RadPsyNews #1

October 21, 1993

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Issue #1 Contents

  1. RadPsyNewsletter
  2. RadPsyNet Recap and Plans
  3. What's a Radical?
  4. English Radical Network
  5. Rethinking the Corporation
  6. Publicity and Communication
  7. Reading Material?



This is it! The first newsletter of the Radical Psychology Network. Whether this is also the last newsletter depends on your input. So send in your suggestions, announcements, proposals, requests, reports of relevant activities, and other material you think the rest of us might be interested in.

RadPsyNet Recap and Plans

We began talking at last August's Toronto APA convention. About 25 people met to consider "Will Psychology Pay Attention to its Own Radical Critics?" Since then, another 20 psychologists have added their names. More than a dozen found out about us through an announcement on an Internet e-mail discussion sponsored by the American Psychology-Law Society (APA Division 41).

So now we have a mailing list. What are we going to do with it? We sent out a list of possible projects in September, and would appreciate more feedback on where to go from here. Let us know what you think. Even better, let the whole group know (updated mailing list enclosed).

The deadline for proposals for next summer's APA convention is December 3. Anyone else interested in working on a symposium proposal ("The Radical Role in Organized Psychology"?) should contact Dennis Fox right away. Even without a scheduled panel, we can plan an informal get-together early in the convention.

What's a Radical?

What do we mean by "radical"? Good question. But is there a unified "we" to answer it?

As Dennis wrote to the psychology-law e-mail network, for some people radical describes an approach to therapy; for others it is an approach to social change; for still others, the two are intertwined. Some describe themselves as feminist psychologists, others as part of the left more generally or more narrowly. Some are graduate students seeking to do dissertations on unorthodox topics or using unorthodox methods; others are faculty members wishing they had students interested in unorthodox topics; still others are long-time clinicians fed up with business as usual. Some are comfortable with the term "radical"; others are convinced that their views are so reasonable they are not radical at all.

We may not need to reach consensus on this (there's the anarchist perspective on this, after all!). But to work on common projects and help each other with our own work, we need a mechanism for interaction. One possibility is to work on things like the symposium noted above: raising the visibility in APA of a variety of radical perspectives. Other suggestions?

English Radical Network

In a recent Journal of Community & Applied Psychology (1993, 3:77-80) an article by Stephen Reicher and Ian Parker called "Psychology Politics Resistance--the birth of a new organization" describes a radical psychology network in England that's been meeting for the past five or six years.

As Reicher and Parker put it, "Psychology Politics Resistance is a network of people--both psychologists and nonpsychologists--who are prepared to oppose the abusive uses of psychology. This means challenging the ideas within psychology that lead to oppressive practices, supporting those who are on the receiving end and using psychological knowledge positively to help those engaged in struggles for social justice."

Read it! They've been around for a while, and it might be useful to use their article as a basis for beginning our own discussions.

Rethinking the Corporation

Dennis attended a small conference in October designed to "Rethink the Corporation." About two dozen people, mostly community activists from the Northeast U.S. who are long-time opponents of corporate policies, met to consider how to bring about fundamental change in the nature of corporations. Further meetings are scheduled. Anyone interested in this issue can contact Dennis, who has finished the first draft of a paper titled "The Law Says Corporations are Persons, but Psychology Knows Better."

Any effort to bring about radical change will lead us to the corporation, sooner rather than later. Most corporate criticism from activists concerns issues such as worker safety and environmental destruction. Radical psychologists can contribute an additional perspective on how corporate society hinders psychological well-being and social justice.

The conference organizer, Richard Grossman, has co-authored with Frank Adams Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the Charter of Incorporation, a short, readable history of the corporation's destructive role in U.S. society ($4.00 from Charter Ink., P.O. Box 806, Cambridge, MA 02140). Barbara Moulton, a conference participant, was chief writer of Justice for Sale, a report of recent corporate efforts to push the American legal system in an even more corporate-friendly direction. It's available for $15 from the Alliance for Justice, 1601 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20009.

Publicity and Communication

As noted, we've advertised RadPsyNet on the AP-LS e-mail network. We'll probably do the same on the SPSSI network. A reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education thinking about doing a short story on us called Dennis to get details. There seems to be some curiosity out there.

Those of us with e-mail access (about half) should find it easier to spread the word. If you're part of a discussion group, let them know about us! We can also start talking to one another without having it centralized. This newsletter is more work than e-mail, so we need to know whether you want it to continue. If anyone wants to be an editor, Dennis would gladly step aside!

Reading Material?

On and off for a few years I've thought of writing an annotated bibliography of things I've read that either led me to where I am today (politically, that is) or that exemplify radical thought of one kind or another. Sort of a Radical Psychologist's Top Ten List of books and articles I frequently recommend to people. I'd list Seymour Sarason's Psychology Misdirected, for example, and Paul Wachtel's The Poverty of Affluence. I envision the bibliography as something geared to psychology students waiting to be radicalized.

Why don't we do this together? If we each came up with even one book or article, we'd have a diverse list of material we could distribute to each other as well as to others, including professors teaching relevant courses. If you send me titles along with short descriptions (just a few sentences would do it, I think), I'll at least distribute it to our group, and we can then see if we have enough to distribute more widely.

[1997 Note! See our Books and Reviews Site]

Editor: Dennis Fox

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