Re: Who controls explanations of unwanted behaviors.

Jonathan D. Raskin (
Thu, 12 Feb 1998 12:01:32 -0500

Mancuso, James C. wrote:
> Estaban:
> Very, very nicely put. You express your position succinctly, and
> convincingly. I would be tempted to say that your expression of
> position is so clear and so cogent, I would wonder why others so
> easily evade that position. Yet, I know that in the current academic
> ambience, this position is not easily reached.
> As an example, I am working on a paper on the construction of a
> diagnostic narrative - the ADHD narrative. I recruited a very, very
> scholarly young woman to help me with some of the reference work.
> When I tried to explain to her what I am doing, the best question she
> could ask -- after a brilliant undergraduate career -- was, "So, you
> don't believe that there is a biological base for ADHD?" My response
> was, "On what basis should I entertain that question?" First off, as
> psychologists, we MUST entertain questions such as: Why are the
> hegemonous self narratives imposed? Should every six year old child
> in the world be expected to adopt the same self narratives? Does every
> child have the personal construct system to adopt those self
> narratives, etc., etc. Why would one what to introduce a diagnostic
> narrative to explain children who do not accept as their self
> narrative the self narratives which the educational systems attempt to
> impose?
> Solong as we psychologists allow the diagnostic narratives to
> dominate the departments of psychology, we will be second rate hacks,
> serving the power structure of the societies who pay our salaries.
> Jim Mancuso
> Esteban Laso wrote:
> Hi everybody
> Yesterday, Jim Mancuso wrote about the psychology/psychiatry
> bussiness. I
> agree with him. We must, as psychologists, try to create new
> ways to look at
> disengaged behavior -and to go beyond the disease narrative
> with its
> implications of non-accountability, biological causes which
> need chemical
> treatments, etc. We shouldn't try to negotiate or share the
> psychiatric
> point of view -there are lots of ways to understand the same
> things.
> I dare to say that the main reason for all of this is our
> own dislodgement
> from our hypothetical role of psychologists. Maybe we are
> afraid (and
> envious!) of the social power assigned to the medical
> profession and
> medicine as a science -a pretty neat one, also! Our
> psychological
> explanations sound like fantasies and daydreams, while the
> "lack of A
> substance" and "presence of B gene" are tangible enough to
> become
> unquestionable. And if he who is behaving weirdly is just
> sick, then to say
> that his behavior is a quest for good answers to wrong
> questions is, if
> anything, useless and nonsensical.
> So, if psychology is to be of any use, we have to build its
> place in
> society -as well as within our minds.
> Comments?
> Regards,
> Esteban
> --
> James C. Mancuso Dept. of Psychology
> 15 Oakwood Place University at Albany
> Delmar, NY 12054 1400 Washington Ave.
> Tel: (518)439-4416 Albany, NY 12222
> A website related to Italian-American Affairs

I echo the sentiments expressed so far in this discussion. The
embeddedness of the medical model and DSM is evident to me each time I
prepare my undergraduate abnormal psychology class. Most every abnormal
psych text (even the Rosenhan/Seligman text, which is more critical tham
most) is, essentially, a primer of DSM categories. How does one teach
students to think critically about conceptions of disorder when the
social surroundings indicate that DSM is the only game in town? The
same goes at the graduate level, but is often worse because many of the
students already are immersed in the land of DSM (even if they view it
as a means to an end with regards to insurance). My own cynical
assessment is that many teachers/practitioners bad mouth DSM and the
medical model, but continue to employ DSM for insurance reimbursement.
What would happen if these practitioners chose to not accept insurance,
and instead lowered their fees so clients could afford therapy without
needing insurance coverage?


Jonathan D. Raskin, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology-Jacobson Faculty Tower
State University of New York at New Paltz
75 South Manheim Boulevard
New Paltz, NY 12561-2499
office phone: (914) 257-3471; fax: (914) 257-3606