The baby boom generation that came of age in the 1960s produced legions of psychologists. If readers happened to be fortunate enough to attend college in the sixties, then it will be easy to recognize this phenomenon of academic concentration and career choice. We wanted to be of use and to help. We wanted to change the world. It was as simple and as complicated as that and psychology was one of the means of doing that. It was, and is, one way of ameliorating emotional turmoil, not enhancing that turmoil.
But psychology always had internal conflicts and unfinished business. Sigmund Freud, a genius, studied a small sample of people on which he based much of his writing and the “talking cure” (psychoanalysis) he founded was never meant for the poor schmuck on the street trying to survive in a hostile world.
The medical model of psychology and psychiatry was built upon and tweaked by the behavioral and humanist movements in both fields of study. Unfortunately, they had their shortcomings, too. Read B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two for a dystopian view of how behavioral psychology could turn out, or Abraham Maslow’s description of his hierarchy of needs (Motivation and Needs). If memory serves me correctly, Maslow disdained sixties radicals while providing seminars in self-actualization for some of those in command of lethal military forces.
But it wasn’t until the endless War on Terror that psychologists were enlisted to actually turn…