Psychoanalysis at Work for Social Justice
In June 2006, Dr. Stephen Soldz knew something was wrong. A long-time anti-war activist, he and his colleagues were alarmed that the US Department of Defense announced it would strictly use psychologists as behavioral science consultants. Psychiatrists, it turned out, were ethically opposed to the demands of the role the military asked them to play. What exactly were psychologists participating in?
Nine probing years later, Soldz and his colleagues successfully secured an independent investigation that led to changes in how psychologists can work with detainees.
The decade long struggle that went into bringing the ethical conflict to light and changing the policy of the APA is a hallmark of successful activism for social justice and human rights. Through BGSP’s new M.A. program in Social Justice and Human Rights, Soldz hopes to bring the lessons of his work, as well as that of our other scholar-activist faculty, to students similarly striving to make changes in the world.
By supplementing traditional social change efforts with psychodynamic learning, this program helps practitioners:
- Strengthen social change initiatives by recognizing unacknowledged conflicts and
- Deal with group and organizational dynamics to facilitate change.
Combining this understanding with the knowledge and skills required for social change leads to a unique synergy for social justice, including a commitment to:
- The furtherance of human freedom for individuals, communities and societies
- The seeking of truth
- Talk, listening, and thoughtful reflection as a way of creating a capacity for constructive action.