The following paper was presented at ISCRAT, Århus University, 10. June 1998
PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME -
THERE ARE MILES BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND REAL LIFE
We have written about it! We have talked about
it, discussed it in many, many years.
About the dead of the expert, and the end of a
picture of a psychological science, which claims objectivity and
rationality as its highest purpose.
But we often do not practice what we talk
about, or at least our practice is still only a very small part
of the activity, which is going on in the health systems in our
Most of the psychologists who work together
with psychiatrists in our mental hospitals, want to work on a
basis of knowledge, they even call their approach sometimes
knowledge-based and scientific prooved psychotherapy....
Perhaps its fine, if you are afraid of heights
or water, but I certainly do not think they do know much about
supporting people with major emotional pain or with helping
people to change their environments..
As a student you have the possibility to read a
lot of nice books, who criticize this situation, the scientific
approach, the cognitive revolution, - who has not read "act
of meaning", - but when you after graduation start to look
around, what kind of work you can do as psychologist, ---- you
will get disappointed, because there are not many jobs, if you
want to follow your inspirations, if you want to do what you have
read in this humanistic, critical, narrative and what soever
books, who were written with a critical view on general health
politics and practice. ...
The picture, as I see it, is that cognitive, scientific psychology is in charge where-ever you visit a psycho-hospital or a school-psychologist in the western world. Surely, there are some system-family-therapy-centers for families with major problems, and there are some fine people working in this scientific system, who try do re-arrange some things, e.g. all of you, doing research about how activity-theory can help to explain some elements in out world(s).
And some of us, who work with organizational
psychology can experience, that big companies do know, that we
have to go new and alternatives ways, if we, or our companies
budget shall grow and develop. But here, at the old fashioned
universities, like Århus wants to be one of, we are still afraid
of changing, of new ways of seeing, watching, working and
perceiving theory and practice.
But, .... there are some a few "Voices" in our scientific, or at least psychologist community, which are more than just writing about how it could be, if we would follow a more critical, yes marxist way of seeing things, the world and ourselves. They actually try to practice the ideas, we so long just have talked and written about.
That's at least what they claim. I come from
Århus University, where we are good at reflection, where I felt
at my visit in New York last summer, that they are good in
action, even without reflection.
For you and me at this conference, who are not part of these community, ... take it as an inspiration of how to practice what we believe is one of the right ways to practice psychology.
They work with real people, they try to
emancipate clients by having a not-knowing attitude, where we as
psychologist are not experts in other peoples psychic life, but
where we can be good at supporting people in doing what they
want, and what they dream of. They - finally - try to combine
social constructionism with activity-theory.
We could be a catalysator for other peoples
free development, ... good at establishing environments, where
people feel secure enough to create, and change reality the way,
they feel its good for them and others.
Today we will show an example of an approach
who claims that they "practice Marx Vygotsky,
They feel they have found something very important. I could sometimes, as an European skeptical could get the impression, that they believe their approach is unique.
That question I cannot answer, I do believe there are other communities who have a similar practice, perhaps without sharing the same references. What I think about here is systemic approaches, narrative psychology, dialogical schools, and so on.
... but for me they are a living example of how it is possible to "practice Vygotsky".
Let us be open in these next two hours, ... open our minds for a performance of a lifetime ...
In a few seconds will Lois Holzman take over, ... she will lead this evening-performance.
for listening, .... a poor unemployed psychologist, whom everybody like as a inspiring student - but nobody want to pay for... 'cause what you get is a not-conformist psychologist!