Multicultural in America

Uneasy in America” (October Monitor) includes statements about Muslim Americans that, while based on recent research, appear in a context that creates the inaccurate impression that this group is somehow unique in adapting to American society. The point that Muslim Americans “identify more strongly with their religious values” and less with American values implies that these values are inherently contradictory and that the Muslim emigration experience is different than that of other ethnic minorities who have come before them. It is important to note that first- and second-generation immigrants, including but not limited to Jews, Catholics, Italians, Irish, Japanese and Chinese, had experiences closely paralleling those described in the article as appearing somehow unique to new Muslim arrivals.

As psychologists and social scientists we are able to see that adaptation to any new country by any ethnic group is a developmental process that usually takes generations. If we view our new Muslim neighbors from that perspective, we can optimistically look toward their maintaining a healthy retention of their uniqueness as a culture and making major contributions to the complex social system that makes America the great country we all call home.

Spencer Schein, PhD
San Rafael, Calif.

Missing important heads in the big tent

As reported in the October Monitor, the June Report of the American Psychological Association 2009 Presidential Task Force on the Future of Psychology as a STEM Discipline missed the mark and the intended reader totally. It was created by a task force consisting of good-intentioned, presumed-tenured academicians, with the APA 6th Edition down cold: Neat, well-structured, scholarly writing. Final grade? D-.

Where on the task force were representative minds from business, marketing, finance, sales, entrepreneurs, a college sophomore, entertainment, media or a soldier? Who played devil’s advocate during the process? To overcome public perception of psychology’s not being a key part of STEM, the task force missed key ideas from business professionals absent from the group. How does one sell an idea? Appeal to the emotions and senses of the customer. In this case, business professionals, capitalists and free enterprise — the very people who use, measure, predict, guess and profit from psychology research. Please rework the report to engage the audience’s heart, soul and pocketbook. Your intentions are noble. Capture the audience with stories of heroes, villains and real tigers.

Russell Riendeau, PhD
Barrington, Ill.

Has conventional opinion swung?

In the Monitors October 2010 issue, you have two letters that object to an article about immigration. One letter denounces the APA’s “championing of the far left agenda.”

There have been well-respected psychologists who could be called far-leftists: Erich Fromm, a founder of interpersonal psychoanalysis, called himself a “humanistic socialist.” Paul Goodman, a co-founder of Gestalt therapy, was an anarchist-pacifist. There were quite a few advocates of versions of “radical therapy.” Many writers have sought to integrate psychoanalysis with Marxism, such as the early Wilhelm Reich, Otto Fenichel, Herbert Marcuse, and innumerable others. Even B.F. Skinner wrote “Walden Two,” a utopian account of a socialist commune (with a dictatorship by behavioral psychologists!).

A far-left agenda would call for the end of the capitalist market, a classless society, the abolition of the state, replaced by a cooperative, from-the-bottom-up democratically planned economy. The far-left agenda for immigration would be to abolish the borders. Needless to say, none of this has been advocated by the APA. That the moderate-to-liberal policies raised by the APA seem “far left” to some, is only a sign of how far to the right conventional opinion has swung.

Wayne D. Price, PsyD
Bronx, N.Y.

APA internships: Supply or demand problem?

The October Monitor article about the internship crisis (“APA continues its work to right the internship imbalance”) is but the latest update in an ongoing saga. Unfortunately, the remedies put forth are all remarkably similar — a number of academic committees are working on the problem, and they are making progress. That is little consolation for graduate students who have invested several years of their lives and many tens of thousands of borrowed dollars to now come to a full stop in their degree process.

I wonder whether someone has considered a far simpler solution. Why don’t graduate schools reduce the number of students they accept to match the number of internships available? It certainly can’t be because we need that many psychologists. As I look around the country, I do not see a glut of psychology jobs going unfilled because there are not enough qualified psychologists to fill them.

To the contrary, government at all levels is downsizing and leaving positions vacant. Private practice and academic psychologists are working longer to make less money, and the number of professions that are seeking to replace our services is expanding daily. Why are psychology programs still churning out graduates as if there is a shortage and then expecting the market to create more internships? Any company that sold only 75 percent of its product would make less next year or go broke. Unfortunately, it seems graduate programs are paid only to produce, not sell their product.

Thomas W. White, PhD
Overland Park, Kan.


The article “Narrative wisdom” on page 69 of the November Monitor used the term “homosexual counseling”; we should have said “LGBT counseling.” We regret the error.

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited.