Blind Minds: How Psychology Ignored (the last) Great Depression

Peak Oil Blues

I’ve been discouraged by the lack of careful thinking in my field about our current situation worldwide.

We’ve been in the New Reality for several years, now, but where are my colleagues who write and publish?  I’m not saying nobody is out there, writing, thinking, talking.  Of course they are…but not in the professional journals.  There’s a media black-out.  As a group, we’re MIA.  Looking through one publication, Psychological Bulletin,  I found very little that would lead me to believe that psychologists even notice the heartbreak going on around them.  Surely, during the Great Depression, psychologist heeded the call, and began to research how to help the mass suffering…

Alas, I was mistaken.  Here’s what one colleague wrote about his fellow psychologists:

When the United States entered the first World War, psychologists, as an associated group, volunteered their professional services. Their contribution was considerable, both to the conduct of the War and to psychology.

When the United States entered the big world depression, psychologists did nothing and, as a group, have so far done nothing.

For nearly 10 years we have suffered through a national social and economic crisis; yet, from an examination of our professional journals and the programs of our professional meetings, one might conclude that psychologists were oblivious of the fact that our social institutions are rattling about our ears.

In fact, the world at large is as ignorant of the possible contributions of psychologists as psychologists appear to be about the world.”  From:  The psychologist’s understanding of social issues. Gundlach, R. H.;  Vol 37(8), Oct, 1940. pp. 613-620

So what WERE Psychologists writing about, and thinking about, as the world was “rattling about our ears?”

Here is a sample of titles from Psychological Bulletin from 1930-1940. I’ve added particularly interesting quotes. Some are remarkably inane. For the therapists among us, I’ve included a few quotes by luminaries in the field…

Complete (long) article here