has become too great. If most of us send in $5 or $10, that should carry us for a while.

If you can afford it, send a check (made out to Radical Psychology Network) to Dennis Fox, at the address on the back page.

[See our current membership policy!]

From the Editor

Network Expansion Means We Need Your Help!

RadPsyNet now has 71 members! Posting a notice on SPSSI's Internet discussion list (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) brought a dozen new members (from Canada, the US, the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand) and more inquiries. Once we automate our e-mail discussion list and archive our material, we'll be ready to do some serious outreach on other Internet lists.

But to do that we need your help! Tor Neilands' willingness to plan our Internet activity is a major advance. (Thanks, Tor!) But there's more to do. We need someone to coordinate the Listserv discussion noted on page 1, for example.

And we need some old-fashioned help, too.

[See current Help! needs]

This newsletter is a lot of work. Is it worth it? Most of our members now have e-mail, and much of what appears here on paper has already been sent through the Internet more quickly. With no time-consuming editing required. Waiting for the newsletter is pretty slow when life moves fast (for example, see Bob Gregory's page-3 article on the debate--on SPSSI's e-mail list--over reactions to the US Defense Department's reduced funding of psychology research).

I believe RadPsyNews serves a useful purpose. It reaches those of you not on the Internet. We can give it to interested people, use it in classes, and so on.

But we can't produce both a newsletter and a comprehensive Internet communication and archiving system without more help. The Internet lets us reach many more people than does the newsletter. If we do have to choose, we'll probably go electronic.

So we need more volunteers.

Can you become newsletter co-editor or assistant editor?

Can you maintain our mailing list and keep our mailing labels up to date? Or do the photocopying and mailing?

Can you do outreach--e.g., send our material to other groups?

Can students out there do some of these tasks for course credit?

Should we keep the newsletter going, or should we just march down the center of the information superhighway?

(Comments on computer dangers are welcome, too! My anti-technology biases make me doubt the Internet is ultimately beneficial. But it is convenient.)


Defense Funding for Psychologists
A Hot Issue

Robert J. Gregory

"House cuts DOD research funds," and "APA Action Alert--House Cuts DOD Research Funds in Half," were headlines on messages flashing over Internet to the APA Science Leaders Network, and subsequently over SPSSI, on 14 July.

The story is that the Clinton Administration requested $1.8 billion for FY 1995 for basic research in universities. The House, under the orchestration of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) approved only $900 million. APA then, in effect, asked people on the network to write to their Senators to ask for protection of DOD sponsored research, as the Senate would soon consider the issue, then arrange a compromise with the House. A sample letter and list of Senators was provided, along with a request for copies to be sent to Elizabeth Baldwin of the Public Policy Office of the American Psychological Association.

The reactions that followed these messages were many--I counted 30--most advocating for or against. The split so evident in the United States during the Viet Nam War seemed apparent once again, at least to me.

Respondents were either pro-military funding for important and significant research in the Universities, or anti, because this is a time of reduced military requirements following the end of the nuclear threat.

Why the United States military should or should not fund universities to carry out basic research, including psychological research, remains a central question which divides psychologists and the population in general. Radical Psychology Network members may want to think about this issue and let United States Senators, as well as other leaders, and the American Psychological Association know their views.

My personal view is that psychology, research, and funding are all required--the more the better given the needs so evident. However, I do not believe or feel that the military is the preferred vehicle and best route by and through which to fund universities or psychological research or psychology in general. When an opportunity to downsize the military forces on our planet occurs, we should seize the moment, just as we should face up to the pressing social problems so prevalent in the United States and the world. The role of the APA in soliciting support for funding, psychology, and research is to be applauded. However, the organization should look beyond the immediate issues to consider broader questions relating to the military: ethics, secrecy and research, track records, and other human needs are a few.

Reports on Summer Meetings

Memories from Spain

Isaac Prilleltensky

I just returned from two weeks in Spain. During the first week I attended the conference of the International Society of Political Psychology. It took place in Santiago de Compostela, which is in Galicia. The city is beautiful and the scenery magnificent. The conference was attended by about 300 people from all over the world. Although there were many interesting presentations, I did not detect a strong radical impulse among most attendants, with the clear exception of many of the people from South America. Political Psychology is practiced in many parts of South America. The links between political psychology and liberation psychology, as articulated by the late Ignacio Martín-Baró, and Maritza Montero from Venezuela, are very strong. Much social and political psychology in Latin America is really about the struggle of oppressed people. I felt a sense of kinship with my colleagues from South America. I spoke with many of them informally about the Radical Psychology Network and many showed a sincere interest.

The second conference I attended was the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Madrid. I enjoyed interacting with colleagues from all over the globe. Increasingly, it seems that psychologists all over the world are struggling with the question how to reconcile differences among nations, peoples, and minority groups peacefully. Many of the empirical findings presented on how human conflict can be resolved is still framed in apolitical terms.

It was my impression that psychologists still shy away from explicitly articulating their value base. For those coming from a positivist orientation it is simply more of the same. This is not surprising. But another trend that concerns me personally is the potentially paralysing influence of post-modern thought. Elevating the virtues of relativism to the level where any point of view is equally valid has the effect of neutralizing political action. I have been reading about this phenomenon in the literature (a good source on this is Daniel Robinson (Ed.), (1992), Social Discourse and Moral Judgment, Academic Press), and have had an opportunity now to see how people follow this line of thinking. Academicians are reluctant to become involved in politics and instead engage in intellectual discourse devoid of social praxis. There is a risk in post-modern thought of confusing epistemological relativism with moral relativism. I am writing a paper on this. I hope to elaborate more on this soon.

Last-minute Editor's Note: Isaac's book is out!

The Morals and Politics of Psychology: Psychological Discourse and the Status Quo (SUNY Press, 1994). Be the first on your block to check it out!

[See our Books and Reviews Site]

Psychology Politics Resistance in the UK

Ian Parker

This resource network will help break the isolation of radical psychologists from one another,

the isolation of users of services who often see psychology as a monolithic abusive discipline,

and the isolation of professionals from those they claim to help.

Psychology Politics Resistance held its founding conference in Manchester on 2 July 1994. This event, which brought together around 150 activists working in and against professional and academic psychology, is the culmination of national workshops and meetings over the last decade.

Over three hundred people involved in psychology had already written in over the previous year supporting a founding statement for the new organization which declared its opposition to the many abuses of power in psychology, and support for initiatives to build a network of individuals and groups prepared to challenge these abuses.

The five morning workshops on 2 July were designed to bridge the gap between the inside and the outside of the discipline and brought together psychologists and users of psychology services. Discussion in these workshops focussed on Institutional Abuse, the Law and Prisons, Eurocentrism and Racism, Sexuality, and Women and Psychology. This attention to different domains of abuse encouraged people to think of ways that the various existing resources could be connected in a network. The afternoon workshops looked at practical initiatives and future activities of PPR.

Over the course of the day, four guest speakers from different struggles connected with psychology contributed their experiences to the plenary sessions. The first speaker was Snezana Frzina, an Educational Psychologist from Sarajevo now in exile in Manchester. She spoke of the difficulties facing children traumatised by the war in the former Yugoslavia, and the role psychological propaganda has played in the dividing of communities along ethnic lines. Snezana's moving account also drew sharp attention to the context of psychology, and to the importance of radical psychologists taking a political stand in the wider international sphere. (A collection during the day for Workers Aid for Bosnia raised [[sterling]]144.51.)

Pep García-Bores, who teaches at the Universitat de Barcelona and has been carrying out emancipatory research in the prison system, was the second speaker after the lunch break. His work has been around support for the different forms of resistance in the prison system and against the role of prison psychology in Catalunya in actively colluding with oppressive practices. He spoke of the role that PPR could play in linking psychologists and prisoners, and in developing a progressive politics.

The final plenary session, which dealt with the difficult issue of constitution and organization of PPR, was preceded by a powerful intervention by Ron Coleman from the Hearing Voices Network and Asylum (the magazine for democratic psychiatry). Ron, who hears voices, was diagnosed and treated as psychotic by psychiatry, and had seen psychological treatments and psychotherapy as progressive alternatives until it became quickly apparent that clinical psychology's collusion with drug funded research made it often not much of an alternative at all. This was a necessary perspective from someone involved in psychiatry and psychology services, and now actively involved in trying to change them.

The final contribution at the end of the day was from Don Foster, who teaches at the University of Cape Town and has been actively involved in the struggle against apartheid, in exposing torture by the South African security forces, and latterly in mobilising radical psychologists to build a new anti-racist professional association. Don briefly sketched the history of the complicity of psychology with apartheid, from the early segregation in mental hospitals at the turn of the century to the mania for testing different races. Contact with psychologists in South Africa would have been unthinkable during the boycott years, and rightly so, but is is now a matter of urgency that international links with them in this still difficult time are forged.

Psychology Politics Resistance is not formally constituted as an international organization but the messages of support to the conference from different countries and the list of initial signatories to the founding statement which includes groupings of people from South Africa, North and South America, Eastern and Southern Europe give to the group an internationalist identity.

A document on practical initiatives was circulated with suggestions for responding to the demands of the disempowered, influencing the public agenda, and exchanging information and providing support within the network. A detailed database questionnaire was also circulated, and this, to be circulated now among the many people who have been in contact with us over the years and the many more who learn of PPR, will be the basis for a resource network. This resource network will help break the isolation of radical psychologists from one another, the isolation of users of services who often see psychology as a monolithic abusive discipline, and the isolation of professionals from those they claim to help.

Conscious Choice II

Ron Bassman

Many have experienced the trials and tribulations of leaving the world of acceptable reality; fewer of us have had the good luck to be able to return. I will take credit for my part, I worked and persevered, yet I also consider myself lucky. At many points along the way, a push here, a misguided step and I could have tumbled too far down to ever return. My good fortune represents a debt I must repay.

Defeated and dejected, having been discharged from a psychiatric hospital in 1970 for the second time, convinced that I was an incurable schizophrenic, I could not imagine that twenty years later I'd be a card-carrying licensed psychologist. As a survivor of electroshock, insulin comas and massive doses of medication, I offer my beliefs for your consideration, and although they are not unique, the experience enriches the insight through testimony.

I believe most psychologists entered the field with some mix of dedication, compassion and the wish to understand. However, I challenge each psychologist to examine their enmeshment in an institutionalized mental health system that is rife with self-interest and rationalizes the abuses heaped upon those that unwillingly consume its services.

Massive bodies of text define and describe schizophrenia as a disease of the mind. Psychosis has always been mankind's companion in his rise up the evolutionary ladder. Attitudes and treatment of the mentally troubled have always been a reflection of social and economic factors rather than the state of scientific knowledge. Yet, there remains an insatiable, maddening attempt by researchers to impose the newest, swiftest, most parsimonious and final solution to the problem of mental illness. Years of sure-fire, can't miss, latest treatments have wreaked havoc on those accused of the disease. The present certainty with which the "disease" is diagnosed is harmful. Schizophrenia is a theory, a hypothetical construct--not a scientific fact. As such, it discards more information than it is able to generate in usable results. A theory that does not provide workable answers warrants a re-examination of the basic assumptions upon which it stands.

Labeled a chronic schizophrenic, many years elapsed before I could rid myself of a name that curses the bearer and robs him of the privilege and right to respect himself. Now instead of seeing my so-called mental illness as the inevitable culmination of a maturing pathological process, I see that psychotic state as part of a search for identity, an attempt to realize potentials, a struggle to understand me in the universe. My experience of psychosis and what I learned from it was my attempt to stretch my limits and understand. Mental problems take many forms. To understand them, they must be seen within the context of the specific individual and the community and larger world he lives within. Locking a person into the classification of madness does not increase understanding any more than saying that a person is Jewish or Indian or Italian. The arbitrary limits imposed by diagnosis and classification restricts the therapist's and client's freedom to be open and explore. By refusing to accept the boundaries imposed from within and from outside, choice and possibility are nurtured. Our profession's peculiar affinity and blind bondage to the power of defining and naming hurts.

Psychologists must maintain an awareness of the magnitude of their responsibilities and have the courage to recognize their strengths and limitations. A person shares their most devastating fears, darkest secrets, most fragile feelings, so what can we give in return for such trust? Education, training and experience in psychology provide a valuable foundation to draw upon, but they are not enough. The temptation to find the quick fix, the urge to run for comfort into an established system of treatment, has to be resisted. I believe that I must be open to my inadequacy and ignorance, to be there to provide an anchor--a safe base with a lifeline for support, balance and encouragement. To help a person undertake the risk of changing, I have to be there to work with everything I know and am.

Although my anger at those who make up the institutionalized mental health system has diminished, it is still easily stimulated, and triggered when confronted by smug ignorance. Please stay open and work for CHANGE.

Anyone interested in alternative literature, information, further discussion, or just talk, call or write Ron Bassman, 1006 9th Ave. NE, Watertown, SD 57201, 605/882-0115

More New Member Questions, Undergraduate Version

A couple of newsletters ago, graduate student John Lawrence discussed some of the questions he faced as graduation approached. Now J. Phillip Koebbe, about to finish college, has similar concerns.

What can we in RadPsyNet do to help our student members--and our own students, also--figure out what makes sense to do?

Can we really help if we haven't figured out the answer for ourselves?

How about some answers for John and Phillip for our next issue?

The point is that I don't like what I see. What can I do?


I am suffering from a general lack of direction, and I was hoping that maybe you could offer a suggestion or two to help me along. I think a little background information may help you to understand.

All throughout school, I was a little interested in a lot of stuff, but never overly interested in anything specific. I had been out of high school for four years before I came to college. Now that I am here (hopefully to graduate next August), I found that I have a passion for sociology and psychology (the first to the greatest extent). But that is about as specific as I can be.

Well, maybe a tad bit more. I have been developing an interest in social theory, social psychology, social inequality, and similar types of pursuits. My problem is that I can't seem to find anything to focus on, to the point that I am getting worried. My grades are fine, at least for this caliber of school. That's not the problem. I don't see what benefit a 3.5+ GPA will offer if I don't have a direction.

When I read the information about the RadPsyNet, I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of. I feel there are many problems facing our society today, and I want to try to do something about them. I admit, some of my ideas are probably naive, and if so, I will find out eventually.

The point is that I don't like what I see. What can I do? Can you recommend anything that I can do to help me find where I might want to go?

I am sure that any help you may be able to offer will not be very specific, as this type of problem can only be truly solved by the person having the problem. I am not looking for you to solve all of my problems, just give me some friendly advice. Anything you can offer will be much appreciated.

Thanks for your time...

J. Phillip Koebe



Research/Study Team On Nonviolent Large Systems Change

The 10th Annual Meeting of the international, interorganizational, interdisciplinary Research/Study Team On Nonviolent Large Systems Change will be held May 21-23, 1995 at George Williams College outside Chicago. Likely sponsors include Peace Action (formerly SANE/FREEZE), the American Orthopsychiatic Association, Veterans for Peace, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, APA's Peace Psychology Division, Scientists and Journalists for Peace, the Society for the Prevention of Violence, the Israel Institute for Treatment and Prevention of Stress, the Hillcrest Club of Rotary International, the Ohio Statewide Peace Committee, and SPSSI's Peace Committee. For more information, contact:

Donald W. Cole

The Organization Development Institute

781 Beta Drive, Suite K

Cleveland, OH 44143 USA

Tel: 216/461-4333

Fax: 216/729-9319

Understanding the Social World: Towards An Integrative Approach

July 17th - 19th 1995 at The University Of Huddersfield

International conference includes themes of Identity, The Self, Social Cognition, Agency/Structure, Social Constructionism, Multi-disciplinary methodology, Individual/Society, and Postmodernity and Society

This conference highlights recent developments within the social sciences and related disciplines that offer an account of human activity that transcends purely individualistic or structuralist accounts of the human condition. A full account of social activity necessitates an explanation in terms of both the person and the world that this person inhabits.

Submissions by 27th January 1995. Contact:

David Nightingale

School of Human & Health Sciences

The University of Huddersfield


Huddersfield HD1 3DH UK

Email: social-conference @hud.ac.uk

Phone (0484) 472461 or (0484) 422288 x 2461

Fax: (0484) 472794

Co-Author Wanted

I understand radical psychology in terms of color. I helped found a "Race, Culture, and Power" minor curriculum at the University of New Hampshire.

I want to find a co-author for a history of psychology textbook. I am a white male; I would like to work with a female of color. A person from a continent other than North America would be welcome. The person should have experience with Cheiron or journals like Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, American Psychologist, Signs, Journal of Women's History, Radical History Review, Theory and Psychology. I want to cover postmodern history of psychology using gendered cultural contexts. The dominant culture psychologists will be presented with their minority culture counterparts in each epoch and in each school. The person should enjoy textbook writing and send writing samples or reprints and syllabi. I would send ideas for coverage, including China, Africa, Asia, former Soviet republics, Pacific Islands, as well as Western Europe and North and South America.

William R. Woodward

Department of Psychology

Univ. of New Hampshire

Durham, NH 03824 USA



Internet Resources

The PSYCGRAD Project

The PSYCGRAD Project should interest RadPsyNet students (and nonstudents, too) , both as a resource and as a place to find others with similar interests. PSYCGRAD has a gopher server and WWW pager, a discussion list, lists of related organizations, an electronic journal, and much more.

Psychiatric and Psychological Resources Guide

A guide to Internet resources for psychologists is available on the Harvard University Medical School: Clinical Resources gopher.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) a non-profit consumer education group, now has a gopher site. The site contains California and Federal legislation relating to the issue of privacy and informational fact sheets that are constantly being updated. Some of the topics include Your Social Security number, junk mail, e-mail in the work place and wiretapping, and many others.

Gopher to gopher.acusd.edu. Then:

#4 USD Campus-Wide Information System/

--> 8. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse/

To telnet to the PRC: telnet teetot.acusd.edu, login: privacy.

Do We Have Your Correct Current Address?

Phone Numbers?

Email Address?


Editor: Dennis Fox

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