Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hate in the Name of Love: Who's the Terrorist Now?

A Discussion of a Hermeneutics of Love versus a Hermeneutics of Suspicion

by Alexandria Bright, Point Park University

On Sunday, September 13, 2015, while stopping to eat during a “typical adventure trip through the White Desert,” in Egypt, a group of Mexican tourists were gunned down by an Egyptian Apache helicopter.  At least two people were killed while many more were wounded.  Despite their Egyptian police escorts and valid permits to be on the trail, these innocent tourists were mistaken for terrorists and attacked (Thomas,Kirkpatrick, Malsin, & Malkin, 2015).

This brief summary of an article from the New York Times is an example that I wish to use to begin to describe and differentiate between the interpretative stances of a hermeneutics of suspicion and a hermeneutics of love.  Although brief in description, there are many elements I believe that this mistaken, and not so rare, killing of civilians in the name of “justice” might reveal to us about the dangers inherent in interpreting through a hermeneutic of suspicion, as well as the potentiality for an increased openness, understanding, and empathy towards others in shifting to an interpretative stance of love.

In Borne Forward Ceaselessly Into Love: A Theory of the Hermeneutics of Love Exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr., Jennifer Selig utilizes the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to both depict a practice and describe a theory of a hermeneutics of love.  Selig states her loose definition of a hermeneutics of love, “as a way of interpreting experiences and people…with love, through love, and for love” (Selig, pg. 2, 2015).  She presents how King interprets with, through, and for love utilizing the definition of agape love as used by the Greeks.  As cited in Selig (2015), King explains this form of love as it was understood by the Greeks in his sermon “Loving Your Enemies”.   
The Greek language comes out with another word for love.  It is the word agape.  And agape is more than eros; agape is more than philia; agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men.  It is a love that seeks nothing in return.  It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men.  And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them.  You look at every man, and you love him because you know God loves him.  And he might be the worst person you’ve ever seen (pg. 7).

Agape for the Greeks and for King was seen as an abundant and deep caring for human beings that went far beyond likeability or tolerance for others.  This is the kind of love through which King interpreted the acts of hate and persecution he received from others, and it is this agape love that is seen as the foundation of interpretation through a hermeneutics of love.  In her article, Selig goes on to break down each of the three facets of this type of love that, for King, made this the most vital and effective route to transformation, both for the individual and for society as a whole. 

In Brent Robbins’ article, The Heart of Humanistic Psychology: Human Dignity Disclosed Through aHermeneutic of Love, an interpretive stance of agape love emerges from the understanding and belief that human beings have a kind of preciousness and dignity that differentiates them from objects or things in the world (p. 2-3).  It is this notion of dignity that is the ontological basis for humanistic psychology as a hermeneutic of love (p. 7).  To describe what determines one to have dignity, Robbins (2015) uses the work of Immanuel Kant and presents a paradoxical understanding of dignity in that it is the fact that human beings are finite beings, mortal beings whose worth has no equivalent match, which gives them infinite worth.  And it is in this “pricelessness” that therein lies one’s dignity (p. 5).   

With an epistemology grounded in phenomenology, the understanding of dignity in humanistic psychology stems from the understanding that human beings bring something unique and specific to their experiences through the ways in which they make meaning from their experiences (p. 7).  Through recognition as beings with intrinsic worth, humanistic psychology, according to Robbins (2015), has an ethical obligation to preserve and protect the basic human rights of all human beings (p. 7). 

This event that took place in Egypt last month demonstrates the lack of a hermeneutics of love in the interpretation of the situation that ironically and tragically results in the killing and wounding of innocent civilians.  The impulsive way in which this attack was carried out by the Egyptian military alludes to a “shoot now, ask questions later attitude” that, when dealing with terrorists, seems to be the appropriate and widely accepted stance to take in the evermore present “War on Terror”.  In this instance it may be argued that those who carried out the attack were operating more from a hermeneutics of suspicion, seeing through a “mood of fear” (Robbins, 2015, p. 9), than from one of love, that sees with the eyes of “charity, empathy, and openness” (p. 9). 

In Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psychopathology of Terror, Joe Navarro presents an outline of what distinguishes the mind of a terrorist from those of others.  One of the qualities on which he focuses is passionate hatred that, when present, dehumanizes and devalues others to such a great degree that their dignity and worth as human beings is no longer seen (2013, p. 55).  “Passionate hatred blinds the terrorist, shunting logic; that can lead to risk-taking, making mistakes, and exposing others, including the innocent, to unnecessary danger” (p. 57). 

He continues to explain these characteristics of terrorists, reducing them down to comorbid psychopathologies of terror.  Much as cognitive-behaviorists might, these people are no longer identified as individual human beings, but categorized by their symptoms and seen as a kind of tumor that, “…we must surgically target…” (p. 112).  Navarro uses an intentional stance of cognitive psychology where he presents these characteristics to describe the cognitive framework of a terrorist through which the actions of terrorism are explained as a means to reach the end goal (Widdershoven, 1999, p. 246).  From an interpretative stance of a hermeneutics of suspicion, Navarro informs his readers of how to uncover a potential terrorist in their midst and expresses that it is only through an understanding of the psychopathology of terror that terrorists can be successfully “hunted” (p. 113).  Throughout this book he creates a totality of the terrorist.  Providing a specific list of symptoms and reducing human beings, who may or may not exhibit these symptoms, to the overarching term terrorist and in doing this he, according to McInerney (2015), “assaults the dignity” of those others much in the same way that the terrorists, which whom he is against, do to those they attack (p. 10). 

One might argue that the finitude of the “terrorist” is not taken at the same level as any other “innocent” human being.  Their human dignity is no longer recognized when operating from a hermeneutics of suspicion.  The Egyptian military thought they were protecting their country in shooting down these “terrorists”, but in this act, in this mistake, they themselves became the terrorists.  In agreement with how Navarro (2013) describes what passionate hatred does to an individual, Selig (2015) presents Martin Luther King’s opinion on how hate distorts one’s vision so much so that one will behave in “irrational” ways and if not remedied, the hate will become all-consuming to the very personality of the hater (p. 9).  This example speaks to exactly the reasons that Martin Luther King practiced and preached the propagation of nonviolence. 

The Beloved Community, as discussed by both Selig (2015) and Robbins (2015) was Martin Luther King’s vision for a peaceful society- his idea of a “heaven on earth”, and it was towards this end that King structured his social activist movement with agape at its center.  “For King, agape was the cure for individual and social pathology; the key to individual and social redemption and transformation; and the necessary power and principle to enact the coming cultural and worldwide revolution—agape coupled with nonviolent resistance” (Selig, 2015, p. 11).  With the nonviolent ideas of Gandhi paired with his personal Christian ontology inspiring him, King was convinced and certain that this beloved community could and would only be achieved through nonviolent means that were congruent with the community he endeavored to create (p. 11). 

For Robbins (2015), humanistic psychology is the vehicle through which psychologists can do their part in creating King’s Beloved Community (p. 8).  Unlike the implementation of a hermeneutics of suspicion utilized by Freudian psychoanalysts, which seeks to “demystify” and see past the “illusions” that are concealing the “real meanings of symbols” (Itao, 2010, p. 4).  Psychotherapy grounded in a hermeneutics of love or faith, as Itao (2010) describes in Paul Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics of Symbols: A Critical Dialectic of Suspicion and Faith, employs a hermeneutic centered on “… the belief that the symbol which calls for interpretation is saying something truthful, meaningful, and worthwhile” (p. 8).  This stance, according to Robbins (2015), is an essential and determining element of humanistic psychology (p. 9).

This recent tragedy in Egypt is an extreme example of what a world operating from a hermeneutics of suspicion looks like, but through it one might gain a deeper understanding for what nonviolent social activists like Martin Luther King and Gandhi taught and propagated through their actions.  When one fights hatred with hatred, there is only a society of hatred to be found.  But through the stance of love, a stance that accepts human beings as they are and therefore, allows an opening for perhaps the mutual recognition of dignity that might call each party to employ an ethical caring toward one another (Robbins, 2015, p. 7).  This may eventually bring about a kind of therapeutic transformation when enacted on personal, societal, and worldwide levels. 

     Itao, A. (2010). Paul Ricoeur's Hermeneutics of Symbols: A Critical Dialectic of Suspicion and Faith. An Online Journal of Philosophy, 4(2), 1-17. 
     McInerney, R. G. (2015, July 24). A Hermeneutics of Love for Community-Based, Participatory Action Research. Retrieved from http://jhp.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/07/23/0022167815595320.abstract
     Navarro, J. (2013). Hunting terrorists: A look at the psychopathology of terror [2nd edition].  Retrieved October 9, 2015.
     Robbins, B. D. (2015). The Heart of Humanistic Psychology: Human Dignity Disclosed Through a Hermeneutic of Love. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. doi:10.1177/0022167815591408
      Selig, J. L. (2015). Borne Forward Ceaselessly Into Love: A Theory of the Hermeneutics of Love Exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 2-21. doi:10.1177/0022167815587847
     Thomas, M., Kirkpatrick, D. D., Malsin, J., & Malkin, E. (2015, September 14). Egyptian Military Fires on Mexican Tourists During Picnic. The New York Times. Retrieved October 07, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/15/world/middleeast/egypt-mexican-tourists.html
     Widdershoven, G. A. (1999). Project MUSE - Cognitive Psychology and Hermeneutics: Two Approaches to Meaning and Mental Disorder. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/philosophy_psychiatry_and_psychology/v006/6.4widdershoven01.html

Monday, October 19, 2015

Faking Orgasms: A Perspective from Feminist Theory and Phenomenology

In an article by Swedish scholar, Hildur Kalman, she explores the concept of "successful sexuality" and its relevance to the phenomenon of the faked orgaism. Kalman explores survey research from Nordic countries which examines the extent to which women fake orgasm and their stated reasons for doing so. The author raises new questions in regard to the faked orgasm which touch upon the role of the lived body and sexuality not only as an expression of love, or a way to gain pleasure, but also as a way to fit in, to be "normal" and to be "successful" at sexuality. The paper's analysis recommends a capacity to play as vital to moving beyond sex as a performative, instrumental activity and, instead, toward sexual expression as an end in itself, with or without orgasm.

The article is available full-text on-line at the interdisciplinary journal, Janus Head.

Empirical Support for Carl Rogers' Person-Centered Theory of the "Fully Functioning Person"

Carl Rogers remains one of the most influential psychologists in the field, and continues to inspire not only humanistic psychologists, but psychological theory and practice across the entire field of psychology. Research evidence continues to support many of Rogers' key concepts.

In the latest study, researchers Carmel Proctor, Roger Tweed, and Daniel Morris (2015) studied the fully functioning person from a positive psychology perspective, drawing upon constructs commonly used to measure indicators of well-being. In their study, they used a variety of measurements to examine constructs such as life satisfaction, positive thoughts and feelings, authenticity, organismic valuing, aspirations, basic psychological needs, anxiety and the use of strengths. As expected, the found that one factor, dubbed the "fully functioning person" factor, was identified using variables akin to Rogers' theory of the fully functioning person.

The researchers looked at correlations between the fully functioning person, and various indicators of psychological well-being. The fully functioning person factor was positively related to life satisfaction and positive thoughts and feelings, while negatively related to negative thoughts and feelings, as well as anxiety. In addition, participants who ranked high on scores of fully functioning were more likely to endorse intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, values.

The researchers also examined correlations between the fully functioning person and various character strengths. They found that a fully functioning personality was positively related to virtues such as enthusiasm, bravery, honesty, leadership, and spirituality. However, the fully functioning personality was negatively related to modesty and fairness traits.

To read more, see: Proctor, C., Tweed, R., & Morris, D. (2015). The Rogerian fully functioning person: A positive psychology perspective. Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trauma Workers Experience Both Vicarious Trauma and Vicarious Resilience, Study Finds

A qualitative study interviewed 1 male and 12 female mental health providers working at torture treatment centers. The mental health providers were all members of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs with a range of 4-30 years of experience working with trauma victims. The researchers -- Pilar Hernandez-Wolfe, Kyle Killian, David Engstrom, and David Gensei (2015) -- performed a modified grounded theory method to identify themes in the interviews.

The analysis of the qualitative data identified themes relevant to both vicarious resilience and vicarious trauma. The trauma workers identified themes of vicarious trauma including sleep disruption, nightmares, fearfulness, irritability, fatigue, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, dissociation, hyperarousal, negative affect, and numbness. Themes of vicarious resilience were also discovered and included changes in goals or priorities, increased hopefulness and client-based inspiration, change/impact on spiritual beliefs and practices, increases in self-care practices, increased resiliency and perspective-taking on one's own challenges, increased racial, cultural and structural consciousness, and awareness of relative privilege, marginalization, and oppression.

The researchers noted, "trauma therapists can be potentially transformed by their clients' resilience in positive, but not painless, ways. Choosing to work in the trauma field with survivors of torture and politically motivated violence involves immersion in profound ongoing experiences of intertwined pain, joy, and hope, and expanding the boundaries of self -- personally and professionally" (p. 153).

The article was published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, and the full text article can be found here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Case Study Explores Posttraumatic Growth among Northern Irish Victims of Political Violence

In a new study published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Jane Simms conducted case studies of three victims of political violence in Northern Ireland. The study was guided by the model of growth developed by Tedeschi and Calhoun. The case study participants reported greater appreciation of life and changed relationships resulting from their trauma, and new possibilities that emerged from these changes. All but one participant felt increased personal strength, although all participants continue to struggle with distress in their lives. Religion and spirituality appeared to play a role in the narratives of the participants in ways that distinguished the participants from the others. A full text version of the article is available here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Psychologists Use the DSM, But Are Dissatisfied With It, New Survey Research Shows

A recently published study coauthored by Division 32 Fellow Jonathan Raskin looks at psychologist attitudes toward the DSM-5 and finds that psychologists are not particularly satisfied with the manual.

Raskin, along with his coauthor and SUNY New Paltz colleague Michael Gayle, surveyed over 100 psychologists. They found that even though over 90% of psychologists report using the DSM, they are dissatisfied with numerous aspects of it and support developing alternatives to it.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology. It currently appears as an advance online publication and will appear in an upcoming print issue. For the abstract and access to the article in full, see the JHP website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Existential Therapy is Evidence Based Practice

Evidence-Based Practice in Psychology is the current dominant paradigm for evaluating psychotherapy practice. At best, its aim is to help assure that therapists develop and utilize the appropriate clinical skills and employ strategies to help clients that are rooted in evidence, broadly understood. This replaces, though is often confused with, the previous paradigm of the empirically supported treatments, which sought to determine which rigidly applied modalities were appropriate for psychotherapy with particular diagnoses or problems based upon a more narrowly defined type of evidence.
While existential therapy is often criticized for lacking evidence based support for its practice, the article "Emotion, Relationship, and Meaning as Core Existential Practice: Evidence-Based Foundations” by Hoffman, Vallejos, Cleare-Hoffman, and Rubin provides strong evidence to help dispel this misconception. Drawing upon the standards of evidence-based practice, the authors utilize recent research and scholarship to demonstrate that when an appropriately trained and skilled therapist utilizes an existential therapy approach, it is consistent with the principles of evidence-based practice in psychology. This article should prove useful for existential therapists advocating for this approach in managed care and other settings that sometimes discourage its use with clients.
The article identifies how existential therapy's relational focus, emphasis on working with emotion and experience, and meaning-centered approach is an empirically valid approach to working therapeutically with a wide variety of clinical issues.
-- Louis Hoffman, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Division 32 President, Krishna Kumar, PhD: My Identity

Race, ethnicity, and religion continue to plague interpersonal relations throughout the world at the individual, societal, and international levels.  People appear to hold strong beliefs about racial, ethnic, and religious differences and about the inferiority and superiority of their own groups.  These beliefs seem to have no national boundaries.  Such beliefs simply would not go away despite many societal efforts in the form of affirmative action policies, laws, interfaith dialogue, and many positive everyday interactions with peoples from different backgrounds.  Central to such beliefs are the questions  “who am I,”  “who are we,” “are we different from each other,” or “are we pure anything?”
Unfortunately, local, rather than global human community perspectives seem to shape people’s identities.  Thus, traditionally my identity would involve having been born and raised in India in a Hindu family of a certain religious and caste orientation observing practices dictated by my family and speaking a particular language that I claim as my mother tongue. 
I moved from India in 1967 to a new country and adopted it as my home adding a completely new perspective to my identity.  Now I have a new identity as an Asian Indian American living among a variety of people with different belief systems.  Back in India, my relatives may have given me a partial new identity as someone similar to but different from them.
I had my DNA analyzed in an effort to understand my current identity from my ancestry.  What follows may sound like science fiction, but our saliva contains an enormous amount of information.  The DNA analysis was quite telling about the migratory patterns of my ancestors from the beginning of humankind from Africa to many parts of the world.  In this process of continuous migration over thousands of years, my ancestors perhaps like anyone else’s, mixed and remixed with different peoples changing and re-changing their linguistic, religious and cultural practices.  Thus, I realized that my current identity as an Asian Indian born in a Hindu family is simply accidental to my birth in India, which has little or no significance in the larger context of a global human community.  We are all products of such mixtures ever since human beings began to walk.  Race, ethnicity, religion, and culture are not DNA deep.  At this point, I invite you to read about the details of my DNA analysis and their implications written in my blog on PsychologyToday. Com:
By V. Krishna Kumar, Ph.D. on April, 26, 2013 in Psychology Masala
Receiving my DNA analysis on my ancestral migration patterns was an eye opener, making my erstwhile readymade answer “I am from India” not right anymore. Read More

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hearing Voices: Tracing the Borders of Normality

In this article, in The Lancet Psychiatry, linked below, Rhianna Goozee talks about the emergence of the Hearing Voices Movement. She discussed the way research has demonstrated how the line between "healthy" and "normal" minds has been blurred. She examines the hypothesis that early intervention and pathologizing experiences may actually increase rather than decrease the risk of psychosis.

Full text article here:

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Is clinical psychology fearful of social context?" -- a lecture by Professor Mary Boyle

Professor Mary Doyle speaking at 2014 Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference in Glasgow.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Psychotherapy Found to Be Equally Effective for Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Treatment of Depression

In a study published in Psychiatric ServicesBurçin Ünlü Ince and colleagues (2014) conducted a meta-analysis to investigate whether and how effective psychotherapy is for racial-ethnic minority groups when they are treated for depression. The study utilized a total of 56 randomized controlled trials. Overall, the effect size was moderate (g=50), and in bivariate and multivariate analysis, race-ethnicity was found to have no moderating influence on outcome of psychotherapy for depression. 
The researchers report: "Results suggest that psychotherapy is equally effective regardless of care seekers’ race-ethnicity. Future research should focus on filling in the gap between effective mental health care and the delivery of these services."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Presence of Meaning in Life Associated with Psychological Well-Being

Viktor Frankl, existential and humanistic psychologist and author of Man's Search for Meaning, pioneered the investigation of meaning in life as an adaptive psychological attribute. In a study that collected data cross 13 different universities, Jessie Dezutter and colleagues (2013) studied the impact of meaning in life on psychological adjustment in a sample of 8,492 American adults across 30 colleges and universities.

The researchers note that meaning of life has been defined as having a sense of coherence, an enhanced understanding of the world, and in finding a sense of purpose in life. Previous research has found a link between higher meaning in life in positive outcomes including more positive emotions and higher vitality, as well as less symptoms of depression and lower risky behavior.

The study distinguished between two dimensions of meaning in life:

(1) Presence of Meaning -- perception of significance, purpose and value

(2) Search for Meaning -- intensity of effort to establish or increase meaning in life

The study identified five types of people:

(1) High Presence--Low Search

These individuals scored highest in measures of psychological well-being and lower in negative indicators of psychosocial functioning.

(2) High Presence--High Search

These individuals scores the second highest in measures of psychological well-being, but not as high as the high presence-low search group.

(3) Low Presence-Low Search

Those scoring in this category were the lowest functioning of the sample.

(4) Low Presence-High Search

While still scoring low in functioning, they scores higher than the Low Presence-Low Search group. In particular, they scores higher in eudiamonic and psychological well-being, and scores lower in tendencies to break rules and were less likely to report social and physical aggression than the Low Presence-Low Search group.

(5) Undifferentiated

Scored at intermediate levels.

Full Text of Article Here:


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Authentic People Are More Psychologically Adjusted and Seen More Accurately By Others

In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Lauren J. Human and colleagues (2014) examined why well-adjusted people seem to be judged more accurately. Their investigation led them to discover that those who are well-adjusted are viewed more accurately due to the congruency between their personality and actions. In other words, more well-adjusted people were more authentic or congruent, and therefore were more transparent to others as a result. These findings support a key concept of humanistic psychology identified by Carl Rogers: a key ingredient of a fully functioning personality is congruency or authenticity. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Existential Variables of Meaning of Life and Hope Mediate the Relationship Between Religion and Psychological Well-Being

In Journal of Religion and Health, Marcin Wnuk and Jerzy Tadeusz Macinkowski (2012) investigated the relationship between religious belief and psychological well-being. In this study, they used a variety of measures, including the Daily Spiritual Experiences scale, Purpose in Life Test, Hearth Hope Index, Cantrol Ladder, and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. As in previous research, spiritual experiences were positively related to satisfaction with life and positive affect, but were not found to be related to negative affect. Meaning of life and hope mediated the relationships between spiritual experiences and both positive psychological variables of satisfaction with life and positive affect. These findings suggest that people who are religious tend to be more satisfied with life and have more frequent positive emotional experiences, in part, because they have more meaning in life and are more hopeful.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

In 5 Year Study, Long-Term Psychotherapy Found Superior to Short-Term Psychotherapy in Producing Personality Changes

In the Journal of Affective Disorders, Researchers Olavi Lindforsa, Paul Knekta, Erkki Heinonena, Tommi Härkänena, and Esa Virtalaa (2015) conducted a randomized trial comparing short- and long-term psychotherapies and their impact on personality functioning (n = 326). All therapy groups showed improved functioning. While short-term therapy at first was more effective in improving self-concept, producing decreases in immature defense style, and reducing interpersonal problems, long-term therapy had the advantage in producing greater changes to self-concept and, in the long-run, outperformed short-term therapy across measures.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation.

In Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, David S. Yeager and colleagues report: 
"Many important learning tasks feel uninteresting and tedious to learners. This research proposed that promoting a prosocial, self-transcendent purpose could improve academic self-regulation on such tasks. This proposal was supported in 4 studies with over 2,000 adolescents and young adults. Study 1 documented a correlation between a self-transcendent purpose for learning and self-reported trait measures of academic self-regulation. Those with more of a purpose for learning also persisted longer on a boring task rather than giving in to a tempting alternative and, many months later, were less likely to drop out of college. Study 2 addressed causality. It showed that a brief, one-time psychological intervention promoting a self-transcendent purpose for learning could improve high school science and math grade point average (GPA) over several months. Studies 3 and 4 were short-term experiments that explored possible mechanisms. They showed that the self-transcendent purpose manipulation could increase deeper learning behavior on tedious test review materials (Study 3), and sustain self-regulation over the course of an increasingly boring task (Study 4). More self-oriented motives for learning—such as the desire to have an interesting or enjoyable career—did not, on their own, consistently produce these benefits (Studies 1 and 4)."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mindfulness at the Heart of Existential-Phenomenology and Humanistic Psychology: A Century of Contemplation and Elaboration

In The Humanistic Psychologist researchers Andrew J. Felder, Halle M. Atena, Julie A. Neudeck, Jennifer Shiomi-Chenc, and Brent Dean Robbins report:
"The mindfulness ‘foundations’ of existential-phenomenology appeared at the turn of the 20th century. Humanistic psychology's affinity with phenomenology emerged in the latter half of the mid-20th century. Yet the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) third wave mindfulness literature does not appear to have turned toward full collaborative acknowledgment of its neighboring precursors. A revised history of Western mindfulness-based work and psychology is thus provided. Parallels among phenomenological-humanistic psychology (PHP), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are also discussed. Specifically, non-judgmental observation and description, validation, acceptance, intuition, doing and being, bodily mindfulness, letting be, and meaning-making are reviewed. Herefrom, the CBT third wave is invited into generative intra-disciplinary dialogue with PHP."

Pathways From Personality to Happiness: Sense of Uniqueness as a Mediator

In Journal of Humanistic Psychology, researchers Selda Koydemir, Ömer Faruk Şimşek, and Melikşah Demir report:
"Personal sense of uniqueness, a major construct in humanistic psychology, has been recently shown to be a robust correlate of happiness. Yet the antecedents of this experience are not known. To address this limitation, we focused on extraversion and openness to experience, the two traits referred to as plasticity in higher-order framework of personality, as predictors of uniqueness and happiness. In light of theory and past empirical research, we proposed that the two traits representing plasticity would promote a sense of uniqueness, which in turn influence happiness. This model was tested in a college sample (N = 370) by relying on structural equation modeling. Results showed that uniqueness mediated the associations of extraversion and openness to experience with happiness. This model was supported when the effects of neuroticism, a marker of vulnerability to psychopathology, on uniqueness was taken into account. The implications of the findings for future research were addressed and sense of uniqueness as an element of a good life was highlighted."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Relationship Between Materialism and Personal Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis

In the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, researchers Helga Dittmar, Rod Bond, Megan Hurst, and Tim Kassar (2014) report:
"This meta-analysis investigates the relationship between individuals’ materialistic orientation and their personal well-being. Theoretical approaches in psychology agree that prioritizing money and associated aims is negatively associated with individuals’ well-being but differ in their implications for whether this is invariably the case. To address these and other questions, we examined 753 effect sizes from 259 independent samples. Materialism was associated with significantly lower well-being for the most widely used, multifaceted measures (materialist values and beliefs, r = −.19, ρ = −.24; relative importance of materialist goals, r = −.16, ρ = −.21), more than for measures assessing emphasis on money alone (rs = −.08 to −.11, ρs = −.09 to −.14). The relationship also depended on type of well-being outcome, with largest effects for risky health and consumer behaviors and for negative self-appraisals (rs = −.28 to −.44, ρs = −.32 to −.53) and weakest effects for life satisfaction and negative affect (rs = −.13 to −.15, ρs = −.17 to −.18). Moderator analyses revealed that the strength of the effect depended on certain demographic factors (gender and age), on value context (study/work environments that support materialistic values and cultures that emphasize affective autonomy), and on cultural economic indicators (economic growth and wealth differentials). Mediation analyses suggested that the negative link may be explained by poor psychological need satisfaction. We discuss implications for the measurement of materialist values and the need for theoretical and empirical advances to explore underlying processes, which likely will require more experimental, longitudinal, and developmental research."

Psychological Growth in Aging Vietnam Veterans: Redefining Shame and Betrayal

In a new article published in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Lynne McCormack and Stephen Joseph report: 
"This study offers alternative interpretations of war-related distress embedded within the social and political context of the Vietnam War. Subjective interpretations from aging Vietnam veterans were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. A central theme—Moral authenticity: Overcoming the betrayal and shame of war—overarched five subordinate themes. Four subordinate themes encapsulated layers of war-related betrayal associated with shame. Shame was likely to be described as either (a) internal/sense of personal failure, with no acts of rage; or (b) external/reckless or threatening acts of others, engendering rage. A fifth theme, reparation with self, reflected humility, gratitude, and empathy, currently undefined domains of the growth construct."

Emotional Distress and Diagnosis: Word on the Street

Lois Holzman reports:
“Once you have that label it doesn’t stay at the clinic. You carry it with you for a long time.”
“We need to encourage people to speak more public [sic] about the topic of mental illness and alternatives to medication and treatment.”
“When I finally got labeled ‘depressed,’ I was relieved. It helped me deal with all the people who were saying, ‘Get over it already!’”
“It’s important to see how tied in diagnosing is to Big Pharma.”

These are some of the things people say when given the opportunity to talk about their experiences with and opinions about mental health and diagnosis...

Read more at the New Existentialist blog:

Brent Robbins: Materialism and the Joyless Life

Past President of SHP (Division 32) talks about joy and mindfulness at the Leadership Pittsburgh conference.