Building bridges over troubled water – between modern, late modern and postmodern voices

 

Volker Bunzendahl, cand. psych., College of Education, Aalborg, Denmark

 

Proud and delighted by the invitation to visit and for the possibility to talk and perform at Banja Luka University and for the NGO-Organization, Zdravo da ste, I thought about how I possibility could contribute to a conference with the topic: New Ways in Science and Psychology. In one perspective it took place in one of the finest psychology departments you will be able to find in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the celebration I was part of, was an element of a larger University symposium, which included all kind of modern sciences. On the other hand a large part of the audience were postmodern “activists” from Zdravo da ste, this psychological NGO organization, which since the start of the civil war in former Yugoslavia has done wonderful work by trying to re-establish schools abilities to build new relations with and for the new generations of children (in BiH and Serbia), while the mature working as “Hi Neighbor” (Zdravo da ste) in one or another way re-start to grow and develop themselves. So, in a way you could say, the symposium/conference celebrated the modern institution of University by giving voice to postmodern stories, told by postmodern organizations like Zdravo da ste, supported by other postmodern voices from Macedonia, Serbia and New York.

 

Yes, and seen here in relation to New ways in Science, this essay will be an invitation to dialog between modern, late modern and postmodern views of psychology. A dialog that includes, not excludes others, even if these others experience and express different worldviews. As long as the university, and organizations like Zdravo da ste, choose to be in a creative dialog, a creative joint-activity together with other people, there is hope for a better future, where emotional suffering and disturbances can be handled by psychology in a collaboration with real people in ordinary life situations.

 

So, the main point of this article is to show, that, in my view, postmodern approaches should be seen in their efforts to build bridges, into our common future, and into our common modern cultural and individual histories. Postmodern psychologies (Anderson, 1997, Holzman & Morss, 2000) can inspire late modern approaches and open-minded societies, while the postmodern approaches in more positivistic, pseudo-democratic countries must (if they want to speak, act, work, perform) try to create ways to build environments, where small community revolutions can take place, every day, and every minute, outside mainstream society and psychology. This is very much in the spirit of Marx (and Engels), who argued that it is much better to act than to philosophize.

 

But let us now go back to the time when psychology as child of psychophysical research left the house of philosophy; now with a wish to get accepted, in the world of them in power, as a Science.

 

 

 

Modern Psychology

 

Psychology is a member of modern science since 1879, where Wilhelm Wundt started the first empirical research about psychological matters. His laboratory, the first psychology laboratory in the world[1], started psychology as a scientist subject, and many other researchers followed the example from Leipzig, which is to do empirical, experimental research about human beings and their psyche.

 

Already in 1900 Wundt pointed out, that the experimental way of trying to describe the important features of human psychological life would only be able to “grab” one though very important part (remembering, psycho-physical reactions, attention = lower psychological functions) of the whole picture. The other side was for Wundt cultural psychology and the influences of the social world, which we are part of. These more interpersonal features (language, interaction, meaning, the self) are we not able to understand while we are doing experiments in the laboratory. Therefore, Wundt recognized, that psychology as only experimental scientific enterprise would fail to be helpful for ordinary people, would fail to be fine for describing ordinary social situations and therefore would fail to construct a science accurately understanding persons psychological. Völkerpsychologie, Wundts name for “real” cultural-folk-psychology and name of the book he wrote about it (1900), had to find other ways of practicing research. In the laboratory, Wundt assumed, you are able to investigate about quantities, about how much or how tiny a stimulus you require for to remember something; it is good for describing and making statistical predictions about human beings as generalized, objective, measurable “things”, but poor in understanding the subjective meaningful life world of human beings, which demands the invention of new methodologies (Lundin, 1996, Katzenelson, 2000, Cole, 1996).

 

In the USA only the experimental way of practicing psychology got in power, and has, more or less, ruled American psychology since then. And American psychology has, unfortunately, since World War II, ruled the western psychology of the world (more than 90% of all printed psychology books in the world are made in the US) (Katzenelson, 2000). Surely, we know names like G.H. Mead (1934), C. Rogers (1972), J. Bruner (1990) and others, who are exceptions of the mainstream-American-discourse, but they do not receive much place and consideration in the introductory books for students in psychology. Humanistic, phenomenological, hermeneutical views in and about psychology are nearly not mentioned, and if, the textbook-writers will use more than half of the place for to argument that e.g. Rogers approach sounds nice, but, after all, not fits strong empirical view on research and methodology. This sounds much “like it is fine, but not “really” scientific”, a typical attitude in the scientific club of already “accepted” psychology textbook-writers.

 

See for e.g. Gleitman (1999), a modern textbook with more than 1000 pages, which tries to give the reader the impression, that because of the results of many years of mostly empirical research are we able to tell you the truth about nearly anything about human psychological life. The foci of these stories are mostly that they first show how and what (kind of approved data) defines us as normal, and second that they describe circumstances, symptoms and treatments of psychological pathologies. All these stories shall, in my view, give the reader the impression, that psychology is able to describe “right and wrong” behavior, that psychology knows the why’s and how’s of learning disability, depression, aggressive compulsory behavior and nearly 1000 other psychological “problems”.

 

From my view, mainstream western psychology has reduced the way we could look at and work with emotional, social and psychological problems. They try to define psychology as a mostly hard-core scientific enterprise, where the more humanistic, philosophical features are seen as not possible to work with, in the laboratory methodology. Consciousness, meaning, cognition, the subjective experience/perception of the inner and outside world, tools like conversation, dialog, qualitative research interview, participant observations and other qualitative methods were dismissed in the early days of the modern enterprise of mainstream psychology[2].

 

Surely, my little overview here makes some shortcuts and mainly I will suggest, that my picture is only one of many other possible views on the same topic, but as a writer I hope you, the reader, will allow me to ask you to read it as if the story is somehow true.

 

A modern view of psychology is, today, in my eyes, represented typically by cognitive therapy approaches, who claim, that they, when doing interventions, are using objective, tested tools based on positivist knowledge, which gives them the ability to make the right diagnosis, which again will lead to the right treatment. This is a way of practicing psychology, which in many ways is similar to a medical biological, mechanistic way of describing human beings. A believe, that human beings in one or another way are more or less a combination of being a conditioned animal and being a computer steered self observing machine. Are these combinations  (=persons) not functioning, you just have to find out, what parts or programs (=strategies) are out of order. Exchanging the bad parts or re-programming requests, in the language games of scientific, modern psychology, extraordinary and specialist advised care. Thereby every suffering, every person with emotional pain recreates the functioning of the psy-complex, which is a certain way of acting, talking with and about people who need help by psychologists (Parker, 1999). Beside that these approaches often describe themselves as unbiased, non-political in any way[3].

 

It would be wrong to say, that the modern approaches are not able to help, that they are trying to tell us a story that is totally untrue. Surely we in some ways are still functioning like animals; surely we sometimes use our brains as a computer does it, and surely some people get benefit by cognitive therapy. But to study and to explain the emotional, social and psychological features of human life, it seems to me, that modern psychology, as described above, is not able to really grab the complexity and interconnectedness of social, emotional and cognitive stories which are happening in our daily, political life (see Newman & Holzman, 1996, 1997).

 

Cognitive approaches sell their findings often in an imperialistic, deducing way[4]. But, from my view, they do not succeed in helping ordinary people to build environments where they are able to grow and to develop. They try to perform as experts, who are able to describe the “problem” as it is; thereby they claim that they know the true version of reality. For me, they “see” a little picture of what human beings psychological really are, they miss to see the influences of culture and society, they miss to see the possibilities to recreate the social environment.

 

The fault is, in my observation, that what they come to “perceive” and illustrate is only one of many possible other ways we human beings would be able to describe the same circumstances, and the fact that they make in most cases the mistake that they are not able or do not want to enter a dialog with other researchers or people, who look at the same topic from a quiet different perspective. Mostly they will not try to accept other ways of doing psychological research, because their paradigm since Comtes is build on, that there must be one, only one truth.

 

Modern scientific psychology is, in my view, one powerful view of the world, of human beings, which is build on the believe, that science is on its endless way to finally describe what there is, in the real world. Scientific truth, the story that is more important than religion, is, what modern scientists believe in. Good for to describe the stars, cars and other material things, but not at all good to help to understand what it feels like, and what it means to be a human being experiencing his or her own life.

 

This is a very short story about modern psychology in America and in the western world. Many more arguments should be made, but here I will point to some inspirations, if you, the readers are more interested in the topic of modern psychology and its mistakes (See Parker, 1998, 1999, Holzman, 1999, Newman & Holzman, 1996, 1997, Holzman & Morss, 2000, Anderson, 1997, Gergen, 1994, 1999, 2001)[5].

 

 

Late modern

My story about late modern theories of psychology, about approaches I like to give this predicate is surely a simplification. Late modern theories and practices are for me these approaches in and around psychology, who have recognized, that simple stimulus-response research not will help us to describe human beings as they life, experience and act in real social human life. They recognize that we have to spot after more than just one cause; they perceive the individual not as simple organism, but as a dialectical person-and-environment process. Therefore it will be not sufficient, if psychology wants to be relevant for ordinary people, only to test and to diagnose, to make experiments in the laboratory, if we want to know about and help real people in real life situations. 

 

Late modern theories are not blind for the changing circumstances, which are ongoing and experienced in today’s societies and cultures (Bauman, 2000, Lyotard, 1979). What was reality while Freud, Watson, Skinner and others made up their paradigms of understanding human beings, is not the reality of today. Therefore many of the theories, I will call late modern, are often born in the late 60ties, where the national boundaries and traditions for the first time were crossed by media, music, television, thereby changing the consciousness of millions of people, awakening to a growing responsibility for the spirituality and sociality of human life. New possibilities, new ways of describing human beings more humanistic (Rogers, 1972, Maslow, 1967), more as a part of a family (Anderson, 1997), more as part of several environments (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), more as a cultural unity (Bruner, 1990), more as a being with existential questions (May, 1990), more as interested in dreams and archetypes (Jung, 1990), more as persons with inner voices and dynamics (Pearl, 1969), more as small children with inter-relational competences (Stern, 1979), more as a societal subject (Leontjev, 1979/2003, Engelsted, 1989, Mammen, 1983) were seen on the arena of psychology.

 

This article gives me not the place to talk much more about all these many different small revolutions in psychology, which happened around the student-revolution, in San Francisco, Copenhagen and other places back in 1968.

 

Important here is, that many approaches, both in the USA and the rest of the world tried other, not positivistic ways of practicing psychology, thereby opening their minds for other influences than strong empirical research and a view on humans as simple mechanistic organisms. The language-games (Wittgenstein, 1948) of scientific psychology were opened up, philosophy, literature, semantics and many other studies of art were seen as at least equal important than scientific data. Family therapy, cultural psychology, activity theory, humanistic and existentialist approaches, new psychodynamic voices and others came on to the arena of psychology, inspiring thousands of new psychologists and researchers. Many new ways of doing research were set in movement, many new ways of practicing therapy were tried out, resulting in a manifold of exciting research projects, which all tried to expand the view on the individual, now not seen and described as simple isolated organism study able in the laboratory, but as person in relation and history, thereby giving subjective (the person, the self) and social (the other, groups, society) and historical (ontogenesis, phylogenesis, sociogenese) features much more awareness than before.

 

These influences had surely some impact on how we today describe and work in and around psychology. But, as with many of the other inspiring influences from the 60ties, time goes by, people get older, get more involved in the bureaucratic systems of society, thereby often loosing former days energy, loosing former days wildness, while slowly accepting that the society as system demands, that we adapt our work to what is possible (in the eyes of them in power!), not what we seem to think would be the good way to go (in the eyes of our theories and experiences and visions). People commit compromise after compromise, and slowly realizable dreams of real changes are seldom.

 

If we look at the situation today, more than 30 years after 1968, we can see, that in spite of these theories have inspired many, they still are not in power, if we look world wide, where the modern approaches did not give much place to the late modern approaches. The thing is, that even you are inspired by let us say Rogers thoughts, while you are working at a school as psychologist, you are “caught” by modern norms and rules. If e.g. the child you want to help needs more possibilities for interaction with other children after school, the system only works if you can come up with an individual diagnosis, which is the outcome of several individual tests. In this way the person-centered attitude you would like to use, if you like to follow Rogers, got disturbed by rules, made by people, who more or less think and understand here kids in the modern paradigm, looking after pathologies we are able to categorize and to treat.

 

So, the reason why I call these approaches not postmodern, but late modern is that they often do work in the system, thereby accepting the individual as the subject for investigation, even if the individual now although got seen in relation to its social and cultural environment. Postmodernists like Newman (in Holzman & Mendez, 2003) say that the late modern fail to change the subject of what we have to cure. We do not have to cure the individual but the group, the society, and our reality.

 

In a society, where democracy works (Denmark[6] before 2001, and hopefully after 2005), the need for to be post against modern is not as necessary as in countries, like the USA[7]. Therefore many researchers in Denmark do not feel the same need, than postmodern voices from the other side of the Atlantic Oceans. They still work in the system, in the University, which seems to give them possibilities to do research in non-positivistic and even political ways (Kvale, 1992). So, why should we be postmodern in Europe, Denmark, many will say, if we have rich chance to do the research we appreciate? We are used to be tolerant and we do not have to be in conflict with other voices.

 

Therefore, especially in America, where late modern influences not at all had the same possibility to act on and in society as we are used to in e.g. Denmark, it is understandable, that creative thinking psychologists had to move out of the safe house of scientific psychology, for to build environments and communities, who as NGO movements were able to create their own version of a future and of a today. People in BiH and Serbia do live another history, they did not choose to be after modern times, there are living in a post-modern, post-war time, where it is naturally to build up from the ground. I will not as a guest try here to elaborate about the who’s and why’s. And, for Denmark, it seems that the crisis, which makes society, will turn the wheel of time, so postmodern approaches, in some years from now, will mushroom in Denmark and Europe[8].

 

 

Modern

The ½ Wundt

Freud

Watson, Pavlov, Skinner

Cognitive approaches

Neuropsychology

Developmental Psychology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late-modern

Stern

Kohut

Vygotsky/Leontjev

Luhmann/Habermas

Giddens

Systemic Approaches

 

 

 

 

Postmodern

The other ½ of Wundt

Social Constructionism, Gergen, Shotter, McNamee

Social Constructivism, Tom Andersen, Harlene Anderson

Social Therapy, Lois Holzman, Fred Newman

 
The overheads I used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Activity
Possibilities
Safety
Truth
Rationality
Conversation
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Picture 1 (page 6)

Goodbye safety, goodbye truth, hello activity and hello possibilities

 

This figure shows the movement, I have tried, on the previous pages, to describe from modern to late modern[9]. It tries to show how the theoretical paradigm one believes in, “fits” to what methods one will select, to what one will se as the central subject of interest for psychology, and, last not least, it shows how one will try to help people with emotional, social or/and cognitive difficulties.

 

As you can see postmodern approaches in all matters do change the subject:

Ø     From looking after the one and only fault to creation of possibilities and building of community

Ø     From describing human beings as animals, computers and core-selves to a focus not on individuals, but on joint-activity, on what people can create together

Ø     From the role of an expert to a role as collaborative friend who is able to build environments, where dialog, conversation and joint-activity is possible, and where reality gets de- and reconstructed

Ø     From being a non-political, objective observant to the realization, that psychology always will be a political project, because the social environments we live in create ourselves, therefore changes demand that we transform our social and political environments. (See eventually more such categories/dichotomies in T. Andersen, 1996, H. Anderson, 1997)

 

 

Postmodern approaches change the assumptions made by both modern and late-modern theories, even if what they claim and try to perform can be seen as the continuing of that other, the second road, Wundt mentioned in the early days of psychology (Cole, 1996, Katzenelson, 2000).

 

Picture 2 + 3 (page 7)

We are social, psychological and biological beings – all in one time!

 

With these two pictures I want to connect my own postmodern inspirations, I happily received by visiting several times East Side Institute in New York, and Zdravo da ste in Belgrade and Banja Luka, with what I learned from my professors at the University in Aarhus, Denmark.

 

What connects me, my institute and my postmodern friends in the USA, in Bosnia and Serbia is, that we all are inspired by Russian psychology, and here especially by the work of Vygotsky, Leontjev and Luria. Vygotsky was the pioneer of psychology, because already in the late 1920ties he tried to develop new methods for psychology, which could build bridges between the experimental way and the humanistic, philosophical way of doing research, and of applying its results in our work with e.g. children in school-environments (Cole, 1996, Mammen, 1983, Katzenelson, 1989, Engelsted, 1989, Vygotsky, 1982).

 

My two pictures[10] show, that Vygotsky and his two comrades, Luria and Leontjev, in their version of a new psychology recognized many different levels of interest and investigation. We can look at human beings as biological organisms, as psychological or as social beings, thereby also being interested in groups and societies building processes, which are in a dialectical relation to the individual ontogenesis.

 

This model of human beings as study able on three different levels opens up for a not competing dialog. Results from the social level can be seen in the light of data, which were collected on e.g. the biological level, and so on. A very optimistic view which demands that we are able to communicate. And communication can be kind of difficult, if the different approaches are used to describe their findings in different words, which mean something else, in different forms of life, in different language games (Wittgenstein, 1948).

 

To explain the further implications and findings of Russian psychology, and here especially Vygotsky, I do not have enough pages, here in this article. The two pictures should though, metaphorically speaking, give you, the reader, some hints about how respectful this model, inspired by Leontjev (1979), tries to implement both revolutionary and more mainstream voices in one model. It would demand, that researchers, are able to see, that the model shows our historical development as human being in a personality model, which shows, that we, human beings as personalities are build on former days history (phylogenesis), on our own history of life (ontogenesis), and on how the culture you are part of builds the individual as a person (sociogenesis).

 

In a way these two pictures show not a postmodern, but a late-modern idea about creating models, which are able to catch the complexity of the psychic life of human beings.

 

To see how Vygotsky is used to give power to postmodern ways of acting in today’s society see Newman & Holzman (1993), while e.g. Cole (1996) and Karpatschoff (2000) are examples of more late-modern interpretations of Vygotskys words.

 

So, here is the dream of psychology as a whole, looking and working on the same idea, but on different levels, with different methods, accepting that we have to create new methods, which can “catch” human beings in between being a higher mental functioning and a lower mental functioning organism at one and the same time. And, at the same time, we have to develop methods, which can grab activity, the activity of society, groups, individuals, always all influencing each other. This complexity shows us, that a complete picture will be seldom what we are able to end with; it will be an ever continuing process of developing tools-and-results used in the ongoing life forms build by human beings (Newman & Holzman, 1993, Ognjenovic, 2000).

 

But let med now go to the third story about my overheads from Banja Luka.

 

Picture 4 (page 8)

Communication: How do we talk and do we want to be in dialog – what are we talking about?

 

This model is called the triangle of communication (Madsen, 1996), which shows the two levels of communication, which are important to recognize.

 

One line, between worldview 1 and 2, is the line of relation. Are the ones who talk together comfortable with the situation, with each other? Are the manners they talk to each other fine for both of them?

 

The two lines pointing up, meeting in the middle, is the line of: subject of common interest, that is, the subject both would like to talk about. Do they agree about the subject, are they sure or unsure that the other does mean the same, using the same words?

 

Using this model gives you possibilities in situations of conflict, which is when people are not able to go in a dialog with each other. Are they emotionally confused on the level of relation, are they cognitively confused on the level of subject for common interest?

 

It should be helpful, when trying to set up conversations with people, who do not come from the same culture, from the same paradigm, from the same political party.

 

It should be helpful to show, that you have to try to establish an interest less interest, that is people have to be motivated to use possibilities to see what they normally observe from different angles and views. It should give us a simple, idealistic model for what human communication could be like, that is a dialogical room for to learn to know other ways of living and experiencing life than we already know.

 

These three stories about my pictures from Banja Luka must for now stay alone. The last pages of this essay will be about the postmodern friends I have met, and what their way of acting does mean, for me as a person, for psychology as a human force and/or science.

 

 

Postmodern friends

 

The first time in my life, I met postmodern voices in connection to psychology, was in 1997, where I participated in a conference, “Unscientific psychology”, in New York (Holzman & Morss, 2000), organized by the East Side Institute, a postmodern NGO organization which works in many different ways in different social environments in the city (see here www.eastsideinstitute.org for more information about this amazing community).

 

The postmodern voices, I learned to know, in these days, are all very exciting, very interesting, very powerful in inventing different forms of political and applied psychology (in a collaborative way), that is they are beside their efforts in theoretical criticism of mainstream psychology all in many different ways connected with some form of folk-psychology. Folk-psychology, in a way the road Wundt talked about, but here even more clear connected to Vygotsky and his interpretation of the words of the younger Karl Marx[11], that is connected to activity, the activity of creating human life, the historical dialectical meeting of nature and culture. For me real folk psychology is here, in New York, Manchester (Hearing Voices), Skopje, Belgrade and Banja Luka, and other places, not psychology practiced by experts, but by a social force of people acting together, building together the environments, the places for emotional rest, which is the group, the community.

 

The East Side Institute works on many levels of the society (from street-kids to Wall Street people) with the intention to build social realities, where people, together, can grow. In Manchester, England, former patients do wonderful work with patients in the psychiatric system, trying to give power to formerly not heard voices, in the former Yugoslavia teachers and psychologists play, as children, a head taller than they are (see Newman & Holzman, 1993), thereby creating reality, which gives hope, calm and time/place for development.

 

The wonderful connection between activists and postmodern psychologists is a possibility to create the tools-and-results we need to build as bridges over troubled water, which is a mostly alienated world, where the wrong people are in power, where western societies are dying by their own decadence.

 

Postmodern voices in psychology: that is like Rap-music and hip hop, a sub cultural movement, which takes the responsibility on their shoulders. The responsibility that the creation of today and tomorrow is something we have to do together, with other people, our friends, brothers and sisters, in our neighborhood, and not only metaphorically speaking all over the world (McNamee & Gergen, 1999).

 

Postmodern voices say to me, as a psychologist: Stop lying and stop pretending that we, psychologists know how to give emotional wellness to all people around the globe. We have to be honest, we have to travel to “the end of knowing” (Newman & Holzman, 1998), we have to have a “not knowing attitude, a philosophical stance” (Anderson, 1997) while meeting people we want to help; we have to build “joint-activity” (Shotter, 1993) and “new forms of life – new language games” (Wittgenstein, 1948).

 

Postmodern voices open the ears of psychology for other voices than empirical and scientific data; it opens the eyes of psychology for art, music and other human signs, which shape our consciousness, our world and us.

 

Postmodern psychology is breaking the rules; therefore it is not describable in a normal way. Postmodern psychology is political, is changing you, the person who gets involved, because the activity of postmodern psychology is changing and creating the world, the world, which create you and me.

 

 

Can there be dialog between modern and postmodern voices?

 

Yes, this symposium at the University of Banja Lukas Philosophical Department is a fine example, that a beginning dialog is possible. Conferences all over the world at least listen to invitations made by postmodern psychologists (see here Gergen 1999, 2001). At the place I work these days, the  (modern/late-modern) university college of education, Aalborg, it seems to be place for presentation of postmodern voices. In some places it is a more than tough fight and struggle, some postmodern and alternative communities get never started (stopped before by them in power), others get attacked after many years of existing (like Christiania in Denmark, a now 33 year old alternative town in Copenhagen[12]). So the road seems still very long.

 

But the answer is: Yes, there has to be dialog – for the sake of our common future. Thanks to Zdravo da ste and the university of Banja Luka for showing us the road.

 

 

 



Notes

[1] Some discuss the fact, if the laboratory in Leipzig was really the first, or e.g. James already some years before Wundt had his own laboratory (Cole, 1996).

[2]  See here Watson, 1913, where he arguments why psychology went on this road, and Kvale, 1996, who tries to give arguments, in our days, for the scientific usefulness of human conversation, that is we can very often believe, and validate what another person is saying about his subjective experience.

[3] In my eyes often especially approaches who perform these objective role of playing scientist fit very good with more conformist and right wing powers in society – so they are not at all non political!

[4] In the Danish paper, PsykologNyt, I had a dialog with cognitive psychologist Irene Oestrich about this subject (Oestrich, 2002, Bunzendahl, 2002)

[5] In Denmark the story is a little different. Humanistic, phenomenological, historical-dialectical-materialistic, psychodynamic and hermeneutic approaches in psychology have always, side by side with other more positivist approaches had equal right to study and to get hand on resources, like in Germany before the bad times around WW II, where the universities always had their autonomous right to decide how and what they want to study. That is, economical interests, efforts to sell a research idea to private investors are something we in Germany, and here in Denmark, never had a use for. Here, the state paid for the research, and the researchers were quiet free to follow ideas which they themselves found interesting – knowledge for the sake of knowledge, only. So, the pragmatic attitude to University research, people are used to in America, is in Europe still very new.

Therefore, the dichotomy between modern and postmodern approaches, which this article until now has shown, is not the same in Denmark. In Denmark we have, at least since 1968, a tradition in psychology at the University, which gives/gave place to many different ways of studying and doing research (paradigms), thereby giving students the possibility to know many different, and sometimes even opposite approaches and worldviews. Studying at “my” institute at Aarhus University happened under a wonderful umbrella of a lot of different ways of describing the world, even if the researchers themselves were often too much occupied by their own narrow interests, so they often did not witness the complex learning-environment such a manifold of different views actually meant for the students. So, a modern institution gave/gives place for many different both modern, late modern and even postmodern approaches, side by side, thereby creating students which had/have got the experience of being in a postmodern environment with many narratives.

But, one thing is the university, another the life of praxis, where psychologists work in different kinds of institutions like schools and hospitals, here in Denmark mostly paid by the state. Unfortunately, it seems to me, have most of the psychologists I have met forgotten about the many views of psychology we have met at the University. Often they have chosen only one or a combination of only two approaches, which seem to work, in the specialized field they have entered. And, in these days this is mostly cognitive and other mainstream-American-approaches, which are, in my view unfortunately, “in” here in Denmark, these days, outside, but not inside, the university.

Shortly, for to make a long story short, I will dare to resume, that the praxis of more than half of my psychologist fellows is based on modern kind of thinking and of doing scientific psychological work (and cognitive therapy)), while this is a little different at the institutes of university, who still has and gives equal place to humanistic, to social and to empirical scientific research. Therefore I would say that the attitude at Denmark’s institutes of psychology is not modern, is not postmodern, but late modern, that is a tolerant climate with several different branches of research and practice, while the world of praxis continues to be mostly modern.

[6] In Denmark there has been no war of Science, the fellow-companion-ship modern/late-modern worked quiet well. Both positivist research and dialectic materialistic approaches, beside psychodynamic and even Jungian approaches got money and place to do research, to educate students. At least that has been the picture from 1968-2000, if you look after, who have done research in Denmark (Psyke & Logos, 2000(1)). So, in Denmark, where it in the social system, too, was possible to get support for quiet some alternative ways of practicing psychology, you could say, the need for anti-psychology, that is postmodern approaches has not been so strong than in the USA, where I believe still most of the research money goes more to positivist approaches than to cultural studies.

So the reason why late modern voices came not into power is much clearer in a society like the USA, where money and authority means more than human rights and a social society where nobody suffers and/or are poor. Unfortunately in these days there are quiet ugly right-wing winds in Denmark (since 2001) and other parts of Europe, so perhaps the need for radical changes in psychology, that is postmodern psychology, is more near than we wish to be.

[7] Where democracy is a gun-smoking, imperialistic media-parody with more than half of its own population suffering from unemployment, poor life circumstances, and executor of unreasonable violent attacks against political minorities around the world Like we in these days experience in Denmark, Copenhagen, where police attacks and tries to close down the 32 year old free hippie town Christiania (something which would be quiet normal procedure in the USA, Italy, Germany, but is new for us here in Denmark)

[8] For me this gives me a kind of ambivalent feeling, because it would mean that we first get conscious about our need to change, when society is very sick, that is when postmodern approaches get more popular in Denmark it will be because our formerly dialogical democratic society has got ill. I hope the reader understands that I under these circumstances would prefer Denmark as still late modern within an open dialog with both modern and postmodern voices from other places. Because, the opposite, with a thought to Karl Marx, would mean, that we, in Denmark and the rest of Europe, first have to be totally alienated, before we can jump out as postmodern revolutionaries. Not a very amusing thought, because it would mean that our society has even to be more stupid, before it can start to develop?

[9] My story about the postmodern friends I have learned to know will follow after these stories about my transparent used in Banja Luka.

[10] This model is partly inspired by Vygotsky, 1978, Leontjev 1979/2003, Katzenelson, 1989, Bertelsen, 2000.

[11] Read here Karl Marx, and not USSR, which is rather another story.

 

 

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