Reflecting on Unity

Reflection

[Photo by Steve Wall]

For those of you finding the discussion on unity in psychology a little dry (surely not!?!), I have good news: this is the penultimate post in the series. In the next I will foolishly attempt to summarise and comment on all of the articles in the second special issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology. This is not, of course, the end of the discussion, just the beginning, but simply touching on this subject has opened my eyes to a wealth of debates within psychology. I want to reflect on this briefly.

My impression has been that this subject attracts little interest precisely because it is, at the same time, both everyone’s problem and no one’s problem. The strongest criticisms of Henriques’ proposals point to organisational and political inertia: we don’t like change, we are comfortable the way things are; motivation for change can be difficult to access.

For me, though, the idea that psychology should have a broadly accepted macro-level view sticks in my mind as something that could, and should, exist. Many psychologists, while not necessarily being interested in the broad idea of unity, are interested in how their own work fits into the big picture. And here I return to Sternberg & Grigorenko’s (2001) bottom-up approach to unity. It is when psychologists use diverse methodologies and look for links across sub-disciplines, that some of the best work is produced.

Looking to the future, the question of whether unity in psychology will be based on Henriques’ ideas is one to be worked out over time. At least the debate continues: if we have no debate, we have no progress.

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 5 September 2006

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