How a Dialogue With the Humanities Can Enrich Psychological Science

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From Psychology Today: “Outside of the field of psychology, many are discussing the stark decline of the humanities. In a society that values more and more the utilitarian assumption that the worth of human life can be measured by what one produces, feelings of despair, loneliness, and insignificance are understandably on the rise. If psychology is going to fulfill its promise to help those suffering from the symptoms brought on by our cultural and spiritual malaise, it must reinvigorate the very resources our culture is ready to abandon.

There is no drug capable of curing an existential crisis, but beautiful art and great literature can express it. No statistical analysis explains our social and political ennui, but the best philosophies help us see beneath it. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) says nothing about our moral and spiritual longings, but the great religions and wisdom traditions were made to voice them.

Now is the time for psychology to resituate itself as the place where all disciplines that deal with suffering, identity, and the experience of the human condition meet. Only psychology in both dialogue and contention with the greatest works of human intellectual and artistic achievement can hope to address the crises of today and envision a more vibrant tomorrow (Freeman, 2023).”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I call deep-seated objective falsehood on “Modern psychology is a sophisticated science … By and large, it has handled that task admirably, providing help and care to an untold number of sufferers.”

    The article is getting it half right in identifying the role psychology has had in society – “psychotherapeutic care has become the dominant approach to making sense of experience.” And asking for broader critical discourse of what that positioning means.

    But two white males from elite powerful institutions lauding the success of an objectively oppressive field that’s wrought serious harm (documented every day here on MIA) ought not have any place on this forum. Yes, occasional help has occurred with some mental health services sometimes. To again have a piece blatantly silencing the critiques and harms through intentional or ignorant omission is deeply distressing. And I’m rather shocked this article was posted here except as example on ongoing denial of ableism, sexism, ableism, etc.

    Also, yes, the sex, skin tone, and job roles of the posters absolutely do matter. Who do we give voice to and elevate? Who do we not?

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  2. “Now is the time for psychology to resuscitate itself as the place where all disciplines that deal with suffering, identity, and the experience of the human condition meet. Only psychology in both dialogue and contention with the greatest works of human intellectual and artistic achievement can hope to address the crisis of today and envision a more vibrant tomorrow.”

    Tsk, tsk, tsk…sounds the psychology field is suddenly waking up to the fact that their so-called “science of psychology” does little more than reflect the limitations and arrogance of their own disordered/distorted minds.

    Psychology lacks wisdom which is why it fails humanity.

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  3. I’m all in for a robust humanities curriculum; what better foundation from which to give objective reference and context to our personal and collective world. But what begs saving is critical thinking, specifically an education intrinsically informed by critical pedagogy. For when, for example, the Institute of Critical Thinking does a study of critical thinking applied at California universities and colleges (private and public, et al), and finds 86% of the university professors and instructors to be neither possessing critical thinking skills nor transmitting them to their charge-despite believing otherwise in both areas, our contemporary humanities literacy might not be sufficient to adequately inform mental health discourses? Furthermore, when scientist like Steven Hawking or Neal deGrasse Tyson–and hordes of others-say that philosophy is no longer useful-and much worse!, we can be certain we are in the midst of a growing fundamentalism surrounding science and its various ancillary organizing systems, and that they are now at furious odds with “the humanities” and its critical thinking apertures.

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