Welcome to my new blog! For the last several years, I have expressed myself on a variety of topics through the development of numerous web sites containing numerous links to resources on topics ranging from the Iraq war to psychoanalysis, research methodology, and statistics. (For a partial list of my sites, and for background on me, see: soldzresearch.com/stephensoldz). At the same time, I have written research reports and extended reflections on the psychodynamics of the Iraq war.
The time has come to create a place to develop my thinking in these various areas. What these areas all have in common is the search for truth (with a small “t“) and the use of that truth to facilitate change in individuals and in society.
The intersection of these areas is especially important in the contemporary situation. The role of psychodynamics in the present political climate has become painfully clear. The American public was rallied around a mythic “war on terror,” a war that, by definition, can never be won and is a potentially unending source of fear. This war is built on a simplistic duality of good versus evil. All undesireable characteristics are placed in the “evil” other. Psychoanalysts would say this dualism involves the dfenses of splitting (good versus evil; us versus them) and projection (of all bad into them, the other).
Why does this trick work? Why are people willing to put their critical faculties to sleep and line up behind their side in the “clash of civilizations?” Ah, there’s the question! Simlistic answers won’t do. Those who say psychoanalysis is dead are here confronted with evidence of its relevance.
At the same time, psychoanalysis is in cris, due, at least in part, to the lack of a research evidential base for its claims. Schools of thought multiply at a rate similar to that of religious sects fighting over adherents. But light is starting to shine through, as analysts increasingly, if grudginly, accept the need for research to support, and winnow the truth from myriad claims based on “I have a patient who…” evidence.
Research, of course, is itself not unproblematic. While the attacks on positivism are declining with the recogition that the last positivist died decades ago, the progress of social and psychological research has been at a rate far slower than desired. Why do we so far have few uncontested theories? Where is our Newton, much less our Maxwell or Einstein?
Psychoanalysis emphasizes the role of the irrational in everyday life, of our passions and desires. Research strives to develop knowledge based on rationality. Social change must contend with both the rational and irrational in people’s lives. How can we draw upon powere of the passions without becoming overwhelmed by them? What does rationality mean anyway, once we accept the power of irrational motivations? Is radical social change a real possibility, or only a chimera, a dream reflecting our fantasies of a conflict-free world?
These are among the issues to be discussed on Psyche, Science, and Society.