An article in The Conversation states, “Curing unemployment is a growth market for psychologists. Job Centres are becoming medical centres, claimants are becoming patients, and unemployment is being redefined as a psychological disorder.”
“Made-up ailments such as ‘psychological resistance to work’ and ‘entrenched worklessness’ feature in ministerial speeches and lucrative Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contracts, without attracting a murmur of protest from professional psychologists,” continue the UK-based authors. They then explore the expanding business of forcing unemployed people through batteries of psychological tests and “attitude adjustment” programs.
The authors note that the UK Conservative government ignited protest when they suggested that welfare claimants who refused a recommended psychiatric treatment could have their benefits reduced. “This attempt to co-opt medical professionals as state enforcers is what led to the first protest by psychologists,” the authors write. “However, while campaigns such as Psychologists Against Austerity have focused on the psychological impact of welfare reform, there has been little mention of psychology’s central role in disciplining and punishing people claiming benefits, or of the ethics of psychological conditionality.”
The authors particularly criticize the British Psychological Society (BPS). “Far from addressing the validity or ethics of assessing claimants for ‘psychological resistance to work’, BPS put out a press release noting that tests should be undertaken by qualified staff.”
Facing psychological coercion and manipulation has become a daily part of claiming benefits (The Conversation, June 8, 2015)